Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back Steps Progress

You may recall from previous posts how the last couple of steps ended up below grade.  I ended up burying the bottom step, and then the next two steps up were so low to the ground that Vic wasn't able to get his drill under them to affix the planks from below with screws.  I told him I would deal with that and to do what he could.  Until now, the bottom 2 steps have been held in place with those little blue clamps on the ends of the steps:

I'll admit to massive procrastination.  I am the Queen of Procrastination, after all, and one must work to maintain one's title.  And, as I've said before, I am worthless without a deadline.  The ipe planks on the landing and steps really need to be sealed as well, and I really am wanting to get plants planted under the steps, but I can't do that until the dirtwork is done.  None of those things are a deadlines, but together I guess they were enough pressure to make me get motivated.  Sunday I decided to tackle clearing out the soil from underneath.

I started from the front side, pulling the dirt forward and out from under the bottom step.  It turned out that was mostly mulch that the rain had washed down the slope and under the step.  I relocated that to the asparagus bed.  When I had done as much as I could from that side, I put a rug under the steps and crawled under on my belly.  I worked the soil with a pick axe and a tool that is a cross between a pitchfork and a hoe -- I'm sure it has a name but I don't know what it is.  It didn't take as long as I thought it would.  At one point however a snake slithered out at me and as I shrieked and jumped back I clunked my head on the underside of the steel steps.  Ouch.  Fortunately he was slithering away from me, and not towards me...  regardless, I try hard not to be within 3 feet of any directional slithering in an enclosed space...nobody had to teach me that...

The steel that holds the planks has pre-drilled holes in it.  The lumber is affixed by setting a screw from below the steel up into the lumber.  That way the screws don't show.  Because of the cramped space, I decided I'd want to pre-drill the holes in the lumber.  I laid the lumber in place, took at Sharpie and from below the steps marked where the screw holes are.  I had to be somewhat of a contortionist but I got it done.  I thought about labeling them about which plank was where, but did I?  No.  Live to regret...

I should have taken some photos at this point, but did I?  No.  Some kind of blogger I am!

There still isn't enough space for a traditional drill to fit -- I'd need about a foot of clearance for that, and I have about 6 inches.  I looked into renting a flexible bit attachment for a drill, and ended up buying a miniature rechargeable screwdriver -- about the size of a hot glue gun.  If I pre-drill the holes, that should have enough oompf to get the job done.

BLACK & DECKER LI3100 A CompactFit Lithium Screwdriver
Next up?  Affixing the planks.

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