Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Writing Shed, Part Four

Last time I wrote about the shed I was missing a wall. There were two ends sort of dangling in the breeze like a participle. Whatever that is.

Since the fourth wall would not fit inside the other three laying down (which is how ya build ‘em), I had to frame it up on the grass. As it turned out, that was much nicer for my blown-out knees to kneel down on than the floor. My wife helped me stand it up and get in in position, sans sheathing. We had to lift the pre-drilled bottom plate over the power conduit. I didn’t install the header for the sliding glass door until the wall was set. I wanted it to be light and tweakable, because I had two corners to meet up with. After I nailed off the corner, I tacked on the first piece of sheathing at the top, letting it drape, checking for square. I wasn’t so worried about things being plumb or level yet—the deck has settled a bit since I dug the foundation stones, so there will be some shimming and leveling for fine tuning as weight is added to the structure.

Now that the power is inside the shed and not just sticking up into the atmosphere, I can begin thinking about wiring up all the switches and recepts I’ll need. I plan to use those ultra-modern LED lightbulbs, which have become pretty reasonable price-wise. I refuse to install CFLs, because one, they contain mercury, which is toxic (bet you didn’t know that, and please if you use those idiotbulbs, take them to a HAZMAT drop off when they expire—don’t chuck them into a landfill—we’ll be drinking mercury in our groundwater pretty soon if you do). Two, CFLs irritate the shit out of me because they take about five minutes to come on and warm up to full bright, which is like driving for groceries in a Model T. CFLs are rubbish. Anyway, more on electrical in the future. LED lightbulbs will contribute to efficiency, they last forever, and they won’t tax my electrical feed. They use about one tenth the power of an incandescent, and every little bit helps. Not for the environment. For my power bill. I'm an evil capitalist.

I got the sliding glass door from my brother. He was looking to replace the one on his house with a French door, and I told him we’d go halvsies on that if I could have his old slider. Turns out I paid twenty five bucks for it; not bad. It installed very easily. There’s a flange along the outside edges of it, and that flange is meant to butt up to the framing. After it’s all hunky-dory, the sheathing is installed over the top of the flange, decently tight to the door. [I've since been informed that I should have installed the flange over top of the sheathing. But I ain't changing it.] It’s important not to screw the flange along its top edge—it has to have room to expand and contract with temperature changes. If you strangle off the door by running screws through the top flange, you may end up with cracked glass.

After I got the slider figured out, I was able to continue sheathing the rest of the shed. A 2x4 wall is pretty strong in compression, but adding the sheathing makes it strong in shear load. Building each wall into a square makes those walls exponentially stronger, as does adding the roof. All that to say I’m past the point of needing to brace the walls, but it’s not done until the roof is on. And speaking of which, my brother and I figured out a way to build it simply, cheaply, quickly, and all while keeping it quiet and adding a facility for it to vent from bottom to top. If a roof isn’t vented, condensation could develop in cold weather, and extreme heat could build up in summer, both of which make it tough not only on the shingles, but eventually the framing. So we’re going to vent it. I’ll show you next time around, or the time after that. Or the time after that.

Between now and then I have to fine tune the floor, moving one foundation stone and shimming some others. I also have to build the inner wall. This will separate the storage part of the shed from the writing part. I already have my lawnmower parked in there. It looks great.