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Just stuff

Posted by joeabbott on May 1, 2016

I’m a pretty happy guy but often happiest when I am tinkering around with a new idea or something that “just came to me”; yesterday was one of those days.

I’m a procrastinator

On the to-do list was replacing boards on the deck. While ostensibly a simple task, I was dragging my feet. I told myself it was because the deck was still damp and that it wasn’t in the sun and would be chilly, but truth-be-told, it was that the job had taken a challenging twist.

When the builder put down the deck, he was thorough; meaning at each joist we had a nail and two screws. And joists were set every foot or so. And, it was installed long enough ago that the screws weren’t backing out. So, I’d tried being delicate and using a chisel to expose the head and try to get a grip on it with pliers … but the part of the board that remained just took on too much marring to leave in place. So I then tried to use a screw extractor but my drill was taking a very long time to get a deep enough hole, the extractor wasn’t engaging with the screw, and then the driver tip shattered. My final option was to replace entire boards, but some of the pieces were over 12’ long and those are spendy boards. What to do?

Well, try another project!

imageThe other project

imageWhen we put Suzy’s potting shed up a few years back, the square box was quickly filled with shelves and pegs and hooks and all manner of widgets and gewgaws for sorting the various things one keeps in a shed. Now that we have a shed up north, we have a similar challenge. It’s a challenge because, as a plastic shed, our standard ways and means for hanging things won’t work … we can’t just bang a nail into the side of a plastic panel and expect it to hold!

So, I designed a simple frame that will provide a similar look and feel as the exposed ribs inside our potting shed. It’s simple and just seven sticks of 2×4 lumber screwed together.

In the picture to the right, the upper shelf would be some sort of 3/4” plywood and I haven’t added it yet to my parts; I’m not sure if I want it just yet. If I do include it, I’ll want to add a couple of 45° stabilizing members like I have for the legs.

I’m also not sure the middle horizontal member should be at 36” … if I don’t have the upper shelf, I would probably do better to have it at the very top. In the case of deciding how it should go together, I’m not procrastinating as much as I’m having a hard time building something here for a shed that’s about an hour and a half away. Tomorrow, when we head to the property, I’ll bring a few basic tools and some ingenuity and be ready to improvise.

But, when this is up and in, we’ll be able to use the vertical “studs” for clamping onto and adding our pegs, hooks, widgets, and gewgaws. The space between the “studs” isn’t the standard 16”, but it shouldn’t affect our use at all and, tucked into the back of the shed, we should be able to use this for all our sorting and organizing needs.

Another reason I like these simple projects is that it gives me a chance to test my building skills on a small level. I don’t have to worry about gap-free joints or perfect execution, but I can strive for it and it allows me to improve my hand-tool execution. Simple things like cutting to a line, keeping alignments square, and making sure parts that should be flush are just that. Just a way to keep getting better without a lot of risk when I can’t deliver.


Back to the deck

Well, after a small delay to pick up my 2x4s and build up the legs for the above project, I had no choice but to acknowledge that it was time to start on the deck. <sigh>

One of the first things I did was walk the deck with Suzanne and mark the boards we’d replace. We talked about the cost of replacing the entire board and agreed that, for those that were less than 96” … the standard length of lumber we had … we’d remove the entire board. I will admit this made things easier for me; which is not always a high priority for our jobs!


And for the really long pieces … well, I used a jigsaw to cut the board on just the other side of the joist and then used a couple biscuit and my plate joiner to lock it in place with the replacement board. Using this method wasn’t the best, but it would suffice and, after doing it to the two locations we needed it, I have to admit that it holds up just fine. I thought the location felt a little soft when I bounced directly over the joint on one foot, but then when I did that anywhere, I could get a little spring.

In the end it wasn’t a terribly challenging job, but on the biggish side. I wasn’t a fan when I first finished but, later in the day, after the sun wasn’t beating on me and I’d put away my tools and showered, it looked better. We plan on letting the sun fade it naturally and don’t plan on trying to “weather” the new boards prematurely. We’ll see how it looks in a couple years.


Next up: replacing the boards in the benches that are starting to show their age. This will be tougher due to the nature of the bench construction but I have confidence that I’ll be able to knock it out next weekend.


And that’s it … a couple days, a couple projects. The other thing that’s keeping me plenty busy is a game called Dark Souls 3 … but I’ll go into details on that in another post. Until then, thanks for stopping in and sharing a little time with me!


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