Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wheelbarrow Thing-a-mah-doo

We don't have a garage and my work shop is (no exaggeration) 9' x 12'. We have no place to put our wheelbarrow so this is how we've been storing it.

This morning I was watching 'This Old House' and they showed a very clever, but complicated, way of storing a wheelbarrow. It involved latches and bolts and other things I found completely unnecessary.

So I simplified it and stuck the wheelbarrow to our fence.

I took two scrap pieces of 4" cedar fence boards, created a 1/2' lip with them and screwed them to the fence about an inch below the lip of the wheelbarrow.

Instead of purchasing and installing a latch to hold it in place I simply used a 3" scrap of wood, a 1 5/8" wood screw, and two washers from the Brother Printer I took apart.

Now, I simply wheel the barrow up to the base block, tip it up and turn the latch to hold it firmly in place. It's a complete coincidence that it fits exactly under the top board of the fence.

Next I'll need to do something about the wheelbarrow handles. One has to wear gloves during use or they'll get a fist full o' slivers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cubicle Clock

 As my parents abandoned moved out of my childhood home to take up more permanent residence in Hawai'i, they discovered that they had amassed a tremendous amount of stuff they didn't need. They had a small collection of records that they had no hope of ever selling at their yard sale. Crap like Andy Williams and the Carpenters. I decided to take them off of their hands so that I can melt them into bowls. But that's another post. I still have to finish making my solar oven to melt the records. Again, another post.

After staring at the records for a few weeks I decided to turn one into a clock. Buried amongst the hot hits of the late '40s was an old 78 record called "Holiday for Trombones." I thought this would make a perfect clock for someone who is stuck on a cubicle farm all day.
A few months ago we had to replace our keyboard when my fiance spilled a glass of beer in it. I saved all of the keys from it hoping to find a nice project for them. This clock seemed like the perfect project. I used the F1-F12 keys for the hours. And since this is a clock for a cubicle, using the "Escape" key for 5 o'clock seemed apropos.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pur-guh-luh, Pur-go-luh. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Pur-guh-luh? Pur-go-luh? It doesn't matter how you pronounce it, someone will correct your pronunciation. I'm not sure which one is correct, and honestly I don't care much since prior to April, I'd never used the word. But with some help from my sister, Kris; my fiance, Lesley; and long-time friend, Doug, I built one. I'd like to say that I used recycled wood from a century old barn or built it from pallets, but I didn't. All this wood came from a lumber yard. And it was expensive. It was $100 just for the brackets and through-bolts. And have you priced lumber lately? A 16ft 2x6 is $25! But I built it for my sister, so she paid for it.

Now, I've never built anything remotely like this in my life. The only thing close are these stairs I built on my fiance's house. My sister took a tremendous step of faith in asking me to build her a pergola. And a giant leap of faith asking me to build her two. Especially considering she wanted them done before my wedding and I had just had back surgery and still can't lift anything.  Anyone weight a green Doug Fir 6x6 lately? Trust me, it ain't light.

Fortunately, I have found a couple handy tools for helping me build things like this. One is the internet. I swear you can find out how to build anything on it. Need a time machine? No problem. The second is Google Sketchup. If you like to build stuff this is an awesome tool. You can sketch what you're building with Sketchup and then you have all of your measurements and diagrams at your finger tips. It's free and it's invaluable. Here is my Sketchup of the pergola.

Getting the brackets placed right was easily the hardest (hmm... "easily the hardest") part of the whole project. They needed to be exact, and I've never done this before. Once the cement is mixed it starts setting, and then you're committed. I gave myself a ballpark of about an hour before I couldn't move them anymore thinking I'd leisurely measure, level, reset, repeat. Nope. More like 10 mins. So you have to go fast, set all four brackets, and make sure they are square, level, and equidistant. I never did find an easy way to do this so we kinda winged it. But we got everything within a quarter inch of perfect.

Doug was kind enough to dig the holes, drill the holes for the through bolts, and help Kris carry the 6x6s. I know it was hard work and it doesn't help that Doug's back isn't much better than mine and Willard Scott is going to be showing Kris on a Smucker's jar soon, but I am extremely grateful for their help as I would likely be in surgery again had they not been there.

I notched a decorative end to each 2x6 with my Skill saw and then finished the cut with my jig saw that Kris got me for my birthday. I had to get a new jig saw because I have a lot of my grandfather's tools and they no longer make blades for his old jig saw. It's too bad, 'cause that thing was ol' school. It was all stainless steel and shiny. The new one is plastic but it can cut a 2x6 like toast through my fiances skin (if that doesn't make sense to you, you need to ask me about the time my fiance cut herself on a piece of toast. I'm pretty sure her skin is made of meringue).

Once the 6x6s were in place the rest was pretty easy. We bolted 2x6s to each side of the 6x6s for girders and then laid the remaining 2x6s across the girders. I toe-screwed them in place with 3" deck screws at the bottom. Then I ran seven 2x2s across the top and drove a 3" wood screw through and into each 2x6. It's solid as a rock. Three days after completion it withstood 60mph gusts of wind. Kris plans to plant some wisteria around the base of the 6x6s to help create some additional shade.