Little Creek Maple Farm

Our adventures around the homestead.

Greenhouse – Part 2

Greenhouse

Still waiting for the cold weather and snowy pattern we are in to break here in New Hampshire.  I was able to successfully disassemble the greenhouse and move it outside pretty easily with the help of Wen and the boys.  Reassembly of the greenhouse was straight forward.  With the frame complete I needed to add some strapping for my corrugated roof panels because I will be installing the roof panels with the flutes running vertically on the gambrel roof.  This design change will help the gambrel roof shed snow up here in the great white tundra much easier than if the flutes were running horizontally.  So I installed some 1×3 strapping perpendicular to the roof trusses two foot on center that would pick up the closure pieces for my roof panels.

Installing greenhouse strapping

With the strapping in place I needed my trusty assistant to help pass me the plastic closure strips that would attach directly to the strapping. These plastic pieces get screwed down and fill in the voids between the panels and the strapping.

Greenhouse closure strips

It’s always good to have a second set of hands to help hold things in place and after all the greenhouse is like a mini jungle-Jim now.  I ran out of short screws so I had to resort to using some 1-1/4” drywall screws that started to poke through the strapping.  I will need to come along with a saws-all after the panels go up and trim off these pointy screws so I don’t wind up with any greenhouse injuries this spring.

Installing Greenhouse Closure Strips

A close up below of the plastic closure pieces as I installed them on the strapping. Not sure if you need to put a screw in every flute but I figured I better so I would limit my chances of having a panel blow off in high winds.  I also plan on using corrugated roofing crews long enough to penetrate though the plastic closure strip and into the wood strapping itself.

Plastic greenhouse closure strips

We had to mock-up at least one plastic panel on the side and they seem to go up pretty quickly.  I just need to cut the roof panels to the appropriate length and away we go.

Plastic Greenhouse Panels

Thinking of spring…

Thinking of spring

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Gardening, Home Maintenance, Woodworking | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Greenhouse – Part 1

Greenhouse

Finally have an opportunity to sit down and write a few words.  Despite the continuous snow fall that we seem to be getting lately, I am thinking spring. Inspired by searching for greenhouses on Pinterest I came across a greenhouse design PIN that we think would work for us from the Ana-white.com website I tweaked the design, a smidge as I always seem to do and started the build a couple of weekends ago.  I ended up building it in the garage because it was hovering right around 0-degrees outside without wind chill at the time.

We decided to go 10’ x 10’ in size and figured we would use clear plastic panels to skin the whole outside.  We are in a heavily wooded area so we are hoping that this will help get us to an early start this growing season before all the trees leaf out.

I ended up building this by myself in one weekend, and because I was building inside, I had to build it so it could be knocked down, moved out of the garage and assembled outside.  The side walls are each their own components.  The front and rear end walls are also their own components.  Lastly the (4) roof trusses and ridge are one component.  Anything that was not being disassembled was nailed, and any connection points that I was going to need to disassemble was put together with screws.

I started construction with the knee wall.  I used a 2×4 PT sill plate and KD SPF 2×4 top plate and 2×4 studs 24” o.c. to build the knee walls.  I threw and extra 2×4 in at the corners so I could easily screw in the front & rear walls to the sides walls.

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Next I built the end walls.  The first thing I did was to make the rafter gussets.  The Ana-white website has a great video of how to this, which saved me from having to figure it out.

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Essentially using a piece of blue tape and a couple quick marks on my chop saw you can mark the point where you make your 22.5-degree angle cuts and where you make your 90-degree cross cuts.  This made for quick work of cutting out the dozen or so plywood gussets I needed for the trusses.

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With all the gussets cut, I cut a total of 8 rafters 48” long with 22.5-degree angles on both ends.  These are for the end walls.  It easy to make a quick jig for cutting your rafters to length as well.  With the rafters cut, I glued the but joint where they meet and clamped them to my work table.  I then applied a liberal amount of glue to the face of the rafters getting the plywood gusset plate, and clamped it down.  Eight screw later and I was good to go.  Just make sure you thing about the orientation of the gussets prior to assembly on your greenhouse.  I wanted all gussets facing inside the greenhouse, so they would cause a problem when I side the outside face of the greenhouse walls.

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Three gusset plates and four 48” roof rafters and I had the end wall roof rafter ready to go in place.  I had to add a couple more 2×4’s to keep the end wall rigid when I go to move it outside.  Rinse and repeat for the opposite end and away you go.

