Starting the Right Wall

Friday, January 24, 2014, 10:00 PM

This was day five of working on the tiny house.  It feels like things are finally starting to come together (literally).  I feel like I’m making more progress and things are getting easier.

Here’s who helped today:

  • Andrew (construction)
  • Leo (construction & drilling)
  • Clyde (construction)
  • Sabine (floor moving)
  • Sheila (food)

Here’s what we accomplished today:

  • Used Leo’s drill press to drill 25  5/8 inch holes in the cross beams on my trailer.  I will run Simpson SDS ¼” diameter by 3 inch galvanized wood screws through these holes and into the joists on my sub-floor to hold the floor to the trailer.
Leo Drilling Holes with His Drill Press

Leo Drilling Holes with His Drill Press

One of 25 Holes in the Trailer Crossbeams

One of 25 Holes in the Trailer Crossbeams

  • Spray painted the holes in the trailer frame black so they wouldn’t rust
  • Put six dollies under the floor and rolled it out of my garage onto my driveway next to my trailer.
  • Moved the floor onto the trailer (no small feat).
  • Glued and screwed the plywood to the floor.
  • Started building the right wall:
    • Cut out all of the wood for the bottom and top plates, sandwiched and clamped them together.
    • Marked the spots for all of the studs (48 inches on center), hurricane tie downs (on either side of the wheel well) and window openings (24 ¾ inch wide rough openings beginning 35 ½ inches from either end of the house).
    • Cut out all of the 75” interior studs, making sure they were all exactly the same length (thanks, Clyde!)
    • Built a jig on the floor of the tiny house by temporarily nailing a two by four at either end of the floor exactly where the edge of the front and rear walls will be.
    • Started to lay out the wall on our brand new floor.
Wheeling the Floor Out of My Garage

Wheeling the Floor Out of My Garage

Standing the Floor Up

Standing the Floor Up

I have been thinking all week about how to move the floor out of the garage and onto the trailer.  It’s not easy to move.  The frame alone weighs about 300 pounds and without the plywood on it, you can’t lift it from the four corners without breaking it in half in the middle.  The way I finally decided to do it involved four people and six dollies.  I put three dollies under each long edge of the floor.  Then, four of us rolled the floor right out of the garage and onto the driveway next to the trailer.  We then lifted it up on its edge, still supported by two dollies and rolled it up close to the trailer.  Then, we carefully lowered it onto the right wheel well, pivoted it over the wheel well and slid it into place on the trailer.  We were all a little bit nervous about this whole maneuver, but in the end it worked out fine.  I think we spent more time wondering if it was actually going to work than it actually took to do it.

Floor on the Trailer

Floor on the Trailer

Today’s Epiphanies:

  • Everything is easier with a second person.  Andrew pointed out today that building a tiny house would be nearly impossible with only one person and I have to say that I agree.  Sometimes, you just need another person to help hold something, lift something or position something.  Even when I only have one more person to help me, I always do more than twice as much work as I would get done on my own.
  • You can’t drill through 3/16 of an inch of hardened steel with a titanium drill bit.  It just heats up, snaps and gets stuck in the hole.  You have to use a drill bit made for cutting metal.  With the right bit, you can drill through the steel on a trailer in 2 or 3 minutes even with a battery operated drill.
  • The best way to drill through 3/16 inch of hardened steel is to find a friend with a drill press.  Luckily, I had such a friend: Leo.  I never would have thought of using a drill press, but Leo suggested it and it worked really well.  We were able to position his drill press on a dolly and roll it right down the width of the trailer, quickly drilling five holes in every other rung on the trailer.  Once we had it all figured out, it only took us about 10-15 seconds per hole.  Awesome!
  • Screwing the first piece of plywood to the frame in both corners on the short end and then using that plywood as a lever is a great way to rack the frame and bring it into square.  However, this only works if you pivot in the right direction (see more details on this below).
  • If you’re gluing plywood to a floor, it’s probably better to put in all of the screws and nails right away instead of waiting until later.  I only screwed down the corners and the edges (and not in the field), thinking I could come back later and fill the rest of it in.  However, I later noticed that some of the plywood was not sitting entirely flat on the floor, meaning that the glue probably dried a bit without the plywood being pressed tightly against the floor.  Oh well.  At least the edges will be glued well.
Installing Plywood

Installing Plywood

Last Piece of the Floor

Last Piece of the Floor

Problems we ran into today:

  • After all my work making sure that the sub-floor frame was square, the final plywood still ended up a little bit out of square today.  It was my fault.  I screwed the first piece of plywood to the back most piece of wood on the floor at each corner and used the plywood as a lever to try to correct a slight outward bow in that piece of wood.  I thought I corrected the bow.  However, what I really did was rack the frame a little bit out of square in the wrong direction.  We didn’t notice this until the first two pieces of plywood had already been glued and screwed to the floor.  In the end, the diagonal measurements ended up being ¼ inch different over ~211 inches.  I’m hoping this error is small enough that I can work around it later and that it won’t cause too many problems.
  • We had trouble with the framing nail gun that my friend, Joy, loaned me earlier this week.  We spent about 40 minutes getting it setup.  Unfortunately, we could not get it to work right.  It kept splitting the wood.  Even worse, it sometimes double fired which seemed kind of dangerous.  I think I will have to do some research or get some help to be able to use that tool correctly.

This was the first day that we made more progress than I thought we would.  I was going to be happy if we simply drilled the holes in the trailer, got the floor onto the trailer and attached the plywood.  The fact that we actually started building the first wall exceeded my expectations and made the day feel really productive.

Favorite part of my day:

  • After two weeks of working at it, finally seeing the floor we had built on the trailer.

Next up:

  • Assembling the right wall
  • Laying out and cutting all the wood for the left wall
Measuring and Marking the Top and Bottom Plates

Measuring and Marking the Top and Bottom Plates

Laying Out the Right Wall

Laying Out the Right Wall

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