email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Random Stuff

It's cold here (for my area).  12F (-11C) twice this week, and another week of that to come.  That is close to record lows here and even then, it is usually just a night or tho.  Extended cold like that is very unusual.

Trump made a joke about "Global Warming" being (therefore) obviously a hoax.  Does he remember that this day last year, it reached 70F here?  Probably not.  I think "last week" is a vague concept to him.

I watched a retrospective of 2017 on MSNBC yesterday.  2017 was more depressing than I realized! 

I am beginning to hate the hawk that took up residence in my neighborhood.  My birdfeeder is becoming a deadly attraction to the birds.  Yeah, yeah, "nature", etc, etc...  But I want my small birds more than I want a hawk around.  I've seen it pick off 2 male cardinals, and it's not like I'm staring out the window all day.  I had 12 male cardinals around last Christmas.  The most I counted the past few days was 4.  I'm researching anti-raptor netting. 

New food thing I discovered!  Raw large deshelled shrimp tossed with garlic and cherry tomatoes, and olive oil.  Raw broccoli florets tossed with olive oil and lemon zest.    Set on a baking pan at 400F for 15 minutes.  Served with fried potato wedges with minced  shallots and garlic...

The neighbors have those new star shower lights.  Nice fir the first hour.  Then boring.  I like my stationary strings better. 

The garden catalogs are arriving.  Time to take out my seed tray and see what I need for the new season.  I want to buy a few grafted heirloom tomatoes to see if they are worth it, but companies that self them a few at a time have bad ratings and the good places sell them 100 at a time.  So I'll try grafting my own again.

Saw the movie 'Interstellar' last night.  It made no sense at the end.  I understood what they tried to do, but "FAIL"...

Am still trying to design a mailbox notifier.  Something that let's me know when the mailbox has been opened.  I could buy one, but that's not the point.  I want to figure one out myself. 

Can't seem to win at Scrabble online.  I win until my opponent suddenly gets a 7 letter 50 point bonus near the end. 

Waiting for Spring...



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holiday Lighting Outtakes

Apparently, I can't take pictures of lights at all...







Friday, December 22, 2017

Ancestry

I got one of those DNA testing kits in November and sent the cheek swab off.   I learned the results today.

Before I mention the results, let me say I only did it on a lark to see if something really odd showed up.  My mother's side of the family is French, through Quebecois Canada for a couple centuries at least.  Her dad's side was from Southern France and her Mom's was Parisian (family lore).   No formal genealogy, but I had great-Aunts who only spoke Canadian French, so that seems solid.

Dad's side of the family is claimed English and German.  His dad's side supposedly was traced back to England in the 1600s (by last name only), but all I can find is back to the mid-1700s in the US.  His moms's side was Pennsylvannia Dutch (German), records fading out in the mid 1800s (looking back though time).  The family name seems to have come from a Norman word for "pantry server" (dispenser).  That would have been a castle position of English kitchen-workers, possibly a high point in the lineage of general serfs.  (I think that meant the equivalent of controlling the office supply cabinet).

Dad and then I did some research a decade ago, and all that seemed solid.  So, I thought maybe some Canadian Indian (not all that uncommon in Canada, all those French Trappers wandering the wilds).  And possibly Dad's English ancestors included some Norman French (Vikings who settled in NW France) and/or even direct Vikings who settled in England.  It's not like my ancestors seemed to be world travelers.  Indeed, our family history seemed to be a rather boring line of farmers and small-time merchants.

And I look so much like Dad that his friends used to wave at me as they drove by while I was mowing the lawn as a young adult, thinking I was him.  And Dad was similarly like HIS dad.  No concerns there.  

I should also mention that I am self-taught knowledgeable in evolution and genetics.  I know basically how DNA works.  I also know that (like in cats and dogs) a variety of genetic mixing makes for a healthy individual.  And I haven't caught the flu since I was 12, never catch a cold, and I am a cash cow to my health insurance company. 

