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Digging In!

6 Jul

Work is underway on our 3rd (and final) set of stairs for the deck. This set is on the West side and will provide us with access to the side yard (future home of the fire pit & veggie garden!)
We’re currently mixing cement for the stair base. We did some careful measurements, built a frame and guides. We also put up a work tent since it is 80+ degrees and not a cloud in the sky.
While the cement sets we’ll be finishing up another lil project we’ve been working on. More on that later!


Wrapping the Deck

8 Aug

No, we’re not wrapping it up. We’re not done just yet!

As a few people have noted when seeing the deck in its partially completed state, “The ends are all different lengths!” Yes, thank you, we are aware. This wasn’t a case of measuring once and cutting twice. Well, actually it kind of was, or more like measure never and then cut later. We basically used boards that were long enough to cover and a little extra and left the tails long. It was the plan all along to cut them en-masse to create a continuous edge, rather than taking meticulous measurements and hoping they all lined up, which, I can assure you, they wouldn’t have. Also, this extra gave us a little more time to think about how we wanted to treat the edges of the deck. We decided to cut the boards flush to the edge of the joist all around and then wrap the edge with a vertically oriented deck board to close it in.

The first task was to take the 18 Volt Dewalt circular saw and rough cut a line about an inch from the edge that I made by snapping a chalk line.

Then I went and got out the Festool TS55 to do the actual finish cut. This saw runs on a guide track for super accurate cuts that you just can’t match with any hand held saw. I used a sliding square to find the edges and lined the guide up with that. I used my 4 foot track so it took relocating the track about 6 or 8 times to do the whole 26 foot edge.


I followed that up by easing the edges with an orbital sander with 60, 80, and 100 grit sanding pads. This gives the edges a softer look and matches the profile of the machined edges better, as well as making it less likely for something to catch on those edges and splinter. I then screwed on the vertical deck board, all the way around the perimeter of the deck, using a miter joint in the corners… Below is a little preview of how it came out, I think it does a lot to give the deck a finished look.


A Very Inspiring Trip

1 Aug

As Jer has referenced in several posts, we took a quick weekend trip up to Providence and Newport last month. Our primary purpose was to help his brother and sister-in-law move, but we squeezed in quite a lot of other activities in those two days as well.

We drove to up on a Saturday, making an obligatory stop at Super Duper Weenie along the way. Conveniently, it’s right off I-95 in CT. We really can’t pass this place without stopping for one (or two) of their amazing hot dogs!

From top to bottom, that’s a Chicagoan, a plain dog w/ketchup and mustard and a Californian, with a side of fries!

Some amazing clouds along the way!

When we got into Providence, Chris and Elaine were already quite busy packing, so we took a stroll down to India Park on the water, while biding our time before one of our favorite Providence events started: Waterfire! Dating back to an art instillation in 1994 by Barnaby Evans, 100 bonfires are lit in the rivers of downtown Providence on select weekends in the Summer & Fall. The fires are lit at dusk, and burn through midnight. We arrived just before the lighting, which gave us some time to wander around the city.

Waterfire – just before the big lighting

It was just after the summer solstice, and so in addition to Waterfire, there was a Solstice festival in City Hall Park. This is where we encountered the amazing Roxy’s Lobster truck! (There were other food trucks there, but we were drawn to their adorable logo!)  The truck sells an amazing CT-style lobster roll. It was so good, that we were inspired to recreate the roll ourselves this past weekend (see our last blog post!)

Roxy’s Lobster Truck!

After the lobster roll, we stopped by the Union Station Brewery for some wings and a house-brewed beer before heading back down to the river. Union Station is just off the river, so we didn’t have far to go. By the time we got back the bonfires were all lit and as always, it was a beautiful sight to behold! We spent the rest of the evening on the river enjoying the Waterfire music and snacking on kettle corn!


The next morning we were up bright and early to drive to Newport for brunch. I randomly booked a restaurant following my own criteria of being on the water and serving Bloody Marys. My random pick was The Grill at Forty 1° North. The restaurant is right on the harbor, and the food was fantastic to boot! The view was also spectacular!! We had front row seats to a yacht being prepped for departure. When we finished brunch, the yacht still hadn’t left, so we ordered another round of drinks and waited for it to set sail.

Dockside brunch

In addition to great food, great service, and a magnificent view, we also found some inspiration for our deck! While seated out on their deck, we noticed it was framed with a piece of wood running perpendicular to the main decking boards. It provided a nice finished look, and we will be featuring a similar technique on our deck. I personally also loved the table and chairs there too!

