Thursday, April 24, 2014

rebellion (AKA: failure)

This is supposed to be a post about sheet-rocking.  We may get there. 

So in the past week I've had a nagging feeling that something with my one-room challenge copycat project is not going quite right.  (It took me a while to pin it down, because it was almost drowned out by the naked terror generated by the objective evidence that the project is going to do me in.  These are distinct problems.  Bear with me.)  Finally, I put aside my "I really should check that out" thought and fired up the ol' internet browser to face the problem head-on.  And I saw what I was afraid of seeing. 

The one-room challenge only claims to be a six-week challenge.  It's all a lie, people.  It's actually a six-POST challenge, but as you'll see almost every blogger involved (the real bloggers involved, not the copycats) uses the words "six weeks" in the introductory text of their ORC posts.  Even though they know - indeed, by this point in the game they are most painfully aware - that it is a FIVE-WEEK CHALLENGE.  (I attribute this to some brand of Stockholm Syndrome, wherein they are so traumatized by the specter of finishing their work in just five weeks that they are compelled to placate Linda, the perceived taskmistress, or else be consumed by terror.)  I had no intention of embarking on a five-week challenge.  As evidence (to counter any implication of recent fabrication - see Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B)), I offer my post of April 2, 2014, wherein I stated that my plan was as follows:

Week 1 - demolition
Week 2 - put up studs; move wires into place for overhead light (including 2 junction boxes)
Week 3 - re-insulate ceiling; drywall, tape, and spackle
Week 4 - paint inside and outside; replace picture rail and baseboard outside
Week 5 - hang light, shelves, and closet poles
Week 6 - put clothes back in

That clearly implies six weeks of working, since I obviously had not started demolition when I wrote that post (the "week one" post) and was not claiming that I could complete any of those steps instantaneously. 

I will also note here that obviously each of the steps I listed was not equally difficult or time-consuming.  Hanging the shelves and closet poles will take a couple of hours (drilling holes doesn't take that long, but leveling everything and triple-checking measurements does), and putting all the clothes in from all over the house might take an hour.  Conversely, demolition was probably more than 10 hours of work.  Framing was about the same.  Whether deliberately or otherwise, the theory underlying my plan was, of course, to front-load the work with hard labor and make things easier as I went along.  (And of course a principal reason for this is that heavy construction is immensely more difficult than painting and decorating.  I get to say that because I've done both; if you haven't and you're insulted, try ripping down some lathe-and-plaster walls and get back to me.) 

I stand by my plan, at any rate - of course you put the hard labor at the beginning, meanwhile collecting supplies for the finishing touches, and if you get behind on the big jobs, you cram it all in at the end in a week that was slated to be less demanding.  I'm not saying I thought it through that carefully, but I do think it makes sense now that I am thinking it through. 

The drawback of that (otherwise brilliant) plan is that when someone bumps your deadline up a week, you're not going to be a week behind.  You're going to be three weeks behind.  (For example, if we pretend that the sixth post comes at the end of the sixth week [even though it is actually the fifth week], then I'll be done with about half of my fourth week work by the end of the sixth week.  Pathetic, of course.  But I still think I'll be really and truly done by the end of the really and truly sixth week.  Though I might not survive the process.) 

All this is to say that I am now in open rebellion, and am hereby declaring my intention to do this project in six weeks just like I said I would at the beginning.  Which is not much of a rebellion, really (unless you count the part about me not reading the fine print as malfeasance.  Yes, I KNOW).  In entire fairness - I know I'm giving Linda and the ORC concept a rough time here, but I'm aware she did a version with six real weeks at one point and the readers got confused.  I think calling the first post "week 0" or "planning week" could sort that out, and might also calm the bloggers somewhat, but I do not actually think she is plotting against me personally, seeing as how she has no idea who I am.  Though she kindly commented on my first ORC copycat post. 

And yes, I do appreciate the irony of complaining about the terms of a voluntary contest that I haven't even technically entered

