Hard Times

Another chance to try something new this week. I worked on a dry stack sandstone wall which surrounds a pond. The homeowner was a bit particular about the look so we did a lot of rock splitting to get a tighter looking wall.

Splitting rock this way involves drilling a series of holes along the line you want to split the rock in, then tapping pins into the holes. The feathers are metal shims places on either side of the pin. As the pin is driven down between the two feathers the rock eventually fails, hopefully along the line of the holes.

It reminds me of old stereotypes of convicts breaking rocks…

Honey do

With the nicer weather we are finally getting a little work done in the yard. Not that we can’t work in the rain. I just don’t want to.

First was to deal with the goofy soil available here. If you grew up in farming country it is not what you would call dirt. Very light weight with lots of compost in it. Maybe I should call it compostable material, because it has a way to go before I would compare it to the product coming out of my composter. The result is that the soil tends to disappear. Our garden beds probably sunk 8″ over that past two years. So, a couple yards of dirt to top up the beds so we can plant.

I also finally planted the apple trees we purchased a few weeks ago. These will fill up the orchard space and will likely be the last fruit trees we plant. Apples, crab apples, pears, peaches, cherries, sour cherries, haskaps, Saskatoon berry, and hazelnuts. Good list. Hopefully I get some produce this year instead of losing it to the raccoons.

Next up was to finish burying the bricks I bought to line the driveway by the lawn. I laid the first one 18 months ago. That’s embarrassing.

Of course you cannot only remove items from the list, you must also add new items. In this case we added a big one. Last month we scored several 8’x3′ double glazed glass panels and an assortment of single pane safety glass pieces for a ridiculously cheap price. They are currently stored behind the shed waiting to become a greenhouse. I hope to get onto this job in the summer. Seems like a good job to do during the summer shutdown when the fire department says no more using machinery.

Mike makes it to the island

Michael wasn’t able to make it here past time Tami came so they kids did a quick trip out during Easter break. The weather sort of cooperated but it sure could have been warmer.

May seems to be patio month.

With the weather getting nicer people are retiring to the great outdoors. For some the first thing they notice is the uneven ground they walk on as soon as the get out the door.

I finished two projects this week. First, new flag stone patio for Marshall. This is the same place we built the rock wall flower bed last year.

Work in progress

Very interesting stone here. It is chock full of mica and quartz so it is very sparkly in the sun. Does NOT behave though, had to use a saw to cut some pieces as they simply would not break clean.

Second project is re-levelling a patio stone sidewalk. This is an assumed job, as in I assumed it from someone else who disappeared part way through. I can guess why. The patio he laid on the other side of the house looks like a rollercoaster.

Pick’em up, fix the grade, and set’em down. Repeat all day long.

Shade tree fabricating

A buddy of mine just got a new”-ish” truck for his business and wanted to do some mods to it. First he wanted to swap his dump box from the old truck to the new one and refurbish the box. Over the years of dropping rocks into the box the floor was pretty much trashed.

Second, since the new truck is a cab over design the bed frame is quite a bit longer. He decided to use the extra frame to add a toolbox/mini excavator deck.

After a couple days in his yard we got pretty close to done.

Winter starts on the cusp of spring

Today is the first day we have had any accumulation of snow. Certainly not a lot, we had much more last year. Not a lot by other area’s standards either. But considering that we don’t see any that lasts more than 15 minutes on the ground some years it is always a nice thing to see.

Trading spaces

I started a new project this week. I was asked by a lady to finish a repair to a home made kayak her husband started and was unable to finish before he fell ill.

He made two of these kayaks from plans in a 1986 Wooden Boat magazine article. They are made from door skin mahogany plywood. You can still find lots of these projects on the internet, usually titled as a skin on frame boat.

plywood kayak

The task at hand is to replace the coaming. After that I think they both could use refinishing.

The deal is I get to use the workshop whenever I would like to in exchange for some handyman work and paying the hydro bill for the shop. Nice trade!

Living Room Shelving Idea

Painting over Christmas went well, with us finishing the kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom. We are taking a small break before we start the hallway and the bedroom, probably in February.

In the meantime we have been looking for a shelving solution for the living room. Specifically we want something in the corner to hold a few books and decorative items. It is a small space; about three feet either side of the corner before the wall runs into the patio door on one side and a window on the other.

Kelly has developed a love for the Poul Cado Cadovius shelving/wall units. Unfortunately they are crazy expensive to buy and most are too large anyway. I have not seen one up close and personal but looking at images on the web I think the basic idea in fairly simple.

After a bit of paper noodling I think I know how to build a Cadovius inspired shelf . Here is what the real ones look like:

Here is a mock up from some scrap wood I had in the shed.

Obviously this crappy plywood and MDF trim is not what I would use, it’s just what I had handy. Even so I could exert 30+ pounds pressure and get a half inch bend in this sample shelf without splitting anything or having the metal rods pull out. Proof of concept verified!

Next is a trip to town to find some appropriate wood. Maybe Windsor Plywood will have something nice.


It’s been a very wet month.

Over the past three or four weeks we have been receiving an average of three inches of rain each week. The average yearly rainfall here is 36 inches. The summers see very little precipitation. Most of it falls between October and May. Ten to twelve inches in a month is still twice the usual.

What we have not had is any snow. The last two winters we saw more than normal amounts of snow. This time last winter we had several inches of snow on the ground.

Hand in hand with the rain instead of snow theme is the temperature. Only three frost days so far, and wandering the yard the other day here is what I found for a New Year’s surprise.