More Brain Than Brawn
I took a step backward this week, or forward if you choose to look at it that way, by taking up my carpentry tools again, working by myself, and siding the “new” wing of the workshop with Hardie Board. The project was not necessarily one which required brawn so much as brain, and fortunately, I have more of the latter than the former.
For a year now I have functioned as the maintenance man on the farm, a role I embraced from the moment it entered my life, much the way a person would grab ahold of a lifejacket while thrashing about in deep water. In terms of aging, sixty-two is getting out there over one’s head, as far as being able to rely on sure footing, as I continue to make my way through life.
The going gets more precarious as I age, making me appreciate more, those accomplishments I can still achieve.
The brain part of this project involved figuring out how to do a job by myself, normally done by three guys of the genus known as young. OK, one of the guys is a sawyer, so right away, scratching him or her off the list was easy. Two could also do the job, just not as efficiently.
Still, each uncut plank of Hardie Board is twelve feet long, and must be be carried on edge, otherwise it snaps [roughly] in half. Especially after the entire length has been predrilled and prescrewed, to have this happen is disheartening. On the other hand, it takes only one instance to reinforce the principle thoroughly.
As each board is affixed to the plywood already in place, it must be meticulously measured so that the planking marches up the side of the wall evenly. That means that there is one guy on one end, template device in hand to ensure that exactly seven-and-a-quarter inches exist between the bottom of the current piece, and the top of the section most recently fastened to the wall, and a second dude on the other end.
This is where the brain comes in. While walking with Annie up to Blue Rock last week, and reviewing the job-at-hand about to take place, I ran several possible ideas up the flagpole, just to look at potential ways of circumventing the lack of not only three guys, but two.
How was I going to get a twelve-foot-long piece of heavy, cement-infused Hardie Board up against the wall, while on a ladder? At the same time, I will have to have the impact driver handy, even though both of my hands will be occupied with the plank. And then while holding the heavy plank with both hands, also drill the screws home with the impact driver?
The answer is to begin by designing a “hanger” made out of wood, so that it could be screwed into place on either end of the where the next plank is slated to go. It must match the seven-and-a-quarter inches needed to keep the boards even on both ends, and it must be tight enough against the wall that I could slide the three-eighths-inch-thick Hardie board through the hanger and up against the corner trim board.
While it was thus firmly in place on the left end, I could then drill home the screws already predrilled, on the right side, moving across after first making sure that all was well on the far left end where the hanger was. So the hanger was a simple, t-shaped device, with the longer side of the tee extending upwards so be fastened to the wall.
Simple and efficient, albeit slow, I was then able to first cover the walls with tar paper, and attach the window trim and corner boards, using three in long screws, and then to commence to side the building. I worked from whenever I got out there around 8:30 or nine, and worked until four or 4:40.
I indulged in my medication liberally, as I methodically went about the job, stepping into the house for access to not only my bong, but fresh cold water, my other drug of choice these days. The project went very well and after thirty or so hours, I am only a couple-three hours away from beginning to think about painting the whole thing. Compared to hanging twelve-foot sections of Hardie Board, painting seems somewhat tame, but I will try and cope.
After all, I can’t do the job of three men every time I take up my carpentry tools or they will expect it every time out.