Shangri La

Shangri La

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Flooring Begins!

We can smile because our backs have not yet given out. They will.

Over a particularly good IPA one evening a month ago, Braumeister and I formulated a plan whereby we would rent a popup camper and he, Mrs. Braumeister and The Girl would join us for Memorial Day. The concept was that The Boy and The Girl would keep each other occupied while the ladies availed themselves of the myriad Vermont distractions while I and Braumeister tackled the hardwood flooring. In my mind, it was all cookouts with organic VT faire, good microbrews, and campfires under the stars.

And the work, of course.

The gods were only partially with us, though: The weather over Memorial Day weekend was less ‘bucolic spring’ and more ‘monsoon’, resulting in a sleepless (but mirth-filled) camper experience coupled with our first indoor ‘campfire’.

Strange, but fun.

Fortunately, Sunday lived up to its name, and we (mostly) completed the downstairs floors and celebrated with some really killer microbrews, gourmet VT grilled pizzas (thank you LSW and Mrs. Braumeister!) and a campfire under the stars. Nice, nice, nice!

Day #1. We got this far before the nail gun stopped working.

Some random notes:
  • The nail gun was on loan from one of my employees, which turned into an awkward fact when it stopped working 4 hours into day 1. It seemed to be firing (or was it?), but the nails were not feeding. This was bad for two reasons: 1) The weekends work was in jeopardy and 2) there is no way I can return a borrowed tool – to my employee – not working. We solved the first problem by driving an hour to the Keene, NH Home Depot to rent a floor nailer. The second problem has yet to be solved, but will probably involve disassembling, cleaning, and praying. These bad boys are almost $500, and I really don’t want to buy one. (Renting one, btw, is $35/day – a no-brainer if you have less than 1,000 sq ft to do…)
  • A popup camper - $350 for the weekend – is worth 4 times that in that it will keep your 7-year old and his friend out of your hair for an entire weekend, no questions asked. Pretty cool little rig, too – at about $7,000 new, a viable – and more flexible – alternative to building a guest cottage. At $3,000 used…
  • The LSW and Mrs. Braumeister took The Boy and The Girl to Billings Farm on Sunday, to rave reviews. Apparently beautiful, engaging and educational for all involved. I and Mr. Braumeister wouldn’t know, as we spend the entire day discovering how tempermental our middle-aged backs actually are.
  • A recent commenter to this blog dropped by with his wife on Sunday, and we had a brief – but enjoyable – conversation. Like us, they are pursuing the dream of building their own place in Shangri-la, not that far from us. They, however, are made of sterner stuff – living with far fewer amenities over the last 6 years, and doing things like excavating for the foundation themselves. My hat is off to them, and I look forward to dropping in to see their progress soon.
  • Flooring is not difficult, but it is tough on the back. You are continually bent over selecting pieces, laying pieces, and nailing them in place. The flooring nailer is a slick piece of kit, and I was pretty proud of the way I could knock even bowed pieces in place almost as fast as the guys you see on YouTube. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If what you are doing is difficult, it is because you don’t have the right tool.
  • Vermont pepperoni and smoked VT cheddar make for an awesome grilled pizza! And there is no better way to enjoy grilled gourmet VT pizza than around a campfire followed by s’mores under the stars.
  • It will take you almost 4 hours to completely clean, disinfect and switch the hinges on the free refrigerator you got while delivering sold woodworking tools listed on Craigslist. You think it will take 30 minutes, but it won’t. It will be awesome to have all that cooling capacity for your microbrews, but it will be sorta sad to introduce the ‘modern world’ buzz to your quiet cabin evenings.
  • Being able to tow a camper behind your modest, cheap, 2WD, 4-cylinder Ford Ranger will make you fall in love with it all over again. How does anyone live without a pickup? Be damned if I know…
  • ‘Mill Run’ flooring is interesting; about 30% of it will have the puttied knots and imperfections that you bought it for (‘character’) but you will discard all of this trying to get a relatively uniform appearance – even though that is NOT what you wanted. You will fight with yourself even to include the darker pieces that are otherwise perfect. In the end you will wish you had just picked out the pieces randomly and lived with the results. Oh well – maybe for the lofts…
  • Flooring joins framing and wallboarding as the jobs that most radically transform the appearance of the building. What a rush to stand back and see that dirty, faded subflooring (that you have been looking at since day 1) replaced by beautiful, clean oak.
  • The new flooring, however, affords much less traction, and you may find yourself stepping onto your loft as the ladder providing 90% of your support suddenly gives way. When that happens, every 1/100 of a second will be world onto itself as you desperately attempt to avoid a major injury. Fun, fun, fun! The LSW and the Braumeister watched the whole thing in real time, so perhaps we can get the LSW’s perspective in a future blog post. My first words after the pain allowed me to speak: "Please tell me the floor isn't scratched..."
Done! Except for the last 4 rows on the left...

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