So I expected DNA ethnicity results something like 45%+ English, 45%+ French, and perhaps 1 or 2% of American Indian and/or Scandinavian.  Guess what MyHeritage.com says I'm NOT?  ENGLISH!  Not a drop...

I had to laugh out loud! They say I am 43.2% French/German/Netherlands, 36.7% Irish/Scottish/Welsh, 13.5% Balkan, 5.0% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese), and 1.6% Middle Eastern!

If I understand this correctly, it means my ancestry is 43% non-Norman French and German, 37% pre-Anglo-Saxon native groups (Celts), some wandering Balkan traders who inter-married in either France/Germany/England, some poor lost Spaniard, and maybe some Arab.

I see a family of Welsh or Scots (not Irish - no red hair in our family) living under Anglo-Saxon, then Norman viking rule in England, leaving Great Britain in the 1700s on paternal side.  And some French moving to Canada in the 1700s on the maternal side and moving to the New England US to work in the textile mills around 1920.  Somewhere around 1930, Dad's grandparents moved from  Ohio to New Hampshire

I think this is GREAT!  Maybe the most "interesting" $69 I ever spent.  ASSUMING that the DNA tests are actually accurate...  I may try to learn more about that.

I have to add a disclaimer though.  Humans have about 30,000 genes and the ancestry tests choose which ones they think most useful in determining ethnicity.  And I know from my own interest in the subject that some genes persist from VERY long times ago.

For example, I may have a gene string that randomly persisted from some Middle East ancestor 10,000 years ago.  My ancestors may have lost some critical gene string that shows English ancestry. 

But I'll bet not.  It seems I'm not genetically English at all.  WOW!  I'm going to repeat the test with a different company and see if the results differ (after checking the internet to see if they do independent lab work.

Have any of you had this kind of test done?  Did you think the results agreed with family history?  Did you get surprises?



Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Decorating

I don't often decorate for holidays.  In fact, I don't usually pay much attention to them these days.  I don't have visitors, family is scattered, and former friends have gone their separate ways.

But sometimes,  I make an effort.  I used to get real trees to decorate, but that was a lot of effort.  Then I bought a very realistic artificial tree, but that was even more work than a real one (real ones at least come with branches in the right places).  Re-boxing the artificial tree was awkward.

So last year, I bought a 3' artificial tree on post-holiday clearance ($5).  How much trouble could a 3' tree be?  You pull it out of the box, the branches are on hinges and fall nicely into place, and you plug it in.  Right?

Wrong.  Somehow I missed seeing the "unlit" description on the box.  The DISPLAY model was beautifully lit, had realistic-looking needles, and was at least 2' wide at the bottom.  Out of the box, I saw no lights and it was a mass of wire branches you had to bend into shape.  The "needles" were flat shreds of green plastic. 

Well, at least it was cheap enough to just throw away after this one use.  Because I sure won't ever use it again!  But it IS this year's tree.  Next year, I will use the fancy 6' realistic artificial tree.  It's a little easier to set up actually, and sturdier.  In fact, the branches hold heavy decorations better.  It's the packing away back into the box that is harder and I even figured out how to do that easier sliding the 3 sections into large garbage bags to close up the hinged branches tightly.

But here is a picture of the existing one...

































I am NOT impressed!


Monday, December 11, 2017

Pictures

The ivy cuttings...
The spider plant that was a few dying leaves pinned with a tent peg in March...
The snake plant pot I need to divide, but can't pull the rootball out of...
Ah, the "Comfort Station"...  I never used to drink cocktails until Dad moved in with me  in 2012.  He loved Martinis.  I could never stand such pure stuff.  But I found fruit-based drinks to accompany him.  
My favorite is a "Gin Buck".  Sling glass with 4 ice cubes.  1 oz gin, 1/2 oz of lemon juice, fill with ginger ale.  2nd is what I call a "Peach Comfort".  Sling glass, 4 ice cubes, 1 oz Southern Comfort and 1/2 oz Peach liquer, filled with ginger ale.  3rd is what I call a Cavebear Sling.  Same glass and ice, 1 oz of gin and 1/2 oz of Pomerganate juice.  Tart.  I drink them all with a straw.  Purists would wince.  I like it because I drink it slower.  I can't just "sip"...

