Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Writing Shed, Part Three

Since I last updated this series, I’ve done a lot of work to the writing shed. Plus, I began using a phrase I’m sure I’ll use often in the future: “Babe, I’m going to the shed.”

I neglected to install pressure blocking on my joists when I was framing up the floor. I clean forgot it. To compensate for this, then, I added a layer of 3/8” underlayment, glued and stapled down. Now the floor doesn’t sag. Of course, it rained soon after I did this, permanently raising the edges of each sheet, so now I’ve got to get in there with a belt sander and some 40-grit and relieve the seams a bit. It wouldn’t do to have a crummy floor. I meant to seal the whole deck with some oil base floor paint, but I was tied up that morning, and by the time I was ready to roll, it was raining.

On to the next bit, then. I’ll fix the floor after the roof is on.

Since I had a nice flat surface to work on, the next step was building the trusses. This required a flurry of Googling in order to remember how to use my Swanson Speed Square. Basically, it’s an aluminum right triangle with cheats on it so carpenters don’t need to know trigonometric math by heart. I figured my 4/12 pitch (4 inches of rise for every foot of run), drew the angles, and cut my top chords. After that, with my brother’s help, I laid out each one precisely the same (I traced the first one on the deck and then lined up all the others on those lines, temporarily screwing each truss to the deck for nailing). OSB gussets were glued and nailed on with ring shank nails. The bottom chords, sections of 2x6, were cut, glued in and nailed the next day.

I suppose I should mention the power feed. The back yard is currently in a state of recovery because I have been digging the crap out of it lately. I had to remove an old piece of conduit that had been sticking up out of the ground (it wasn’t live) that failed to launch. Shed plans changed over the course of many years; what can I say. After that, I had to relocate two sprinkler heads. While my yard was littered with trenches and big clumps of grassy dirt, I went ahead and dug another trench for the shed’s power supply. I used schedule 80 conduit and a 25’ length of 12-2 W/G outdoor wire—the wire could probably have been buried directly, but I wanted to have zero problems. This, on a 20 amp breaker, will provide plenty of power with very little voltage drop due to resistance. I could have used smaller gauge wire, but I’d rather be on the safe side. I need enough power to be able to run the little air conditioner my neighbor gave me, plus a little heater (alternately, of course).

The walls went up pretty quickly. I laid them out on 24” centers, which is plenty for a shed. Most sheds are framed up like this, only they use 2x3s instead of the 2x4s I used, so it’ll be plenty strong. The easiest way to build a wall is to precut your top and bottom plates and then layout your stud locations with both of them sandwiched together. When you’re ready to nail everything together, you’ll have perfectly plumb and square studs. Once the frame of the wall was nailed together, I laid out the sheathing on it before standing it up. I nailed my OSB sheathing along the top edge of the wall, allowing it to drape down. I then could rack the wall for plumb if needed, then nail off the sheathing after the wall was braced.

The second wall was nearly a tragedy, because the wind came up a bit, and I foolishly decided to stand the wall up in these gusts. April helped me out by smooshing herself between the wall and the fence until I had everything nailed off. The corner where the two walls meet is critical; it’s gotta be plumb in both directions, so it was a bit of a faff until the bottom plate was nailed down, the corner nailed off, and the free end braced. The third wall, you’ll notice, has been framed out for a large set of double doors. This will be the entrance to the shed. I’ve left its free end incomplete for now, because I’m waiting on a sliding glass door for the office section. Until that’s on site, I don’t want to build anything, just in case the rough opening isn’t quite as advertised. It would suck to have to modify a wall I only just built.

So the next step is to finish the walls. Once those are done, my brother and I can roll the trusses and finish the roof. That’ll be next month. Thanks for tuning in here. It’s pretty exciting!