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How to best drill holes in tight space?


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11-09-11, 06:44 PM   #1  
How to best drill holes in tight space?

Here is a picture looking up into a very tight corner of the attic, ceiling sheet rock has been removed.

The roof pitches down and this is near the edge, and I have a piece of 2x6 (see as marked in the picture below) that was damaged by termites and water. Someone had previously attempted a repair, by sistering new 2x6s on both sides of it. Only thing is, they only put in ONE SINGLE NAIL through all three pieces of wood (marked 1, 2, 3). The one marked "2" is the original damaged member.



I tried to put in a few more nails and as soon as I drilled through about 1.5", the nail goes in with no resistance - which tells me the middle piece is pretty severly damaged.

I then tried to remove all three pieces, thinking I can just get new wood up there, but the middle piece will not come out due to it being nailed from the top where the roofing plywood sits. I didn't want to risk disturbing the roofing membrane above it, so I decided to leave them alone.

However, I would like to drill two 1/2" holes across all three members, and use a 1/2" hex bolt to tie the three pieces together tightly. The only problem is, as you can see, with so many electrical conduits and vac pipes and other framing members in the way, I could not find a clear path to position a drill to drill a nice perpendicular 1/2" hole through.

I can drill it at a skew from a certain angle, it would be tricky but it could be done. But will a 1/2" hole at a skew (say 10-12 degrees) be OK?

Can you think of other ways to reinforce that member? I thought about replacing the sister members to full length members bracing against both sides, but in order to remove what's there I have to pry them off and risk further damaging the middle piece.

 
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11-10-11, 05:10 AM   #2  
1. There are drills that have a 90 degree head so the chuck that holds the bit goes to the side instead of the traditional inline arrangement. If you don't want to buy one you might be able to rent it.

2. You can also buy a 90 degree attachment for your drill. You just chuck it up in your current drill and it has it's own handle and chuck to hold your drill bit.

3. There are very long, flexible drill bits used for running wires through existing walls. My 1/2" bit is 4 feet long and only the first 3 inches is the 1/2" diameter. The remaining length is about 3/16" diameter so it is flexible. You can hold the flexible shaft and flex the drill bit around obstacles. If running the drill fast it helps to grease your hand or wear a glove but if you turn the drill slow you can hold it with your bare hand.

 
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11-10-11, 05:32 AM   #3  
What about a nail gun?
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11-10-11, 06:13 AM   #4  
Posted By: Pilot Dane 1. There are drills that have a 90 degree head so the chuck that holds the bit goes to the side instead of the traditional inline arrangement. If you don't want to buy one you might be able to rent it.

2. You can also buy a 90 degree attachment for your drill. You just chuck it up in your current drill and it has it's own handle and chuck to hold your drill bit.

3. There are very long, flexible drill bits used for running wires through existing walls. My 1/2" bit is 4 feet long and only the first 3 inches is the 1/2" diameter. The remaining length is about 3/16" diameter so it is flexible. You can hold the flexible shaft and flex the drill bit around obstacles. If running the drill fast it helps to grease your hand or wear a glove but if you turn the drill slow you can hold it with your bare hand.
I need to drill the 1/2" hole straight to pass a 6" 1/2" hex bolt through and tighten with nuts. I think using a flex bit will cause the hole to wander as it goes through the three layers of 2x6.

A right angle drill may work, I am not sure, not without actually getting one and fit it on to the drill and see, because it's so congested. One thing that makes it more difficult is I do need to use a long bit to go through them, so partly is the drill in the way but also the longer bit.

If I use a 90 degree adapter, normally when you use a normal drill you slowly apply pressure in the direction of the drill bit as it advances, how does this work with a angle drill? I assume you squeeze the trigger with one hand and the other hand would pressure the drill sideways for it to advance?

 
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11-10-11, 06:16 AM   #5  
Posted By: Pulpo What about a nail gun?
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A nail gun would not work. I already have put 3" nails through the wood and the first 1.5" was "normal" and the last 1.5" has practically no resistance, hence I think the middle piece is pretty rotten and the nails are not getting any "bite" into it. At least in the four spots I tried.

Hence I wanted to drill a 1/2" hole all the way through, feed a 1/2" hex bolt and tighten, to hold it together by the compression.

 
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11-10-11, 06:35 AM   #6  
The right angle drill is the way to go. They also make short drill bits for this, as you may need one to start. You may also need to switch to a standard length bit to finish the hole.

 
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11-10-11, 06:48 AM   #7  
A nail gun uses ring shank nails. They grab better.

 
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11-10-11, 08:43 AM   #8  
I can drive nail in through the first 2x6, and there is zero resistance in the middle piece. So I think it has reached "swiss cheese" state, I do not think there is any solid material there to "grab" at all, I tried four spots and it's that way in all four. That's why I want to penetrate all three boards and I can tighten.

 
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11-10-11, 08:45 AM   #9  
If the middle piece is that far gone, I don't think that pressing the two short sister pieces will no much of anything as any holes you drill will not support much of anything from the middle piece. I would consider finding a way to remove the entire middle piece and replacing it regardless of what is holding it from above.

 
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11-10-11, 12:30 PM   #10  
There is no point trying to save the middle piece. If you try to sandwich it with bolts you will probably just squash it and not wind up with any structure anyway. You need to get rid of the center piece. A reciprocating saw with a 9" or 12" metal blade will flex enough to cut any nails coming down through the roof deck. You can probably just pry off the sistered 2 X 6's and cut the center piece back to sound wood. Replace the center piece and add 2 longer pieces on either side, screwed and glued. You should be good to go.