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I got both end walls up and stopped for the night.  The next day I set the ridge up and and made the rest of my rafters up and installed them.  I don’t have many photos but it’s pretty easy to figure out.  Just make sure you do the math on the lengths of your pieces so everything will work.  I deviated from the Ana-white plans on the framing so some of my dimensions were slightly different.  This goes up quick and is an easy build just take your time.

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February 8, 2015 Posted by | Gardening, Home Maintenance, Woodworking | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Garden Bench 1.0

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We got an early start to the day this morning, the kids were up at 5:30AM and ready to go.  We hung around the garden a bit weeding waiting 7:00AM to hit so we could fire up the power tools.  I guess I was trying to be neighborly.  Anyhow we had picked up the lumber and hardware needed to make the garden bench on Friday night in preparation for a project weekend!  From my original post you can get a link to the website where I found this totally fab garden bench.  One word of caution, I think the 30-degree angle on one of the pieces is off.  If you read the instructions you will know which piece I am referring to.

Today’s goal was to get all of the wet 4×4’s cut.  Try and get square edge 4×4’s if you can.  My wonderful Lowe’s only had 4×4’s with the radiused edges which made it a little more time consuming in laying out the notches.

Each 8’ 4×4 will have enough length to make one side of the bench frame.  I just started at one end making the 30-degree cut first (which I think should be something different) and then you next piece is and 18” long 4×4 with two 15-degree angle cuts on it, followed by your last piece which is 36” long with a simple straight cut.  These water logged timbers can be heavy.  So its good to have a little help!

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With the 4×4’s cut for each bench I laid the front leg and rear leg down on my garage floor against a straight edge (one of the 2×8’s) and separated them 11” apart.  When I laid the cross member with the 30-degree angle cut on top of the legs I discovered that the 30-degree angle does not quote work as advertised so I had to slightly tweak the location where the cross member hits the front leg in order to make all of the legs line up.  I made all of my cuts on a 10” sliding compound miter saw so I am pretty sure my angles are close.  With the cross member on top of the legs you simply mark the notches with a pencil as shown on the web site.  I used my speed square to help get amore accurate marking because of the rounded corners of the 4×4’s.

With the marks made its back to the bench to begin notching the 4×4’s.  I used a circular saw, setting the depth of the saw to 1/2 the thickness of the 4×4.  I made the left most & right most cuts first and  then tried to space all the interior cuts to within a 1/4” or less of each other.

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Below is a top view of what you get after you made the cuts, it does look a little un-neat, but it cleans up easily with a sharp chisel and a rasp.

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With the grooves cut I turn the pre-notched pieces over to my assistant for the waste removal.

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For those hard to pop out scraps we found that a small shovel does the trick!

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With the bulk of the waste removed you are left with the rough cut masterpiece below.

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It looks like a ton of work to clean up but it just looks a lot worse than it is.  Clean up is a couple minutes with a good “sharp” chisel!  The pressure treated pine cuts real easily.

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More clean-up.  I did all of the notches on one side prior to test fitting and fine tuning the joints.

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My assistant test fitting a couple of the 4×4’s.

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When all of the joints are fine tuned, just hammer the thing together and stand it up for the final step…The brush down.

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Strangely enough we found that these make great seats on their own.

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With what I would guess is the most challenging part of this project complete I decided to call it quits until tomorrow.  Next up is bolting the sides together and adding the seat bottom and back.  Maybe tomorrow.

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June 15, 2013 Posted by | Gardening, Home Maintenance, Woodworking | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Replacing a Retaining Wall

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Well I wish I could say I planned on replacing the small stone retaining wall that encircled our awesome looking precast concrete stair in the background of the above picture, but it was a spur of the moment idea that took close to 4 spring weekends to complete.  Unfortunately the above picture from last year is all I have and you really need to squint to see the loose laid retaining wall.  I love natural rock, but there was something about this wall that I did not care for.

During one trip to our local Lowe’s we decided on some retaining wall blocks that we though looked good and that would go with precast stair.  I picked up 10 or so blocks and we were on our way!

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The project started off fairly quickly as I started pulling down the old loose laid stone wall.  I was fortunate enough to basically be re-constructing the wall in the exact same space as the old wall and there was a nice compacted gravel base that I could work with.  I believe you are supposed to tear everything out get a level gravel base and then build your wall, but I had other spring gardening chores to do so this project was going to run 20 blocks a weekend.  I started at the high point of my wall and figured I would work my way down and to the left of the wall.

