Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've moved!

Not houses, but blog locations. The continuing chronicles of my place can be found at (seriously; old joke; maybe I'll explain it somewhere on the new site...)

Friday, December 14, 2012

So that you know I am not dead...

...I will post to say a) I am alive, b) the house remains standing, and c) things are continually being done both inside and out. But I keep forgetting to take pictures, so a several-months-long list of things like:
  • expanded garden beds, did some light landscaping
  • hours upon hours of scintillating work scraping off old wallpaper to reveal even older wallpaper
  • old stuff of finishing painting the eaves on the front of the house
  • even older stuff about rerouting gutters
  • minor flooring additions to the attic
  • repair of a return pipe on the boiler
  • storing of lumber and beautiful walnut branches in the basement 
  • ... and no doubt much more.
I will take some pictures and write some tales, I promise. Just don't ask when.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's so comfortable...

So at long last I followed through on my threat to use the rest of that pressure-treated lumber I'd salvaged years back...

... and make something both functional and aesthetically pleasing:

No, wait, that's not it.

There we go. Sorry Ryan, you won't weather as well sitting outside all winter.

Even after completing that picnic table several years ago I still had maybe a dozen 8-foot lengths of almost 1x6 (I'll explain the almost later) and a desire to create a sitting space other than my front porch. I've always liked the look and feel of Adirondack chairs (variants sometimes called Cape Cod-style, or Muskoka apparently) - the wide arms, the curved seat (not always a standard design element, FYI), the high backs, and the rustic quality, plus I used to go to Boy Scout camp in the Adirondack Mountains. So there we are.

Searching for chair plans online brought up literally dozens of options. I settled on this plan for its look - it really seemed the most comfortable of the designs I viewed - and its largely complete instructions set including three excellent options for creating the cut templates.

Depending on the wood you buy, 38 feet of 1x6, 8 feet of 1x4, and 68" of 2x6 could wind up costing $100+ easily. Because these chairs are meant to be used outdoors - and therefore may be painted - this is a great project to use reclaimed or even scrap lumber. It's even better if you have 'spare' pressure treated (or, heaven forbid, redwood or other traditional outdoor furniture woods) boards. $10 in fasteners and several hours of work later and you'll have a conversation piece from which to have very relaxed conversations.

This project got stopped and started several times due to other work, but I'd estimate it as doable by one person in four hours (not counting sanding) IF you have all the tools and space so you don't get in your own way.


  • Mitre saw
  • Table saw (at minimum, the seat slats need to be ripped)
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill with paddle bit and predrill bit
  • Circ saw
  • Workbench with adjustable opening in top. (If your table saw can cut a shallow enough angle for the back slats and arms, you won't need this or the circ saw)

Everything except the arms cut to length. I chose to rip the 1x4s out of the 1x6s instead of buying or finding 1x4 pressure treated.

I opted for combining the grid plan and measurements templating options from the site. Pro-tip on making templates for symmetrical cuts (like the back supports) - you only need to draw out half of the template; just flip it over on the board to trace the other half. You also only need to template the top of the back slats. The long angle can be marked with measurements and a straightedge on the board itself.

You can also 'nest' some of the templates since cuts are only made on one edge of the wood. Saves time and paper, but does require a bit of spatial reasoning. Above, the upper and lower back supports.

Not much else to report - the online plans (and handy pictures) were easy to follow and made a lot of sense. Two adjustments, and then another pro tip. First, I skipped the part in the instructions where they suggested temporarily attaching the sides to the leg/arm unit and using temporary spacers to keep the right width. I just maneuvered everything into place, clamped, and attached the bolts directly, several steps early. It's possible I lucked out and got everything pretty square by accident. If anyone sees a good reason to do things the way the instructions say, I'm all ears.

That should be my mantra.

Second adjustment - I was sloppy in measuring the salvaged wood. The boards are actually 1 1/4x6s - so one inch thick instead of 3/4" thick. This had virtually no impact on the construction, save for the rear spacer which had to be cut down a half inch (1/4" on either side) to fit. As always, measure twice, cut once, then remeasure, realize your mistake, and cut again.

No, I was wrong. That's my mantra.

