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calendar   Friday - October 01, 2010

As Time Goes By

Horry Clap. it’s October!!!!!!!



Ok, it looks like the Take A Guess post was a bit of a FAIL. I was hoping for far more participation. Eh, maybe next time. Partially my fault; the room pic was close to impossible to guess.

Answers:

1. The room in the picture is the library at Montpelier, James Madison’s house. In that room the conception of our Constitution took place, and the first rough drafts were penned there. So figuratively it is the room in which we were both conceived and born, because that “we” is the WE. The We The People we.

Lot more pics of the restoration and the plastering are right here.


2. So the “somewhat related” topic was finishing interior walls. Just about no one does plaster walls these days. Sheetrock dominates. Drywall. Drywall is gypsum cement paste between two pieces of cardboard-like paper. It comes in 4x8 sheets, 48” x 96”. You get a bunch of sheets of the stuff, screw them to the studs, and you have a wall. Granted you then have the long and tedious task of taping and sanding ahead of you, but overall it’s still a lot faster than plaster. And it can be done by nearly anyone; no artisan level skills are needed. Plaster walls were great in their day, but they were done mostly by craftsmen with artisan level skills who earned peanuts. Today’s artisan gets paid for his skills, so hiring a master plasterer is nearly the same cost as hiring a lawyer. And that’s why people use drywall.

One very nice feature of drywall is that the long edges are tapered. When two sheets are mounted on a stud wall so that their long sides meet over a stud, those tapers form a wide shallow groove. The groove is taped over and filled by several layers of a kind of plaster (eg spackle, drywall compound) and sanded flat. When done properly the seam between the two sheets becomes invisible. But drywall has a shortcoming: only the long sides are tapered. This means that inevitably, when a large wall is being covered, at some point the untapered end of a sheet is going to meet up with another untapered end. This is called a butt joint. For the longest time the idea was to cut the sheets so that their butt ends met over a stud, where they could be very carefully nailed down and the joint taped and covered ... but since neither sheet was tapered, the covering created a lump. So a whole lot of effort went into filling, sanding, feathering, and extending that lump to crazy widths (sometimes as much as 3 feet!) to camouflage it. But it was still a lump. And lumps suck.

This is where our gizmo comes into play. The standard thicknesses of drywall (3/8” - 3/4") are somewhat flexible. In America wall studs are usually 16” apart, though in the rest of the world they vary from 12” to 24”. If you screw a sheet of drywall to the studs so that the butt end is hanging in mid-air between 2 studs the end will wiggle. Butt 2 sheets together like this and you will NEVER be able to make a good seam between them because they will ALWAYS move about. Enter our gizmo. It is called a butt hanger. Like I wrote, that’s a marvelous and crude name that is guaranteed to give you some kind of twisted mental image. To use it you first screw on your drywall sheet so that the butt end always winds up between the studs. Then you screw on a butt hanger, then butt up and screw the next sheet to the studs. Then go back and screw the second sheet to the butt hanger. Because the edges of the butt hanger are higher than the bit of lath in the middle, screwing the ends of the sheet of drywall to the lath forces each sheet to bend in a little bit, resulting in a wide shallow trough that can be taped and filled just like the sheets that meet tapered edge to tapered edge. Ta da, NO WALL LUMP. And it saves a whole lot of labor. Sweet.

image

The plywood version works the same way. It’s call a rock splicer. Boring name. They can be purchased or made on the job from scrap plywood and cut to whatever length necessary. The ones longer than 48” are for situations where 3 sheets meet up; the little bit of lath on the extended end bends a bit of the 3rd sheet edge down so that a trough is formed between all 3 sheets. If you are fortunate to have a tapered edge on that 3rd sheet you can just snip off that extra bit of lath.

How did I come across all this? By looking up How To Finish Drywall. Because that bathroom project of mine was not done when I got the tiles in and the wallpaper down. The walls were in pretty poor condition, and it’s been a whole lot of spackling and sanding since. We got as far as getting the first coat of paint on, then found several more spots to fix that we couldn’t see when the walls were covered in white primer. So more spackling and sanding for me, oh joy. And I figured that there had to be a better way. Alas, there isn’t. But if I was putting in new drywall, this gizmo would be a better way. They cost about $7 each.

I think Mick_from_Naperville had the best guess, as this gizmo is a bridge of sorts.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/01/2010 at 10:56 AM   
Filed Under: • Daily LifeFun-Stuff •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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