Sunday was Chareva’s birthday. When I asked several days ago what she wanted for her birthday, she thought for a minute, then replied, “You know what I’d really like? I’d like us to start finishing the inside of Sara’s cabin this weekend.”
I immediately recognized how considerate she was being. Instead of shopping for an hour and spending, say, 100 bucks for a present, I could now spend several times that amount on building materials, then put in two long days of manual labor to start, with several more to follow. You’ve got to love a wife who doesn’t take advantage of her husband’s generosity. So I enthusiastically agreed to the plan.
She then informed me that building materials are supposed to “acclimate to the environment” for a few days before being installed. When I asked for a translation, she said it means we should buy the building materials no later than Wednesday and put them in the cabin.
Well, okay then. It’s Sara’s cabin, so it was up to her to decide what we’d use to finish the inside. Some kind of paneling? Vertical planks? Horizontal planks?
Chareva was rooting for horizontal planks because she likes how they look. I was rooting for horizontal planks because I have no flippin’ idea how to cut and fit paneling around windows and doors. After much hemming and hawing and walking around Lowe’s looking at different options, Sara decided she liked horizontal planks. Whew. I did some quick math and estimated that 100 pine planks would do the trick, with enough to spare for the inevitable mistakes. We also picked up several rolls of insulation, an extra hammer and a shootload of panel nails.
The primary task was to cover the inside of the cabin with the planks. Here’s what the inside looked like before we started.
But before tackling that job, we needed to build a set of stairs. In its previous location, the front of the cabin was near the ground. Now it’s on a hill, and without stairs, that would be quite a step up.
We began the interior decorating with the back wall. The planks aren’t as long as the wall, so we had to choose where to join them. Sara was quite opinionated about where the joins should go. She wanted them staggered. Here she is explaining the correct pattern.
We’re not exactly what you’d call experienced carpenters, so I wondered how many panel nails we’d bend and have to yank out, then try again. I’m happy the say the answer is: only a few. Sara hammered away all day and did a fine job. So did Chareva. I did some hammering as well, but my primary job was to cut the planks with a miter saw.
The insulation is 18 inches wide. That’s because in houses, the 2x4s are 18 inches apart. In the cabin, the distance between 2x4s varied from 16 inches to 24 inches. So we ended up turning the insulation sideways and cutting it to fit, then stuffing it behind the planks.
By the end of our workday on Saturday, we had the back wall done. Here’s Sara pounding in the last nail.
Even though Chareva was happy to make the construction project her birthday present, I suggested we head out Saturday night for a nice dinner. October happens to be Wild Game Month at Rodizio Grill in downtown Nashville, one of those awesome Brazilian steakhouses where they keep bringing meat to your table until you tell them to stop. In addition to the usual variety of meats, we got to sample wild boar and rattlesnake sausage. That’s the sausage below.
Here’s the birthday girl with her husband outside the restaurant.
On Sunday, we decided we’d best tackle the front walls of the cabin, which include the front door and the windows and therefore require a bit of precision.
I observed the measure-twice, cut-once rule to avoid wasting wood. I also did more hammering on Sunday, and managed to only smack my thumb once. Not bad for a amateur.
By the end of the day, the front walls were done and looking pretty good.
We still have the side walls to cover. I don’t expect those to be much trouble. The interesting part will be figuring out what to with the upper part of the cabin. Here’s why:
I have no idea how we’ll cover those angles. But I’m sure we’ll figure it out. And I’m sure when we’re done, we’ll be enjoying a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied.