Friday, July 06, 2012

A Board Sandwich

A few months ago my dad and I installed a ceiling fan in our living room, a process that was equal parts fun, fascinating, and sweaty since most of the work involved crawling around in the attic.  Even though we put the fan up in March, temps were hot enough that more than a few minutes of attic-time resulted in sweat beading up on the sides of my safety goggles.  The whole operation went remarkably smooth though, and to this day my wife and I continue to enjoy the cool breeze afforded by the ceiling fan--particularly when temps are consistently above 100 degrees outside and our air conditioner occasionally struggles to keep up.  But as we were taking the final extension cords and hammers down from the attic, we noticed a problem that would have to be corrected someday.  Behold, the Broken Rafter of Uncoolness:
Not shown: the single tear...I mean...drop of sweat rolling down my face
Here's a close-up, just in case you're curious:

And for the past several months this rafter has remained broken, always in the back of my mind as one of those projects I'll get to someday.  My guess is that the rafter cracked not because of excessive load, but due to expansion and contraction over time.  It's not mission critical, and for all I know could have been broken for years, so what's a few more months?  Well, this past weekend I decided that someday had come and I would finally get the rafter all patched up.  I waited until about 8pm when our son was in bed and things had cooled down slightly.  Even though the attic would still be sweltering, I figured this was the kind of project that might never had an ideal date and time on which it ought to be completed, so I just went for it, carpe'd the salvÄ“, and decided to fix that rafter once and for all.  My plan was to sandwich the broken joint between two pieces of plywood, so the first step was to cut the plywood:
A circular saw. One of those tools you don't use every day, but sure is nice to have when you need it.
I cut two pieces of 3/4" plywood, 3.5" by 9", which was plenty long enough to run the length of the broken joint and then some.  The next step involved taking everything up to the attic and getting started on the repair.
My trusty little halogen work light. Because, y'know, it wasn't hot enough already in the attic
DeWalt 7.8-amp drill...check. Self-boring torx-head wood screws...check.
Once I was in the attic I got to work on securing one side of the board sandwich to the rafter. Think of this like two pieces of bread (the plywood) with a rafter in the middle. Delicious, eh? Though I doubt they'll be selling this at Burger King anytime soon.  Wait, on second thought...

So anyway, here's what things looked like after I got one side taken care of:
The broken joint is right in the middle, and I figured three screws on either side would be enough to hold it.  On the left side you'll see two screws, because I twisted the head right off the first one.  Oops. Other than that things went rather swimmingly, and the final product looks something like this:

 The joint is solid and should hold for the life of the house, but I do wish I could have gotten the broken ends to line up a little better.  It's the best I could do while working solo, and all in all I am very pleased with the result.  All in all the whole project took a little less than an hour too, which meant there was plenty of time for my wife and I to watch our latest Netflix pick, The Green Lantern.  It only took about 10 minutes before we mutually agreed that our time would be much better spent watching Star Trek :)

1 comment:

Julie said...

Nice work, Simon. You're quite a handy fella. :) Hey, which Star Trek are you two watching?