Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lessons from old-timers

Here's us trying to learn from our craftsmen ancestors:

Jeff is pointing at bridging we installed in the balcony floor we rebuilt during our project on Magazine Street.  Bridging serves a two purposes in a floor assembly.  It helps prevent floor joists from deflecting under a load or rolling over all together, as they can do under extreme conditions (earthquakes, say, or wind with a name).  It also helps spread loads between joists, so adjacent joists take some of the weight from their neighbors, stiffening the whole floor.  Modern carpenters use solid blocking to achieve this, usually with culled joist lumber.   

Carpenters on really old houses didn’t bother with bridging, but we’ve noticed that by the end of the 1800s they were installing this type of X-shaped bridging, often using the same heart-of-pine  as the finished floor.  We’ve wondered for a while whether solid blocking or bridging is better, and why bridging is no longer done.

We’ve witnessed motley squabbles over the relative merits of bridging in online chat forums, but had never installed any ourselves.  So, on this balcony floor we elected to try it, using culled 5/4x4 KDAT T&G porch boards, two braces in each seven-foot joist span. 

It took a bit of figuring to get the first set cut and installed (a collaboration between Mark’s iPhone, Jeff’s hazy memory of an old Audel book on framing-square techniques, plus a little trial and error solved the matter), but after that it wasn’t any slower than solid blocking.  We don’t know that it stiffened the floor more than blocking would have, but according to our scientific jump-on-it test, the bridging certainly reduced bounce in the joists.  The benefits of using bridging include having a use for scrap material; pleased electricians, since they had fewer holes to drill; and that, since we used dried and primed flooring boards, we shouldn’t have to worry about shrinkage: we’ve seen solid blocking, installed tightly, separate from its joists within two months of being installed, thus limiting its usefulness.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stop! It's Not Hammertime

Because we can't work--or make our employees work--all the time, we schedule in breaks that are both relaxation and team-building. What better way to do both than attend the free "tour "of NOLA Brewery? It was also a farewell to Joe (bottom right), who is leaving us for St. Louis. But first, a team picture.
We look so young!
We say "tour" because it's not as if someone marches you through the facility explaining how beer gets made while you wait impatiently for the moment you're allowed to demonstrate how beer is consumed. No, there is a sign to your left reading "Tap Room," filled with lovely beer and some very friendly and frantically hard-working in-house pourers. Beer procured, you may cross the vast warehouse space and gaze at the vats (roped off), sipping your brew and saying wise things to each other like, "Big vats." "Yup," someone will answer.
Where the magic happens

And then you pull out chairs and settle in to drink and chat with your friends and generally have a fantastic time in a very cool local space for the low cost of nothing. The line was long but once you're in, there's plenty of room to move around, play a few games, marvel at the machinery, and decompress after a long day of making broke-down buildings strong again.

Also, dragons!
Left, dragons; right beer

So thank you, NOLA Brewery. Mark, Jackson, Jeff ....

... Joe ...

... and Eric (yes, this picture is fuzzy; don't judge us) had a wonderful time--urrp--and we will do it again soon.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wait, What Love Shack?

We're glad you asked! It's a "vintage charmer," as a real-estate ad might claim, "split level two bedroom jewelbox home with lots of natural light nestled in quiet Uptown location."

In other words, this:

Who smells windowboxes!
There's your "split level"
            And, uh, this:

So it's not the Ritz; that's where we come in. This house is next to the Dreamboat, the former bar/bawdy house we are turning into an ace warehouse and workshop space. The old girl might need a dye job and a makeover, but her bones are nice and once we stripped off the paneling and tore out the kitchen fixtures, we began to see the pretty young thing she once was.

And it really does get lots of light.

The front parlor

We'll keep you posted on progress. Demo has begun and we're going to keep this a fairly bells-and-whistles-free project.
sunny kitchen