Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pool-side Loungers

So, I ended up changing my mind with the pallet chairs. The backrest was way to laid back. So, after installing the pool, I decided we needed some pool-side loungers. Therefore, I transformed the pallet chairs into loungers. Now, I just need to paint them and find some nice yellow pillows and they will be ready to go for the summer.

Since my mom is visiting, they were thoroughly tested and were found rather comfortable. (I know, they are by the hot tub at the moment, but they will be by the pool when the summer comes).

Happy building!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Semi-in-ground pool

The project for this end of the year was to sink an above-ground pool about 20 inches in-ground. We wanted a pool but did not want to pay for an in-ground pool and the above-ground pool seemed a little too clunky for the yard. Therefore, we got a small oval resin above-ground rated to be sunk semi-in-ground. I took the shovel and dug it in. While digging, I bagged most of the dirt and posted an ad on CL, where someone contacted me to remove it. He got dirt, I got the dirt off the yard... win-win. Bagging the dirt took a lot of time, but clean-up was a breeze. During the spring we will do the landscaping. So far, so good.

We even have a rubber duckie in. The idea for the landscape is to remove some 2-3 ft of grass around the pool and put lemongrass around it. Then, maybe make a little concrete patio, where we can put the pallet chairs (that will be soon converted into pool loungers) and throw some mondo grass around. We'll see. For now, I will need some days to rest up after so much digging.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Boat Rack

It was a fun long weekend. I finished painting the fish tank canopy. I will add a different post for that. I planted a lime tree I had in a pot in the ground. I painted a pot and a bench we have in the front patio.

The blue shutters are in the list of things to do. A new coat of paint is in their future. I cleaned the patio in the back yard. Put new mulch in some areas. But, at some point, my wife and I had an idea. I should build a rack for the boats. This is how my Sunday began. Right after church, I went to the Home Depot:
$78 dollars later, I had the wood to build it. I was thinking about welding one with metal, but wood is a lot faster. So, started loosely following the instructions in this video (the guy explains a lot of good stuff there). First, I pulled the boats out:

Then, I cleaned up a bit and started digging for the posts (I used 2x4's, as the weight is not too much)

 Then, I attached a cross-bar:
Repeated the process on the other side and the first couple of boats went on the rack. Cross-bars were attached for the third boat:
And the third boat can go on:
At this point, it is smooth sailing (for the rowboat...):
I cut the post only on the right side. Maybe at some point, I will make a roof for the rack. The night fell upon me, but I managed to throw the tarp on top of the rowboat. Next weekend, I may apply some mulch. This would serve the purpose of helping with the looks and preventing mud splashing on the bottom boats during the rain.

It may not be the prettiest, but it is way better than having the boats on saw horses :D

Happy building!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Piano bench

Sing us a song, you're the piano man... My wife had a personal war with the bench we were using for the piano. It was big and clunky (and flowery), so I decided to build her one. I started it a couple of weeks ago, but I had been lazy and I finally finished it this weekend. Here are the details. The measurements of the bench are the following (click on the picture):

I had this piece of plywood from the hardware store. It is good to look at the refuse bin, they sometimes have good wood. 50 cents and a couple of 2x4's and you've got a piano bench. I cut two identical pieces of plywood, 13 x 24 (I made it a little wider, don't tell "she that must not be named"). I assembled two identical frames for the legs and attached them together with a bar cut to 21'' (the width of the 2x4's is actually 1.5 in).
Screws don't look nice, but they are time efficient :-). Then, I made a frame that will be the drawer box to store the music sheets... too bad I play by ear, most likely that box will always be empty.
 Then, it is just a matter of putting everything together:
 Attaching the hinges (got the thumbs up from the boss):
Sanding and painting:
Upholstering... well, I had pictures of that, but I messed it up big time, then I got frustrated, ripped everything apart, redid it, and did not take pictures due to my frustration. Anyhow, here is the finished product:

I still need a few felts to put on the bottom of the legs so that the bench slides easily. Other than that, the bench is finished.

