The task for our second day of deck building was simpler: to lay down the floor decking and put up the railing.
Simplicity was good because our fine weather had gone. The wind whipped our jackets and the sky was rapidly darkening.
The forecast was for rain in the afternoon, and 40 mph gusts. We started work at 7:30 AM and bent to the task as quickly as possible.
My friend D had lent me his chopsaw. As I squared the ends of our treated decking boards and carried each one out, Gary began screwing them down to the joists.
Some of the boards were bowed. I climbed up and pulled them into place with my legs with what I called “a heel-hook and lay-back,” while Gary secured them with screws.
Eventually the heel-hook became impractical. Gary devised a simple jig that he could tap with a hammer to apply pressure to the bows and tweak the joints tight.
As I screwed down decking, I kept glancing over my shoulder at the western horizon. The mountains had disappeared in lowering clouds. Our cardboard box of deck screws kept skidding away in the high wind.
Oh no! At 10:30 AM it began to rain. Gary was calm as we carried all the waiting deck boards back to the garage to stay dry — “We’ll stop for tea until it blows over” — but I had a sense of doom. In the Adirondacks, rain can settle in for weeks.
However, Gary’s optimism was borne out and forty minutes later we were back at work. Here he is trimming a board. We were both impressed with his new Ridgid tool set. All the guys here seem to use Dewalt or Makita, but the battery life of his Ridgid tools was easily ten times that of my 18-volt Dewalt.
Once the floor was laid, Gary measured and carefully cut holes in the decking with a saber saw for all our railing posts. I cut each post to length on the chopsaw.
Gary set the posts to height while underneath the deck I toe-nailed them in place temporarily with the nail gun. Later this week I will drill in some heavy bolts to hold them permanently.
The wind was still blowing hard — the level, boards, and even tools threatened to blow off the deck — but one result was that against all odds, the dark clouds blew over and the sun came out!
We nailed up the simple railing, using clamps to keep the boards from taking to the sky.
Gary checked our two corner posts for plumb and found each one was out about a half-inch.
Luckily, he carries a come-along in his car for emergencies. With a few cranks of the handle, the posts were pulled plumb, the remaining rails were nailed…
… and we were sitting on the new deck on kitchen chairs, enjoying another cup of tea.
I was a tired but very happy camper.
The deck is great. It adds a wonderful dimension to the apartment, seeming to increase the living space exponentially. The views are lovely.
While I began putting away tools, Gary cut away another small section of siding. When I can find a scrap of treated 2×12, I will put it up next to the excess, “silly end” of the ledger and then build and install a fire escape ladder to hang from it. I do need a fire escape and my hope is that this will make the too-long ledger look as though it were planned. (One can always hope.)
And yes, I will put another call into the electric company to remind them again about fixing the service coming into the house.
Except for the railing bolts, a little clean-up, and some stain at the close of summer, the project is finished.
Thank you, Gary! You are a mastermind carpenter, a cheerful problem-solver, and a true friend.