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April 18, 2010
Milestones of mud and miter


Gail puts drywall mud on the stair alcove

Before we headed up to our mountain home construction site for the weekend of April 15-18, we had to deal with a couple of issues.

The first issue was the weather. After last weekend’s rainstorms, the upcoming forecast called for clear skies and sunshine. Even so, Gail called our neighbor Scott to make sure the dirt access roads would be passable. So far, so good.

With this hope, Dirk and Gail drove up on Thursday, April 15. They worked furiously in preparation for a visit from our building inspector. The bad news is that Dennis showed up on Friday morning several hours earlier than expected. The good news is that he approved our drywall milestone. While there is still more drywall to install, Gail now has permission to begin taping and mudding the walls!


Gail and Dirk struggle to get a sheet of drywall into the tiny downstairs pantry

    

    
While prepping the entryway for drywall, Gail came across another woodpecker stash. She and Dirk found more than 50 acorns stuffed into the wall.

The second issue was Russell’s need to cut his stair skirtboards. The challenge was to find a saw that could do a double-mitered cross cut. The two difficulties were that the cut was a partial cut only, and the miter angle needed to be 45º downward to the right (most saws can only cut 45º downward to the left).

The original idea was to use our friend Dirk’s radial arm saw. Upon investigation, however, we determined that the saw would only miter to the left.

Dirk recommended a local tool-for-hire facility, The Sawdust Shop, where one can rent tools by the hour or day. Russell visited the shop and consulted with the manager. After rejecting a 45º router bit as too expensive, the manager suggested simply using a jigsaw.

Russell has not found jigsaws to be precise enough in the past – the blade tends to go out of line – but he decided to give it one more try. As a backup, he also purchased a small Ryobi circular saw with a reverse angle and left it unopened in his car trunk.

With this hope, Russell drove up on Friday, April 16. He eagerly set up a jigsaw apparatus, using his metal carpenter’s square as a fence to cut straight. The result was that the jigsaw still went out of line and cut through the carpenter’s square. This ruined the jigsaw blade, the carpenter’s square, and a piece of scrap wood.

(Both Dirk and The Sawdust Shop also suggested that Russell simply install the skirtboards and risers with no miter cuts. Any unappealing seams could be covered with putty and paint. Russell rejected this idea, as over time the putty would probably crack.)

Russell was ready to break out the Ryobi saw, when he had one last idea. The MDF (medium density fibreboard) for the skirtboards is fairly soft. He decided to try using his current circular saw backwards (pulling instead of pushing) to get the reverse miter cut. He did a test on a piece of scrap wood. It worked perfectly.

         
Russell’s skirtboard solution – using a circular saw backwards – enabled him to get the unusual miter cut he needed

As a result, Russell was able to cut and install the skirtboards and risers for the middle and upper stair flights. Gail taped and mudded the stair alcove and much of the upstairs living room. Dirk, who had previously declared that this would likely be his last weekend on the mountain, completed his installation of the media wiring.

    
The stair alcove, before and after taping and mudding

         
The upper flight with the final skirtboard and risers;
Note how the miter cuts enable a single seam at the intersection

    
The current state of the stairs: skirtboards and risers on the middle and upper flights

(One of Dennis’ inspector notes was that we had erroneously put mold/moisture resistant drywall in the hall bathroom ceiling. This grade of drywall is too heavy for ceilings; we had to replace it with normal drywall.)

Our other friend Steve also arrived late Friday evening and spent another enjoyable weekend burning brush. He burned five piles on Saturday and several more on Sunday.


Our regular, obligatory photo of Steve has him with a burn pile on the northern knoll near the trampoline

Saturday evening was another dinner out. This time, in honor of Dirk’s last weekend, we went to Teresa’s Place in Jackson, an Italian landmark restaurant that has been around since the 1860s.

It was another productive weekend, with Gail being the most productive of all. Her accomplishments between Thursday and Sunday:

    
The living room loft wall, including the octagonal window in the parapet, is now fully drywalled

On Sunday, Dirk also gave us the news that he will need to come up at least one more time, as he did not have all of the parts to install the laundry room exhaust vent. While this is bad news for Dirk it is good news for us, as we will have at least one more chance to enjoy Dirk’s company and contributions.


A panorama of the upstairs living room, with walls taped and mudded

 

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