Sunday, November 14, 2010

Firepit - Trim (back)

2010
Sunday, November 14

I finished the trim on the back of the firepit bench. I've been debating how to finish off the bottom of the back of the bench and my brother suggested a great idea to just wrap leftover boards around the bottom. Then I can just backfill the area with dirt.

I wanted to finish off the bottom and not have it open for 2 reasons: 1, to be able to store firewood underneath and protect it, 2, to help keep warmth in the are and not have a cool breeze blowing on peoples legs if it's breezy.




It was a bit difficult to bend the boards without really a way to clamp them the way I had in the front. I just kinda clamped them the best I could. One did let go though and whacked me right in the leg. I'm sure I'll have a nice bruise from that one! LOL.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Firepit - Seat & Trim (left pergola)

2010
Tuesday, November 9

Today I trimmed out the left side pergola of the bench. It had gone much faster than the other side, since I really didn't have to figure anything out. I'm really kinda liking how's it's looking. It anchors the bench very nicely and kinda gives it a seclusion "feeling" without closing it in.

I can't wait to get the stained glass pieces in it. I have no idea how I'm going to frame those in though, since I want to be able to switch them out or removed them for winter months and such.




Sunday, November 07, 2010

Firepit - Seat & Trim

2010
Sunday, November 7

The last week I really worked like crazy. I wanted to get the firepit bench down before we had an snow. I'd come home from work, eat dinner, then go outside and work. That was pretty much my week. It was freakin cold too. I had built a fire in the pit and had it roaring every night I worked.

Last night I finished bending and attaching the boards for the seat. I had texted a picture to my parents and within 5 min, I heard 2 cars pull up. It was my brother and parents cars. They came to check it out after they got the text. They sat down for a minute and said how awesome it looked and felt. My brother had my lil 2 and 1/3 yr old nephew with him, who didn't want to explore, like he usually does. He reacted his arms to my brother to pick him up cause he was cold. I thought...hmm...it's not that bad out here. HA...when I got inside, I looked at the thermometer and read 22 degrees. 22 degrees??? I said out loud. Damn...I had no idea it was that cold. I had been working like crazy and even a little flushed from how high I had the fire going I didn't even realize.

Today I cut the excess off the seat boards. When curving them around the bench, they'd stick out farther and farther. So I cut them down with my circular saw and flush cut saw and then attached the darker Trex boards as trim. This way they'd match deck bench style. I still had some energy left, so I decided to work on the pergola that will hold the stained glass.





Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Firepit - Seat

2010
Tuesday, November 2

Tonight I screwed together a few more of the Trex composite boards, I sawed in half, for the circular seat around the firepit. It's starting to look more and more like a seat. It's now wide enough for a shoe, so I walked around the bench. It definitely feels like a sturdy bench.



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Firepit - Started Seat

2010
Sunday, October 31

I started on the seat part of the firepit bench today. The seat will be made up of the same Trex composite boards, flipped on their sides and curved to form the half circle. First though, I bought a new tool. I bought the DEWALT 7-1/4 in (DW369CSK) circular saw to cut the boards in half. My brother has a similar model and said he loves his.

I wanted to cut the boards in half for 2 reasons. 1, I figured that they'd be easier to bend being smaller, and 2, I believed that the Trex composite boards are strong enough to support the weight just fine with how close the support posts are.

It was pretty easy to cut through the boards with the saw. It had gone through them very nicely and I got to screw together 4 boards. It was cool seeing the seat come together. I love working with the Trex boards. There's not enough to sit on yet and try it out though.




Saturday, October 30, 2010

Firepit - Finished Backrest

2010
Saturday, October 30

Today I finished attaching the boards for the backrest of the firepit bench. It's been..."interesting" bending the Trex composite boards. The have flexibility even in 50 degree weather, which I didn't expect. I expected them to be as hard as rocks and they weren't.

