Cheap Wood For The Win!

Last week I introduced the design for new compost bins to replace our old ones. While I was excited to get much better compost bins, the old ones were free and the new ones are not. Sad. Not only was I going to buy wood for the new bins, I also had to get cedar, a more expensive wood than conventional pine. To help mitigate the costs, finding cheap wood was a must. And that is where the discount wood bin in any big box hardware store comes in handy! This wonderful bin is full of wood that is up to 70% off full price! The downside of course is that the wood is normally pretty terrible. Most pieces are warped, cracked, or discolored in some way. On top of that, it’s a limited selection of wood that the store has decided to mark down. Depending on what project you’re…

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New Compost Bins

In the past, I have written about wanting to be better at composting. In that post, the focus was on paying better attention to the compost itself and getting compost quicker. What was not addressed at the time was the compost bins themselves. They were pretty mediocre looking. Pretty gross. Also, just noticed the photo bomb from Allyson in the back. They were free, made completely from scraps out of our old shed, so that is a big plus. But it is pretty obvious that an upgrade was needed. Enter SketchUp for the new design. Once I had the initial design I didn't bother building out the other side in the model. Some key features of this updated design for the new compost bins: Built out of cedar for outdoor durabilityThe front folds down from a hinge on the bottom for easy compost turningCompletely mouse proof (fingers crossed) The last…

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Pets and Emergency Funds

Wellllp. Before talking about pets and emergency funds, I’ll briefly address the insurrection attempt that occurred on January 6th. This is exactly what I was saying we need to reject in my end of year post last week. On Wednesday we saw exactly where the past few years of lying and violent rhetoric were always going to lead. The people in Congress who have enabled this behavior are also culpable for the insurrection attempt and the resulting deaths. They refused to hold Trump accountable for his behavior for years, enabling and encouraging him to reject a fair and free election and each one of them should be held accountable. If you have a Congressperson representing you who doesn’t believe in democracy and voted to object to the election results, especially after a violent coup attempt, it’s time to vote them out. Alright, back to the regularly scheduled programming. I have…

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New Year 2021

Welcome to the new year 2021! It’s been a long week over here in our house, so I don’t have a long post prepared this week. And I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty about saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to a wonderful 2021. This past year has obviously been difficult for everyone in different ways, and I truly hope that this next year will be better for everyone. There are a couple of vaccines now available, and I, along with all of you, look forward to the day that those vaccines allow us to spend time with loved ones safely. Until then, let’s continue to look out for each other by wearing masks and limiting our risky activity. It feels like America is at an important point in our history. It feels silly to even have to say this, but we need to reject fascism and authoritarianism. We need…

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Outdoor Sofa Cushions

So pretty. In a surprising twist, Allyson is writing her first ever post for the blog about sewing our outdoor cushions. So if you’re wondering why it is so much better, that should explain it…. If you know how to use a sewing machine, you can probably make box cushions and pillows. Pillow covers are one of the easiest projects for beginners to make because all of the seams are straight, and you can learn how to turn corners and install zippers. My mom taught me how to sew when I was growing up. I even had a business selling extra long beach towels with custom covers that held the towel onto the chair. Sewing is an invaluable skill to add to your DIY repertoire for flexibility and cost savings. I frequently use my sewing machine to patch torn knees and butts in our work pants. The most important rule…

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Outdoor Coffee Table – Final Assembly

Well, after several posts about the table top and legs for the outdoor coffee table, it is finally time for the final assembly. There are just a few things to complete before pulling everything together. The most important part is to connect the top slats to the legs via a pin through each mortise and tenon joint. Holes were drilled through the leg mortises and the table top tenons that are aligned with one another. Oak pins go into those holes to hold the legs tightly to the table top slats. Last step in the final assembly is to stain everything. Starting the final connection between table top and legs! In my previous table build, there was a slight gap between the breadboard (end) and the table slats. I made a lot of effort to eliminate those gaps through a couple of measures. First and foremost, I was very precise…

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Outdoor Coffee Table – Table Legs

The outdoor coffee table to match our outdoor sectional is nearing completion! I posted about making the table top and all of the tenons for the mortise and tenon joints last week. I'll cover how the matching mortises were made in the table legs, as well as the assembly of each leg.  Before cutting the mortises in the table legs for the joint, I made all of the cuts for the legs. Based on the design, each leg has 45º miter joints for each corner. I used a miter saw and stop block for consistency across all 8 pieces for the legs (4 per leg). One thing I didn’t do for this build is cut each matching piece on both sides of the saw. This method means that if your saw is slightly off, one side will have a 44º angle and the other should have a matching 46º angle.…

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Outdoor Coffee Table – Tabletop

This week’s post is all about building the table top for my outdoor coffee table. The design calls for seven slats of 1”x4” cedar, spaced about ¾” apart from one another. Each slat will be attached to the legs via mortise and tenon joints. Similar to what I did for the dining table, the coffee table will use a breadboard concept. However, there are a couple of differences in this build. The legs themselves are the breadboards for the coffee table. This means I’ll need to route the mortises directly into the top 2”x4” of each leg. The other difference is that the top slats have space between them. This means that wood movement isn’t as large of a concern as the dining table. Because the sides of each slat are not constrained against one another, they can expand side to side freely. Practically, this means that I can pin…

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Outdoor Coffee Table – The Plan

New table build! It’s an exciting time out here in Denver, as I get to build another table! Nothing like a good excuse to put to use every lesson learned from my first table build. I finished up the outdoor sectional, and it needs a place for my near constant stream of lattes. So, new outdoor coffee table build time! Unlike the sectional build, where I used free plans from Real Cedar, the table required an original design. First step in any design is figuring out the final size of the product. To help Allyson and I get a picture of the size options, I brought out the small coffee table we have in our living room for reference. Death, taxes, and badly lit photos on this blog. Now obviously the table will not normally have leftover wood slats on it. Even with the clutter, it was a good way…

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Outdoor Sectional – Part V – Stain

Some people love the color of old cedar. Gray and weather worn. I am not one of those people. It is nice that cedar doesn’t need any stain to last a really long time outside. But I want it to both survive a long time and look like fresh cedar for as long as possible. That means I need to protect the outdoor sectional with a coat of stain.  Not all types of stain are made the same. In order to understand the important part of each stain, you have to first understand that the thing that makes cedar age is sunlight. More specifically, the UV rays. With that in mind, it makes sense that the best protection against sunlight would be a tinted stain, and a dark one at that. The worst protection then would be a clear stain. It’s like wearing a long sleeve shirt vs sunscreen at…

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