There is bourbon and vodka in the back for odd variations, but I seldom go there.  Vodka is just for getting drunk and that's not my interest.  Bourbon is for visitors who like it. 

And I have 2 glasses of Zinfandel wine with dinner.  The White wine is for spicy chinese dinners.  And I eat dinner slowly, so the wine goes slowly.  I'm retired, who cares?  LOL!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Catching Up

It is supposed to snow tonight.  At first, the forecast was for 1-3", then 2-4", then 4-8".  So Winter starts...

I spent the past 2 weeks getting the yard ready for Winter while the temperatures were till in the 50s.  Mostly small stuff like pulling out the dead tomato and pepper and corn plants.  Harvesting the last of the carrots and celery (leaves only here). 

But a few major things.  I have 2 toolsheds.  One is 25 years old and a tree fell on it about 5 years ago.  Poked a few holes in the roof.  Which didn't matter much since I didn't put anything under the leaks.  But I replaced the shelves and wanted to use them, so I slipped new shingles over the holes.  That didn't work. 

The roof needs replacing, but I didn't have the time.  So I screwed on a piece of 2'x8' plywood over the holes and caulked around the edges.  That will work until Spring when I can replace the entire roof. 

Two toolsheds may seem a lot (both 8'x12'), but I have a lot of equipment and a dislike of having to move 4 things to get at one).

I put a bag over the new metal hose reel.  The manufacturers say the powder coating should last many years, but I think protecting it in Winter will make it last longer, so why not?

I had black plastic sheeting covering the 30' round bulb bed all Summer to kill weeds and keep the bulbs dry (bulbs like dry soil).  It was pretty much used up and brittle, but I spread it out off to the side and cut it into pieces.  I folded those up 3x to make some weed and grass smothering over winter in the flowerbeds.  Come Spring, I should have no weeds to fight with when I want to plant annual flowers.

I also used some to cover the garden paths.  They are paver squares on gravel, but weeds even grow in THAT, but they won't do well covered for 4 months.  With luck, the paths won't have weeds to fight with in April.

I also pruned briars to the ground.  They thrive here with the least bit of inattention and I was very inattentive this year.  I can only do so much.  Cutting them back will cause the roots to diminish (not being fed by the leaves) and digging them out next year will be easier. 

I filled the trailer with plant debris too tough to compost (thorns seem to survive forever), and planned to bring them to the County Brush Composting site (where they can get huge piles that even decompose thorns) last Saturday (the only day they operate November though March) but I stayed up too late and is is going to snow tomorrow.  Figures...

I'll get there tomorrow if the snow fails or next Saturday.  Between 7:30 am to noon, I can get a free load of mulch in return for the debris.  I'll spread it over the bulb bed to keep down the weeds.  Actually, I think it will take 3 loads to make a 3" thick layer, but I can manage that even in cold weather.

I have 2 large pots of Snake Plants.  I took one rootball out and divided it into pieces.  The plants grow thick tangled roots and are not easily separatable, so I just cut them apart with an old serrated Ginsu knife and put the best pieces in eight 6" pots with new potting soil.  They are slow-growing and have energy reserves in the thick roots, so I won't know if they are growing until I see new leaves probably in a few months.

Meanwhile, I have another pot of them in a wide shallow ceramic bowl that I can't pull the plants out of.  I'll try soaking the pot in a large bucket for a few days, but I expect I'll have to break the pot to get at the roots.  I have a very useful plastic container 2'x3' and that will help.

