Sunday, December 2, 2012

Project Recap

It seemed that the JayBee project was on a tiny roll during the autumn months, but that ended when winter cold moved in and I came down with a heavy cold. Even though I'm recovering from the illness part, the winter and the holiday season will keep me busy and away from making real progress on the JayBee for awhile.

I celebrated a birthday some days ago. Take a look at this unique and appropriate gift from my sister. She painstakingly colorized my JayBee drawing and then had the image put on a set of postage stamps. So cute! Also the perfect gift for someone who is diligently (and ever so slowly) downsizing (and doesn't need more "stuff").

As I was recently recapping the project in my mind--going over how far along things are and how much more there is to do--I went back and reviewed photos of the project thus far. Even though I've been a director and carpenter throughout, there are photos that surprise me--that make me think "I did that?!" or "However did that get done?!" Strange phenomenon, that. It's a good exercise--to review and remember; it provides inspiration, and also some reassurance that surely the rest will happen eventually too.

If you haven't followed the blog of the Little Yellow Door project, it is worth checking out. Ella built a Tumbleweed Fencl tiny house--and it's done! Ella's "The house that never ends..." post describes so well the paralysis that can set in when self-doubt and the fear and hugeness of the project are allowed to hold sway. Her completed project also so clearly demonstrates the reward that lies in overcoming the mental obstacles by making progress on one tiny piece at a time. Eventually, those pieces add up to a completed home!

I will use the winter months to move forward on these pieces:
- Drawings: I recently finished drawing the framing for the west end bumpout. I plan to complete plumbing and electrical drawings for the JayBee as well. (There are some plumbing bits that need to be done on the JayBee before the west end can be completely closed in.) I will draw the rest of the roof framing and I will calculate exactly where the vents (for the plumbing, the hot water tank, and the stove/heater) will pierce the roof.
- Cabinet Construction: I have drawn plans for a cabinet that will serve as a food pantry in the JayBee and I hope to make a little progress with constructing it this winter. (It will be a rolling cabinet so it can also serve as a wall in front of the hot water tank.) I have some ideas about a mini-cabinet/shelving unit that I want to build next to the JayBee's door to hold keys, mail, a charging station for my phone and iPod, etc. I will draw plans and possibly begin constructing that.
- Research: I will use the winter months to research and consult with some professionals who might help with JayBee construction. I think I'm going to hire someone to install the roofing on the JayBee once the framing and sheathing are done--the major reason being that I don't want to buy the tools it would take to cut the angle cuts on metal roofing. I need to find both a plumber and a electrician; I'd like to do the basics myself but use the professionals to ensure compliance with codes and to make the connections with utilities.

Don't worry; I won't be idle! As I come up with JayBee things of interest, I'll post them.

In the meantime, below are photos from a few recent walks with Bear and George. The dog in the last photo is the neighbor's dog that is allowed to run loose--much to my irritation and the terror of my cats. On a walk with George, I was surprised when he suddenly shot off and disappeared way up the railroad tracks. Well, he knew who would be bounding around the corner a moment later--the dog. She ran in circles trying to follow George's trail--but he was long gone way up the tracks to the left.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

East End Roof 4

It took me all day, but I finally got the sheathing installed on the east end roof!

Also see:

And, for your viewing pleasure, here are photos of Bear strategizing how to climb, climb, climb...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

East End Roof 3

Back to roof work today...

After I opened up the tarps on the east end of the JayBee and climbed up into the loft, I admired the view from the loft window.

I attached hurricane ties to each of the east end roof rafters. Here's a view of some of them from above; I was hanging out the loft window.

Here's a view of them from inside the JayBee.

Here's the inside of the JayBee from the east end loft. It's quite crowded now that I've moved everything inside for the winter. It's hard to maneuver around things, and I've filled it with sawdust by sawing boards inside.

Given the mistakes I've made with angle cuts lately, I decided to create a cardboard template of the roof sheathing before sawing any plywood. Good thing. See the different angles below? The left line was my first thought, and would have been my first cut. The angled line on the right is the correct line.

After 2:00 today, frigid air swooped in. I lasted until 4:30 outside; that's all I could take. Back at it tomorrow.

Also see:

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I know I live in Maine--where we have real winters with snow. I know those north of here who have had a few snowstorms already will think I'm a wimpy southerner. And I know this snow doesn't break any records...

But really?! Snow this early can make the winter very long indeed. I prefer four real seasons--not six months of winter, and the other seasons all crammed into the rest of the year.

I happened to snap this shot just as some of the snow on the JayBee broke loose and slid off the tarps.

It's pouring rain right now. I hear it might reach 60 degrees by the beginning of next week. Sounds like maybe we'll get a bit of reprieve from winter this weekend so I can work on the JayBee.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

East End Roof 2

Beautiful here this weekend, even if a bit breezy and cool.

I had decided to work on the roof of the east end bumpout because I thought it would be a morale boost. I thought it would reassure me of my roof-framing skills so I would feel less intimidated about working on the big roof again. (As it is, I can't believe I'm going to have the JayBee go through another winter without a roof!)

Working on this small roof has had the opposite of the intended effect. I made more mistakes and struggled so much with these tiny rafters! I made mistakes I don't usually make (cutting from the wrong side of a cut that wasn't supposed to go all the way across a board; forgetting to measure twice, cut once) and I miscalculated and mis-imagined and mis-cut more angle cuts than I care to admit! I thought I would never finish.

