Monday, May 12, 2014

Hammer nail (saw) and saw

                    I spent a couple of days recently learning about home construction here in Prudentopolis. One of our members (Daniel) works in the construction industry and is normally out of town on large projects but recently he had 30 days of vacation and spent the time adding a second level to their home and he let me (reluctantly) come and help. Let me say right off that he did not build the first level of the home nor the stairway that we used to carry the materials up to the construction. 

These stairs were not built by Daniel and they remind me of the illustrations
in the books A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS am hoping he will somehow correct
the problem but I am not sure they see it as a problem.

When I entered the project he already had the “tijolos” (clay construction bricks) up to square and was ready to add the trusses and cover it. So my job was to carry whatever needed carrying up the stairs and his son and nephew mixed mortar and handed him whatever he needed. I already said the tijolos were up to square but after he set in place the bottom chord of the truss he built up the wall on one end to support the rafters. The roof all slopes in one direction. Once the wall was in place we carried the 2 x 4’s up and he placed the rafters. Let me say a word about the wood used in construction here. HEAVY. They do not dry the wood since the humidity is so high it will never dry and crack so 2 x 4’s are actually 2 x 4 and filled with sap. The wood used for construction is from a type of pine called the araucária. Pronounced a-ra-u-cadia. I don’t know enough about marking the vowels to give pronunciation so I will just say that the a’s have the sound of our a in car, the u is the double o sound in shoot, and the I is a long e. The r at the end does not really have the d sound but it is as close as I could come. Since I had heard that this particular tree was protected in the state of Paraná, I asked how it was possible that he purchased this wood. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. Okay so now I have carried the wood that is 3 or four times heavier than the wood we use and I get up on the scaffolding to help set them in place. I was a bit leery of the scaffolding at first because it was all built by hand and some of the supports were 1 x 2’s. the planks were 1 x whatever width was nearest at hand for the builder. But when I stood on it I was amazed. There was no give in the wood at all and some of the planks spanned 5 to 6 feet or more. Once I got used to the idea that it would not collapse I moved about freely and when I stood in the center of the largest span the wood beneath me did not even bow. It was stronger than any wood I have encountered. Our day ended when the rafters were in place and we took the next day off while the mortar set.
Wednesday was the day to close off the roof. The roofing material consisted of 2 x 2’s running perpendicular to the trusses at about 4 foot spacing and 4 x 8 sheets of concrete roofing material that is corrugated giving the look of Spanish style roof tiles. The word I would use to describe this material is, HEAVY. It was carried by myself and Gabriel, his son, up the stairs and then I would hoist it over my head while Gabriel lifted from one end and Daniel and his friend took it and placed it. It is attached with a ¼ inch x 5” lag screw that is simply driven through the concrete sheet and screwed into the 2 x 2. The next sheet then overlaps the first and the screw is driven through both sheets. Of course on each row of roofing sheets there was one odd length and the sheets needed to be cut in half. I was not allowed to use the tools necessary for cutting the sheets so one of the 2 on the roof would descend from the roof, mark the cut using a pencil and a board. Then holes would be made at about ½ inch spacing along the line using a hammer and nail and the sheet would be broken along the line of holes.

I thought it would be interesting for those who had worked in construction to give a list of the tools used on this project. Crosscut hand saw, hammer, nail (not just for attaching 2 pieces of wood together), trowel, plumb line, 6 inch square, buckets (multiple use, carrying water and sand to make mortar, lifting the mortar to the mortar trough, mortar trough is hand made of wood and later dis-assembled, (it is also heavy). All in all I was very impressed. Much of the construction here in Prudentópolis is poorly done but Daniel is very meticulous about his work and uses quality material. I am sure in his job he has many of the tools that we use that make construction easier and faster, but these are unnecessary to achieve the quality of workmanship that he desires. It was a good 2 days working with he and his family and learning about them and construction in Brazil.

I was debating whether to display my photographic skills or not.
I am sure Shaliese is cringing now. This is Gabriel on the right and
Elton on the left and I am sure everyone will recognize sister McKinney
in the doorway. The holes in the wall were left this way to build the
scaffolding and tijolos will be placed there. The entire wall
will be plastered so they are not too careful with mortar. 

This is a project between our apartment and the church. There
will probably be a store on the ground floor and apartments above.
The timber on the second floor supports the concrete in the floor
above until it cures or until they are ready to poor the next level.

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