I took some variegated ivy that were in small 6-pack cells all Summer and grew long stems while I wasn't paying attention.  I cut the stems of one into short sections to make more, and I set the others into 4" pots in new soil.  I may end up with a dozen ivy plants.  I'm thinking of hanging a pipe from the ceiling and supported a 6' planter box of them from it to make a "waterfall" of them.  Watering could could get drippy, so I'll need a shallow box below them.  I don't know of a product like that, so I'll have to build one.

The 6 cuttings of my original Waxy Hoya plant all seem to be rooting well, and I'll need to find a place for them too. 

Between the Waxy Hoyas, the Snake Plants, and the Ivies, I need a lot more light.  In Spring to Fall, some can be out on the deck, but Winter is a problem.  I think I need to make another light stand designed for tall and hanging plants.  Well, that will give me something to design and build over Winter.

And that doesn't count de-clutterring the basement.  With the old toolshed secure from rain (I hope, and am waiting to see), I can move a lot of stuff in there.

With more basement space free, I can get at the regular Winter project of making new starter/potting soil.  I like making my own.  It's cheaper, but I also get to make it right.  new fertilizer, and a good blend of peat moss (that I sift into powder myself), vermiculite, sifted compost, and fine sand.   It works for me and I fill a large trash barrel with it.  Which is the amount I use up each Spring.



I sure won't be bored before Spring!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Daffodils 2

So I had daffodils in some tubs and meant to replant them last Spring after they bloomed.  But didn't.  I got busy with other stuff.

I tipped the bins over last week and picked the bulbs out of the soil,  Wow, those bulbs loved the rich soil!  Most had multiplied into 4.  Well, I have this new island around a tree and boulder in the front yard.  About 40'x20'.  I tried planting Astilbe there, but the deer just kept pulling them up (couldn't eat them, but kept trying).  Well, I know they sure can't eat daffodils (toxic to most mammals). 

The bed was covered with large saucer magnolia leaves.  I raked them just off the bed so that I could use my little electric tiller (which is great for small areas) to kill the weeds.  I have a large tiller, but it isn't good in small areas.

I planted those recovered 100 bulbs in the front island. 

I am now utterly worn out.  I have put away all my planting tools.  I am done for the season...

And actually, this was several days ago.  I am really done.  I've pushed myself to my limit, getting inside before sunset and sitting in a chair exhausted.  I get muscle cramps from all the digging and bending.  I've been getting my hands clenching up, cramps in my legs, stitches in my sides.

I AM DONE FOR THE YEAR!

But oh next Spring is going to look SO wonderful...  It will all have been worth it. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Daffodils

I wasn't just working on the hose reel platform this week.  I was planting daffodils too.  And a LOT of them.

The original plantings looked like this...
One quarter daffodils...  I decided to complete the circle this fall (avoiding where I had planted tulips and hyacinths in vole-proof metal cages) 2 years ago.  I ordered 500 daffodil bulbs and they arrived 3 weeks ago.  I looked at them all and said "OMG, WHAT was I thinking"?  How could I ever plant so many?

It took 2 hours per day for 4 days.  First, I thank technology for drill augers!
Bulb Planter Fits 3/8in and 1/2in Drills 2-3/4in Auger Drills 8in Deep

Attached to an electric drill, you can get fast holes  for bulbs to go into.  They even cut some small roots and lift out small rocks.  It takes some work, but works better than those cylinder push-down bulb-planters in rough soil.

I kept track of where I planted bulbs from day to day by surrounding the planted area with bright yellow nylon marine rope and leaving the closest row of bulbs unburied.

And I had to do some exploratory digging.  I had covered the tulip and hyacinth cages with cardboard cut to size and pinned with tent pegs.  And the whole are was covered with black plastic sheeting to smother the weeds and keep the bulbs dry (which they like).

But even then, I was surprised to discover that some of the cardboard markers rotted and some were loosened when a windstorm came through right after I removed the plastic.  Sad timing.  But the tent pegs were still there and I spend a whole afternoon finding them.  Which allowed me to replicate where the cardboard covers had been,

The recreated covers looked like this...

I planted all the new daffodil bulbs around the cardboard covers the other 3/4 on the bed.

Almost.  I came short a 6'x5' section at the end.  Home Depot had 40 bulb bags on clearance.  Most were blends and I didn't want THAT!  But I found ONE bag of one kind (King Alfred) and JUST barely filled up that last area.

Bed Complete!

But I had some in some tubs that needed a permanent space.  That's tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hose Reel 6

So the post is in and solid.  The metal bars are assuring it stays upright and level.  Time to attach the hose reel...

The hose reel has 4 front screw holes and 4 back ones.  I used 1 1/2" x 3/8" lag screws in pre-drilled holes.  I put rubber hose washers on the bottom and fender washers (large washers with small holes) above those and drove the galvanized lag screws down tight.  THOSE aren't going to come loose!
The hose reel turns to the left...
To the right...
And rolls up the hose...
It's a bit ugly because it is coldish outside and the hose isn't as limp as it will be in Summer.  But as a test of the system, it is good.

After testing the "reeling", I used it to water the newly-planted daffodils.  The hose came off the reel beautifully from any angle.

Tomorrow, planting daffodils...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hose Reel 5

I had a hose hanger on a 4x4 post there, and pulled it out.  Then used a 6" spade and a post hole digger to deepen and enlarge the hole.  That was easier than I expected.  The soil was quite good.  The bottom foot was mostly clay, and I saved that for backfill.  Its stronger.

This picture shows getting down 20".  I got down to 24" but the picture failed.  I usually take several of each event and all are good, but not this time,  Figures...
But I got the post into the hole and stood it upright.
I backfilled from all sides gradually.  I didn't have a good tamp available, but realized the D handle of the shovel worked well.  I'm good at using whatever is near at hand.

I packed that clay soil hard! 
Then put a level on the top and made some slight adjustments.   Tamping hard on one side adjusted the post to perfect level.  And then I set metal bars on either side (anchored with cinderblocks) to hold it it place.  Then I used a piece of 4x4 post (more useful scrap) to really pound the clay soil around the post.
The top was utterly level!  I left the metal bars in place to assure the post didn't move while I soaked the soil  and tamped some more.  
That post ISN'T moving!

Tomorrow, attaching the hose reel to the platform...


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Hose Reel 4

So the post and turntable are all set for installation.  I released the bench vice holding it and went to lift it.  I couldn't lift it!  It was TOO HEAVY!

I had to drag out my dolly.
Harper Trucks 700 lb Steel Dual Purpose 2 Wheel Dolly and 4 Wheel Cart with 10" Flat-Free Solid Rubber Wheels
It took 5 minutes to drag it out of the basement to the installation site!  Clutterred basement, rough ground...

Tomorrow, the hole for the hose reel post...











































Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hose Reel 3

The rotating hose reel project has been a real challenge.  Every time I think I has something right, it's wrong.

The original plan had a 6"x6"x5' post (a leftover from when the deck was built 3 years ago).  Leftovers are always useful for SOMETHING eventually.  That part stayed. 

I was thinking that the turntable construction needed 12" boards across it for stability and some other boards as braces on the sides. 

But it occurred to me that metal angle brackets would to that side strength.  And then I realized the more metal brackets could replace ALL the boards.  And a lot easier to install...

So what was first a rather complicated structure of 12" carriage bolts and 10" lag screws became a simpler build of 3" deck screws into angle brackets. 

So I dragged the 6"x6"x5' post into the basement and clamped it upright in my bench vise.  I needed two 3" angle brackets on the front and back and two 4" brackets on the sides.

But then I decided that having 2 brackets on each side of the post was even sturdier.  One is good, two are better!  I've never seen anything I can't over-build...