They were actually quite easy to bend using clamps. I've been using Irwin clamps. They are my fav clamps so far. I've been using the SL300 One Handed Bar Clamps/Spreaders to clamp the boards as I bend them and I just bought an XP600 One Handed Bar Clamp/Spreader. That sucker can apply 600 lbs of pressure opposed to the other one's of 300. The end of the board is obviously harder to bend, with less leverage, so I'm using the heavy duty guy on the ends.

Anyways.... I managed to finish the back rest today. I'm loving how it's looking....and I love that the Trex boards can flex like this as I can be creative with my designs cause of it and have a circular bench :)




Sunday, October 17, 2010

Firepit - Started back rests

2010
Sunday, October 17

Originally I started out cleaning the garage and trying to get stuff out of the way as my new car is 3 inches wider than my last. I was working with the door open and said to myself...hey, it's such a nice day, I think I'll try to bend a board, for the firepit seat back, to see what it'll be bending those 20 foot suckers.

Ok...so the plan is to bend the Trex composite boards and attach them to the posts, which form a semi-circle. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Once I clamped the board to the first post, it was fairly easy to use the clamps and bend it in place as I had gone along.

It was going well enough I managed to get to boards up. the second one is have screwed into place as we had to leave for some Halloween fun :)




Saturday, October 09, 2010

Firepit - Set rest of post supports

2010
Saturday, October 9

Today was a fun day. We had helpers today setting the rest of the firepit bench supports. Our friends Kelly and Tom came over to lend us a hand, in exchange for helping with their deck next yr. And we couldn't have asked for a better day. It was absolutely beautiful, blue skies, sunny and on a warm October day.

It was fun working together...lots of laughs, teasing each other, and good memories. And of course we got work done as well :). While Tim, Kelly, and Tom were working with 50 lb bags of concrete, mixing them and filling the holes, I was hand pumping out the water from the holes, placing the supports, and leveling them with gravel. We had a nice little assembly line going. In a few hours time we set the 14 posts (7 supports) that were remaining.

It was really-really cool to see them all in place and form the half circle. And afterwards we got to relax a lil bit on our deck. As I sat there, looking at Tim sitting on the bench, and Kelly comfortably laying on the lower deck, I realized that we finally had a yard to enjoy....to relax in with friends. This was the one thing that's been missing for 5 yrs., that we finally have, and it felt amazing. I'll never forget that moment :)




Sunday, October 03, 2010

Firepit - Built Support Posts (5 & 6)

2010
Sunday, October 3

I built the 5th & 6th supports for the firepit bench tonight. It's been raining a lot lately so the post holes are filled with water. I'll have to pump out the water before setting the rest of the posts. The one's I built tonight I just kinda placed in the holes and kinda leveled them to just see what the incline is doing. I found that the ground is not really level on the right side and will have to come down and bit.




Friday, October 01, 2010

Firepit - Built Support Posts (3 & 7)

2010
Friday, October 1

Tonight I built the 3rd and 7th post supports for the bench. I built those one's cause they have the same dimensions. The first 2 posts, on each side, are the tallest. The one's next to them are a step down, and then the rest are the same height as the seat backs. Here's an elevation view of the bench showing the height differences of the supports.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Firepit - Built 2nd Support Posts

2010
Thursday, September 30

I was able to construct the 2nd support for the Firepit bench tonight and set it in concrete. Tim called me a "crazy woman" for staying up so late and doing that. By the time I finished cleaning up it was after midnight...lol.

I think the most difficult thing is to make sure all these things are level and plum. The joists have to be level, the post has to be plum, and then the joists have to also be level with the joists of the neighboring joints. It had taken a bit of tossing in gravel...then taking gravel out to get it right...lol.

It's pretty cool, looking at it from a birds eye view of the garage roof, and starting to see the semi-circle start to form.




Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Firepit - Built 1st Support Posts

2010
Wednesday, September 29

Tonight, I started cutting the posts and supports for the firepit bench. As I started to cut the posts and post sleeves, I decided to put one support together, just to make sure that all my measurements were working out. The next thing I knew I was sticking it in the holes, and mixing concrete...lol. I didn't really set out to do that tonight and did anyways though. So...the first support is done and in the ground.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

Firepit - Dug Post Holes

2010
Saturday, September 25

At about 4:30 pm Tim and I had gone to Home Depot and rented a 2 person auger. For all those who don't know what an auger is, it's a giant drill used to dig post holes in the ground. A 2 person power auger has 4 handles, 2 for each person.



We rented it cause I figured it would be a lot faster than digging 18 holes manually. It had taken 4 adults, switching off, and an entire day and part of the next day to dig 16 holes, for the deck, with a manual antique ager. Because I just wanted to get it done, I figured a power auger was the way to go.

Well, let me tell you about our experience....lol. First off, they did not build those things for small people, such as myself. Second, one person had to pull the cord, while the other turned the throttle handle. It wouldn't start unless the handle was turned, which meant that it started drilling right away. Before Tim and I knew it, that auger bit was 2 feet in the ground and stuck in the dense clay. When it got stuck, the torc from it cause Tim to fly one way and me the other....lol. Now I can laugh about it....at the time both of us were frustrated.

To our surprise, it did not have a locking mechanism, so that you could lock the bit and spin it out of the hole. It did not have a reverse either....so that auger bit was stuck.

After admitting defeat, I called my Dad for help. He came with a pile wrench and Tim slowly turned it manually out of the ground.

From that we learned very quickly that # 1 - you have to lift the auger a bit when starting so it doesn't catch and drill right now.....# 2 - You need to put it down maybe 8-10 inches and then lift it out of the hole to unplug the drilled earth out of the way....and # 3.....it's starts to become very heavy and daunting after about 2 holes of dense clay.

After Tim and my Dad started most of the holes, my Dad called my bother and "fatherly" asked him to come help his sister....lol. Tim and my Brian then were doing it for a bit, then my Dad had a plan. He said "hey...there are 4 handles...and there are 4 of us.....everyone grab a handle". So, that's how we finished it....all 4 of us had a handle and finished the rest of the holes together.







Firepit - Project Started

2010
Saturday, September 25

Way back in January I sketched an idea of a circular bench for the firepit area. It will be constructed using the same Trex board, we used on our deck. It'll be flipped on it's side and bent into a semi-circle. I'm also going to design and make 2 stained glass windows to flank either side.

From Firepit Project



In April I started constructing the stained glass windows that will flake the sides of it. I loooove the way it's turning out so far.






Today I started on prepping the firepit area for digging holes. The lumber for the circular bench has been sitting in our driveway for the last 2 months because we've been so busy that we haven't been able to work on it.

In the early afternoon I marked off where the post holes are going to go....there are 18 of them...lol. Because the boards will be bent in a curve, I wanted to make sure I gave it a lil extra strength to hold everything in place, so that's why there are so many posts for it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Backyard - New Grass

2010
Saturday, September 18

I walked into the kitchen and looked out the window, then looked at Tim and happily said "we have grass.... we have a backyard Tim". It felt good to say that...and it felt even better to "see" it. It's been a looooong time coming :)

New Tool - Root Irrigator

2010
Saturday, September 18

After we planted all those Birch and other trees, I started researching a product I had seen on Gardening by the Yard on HGTV. It's a product made by Hound Dog Products called the "Root Irrigator". It’s basically a tube, that you can connect a hose to, and stick in the ground, so you can deliver water directly to the roots. I noticed that because we built up the soil so much around the trees, the water just runs off....and I don’t think anything even got to the roots......so I got this, from Amazon.



I love it so far. I used it right after I planted the Weeping Pine today and a few shrubs. Fyi... turn on the water before pushing it into the ground to prevent clogging, that way the water kinda of drills a hole for you. I thought it worked great, with no run off, and I knew that water was going right where it needed to, which is to the roots.