If you want to try drilling it, drill slightly (1/8"?) oversize so you can work the bolts through and just use bigger washers.

Good Luck
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11-14-11, 06:16 PM   #11  
OK, after A LOT of cursing, swearing and banging, I was able to remove the piece labeled below as "3". That is a short piece of 2x6 sistering the rotted piece.

After removing it, and three other pieces of bracing connected to it, I was able to see the middle piece. I was SHOCKED at how badly it is rotted. Now remember this was previously fixed by someone when the roof was open because roofing nails were driven down and attached to all three pieces. Why they didn't take the time to fix it right when they had full access is totally beyond me. But now I am faced with this problem.



This is how badly rotted it is from the side view.



It is actually worse then it looks, because after I cleaned out the loose fibers with a wire brush, the rotted sections extends into the wood by another 4 to 6 inches.





This is BAD!!!

What is worse is I cannot replace this member. It sits below the roof deck and rests on top of the concrete team beam, and extends another 4 to 5 feet as part of the roof overhang structure. Also there are hurricane straps bolted this member down to the concrete tie beam, it is not going to come out in one piece.

Even if I can chop it off and remove piece by piece of this member, there is no way a new piece of this length can be maneuvered in place at this tight space in the attic without opening the roof deck up.

I am basically stuck with trying to repair this.

The good news is, the back side sister 2x6 is still there. I may be able to fill in the cavity with some structural epoxy? Not sure. Any recommendation there? and once I fix this middle piece, then a new piece but longer, that goes from the concrete tie beam to the other end will be added back, and all three pieces tie together with 1/2" bolts and Simpson hangers.

Any recommendation on how to repair this large rotted out cavity? I have heard of the Abatron system or the WoodWizard system that claims to restore structural strength. Any thoughts?

 
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11-15-11, 11:09 AM   #12  
You can spend a lot of time and money to repair the rotted member, but in the end you will still have a "junk" fix. Just take the thing out and replace it. After all, you are smarter than that piece of wood, right?

And also, you need to devote some serious attention to stopping the water from getting in and rotting things. A number of your pix show recent/current water leaks.

 
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11-15-11, 04:56 PM   #13  
Posted By: MiamiCuse OK, after A LOT of cursing, swearing
I find this to be the most useful tool in my tool box.

 
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11-15-11, 06:37 PM   #14  
Posted By: BridgeMan45 You can spend a lot of time and money to repair the rotted member, but in the end you will still have a "junk" fix. Just take the thing out and replace it. After all, you are smarter than that piece of wood, right?

And also, you need to devote some serious attention to stopping the water from getting in and rotting things. A number of your pix show recent/current water leaks.
I can't remove the wood and replace it with one of equal length without tearing up the roof deck and tiles above. It is at a valley joint of the roof structure.

The whole piece is over eight foot long, we are looking at only the visible 3 feet where there is a rotted section. The other five feet extends into the roof overhang, bolted down to the concrete tie beam. Yes, I can cut out a 3' section of it, but that wouldn't do any good. There is simply no way to put an eight foot section into that space without tearing out the roof.

Also there is no recent leak. The stain you see on the underside of the roof deck is me trying out some liquid epoxy compound by brushing.

 
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11-15-11, 07:44 PM   #15  
Posted By: MiamiCuse . . . It is at a valley joint of the roof structure.
There's a hint in that statement.

[QUOTE] . . . There is simply no way to put an eight foot section into that space without tearing out the roof.[QUOTE]

So what are you waiting for? Think about it--taking the time to do it right, just one time? Or trying multiple times to do the "Mickey Mouse" fix, and still having a leaky roof?

. .the stain you see on the underside of the roof deck is me trying out some liquid epoxy compound by brushing.
For what it's worth, dribbling liquid epoxy on the surface of rotted members is a pure waste of time and money (coming from someone who's been working with epoxy since 1971). Faulty members have to be sound enough for rejoining, and epoxy can not bring back what has been lost.

 
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11-15-11, 08:47 PM   #16  
There is no leaky roof is what I am trying to say.

There was a leak a long time ago and the entire roof was replaced in 2006 before I purchased the property. New roofing membrane and new tiles.

This piece of badly rotted beam was previously repaired by putting in short sisters on both sides. I only found it by prying off one of the sister beams.

Since all three pieces had roofing nails driven into them on the top side, I have to conclude that the roof deck was opened up when they made the repair (and they decided to use the old plywood). That's why I said in my post "Why they didn't take the time to fix it right when they had full access is totally beyond me".

So if I have to tear up this roof it is just to replace this beam, not to fix a leak because there is no leak. This rotted beam has been sitting here since 2004.

 
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11-15-11, 09:55 PM   #17  
Posted By: BridgeMan45 There's a hint in that statement.
For what it's worth, dribbling liquid epoxy on the surface of rotted members is a pure waste of time and money (coming from someone who's been working with epoxy since 1971). Faulty members have to be sound enough for rejoining, and epoxy can not bring back what has been lost.
The one I was using claimed to petrify the rotted wood fiber and "harden" it. I am not sure, was kind of experimenting with it.

Do you know about this product:

http://www.conservepoxy.com/catalog.htm

Their Structural Epoxy product claims to create a repair section stronger than the original wood. Don't know if it's true or not.

 
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