I had some 3" brackets and screwed them in.  I had to buy some 4" brackets.  To my surprise, all the DIY stores were CLOSED on Thanksgiving day.   They are even open on Easter!  Walmart was open though.  But they had only 3" brackets.  So I got the 4" ones Friday.  

Reality is cruel!  When I went to attach the 4" brackets, the screws hit the 3" bracket screws!  ARGH...  I don't have a picture of the 3" brackets screwed in, but the dots mark the spots
I decided to offset/lower the 3"brackets  by adding a strip of 1/2" plywood cut to size (more good use of scraps).  That caused all the attachment screws to miss each other.
 Here, you can see the plywood strips, and brackets successfully attached...  4" ones here...
And 3" ones on the othe sides.
Note how the bracket screw holes are now offset from each other...
The post, with the turntable top is now complete, and has strong as can reasonably be made!

Tomorrow, installing the post outside...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hose Reel, Part 2

The turntable drove me completely crazy!  I watched 3 youtube videos about how to install them and none made much sense.  So I went back to the workbench and turn the pieces around in all directions seeking some way, seeking some understanding.

Think of it this way.  Put a slice of ham between 2 slices of bread and THEN put mustard on the ham without lifting the bread or pushing it in sideways...

I went crazy!

I attached the turntable to the top and bottom pieces of wood in all possible ways.  I even considered the turntable was sold cheap because it was non-functional.  But I knew it wasn't.  It was MY failure to comprehend the one BIG HOLE.

When Sir Issac Newton was trying to figure out the orbits of the planets, he tried many geometric shapes.  And he hit on the right one, but made a simple math error and rejected it.  Looking back later, he figured out his error and solved the problem.

I looked back too.  And realized I had it right once but didn't realize it.  Not that I'm like Newton, but we all make mistakes and find we were right at some point and didn't realize it.

I figured it out...

I can't possible explain, but I could show it.

All I can offer is some pictures...




IT SWIVELS, IT SPINS!  There are a lot of wrong holes in it, but it WORKS!  And with new wood, I could do it again better.  But it works.  I got mustard in the sandwich without lifting the bread, LOL!

I bought heavy duty lag screws to attack the hose reel to the top piece.   I drilled the holes to attach it.

But before I do that, I need to create a solid platform to attach it to the existing 4"x4" post.   More of the same size scrap pieces glued and screwed to the post and cross pieces across those.  But that's another day...

My friends say I "overbuild" things.  But my stuff doesn't fall apart after a few years...  I would have designed the Pyramids just as they are...  LOL!

Wait til you see the finished product...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hose Reel

I bought a hose reel a few weeks ago, not sure exactly how to attach it to anything.  The instructions say it MUST be attached to a wall or affixed to the ground.

HAH!

I decided I wanted it to swivel, so that I could pull the hose off in different directions.  My initial thought was to put a 2" metal pipe in the ground and set a 3" PVC pipe on top of that so that would rotate on the metal pipe with some support structure to hold the hose reel.

That got kind of complicated, and PVC pipe is not the sturdiest stuff.  So I let it sit in my mind a few days.

I was shopping for other stuff at the DIY store, and noticed a little 4" turntable (aka Lazy Susan) and thought, "Hey, I have a 12" one of those I bought at a yard sale years ago because I thought it "might be useful".

But I couldn't figure out how to attach it to a post AND attach it to the hose reel.  The internet is an amazing thing.  Ask the RIGHT question, and some other people know the answer and even do a video showing how.

I had figured out how part of it worked.  There was a big hole in the bottom that allowed access to all the smaller holes.  But I still couldn't see how to get at both the top and bottom since it seemed the holes got covered by a board no matter what I did.

Sneaky tricky stuff, but it all had to have a purpose.  The big hole was the key.  And not attaching the hose reel directly to the turntable.  The video I watched showed about using the big hole to allow access to all the other small srew holes.  I got THAT right.  But then it showed attaching 2 square boards to the top and bottom and THEN attaching your "whatever" to the top baord.

