Friday, June 8, 2012

Pur-guh-luh, Pur-go-luh. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Pur-guh-luh? Pur-go-luh? It doesn't matter how you pronounce it, someone will correct your pronunciation. I'm not sure which one is correct, and honestly I don't care much since prior to April, I'd never used the word. But with some help from my sister, Kris; my fiance, Lesley; and long-time friend, Doug, I built one. I'd like to say that I used recycled wood from a century old barn or built it from pallets, but I didn't. All this wood came from a lumber yard. And it was expensive. It was $100 just for the brackets and through-bolts. And have you priced lumber lately? A 16ft 2x6 is $25! But I built it for my sister, so she paid for it.

Now, I've never built anything remotely like this in my life. The only thing close are these stairs I built on my fiance's house. My sister took a tremendous step of faith in asking me to build her a pergola. And a giant leap of faith asking me to build her two. Especially considering she wanted them done before my wedding and I had just had back surgery and still can't lift anything.  Anyone weight a green Doug Fir 6x6 lately? Trust me, it ain't light.

Fortunately, I have found a couple handy tools for helping me build things like this. One is the internet. I swear you can find out how to build anything on it. Need a time machine? No problem. The second is Google Sketchup. If you like to build stuff this is an awesome tool. You can sketch what you're building with Sketchup and then you have all of your measurements and diagrams at your finger tips. It's free and it's invaluable. Here is my Sketchup of the pergola.

Getting the brackets placed right was easily the hardest (hmm... "easily the hardest") part of the whole project. They needed to be exact, and I've never done this before. Once the cement is mixed it starts setting, and then you're committed. I gave myself a ballpark of about an hour before I couldn't move them anymore thinking I'd leisurely measure, level, reset, repeat. Nope. More like 10 mins. So you have to go fast, set all four brackets, and make sure they are square, level, and equidistant. I never did find an easy way to do this so we kinda winged it. But we got everything within a quarter inch of perfect.

Doug was kind enough to dig the holes, drill the holes for the through bolts, and help Kris carry the 6x6s. I know it was hard work and it doesn't help that Doug's back isn't much better than mine and Willard Scott is going to be showing Kris on a Smucker's jar soon, but I am extremely grateful for their help as I would likely be in surgery again had they not been there.

I notched a decorative end to each 2x6 with my Skill saw and then finished the cut with my jig saw that Kris got me for my birthday. I had to get a new jig saw because I have a lot of my grandfather's tools and they no longer make blades for his old jig saw. It's too bad, 'cause that thing was ol' school. It was all stainless steel and shiny. The new one is plastic but it can cut a 2x6 like toast through my fiances skin (if that doesn't make sense to you, you need to ask me about the time my fiance cut herself on a piece of toast. I'm pretty sure her skin is made of meringue).


Once the 6x6s were in place the rest was pretty easy. We bolted 2x6s to each side of the 6x6s for girders and then laid the remaining 2x6s across the girders. I toe-screwed them in place with 3" deck screws at the bottom. Then I ran seven 2x2s across the top and drove a 3" wood screw through and into each 2x6. It's solid as a rock. Three days after completion it withstood 60mph gusts of wind. Kris plans to plant some wisteria around the base of the 6x6s to help create some additional shade.



12 comments:

  1. Nice man. You need to build Kim and I one now.

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    1. If you got the wood stained and brackets set, we could probably do it over a weekend. It was about $700 in materials and stain.

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  2. Willard Scott? I laughed, then called you bad names. and it was more like $900 with the beer.

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    1. Oh good. I'm glad that joke wasn't wasted on you.

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    2. I just looked that up. Awesome.

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  3. I see that the building skills skipped a generation. You got those genes from your grandfather, cause they sure missed me. What a great job you did on the pergola. It looks super. Q

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    1. Well then I'm glad I got some of his shop tools as well, and am able to but them to continued good use.

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  4. Nice job! And the yard looks great, too. BTW, I drink cheap red wine, but haven't made it past recycling to re-purposing. Although I did rip out a sweater I'd knitted (it had orangutan-length arms) and then re-used the yarn to knit a really ugly small blanket.

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    1. Wow! You have no idea how badly I want to see that. I'm picturing you in an orange angora cardigan, one sleeve too long, a glass of Riunite on ice in the other, and really big crocheted pot holder on your lap. Classic Sharon.

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    2. hahahahahahahahahahahahaahahah. i want a picture of that.

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  5. Just so'z you all know, I built the white arbor that you see in the background. but don't look real close at my handiwork. Dad must have had SOME building talent to pass on, but it looks like the majority went to Andy.

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    1. But Doug says you have G'pa's patience, which is the obvious thing that skipped a generation, went straight to you, and then skipped by me again. But my understanding is that with G'pa's patience comes G'pa's hair line.

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