Happy building!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Active weekend

I had high expectations for this weekend and even though we did not finish many projects, we made progress in many. My wife helped me a lot this weekend. The first thing I had in the agenda was organizing the shed. I did not take a before picture, because it was simply disgusting and that ought not to be shown to the world. Suffices to say that I took out enough trash, that I am not sure they will take it all this week. The end result:
The work bench that you see on the left-hand side was built on Saturday. Here are some pictures of the build. First attaching the beams and making sure they were level.

 Then, I forgot to take more pictures until I was done. It has three beams each screwed to the vertical 2x4's on the shed and each reinforced by a 45 degree truss.

It was almost midnight and I am sure the neighbors did not want to hear me building anything, so I called it a day at this point:
Still messy, but not so bad. On Sunday, I was just going to finish organizing the shed, but instead I started cutting pieces for the 55 gallon fish tank canopy in order to store them neatly in the clean shed. In a second, I went into full-blown project mode. Whenever I finish this project, I will add more details, pictures and measurements in its own blog post. For now, I will just put a few pictures up.
 Box cut out for the filter:
 Front without its cover:
 My wife was painting some signs in the back.
At this point, I needed more materials to keep working, so I made a trip to the hardware store. I bought some extra 2x4's to start on a piano bench that my wife has been requesting for a while. I will also have to make a separate post for that project, but here are some pics:

Last but not least, my wife took the task of staining the pallet chairs:

Well, that was a busy weekend.

Happy building!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Styrofoam-cement aquarium background

I have mixed feelings about this project. At first the rock background looks fantastic. If your fish don't mind high pH, it is great. Now, the bad part is that it gets covered with algae really quickly and if you cannot keep enough plants, it may not look too good. We had Pete, the parrot cichlid in there, so plants were bound to be dug out. Therefore, we ended up getting rid of the background. This is the other drawback, since you silicone it to the tank, this means changing the fish tank. Thank goodness for $1 per gallon at Petco.

So, if you want a dramatic background, can have enough plants to limit the algae growth and have fish that tolerate higher pH values, here are the steps.

At first it seems like it is really complicated and that the chemistry of the water can be jacked up quite easily, but if you let the concrete cure for long enough and then rinse it for about a month, then you'd be fine.

First step, think about what you want your aquascape to look like. Then use styrofoam and silicone (make sure it is 100% silicone without mildew protection, as these chemicals would send your fish to heaven, provided they were good of course) to construct your dream. We used insulation foam from the hardware store (a lot cheaper than the foam at the crafts store).

 Check the fit for the filter!
Once we had this done, we made a very watery mix of concrete and applied it with a paintbrush on the styrofoam (hello Pookie!):

 We used standard hydraulic cement paint (the cure timing is lower than regular cement). Let this layer dry and apply a thicker coat. If I were to redo this project, I would force myself to apply 3 or 4 coats of concrete, as I was able to peel off some concrete when cleaning the tank later on. Don't make your layers too thick and spray water on the concrete regularly while it is curing. Otherwise, your concrete will crack when it cures. Don't apply a coat until the previous one is completely dry. Concrete takes a long time to cure (weeks). So, at least you want to wait a couple of days between layers. Once you are done, you can test fit again and then silicone the crud out of the back to attach it to the tank. Don't go stingy on the silicone now. You probably have gone through 10 - 15 tubes now, no reason to stop. If you go stingy, some pieces will float... you can ask my wife, the middle piece, that we called the fireplace, just took off and almost broke some lights. Let everything dry/cure for a week or more and pump the water in.

Now, you need to put a little circulation pump and a makeshift filter:

If you don't do this, you will end up with concrete on your glass and you will have had ruined a perfectly good fish tank. So, make sure you have the filter and circulation. Once a week for the next month or two, change all of the water of the tank. This tank is not fish safe yet. Once you read the pH of your water and it is not more than 0.2 higher than the tap water, you can throw in some substrate and for good measure, let the filter run for another week. This takes a lot of patience, I know, but you HAVE to do it.

You can see in these pictures that we set up the tank in the family room. It was intended for the living room, but there is too much mess going on when you do this, it is better to have your project in a hidden room.

When the time finally came we added the plants and the fish.
 After the fireplace floated away. We added a lot more plants there, to try to cover it up. That made Pete mad, and it was hard to keep the plants in place.
  If you have any questions about this project, please leave your questions in the comments section.

Happy building!