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The joists of our Wooden Deck on the top of our TIny Shipping Container House - Episode 018

Today we are going to talk about how we assembled the joists of the wooden deck we are building on the top of our Tiny Shipping Container House.

It seems to be an easy task, right? It must be simple for professionals, but it wasn’t that easy for us. Every new step of our building we need to make decisions. Actually every single day we make decisions, and this time wasn’t different. First, iit was hard to decide how to connect the joists to the beams. We first thought about 2 options: to put a screw with 45 degree angle going from the joist to the beam or to screw the joists on the top all the way to the beams. So we asked our Instagram’s and Facebook’s followers for tips. Most of them decided for the second option and some of them gave us the advice of using metal brackets. But here where we live in Brazil they are either too small or too expensive. So, we decided to produce our own metal brackets out of 2 meters of galvanized steel. But we still needed to decide how to make a lot of holes on the metal.

We had 2 main choices: to buy a brand new small drilling press or with the same amount of money to buy an used one bigger and stronger. Fortunately we found an used one to buy in pretty good conditions and it was a quarter of the price of a brand new of the same. So, we have a new equipment now!

We spent entire day marking the metal and making holes and another entire day cutting the pieces into small pieces, cleaning and painting. We painted with black matte vinyl. The reason we have this painted was because the metal was galvanized, so when we cut and made some holes these parts of the metal got exposed to the air, needing to be painted, otherwise it could get rusted.

Next step was to put the joists on place. Duca took all the 31 joists to the top of our shipping container on his back. We don’t understand why people pay to work out, you just need to build something. We are working out every single day of the building and we are always tired on the end of the day, but with the feeling that we are doing something really cool and with the perk of seeing our house come to life.

Let’s go back to the building. Well, the next step was to organize every single joists on place. To do that we knew that every joist had 6 centimeters width. So we count how many spaces we needed to have between them and made one template with the size of the spaces for me and one for Duca. For example, the west container has 16 joists, so it should have 15 spaces between the first and the last joist. But, when we took the measures from one side to the other to do the math we forgot to discount the width of the joist on the count. We cut the template and we put every single joist on place. But, when we got to the last space it was to big… so we noticed we did something wrong. Luck that we hadn’t fix the joists on place yet. So, we measured it again and cut another template and positioning the joists on place. But, when we got to the last one, the spaces were still wrong. The mistake: We thought the width of the wood were 6 centimeters but as they have planed it it wasn’t 6 anymore, but 5.5 centimeters. With the right measures, this time we got it right! The hardest part of it to me was: to put the 2 joists on place, then going down of the ladder, move it to another place, go up ladder to move another 2 joists do the correct place, going down again… In the end of the I guess I went up and down the ladder more the 50 times. The best part of it is that I’m working out while I’m working. However, the worst part is that the sun has been really hot lately (it’s been really hard to work under the sun, it’s burning us alive) and my shins are sore from hitting the ladder many times while I’m moving around. I know, not everyone does this while moving the ladder, that’s me, I'm clumsy. I’m always dropping something or breaking something and I have always a mark on my body. hehe.

Next step was to put a line on the tip of the 2 end joists to have a reference point and to organize the other joists aligned with these ones.

Last step was to fix the metal brackets on the joists. We decided to put 2 brackets per joist, one on each side of it. To turn the structure more rigid we decided to put them alternated, so it was one to the right side and one to the left side of the joist.

Now we have the joists on place. If we had to do it again we would check the measure of the wood on the first place and to think really well to cut the template just one time. We would do the hole on the metal not too close to the wall of it, because it’s really hard to use the hand drill to put the screw on place. We would do a prehole on the wood closer to the top part of the metal hole, otherwize when you screw it the screw can push the joist up and leave a gap in between the joist and the beam. Another way of avoiding this gap is stepping on the top of the joist while you are doing the holes to make sure it is touching the beam.

I guess that’s it. We are closer to have a deck on the top of our shipping container now!!! We are soooo excited about that!!!

Roberta