a solitary man
Everytime I get back home to LA after working on my cabin, I end up being completely wiped out. Now it’s true, I AM over 40 (barely) and I’m not as spry as I used to be (so maybe I enjoy a beer or two now and then), but after a weekend working up on my mountain, my ass is grass. At what point will my body just get used to all this manual labor?
I really need to get the front wall’s siding up and I’m still unemployed, so off to the lumber yard I go. I decided to use 1×6 spruce shiplap siding for the front wall. It’s more affordable than the cedar I dream about and really, I’m gonna stain the life out of it anyway. $124 to the grumpy old guy at Stock Building Supply and I’m on the freeway before noon.
The weather is spectacular and the air is clear as I hit 4000 feet on the mountain roads. It’s going to be a grand few days! First thing I do is start to clear all my supplies out of the cabin. Tools, stains, sawhorses, screws, nails, all of it. Getting in and out of the cabin is tough, there’s no steps and the door is 18″ off the ground. Could THIS be the source of my tired, aching legs and butt? I go in and out of this cabin constantly, heaving my manly frame up and back down over the threshold. I really need some steps.
I’ll build a stoop, a mini-deck so I can step gingerly onto it, then into the cabin! My sore glutes will be gone forever!
I have a good pile of 4×6, 4×4, and 2×6’s that I’m saving for the deck. I already have some Olympic solid stain in Autumn Brown that I bought, I can use this for the deck boards. Since the weather is blustery and I need to paint all 6 sides of each board, I decide to paint them first, before heading into town for supplies.
It takes an hour to paint all 15 deck boards and the 4×6 joists, then I head down the mountain to the local hardware store for Simpson connectors and concrete footing blocks.
$30 for connectors, blocks, a $10 dinner and 90 minutes later I’m back on the mountain.
I grade the area with a shovel and hard rake, lay the footings down, level them and pour some gravel around for stability. I put down some pressure-treated 4×4’s to keep the joists off the concrete (or they will rot). Check my level again, all is perfect!
I bought 4×4 Simpson connectors to attach the 4×6 joists to the 4×4’s. They are cheap (about 4$ each) and make the deck rock-solid stable.
The deck boards nail down and VOILA! A stoop is born.
Before I can put up the siding on the front wall, it needs to be stained with 2 coats and sealed on the back side (heeh heeh, he said “backside”). In this chill weather, I need 24 hours between each coat so I lay the siding out and stain away.
I notice that in the eaves over the large glass windows, there are 2 bird’s nests. Now I love all things feathered, fuzzy and furry but I’d prefer that critters not share my cabin with me. I’ll need to close in the eaves before the siding goes up. Back into town for some more lumber.
I decide to use 4×8 composite siding panels for the eaves. They’ll look more consistent next to the panels already installed, plus it will be simpler (and WAY cheaper) to install than tongue and groove pine boards. $60 for 2 4×8 sheets and I’m back.
I measure and cut the panels to fit under each eave, tomorrow I’ll paint the un-primed backs with semi-gloss trim paint in case water seeps in (I don’t want the composite fiberboard to warp). I paint the back of the spruce siding with Olympic clear waterproof deck sealer.
Once this is dry to the touch, it will be 24 hours since the first stain coat and I’ll re-coat the spruce siding with more Olympic Oxford Brown Semi-Transparent stain. They look gorgeous!
Sun is setting, temps are dropping (already in the 40’s, brrrr!) time to head into the trailer for the night.
Morning is tough, I’m groggy and sore. I spill coffee grounds all over the trailer floor. The grey water tank is full, the battery is drained. Uhghh.
I cook up some sausages on French bread, mmmmm. The birds are singing, rabbits are hopping, sun is shining, I cheer up.
The eave panels install easily, if by easily you mean hanging them upside down, 12 feet in the air, dangling off a ladder (alone in the remote woods) holding a screw gun in the same hand as the panel. I slap some trim paint on everything and it looks pretty darn great!
I do the rear eave easily and it looks great as well!
In order to close in the side eaves I’ll have to install an inner surface to nail the panels onto. This will be a 2×12 laid horizontally across the roof supports and nailed onto the siding. I have no desire to do this. I’m tired, it’s hot and I wanna get home to a warm bath and my giant plasma screen TV. I wuss out, clean up and take my tired butt back to LA.
Building this cabin by myself is teaching me several things…
#1, I really can do anything if i set my mind to it.
#2, The devil is in the details
#3, There are LOTS of details and…
#4 This is taking WAY longer than I ever imagined.
I started clearing and grading the land for this cabin last September. I need to be done with the darn thing by this September. Am I getting discouraged? No. I’m simply getting tired and although it’s beautiful up there, I get lonely all by myself. My mates all work during the week and can only come up for a day or two now and then. With a round trip costing over $120 in gas, I need to be practical. I really need to spend at least 2-3 days there and get as much work done as possible. That kinda makes it difficult for my buds to join me.
Once the cabin is finished, there will be a comfy bed to rest my tired back (maybe even a 12-volt TV), but until then it’s just me, my unemployed aching bones, my dwindling pile of pennies and a dream that just doesn’t seem to die.
Viva la Cabin
E. aka UrbanRancher