email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, August 9, 2014

That Deck Box

First, just want to say the pictures may not match up to the paragraphs.  I didn't do a good job taking pictures as I went along the work.  But enjoy them anyway.

Wow, I never did so much "Grub Hoe Trenching" before!  The guys who had to dig the 2' wide and 2' deep holes for the deck posts complained about the hard soil (and they had power tools) and now I sure understand why!  The stuff around the deck is hard rock and clay.  Even with a pick and grub hoe, it was murderous just making a 3" wide trench for the boards to sit in!

To make things worse, I found that the cinder block wall around the patio is neither level compared to the house AND not level to the yard.  That made constructing the frame enclosing the area level in both ways impossible.  I did get real close...

So I did the best I could, attaching boards to the new deck posts, and keeping the long way boards as level as I could.  Tricky, when nothing is flat, level or square to the house or the deck posts.  And don't worry, all the bottoms of the boards will be "just" covered in soil outside in the lawn direction and perfectly level inside.
The good part is that the top boards are relatively level because I gave a lot of care to making sure the bottom boards were level.  But that still made me fight a bit to get the top boards level. 

The problem with DIY home projects is that you seldom do them twice, so you don't learn a whole lot that is useful from one project to the next.  My biggest surprise was discovering that the metal rods I pounded through the holes I drilled in the very bottom boards were too close to the edges(you csn see the little dots on the first 2 pictures).  My 3" exterior screws hit them before they were fully in.   ARGGHHH!  I had to find a bunch of 2 1/4" screws to use.  I'll probably never have that situation again OR it will happen again so long in the future that I will forget!
Hopefully, using the exterior wood adhesive and several more shorter wood screws will solve the problem.   Still, those kinds of surprises are maddening.  Guys who build decks every day KNOW to avoid those kinds of errors.  I only discover them ONCE!

But it was solved and I went forwards and upwards.  I did underestimate how much trench-digging I had to do.  Using a grub hoe around the twine line-marker and underneath the "just-low-enough-deck to hit my head on if I stood upright was more not-fun stuff.  I banged my head more than once just standing up (and I even checked the height most times).   It was actually safer (if harder) to use the grub hoe while kneeling. 

That mailbox you see is for storing hose nozzles.  Very useful for not losing track of them.  I have another out in the garden for small hand tools (pruners, trowels, etc).

Finally, I reached the last board at the top of the slope!  And discovered I had to bury it.  Well, I knew the soil sloped down along the cinder block wall, but I hadn't noticed that it also sloped UP from it.  I mean, you stand around and a few inches of sloping are not all that noticable.  Well, it IS when you are down at ground level with a 3' bubble level tool!

And that soil was the part the deck guys complained about be "undiggable" (and they had power equipment).  So there I was kneeling awkwardly on the ground hacking away at the rocks and hard clay to make the last 6' board level and even at the top with the previous one.  That one last board took an HOUR to get both level AND matching the previous board. 

I was drenched with sweat enough so the cats kept kept their distance, but I finally got that last board in place ans screwed in.

Sometimes I don't understand WHY I do this stuff.    It's just for me (and you in pictures).  I blame my Dad.  He taught me to DO stuff, and I don't really know how to stop.  I just feel "right" when I'm doing "something".  Sometimes I think I do a lot more "stuff" than he did.  LOL!

But it's better than sitting around watching bad TV.

Tomorrow, I will use my leverage fork to dig up the soil higher than the boards and move it down to the empty space.  That will leave some space for better soil and some compost to bring it all up level with the wood framing.  I have 2 flats of annual coleus and impatiens dying to the planted there.  Well, I had expected to have this frame built a month ago.  Still, I'm sure they will be happy. 

Next Spring, I will be moving most of the front yard hostas to this space.  That will save them from being eaten by the local deer (and I am contemplating venison steaks this Fall in revenge).

But this project HAS taught me the methods that I need to dig some shallow trenches and construction needed for the new framed beds and upright chicken-wire structure for my major garden.  I'll finally get at that September 1st. 

It never ends, and I'm glad it doesn't...  And there are more projects on my list...  The good news is that I could do this again better and in half the time. 


Katnip Lounge said...

What good work! I'm like you (and so's my hubby) we always like to be doing a Project.

Megan said...

Inspirational Mark. I really admire your commitment to not only doing this stuff in the first place, but also to doing it really really well.

Sydney, Australia

Ramblingon said...

Man, I have admired your abilities more than one time and I certainly do all over again for this project. You are GOOD!