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Plastering the Grindbygg Gable Ends

by Tara

As I type this, I can practically hear my fingers groaning in protest as they feebly punch the keyboard. I am currently suffering from a condition I've dubbed "plaster claw." It's triggered by a long day of gripping a plaster hawk in one hand, and a trowel in the other. Yesterday, Tyler and I smashed mud into strawbale walls for half the day, and we finished the scratch coat in the workshop*!

The marathon started out positive: "We got this! There isn't very much to do!" Indeed, all that was left to plaster (thanks to all of our strawbaling buddies) were the two gable ends in the loft—a seemingly inconsequential amount, when compared to everything that had already been done for us.

Our positive outlook quickly deteriorated, though, as we hauled bucket after bucket of plaster upstairs, after we grew stiff from crouching, and while we came up against the biggest annoyances of the building: the wonky details. The edges in this building are difficult. Nothing is square. Nothing is even. Nothing is even remotely regular, in any way.

This, of course, is what makes it visually beautiful, but damn it is a pain in the ass to work on.

Grindbygg Edge Details

Yesterday, we experienced this in the left and right corners of the gables, which involved crouching and scooching around upside-down (hopefully avoiding getting impaled by knots on the rafters) and plastering overhead, behind, below, behind the crazy timber framing joinery. It took ages, and loads of patience that we sometimes did, and sometimes did not have.

Grindbygg Loft Plastered

In addition to the corners, there was no shortage of weird edging to deal with. In some places, the tie beams are "connected" to the wall. The beam then acts as a plaster stop, which is easy to deal with. In other places, the beautiful timbers drift away from the wall, resting a few inches proud of it. In order to deal with this, we have to carry a continuous stretch of plaster from the first story to the upper story from behind the beam (or build out the plaster in a shelf to connect to the beam).

Wonky Wall, Wonky Beam, Wonky Plastering

By the end of the day, we were "ever approaching zero," taking turns lying comatose on the floor, and cursing our inclination to do everything in the most complicated way possible. "WHY OH WHY CAN'T WE EVER DO ANYTHING THE EASY WAY?" We mused about this for awhile. Is it because we are masochists? Is it because we really only care about aesthetics and we will stop at nothing to make a building look cool? WHY?

*While I say that the first coat of plaster is "finished," in truth there are many weird places that need to be dealt with and plastered. Tyler and I call them "bullshit" areas. There is a lot of bullshit. Here's the abridged version of all the BS that needs to be tackled.

The edges under each tie beam where it meets the wall. It is really hard to get plaster up there, but it needs to be done. Tyler is pretty good at it. He takes some plaster on a pointed trowel, and flings it upwards into the gap. Once it's there, he can smooth it out.

Under Tie Beam Plastering Difficulties

The short, narrow concrete stem wall on the north and south side required that we build it out to bale width. On one side, this needs to be closed up, covered with tar paper and blood lath, and plastered. I'm going to tackle I tackled this today!

Concrete Wall Built Out and Prepared for Plastering

Each tie beam ends about two inches from the wall. The wall behind it needs to be plastered. Trying to get into these corners is really difficult. I still don't know how we're going to do it.

Difficult Plastering Behind Wall Plate End