Thursday, May 29th, 2003
I'm building a sandbox for Sylvia and I came up with a pretty neat technique for marking the screw holes. The sides of the box are going to be 2X4's screwed together to make a wall 3½" wide and 7½" tall, with a 2X6 on top to provide a wider ledge. Reducing sanding work requires that I get the boards aligned as well as possible when I am screwing them together. There is an offset in the length of the boards so that the walls will interlock at the corners. So:
I made a story stick as long as the length of the walls, excluding the corners. I marked the stick with 6 points, 3 pairs of points about an inch apart and roughly equidistant along the length of the stick. I used my marking gauge to scribe a line down the center of each board and marked the end which will be going into a corner with an "X". Then I transferred the marks from the story stick to each board, working from the end with no "X"; one of each pair I marked "x" and the other "o"; the "x"'s are to be screwed into and the "o"'s are to receive the heads of screws. Each top board got only "o"'s, each bottom board only "x"'s. Now I'm all set to go!
The only worrisome point now is that the through holes, those that receive the head of a screw, need to be quite square to the surface of the board. I was thinking I would use the drill press here but on second thought that does not seem to make sense. I believe I will just try my best with the hand drill.
Tonight I screwed together one wall of the sandbox and planed it fairly smooth. On the way home I had an idea for how I could avoid needing to worry about the squareness of the through holes (see below); I would re-mark those holes on the bottom of each board and drill from the bottom. As it turned out this seemed like too much work so I just drilled from the marks I made yesterday; and it seemed to work fine.
My idea for planing was that since I am not particularly worried about straightness, I could go straight to the smooth plane. I tried this out and it seemed to work pretty well. The douglas fir planes pretty easily except where there are knots; and my ECE smoother can handle the knots. I got one section of really bad tearout when I was starting out; but it is on the inside of the sandbox toward the bottom (where it will be quite covered with sand), so I am going to leave it and figure noone will ever know.
I will need about 12 cubic feet of sand for this, which it looks like will weigh ½ ton. I am thinking I will get the sand in two trips but I will contact dad to check if that is a necessary precaution.
Update: Yep, Dad thinks it would be a good idea to take two trips.
Sunday, April 17th, 2005
So I have several projects I'm meaning to do, working on the house this summer. They are generally divisible into two categories; woodworking projects and patio/stone projects.
- Today I finished installing the wall unit I've been building for Sylvia's room, that's been dragging on since late last year. Oh happy day! (Actually the desk part of it remains to be done. For now Sylvia's work table fits okay in the space where the desk will go, and she has not quite outgrown it yet. I plan to build the desk in August or so.) Ellen will be painting the wall unit in conjunction with painting Sylvia's room, which she is planning to do in the next few weeks. Before she can do that, I need to install a chair rail around the room; I ought to get to that sometime this week. Also Ellen was mentioning that it would be nice to build a small shelf on the wall by the head of Sylvia's bed, to hold a box of tissues and some other things.
- Two summers ago I built Sylvia a sandbox in our back yard, with the intention to build a playhouse above it. That is currently the next project on my plate, and I am going to start designing it this afternoon.
- Ellen has asked me to build an enclosure for our garbage cans, which are currently loose in the side yard. I will be doing that after the playhouse is finished, hopefully in a month or so. I need to do this in conjunction with some of the patio work below.
- Also in conjunction with the patio work, I would like to build a small shed by the side of our house, to store our barbecue and some garden tools.
The major project last summer was laying a bluestone patio in our back yard and a slate walkway next to our driveway. A few things remain to be done before that is really finished.
- The slate walkway is just slightly too low, about 1/4 - 1/2", and it drains poorly. A quick project of a couple of hours will be just going down the length of it, lifting up each rock and packing more sand under it to bring the walk up level with the side of the driveway.
- A section in front of the porch, where I am going to build the enclosure for the garbage cans, needs to be leveled and filled with sand and stone. This is only about a day's work, but I need to finalize the design of the enclosure first.
- I would like to extend the back yard patio in one place to make it reach the fence. This is where I am planning to build the shed.
