And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Creative Carpentry, or, I Think I May Have Inhaled an Entire Tree

What do you get when you mix two intellectually gifted but very unhandy people with a home improvement project that is not exactly cut-and-dried? I don't know, but if you want to see the answer, come hang out in our basement.

It all started when I fell in love with a tin-tile-like ceiling at Lowe's and decided I had to have it for my office. Hey, look! It's called E-Z Track! There should be no problem then, right? And look! It installs over joists. We have joists over which to install it. Yay! I get my ceiling!

Um, not so fast. Because it installs flush with the joists, and we have inconveniences like gas pipes and electrical wires and water pipes hanging down a bit below the joists. Hm. Oh. What do we do now?

There were several solution iterations tried out during our "thought experiment" phase (and we've been thinking about this for quite a while). What we finally arrived at was a form of "furring strip" to extend the joists and essentially make them thicker, to which we would then fasten the track of the ceiling system. Of course, we had to drop it down by almost 4 inches to accommodate the pipes, so we decided to use blocks cut from 2x4s as our "furring strips." But how would we fasten these blocks to the joists? Toenail them? Drill in diagonally from each side? We finally decided to use pieces of 1x2 to fasten vertically to both the block and the joist, one on each side of the joist.

Now there are 14 joists, and we need to fasten 12 tracks. 14 x 12 = 168 blocks needed. And 336 1x2 fasteners. Eeks. Fortunately, I've rediscovered my love for the compound miter saw, not to mention I'm able to cut the 1x2 sections in a bundle of 6 at a time. And we're using a nail gun, so that makes it a little bit easier (although 336 x 8 = 2,688 nails, and we're going to need to go to the hardware store [again!] and pick up some more nail-gun strips). However, I'm finding out that sawdust and asthma just don't mix. Dave finally dug out a mask for me, but it's darned uncomfortable.

So I've just fastened one piece of 1x2 to each of, um (quick calculation in my head: 6 8' 2x4s, with 24 blocks out of each, equals . . .) 144 blocks. Dave asked if I felt a bit like Rosie the Riveter, but I actually felt like the 6-year-old assigned to nail scrap pieces of wood together so she won't get in the way of real woodwork. In the meantime, he's solving the problem of fastening suspended ceiling track to the soffit that was built with no studs -- he's finding another use for the 1x2 pieces. One of these days, we'll get our part done so we can call the contractor back to finish the job. It's got to be finished by the second week of June, though, since that's when all our company arrives! Maybe I'll start getting some of the ceiling pieces together tonight. Then again, Veronica Mars, The West Wing, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy are all new tonight . . . Hey! I think I may have just realized why this project is taking so darned long . . .