Sunday, October 21, 2012

Squaring things up

I had a helper today, doing some measuring for me.

Photo Oct 21, 3 24 31 PM

This was after we’d pulled off the roofing on the west and re-aligned the tops of the poles. There was a decent gap, I think from my poles warping slightly in the weather. Once I measured the top front, we found  a significant gap.

Photo Oct 21, 3 14 17 PM

I was able to tie this back, recut the rafters, and put them back in, getting a good, fairly square top. The other side must have been slightly out of whack as we found that a few pieces of the roofing didn’t quite align, but since I’m covering everything with metal and this was close, I left it.

My daughter helped me cover everything and we are looking good. Now I just need the metal to arrive.

Photo Oct 21, 4 22 48 PM

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coming Along

I knocked off a little early yesterday and did some work on the shelter. It’s coming along nicely. I had planned on only adding the joists on the right side, but when I lost my hammer to the rest of the family for some horse chores, I adapted and started on plywood.

Photo Oct 15, 6 04 44 PM

I had planned on putting the plywood up there sideways, and only covering half of the shelter, but I decided to cover it completely, giving a little more shelter and warmth in winter. Plus it should improve structural integrity and a little durability.

Photo Oct 15, 5 23 41 PM

The plywood needs to be cut, as every piece is  a different shape with the land sloping. I had to put every piece up there and cut it to fit the shape of the roof. I made the measurements as well for ordering metal.

There’s one problem:

Photo Oct 14, 1 04 27 PM

The first few pieces I put in had a gap. When I measured the roof, and then base again, I realized that the posts had warped or bent slightly, pulling the SW corner further away at the top of the post. So much for wood being straight, or remaining so.

It’s not a lot, and I could leave it, but it’s bugging me, so I think I’ll pull up this plywood from the roof and tie in the fronts square. It means recutting the joists, but that’s not a big deal. It won’t take that long and I’ll feel better.

Now I need to get to the store and purchase a few more sheets of OSB.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Not my favorite thing to do, but fortunately I was about 8-9 feet off the ground today.

Photo Oct 14, 1 04 27 PM

I added 3 sheets of plywood, but then I realized Tia had the braces in her truck. I did manage to measure out for metal, so I’ll order that tomorrow.

I also found that the top had pulled a little out of square. I’m guessing the posts moved a touch. Not sure if I should attempt to pull it back, but I know I’d need to recut all the braces and also get a board on the end. Seems almost like more work than I’d like. I think it will be easier to just cut the metal to fit and trim the top boards in a few places.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chugging Along

It’s been a busy week, but I did manage to get outside and do a little work this weekend. I drilled through the posts and roof trusses and added bolts to the shelter.

Photo Sep 23, 4 20 03 PM

It’s 4 standard boards wide, which made for a challenge. I had a 1/2” spade bit designed to dig through, and used that, but it was only about 3/4 of the width long. I guessed right on the first one (fortunately) and got the holes to line up, drilling from each side, but on the rest I decided to try something different.

I had a long bit, about 16-18” designed for going through walls. I used that to pilot the holes, drilling slow, and then used the spade bit from each side to follow the pilot hole. For the most part it worked well, but I ended up having to nail through a few of the bolts with a hammer as the holes weren’t quite in line.

Photo Sep 23, 4 20 05 PM

I was hoping to use 7” bolts, but Home Depot only had 8”, so there’s lots of extra. Shouldn’t be an issue, at least I hope not.

I was distracted, and forget to add the last roof truss on before doing the bolt, so I’ll have to remove those and add it on, drilling out the hole on the ground.

I even had a little help, which was nice.

Photo Sep 23, 4 19 54 PM

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Slowing Down

I’m trying not to push too hard on projects as I get older. I try to be safe and not get hurt. I was doing good today, putting up roof braces and cutting the shed poles to size when I went to start the generator for the last brace. I ended up banging my knuckle on the frame and slicing it nicely open.

I managed to hold it while getting the generated started and put in two screws into a brace before I decided it wasn’t worth getting blood all over or making something slippery and hurting myself.

Stopping for the afternoon at that, and planning on a trip to grab a few things from the store later today.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I got all six holes done.

This was a nightmare, with lots of water yesterday and today until I finally had them all about 2 1/2 ft down.

And then, when I tried to use the post hole digger to pull out the loose soil, it’s so crumbly, the shovel won’t get a scoop of it. It leaks back into the hole. So it was down on hands and knees scooping it out with my hands. Ugh.

I did go shopping as well, loading up on lumber and misc supplies. While water was soaking in at one point, I set up my sawhorses and glued up the treated wood. I had 12’ and 10’ 2x6s that I wanted to laminate together into bundles of 2 for the support posts. The 4x4s felt small last time, so I decided to use 4x6, laminated from two pieces.