Though I also wish to note in my sort-of defense that on Sunday I actually dislocated my own jaw trying to set a screw in the last stud in the ceiling, so I am kind of putting it on the line here, in a totally first-world-problems kind of way.  I'm not kidding about the jaw, by the way.  My head was not physically involved in the process, of course (though eventually I'm going to knock myself out with a timber), but I had unconsciously set my jaw as part of an effort to push upward as hard as I possibly could to get the infernal 4" screw all the way in.  The drill just wouldn't turn it any further, but my effort was abruptly halted when I felt an unpleasant sensation in my face and realized that my lower jaw was paralyzed and the left side of it just was not where it typically is.  Fortunately I was able to slide the joint back into place, but then I realized I couldn't open my mouth more than about an inch.  At this point my principal concern was that I would have to go to the hospital, which I thought would be a truly unwarranted interruption of my afternoon.  I decided to begin addressing the situation by washing my hands and feet, which were very dusty, and realized in front of the bathroom mirror that I could open my mouth all the way - but only by sliding my jaw into an odd position first (i.e., I couldn't open it all the way from closed in a smooth motion as I usually do).  It didn't require dislocating it again, and actually it's the exact same way my thumbs work (I'm double-jointed), but that's not how it had previously worked and I found the whole matter concerning.  I was also very tired and had been promising my DH I would take a nap (as soon as I set just one more screw).  I hypothesized that I couldn't open my jaw smoothly because a ligament got stretched when I dislocated it, and said ligament was now swollen and in the way.  So I went to bed with an ice pack in a kitchen towel on my face.  I woke up two and a half hours later with my jaw faintly sore but opening properly, replaced the 4" screw with a 2.5" screw, and called it good.  So then all the ceiling studs were in place:

Oh, I actually did accomplish something this week.  Some of the wiring!  (It was supposed to be 100% done last week.  It's still not done.  Never mind.)  I had to cut out the hole in the luaun panel first, so I could use it to measure just the right spot for the light switch:

I decided to get a little creative with the wiring ("creative with wiring" is generally not recommended).  I did not cut the white (neutral) or bare (grounding) wires, since I'd just have had to re-connect them.  I only cut and stripped the black (hot) wire, so I could attach it to the switch:

Then I put the whole thing together - and, several days later, even got all the conduit to lie flat the way I wanted it:

I had also cut a hole in the back/side of the conduit:

That was to allow the wire to come out over the baseboard:

Then I thought my brad nails had not come from Amazon yet (I love reading the real ORC participants' posts: "My sconces weren't loaded on the most recent boat from Italy, so they're not going to arrive by the end of the challenge and now I have to source replacements."  Then there's me: "My 18-guage nails haven't arrived from Amazon and Home Depot doesn't sell the Stanley brand that fit in my brad nailer, and I have to hang the luaun next or I can't get an accurate measurement of the drywall for the ceiling.  I guess I'll have to patch the floor tonight instead").  So, you know the hole in the floor:

Did you notice that the boards on one side didn't line up with the ones on the other?  I didn't until I got right next to them:

Which means it is not humanly possible for the patching boards to match up to the originals.  Which is great, because I didn't even manage to cut the pieces particularly straight.  And I thought the circular saw couldn't cut curved lines!  When I finally gave up on the sheet-rocking (spoiler!), I decided that a totally reasonable focus for my remaining time and energy was that little floor patch.  It has now been sanded (to no discernible effect - the original flooring on one side is higher than on the other side anyway, and uneven, so I was never going to get it smooth without some industrial-grade wood removal), stained (with what I thought was an orange ink cartridge for my calligraphy pen, but in retrospect I think was yellow.  Not that it matters - it barely changed the color at all), and varnished (two coats):

The board on one side is just lying there, to offer a comparison with the original color of the new wood.  (The darker spot is just a light reflection - the varnish was wet in that picture.)  It is getting more orange, thanks entirely to the varnish.  I might just put on eight coats and see whether I can get it to match closer.  If anything in the closet deserves disproportionate attention, it obviously is the floor patch. 

It turned out that the box from Amazon had been delivered but was stuck behind the front door.  So the next day, it was on to luaun! 

I put approximately 50 brad nails in that panel.  (And managed to get the side of my hand into the photo.  It's hard to get a good angle on that wall - stuffing my hand into the frame helps.)  It had better not come off.  Remember before? 

Oh my goodness.  So much better.  I never measure anything exactly right, and it really fit perfectly - even the light switch hole that I was sure would not fit:

Obviously, that's pretty ugly.  It's because usually the rough hole is around the junction box for a switch, and is covered up by the switchplate.  I'm using an in-line junction box, which is wider, so that's not possible.  But I'm planning to cover the gap with trim so it looks magnificent.  Stay tuned for that.  Oh, I also cut a notch in the luaun to accommodate the wire coming out over the baseboard.  That worked well, too:

Anyway, I figured I would need my DH's help to hold the ceiling drywall while I set the screws (and that piece of drywall really has to go in first).  So I tried to do everything that wasn't dependent on the ceiling piece, in no particular order.  I (mostly) finished patching the floor.  I swept.  I measured the ceiling drywall.  It wasn't an even rectangle - one side angles a bit - and the first time, I got the angle in the wrong direction.  So I re-marked it, snapped it to length and width, measured and marked the hole for the light fixture box, and cut it out:

