Cabin Progress - June 2002

One of the big obstacles to completing the interior finish in the cabin was sheetrocking the sloping ceiling. The loft was relatively easy: the ceiling was 3 to 7 feet from the floor. Still, keeping the eight-foot by four-foot panels in place was a challenge. Judy wedged a 16-foot 2x4 against the bottom of one sheet from the living room floor while I jockeyed it into position and secured it.

The open space over the living room was impossible: the ceiling height varied from a bit less than 12 feet to over 15 feet, and then there was the chimney... We solved the problem with 2x6 planks stretched from the loft floor to the opposite wall. Holding the sheet in place at that angle while crouching on flexing boards eight feet off the floor clearly wasn't going to work. So, we devised a set of latches made from lengths of 1x2 pine screwed into the joists. Once the panel was maneuvered into place, we swung the latches to hold it in position for final positioning and fastening. Cutting the panels so the seam bisected the chimney also simplified cutting and handling.


The sheetrocking is finished at last! This view of the south wall shows the ceiling, west wall, and south wall. On the west wall, we screwed supports to the bottom of the beam and slid the lower sheet onto them. The ladder was unfastened from the wall during installation. Finally, the top half of the south wall was pieced from left-over split panels from the ceiling. The last pieces were put up two years and six weeks after the sheetrocking project started, so the sheetrock aged in three different shades, reflecting the year it was purchased. We could only bring in sheet rock after the snow was gone, when it wasn't raining, and before it got too hot in the summer. During the fall, we concentrated on painting and insulating and putting in the stove tile base. We also got the bathroom functional two years ago in spring, and later added glass block windows in the bath and hall and put a sliding window on the dining room south wall to improve ventilation.


Here's view from the bottom of the ladder, looking up at the dining room ceiling and the loft. Our pot rack has accumulated a collection of oil lamp shades, as the hardware store replacement chimneys don't have the raised ridge needed to hold the metal shade. Our oil lamps have sustained a number of casualties due to handling building materials the same size or larger than the space in which they are being installed. The loft wall shading reflects the first and last pieces of sheetrock installed: the sleeping area lower walls went up first, but the top half had to wait until we mastered the art of rocking sloped ceilings.


Our new kitchen: when we put up the sheetrock in the kitchen, down came the ugly metal cabinets we salvaged from our kitchen remodel on the house we had in Missoula. We put up these shelves instead, with a shoe organizer for a cupboard and a shaker dish rack. We had replaced our old propane camp stove with a Japanese table-top model, since we didn't need the wind screen, and bought melamine-faced garage workshop cabinets to add needed food and utensil storage to replace the breakfast-bar table we were using as a stove stand.


The old stove table is now our wash center and food prep area, beside the wood stove. The wall shelf holds jars and bottles of staple goods: cooking oil, coffee, sugar, etc. The table also holds our water supply, a seven-gallon plastic container with a spigot. We haul water from home, using five to seven gallons for a one or two-night stay for drinking and washing. We are planning to add an outdoor shower in the coming year, after we finish the interior, with a filter system for our rainwater stash. We collect rain water in used food-grade barrels to irrigate our fruit trees and for floor-srubbing: we currently have a 280-gallon capacity, which, with the end of the four-year drought in western Montana, is not enough to catch the May and June runoff from our 156 square-foot roof area. So, we've given the apple and pear trees a bit extra water this spring, despite the bears helping themselves to a slug or two of fermenting olive water when we broke in a new barrel. We found the new barrel on its side, half-full, one morning: it had been wedged under the downspout and had about 200 pounds of water in it. Fortunately, we slept through it all and got a good night's sleep. Spring has been very late this year, so the bears are down foraging in people country early.