I first spread the glue on one piece, and placed the other on top before nailing them together to hold and dry. I used clamps a little to get things going, but ran out, so I’m hoping the nails hold.

Friday, September 7, 2012

More drilling

Today was more augering into the shed holes. I was out there standing on the auger at times, and alternately pouring water in the holes and taking a break while it soaked in. In two sessions I managed to get 3 holes dug enough and another close. Two are still just a touch over halfway.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A New Loafing Shed

My wife wanted a new loafing shed in the other pasture as we’re starting to have lots of horses here, 10 now and 2 more coming. So I decided to get started on it by marking the corner poles. I had my wife give me a rough idea and then I went to work.

First I pounded in one corner pole, and then measured from the fence. I put down string in the direction I wanted and then measured 10 ft off. Getting the distance to the fence allowed me to fix the string in the right position and pound in another stake. I had the back of my shed now marked.

From there I added the other 4 poles. Three in back and three in front and when they were all roughly 10 ft apart (a 2x3 rectangle), I measured the diagonals. Those weren’t square, so I had to move things slightly to make the measurements work and soon enough I had six stakes in the ground.

Those were replaced by paint markers before I went to get the auger and tractor.

I started drilling, but that didn’t go well. Lots of clay in that part of the property, so I ended up getting a bucket and dumping water into 6 half drilled holes before calling it a day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I knocked together a quick bench earlier this year for my wife’s tack room. Her business has been growing, and she asked for another one, which was the project of the week.

I bought wood on Saturday, but as with most things, I didn’t have the day go as planned. Kids came with me and I didn’t get home until almost dark, so I gave up for the night.

Sunday morning I got out there and started cutting wood. I decided to cut everything first since I needed 5 braces and 4 saddle racks. With the miter saw, I got everything cut to size and that was it. 90F and baseball in the afternoon drove me inside early.

Monday night, however, I wandered out to the garage and started screwing things together. 2 screws in each corner, making a series of “A” shapes that will brace the bench. This design worked fantastic the last time, so I kept it. I stacked them up and planned on getting out there the next day.


I managed to find time, and dragged out my braces, a drill, screws, a circular saw, extension cord, and a stool to the barn. I had purchased 10’ boards, thinking they’d just fit in there, but they were a touch long. Here is me measuring the space where the bench will go.




I screwed one brace to the wall




And another to the existing bench in the background.




Then I added more in the middle. I used these as separaters for the various bins people have more than for support.




By moving the bin as I angle screwed these to the wall, I had a good idea of the space I could leave between them. 4 new slots are on the wall now.

Once those were in, I put the top board on. As you can see, it needed a trim. Rather than mess with the measuring tape across 10’ (with no help), I measured in place. Once this was cut, I used this measurement to do the rest of the boards.



The first board is in place on top. Things went quickly and smoothly from here. I used a countersink bit in each case to make a slight indent in the top board, then added a drill through to the underlying brace before screwing things in.




I only used one screw per board per brace. I could have used 2, but for the most part this bench will get little stress. Saddle racks will be above it, so it’s mostly a place people can set things. I could have used 1x4s instead and it would have been find, but I elected not to. Someone might stand on it.




Once it was done, I swept up and the bench was there. You can see I added a front face board as well. It’s another 2x4, with the top edge screwed down into it. Again, I could have gone smaller, but this is simple.



Friday, July 20, 2012

The Horsey Mailbox

My wife has been wanting a mailbox for her horses. Not that the horses get letters, but she wants them to get used to approaching a standing device, and have the rider get things in and out. Supposedly it’s good training, and I’ve been meaning to do it. With her teaching this weekend, I decided to knock it out.

I didn’t want a set post in the ground, but I’d made a couple volleyball posts and one had broken. So I decided to use that. I cut two 2x4s and added them to the broken post, giving me an upright set of posts to hold the mailbox.


I screwed these in with 6-7 screws on each side. Once that was done, I grabbed the mailbox I’d bought the other day. First I measure the underside, which was about 6 1/4” wide. I cut a 2x6 down to fit in there, and then ripped a rabbit in the middle of it so the mailbox would sit on it. I then bandsawed the end to fit inside my two upright posts. You can see the top here:


Once that was done, I screwed it into the two posts, using a clamp to hold it. I also added a support at an angle, screwed into the upright posts in the same way.

Photo Jul 20, 10 14 49 AM

Once this was done, I added the mailbox and it was set. The mailbox is about eye level for me, so it shouldn’t be too low for someone on horseback.