In the process of double-checking my measurements (the ones on the side that was at an angle), I forgot my careful mental note to add the 3" for the tape measure box.  I made the entire piece 3" short, which I realized last night after ten minutes of work (mostly my husband's) wrestling it up to the ceiling.  I also discovered that it was too wide (slightly), though it's hard to say by how much.  I would have energetically shaved the sides down and put it back up, but the realization that even if I did so it would be 3" too short and thus have no anchor at one end (it would just miss the stud) had me so demoralized I just gave up on drywall for the night.  (This is after having an unexpected evening guest and losing 2 hours of work time, by the way.  I love guests.  But I would love them so much more after this project were finished and I removed the sawdust and cleaned the house - oh, and got some sleep.)  By the time I went to bed I had figured out a way to get the too-short drywall properly attached (and I've already shaved the sides - we'll see whether it's enough).  And of course I'll need to ever-so-carefully break a 3" patch piece, and tape the seam perfectly.  Nothing like lots of precise work that I could have avoided altogether.  So I'm hoping that will happen tonight.  But, the official verdict: this past week was drywall-taping-mudding, and I have done zero drywall, zero taping, and zero mudding.  ZERO.  I don't know how much of a difference it makes that I have now done 90% of the things that were nowhere on the list and just had to get done some time. 

Such as - installing the trim around the door - you know, the stuff I'm using to cover the damage to the plaster back there:

Right.  So I had to cut off the end of one of the shelf supports to make room for the trim.  You can see it in this picture - the blue horizontal board on the back wall:

First I sawed through it, then I started tapping it out at the edges.  I was careful not to use the plaster itself for leverage to pry it out.  But the plaster was on a suicide mission.  It would not let me clear the way for trim that would protect it unless it got a chance to destroy itself first:

More patching, I guess.  Add it to the list.  I did get most of the trim on:

I'm pretty proud of my cutting around the existing baseboard: 

Not because normal people usually have a problem with that, but because I usually manage to screw it up. 

Tragically, however, that is all the progress I have.  But by next week, I certainly hope to have the drywall, taping, and spackling done.  Plus lots of the little projects (mostly patching) that didn't deserve a whole point on the list.  And I hope to have the painting at least started, along with the new trim in the green bedroom. 

My progress isn't all that impressive, and my verbosity is really over the top.  (Especially the whining, I realize.)  But I like to think I bring one signal virtue to this project: I am not "saving" anything to show you in my Big Reveal Post.  If I worked on it in the past week, you're going to see it.  Of course, I haven't done anything to date that's worth showing off with great fanfare (too bad I didn't take a picture of my messed-up jaw, right?), but still.  I wouldn't hold out on you like that. 

I am sharing all this pathetic-ness at Linda's round-up


  1. This is the most fun-stress you can have!! Any progress is progress...looking forward to next week!

  2. You cannot even compare what you are doing to 99% of the participants. And your lamp to nail comparison made me laugh. This is a massive project and it's awesome that you are doing it on this crazy timeline. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get your drywall up, especially after the realization that it was really only 5 weeks (I had no idea either). I could never finish a project that involves drywall in 6 weeks because I procrastinate, but you some seem more to have the motivation and skill to do it. Best of luck in weeks 5 and the real week 6.

  3. Yup. When I realised week one was really, actually, week zero, I officially freaked. Then I realised I've been scheduled to work about forty hours between week 5 and week 6 (at my part time! job) --and I am depressed. However, I promise to try and find you and check on your progress and the big reveal if I can keep my eyelids open.

    Oh and too short dry-wall? Floor patches? Ugly electrical? Yours looks better than mine! I don't think I'll ever blithely agree to "take out the closet" ever again.

  4. Ha! So sorry for your trials and tribulations, but they did give me a good laugh . . . .

  5. I'm not sure if we are still friends? Yes, there was a "7" posting, six week challenge once, and it really dragged on and on for the viewers. Since the announcement goes out six months in advance, there are no 'start now' rules, only six posts. Life always gets in the way, and this should be fun. Don't compare yourself to anyone else, you are running your own race. Do what you can and feel good about that. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know I say "it is all so silly, anyway". Please don't stress over this. You can give me a hard time, anytime.

    1. HA! Sure, we're still friends :). If I didn't have anything to whine about, I wouldn't have a blog at all! And of course, if I were sensible, I would have started WAY in advance. For strictest accuracy - I decided to follow along because I'm a big fan of the ORC idea and I thought it would be fun, and because I needed to get this project knocked out before it was time to focus on outdoor projects, and before we had visitors and needed not to have a construction site upstairs any more! (And don't tell anyone, but I think I'm going to finish in five weeks.) It's probably good advice about the stress, but I've never escaped a large project without a phase of cursing my existence here and there, and I keep doing them, so it's obviously worth it somehow :).