Quickly now - pro-tips all around:

1) Narrow scrap wood should be a mainstay of every shop - easiest way I know to guide a circ saw along a long angled cut, like for the back slats.

2) Invest in a good saw blade for said circ saw. If you're cutting pressure treated wood or heavy hardwoods, get a new blade, period. My old blade was bucking and binding when trying to cut the arms especially. $11 at the hardware store later and the cut took less than three seconds.

3) Finally, if you're using reclaimed wood, take advantage of the ravages of time. Knots, gouges, nicks - don't sand them all away. And with weathered pressure-treated wood, experiment with not sanding down too far to allow for multiple colors and graining to emerge. The arms (which I have no idea where that wood came from, just that I had almost the perfect lengths sitting on my shelf) have three or four colors, like desert wood, from yellows to grays (of course) to even a bit of reddish purple. And the sides (second shot below) are tiger-striped because of how deep the worn ridges in those boards were. Great accents to the piece, I think.

Now to build a deck, and I'm all set...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to keep yourself sane at night

When you've replaced a smoke detector and stuck the old one somewhere with vague intentions of recycling or properly disposing of it or whatever, take that extra moment to remove the battery. This way you will avoid spending your 2am hour going up and down stepladders replacing perfectly fine batteries in all of your other smoke detectors.

The more you know...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More things that can be built with 2x4s

A ramp for the shed which *should* be capable of supporting the industrial drill press that's currently in there.

Quick (stackable) sawhorses using these plans, currently minus the plywood caps.

Updates (and pictures) to follow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quick updates

I won't get in the habit of posting about the house if I don't get in the habit of posting about the house.


Recent work, as opposed to rearranging stuff to make room for the NY stuff, includes:

  • painting the porch eaves
  • painting the sides of the house to at least the top of the second story windows
  • various sealing and puttying on eaves and trim
  • installation of some new shelves in the laundry room

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

One thing led to another...

I built a dolly:

I did this because I need to clear and rearrange space in the living room, workroom, and attic to receive a bunch of (mostly) books from back east that have been sitting in a storage locker for several months longer than my father would like. This sudden flurry of boxing and moving boxes and furniture contemplation led to the following:
  1. Box up books in one corner of living room. Consider placing them temporarily where the desk is currently located.
  2. Realize the bookshelves that are also coming from NY would fit well where the desk is, and decide to place something else in that space, something that will be gone before the shelves arrive.
  3. Decide to take all the stuff I agreed to store for someone for the month of August and put it in the place where the desk resides currently. Plan to move other things to the foyer where the stored stuff is currently.
  4. Realize all this is contingent on moving the desk.
  5. Remove everything from the corner where the desk will go.
  6. Empty desk drawers, clean top, finally unplug and put away various electronic devices atop the desk that are no longer being used.
  7. Find that desk is too heavy to move by myself.
  8. Mutter 'I could do this if I had a dolly.'
  9. Decide to build a dolly.
  10. Get sidetracked for an hour sorting all the lumber I rescued from the theater festival strike by size, even though I only need four pieces of wood.
  11. Finally begin this fifteen minute construction project:
You'll need:
  • 2x4s (I went with 2@18" and 2@25")
  • four casters
  • carpet padding or scrap carpet
  • staple gun and staples
  • 2.5" screws
  • power drill and bit set
Cut your wood and lay it out, ensuring everything squares up. Fasten with at least two screws per intersection; predrilling recommended. Remember to keep the screws to the outer edges of the intersection to make sure you can place the caster in the center.

Cut the carpet padding to size (a little hanging over all edges is best - the point is to protect anything you're dollying) and staple directly to the top surface of the 2x4s. If you're using carpet, you will need heavier staples or possibly tacks.

Drill a hole dead center of each intersection. The casters I had are threaded, so I chose a bit a little narrower than their dimension, inserted a caster, hand screwed it one or two turns so it was firmly in the hole, then used an adjustable wrench to tighten them down. (These casters, conveniently, had an octagonal plate between the wheel and the stem.)

12. Use new dolly to move desk fifteen feet. Call it a day and plan to deal with the rest of the living room tomorrow.