Steep Learning Curves in All Directions

by Joseph

We’ve been planning for our tiny house, watching “how-to” videos, and thinking “this’ll be a breeze.”  Okay, not a breeze… but I have some construction/carpentry experience and Sarah excels at learning new things.  She’s got one of those sticky brains that will hold onto obscure, yet important information like what size nail we need to frame with (8d) or the R-value of denim insulation (???).  So, whether by blissful ignorance, or misguided confidence we totally thought we were going to figure this thing out on our own.  Not true.

As with all things, it takes a community.  During these past few weeks of construction, that’s been hammered home (pun definitely intended).   The following are some small steps on the steep learning curve we’ve started climbing.

I’ve used metal-tapping screws before.  I could even explain how they work to someone who’s never heard of them.  What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to use them with the pressure-treated wood and tempered steel of our new trailer!  Impact drivers sucking down 18 volt batteries and burning through gloves as I put my WHOLE WEIGHT into it, digging boots into grass and absorbing the shock with my arms, shoulders, and back.  After doing this a few dozen times on our trailer, it was time to do Meg and Dan’s.  After the trial and error on our trailer, I relaxed a bit, pre-drilled the holes and went slower (which makes a straighter, therefore more efficient, hole).  Our whole group did this together and we all learned how to be more efficient,  transferring our new skills to each others’ builds.

Another example of this transference:

With great difficulty, Sarah finagled the two tail-lights off our trailer (necessary before attaching the pressure-treated lumber, the lights will be put back on the outside of the house later), then did another trailer, and by the time she got to the third trailer it took her all of 10 minutes to handle the tricky wiring tucked neatly into the trailers frame.

And another:

Sarah and I cut the  tongue-and-groove plywood for our sub-floor, and when we placed it we found that we were 1/4” off on each piece because we didn’t account for the tongue.  The cutting, sealing, fitting, and attaching (more metal-tapping screws) took four of us all day to do.   But the next morning we cut the plywood to the right size and knocked Meg and Dan’s sub-floor out in 2 hours!

So, though the learning curves are steep, it has helped to remember “We’re not in this alone!”  Not only are we building with two awesome couples, but we have friends and family offering feedback along the way, and we have each other for balance and support when our sunburned arms are tired from impact-wrenching into steel.  And we have YOU, dear reader, allowing  us to fully process our journey.

Deep bows of gratitude to all those from whom we’ve drawn guidance, inspiration and knowledge.  The path has been cared for by those who walked before us.  May we also care for the path that others may tread safely to their dreams.

Impact drilling the plywood into the trailer


10 thoughts on “Steep Learning Curves in All Directions

  1. Live in Kenwood. Senior citizen with carpentry skills with some health problems. Ex-shop teacher. Would like to come by and see your operation. Looks great.

  2. Sarah, saw your dad tonight and he reminded me of what a great adventure you both are having. Thank you both for the great writing of this experience

Comments are closed.