DUH!  Slapped forehead.  And the video even expected that.  It said "you can't do it the way you want to directly".

So I needed 2 boards suitable for outside conditions.  Well, I could buy a sheet of pressure treated plywood and cut it to size.  Or use stuff I had.  I didn't have anything 12" wide.  But I had scraps of 2"x8" boards leftover from building the framed garden beds 2 years ago.

But I had to attach 2 pieces of it twice together (a top and a bottom).  Gluing wasn't sturdy enough.  But I had a "biscuit joiner" I bought 20 years ago and had only used once.  AHA, I had a reason to use it!  A biscuit joiner cuts oval shapes in the edge of a board and you gkue precut ovals into the cut slots.

I ran the scraps of wood through my planer to make the surfaces flat and exactly the same thickness, used the plate joiner to cut slots in the edges and glued in the biscuits (ovals).  Clamped them tight and held them flat with clamps and weights.    The wood ovals swell up from the moisture in the glue and the squeeze-out gets between the boards and hold even more.  He stuff makes 2 boards are solid as one larger board.

Naturally, I forgot to take pictures (and I had my camera in my pocket)!  But I can replicate some of it to make sense of all this text.

And that is where I stopped for the day to bring some deck plants in because of the first hard freeze of the season.

More later...

Monday, November 6, 2017

An Old Project Done

Sometimes, I buy stuff for a project and never get around to it.  Sometimes it is funny just seeing the stuff sitting around for months or even years, thinking "I really need to get that done:.  Sometimes, it is really annoying, like when I look at a bag of bolts and hooks or some stuff and have no recollection what I intended to do with them.  And sometimes, I know what they were for, but I did something different to solve the same problem.

At least THIS time, I knew what the parts were for and still wanted it done!

Twentyfive years ago, when I was building the fence around the backyard, I needed sawhorses.  I bought these cheap aluminum brackets you screwed 2"x4" boards into, and the sawhorses were flimsy.

Ten years ago, I bought some sturdier-looking brackets with a unique way of attaching boards.  And they sat around at the back of a shelf every since.

Hang in there, there WILL be pictures...

Yesterday, I looked at them and decided to just "get them built"!  The poly-something brackets are nicely designed.  They are specifically molded to accept both 2"x4" or 2"x6" boards, and you can bolt wider tops on if you choose.  The bracket is also molded to hold 2"x4" legs at a proper angle with heavy-duty poly wedge blocks that are ridged to dig into the boards a bit.  The box even has a convenient chart to tell you how long to cut the legs to get about a dozen possible heights.

So yesterday I went to the DIY store I went for a 2"x6" top.  The 2"x4" pressure-treated boards  (P-T boards because they are for outside use - I have fancier adjustable stuff for shop use) I found there were JUNK (twisted or bowed)!  I chose the best I could find.  But when I went looking for the 2"x6" board, I discovered better quality 2"x4" boards next to them.  So I returned the junk boards to the bin and selected the good ones.  $1 more per board...

So with my perfectly straight boards, I went home and and cut them to length.  That was enough for the afternoon and I had other things to do.

Today, I went to assemble the parts.  The first thing I discovered was that the 2"x6" top board didn't fit in the pre-molded slot.  I had tested a bracket with a regular 6" board, but apparently, pressure-treated wood gets a little bit swollen in the process.  So I had to shave off 1/8th" from the ends using the table saw.  Same with the 2"x4" legs.  Its a bit ugly, but it's just a sawhorse.  If I had it to do over again, I would have just ripped 1/16th" off both sides.  And it actually would have been easier.  Ahh, "hindsight"...

But everything fit eventually.  I marked the spot where the 6" top needed a 5/16" hole drilled for a carriage bolt to attach the top through the poly wedge to hold the legs in place and set up my drill press to get the holes perfectly straight. 

