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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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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Outdoor Sectional – Part IV – Backrest and Seat Slats

In part IV of the outdoor sectional build, it is time to talk about the backrest and seat slat installation. Compared to the rest of the build, a fairly easy process. The best part was that at the end of it, I could sit my butt down on the sectional and enjoy the fruits of my labor! Not a bad reward for a day of work. For the backrest and seat slats, I used 1x4 cedar. The slats for the back had to be cut with a slight, ~6°, angle to account for the corner of the backrest where the two sides meet. They also had to get incrementally shorter from top to bottom. My strategy for this was to first cut the longest piece to size. That way, if I made a mistake or realized that the angle was wrong, I could recut that piece and turn it into…

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Outdoor Sectional – Part III

What does every good outdoor sectional need? A good backrest. So after finishing the base, I got started on building the backrest.  Since I am not a robot, the key to the backrest build was to make sure it had a slight angle to it for comfort. I once again set up a stop block for consistent lengths on all of the backrest supports and cut all of the pieces with a 6° angle. The angle is on both sides of the backrest support, so that it connects to the base square and the top runner sits square as well. It was worth it to really take my time on this step, as the angles had to be oriented correctly relative to each other. Almost forgot! Before cutting the backrest supports, I ripped the 2x4 down to 2½”. That way, there is room for support slats on the face of…

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Outdoor Sectional – Part 1

For the past few years that we have lived in our house, our outdoor furniture has been pretty lackluster. We have a couple of uncomfortable metal chairs that were hand-me-downs from my grandma. In addition, we have a couple of cheap plastic chairs that were left in the backyard by the previous owner. Surprisingly, these are actually really comfortable. We've even brought them to use during fireworks shows (in the before times). Regardless, it was time to upgrade to something bigger and better: an outdoor sectional. The local design expert, Allyson, found a really straightforward design online from Real Cedar. It is an L-shaped sectional that fit what we were looking for perfectly.  Real Cedar's outdoor sectional, mostly hidden by pillows and other junk. The design from Real Cedar came with SketchUp plans, which made it a simple choice to go with their design. We initially planned to use their…

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