Fire Table – Concrete Sealing

As I said in my last post, today's post is about sealing the concrete insert of our new fire table. And as I also mentioned last week, I made a mistake while sealing the concrete. But we’ll get to that. First, let’s talk about different concrete stains. There are basically four types of concrete sealers, as I found out while researching the best one for my project. The four types are penetrating, acrylic, polyurethane and epoxy. Each one of these performs the sealing in a different way. Acrylic, polyurethane and epoxy stains all build a protective film on the top of the concrete to provide protection, albeit using different chemical compounds. Penetrating sealers, typically some sort of silicon compound, provide protection by reacting chemically within the concrete. These don’t leave behind a protective film like the other stains. A key benefit of the penetrating sealers is their ability to let…

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Fire Table – Concrete Insert Part 2

If you’re keeping track around here, you know that the fire table I’m building requires a concrete insert. You’d also know that I’ve never worked with concrete before, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that my first attempt failed. Time to regroup, take some lessons learned, and try again. I think it is likely that the concrete expanded slightly as it dried, squeezing tightly into the first mold. The end result was a stuck concrete insert. The mold design relied on the concrete dropping out of the mold cleanly, which didn't happen. I realized I needed to redesign the mold so that I could disassemble it after the concrete dried. It helped that the old mold was completely destroyed in the first attempt.  With the goal of full disassembly after drying in mind, I picked up more melamine and started the new mold. The second mold design was basically…

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Fire Table – Concrete Insert

Almost every project I’ve completed in the past typically revolves around wood (with some exceptions). Wood is easily available, easy to cut, and easy to assemble. Unfortunately, it is also flammable. So when I made my fire table design, I added a concrete insert to act as a buffer between the flame and the wood. It is easy enough to included in a design, but now I had to try and build it. Welcome to the first episode of “Concrete Insert Building”! A widely used method of making a shape out of concrete is to use a mold for the shape. This is exactly what I did as well. To start, I had to take the dimensions of my concrete insert. SketchUp makes pulling dimensions easier. Easy enough. Next up was to build a mold that would create that shape. For the mold, I used a melamine board. Melamine boards…

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New Design – Fire Table

I am excited to bring to you my next big build for our house! Ever since moving into our home about 3 years ago (even before that honestly), I’ve wanted to have a fire table for our patio. The idea of sitting outside with friends around a table with a fire in it just seemed cool to me. Not to mention the great potential for s’mores! While we’re still not at the point of having a bunch of friends over, I figured it would be a good time to make my long desired fire table. Like all of my builds, I had to come up with a solid design first. And here is where we hit a bit of a snag. Typically, wood and fire don’t mix. As an educated adult human, I realize this. So I wanted to do some research and see if others had come up with…

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Kitchen Faucet Installation – Goodbye Bad Faucet!

Over the holiday break Allyson and I said goodbye to our home’s bad faucet in the kitchen. Trust me, it was really bad. There were leaks everywhere on the sprayer. Also, for some reason they made it as complicated as possible to operate. So we decided to complete a new kitchen faucet installation. Yes, the photo editing is back! I’ll admit, the old faucet did have a lot of features. In order to work the sprayer, you had to turn on the faucet, rotate the lever in the red circle and then squeeze the sprayer handle (blue rectangle). Super intuitive. Another great feature was the tiny streams of water that shot out of the black plastic around the sprayer anytime you used it. Really good for wiping the counter down. And of course, who can forget the post-modern kinked metal braided hose that went to the sprayer (green hexagon)? I’m…

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Compost Bins Build

I’ve written about the design of the new compost bins. I wrote a post last week about how I found the cheapest wood for the bins. It is time to post about the compost bins build process! Besides improving the aesthetics of the old builds, one of the main goals of the new compost bins build is to make them mouse proof. Supposedly, one can keep mice out of their compost if they always keep the compost moist. That’s probably true, especially since compost at the right moisture can get very hot as it is composting. But out here in Denver it is extremely difficult to keep the compost even close to moist 24/7 and mice certainly love that.  To try and make everything mouse proof, I designed the bins to have a sandwich type design. The bottom, top, and each wall is a rectangle of cedar with a layer…

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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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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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