Sunday, December 18, 2011

Amnesty in California

   It's time we band together as Californians to save our great state.  I don't care what your party line is, or what your prejudices towards these people are.  They deserve amnesty and our state's future depends on it.  It's simple economics.
   Maybe they don't look like you.  Their language might not be recognizable to you, though you probably recognize a few words....You may have even participated in rallies to keep them out.  It's time we recognize these people, (Yes, they ARE people with the same dignity afforded you and me) for the hard work and sacrifice they represent.  Without them our state, even our country, simply wouldn't have the prosperity it has enjoyed in the past.  We all benefit from the sweat of their brow.  You probably didn't know they actually DO pay taxes, and use far less in government services than you and I. 
    I say end all prejudices you have towards this group.  Invite every last one of them into our state, and grant them tax amnesty for being here.  I swear they'll spend, they'll elevate our culture.  Have you tried their food?
    Most importantly they will do the kind of work most Americans aren't willing to do anymore.  Too long this group has been looked down upon, literally spat upon, vilified, made to feel unwelcome.  There are  politicians--Presidents even---that will lie and foster misconceptions about this group for political gain.
    Please, open your minds and really think about what our state would be like if we didn't have them here.  They really bring alot to our communities.  Call them what you want---Millionaires, Billionaires, Entrepeneurs, the Well-To-Do.  Just remember that it's very possible you could become one someday yourself, and ask yourself how you'd want to be treated.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coming Together

     I realized I hadn't posted an update of the exterior for awhile.  You can see the stucco below the deck level.  The siding is going up nicely---now for the tall wall.  I borrowed some scaffolding for that part. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


   After spending years espousing the opinion the stucco is nothing but a lazy shortcut, I decided it was the best option for what was needed.  The house itself will be cement lap siding.  If I had done the same siding all the way to the ground, though, it would have looked funny---the house is quite a bit taller than it is wide.  So, everything from the deck level down will be masonry.  This smooth stucco will get stained to look like big granite blocks.
   First step is getting the K-lath up.  The 100' roll unrolled itself down the hill---no pics of THAT.  I shoulda, though.  It was funny.  You nail it up while stretching it tight as possible and cut out various openings with tin snips.  You can get pretty scratched up...  Then the 'weep screed' flashing goes in any edges, and corner lath on corners.
   Now you mix up your stucco.  I'm going with a one coat process since the finish is smooth.  Most homes the stuff is actually sprayed on in a three coat process (Scratch, brown, top)
   I used a tub and a mixing attachment on my 1/2" drill.  Like Byron pointed out, it's just like frosting a cake.  Even the mixing of the frosting.
Then you gotta apply it.  I have a new respect for stucco-ers.. It is a real forearm workout.  You slap some stucco on a flat board (hod, for you crossword puzzlers) scoop some up and smear it on.
It's very important to work the stucco in around the wire.  This first pass is a bit thin to get it in, then the next pass is after it's set up a bit.  The stucco ends up about 3/4" thick.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Right Tools

   I've started siding the house.  I have to use the Hardiplank cement board siding due to the fire resistive codes for the area.  Only other option was stucco----which I'm doing for the level underneath the porch (pics of that later)
   This isn't the first time I've used the cementitious material---just the first time on my own house.  I really prefer the masonite type siding.  Cement board is very heavy.  It can chip.  Worst thing though is the dust---if you cut it with the diamond blade, this nasty silica dust gets everywhere.  Mesothelioma would take some of the fun out of building.
   Here's what it looks like cutting with a skilsaw---there's usually even more dust but it was windy when I took this (while sawing one handed.  Here, hold my beer and watch this)
   Northern Tools (an online supply company) had these shears made specifically for cutting this material.  It makes zero dust, just this somewhat annoying curly kerf material.  It cuts fast, and can cut some larger radius curves, too.
You also get staighter cuts, simply because you can see your pencil line that's normally lost in the dust cloud.

As I mentioned before, I'd only used this material on other people's houses, which meant I always had someone else to work with.  You really need someone to hold one end of the board to get it into place.  Northern Tools had an automatic recommendation ('Many customers also bought....') The kit wasn't expensive and got very good reviews from people that souunded credible, so I bought it.  It's two parts---the first is this metal clip that wedges behind the previous board to hold one end, offset away from the wall by an inch.

It's a pretty clever design.  That little metal tab holds the board.  After nailing the opposite end, you depress that little hump and the board slides down, leaving room to easily get the tool out again.
Here's the other part of the kit.  The back side has this slide-in part you set for the desired exposure of the lap siding.  I picked 7" showing, which makes for a good 1 1/4" overlap, so I can blind nail the board a good distance from the edge and still cover the nail with the next board.  The trim boards around the windows, doors, and corners are too thick for the shears to cut so I have to use the skilsaw for that still.

More Free Building Materials

  It's getting close to time to build the stair rail and guardrail around the reading nook.  The early snow we had did some damage to some trees, including this mighty black oak.
   So  I cut it up a bit and took chunks the correct length.  I cut a few on the table saw into 2"x2" s---they look great but it's really slow.  I'm gonna look into better ways to cut them.  I want to make the railing out of the same stuff.

   Here's a gratuitous view from the porch of Autumn at the lake.