Building Project Costa Rica – Part 4 – Tools & Torque

Our Building Project – Images of the progress since the last post (permission to project start), how very important a machete and rope have become and which brands of tools are taking a beating.

We are officially deep in the throes of building. Not the sometimes you talk about “Oh yeah, 6 am to 6 pm every day it’s killing me” throes of building but the every visible orifice is filled with brown crud throes. Just looking at my used Q-tips makes me gag.

Construction days are from 6am to 6pm though and cooking, cleaning, yard care, washing, talking and paying bills is all somewhere in between. Our Valentines celebration was essentially being nice to each other when the table saw broke and it, along with the planer, needed to be taken to the shop. “Who used this last?” is the question most often heard around 5:15 pm. Everyone looks at around at each other and says “worked when I used it”.

Tools that can’t keep up

I don’t know if it is the hardwoods, the humidity or the brand of the machine but no tool seems to last more than one project. We are on our third major project and have been through two table saws, one planer, one shop-vac and two grinders. This crap is getting expensive given that the price of tools in Costa Rica is sometimes twice what tools cost in the States. We came down with older machines that were hand me downs from Barry’s Dad and in normal environmental conditions, with normal use and normal wear and tear factored in we should have had at least 5 years of use out of them. To be fair to Ryobi, they probably were not meant for cabin building projects in the humid rain forest on tropical hardwoods anyway. I will say that our Makita tools and Skilsaw have fared well.

The beauty of the CR is that the small engine repair guys can work miracles, even if their spell only works once. They will exorcise the demon right out of a tool but if it breaks again you can be sure it is on the speed slide down to the “I have no idea what to do with an old tool when there is no garbage pick-up” land.

Two very useful tools that have not broken yet are the ever-popular machete and the contortionist rope. Barry is always amazed by how many different ways a Tico can use a rope and the hundreds of knots that can hold anything in to place.

Machete on Building Site
using torque and rope to build

We had a support beam that needed to be pulled in just a tad so that everything squared up so a thick cloth rope was tied around the Guachipelin post and the other side was tightened around the opposite side post.

Re-using Wood – Trying not to waste

These shots are of our scaffolding and temporary floor planks which are made out of thick cut Laurel Wood. After the construction phase ends we will sand this Laurel down and use it to make our built in closets and cabinets. Laurel is a medium grade soft wood which is fairly insect resistant. It is mainly used in furniture making because of the distinct brown and white color variations. We covered our interior ceiling with it to help keep the house cool. We will treat it with a termicide before laying down the metal roofing.

Building Scaffolding

Interior shell of wood house Wood House Building Site Limon

We have used a chainsaw for more things than we ever thought possible. Here Alfredo is getting ready to cut one side of a Pilon support beam so that it sits directly on to the floor joists. If you are visiting the U.S. soon you should scour Craigslist for used chainsaws in good condition. We got our small Stihl for about $100 from CL, Florida and use it almost more than any other tool. If we had bought it here it would have been 3-4 times as much.

Chainsaw cuts on support beam
Chainsaw work on wood house

This is the house skeleton before the interior roof was finished. We are happy with the progress we are making and the weather has been on our side lately. We figured that if Downton Abbey can show you a little doggy booty so can we.

Wood house skeleton
As usual comments are always welcome, especially if it’s a helpful tip or a “My God, I love it” works too! : )

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