Backyard - Planted Weeping White Pine

2010
Saturday, September 18

Today I had the chance, "finally", to plant my Weeping White Pine (Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’), that I bought last yr, when I thought our backyard would get graded. I think he's a fun lil guy. People seem to be kinda if-y about him... my Dad and Tim think he looks like a creature and one of my friends said he looks lop-side. Idk, I think he's unique and fun looking.



Tim and I built up the "mound" a little more, by the Birch trees and I decided to plant him in the midst of them. I thought he looked rather cool there to give a fun element to that area.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Backyard - Planted Arborvitaes

2010
Sunday, September 12

Last year I had bought a whole bunch of Arborvitae's and they've been just waiting, in their lil pots, to get planted. Today, Tim helped me plant them.

The idea was to "not" have them in a line. I wanted them staggered and natural looking. These Emerald Green Arborvitae's will eventually get about 10 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. In the future they'll hopefully give a little privacy in a natural looking manor.



Monday, September 06, 2010

Backyard - Birch Trees (Planted)

2010
Monday, September 6

Around 9 am this morning the door bell rings and it's Russell's Tree Farm, delivering our Birch Trees. They were on a big flat bed, then he moved the trees to our backyard with a lil Toro Dingo Mini Skid Steer. It was really cool watching them being moved and placed near the holes. It was like poof...instant tree boarder.

From Backyard






Ok...well not really poof, cause then we had to plant them. Tim and I realized that the holes we had dug yesterday weren't going to be deep enough for the two 14 foot Clump Heritage River Birches, which were put in the holes. Those bulbs were a lot larger than I remembered...lol. We tried to moved it and quickly realized we needed reinforcements, so we called my parents to help moved and plant them.

Those suckers were heavy....if I had to guess 400 lbs. It had taken Tim and my Dad tilting them and me with a 2x4 leveraging it and rolling them out of the holes. We did it though. The trick was to get them back in the holes facing the way we wanted them, cause once they were going in, I don't think we could've got them out again...lol. They will eventually grow to be about 40-50 feet tall.



We planted the three Jacquemontii/White-barked Himalayan Birches next. Those were lots easier...lol. They were smaller 8-10 or so foot in pots, which will eventually get 25-50 feet tall. These Birches are more upright and slender, whereas the River Birches will have a nice spread.



I purposely wanted the Birches closer together to have more privacy and get back the forest like feel we used to have with the Ash tress. I want to be able to walk in between them later on and maybe add a lil path.



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Basement Workbench - the Plan

2010
Wednesday, April 28

So here's the plan, for my lil work area... I'm going to build a work bench, a shelf above it, and create a cutout for a stained glass piece. I figure, hey, I have the knowledge to do it now, might as well make the area look cool with a stained glass window.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Basement Workbench - Saw & Studs

2010
Sunday, April 25

Today I started on a project I've been wanting to do since we built. I started constructing my lil work area in the basement.

When we built, I decided that under the stairs, in the basement, was a perfect lil spot. I had our electrician install a light and 2 outlets, for this future project. For 5 yrs it's been waiting there for me. I had the perfect initiative to get started on it, when my stained glass class ended as I need somewhere to finish the window, for the firepit area.






And today I got started by purchasing something that I've been wanting to for a while now..... the DeWalt (DW718) 12" Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw.


For non-tool people...

Miter - the blade can swivel right to left to do angled cuts



Bevel - the blade can rotate side to side (non-perpendicular to table)



Compound Miter - the blade can both miter and bevel
Siding (Compound Miter) - as well as both being able to miter and bevel, the blade can move and forth or "slide" to cut larger/wider pcs of wood.

I was in debate about it cause of the price and then my Mom reminded me that there are MANY projects to come through the yrs and it'll last a lifetime. So thanks to some birthday money from family, I treated myself :)

So, now that I have my saw, I can build stuff anytime I'd like. And tonight I cut the first piece of 2x4's for some extra supports where the I'm going to hang drywall.