A Tool Not In Your Tool Box

So I have been trying to make a final push on my tiny house, but I’ve had some delays with a window.  One of the things that I realized the other day was that there was a really important “tool” at my disposal that I’d never really thought of and frankly, at first didn’t realize I was even using.  It isn’t a traditional tool, but I’ve found it has been invaluable during this process.  The best part is that you have several of these in your possession already.

So what is this tool?  It’s a chair for thinking.

3132_Casual Adirondack Chair There are times in your build that you find something that stumps you, there are times where you have discovered a mistake, or there are times when things aren’t going your way.  Enter a chair to sit in and consider the problem.  It seriously have been invaluable, sitting in that chair, staring at the problem with your plans in your lap, you work it out in your mind.

A perfect example of this was when I went to put in my collar tie beams for the loft.  I cut them to the correct length, put it up on the top plate and notice there was some wiggle room.  At first I freaked out and thought I had cut the beam short, but after remeasuring I realized it wasn’t them.  What had happened was over the span of the wall, the center had bowed out slightly with the weight of sheathing.  The left side was bowed out 1/8th of an inch and the right side was out a 1/4th of an inch at the top; the bottoms were spot on.

Now at this point I had to figure out how pull the top of the walls inward the correct amount.  This is much easier said then done, because these walls now are secured firmly and are very strong.  I also had to pull one wall in more than the other.


So I sat down and thought about the problem, several ideas came to mind, but after a while an elegant solution emerged.  I didn’t want to put holes in my floor and I noticed one important thing.  I had to bring one wall in twice as much as the other.  So I went to the store and bought a huge eye hook and fastened it halfway up the wall into a stud in the center of the bow.  From there I connected my trailer ratchet strap to the eye hook, and then to the top of the other wall.

What this did was allow me to pull the wall together, but since I fastened one side half way up the wall (the side I need 1/8th), it gave me a mechanical ratio of 1:2.  Meaning I pull in one wall an eighth of an inch, I pull the other wall in a quarter of an inch, which is exactly what I needed!  From there I dropped in my collar tie and fastened it through the outside of the wall to hold it in place.  After securing all the ties, I released the straps and the wall stayed perfect.

There are times you will get frustrated, upset, maybe even mad, but I have found the chair to be an important thing to use to clear my mind and get to a solution.  It has saved money, time and frustration; ultimately building a better house.  So consider a chair as a valuable tool that you already have.


  1. Good to know this,thank you.

  2. This post caused me quite a chuckle. At first, I thought you were going to say “patience”, but oh yes, the chair of thinking is so right! I’ve used mine, many times, for all sorts of projects. So very helpful!

    If I might give a suggestion, I’d like to recommend the chair of thinking available in your local bookstore – as usually there is not only the internet available, but also great books to help solve the problem at hand. I used the local B&N a LOT when figuring out the framing. Not just for buying books, but for niche how-to books for specific questions/problems – which I perused and then reshelved.


  3. A chair might not work for me, I usually take the “go for a walk” or “go do something else” approach. Meanwhile the problem simmers away at the back of the brain until a solution suddenly pops out. Length of time to arrive at an answer can vary but at least you aren’t making whatever the problem is worse in the meantime. Judicious applications of appropriate “language” may also be necessary, especially right at the beginning but tool tossing and stuff kicking are usually counter-productive.

  4. Boatbuilders generally refer to that shop chair as the “Moaning Chair” where you can think over you mistakes.

    I prefer to use mine preemptively to think about what I’m going to do before I do it. Thinking slightly Pooh-like, I refer to it as my “Thotful Spot”.

  5. Ditto! When I am stumped I STOP and take a break and sit down for a bit. Keeps me from trying to force something with a hammer.
    I’ve been designing my cabin in the mountains and believe I have finally got a great plan (for me) at 500 square feet. Didn’t think I could get my long list of wants for less than 1000 square feet, but Tiny Houses has helped me rethink, rethink, rethink. I will now make more detailed drawings and (hopefully) get a permit to get started with my small adobe home. It is inspiring a friend as well, she is sizing down from 1500 square feet to 650 square feet and today said “just get rid of it!” after agonizing for a year 🙂
    I love the Tiny House emails and amazing ideas in these houses. I started in 4000 square feet on half acre and this is my 3rd downsize since reading about Tiny Houses. I am having so much fun with the process, it seems like a perfect life already.

  6. Beyond awesome. Your mind is a wonder.

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