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.

Shop time

I managed to get over to the shop a couple times this week. There is a lot of work to do before the space is actually useable. It has not been used for several years except for off season storage and as a location for used items to be placed and forgotten about.

First thing I thought I would do would be to fix up the shelving that was already there. Simple plywood shelves fastened to the wall. Once I removed all the stuff that was on it and was able to get a better look at them, it quickly became apparent that the whole thing would need to be rebuild.

After a second, unplanned trip to the lumber store to get more wood and a couple new driver bits I tore the old shelving down. Once I got to the last shelf I made a discovery. Two discoveries actually.

The first I was expecting; a mouse nest. This is one of the problems I have to address with this space. There are a few places I need to plug up where nature comes to visit. This includes the attic which the landlord says is probably full of squirrels.

The second discovery made me laugh. I’m not sure if they belong to the owner or their kids. The issues are 24 years old, so could easily be either.

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.

More winter prep

This summer we spent a day cleaning the bbq and the smoker.  Wow.  We did not realize how much mildew was growing on and in them.  We did note how bad the bbq cover had gotten.  We now suspect that the covers actually made the problem worse.

I recently was lucky enough to have access to some salvage metal roofing.  I scavenged enough to be able to put up another rain shelter this time for the cookers.

I have one more project I would like to get to.  The recycling is currently in under a tarp roof in the back yard.  This is a leftover arrangement from when we bought the property.  The roof works fine enough but is really low, like 40″ low.  I have a bit of metal roof left and I think I will put a new, higher roof over the recycling.  It would be a good additional to the new gate I put in to shorten the hike when taking it to the street on pickup days.

Winters coming

Since we have not built our car port yet I’ve been putting up temporary solutions to keep the convertible out of the rain for the winter.  Last year it was a couple tarps, some clamps, a lot of rope, my quick support poles, and a couple of trees. It worked, but not pretty.

This year it is improved. Still a temporary solution but a spent a little money  to avoid people thinking I was starting a new tent city.  I found a design some guys use at Burning Man called a monkey hut.  Pretty simply and surprisingly stable.  We’ll have to see what it does after the first big snow.

Salvage Lumber

Someone I know asked if I could build them a firewood shelter using a big stack of old wood that was piled up beside their workshop.  This was wood left behind by a previous owner,  most of it milled on site from cedar and douglas fir trees.  Old Douglas fir trees.

The other request was to make it visually similar to another one they already had to avoid having the “shiny new” upstaging the “weathered old”.

I am not quite finished but I have managed to find enough wood to build everything except the rafters.  I had to buy new 2×6’s for those.  I even found a few lengths of fir 6×6 so I could mirror the beam in the old shelter.  Did I mention how heavy 6×6 douglas fir beams are?  No?  Ok, how does 220 pounds sound.  And no helpers 😦

I also got to try my hand at a scarf joint.  Now before you start I know it should by at least eight times longer than the width of the wood, and preferably 12 times.  Problem is I didn’t have enough 6×6 to sacrifice eight feet for scarf joints.  Most of the beam parts were supported by two posts, and only a small piece in the centre would be suspended.  Since this small piece is only 5ish feet long and will at most have to carry two rafters I decided to go with a very small scarf with dowel pins.  I made sure the angle of the joint would aid in supporting the piece.

Sure makes a guy wish for a 10″ saw and some better chisels.  One last note: did I mention how hard old douglas fir can get?  No?  Check this out ->

Count’em up.  One carbide tooth left and it’s burnt.  I actually broke two driver bits as well.

There, that’s better

I’m not sure why the happened. Cedar siding on an old building. The building is actually pretty sound. Solidly built, no water damage and very little rot. I only had to replace the stairs and the deck rail top caps that had a bit of dry rot.

The only other time I’ve seen cedar siding buckle out like this was because of ivy growing under the siding. This almost looks like a tree branch was growing in it. After I took down the warped ones I noticed that they nested together very suspiciously. What’s that chance they actually put up warped boards?

Live simply

Spent the last couple of days hauling away the contents of another estate.  This is the third one I’ve helped with this year.  There is something profoundly sad about loading someone’s valued possessions, items they picked out with care and thought and passion, and taking them to the landfill.

It feels like an insult.  Demeaning.

Many items are taken by relatives and friends.  Some items make it to local recycling or are donated to second hand charity stores. The lion’s share of the house contents however ends up  getting unceremoniously tossed into the back of the truck and taken to the dump.

You start to think about you own possessions and what will happen to them.  The fox statuette and whale milk pitcher.  The painting that was Kelly’s retirement gift.  The drawer full of watches I’ve been keeping (some even still work!)

Cleaning out someone else’s home can be a great eye opener.  It makes you really think about what you want to leave behind for somebody to deal with.  We have been downsizing fairly steadily over the past decade or so, quite aggressively at times.    We’ve gone from almost 4000 sqft of living and storage space to just under 900 sqft in the process. I like to think that in the end of days most of our belongings will find a second home and not simply tossed out.  Live simply and spare someone else the sadness and guilt of destroying the artifacts of a life.