I spent all Saturday afternoon cutting and re-cutting the rafters that run on the diagonal corners of the roof. Unbelievable how many ways I could screw them up! Finally, today, I had them both done and I installed them. Looking at this one corner rafter (picture below), here are all the elements of it that I managed to mess up more than once.
1) Running from top/upper end to lower end, this rafter slopes down at a 68-degree angle. For some idiotic reason, I'd initially assumed that the angle would be the same as the other rafters (60 degrees) but, of course, if it runs longer but has to end up in the same place at the same height as the other rafters, the angle would have to be different.
2) The top/upper end of this rafter is cut at a 45-degree angle so it can lay flat against the rafter on the right.
3) The top edge of the rafter slopes down to either side at 68-degree angles from the middle.
4) The part of the rafter that hangs out over/beyond the walls is longer than the other rafters--because it projects on the diagonal but has to end at the same distance from both walls as the other rafters.
5) The lower end of the rafter is cut at 45-degree angles from the middle, so the trim boards will fit perfectly against all the rafter ends.
6) The underside edge of the rafter has a large bird's mouth cut out of it--at just the right angle so that the bottom will sit flat on the wall top plates, and the tail end of the rafter will fit right up against the outside walls.

At long last, I had the rafters done.

Next, it was a race against the fading daylight to cut and install all the blocks between the rafters. The angle cuts were more simple, but that didn't keep me from making mistakes and having to recut several of them!

There was not any daylight left to cut and install roof sheathing. Next time!

Also see:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surviving Sandy

I guess we were spared the worst--at least compared to many states south of us. It didn't seem that way during the night last night. It was hard to sleep with the storm howling around, and the cats sleeping on top of me and twitching at every noise. (Bear slept on my face so much, my sinuses are all plugged up this morning.) I gave up checking on the JayBee because seeing the tarps straining against their ropes just made me too nervous. I woke up again at 3:00am; at that point, the predominate feature of the storm here shifted from wind to torrential rain. It sounded like I was in the middle of a river, there was so much water rushing everywhere.

This morning, things look fine. Listening to the news, I'd guess the winds did not top 50-60 mph here. The power is still on. It appears that not one drop of rain got inside the JayBee, and the tarps all look intact. Phew! Dodged that one. My sympathies to those who took the brunt of this storm.

The cats are well, and much calmer today.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Prep 2

When I left for work this morning, this is how the JayBee looked.

When I got home from work, the wind was in the low 20s mph and the top tarp on the JayBee looked and sounded like a sail. Made sense, since the wind of the storm was coming out of the east northeast, but not good.

I used the last bit of daylight to secure the east end of the JayBee with many more ropes. I highly recommend learning and using real knots. I've been using bowlines and tautline hitches--the two knots used on these ropes--for more than 35 years. I can tie them very quickly without hesitation, and feel assured that I'll be able to untie them when I want, even if they get pulled very tight when wet.

The wind is HOWLING out there now. I still have power, but wind is whistling through every crack in this house. The cats are freaked and clinging. I checked on the JayBee; so far, so good. Not much rain yet; I'm sure that will come. We'll see what the morning brings.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Storm (Sandy) Preparation 1

The first thing I did to prepare for Hurricane Sandy was to put another huge tarp over the top of the JayBee. The whole time I was wrestling with the thing, I kept wondering if it would do any good. If the winds are strong enough, would any tarp do any good? During Hurricane Irene last year, tarps did keep the floor of the JayBee dry, even if I did end up having to bail many gallons of water out of the JayBee after the storm.

Then, I turned my attention to the yard. I had sun shades and large tools to move...

...and piles of lumber to weigh down with cinder blocks.

As I labored away, I admired the rising moon.

I took this next photo before I was completely done because I was running out of light. I took the ropes left laying in the driveway and used them to tie down the tarps on the JayBee extra well; it was so dark by then, I had to do it by flashlight. I moved cinder blocks all over the yard to hold down tarps on all the wood piles.

That's the best I can do. We'll see what happens these next few days.

East End Roof 1

Heading into this weekend, I knew I had to batten everything down before high winds from hurricane/storm Sandy arrive in a few days. Bad timing (is there ever a good time to have a big storm blow through?), since I know, if I pack everything away, that probably means I'm done puttering on the JayBee for the winter. I was determined to do one more thing on the JayBee before putting everything away. Since I had drawn the roof framing for the east end bumpout this last week, I thought I'd get that framing done.

First, I gathered a bunch of shorter pieces of 2 x 6s.

Such a beautiful day! It was weird to work outside all day in fine weather, with no hint of a storm brewing, while hearing about the approaching monster storm over the radio.

There were so many ladybugs, they kept landing on my work, in my hair--everywhere.

Cutting tiny rafters...

and cutting complicated compound angles took me all afternoon on Saturday.

Sunday was not nearly as nice. It was all cloudy and cool. Even so, I uncovered the east end of the JayBee.

It took hours to get these rafters installed.

I tried to do the corner rafters as well. I cut and re-cut and re-calculated... Finally, I just had to give up and cover everything up in preparation for Sandy.

Also see:
East End Roof 2
East End Roof 3
East End Roof 4