Monday, February 25, 2019

My stab at mid-century modern chairs

As a part of our grand plan to modernize our furniture, there were our old and tired couches and rest of living room furniture that were a collection of hand-me-downs and Craigslist's treasures that were so discombobulated that we finally got tired of them. We wanted some modern looking chairs, so I decided to take a stab at them. Here is the end result.

So, here are the angles and how I made them. First came the legs. For this part, I used three 2"x6"x8' pieces of lumber for the three of them. I bought 4 planks, just in case. Here are the dimensions and the angles for the cuts:

 The first cut, I made at 30.5" at an angle of 23 degrees. The remaining plank, I cut at 12.75" at an angle of 38 degrees. Lastly, I cut the plank at 30.5 at an angle of 23 degrees. The first piece, I cut at an angle of 32 degrees. 

Notice that the angles in the picture are 90 minus the angle on your miter saw. The sequence of cuts I followed, was to minimize the times I would move the angle on the miter. After that I drilled pocket holes to put them together:

At this point I measures 2.5 inches at the bottom from the outside of each end of the leg and drew a straight line to the inside upper corner. Then I drew a curve on the top piece of the legs
I cut both sides with the skill saw and the curve with a jig saw. After a little bit of sanding, they are starting to look the part.

Then, onto the seats. I ripped a 2 by 4 at 18" at an angle of 30 degrees. Then, I cut the remaining plank at 23" at 0 degrees. The 18" piece, I cut at the 7" mark at an angle of 15 degrees DO NOT DO THIS. I recommend you cut them at 7 or 8 degrees. 15 turned out to be too much and I had to readjust. I connected them 20" apart (maybe 22 would have been better, they are a little narrow, but  wider they may not look as modern).
 I am sorry I did not take many pictures, here are my different attempts at angles and lengths.
Then, onto the upholstering. First, I added support straps:
Some burlap on top:
I am not a great upholsterer, so here I was too overwhelmed to take pictures. YouTube has many videos on how to upholster chairs:

Now, I just had to attach the legs. I just screwed them on. In the first attempt, I screwed them to high and had to redo it. I unfortunately had already painted the legs, so I had to use wood filler and more paint later on. Not good. I recommend that the seat height be placed at about 17", the front at about 19" and the back at about 40". Maybe it would have been best to set the height and drill holes for bolts before painting and upholstering. Then, after just bolting the seat on. Live and learn. Or read my blog and learn from my errors. Here are the pictures of the installation... how shameful. 

Wood filler, ick! Oh well, it sanded nicely and once painted, it's good. She had to test them:
After the O.K. we went ahead and did the last few touch-ups. If you decide to build these chairs, please send me pictures.

Happy building! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Front Patio and Ana White's Adirondack Chairs

So, due to neglect and too much fishing, our front yard looked like this. 
I know, quite embarrassing. We had a mesh and rocks, but with time the mesh degraded and the weeds had taken over. During the summer, I was pulling weeds out of that bed at least twice a month. If left unchecked, you can see the mess it would become. Therefore, we decided to pour concrete over and make it a patio. So, I mixed the concrete by hand with a wheel barrow and a garden hoe.

This was my first time pouring such a "big" area of concrete. I sectioned it off in more workable areas. All in all, it took a weekend to complete the pour.

Then, I built the Adirondack chairs using plans from Ana White:

They turned out great and were very comfortable. When building them, I made a mistake I flipped the back leg backwards in all the chairs. This made the installation of the back rest a little difficult. However, I like the way they look with that back leg backwards.

Since I used pressure treated lumber for the project, I had to wait for them to dry. I left them unpainted for a couple of months. Then, we painted them when we painted the front of the house. This is what it the front of the house looks like now:
I think that is quite an improvement.

Happy building!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Ana White Bedside Tables

In my last post I mentioned that I was in the process of building beside tables for our bedroom. I used the plans from her website and did not make any modifications other than the color:

I used wood that I had in the shed, so you see the plywood panels don't match. After they were sanded and painted, they looked the same. I had never used the pocket hole jig before, I now am a fan. That thing makes things a lot easier.
I am planning on making a bench for the end of the bed with the exact same style. I may put a couple of drawers. So, essentially two shorter and narrower bedside tables side by side. I will probably start that build in the next couple of weeks. I will make sure to annotate all the measurements and steps for that build. I didn't feel the need to do that for this build as I followed her plans step by step.

As a friend would have said, not half bad. Anyways, that was the build. Finding the appropriate comforter set and the unreasonable amount of stress that produced the wife and I is a completely different story. This one is O.K. but not amazing. In any event, I have lots of projects planned for the next couple of months, so stay tuned.

Happy building!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Fascia Board Fix and House Painting

At the end of last year, my parents came visit. I decided to put up some series of Edison bulbs out in the patio. When I tried to put nails on the fascia board to hold the lights, I found lots of rot had taken over the fascia board. After a little bit of hammering, I could see that the board really needed to be replaced.