The Grill @ 41 North (you can see the decking border in the lower left corner of this pic.)

We spent the next few hours walking around Newport, then headed back to Providence. By the time we got back Chris and Elaine were just about done packing what they needed, and we proceeded to load it into the back of Jer’s truck, tetris-style!

We did make one more food stop on our way home.. it was a bit on the late side, but we were able to get into the Shake Shack in Westport, CT just before they closed!

New Rim Joist

11 Jul

So, on sunday, after I put in the hurricane ties but before the petting zoo came in to town, I installed our new rim joist on the deck. As you know from the 4th of July post we had removed the existing rim joist to cut the joists down so the framing would end flush with the last full piece of decking.
I also wanted to replace the 2x8s that the rim joist was made of because they were not great pieces of wood, we realized after looking at them for a while. I was able to salvage about 16 feet of the 20 foot piece, but the end I cut off had some serious knots in it that seemed to be compromising the integrity of the board. I had purchased a new 12 footer so I used what was left of the 20 footer and the new 12 footer to make the new rim joist. I offset my cut on the old board so I wouldn’t be going in to old screw holes. Our cuts on the ends of the joist seemed to work out pretty good because when I screwed it all in the framing did land pretty nice and flush all the way down.


You can see in the picture the blocks I screwed in to the bottom of a couple of the joists to support the boards while I screwed them in, a lot easier than trying to hold and screw in a board that big.
After the rim joist was all in I took our trusty drilling jig and drilled the second row of holes in the last deck board. I modified the jig slightly by taping a 1/4 inch shim to register the holes a 1/4 inch closer to the edge of the board. This barely perceptible to the eye but it makes sure the screws are going in to the joist rather than into the seam between the 2 joists, so we know it has a solid grip on the framing and doesn’t split anything.

Hurricane Ties

8 Jul

This morning before it got too hot I took care of one of the items that was on our list of to-dos from our building inspector visit. He asked that we put hurricane ties on every other joist to tie them to the header on the far end from the house. The hurricane ties are aptly named because they are actually designed to keep things connected in hurricane conditions. They are used to tie things such as rafters to walls to keep a roof from lifting off in high winds.
In our case they are intended to prevent “uplift”. I guess the theory is that if high winds were rushing by the deck the wind going over and under the deck could make the deck act like a wing and actually lift off. These metal ties attempt to make a solid connection between the joists and the headers, which are anchored to the cement footings. Each bracket connected into both the joist and the header with 5 screws or nails each, for a total of 10. I decided to use screws because our access was limited due to the space constraints under the deck.

These are screws made specifically for this purpose, by the company that makes the brackets: Simpson Strong Tie. You can see that they have a flat head as opposed to a counter sunk head so they apply even pressure to the bracket instead of squeezing through.
It wasn’t too bad of a job to do, just a little time consuming to put 10 screws in each bracket. So, I checked that off the list and maybe tomorrow I’ll make a post about what else I did this Sunday before the petting zoo showed up next door…


A Happy 4th of July

5 Jul

It was a very happy 4th of July for us because we reached a huge milestone on our deck build. We finished laying down all the decking. This has been a long, arduous task, and finishing it was starting to seem like a horizon we would never reach.
Reaching our goal yesterday was due, in no small part, to the help of my brother Chris, who donated most of his day to us. With him staying ahead of us pre-drilling all the holes we were really able to pick up the pace big time. It was also a huge relief as we got to last 5 or 6 rows to be able to stand on the ground to work instead of crawling around on my knees. That made for much more comfortable and speedy work. As expected, it got really hot so we put up 3 pop-up tents over the whole area we working in, which really helped us stay cool, or at least less hot and not sunburned.

Corinne even brought out a box fan to help keep the air flowing.

Life under the tents was pretty sweet, and we all had our hats on to keep our heads shaded whenever we did peak out from the tents.

We went like gang busters all morning but we did have to stop for lunch eventually, despite our desire to keep the momentum going. After replenishing we got back to work and kept going until around 5PM. We had it in the back of our minds that we would have to deal with the end of the deck not meeting up exactly with the end of the framing. What we decided to do, rather than ripping down the last board and finishing off with a partial board was to figure out where the last full board would end and cut the framing to match that. We pulled off the rim joist so we could cut all the joists to allow the rim joist to land flush with the edge of the last board. Initially I wanted to mark where the last board would end up and then measure back an inch and a half to allow for the thickness of the rim joist. Instead, Chris came up with the idea of making a template to mark all the joists, all we did was figure out the width of the deck board, plus the gap minus 1.5. I ripped a piece of plywood down to that width and we slid that along to mark each joist. Then we took the lines and transferred them to the sides of the joist with a square so we could cut it with the saw. Luckily we were able to fit the 18Volt Dewalt circular saw in to make the cuts so we could make quick work of cutting all 29 joists.