Photo Jul 20, 10 18 10 AM

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Trim, Sanding, and Finishing

No pictures, since I didn't have the phone or a camera with me and didn't both going to get one, but the bench is shaping up nicely. I have a coat of finish on it, and I'll sand it tomorrow and add a second coat.

Yesterday I decided to get off my butt and do some work on the bench. My wife asked me when it would be done since she liked it, and I wanted to knock this one off, so I went out there and went to work. First I trimmed about 1/4" off each end to get them straight and even.

Next, I turned it upside down and then cut a 45degree corner on the end of one of the 2x4s, on the wide side. That way this would be a 3.5" trim piece hanging on one side. I set it next to the bench, measured, and then cut the other end a little long. I measured again and then trimmed it down.

I repeated this process for all 4 sides, until I had four miters that were close, not perfect, but good enough. I only blew one of the short sides and had to scrap it and cut a new one. With all four laid out, I clamped the long sides to the bench and screwed one side in, using 3 screws into each of the cross braces that were holding the top. With these done, I could clamp on the short sides, lining them up and trimming them slightly to make them fit better. They were screwed into the top and I had a bench that was  done as far as assembly was concerned.

The next step was to sand everything down. I used the belt sander with 80grit to clean up the top a bit, getting things fairly even. There were a few places where the top boards were slightly chipped on an edge and I couldn't get down to them. I could have pulled everything apart, but I was out of patience. I added a little wood filler over the screwed and tried to smooth that out. Today I realized I should have wiped off more of the filler, but live and learn.

The random orbit sander also helped, with 80 to start and then 220 all over the top and sides. Things were looking good when I knocked off.

Today I went out and bought more 100grit round pads and then went to work on the legs, smoothing and evening them out. I didn't want a completely perfect finish, so a few knots and blemishes are fine. Once everything was done, I wet a paper towel, wiped it all down, and set it in the sun for a couple hours.

Not a big selection of finishes in the house. I had some colored stain + poly choices, but they were small. I had one big outside poly finish, and decided to leave things natural and just apply that. I set it out and put a complete coat on the top and legs, getting the trim one. The bottom of the top (inside) wasn't done, but I need to flip it over, and I'm thinking to wait until I have the top done before I do that. At that time I also want to epoxy the bottom of the feet a bit as well.

So far it looks good and I'll snap pictures tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Building a Bench - The Braces and Top

Leg 2 went just like leg 1. After they were both glued up, I two legs like this one:

Once I had these ready, I had to put some cross braces on them to support the top. My initial design had me cutting two 14" pieces and screwing them to the legs. I clamped them on, leveled them, and then screwed them into the side of the leg.

Once I had that done, I got the top ready by just laying the boards on top to see how they looked. Each top piece is a 46" 2x4 that was just cut to length and put on.

It looked pretty good, so it was time to then get more serious.

I grabbed my Kreg pocket hole device and started to put holes in the cross braces (after removing them from the legs). This would allow me to attach the top from below, without any holes in the top. I put two holes in for each top piece (4), which was a total of 8 holes in each brace, or 32 with 4 braces.

I screwed everything together, just to check the height, and it was too high. I'd set the  length of the legs at 22", but when I sat down, that was a little tall. I had my daughter check and her feet were swinging free, so I knew I'd need to cut things down.

I also realized that the cross braces would show below the edging I had planned, so I also needed to remove the cross braces and cut an angle off the bottom of them. However I left that for another day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Building a Bench - Leg 1 Glue Up

The glue was dry this morning, so the first thing I did was run the base across the jointer to smooth it out. That gives me a nice base on which to stand things.

Photo Mar 25, 11 35 56 AM

With the base and the leg, I next decided to cut the corners before glue up. It would be harder once the support is in, so I ran it across the table saw.

Photo Mar 25, 11 43 38 AM

Then it was time for glue. I put glue inside the base, smearing it near the top and adding more than I thought, and then pushed in the support

Photo Mar 25, 11 35 12 AM

Once this dries, I’ll have a single support. Then it’s time to duplicate this, but try doing it another way to see if it’s easier.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Building a Bench - Leg 1

I saw a bench in a store a few months ago and I thought, that should be easy, so I embarked on the project. It's been slow, and I've just been working on it a few minutes each time I can.

Today I got the base of leg one glued up. I started last week, planing and joining two boards for the upright support and gluing them together. They are 2 2x4s, about 20" long, glued together.