As you can see from the first photo, the drip edge is over a 2x1 that would have needed to be removed (to the best of my knowledge) to access and remove the fascia board. After talking to my good friend Andy, we decided that it was best, since the rot did not reach the top to mark a chalk line and cut the offending part of the fascia board and replace it with new wood. 

So, I did that and affixed the new board. I used PL premium to adhere the new board to the piece of fascia board that was left. Now, I am waiting for the pressure treated wood to dry, so that I can apply a fresh coat of paint. So, maybe my cheating can help someone in need of a new fascia board to get some more years before having to replace the whole board. 

Once that was done, the boss decided that it was time to refresh the paint on the front of the house. So, in addition to a set of new Adirondack chairs (subject of the next post), we went ahead and changed the colors of the house.

At the moment, I am working on new furniture for our bedroom. So, there should be a few more posts going up in the near future. 

Happy building!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hugelkultur garden

It's been a long time since I posted on my blog. Today, I will show you how I transformed my backyard from a money pit to a productive garden. The story goes back to Hurricane Irma, that ingrate lady that came visit us and took half of one of my cedars with her. But that's a different story altogether. So, I found myself with lots and lots of organic debris. If Matthew, that ungrateful son of a gun that took a half of my other cedar tree, taught me something is that, debris pickup takes forever. Therefore, I decided to do something with all the debris. I started with my own, soon enough I found myself picking up debris from my neighbors' driveways. And that, my friend, is a hugelkultur.

The idea of these hills is that you layer them with logs, then branches, then leaves, then dirt, then leaves, then dirt, then manure, then compost, etc. More or less, like a lasagna of organic debris that will decompose, absorb water, and feed your crops (sometime down the road). Not only do these hills produce beautiful produce, they also are quite nice to look at.

In my opinion, these hills are quite compatible with the suburban garden, as they are aesthetically pleasing and easy to maintain.

So, how do you start? You collect some trunks of trees. People are cutting down trees all the time. Before you have ever built a hugel, you don't think much about it, but once you've built one, you start seeing the felled trees everywhere... trust me.

I helped a friend to take down one of her trees and I got materials for my hugel and she paid me some money to boot! Then, you roll up your sleeves and start digging.
I tried to dig deep enough to get the first row of trunks fully under the ground level. Some people make these hugels without digging at all. They just pile the stuff on top of the ground. I don't like this idea, as the resulting hugels are too big. In addition, digging provides you with dirt to layer on top, so you don't have to buy more. A note on the size of the hugel. I found that the smaller hugels are easier to plant and harvest. Roughly 8'x5' is a good size. Longer should be o.k. but not wider. The one in this picture is a little too wide to reach the middle.

 After you have layered your biggest trunks you continue with a layer of branches.
 Then, some dirt, then some branches.
 I didn't have good compost, so I covered with some composted manure from the store.
 Here is another hugel:
 And another, with some seedlings starting to grow:
 And another:
 These last two are my twin hugels. I planted them with the same vegetables in almost the same order.  And another picture:
 Here are all but two of them:

Now, let me show off some of the produce. We have eaten so many vegetables that we must be growing rabbit teeth.

Happy building!

PS: Some people say cedar wood is a no-no for hugels, but I have to say that they probably have not ever tried it. The hugels I made with cedar wood are doing fantastic when compared to the other types of wood. So, if life gives you cedar wood, make a good hugel out of it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Walter Baron's 16' Lumber Yard Skiff

Firstly, let me start by saying that if you are pondering about building a boat, do not hesitate. It is one of the most fulfilling experiences (in my opinion) to see your boat emerge from the pile of wood. In addition to this, you get the privilege to outfit your boat however you want to.

Secondly, if you are interested in building the Lumber yard skiff, don't be stingy and buy the plans from: You will spend a couple of grands on the materials anyways, $50 for the plans won't break the bank, you will be supporting the intellectual work of the designer, and you will know that you are building a sea-worthy boat. I will add as many pictures and "tips" that I learned along the way, but I will not provide measurements to support my point. This is coming from one of the stingiest people you'll ever know, so there.

Third and last disclaimer: I built my boat and it turned out great, but I shall not held liable for any information you read in this blog. Read other sources and make sure you are comfortable with the process and the project you are embarking on (never better said) don't just take my word for it.

Let's be done with the disclaimers and let's get going with the build. After studying the plans and daydreaming about the build for a while, I went ahead and bought the marine plywood. If you can find affordable marine plywood in your area, don't skimp on this either. Some people have successfully built the LYS with lower grade plywood, but it is such a pleasure to work with this marine grade plywood, that I think it is worth the small price difference.