And then discovered they should have said an 11/32" because I had to hammer the bolts through the board to get them through.  Well, I suppose they figured not everyone has an 11/32" drill bit.  I do, but hammering was easier than drilling all the holes slightly larger.  I do not object to "brute force" on rough projects.  And carriage bolts are designed to be hammered into place.  They have a 1/8" square shape intended to be pushed into the wood to keep them from turning.

Holding 2 legs AND placing the poly wedge was a bit tricky while I placed the large wing nut of the bottom of the carriage bolt, but a shoulder was a sufficient "third hand".  I have gotten used to doing things that require 3 hands, LOL!

Tightening the big wing nut between the sawhorse legs took some creativity.  I finally figured out that using a large screwdriver as a lever got 1/3 turn and a large pliers got another 1/3 turn, repeated over and over.  There are some things that are hard to describe but obvious when you try them.

Anyway, I finally got that wingnut so tight that The Hulk couldn't pull those legs loose.  And even then, I might put a couple of 2" screws through through the poly bracket and into the legs. 

And the instructions suggested that added crosspieces of wood across the middles of the legs would improve stability.  Naturally, I did that.  But the legs are at angles.  So, feeling a bit "perfectionist", I wanted the crosspieces to match the angles of the legs and not stick out. 

One little tool I love is an angle tool.  It is nothing but 2 pieces of metal with a wing nut tightener at the connection.  You loosen the nut, set the 2 pieces to match the angle you want, and bring it to the tablesaw to match the angle of the miter gauge to the saw blade. 

It worked perfectly, and I even used scrap PT 1"x3" wood (intended for but not used on the compost bin project).  After I screwed THOSE on the insides of the legs, I sat of the sawhorses and they didn't give at all!

Now, finally, PICTURES...

The 2 sawhorses...
The poly-something bracket...
The leg crosspieces (showing how nicely the angled cuts match the legs...
 They don't exactly "nest" on each other, but can be stacked...
The box info.  The brand is Crawford and the model is #90.   I looked them up on Amazon and they are up to #90-6, so maybe there are improvements.  And there are similar products from another brand.
Very worth it for outdoor sawhorses.  These might outlast me.




Saturday, November 4, 2017

Seeds

Today I went around and snipped off all the flowerheads I could find in the meadow bed.  I figure they will do better if I keep them in the fridge over Winter, and spread them out next Spring.  I filled up a continer of rubbed-aoart seed heads.

Then I did the same for the bee/butterfly/hummingbird bed flowers. 

Then I did the same for the odd huge marigold that volunteered this year. 

3 containers of hopefully "self-sowing" seeds and I will try to help them in Spring.  I figure spreading them around rather than just letting seedheads fall in clumps will be a good idea.  We'll see.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dessert

After a good home-cooked meal, you need a good dessert.  I like fresh fruit, nuts, and a taste of chocolate...
And some TV...
And cats on my lap...

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Compost Bin

Well, I thought it was finished, but it wasn't.  The tops were heavy to lift.  And keeping them lifted meant lifting them totally up and over to rest on the fence.  Which annoyed me.

And then I had a totally wicked idea.  Counterweights...

The tops took 17 pounds of upward pressure to lift before (I weighed the lifting pressure with a fishing scale).  So I screwed 2"x4"x6' boards to the tops and added some 6"x6"x53" posts left over from building the new decks (I save scraps and this is why).

Here are the bins now.
The 6"x6" posts are attached to the boards.  I used two 7" lag screws anchored with fender washers up into the posts per board.  Those posts won't ever come loose!
The weight of the posts is perfectly matched to the weight of the tops.  Instead of  17 pounds, I can lift the tops with a finger.
And close them just as easily!
The tops sit upright on their own...
The front slats lift out for easy access to the compost contents.
The slats have small pieces of wood as spacers...
That fit into slots I created by sandwiching a 2"x4" board between two 1"x6" boards ...
 All the sides have braces...
And I even have a barrel of dirt to shovel a couple inches into the bin after every 6" of compostable material.