Retaining Wall – Part 2

https://giphy.com/gifs/britney-spears-oops-i-did-it-again-FjWEXNradAzYY Source: https://giphy.com/gifs/britney-spears-oops-i-did-it-again-FjWEXNradAzYY I missed another blog post again last week. I’m not proud of it and there’s no real excuses this time. Back on track this week with the final part of the retaining wall installation.  After removing the old chain link fence and digging the trench for the new retaining wall, I could get down to the actual wall install. I made sure to dig the trench to about 8” below grade prior to installing the first row of 6” x 6” x 8’ timbers. With ~2” of gravel as a base for leveling and stability, that meant that the first row of timbers would be completely buried in the end. This helps make the base of the wall secure for the long run. Another key piece of installing the first row of timbers was to make sure that they were level. Behind the wall a perforated tube…

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Retaining Wall – Part 1

Those of you reading out there may have noticed that I took last week off from the blog. I try to stay consistent with my posts, but with the storm two weekends ago and the power outage, I didn’t post until the middle of that week. On top of that, I began a project that has been taking up a lot of my time and making me pretty exhausted: building a new retaining wall. Our property, amongst other issues, is significantly higher than our rear neighbors. On the east side of the workshop, there is was a chain link fence that held up our entire yard (not ideal). It's kind of hard to tell here, but that chain link fence on the left is holding up about 2' of our yard. The storm which took out our tree a couple of weekends ago also took down the fence between us…

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Look Out Below

Today’s post is being written on a Tuesday, instead of the typical Sunday routine. That is because Denver, and a large portion of the front range of Colorado, experienced extremely high winds over the weekend. Our house lost power from Saturday evening until Monday morning and unfortunately, that is not all we lost. Let’s take a collective break from the dining table build this week to say a proper goodbye to a ~70 year old tree. Note the wonderful shade that the tree provided in the afternoon (and the old, terrible hoophouse). Our shade tree, while not beautiful, was an impressive elm that dominated the front landscape of our yard. On Saturday, Allyson and I had started working inside, knowing that a big storm was coming our way. We felt the wind calm and then the house was hit by winds so strong it felt like the pressure wave from…

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Dining Table Build – Tabletop Glue Up

In this week’s iteration of the dining table build, the tabletop glue up! Last week was all about routing each of the 19 individual boards to have tenons on each of their ends. In an effort that was probably the most time consuming part of the entire dining table build, I had to route 76 different sides of the boards. A repetitive task that I was happy to be done with and on to the next thing. In order to turn 19 individual 2x5” boards into a 95” long table, I needed to glue and then screw them together with pocket hole joints. To begin, I once again got into an assembly line groove and drilled 5 pocket holes into one side of each individual board. I varied the pocket hole locations across boards so that the joints would be offset in final assembly. After drilling the pocket holes I…

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Dining Table Build – Routing for Days

We have come to the most time consuming part of the dining table build. Routing. In order to create the mortise and tenon joints I outlined last week to deal with seasonal wood movement, I had to route every board used in the table top. I decided to start with making the tenons. This meant routing 19 boards on both sides, and in order to create a ½” tenon in the middle of the 1 ½” board, I had to route ½” from each side. If you’re following along and doing the math with me, that means routing away ½” of wood from 76 different sides.  To further complicate matters, each tenon had to be 2 ½” long, which meant taking 4 different passes with a ¾” wide router. Long story short, this meant an absurd amount of routing was required to create all of the tenons. Full disclosure, I…

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Dining Table Build – Seasonal Wood Movement

When planning out this new dining room table build, I really had no idea what I was doing. That’s probably an understatement. Luckily, about a week after finalizing the design, I went skiing with a friend of mine who is a great woodworker. Also, remember friends? Those people you got to see outside of your house back in the day? Good times. This friend, Brooks, really changed the route of the design and probably saved the table from a cracked and warped short-lived life. While on a chairlift and over lunch, Brooks explained to me the key to woodworking, which is wood movement. I had done zero planning for wood movement, meaning that as the wood expanded and contracted with temperature and humidity changes, it would probably crack and fail. But during that conversation we figured out a path forward to account for wood movement in my design. Yet another…

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Dining Table Build – Let Her Rip!

Last week, I laid out the design of a dining room table that I built for a couple of friends who just bought a home out here in Colorado. This week I’ll start walking through each of the steps I went through to build the table. Now, this table design is very large, about 4’ x 8’. A quick google search for tables that size shows that many, if not most, cost over $1000. Pretty significant. Because this is my first time building anything significant, and because they’re my good friends, they’ll be getting the table for the cost of the supplies. Even with that keeping costs down, this much wood can get expensive, so I decided to build the table out of douglas-fir lumber. While douglas-fir lumber is fairly cheap and readily available at your big box home improvement store, it does present a couple issues. Number one is…

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Dining Table Build – The Design

A few months ago, my friend asked me to help him build a dining room table for the new house that he and his wife bought in Colorado. I’m not going to lie, it was both terrifying and exciting. Terrifying, because I had never built anything that required close to the amount of skill required for a flat, square dining table. Exciting, because it was a chance to dive headfirst into something I believed I would really enjoy. Obviously, the first step was to design the table to fit their needs.  They love to spend time with family and wanted a table for everyone to gather around. In this case, everyone is 8-12 people, so we decided on a very large table. Approximately 4’ x 8’. After determining the size, we needed a design. They sent me a few examples for sale that they liked, and then I sketched out…

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Journey Into Composting

Compost is considered black gold for gardners. We buy large quantities every year to try and amend our soil and make it more suitable for growing food. Compost is also a great way to get rid of food and yard scraps and “recycle” them back into good nutrients for the soil. Back in 2017, Allyson and I started our composting journey, mostly as a way to reduce our food waste. We bought a vermicompost box at that time. Vermicompost is made by putting food scraps into a bin with worms, typically red wigglers. Unfortunately, our first foray into vermicomposting resulted in a large number of fruit flies in the small apartment we were renting at the time. Luckily, we bought a home shortly after and had space to make a large compost pile outside. The vermicompost still lives on, but we put way less food in it now. This helps…

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Bathroom Upgrades – Part 2

Last week I wrote about installing a vent fan in our bathroom to help with the humidity (and smells). This week is about the chandelier that we installed. All of the wiring in our house when we moved in was ungrounded, including the lighting. I spent a couple weeks after we bought the house, but before we moved in, to run new wiring to all of the outlets with grounding. At that time I got an electrician to put in a new 200 amp service to our house and add the grounding rods. What I did not do, however, was upgrade any of the lighting. At the time I didn’t want to open up any walls or ceilings to access the wires. Honestly, the lighting circuits worked fine and there wasn’t a big rush to upgrade them.  That all changed when Allyson asked me to install a new chandelier in…

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