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Thread: Crazy Carpentry?

  1. #1

    Crazy Carpentry?

    This sub-forum has been kind of dead lately so I thought I would ask this question...what is the craziest carpentry you have ever seen?

    Mine had to be a guys house located near me. My ex-wife worked with this woman and she said her husband was having some carpentry problems. I say...I show up to find him putting sheathing on his house. The rafters are spaced 22-28 inches on center...ish. Nothing was plumb, straight or level.

    He did not even have a septic system, instead doing business in an outhouse. After 4 years of this, I finally had enough. I told him, you save your money and buy a septic tank and I'll put in your leach field. It won't be right, but it will work. So he bought a tank and we used my tractor to dig a single pipe leach system. We added some crushed rock and covered it over and finally after years he was able to have running water in the house. That was because at the same time, we used my tractor to bury some well lines from an old hand dug well. Before he had them running over the ground...which worked pretty well 6 months out of the year when it was above 32º!!

    Some other areas of crazy carpentry was a window he put in. He wanted a narrow, but tall window by his kitchen cabinets, but they were to high to fit between the top of the counters and his wall. Not to be dissuaded, he took out his sawsall and cut a chunk out of his top plate. Oh he redid the plate...by making a bridge up and over his window!! Yep this was in the corner of his house too, and on one of the walls his rafter tails were nailed on to. It was like a 40 foot wall with nothing holding it together.

    To add even more scariness to the project, he decided to use a cathedral ceiling. Since he never cut his studs down, he has a 4 inch seem all the way around his room. Well since the walls are bowing out so bad from the pressure of the roof settling down, the walls are being pushed out. This cracked that seem. He has puttied it twice, but it opens right back up because the walls are spreading apart.

    Some other areas of concern are in the bathroom. When he cut in for his staircase, he just cut one of his second story floor trusses. He never added a header, just used screws through the subfloor to keep the sub end of the floor truss from falling down. Well one day he wanted to put in his old clawfoot cast iron tub. Sure enough this landed right over the stairwell.As we set it down,the entire floor settled by an inch or two with this big "ummphhh" sound.And that was before any water was added to the tub.

    There is more to this crazy build, but I must head to work. This story is as scary as it is unending. I can honestly say its the only house I know of that will collapse at some point. There are just way to many structural deficiencies not to.
    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 02-16-2008 at 12:06 PM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,825
    I probably shouldn't say this because it could cause some old 'Arkansas hillbilly' jokes and comments to start. We are trying to erase that image. However, truth is, there are places where folks, by choice, live a very backward existence. I suspect this may be true in all states.
    Enneyhow, in some of these 'pockets' of ignorance, you can find all kinds of 'crazy' or sub-standard carpentry. Common is used pallets nailed together and covered with tar paper then calling it a 'house'. Sometimes small cedar trees are stuck in the ground and used lumber nailed to those making a 'room' addition to a rotting out old camper trailer. I think the most dramatic and depressing 'crazy' carpentry house I have ever seen belonged to a disabled fellow in the neighboring county. There was a rough frame work of 2x4s, maybe 48" on centers. Same with rafters and roof. Looked like it could collapse from it's own weight. All this was covered with plastic visqueen. That was 'home'. Efforts to heat it with a wood stove didn't do much good. That has to be the topper, or bottomer I've seen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,825
    Killing time until I have to leave for a meeting, I checked out my wife's bell collecting discussion forum. A post showed this Flicker slide show. Some body's personal snapshots. But there are some really 'crazy carpentry' shots. A play house, large wood critters. Interesting.
    http://flickr.com/photos/12749580@N0...n/photostream/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
    Posts
    1,941
    Well Travis I hope you did not get trapped in that house. Would like to hear more of the story. I was at a ladies house today measureing for some crown molding, but told here that it was if possible due to the slopeing ceilings. There had to be a two oot drop over the 15' of living room. Come to find out it was a old barn that they converted into a house. There are not even floor joist, just some ply layed on 2xs laying on the dirt.

  5. #5

    Shingling

    Oh there is more...a lot more. Like shingling. As I said he was no carpenter. So I am helping him put on wooden shingles on the side of his house. I set up story boards, chalklines and everything, but as he nailed up the shingles his nails kept dropping. Soon the nails were less then 5 inches and below the shingle reveal, also called exposed to the weather.

    So what does he do? Well instead of just letting the nails show, or pulling them out, he drops the next coarse of shingles down over the nail heads. Now he has row after row of these curved shingle rows

    Oh my word it was horrid. It looked like a rainbow of shingles on the side of his house. I can see a messed up row or two, but this was a whole house of wavy shingle rows.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6

    Flat Roof:

    Oh this was a classic...

