Making The Deck Base

Now it is time to start the Deck. Which will be the base, the platform, The Asylum will set on. I found the best location was not one which came readily to mind, but one which was dictated by compromise with our home, back yard, and orientation to the sky.

The Base is standard construction of most free floating decks today. Using Pier Blocks for the corners, a 4x4 to compensate for height, and treated 2x8's for the joists. This will be decked with 5/4 Deck Lumber which is made of cedar.

The first thing to do is establish the first corner.


My personal assistant, Annie, is nudging the block into the best position.


My construction supervisor, on the job, napping as usual.

Meanwhile, I do the heavy lifting and struggle to get the rock, roots, and plastic out of the way.

And, it -was- a struggle.

Any one, male or female, on televison or not, who says they like to do this kind of thing? They sincerely, and quickly, should seek Professional Help.


Pretty well done. My oh my, does a mature tree sprout all kinds of roots. From the large to the tiny, there is alot of them and the fine mats of roots, intertwined with the rock? Digging is almost impossible.


I like nice tools. This chop saw can cut a 4x12 in half at 45 degrees.



We shim the first block to level. This entire project is based on "Practical" and "Common Sense" and "Reasonable" and "So What?". Sadly, I did use shims made from soft pine, not treated wood. And, if in ten years I am still here and they have rotted out?

I, will not care.

Those of you who are shrieking of my choice of materials? Too bad ... I had them, they worked, and I do not care ...


And, we do our best to kinda line it up with something that may be kinda perpendicualr with the property. I plopped a 2x8 on top and made it line up with the crack in the cement. Good enough.


Fiddle around in the dirt to get a flat spot for the next block.

One really nice way to level the joist is to shim it on the adjustable end (my left) and measure from the bottom of the joist to the block.


The finished product.

I have made other decks and really like to dado the face of the support to have -something- for the joist to rest on besides two carriage bolts.


Had these carriage bolts in my bucket and saved a trip to Home Depot or Lowes or Menards or Ace Hardware, or, my neighbor or my son.


I have a set of dado blades and will assemble a stack for the saw.


Oh. I am older now and sawdust is not my friend any longer. Box is half empty already. Nose is also sore too.


The stack.


And we continue with the second joist. I use the carpenter square for an approx ninety degrees.


All four in place. Besides using the carriage bolts, two per face, I also ran in some heavy duty screws from the end of the joist as well.

One squares the deck just as the Egyptians squared the pyramids. By measuing the corner to corner and equalizing them.

Btw, how did the Egyptians level the pyramids?

Easy. Remove the sand to bedrock. Pound away at the bedrock to make a swimming pool about 6" deep. Fill with water. When there are no high spots left as the water evaporates, the base is level.

One just needs 10,000 folks to help along, that's all.


Now, to find the spot for the hole.

I used a fairly straight piece of cedar laid across the box and lined it to Magnetic North with a compass. This is useful to gauge where our 7" offset for the wedge will be.

Nothing scientific here. Just keep adjusting the board equally on each side until it is center to the sides and, parallel to Mag North.

Then I ran inside to look up on some table the difference between True North and Magnetic North for Minneapolis / St Paul. From what I saw, a surprising one degree.

I, am close enough.


Then we make marks on the centers of each joist and scribe that center to the board.


Lay a straight edge parallel to the board, on the center mark and measure 7" offset -away- from North. ie: The Beast, when mounted on the wedge will need to be offset so the center axis of the tube, when vertical, is close to the center axis of the dome.


From that, I wanted to scribe on the joists where the edges of my Base Column would end up.


Kinda 42".


And we mark the joist. The shorter mark is the center of the deck platform. The longer one is the center of the column.


Now, for the part I absolutely hate to do. Dig. And, not into just any soil. But the junk in Woodbury we call "Dirt". A mix of clay, sand and rocks.

Not just any suburban rocks either, but 2-3-4-6" rocks.

And, "The Beat Goes On ... "

If you look carefully onthe right board, there is a piece of DayGlo tape that I used to mark the width of the hole on both boards. Also, the boards are fastened on one end only. So I can swing them out of the way as need for the shovel work.


Always be ready for The Unexpected.

18" down after roots and rock and lotsa sweat, I found out where the 2" Pvc tubing for the pool is.

At the bottom of my #%$^#&$^%*#&$%^#%#&&*^ hole.

That's where !

Ratz !


This would not be so bad, but Saturday was the last day for decent weather. Radar and the weather guys are forecasting a solid week of rain.

Minnesota weather? Sure is not anything to write home about.

(To Be Continued)