It might not look it but I was like a shake a bake chicken by the end of this, I was sweaty to begin with so my arms and face were covered with sawdust completely, Corinne brought me some wet paper towels so I could wipe down and I had to go for a fresh shirt too.
So, the decking is all down now and the end of the joists are ready to receive the new rim joist that will fit flush to the edge to line up perfectly with the cladding we intend to apply around the outside of the deck. The cladding and the stairs are the next orders of business so that’s where our attention will be focused next. But, for now, we’re pretty pleased to look out and instead of seeing plywood or framing, we can see nothin’ but deck!


Florence Comes Through

1 Jul

Once again, it was Florence Building Supply to the rescue. After our fiasco with the manager at Nassau Suffolk denying us from getting the wood we needed we were getting disparate. At last contact Florence had run low on supply and wasn’t expecting more for a few weeks but just for kicks I got in touch with our salesman and he said that they actually had gotten more in and we could come in and take a look and try to find what we need.
My brother, Chris came with me to the yard to help out. When we got there we eventually headed back to the yard and the guy who helped us brought out the whole pallet and let us pick through it for what we needed. He was very accommodating but it was good Chris was there with me to lift all the heavy stacks of boards onto the trailer. It was a little complicated to explain that we needed pairs of boards that add up to 30 feet but finally he was on board and made sure we got what we needed.
We finally got what we were looking for, and a little extra, as backup and then helped the guy re-stack the pallet so he could put it back on the shelf safely. Once we paid for the lumber we went back out and tied down our load, and we were on our way. A stop for burritos at Faz’s in Huntington was in order, so we wiggled our way in to two parking spots in downtown Huntington and got a nice lunch in some much needed air conditioning.
By the time we got back home with the trailer the sun was high overhead and the temp was in the mid 90s. I was eager to use the help that Chris was offering but at the same time I didn’t want to abuse him, or us, so we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day instead of torturing ourselves.
We had plans this evening but we did get a few boards down this morning before it got super super hot and we had to start getting ready. We might not have gotten too much decking down this weekend but at least we now have the materials to be able to get some work done.


Friday Head Start

16 Jun

We got done a little early at work so I got to work finding some more lumber. Unfortunately, the shipment they got in at Florence did not include the lengths we were looking for. I called another place in Huntington and they were also short on supply. Finally I called Nassau Suffolk right down the street in Locust Valley and they showed on the computer that they had 2100 linear feet in stock. We ran and emptied the trailer and ran over there and tried to see what they had. Of course they were getting close to shutting down so all the trucks were in the lumber house which blocks most of the wood from being accessible. We were able to get a couple 20 footers that we need, but the supply looked a bit short by at least half compared to what I would expect 2100 linear feet to look like. So I asked if there was more and he found a fresh bundle which conveniently has a tag on the end that describes what’s in the bundle.

So I plan to go back in the morning when all the trucks and fork lifts will be out of the lumber house and the bundle will be accessible and hopefully they will let me pull exactly what we’re looking for.

For an update on what REALLY went down, read this post.

We were able to use some of the wood we got and put down 3 rows of boards, which is pretty good for an after work decking session. Theoretically we have 12 or 13 rows left after what we did this evening. We’re getting there!

Shuffle the Deck…ing

14 Jun

We’ve got a little wood shuffling to do with our wood supply. We ran into a few sub-par boards, and we did an inventory of our remaining supply and decided we need to turn in a number of boards and exchange them for a few boards that will better fit in to our layout plan. Last weekend we sort of hit a wall where we couldn’t do too much more because we had lots of boards that were just not quite right. We wound up losing some time to head scratching and pondering trying to figure out how make the wrong length boards fit.
The lumber yard had run short on the decking but they are restocked now so I should be able to do a little pick up on Friday so we can get back to work on Saturday. I’ve given our wish list to our salesman so hopefully he’ll be able to get us exactly what we are looking for so we can proceed without further complications.

Side Effects May Include Diarreah

13 Jun


Apparently putting down 750 square feet of decking creates a very large target for birds to poop on.


It looks like we’re going to have to stay on top of this bird poop problem or we could have some poopy stain removal on our hands, I mean, not literally on our hands, but… you know what I mean!

God knows what’ll happen when these birds have a railing to sit on.