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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Front Left Yard Project - 4

Hurray! Finally the frame is going up... But a few words on problems I have had:

1. Rain. It has rained more days the past month than I recall at any time in the past 20 years. That probably isn't true, but it sure seems like it. It isn't the volume so much, but the consistency of it. So, I note that it DIDN'T rain yesterday and it DIDN'T rain one day last week rather than mention the days it did rain. LOL!

2. Pressure-treated lumber is EVIL to work with! Not safe around gardens either, but this bed is all ornamentals. I'm talking about just drilling and screwing the stuff. I tried all the right stuff. I used coated exterior deck screws, the proper drill bit for the pilot holes, and the proper screw bit for #8 phillips heads. The bit started to slip 1/2 way in. So I lubricated the screws with soap. That helped a little, but not much. I went to the next size drill bit. That helped some, but not enough. I went up another 1/64th on the pilot hole bit. I don't remember having this much trouble when I built the decks 20 years ago! But then, I was mostly drilling straight down against joists with all my weight on the screw bit. With this project, it is all sideways with no support.

3. The edge of the driveway is not square to either the house or the sidewalk. I had to decide whether to match the box to the sidewalk and house or match the driveway/sidewalk angle. I chose the latter. It isn't very visible, but the only corner I have is not 90 degrees. Fortunately, the piece of 4x4 I am using in the corner is not exactly squre either and I found one corner that matched the imperfection very well.

4. Cordless drill batteries that are put under a lot of strain don't last very long. I drained 2 batteries just doing 12 holes and screws. Granted, I had to do half the screws 2 (and several even 3) times because the heads stripped out).

5. I wish I had gone to the hardware store and bought square drive screws. Those things hold the bit great! I have a good selection of various sizes and styles of them for furniture work, but none of them were long enough for this project. Never use what you have on hand "just because you have it"...

6. The area to be framed was nominally 12' wide and 8' deep. But guess what? It was actually 12' 4" wide and 8' 1" deep. I'll have to do something at each end to hold the soil in. Argh!

But I did make some progress (before the rain came again):

First, I dug all the support holes. They are every 4'because the 12' side needs an 8' and a 4' board. The frame will be 2 boards high, so I alternated the 4' pieces. Most of the supports will be 2x6" P-T boards. All the holes were about 12' deep.

Second, I constructed the corner. It gets a 4x4" post for strength and to allow screws not near an edge. I attached the 2x4s to each other, so the 4x4 was just there for clamping purposes at the moment. It is not going to stick up.

Third, I cut the 4x4" post and the 2x6" posts to exact height for each hole (they weren't all identical depths, of course).

Fourth, I attached the connected frame boards to the 4x4" post. The stain you see under the screws is the soap I used to try to lubricate the screws. The rain will wash it off. That held most of the other boards in place. Keep in mind that I am actually building 2 sides of a box. The house and the front steps serve as the other 2 sides.

Fifth, I started attached the 2x4" framing boards to the support posts (2x6"). I got (with great frustration as mentioned above) 1/2 of them done before the drill batteries drained. I would have pulled out the corded drill, but it started to rain again (naturally). I wanted to use the cordless drill because the quick replace chuck makes it so much eaier to change the drilling bit for the screwing bit and back, which I had to do constantly. I should get one of those add-on changeable chucks for the old corded drill.

But here's what it looked like when I quit for the day.

At least I'm getting there (if far more slowly than I originally expected). I thought this was going to be an easy "2 afternoons and done" project. I'm up to 4 days now, I haven't finished, and I still have to fill the box with topsoil!

Be back tomorrow with more progress (pending rain delays)...


Anonymous said...

Hey cavebear, the raised bed is looking good. Give us a picture of the whole thing when it is done. We call the square heads 'Robertsons' in Canada - a Canadian invention - and love them. I used the same for my raised garden frames when I did mine. One thing I did notice is that raised beds in a very sunny area with lots of evaporation tend to dry out very fast. I just put a soaker hose in behind the herbs and so no problem.

One imagines what you did before you retired. How did all the work get done then? LOL!


Anonymous said...

I use coarse threaded sheet rock screws and they will hold just fine. They are very easy to sink, a LOT easier than deck screws.

Yjey will rust out in 10=15 years, but I build decks, and stuff for the orchid with PT lumber all the time.

I buy each size of screw in 10lb boxes, so I CAN just "use what I have".

da bear

Cavebear said...

Hey, thanks for the comments, guys! I hope you like the newest post (6-18) showing the completed project.

Scott – I know about the square heads being a Canadian invention. Before I bought any, I researched them to make sure they were sturdy and worked as claimed. I get mine from McFeeley’s. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy slot heads or (now) even Phillips heads. I have soaker hoses in the mostly sunny back yards. This new box is on the north side of the house in deep shade (about an hour of evening sun in summer) and I’ll be adding mulch, so it shouldn’t need much watering. I’m filling the box with caladiums (which love deep shade). I want a tall but narrow shrub for the corner near the garage to define the edge, and I need to put a row of paver stones so I can reach the hose spigot and the water company can read the meter next to it. It will be at least a month after I plant before there will be any caladiums to see. They are corms and will take weeks to show up.

Da Bear – I may try those sheet rock screws next time I work with PT lumber (and I have another PT box planned for under the deck. The 10-15 year life worries me a bit, though. 10 lb boxes, WOW! I have to admit, THAT’S supply. LOL! I’d like to see your storage area. I bought that much of one size for when I built 250’ of fence, but that was a one-time thing. ☺