Today I planed and joined two other boards, and then cut them into 4 1/4" slices for the middle spacers that go next to my support. Jointed two other boards that would be the outside, and then glued everything up, execpt the support. I left that as a spacer and then pulled it out, giving me essentially a 4 2x4 wide plank with a hole in it. I want to joint the base and cut angles, so I decide to leave the support out for now and I'll glue that in there once I have the base set.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Testing the Planer

I bought a refurbished Rigid Planer last year and it’s been sitting in a box in the garage for a long time. I’ve been busy, and the projects I’ve tackled haven’t required more than jointing one side.

However I wanted to laminate some boards together and build a bench, and needed to get everything to the same thickness. Two weeks ago I unpacked the planer and put it on a mobile cart I had. There were legs in it, which I hadn’t expected, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use them.

A week ago, I dug through the parts and instructions, looking over things, but didn’t feel like doing anything.

Today I decided to do something. No instructions for the legs, but they’re simple metal bolt together legs. I leaned that I connect the top and bottom part of each leg with one bolt, saving the other one for the cross braces. I bolted the cross braces together, and then tightened everything once I was done. About 10-15 minutes to assemble it.

I stuck it out of the way in the garage, and then carried the planer over to it. It’s heavy, but it fit right on top, and four bolts easily held it down to the legs assembly. Once it was done, this is what it looked like:

Photo Mar 17, 3 37 18 PM

The instructions say to clean off the oil from metal parts, but there really wasn’t any. Perhaps because this was a refurb? I did have to remove a plastic coating from the interior bed.

I just wanted to test it, so I grabbed the three pieces I needed sized, already jointed on one side. I lowered the bed to a rough spot where I’d rip off about 1/4” of stuff and fed one through.

Photo Mar 17, 3 37 29 PM

It came out the other side, and looked like I had two parallel sides.

Photo Mar 17, 3 37 34 PM

I quickly ran through all three  pieces, and then looked like they were consistently the right size. I glued them together, and we’ll see tomorrow how they look.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hay Mover

When we went to big bales, we worried about moving them around the property. The first year wasn’t bad since we had 8 delivered at a time, and just dropped them in the barn from the trucks and fed off them. However this year, with a hay shortage, we decided we needed more and had 24 or so delivered in the fall. A friend has a similar, but slightly smaller, tractor, and he built a set of pallet forks for his tractor.

We were hoping he would help us, but he ended up getting hurt, and with hay getting in short supply in the barn, we decided to just order some. A little bit of trouble since the original forks we planned on were not being made, but we decided to move to a skid steer adapter, and then add pallet forks, or other attachments to that.

Photo Feb 18, 3 00 05 PM

I’d been meaning to go get them, but too busy. However today, despite waking up a little late, I packed up Kendall after feeding horses and raced up there. We were pushing 82 in a 75 most of the way, arriving at 11:58 (they closed at 12). They’re in the country, and good neighbors, and a guy stuck around to help me load my stuff, and take the bucket off. They’re going to adapt the bucket to work with the skid steer, and so  I left it, bringing back the load above. Pallet forks on top, and the skid steer adapter on the bottom.

We got home, and my first step was to remove the old bucket quick attach frame. Not sure what we’ll do with that, but I pulled it off.

Photo Feb 18, 3 00 14 PM

It’s four bolts held in with pins and they were fairly easy to remove. A little pounding, but it worked fine. However it’s a pain and definitely not what I want to be doing to switch from the forks to the bucket.

Photo Feb 18, 3 09 00 PM

I then lifted and grunted the adapter near and managed to get it attached. The first pin is in above, and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad to get them all in. However that thing is a 100 lbs of solid metal and not easy to move. Taking this one and off would not be fun.


Photo Feb 18, 3 10 12 PM

Once it was on, it looked pretty good. I had to lift the tractor and then adjust it slightly to get the pins in, and then I added the forks.

Photo Feb 18, 3 18 00 PM

We didn’t move hay, but we did test them out and they worked pretty good.

Photo Feb 18, 3 19 20 PM

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Building a Box

We set up our arena to run the lights off a generator since we expect it to be used only 100-120 hours a year, and that makes for an expensive electrical run.

We got the lights up, the generator bought, and now we need a place to put it. Having it inside doesn't work for a few reasons: CO2, noise, and it's hot.

The plan was to then put the generator in an all weather box. I searched around for some plans, and read what some people had done, and then decided I should build my own. The first step was building a sturdy base. I did that with some 2x6s and OSB, bracing the floor with 4 cross joists.

It was quite sturdy, and I think it will do well. Now I need to add some sides.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Virtual Lathe

A friend sent me this animation from Grizzly tools, and I thought it was pretty neat. You can power up the lathe and make cuts in the wood, allowing you to see how the tool works. It’s hard, and you don’t get the feedback you get with an actual tool, but it’s a neat way of explaining to people how a lathe works.