Thursday, April 17, 2014


OK, mostly framed.  So last week, we left off here:

Where I had smashed things.  So, it was time for framing.  I started out by framing the larger of the new walls:

Just getting the top, bottom, middle, and right studs in took me the first evening; the middle three had to go in the next night.  Framing is hard work!  The difficult part is that you generally need two hands to attach stuff with any kind of power tool, but also 1-2 hands to hold the weight of the studs (which are moderately heavy, and especially hard to control if you have them by just one end).  I found my head worked as a good substitute brace.  You may also notice something of a flaw in my top-left corner there.  Here's a close-up:

So I realized that, despite being the same length (after correcting for the depth of the baseboard - I actually did plan this process carefully), the top beam stood out further to the left (in absolute terms) than the bottom one.  I simply had no way to measure this until I could get the vertical beam between them and check it for level, so cutting the top one to the correct length before attaching it to the ceiling would have required time travel.  Instead, I figured I would just set the vertical piece to correct level, and cut off the excess.  Maybe you could see this one coming: I over-corrected, and the vertical beam leans in slightly. 

I actually used a level constantly during this process, but most of the studs are slightly off level somewhere or other.  (A few are actually un-level as a result of my using a level, in that my eyeballed measurement was more accurate.  I am at a loss to explain how this is possible, other than a brief anomaly in the earth's gravity.  Actually, if such an anomaly occurred, I would expect it to coincide with my framing project.)  I consoled myself repeatedly with the notion that these walls are not really structural.  As long as they stay up and hold up the drywall, we're good. 

Oh, on the subject of errors.  There is a right way and a wrong way to frame walls.  If the TV is to be believed (maybe), the right way is to build the whole frame (with zero measuring errors!) on the ground, so you can use a framing nailer to attach the top stud and the bottom stud to the vertical pieces, all the way across.  Then you swing the whole thing up, pound it into place (because your perfect measurements will have made it super-snug in every dimension), and nail or screw it to the floor and ceiling.  There are probably several wrong ways, but here is the one I used.  First I screwed the bottom piece into the floor:

That black dot in the middle is a 3" screw.  (I had a whole box of 2" screws, and a handful of 3" ones, left over from pulling them all out of the original porch floor when I demolished it.  I'm glad I kept them - I've been using them ever since.) 

I pondered several ways to proceed from there, but I ultimately decided that I had to attach the top piece to the ceiling next, and then attach the left and right pieces to that (which would more permanently hold its weight).  I had forgotten about the importance of making all the pieces extra-snug, so I was cutting them slightly loose so they would fit without trouble.  (OK, partly that was just an accident.  But I wasn't trying to cut them tight yet.)  This didn't seem difficult.  I had some enormous nails left over from the demolition phase (when the closet was built they were not using screws yet).  I figured pounding them over my head would be mildly strenuous, but no big deal. 

I was wrong.  The nails simply would not go in.  I even took the beam down and sunk the nails through it until they broke the other side, so I'd only have to pound into the ceiling from there.  They simply wouldn't go.  The hammering had a rubbery bounce-back quality that I am at a loss to explain, but which I remember from putting in the baseboard and waiscoting in the kitchen.  The upshot there was that I destroyed a ton of plaster and never got the nails really secure.  I could see that I was already destroying plaster in the ceiling, and decided to cut my losses.  And I didn't want to use screws because I was running out of the long ones, and I had no idea how I could hold all the items over my head at once.  But I was not letting the ceiling win without throwing at it the maximum violence I could muster. 

Enter pneumatic nailer.  And more ceiling problems.  The compressor is hideously loud, and I had been hoping to avoid using it.  But when you need to conquer rebellious materials, nothing else will do.  So the top stud went in, and then the side ones, and then the next night, the middle ones.  Since I didn't lay the whole thing out on the floor and nail through the bottom piece, I had to get creative with attaching the vertical parts.  I used screws at an angle:
I'm not sure you can make that out in the picture, but about 3/4" from the bottom of the vertical post, there's a dark gray screw-head set in at an angle.  After the vertical posts were in, it was time for the little facing wall:
Here I contemplate my next move.  I screwed both bottom pieces right in on top of the tape, by the way:
I couldn't think of a better way to do it.  Actually, by the time I got to this piece, I was really running low on 3" screws, so I used some of the giant nails left over from demolition.  I had been worried that the bottom stud on the longer wall could be pulled out by the weight of the rest of the framing when it went on, but I was going to be attaching the vertical studs on the shorter wall to the other wall, and I figured the right angle would stabilize them all.  So I wasn't worried about just nailing this piece in.  And then it was time to fix my little error from earlier:
Thank you, again, reciprocating saw.  Then the rest of the framing for the side wall could go in:
At that point I was able to visualize an issue I hadn't previously considered.  (I've spent hours pondering the next stage of the project, visualizing exactly what I will do, step-by-step.  And even though I definitely miss things, I actually do think of a lot of stuff in advance so I can plan around it.  I continue to maintain that obsession is productive.)  One of the principal functions of studs is to screw drywall into.  On the outside of the longer wall, the drywall can be screwed into each stud.  But once I put in the smaller wall, the far-left stud on the longer wall became unreachable from inside:
You may have to turn it around in your mind for a minute to see it.  I did.  I have actually seen what real carpenters do to avoid this problem.  They set the studs like this:

That would be way more intelligent.  I did not do that.  (Shocking.)  Since I had been planning to attach two shelf brackets to that stud, as well as the drywall, I decided to use blocking instead.  The shelf brackets (not yet purchased) look like this:

They have holes for two screws.  Since I don't have them yet and didn't want to wait, I eyeballed the screw hole placement based on the item's overall dimensions, and set the blocking that distance apart (two pieces of blocking per shelf bracket, since they have two screw holes).  The blocking is 3.5" thick, so I have some wiggle room, but I hope I guessed right.  Et voila:

The uppper closet pole in that half of the closet will be all the way up at the ceiling - no shelf.  That's going to be my side of the closet (I figured that if my DH's side is closer to the door, he will be more likely to use the closet), and I already have the shelves set inside the wall, plus I have dresses to hang, which are longer.  My DH's side will have the upper closet pole about 14" down from the ceiling so he can have a shelf above both the upper and the lower closet poles.  The lower closet pole will be at the same height all the way across, by the way.  (Yes, I have thought about this a lot.) 
Next, it was time for the ceiling beams (to hang the drywall ceiling on - the existing framing above isn't in the right places to support it):
So that's three pieces.  There should be five pieces, one for each stud in the new wall.  But I ran out of 4" screws (and 3" screws - I had exactly enough for the blocking).  At least I cut the extra pieces, so all I have to do is attach them, after I come back with some screws:
They are supposed to be different lengths; one abuts a piece of framing at the end and one doesn't.  (The latter will be attached to the framing sideways.)  Oh, and the middle of the three ceiling beams had something attached to it before I put it up:
That's a ceiling junction box.  The easiest item to use would have been this type:
Because it's made to nail into the stud next to it, which is what I need to do.  However, it was more than 2" deep.  The stud is 1.5" deep, and the drywall will be .5" deep.  So that's not going to work.  The metal box I used is 1.5" deep, which I can work with (I just need to substitute the screws that attach the box to the fixture's hanging strap for longer ones, but I've already found some in my stash that will work.  I took apart the box and the light and fitted them together before I attached the box, just to make sure the assembly would work).  Also before I attached the box, I traced it:
I'm going to need that tracing to cut out the right size hole in the drywall that goes on the closet ceiling.  Oh, I also note that there were no ceiling (i.e., round) boxes in the store less than 2" deep that were meant to attach to a stud next to them.  But I realized that the metal box had screw holes for a side bracket that I didn't need, so I could use the holes to screw it into the stud instead.  I also remembered to hook the wire into the box before I put up the next ceiling beam:
That way I could loop the wire over the next ceiling beam where it needs to go, and be sure that I had enough at the end to wire the light. 
So, I was supposed to get all the framing done this week, and I have two pieces that still need to be attached.  I was also supposed to do the wiring, and this is all the "wiring" I've done:
Actually, I think running wire does count.  But I still need to put conduit around it, and attach it to the light, the light switch, and the power source.  So all that will now have to happen next week.  Which is "sheet rock/taping/mudding" week, which is plenty of work in itself.  Oh, and also, next week would be a good time to add some wide molding around that doorway - as you can see in the picture above, the plaster around it is starting to crumble, and covering it with wood is the simplest way I know to fix it.  (I don't want to rip it off and redo it, and I'd want the door framed anyway, so there you are.)  And also, while we're on the subject, the wiring is running down a ditch in the wall, which will need to be covered.  Plus there's the wallpaper up there.  This wallpaper:
It's old - I don't know whether it's original.  It's really cool, but I can't save it, both because the area I have is so small, and because the plaster behind the paper is really crumbling.  I have saved a scrap of the paper to frame, but my plan for that whole wall is that after I get the wiring in, I'm going to cover that entire (small) wall of the closet with a piece of 3/16" thick luaun (plywood), which I already have left over.  That will cover the wallpaper portion, the ditch, and the (perfectly sound) green wall on the other side.  Since it's not very thick, it shouldn't be too obtrusive, and will even leave the baseboard showing at the bottom.  But, I will have to cut it carefully around the light switch, which will be a pain.  Oh, and I have to patch the flooring, too!  And that giant hole in the plaster...
Next week should be fun.  Pray for me. 
Sharing in Linda's round-up of ORC copycats here


  1. Serious construction happening there. Love the idea of framing even a fragment of that paper. Very sweet.

  2. Wow, framing alone without the pneumatic - you are tough! I wouldn't get past the bottom plate without it. Good luck with the rest of your framing!

    Oh, and if you don't use conduit for the entire run of romex, add some nail stops :) For some reason I've always found that to be the most rewarding part of the job.

    1. Wiring, or adding nail stops??

      I'm planning to use conduit around all the wiring in/along the wall (I've bought ten feet of the hard plastic stuff, since the metal won't fit in my wall cavity), but I wasn't going to protect the stuff inside the ceiling, since it will all be between the new studs I've put in and beams that were already in there. I figured any nailing would go into one side or the other, but not all the way through, and wiring that's attached to framing isn't usually further insulated unless it's in a vulnerable spot (say, drilled through a stud fairly close to the surface) - at least, so far as I've been able to tell. But I could do some nailers against the ceiling studs maybe...? Will look into it!

  3. Good heavens, what a lot of work! Hope next week goes better.

  4. Looks like you were able to successfully work through issues! Great job!