Subfloor installed

Subfloor installed

The subfloor is finally all installed, which means it’s time to look forward to the next project: blocking. Blocking is the process of installing short pieces of framing between the wall studs at the bottom, middle, and top of the wall. This provides structural bracing (since the house tends to sway when there are strong winds), fire code (fire inside the wall takes longer to spread if there is solid wood in its way), and as a nailing edge for drywall. In addition, all along the kitchen wall we’ll install extra blocking to make cabinet installation easier.

Before we can get to work measuring, cutting, and installing blocking, I need to do some wall straightening. Because our house is built from rough sawn lumber, the studs are not exactly the same thickness. The original lath and plaster evened things out in ways that drywall will not, so we need to establish what straight looks like and then plane and shim the studs so that they are even and plumb.

Laser line establishes straight

Laser line establishes straight

I started work along the front of the house, where in addition to the above described challenge we have to allow for the support column in the wall and the front door, which is fairly thick. The column is 3½” thick, so it should sit flush, but the column cap at the top extends back, so the column is proud of the wall by about a half inch. I debated framing it as a visible column, but decided instead to bring the wall flush with it. I will still have to deal with the column cap and bolt at the top, so something will wind up being visible regardless, but that’s a finishing detail I’m not currently worried about. Maybe I’ll use a cornice or something.

Laser line on 6' level

Laser line on 6′ level

I used my laser level to project a plumb line and marked my shim position. I ripped that down on the table saw and then cut an angle off of it so that it would match the inside edge of the bay. After I glued and screwed down the remaining shims I ran my straight edge down the wall and realized that things weren’t quite where they were supposed to be. I wound up cutting thin wafers to shim my shims out so that everything was actually flush.

Shimming progress

Shimming progress

One challenge is that I can’t install the blocking at the bottom of the wall in the front or back of the house until the spray foam is put in, since there is a joist preventing the spray foam from being installed from below, as we’ll do on the sides of the house. I’ll wind up measuring and cutting the pieces, but leaving them loose, since we’ll need to put them in during spray foam installation. I also need to contend with the inside corners of the house, since they aren’t framed with a proper nailing edge. Basically, I have some more work to do before I can start putting the blocking in.

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