Thursday, November 29, 2018

Building the front porch columns

Here's what the original porch columns looked like when the previous owner moved in:

Unfortunately, the original wood columns were in disrepair, so he replaced them with brick. I'm perplexed as to why he chose to install brick columns, since he was such a skilled carpenter.

Step 1: Sledgehammer out the bricks

A local laborer was able to knock this out in about 20 minutes. I piled up the debris and posted it on the free section of Craigslist, along with the note 'You must load.' Like magic, it vanished.

The original support posts were just (2) 2x4's sistered together. The support on the inside column was not bearing any was just kind of...floating there.
Step 2: Replace rot on the frieze board, grind down concrete base caps

First, we jacked up the header beams with 4x4's placed on bottle jacks and used a long level to ensure the beams were straight.

While the jacks were in place, I used a diamond grinding wheel to level out the base caps so that the new wood base would sit flush on the concrete caps. Using the grinder, I slightly tapered off the edges of the caps so that rainwater would drain away from the wood:



The frieze board (that's the underside of the porch that rests on top of the columns) was rotted. This meant the porch was in danger of collapsing down if not repaired, since the support beams need a solid surface to bear the load. So we repaired the rotted sections:



Step 3: Install new 6x6 supports

Then, we measured and marked where to place the 6x6 metal beam holders, which lifts the wood off the concrete, thereby preventing rot by keeping the new beams dry. Next, we cut the new 6x6 supports and test fitted them for level. We then removed them and drilled the metal lifts into the concrete caps. Finally, we placed the new supports, checked for level again and lowered the bottle jacks:

Step 4: Build column base

Gabriel gave me dimensions for the wood base pieces, so I was able to tackle these while he was away:

Step 5: Build column housing

Gabriel and I prepped all the pieces that make up the actual columns. He was the brains of the operation. Couldn't have done it myself without him!

Step 6: Glue, nail and trim them out


Project Cost

Demolition labor - $20
Brick debris removal - $0 (gave away on Craigslist)
Lumber - $200
Metal supports - $35
Screws and bits for metal supports - $20
Carpenter's labor - $60 (bartered for trade of the contractor saw I bought on Craigslist for $60)

Special thanks for my friend, pro-carpenter Gabriele for helping with this project. He was a great teacher and fun to work with!

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