12/23/20: 2nd Floor joists in place

2nd floor beams in place.

I don’t know why, but I’m always surprised at how much more there is to each phase when I really get into it. The 2nd floor joists did not disappoint… As usual, it was about solving problems.

Attaching brackets to the wall

Right up front, I had to decide whether I could attach the brackets to the wall or not. It was “not”: when we installed the girder log that the second floor joists rest on, I ignorantly used a string level to check it. Since it is a log, there isn’t a part of it that is exactly level, so I had to give it my best guess. While deciding where to place the joists (every 2 feet), I made a chalkline mark, and then went back with a square and measured the offset of each mark (higher or lower) compared to the chalk line. I did pretty good with the string level, as the point with the highest offset is 1.5″. Sounds like a lot, but that is over a 40′ distance. Most of the offsets are more like 3/4″ or 1/8″. I’ll shim them and live with it. Once I had my offsets, I picked one in the middle as a “zero” and said to myself, ‘anything higher than this gets shimmed, and anything lower gets notched.’

With my “zero” in place, I set about measuring where this zero would line up with the wall with the water level – and found a few places where there would be a gap between the logs – nowhere to attach a bracket. Ledger board it is….

Leveling the Ledger board

Using pulleys to install ledger board.

Using my pulleys and a water level, and checking my measurements 25 times between the zero point and the ledger board, I was able to get the ledger board level on the wall. The neat thing about pulleys is I can adjust the ledger board in very small increments (1/16″) by tightening or loosening the rope for the pulley. The water level is extremely accurate, so I was able to get the ledger board exactly level.

I put a couple of 1/2″ x 10″ lag screws to hold it securely in place, and called it a day.

Plumbing the Ledger board

But wait! There’s more!

I hung one bracket and pulled a joist over and got it in place – and noticed there was a bit of sag in my bracket – about 2 degrees. frowny face. I started looking at the brackets, but no, they were square. I looked at the ledger board – and it wasn’t “plumb” (not exactly perpendicular to the floor) – the bottom of the ledger board at some points didn’t have enough log to rest on.

I ended up cutting a 2×4 to the curve of the log, and then used my cant hook to straighten the ledger bard until my level showed it was plumb, and shoved the 2×4 into the gap. Now it is plumb.

Installing the brackets was easy at that point – just measure 2-foot centers, and then screw them in.

Homemade brackets installed every 24″.

Lifting the joists – Kitchen

This is the part that is the most fun. Using two pulleys – one on each side of the joist, I first hoist the girder log end into place, then slide it along into place. Then lift the wall end into place and fit it into the bracket. Once I got good at it, I was doing it in less than 10 minutes per joist.

I made a video showing how I did it.

And before I put the pulleys away (no more logs, no more heavy beams), I made a video talking about what you can lift with pulleys.

Lifting the joists – everywhere else

I should have set the ledger boards all around the house before I lifted any beams, but I thought maybe there was a chance I had straighter logs somewhere. I wasn’t that lucky. Ledger boards all around. But with the kitchen joists installed, their tails were hanging over the girder log. Not exactly easy to lift the laundry room and bedroom joists over those tails.

Plus with all the building materials all over the floor – the oak floor, the tile, the lumber, and all the tools – well, I didn’t feel like moving 5,000 lbs of junk just to install 8 joists. I got a third pulley to lift the joists over the junk, and then attach another pulley to the joist while in the air to fly it over the junk and not smash any tools. Finally, I fit it into the bracket with the last pulley. Pain in the ….. but I’m a one man show, so that’s how I roll. I’m sure armchair critics can think of a thousand other ways to do it, but I think pulleys are a pretty elegant tool.

Lots of work, but not too bad since I can do it in any weather. Having the beams installed really changes the look from a “cavernous space” into a cozy log home. I like how thick and massive everything is.

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