email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Friday, October 31, 2014

Garden Enclosure Again

Got back to work on the framed beds.  Bought twelve 2"x8"x8' pressure-treated boards yesterday morning and cut up half of them in the afternoon.  Half because I bought boards for 2 beds and decided to do them one at a time.

First, I discovered why the first set of boards I bought a few weeks ago for the first 2 beds were hard to get squared in construction.  I had the store staff cut them on their huge fancy saw.  Silly me!  I assumed the boards were the lengths the labels said (like 8' long).  The length didnt matter for the long sides of the beds, but it did for the widths because I simply said "ct them in half". 

"Half" isn't a measurement...

Only after constructing the first 2 beds did I realize that all the boards were not equal.  Not exactly a functional disaster for a garden bed, but it vaguely offended me.  I should have been forewarned by the very surly male store person who was talking to the female cashiers when I made him do some work.

So this time I simply took all the boards home to cut myself.  It was a revelation!  The boards varied in length from barely 8' to 8' 1"!!!  End the ends were NOT square by as much as 1/4" over the widt.  No WONDER I had had so much trouble getting the first set to match up square!

I have a radial saw to cut long boards to length easily.  I have a good table saw too, but you can't slide an 8' board on it.  Radial saws work best for that.  So first, I measured a board and found it was long and not square at the end.

I have it next to an 8' workbench at the same level height, so I can handle 10' long boards.  The radial saw is great for long boards because the saw moves, not the long boards.  I bought it when I built the fence because I had to cut about 1500 long boards (yes 1500) for that project.  It paid for itself just for that and I've probably cut almost as many more since then.

But back to the odd lengths and unsquareness of the boards...  I first shaved 1/4" off one end of each, then stacked them to the side.  When all were done, I clamped down a board at 8' from the saw blade (as a positive "stop"" and cut them to exact length.  Perfect length and all square ends!

Two of the 8' boards were WAY heavier than the others (I could barely lift them), so I kept them aside to cut into the smaller widths for the bed ends of 3'.  Like the longer boards, I shaved off the ends to get them squared.

Nothing ever works out as planned.  I set up another positive stop (meaning a clamped board away from the saw blade an exact repeatable distance).  And clamped the board against the saw fence so that there could be NO errors.

There was an error on the very first one.  I screamed in frustration!!!  How could it have been wrong?  Oops, the edges of preservative treated lumber are not "perfectly" straight along the long edges.  I had chosen the straightest ones I could find, but flat straight ones vary along their length.  So, as I kept adjusting the clamping to get them as straight as possible, the board slipped away 1/4 inch from the positive stop...

You can't win sometimes!  So this bed isn't 8' long; it is 7' 11 and 3/4" long.  *sigh*  It why I don't try to build furniture.  I'm cursed with minor errors.  OK, in the garden framed beds, it doesn't really matter much.  But it still ticks me off!

So, this early afternoon, I went out to construct the 3rd bed.  I have the digging routine down pat.  The yard is sloped, so I have to dig a trench for each bed to make it level.  I set the lower end of the long boards on a brick and raise it until it is level.  Then I dig down the upper end by that much.  It works.  Then I level the end board and clamp the long boards to it.

Making the end board fit even with the long boards, I drive in three 3" screws on each side, then raise the other narrow end up onto a board to keep them even.  Drive three 3" screws into each side there.  Then remove the support boards and settle the completed frame into the shallow trench.

If it isn't level, I lift the frame and push dirt under it until it is level.  Not usually required, but I did have to once.  Then I make sure the frame is really square.  You do that by measuring both opposite corners.  When I tap them a bit so the opposite dimensions are the same, I know it is really square.

It started to rain slightly after I got the first layer of frame for the 3rd frame in place this afternoon, so I had to stop and put all the tools away.  But at least that was done.  Putting the 2nd layer of boards on the top of the 1st level is always easy.  You just match the tops to the bottoms.



I cut a scrap board into two 2' pieces to space the beds apart for walkable/wheelbarrowable paths.  The upper left is the bottom of newer box...

But the rain stopped.  I didn't want to haul all the tools out of the shed in case the rain started again, but I did have time to haul all the boards for the 4th bed out of the trailer and into the garage.  At least I know how to do the cutting better than the first time, LOL!

That will be tomorrow's start.

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