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As you can see I also had some older over grown plants and shrubs that were not going to be part of the new landscaping plan.

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From the above photo you can kind of see how old and unkempt the old wall looked.  I was ready for it to be replaced by the crisp chiseled faces of the concrete blocks we picked up.  Not to fear I had other plans for all the stone I pulled out of here.

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Another weekend and a few more blocks.  The project involved some basic tools like a small sledge hammer a masons chisel for splitting the blocks (at this point I only needed to split one block) and a couple levels.  I found that I almost always used a small torpedo level and my 2’ level.  I did occasionally break out the 4’ level but that was more fore alignment than checking for level.  You can see from the photos that the blocks had a small lip on the bottom.  This lip helps you to align the block so that each course sets back about 3/4” from the previous one.  For the very first course or starter course I simply use my mason chisel and knocked this edge off so the first course would lay flat on the compacted gravel base.  Compacting the gravel base is pretty straight forward as long as you have a manual plate tamper and some good compactable gravels.

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After a couple more weekends any maybe another 50 block I was finished.  This end had a lot of cuts.  Surprisingly it was pretty easy splitting the blocks with a  mason chisel.  I would measure the distance I needed and transfer that dimension to the top of the block.  I would then start my chisel on the top of the block at the front chiseled face (the mason’s chisel is 3-4” wide) and hit the chisel with with enough force to leave a mark.  I would then slide the chisel 3” down towards the center of the block so I was in line with the previous mark and hit it again.  Next I moved the chisel again all the way toward the back and I would repeat this on the back side of the block, and the bottom side of the block and I would repeat the process until I had a well scored line on the three sides of the block.  With all of the sides scored well I laid the block flat on the ground put the chisel in the middle of the score line on the top of the block and gave it a few good hard strikes and the block split exactly on the score line.  It takes a block or two to get the feel for how this process works, but it is a piece of cake!

After I got everything laid out I went back remove a couple course of block and put in a layer of landscape fabric between the block wall and the existing as I filled the 4-5” space behind the block with 3/4” gravel.  With any luck this layer of stone will help ensure adequate drainage behind the wall and the landscape fabric will help keep the gravel from silting up so it continues to drain freely for many years to come.

Overall I am pleased with the end result.  One word of caution, buy all your blocks at once if you can.  Lowes was actually selling last years discontinued blocks as regular product without telling anyone.  This would have been fine if the manufactured did not change color blends and if someone else did not buy the majority of the two pallets they had on hand before I could finish my wall! Luckily I was able to lose most of the older blocks in the layers that were covered up by dirt or they were close enough to the bottom that you could not tell a discernable difference.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Gardening, Home Maintenance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victory is mine!

After many weeks of continuous leaf dropping and cleaning,  I have finally won the battle against the trees for this season at least.  This year I added a new tool to my ho-hum manual rake.  A Husqvarna 125BVX leaf blower.  (insert manly grunt here)

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I picked this tool up from Superior Power Equipment in Manch-Vegas.  A great local store I found via Google after my local Lowes did not have the model I wanted in stock.  Lowes could have special ordered it, but it would have arrived 3-4 weeks after I needed it!  Through the power of the iPhone I was able to find Superior Power Equipment while I finished up shopping at Lowes.  5 Minutes later I confirmed Superior Power Equipment had one, and told them I would be there momentarily to pick it up.

Superior Power Equipment had great customer service.  They filled the leaf blower up with gas/oil and ran it to make sure everything was up to snuff before I left their store.  They even gave me a training session on the thing.  I would definitely return in the future to buy another item or have something serviced.

The leaves did not stand a chance with my new weapon!  I have a significant number of trees at the homestead that for whatever reason took a wicked long time to completely drop this year.  I am sure the unseasonal weather we have had made the process take even longer.

This afternoon I topped off my two compost bins with the last round of leaves and blew the rest into the woods.  Victory is mine!

November 27, 2011 Posted by | Home Maintenance, Miscellaneous | , , , | 2 Comments

Impromptu Planter – Version 1.0

When it comes to household projects it always seems like I have several impromptu projects arise as a result of a current project.  For example, the simple project of cleaning up the garage has spawned at least a ½ dozen projects since its introduction to my “to do list” during the spring of 2011.

