Whatever good things we build end up building us

Our story so far: As reality has caught up with this blog about converting a 126-year-old Methodist church into our home, I’ve run across a few odds and ends that occurred after I wrote about the subject initially. That’s how it goes with a real-time memoir. Sometimes stuff happens after publication. So this week, I’m sharing a few little stories that will ultimately be integrated into the relevant location in the memoir. Think of this as the time in the novel—especially a mystery novel—when you page back to reread a few passages to remind yourself about what’s going on. Here’s a tidbit for Chapter 18.

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Tyler was a man with a mission to build his home solidly, and as with many efforts in his life, that meant cooking for eight when only two people were eating dinner.

Our doors would, of course, be solid wood, not hollow core. The church came with a number solid wood doors, so this wasn’t difficult to achieve.

As for drywall, only 5/8-inch would do. In his opinion, standard half-inch drywall did not hang flat or stand up to wear and tear.

Insulation, for all its cotton candy fluff, was another way we built solidly. Besides the attic eaves I insulated and the blow-in insulation Reroofer sprayed in the roof, I spent days rolling the pink stuff between wall studs to keep the cold out, protect pipes and provide a sound barrier between us and the outside world. I imagined us living in a muffled pink cloud bank.

Tyler even gave thought to the connective elements of the church.

Glue, for example, is a pansy in terms of connectivity. If one’s house is glued together, the Big Bad Wolf could blow it down even the morning after a bender that involved copious amounts of cigarettes and whiskey. Nails, well now you’re talking power in terms of connecting solid surfaces. But if you really want two surfaces to stay together, you use screws.

Don’t screw around with one of these.

But the big daddy of connective devices is the TimberLok. A TimberLok is a coarse-threaded screw, usually used on larger timbers (as the name implies). In most cases, these expensive babies are not sold by the case; one buys them in a box of twenty at a time. These are not screws to leave in one’s pockets as one’s pants go through the wash. Tyler used TimberLoks in the kitchen header, in the columns holding up the balcony and in whatever warped pieces of lumber he encountered to straighten them out. If a tornado hit the church, we might lose the roof to Kansas but the two-foot thick foundation and the balcony would remain attached to the terra firma.

And then there was the blocking.

At the end of framing, Tyler spent long, boring days nailing blocking between the wall studs and ceiling joists. Blocking creates the sort of solid structures that resist barroom brawls.

More than once, Tyler returned to Home Depot to buy more lumber. “I can’t believe we used all that wood,” he’d mutter.

Those shorter boards there between the floor joists? That’s blocking.

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Tomorrow: How do you fit a sixteen-foot-long beam into a box for shipping? Read how here.

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