After coming home with the plywood, I cut the transom pieces and glued them together: I used a whole tube of adhesive for this part.
While the transom dried, I went ahead and traced and cut the sides. Then, I glued and screwed the buttblocks and that was the end of the first day:
Next day, I cut the stem post with the table saw and attached the beveled stern posts to the transom. I took care of the bevel on the plywood later with the electric planer, right before installing the sides and bottom. Then, I installed the frame at the point specified in the plans. It was the time to bend the sides. I had read horror stories about this process. It turned out to be easier than I thought. A few tip I learned from another builder: Fiberglass the buttblocks to prevent a rupture at this point. See Spookaloo's build at for details:
This is a two-person job. My wife helped me out in the process. It all went smoothly. I actually bent it more than needed and had unwind the Spanish windlass a bit. That's a testimony to the pliability of the marine plywood. Some people reported cracks or crackling noises, I had neither.

After that, came the chines. This is a process I lost sleep over, and for no reason. All you have to do is cut the chines at the angle specified in the plans attach them and then plane the chine and the plywood to make the bottom sit flat on top. It is a lot easier than I thought. If you don't have an electric planer, you need to buy one for this project. It will be one of the tools you will use the most.
 Now, bending these things is a workout. It is nerve wrecking because you are supposed to chisel out the buttblock before you start bending them. To do this part, I went ahead and used an angle grinder to chop up the buttblock then a chisel to remove the part needed to fit the chine.
The bottom is as easy as it can be. You have to set the plywood on top (can be done alone, but maybe you want to call a helper for this step) and trace the bottom. Leave it a little big, as you will plane it down with the planer once the bottom is completed. Once the bottom is traced, you cut it and glue-screw it in place.
After I completed the bottom I used marine filler to fair everything out. I got a little excited with the filler and applied it through most of the chine to have a seamless bottom to side transition. It was already flat, but I was planning on fiberglassing the whole bottom and sides, so I wanted that transition to be as smooth as possible. It paid off as the fiberglass cloth attached very nicely.
Speaking of fiberglass:
 At this point, I went ahead and added the shoes. This step is not complicated, but I was not happy with my shoes, because one of them is not perfectly straight (by just a tiny bit). I did not realize that the wood was a little warped until I had finished attaching the shoe. I decided that this was very minor and did not warrant removing the whole thing and going through the hassle all over again. I am glad that I made this decision, as the boat tracks just fine as it is.
 After this, I fiberglassed the shoes and applied two (or three, don't remember) layers of graphite to the bottom. This is nice stuff, much better (in my opinion) than bottom paint and probably even cheaper.
I painted the sides before flipping her over. My rationale was that in this way my line would be cleaner (as in no drips would go on the graphite). It worked O.K. I built some frames around her to flip her using some straps. It worked out.
 This step should not be done alone. But, that has never been a piece of advice that I have heeded. I did it alone and I almost dropped her. I am glad it all went well... and I was onto the frames.
 Attached the frames:
 and the rub-rails:
It was time now to apply epoxy to the inside of the boat. I did a spit coat on the inside in hopes that this will increase the durability of the boat.
 The screw holes were filled with marine filler:
 and rod holders were cut on the frames:
 Detail view of the rod holders:
Here I departed from the plans. I did not like the idea of a big deck, as it robs room from the boat (unless you can comfortably walk on it, in my opinion). Instead, I did butted inwales which, in my opinion, work great.
Then, I added a breasthook. This breasthook could have been too small as my anchor roller barely fit on it, but it is good enough. I had enough room for the anchor roller and it takes no room from the foredeck.
Now it was time to the foredeck/flotation tank. I filled it with two-part foam and soda bottles to be USCG compliant in terms of positive flotation:
 The fit on my foredeck was a little loose, but nothing that a little epoxy filler could not fix. After a little sanding, it looked great.
Then, it was time for the center console. The test fit went well, I was ready for the rear flotation tanks.

 I decided to make two boxes in the back and fill them with soda bottles and foam. The reason I opted for boxes is because the work as steps to get into the boat from the dock and they serve as the posts where I installed my sitting bench.
 All in all, I love the way the boat is very open and it has lots of sitting area.
Then came the time to put her on the trailer. When you have 5 or 6 guys willing to help you out, it is the easiest thing ever. We lifted her nose up, slid the trailer underneath and she was on it in no time flat. We moved her to her corner of the yard. At this point, the gate was not wide enough to accommodate for her, but I widened it up in a couple of hours of work. The boss, I mean, my wife asked me to build a concrete patio for the boat to sit on permanently. That will be one of the next projects.
Now, was all the fun stuff. Bimini top:
 Sitting bench:
 Motor installation:
Navigation lights:

Notice that my steering cable runs on port side as opposed to the usual starboard side. Well, genius here attached the steering cable to the wrong end of the helm and after getting tired of pushing the release notch on the helm and not getting the cable to move, I decided to flip the steering tube on the trim and run the cable on the opposite side. It worked out actually quite well, as it reduced the cable clutter on starboard. Maybe it's just me trying to see the positive in everything, but I like it better. Plus, it's my boat and I love her as she is, quirky... kind of like my wife and I, now that I come to think about it... anyhow, we were ready to go fishing.
So, after fighting one last round with the trailer lights (the connector is a little loose), we were ready to go.
And the important picture:
Happy building! I will be fishing for a while now :)