I have had to install two different sets of adjustable shelving, one of which was installed after tearing down the former owners poor excuse for shelving.  That poor excuse for shelving, turned into a bunch of wood that I could not toss into a land fill, and since spawned a couple raised bed frames and the topic for this post a prototype for a planter.

First a quick note, when it comes to this type of woodworking, I don’t create detailed plans that are specifically dimensioned or designed.  I work off a concept and refine the project to the materials I have on hand, as the project comes together.  Below you will see my sketch on a napkin.  I am perfectly capable of working off plans, but this type of activity is more stimulating for me.  I had to tweak the dimensions of the concept to work with the available salvaged wood.  The final design still needs to be tweaked but overall, not bad for 3 hours.

Concept – 12”x12” planter box 16”-18” tall.

Concept

Materials – Utilize salvaged rough sawn shelving boards and scrap from a previous raised bed project.  Fasteners used include 1-1/4” brads for speedy assembly, and torx exterior screws 1-1/4” & 2” for strength.

Materials

Tools – table saw, chop saw, brad nailer, screw gun, speed square.

Tools

I tend to mill my wood as I go, running all similar materials at each set-up.  For this project I ripped all the vertical side boards first and came up with a width of one side which was 12-1/2”.  From here I tried to pick a proportionate height of the panel which worked out to 16”.  Next, I attached the vertical side boards to a horizontal stretcher at the top & bottom of the panels using brads.

Side Panel

Once I established the width of the panel, I needed a depth of the box that would work with my materials.  With the materials I had this necessitated a 9-1/2” stretcher between the two side panels.  I toe-nailed the stretchers into place with brads.  The brads temporarily held the end panels together while I clamped the box with some bar clamps.

Clamps

I finished installing the vertical side boards and now I have a 4-sided box.  From my original concept I wanted to do an L-shaped top trim piece to conceal the end grain.  I did a small mock-up with some scraps and chose an alternative approach using a top cap with a 2” apron.  I mitered all the trim boards as I went.

Top Cap

Once the top cap was on I thought the planter looked a little top-heavy so I added a 2” base trim to balance out the design.  Note – before I attached the apron and the base trim, I screwed the side boards to the stretchers with screws to tighten the box up.  All that is left is to line the planter with some filter fabric, soil, and plantings.  Is it spring yet?

Upside down planter

Now that the prototype is completed I am letting the end-user (Wen) kick the tires on this design before we produce a couple more.  I already want to tweak some dimensions and add some chamfers to kick the visual appeal up a notch without increasing difficulty or production time.

Planter Complete

November 25, 2011 Posted by | Home Maintenance, Woodworking | , , , | Leave a comment

Vacation Day

Not sure I could have picked a better day to take off from work.  We reached 62.5 degrees at 13:39 here today!  Unfortunately, the sky has darkened and we have had a few sprinkles this afternoon, effectively postponing the completion of my yard work.  The good news, however, is that I started early enough this morning that I was able to complete a few of the tasks that have been on my “to do list” for a while now.

Leaves – who would have thought I could still have leaves on the trees that have yet to fall!  It seems like leaves have been falling here for over a month.  Our oak trees are the last hold outs.  The maples dropped most of their leaves 1-2 weeks ago.  I rounded up a portion of the leaves to add to our compost piles.  Some of the leaves were shredded with the lawn mower to add another layer of mulch to the garlic I planted the middle of October in our raised beds.  The #snowtober storm significantly compacted the first layer of leaf mulch I had added after planting, so it was time to top them off.

Mulched Beds

Flag Mount – It’s amazing what a couple of 3-1/2″ torx screws can do for an improperly installed flag mount. The mount was ripped off the house during some gusty winds when the original 1-1/2″ wood screws let go.  The original installer chose a great location at the corner of an exterior stud wall with plenty of material to bite into, unfortunately they just chose too short of a screw with too fine of a thread, that barely made it into the sheathing.

Old Glory Flying High

Garage Door Seal – After starting the project of repairing the spalled concrete edge of the garage floor slab and replacing all the weather-stripping on the garage doors early this summer, I am proud to report this project is completed.  The lone hold out on this project was a single seal on the bottom of one garage door that needed to be replaced.  An easy enough repair – yet even easier to be pushed to the bottom of the list.

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Gardening, Home Maintenance | 2 Comments

   

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