Sunday, May 8th, 2005
Today I made practical use (for I think the first time in my life) of that most vital bit of mathematical knowledge (according to the folks that write the standardized tests), that a right triangle whose legs are 3N and 4N will have a hypotenuse of 5N. (Seriously, if you're planning to take the GRE soon make sure you know that -- about a quarter of the math questions reduce to it.) I was trying to figure out how long to cut the sticks for the edges of the roof of Sylvia's playhouse. Thinking I can use trigonometry but unsure about what angle it ought to be at -- I'm trying to mimic the garage which is nearby, it has a pretty steep roof but it does not look like a 45 degree slope... I was drawing different triangles on paper trying to get one that looked nice when it hit me -- the horizontal leg is 32" (which leaves a nice amount of eaves), if I make the peak of the roof be 24" above the eave then I have a nice 40" long hypotenuse. Cut everything up and a couple of hours later I had roofs. (They are currently lying on the lawn, waiting to be mounted -- this is a task which requires some pretty heavy lifting and I am getting my neighbor Frank to give me a hand with it on
Friday, May 13th, 2005
Frank and I got roof up on Sylvia's playhouse last night -- it looks good and all that is needed now is a ladder and a railing.
Monday, May 16th, 2005
A lot more work yesterday on Sylvia's playhouse -- I shingled the roof (in a kind of half-assed way which involves nail heads being visible at the top of the roof) and put up the railing along the sides and back. Today I am quite sore.
Next step is to put a railing on the front (only halfway across the front) and a ladder. It seems totally possible to me that the house will be finished by next weekend in time for my birthday party.
Sunday, May 22nd, 2005
A status update on my home improvement tasks for the summer.
- Sylvia's room is painted and lovely; I would post a picture of it if I could figure out how to make my scanner work again. (Update: Scanner working; here's the picture.)
- I finished building Sylvia's playhouse on Friday. Still needs to be sanded and weather-proofed.
- The garbage-can enclosure is pretty well-thought-out now and may commence actually getting built over Labor-day weekend. (Although the priority project for that weekend is cleaning the garage.)
- The small tool shed is still a thing of fantasy.
- Today I started raising the slate walkway up to driveway level, and got about 3/4 of the first section done, before the rains came. The work is going pretty quickly and coming out well.
- Next weekend, when I may-or-may-not start building the garbage enclosure, I also may-or-may-not start laying stone in the area where it is to go. I think I don't have enough bluestone to do this and would like to figure out if there's somewhere I can buy 20 or so square feet without having to buy a full pallette.
- If I might not have enough stone for the garbage enclosure base, I certainly don't have enough to extend the back patio. So that's on hold for now.
Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
A bunch of new images for the READIN Family Album:
Monday, July 11th, 2005
A status update on my still-outstanding home improvement tasks for the summer.
- Ellen painted Sylvia's playhouse to match the garage which it is next to, and it looks very nice. It's gotten a good deal of use from Sylvia and various friends this summer, as I was hoping it would.
- The garbage-can enclosure is up. I finished installing it last weekend, and had the inspiration (born of laziness) to make a raised garden with the dirt I had excavated, instead of carting it away. I finished that this weekend, using some rocks from Eva's property (where we visited Saturday) to complete the retaining wall. Under the dirt where I excavated is an old slate patio in very bad condition; Ellen had the inspired idea to use the fragments of slate to create a walkway leading to the front garden.
- However, I still have to build the gates for the enclosure. Once I build and hang these, Ellen will be able to paint the structure.
- We cleaned up the garage and actually have a decent work area there now. Janis had given me some old trestles for a work table, which I nailed together with maple planks, and built a shelf above it.
- I have an idea that I may actually get to building the small tool shed sometime in August.
- The slate walkway along the driveway is level and drains well, which has made me realize that the driveway itself is not level, and drains poorly. Aargh...
- I ended up underlaying the garbage can enclosure with limestone instead of bluestone, because it was available in a more convenient shape. Damned expensive though!
- I'm planning to do the extension of the back patio next Friday, when i am taking the day off. If this goes according to plan, then I will start drawing up plans for the tool shed next weekend.
Sunday, September 16th, 2012
Out in the back yard
Playhouse lies in pieces and the bolts that once connected them
the once (and future?) construct
scattered sunlight on the lawn
scattered sunlit lifeless hollowed out
the paint like skin that's covered over
veins of douglas fir and cedar
veins of age-old wood and creeping
Drill battery is charging and I look out my back window
at the stillness of the breezes blowing
pushing round the trees
pushing blowing round the green enclosure
manifold imposing over
arching, dark reality
the creeping, pungent real story
never write it down, I'll never
write it down because it's hidden
hidden dark unnameable
illicit hanging conversation
twittering between cicadas
translate text of endless grayed-out
Finished two old projects yesterday -- The playhouse I built for Sylvia in 2005 and which Bill helped me pull down a few weeks ago is now completely disassembled (and Scott has indicated he'd be interested in using the wood to build something for Sasha and Maya); and the Windsor chair I built on my 2002 trip to The Windsor Institute is finally painted, a handsome shade of green. Lee Valley milk paint is the best.
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