Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

51: Purpose Built Jigs

When you work alone you have to figure out how you’re going to handle the things that your “helper” would have done. John Carroll’s book “Working Alone” is a great source of information. He shows lots of “jigs” he uses to (for instance) hold the other end of a long board that he is nailing in place.

While I really like his book, and it has helped me a lot, I’ve found other jigs that he didn’t mention that helped just as much. But, my purpose here is not to point out inadequacies. More, it is to highlight the thinking and problem solving process you use to build your own jigs to solve the problems you face in building a house by yourself. It isn't always a smooth process, and sometimes you go backwards along the way, but in the end, you usually get the problem solved.

Here is one example of that process.

When raising the OSB sheathing panels with the block and tackle (some as high as 18 feet) you want to get the top of each panel to line up with the top of the stud wall. But, you’re standing on the ground (18 feet below) trying to eyeball if the panel top is accurately positioned…not an easy thing to do.

A secondary aspect of this problem is that I really don’t want all the weight of the panel hanging ONLY on that one manila rope as I try to position it and nail it in place. I would really like to have some of the weight supported by something else.

My first attempt at solving this was to measure down exactly 8 feet from the top of the wall and put a big C-clamp on the 2x6 stud. Hoist the panel up above the C-clamp and then lower it just enough to where the bottom of the panel sits on the clamp. Problem solved…no, not quite. The panel wants to slip off the C-clamp. What I need is a C-clamp with a “lip” to keep the panel from sliding off. No, I don’t have a welder, and even if I did, I don’t want to go welding on my C-clamps. I needed another idea.

Okay, so let’s nail a plywood lip on a block of 2x4 and clamp that to the wall stud. Humm, my largest C-clamps are only 6” clamps, not big enough to hold the 2x4 block and the 2x6 wall stud. Humm, another problem. Nine inch C-clamps are like $20 apiece; and two clamps are probably needed to do this job right.

I do have some pipe clamps, but 24” pipe lengths are the shortest ones I have (some are 48” long). Yes, I could use the 24” pipes, but all that excess pipe sticking out inside the building really gets in the way of the ladder. So, off we go to the hardware store to buy some 12” threaded pipe for the clamps. Problem solved for $4…well, almost.

So, now we have the 2x4 block clamped to the stud in the right position to catch the panel bottom. Unfortunately, the clamp and wood block stick out 6” from the wall (on the outside) and when trying to raise the OSB panel it hangs up on these 6” projections.

A long 1x2 fixes that problem. Raise the top of the panel almost up to the 2x4 block, then use the 1x2 to pry it away from the pipe enough for it to slip by as you continue raising. Make the 1x2 long enough so you can stand off to the “side” of the panel in case it falls. You don’t want to ever stand UNDER the panel.

Likewise, when holding the rope in one hand and the 1x2 in the other hand, don’t have the rope wrapped around the back of your hand. If the rope breaks and drops the panel, you want to be able to cleanly let go of the rope and step back. If wrapped around your hand it may hold you up just long enough for the panel to fall, hit the ground and then fall “toward” you.

I know this was a long, obtuse discussion of solving what initially looked like a relatively simple problem. But, sometimes what looks simple … isn’t.

I am also sure that later I will think of an easier way to solve this problem.

Work safe guys.