Saturday, April 19, 2014

Deck Build (Part 2)

More progress after several days of on and off project time.

Nail Gun

Make sure to crank the regulator up to 120 PSI as is suggested max for this nail gun so that you can drive the nail all the way through.  Even at 120 PSI, the 3 inch round headed nails I bought did not go all the way through.  After shooting the nail, about 3/8 inch was still exposed which required a couple hit with a hammer to finish it off.  But still worth buying this tool since it would have taken me a lot more time to hammer in the nails by hand.
Bostitch F21PL attached to the air compressor for the first time.   


Deck Block Placement

These mobile foundations are just a pain in the ass to use even though they are convenient.  Leveling them is a pretty rough best guest effort.  Last time I used these, I tried just digging a hole and placing the blocks in.  But you are bound to not dig the hole big enough for positional movement and then the problem with leveling.  So this time, I dug out the area I needed and used gravel for the intermediate layer before laying down the deck blocks and it worked much better for movement and leveling.  Think of the gravel as wheels for your deck blocks.  I would use this method again for the next build.
Deck blocks in place and initial frame on.

Upper portion of the deck all framed up.

Holes dug out for the lower portion of the deck.  Also note the center fire pit with the concrete block placed and leveled.

More holes, anyone see gophers?


Lower level ground support holes filled with gravel.


How I Framed It

What I did with both upper and lower deck frame was to start off and build a rectangle frame that is squared and then lift it on to the supports.  After doing that, I find out which supports are short, not leveled or not in position.  I then modify each support to fit the frame.  After, I incrementally add on to the original squared frame until everything is installed.  I went with this method because it is feasible to do this alone minus the lifting of the first rectangle frame.  It also helps to cut down on the task at hand until the entire thing is finished.
Lower level deck with frame built

Just a different angle.


Rim joist installed with corners mitered @ 45 degreees

Camo Hidden Fastener System

There are many different types of hidden fastener systems on the market.  Let me tell you why I picked what I did.  Originally, I was interested at the EB-TY and Tiger Claw products.  The EB-TY requires that you slot a groove in the side of your plank, or you buy composite 5/4 planks pre slotted for the install.  I'm installing for a 18 x 18 feet area and that's a lot of planks that I would need to slot since I'm working with S4S 2x4 Cedar.  I'm guessing at around 100 ish planks with around 7 connection points on each side is around 1400 slots I would need to cut out.  So EB-TY may be your best bet for composite boards, this would not work time wise for natural wood.  The Tiger Claw product from what I've read is a very brute force type install.  From all accounts, it is very hard to install the first board on a floating deck since you have no backing to hammer the tiger claw fastener into.  Both of these products have the same draw backs when it comes to replacing boards.  You have to rip out all of the boards to get to the one that needs to be replaced.  I think these two systems were targeted with composite deck material in mind.

As for the Camo system, I compared it with the Kreg decking jig.  Both of these products use the same fastening principle which is slot a small self screwing screw at a vertical angle on the upper edge of the plank.  I ended up with the Camo system due to positive reviews on Amazon.  Also both of these system allows you to easily remove a single plank if necessary which is great when you have to remove a bad plank a few years down the road.  Both of these product also requires that you purchase their proprietary screws.  The Camo system has cheaper screws.  As for availability, the product and its accessory can be easily purchased via Amazon.  Living in Austin, there were also several decking supply houses that inventory these products.  It's worth mentioning with any type of construction work, there are times when you run into a pinch and need to run to the store to grab something extras.

After using the Camo system I love it a lot.  It's easy to use and I think it is great that the system comes with a built in spacer on the installing tool.  Just make sure the footing on the install tool is flat on the board or else the entry points on the screws may be on the plank face and not on the upper edge of the board.  Since i was doing the install of my deck at a vertical angle, you have to position the install tool twice per joist/beam to have the screw meet the joining frame correctly.
Using the Camo hidden fasteners

Part of the upper deck installed.

Freehand Routing

I ran into an installation issue when installing a rim joist on the lower deck that sits adjacent to the upper deck which was suppose to float under but didn't.  I missed the clearance by 1/4 of an inch and the overlay had this crazy triangle shape to it.  So what I did was marked the area of the rim joist that needed to be shaven off and used a plunge router to cut that section off.  

The rim joist is clamped down on both ends to my deck frame and two boards are clamped to the side of the joist for extra surface material for me to use the plunge router on.  I installed a 1/2 inch straight bit and zeroed the plunger.  Then set the depth cut for max 1/8 inch.  It took me two plunges in a single position to get at the 1/8 inch depth due to the fact that straight bits aren't meant for drilling.  After getting to the cutting depth, that's when I started to free hand route the area out.

Free hand routing on the rim joist.

After routing.

Another view of the wood routed from further out.

Bottom deck framed out with rim joist installed.