    His first year there he poured the concrete (another fiasco) put up the walls, then some trusses for the second story floor. Then winter set in. So to combat not having a roof, he put blue tarps over the trusses and osb sub-flooring.

    Well this did not work too well. As the inevitable snow fell, it piled upon the flat roof. Since he was living down below and had to heat the place, the heat ran up, melted the snow and it it came raining down. Literally....

    The place was covered in plastic. The drips were so numerous that pots,pans,and buckets were everywhere, not to mention ruining is lumber and insulation. The scary part was the water pouring into his 200 amp junction box. It was honest to goodness unbelievable!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7

    Concrete:

    Now the concrete story. He was not a man that was into working very hard, so when it came time to pour his concrete he did not put much energy into this aspect of the build either.

    There was gravel already laid out on the ground so he just put up form boards and poured the concrete. he was telling me with great bravado how he ordered just enough concrete to complete the pour and not a wheelbarrow more.

    Well if you do the math you can see why. He poured an 24 x 40 slab(no insulation or anything underneath, not even rebar or wire mats), but only ordered 14 yards of concrete. He should have used 17 yards of concrete...especially considering this was a two story dwelling. Of course that is assuming the ground underneath it was graded flat. It wasn't so there are places where his concrete floor is 8 inches thick, and 2 inches thick...again for a two story house. Scary!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8

    The Roof:

    After living without a roof for four years, he finally saves enough money to put on the roof. He decides to go with metal...in this case a great choice.

    So I tell him, lets just get this job up and done with so you can finally live like a human and not have pots and pans catching all the leaking water. I mean you got to understand, these people had to put a plastic sheet over their bed to keep the blankets from getting soaked both at night and during the day!!

    Well the guy is scared of height, so why oh why would he build a house that is 28 feet at the peak is beyond me. So I tell him. You stay at the eves on staging and pass the sheets of steel up to me. I'll screw them down at the top and then you screw them down at the bottom. Later we will hook up a ladder and screw down the center of the sheets.

    Well the steel went up pretty quick despite putting this steel up in an ice storm. Oh it was cold and miserable,and this house is on a huge hill. It was cold. The rope I used to accend and decend the peak was encrusted with ice...again scary! As it was, I had to keep one pocket full of screws to put into the steel roofing, and another pocketful to pound into the sheathing. You see when he put the roof sheathing up,to "save time" he only nailed down the four corners before moving on...

    Well sure enough he never got back to screwing down the center of the steel either. To this day when the wind blows,you can see the steel rise and fall in the center as the wind blows across it. Its only a mater of time and metal fatigue when the sheets start blowing off.
    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 02-16-2008 at 12:22 PM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9

    Rafter Tails:

    As you read before the rafters were never spaced right, nor were they big enough (2 x 6's) and they certainly were not cut right either. When he made the bird mouths so they sat on the top plate, he used a circular saw. In most cases that is used, but the carpenter cuts up to the line and then finishes the cuts off with a handsaw.This guy simply kept cutting until the birds mouth fell off.

    This means his already too small rafter has like an inch of meat that has not been cut.This is sitting on a wall that is not braced from side to side because of the catherdral ceiling, and the plate has been cut in half to make room for a tall narrow window. That is a long way of saying...there is nothing but sheathing holding this house together.

    Scary!!
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  10. #10

    Stairs:

    Another classic...

    He asked me to layout the stairs for the second floor.I do, using my calculator to do the tricky math. Well as it works out, he can either go with a 9½ inch stair height, or cut an extra foot into his living room on the second floor. He does not want to do either.

    I firmly explain to him that he has to do one or the other. You just cannot change the stair math. Since you cannot change the stair height, you must change the stair run...in this case going deeper into the living room or live with whatever stair rise the maths gives you. Since 9½ is way too high, he must get into the living room more.

    Nope he won't hear of it, so he forges ahead on his own.

    His first attempt was using 2 x 6's, his favorite framing lumber. That gave hima 4 inch tread which was overtly dangerous. He scraps that and finally goes with a 10 inch tread, a 6inch stair rise...until the last step. That was when the math caught up with him. The last step was 18 inches high. Everyone who used the stairs...had to kneel on the floor and kind of roll onto the second floor. It was horrid...and they lived like that for a year or two before he hired a professional carpenter to redo the staircase.

    The carpenter's method...cutting back into the living room by another foot.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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