Monday, September 9, 2019

Prize Pumpkins

It's been a few months since we built a couple of raised beds at the front of our yard. Our approach to growing vegetables this year has been a case of plant a bunch of stuff and see what happens. We suffered a little bit from predators early doors, but by the end of June, there was plenty going on in both beds:

By the middle of July, we really were in business

The first harvest was radishes and leeks (we didn't eat them together...)

Fast forward to the end of August, and the pumpkin crop was approaching harvest. Clearly we planted them too early....

I counted seven (7) really big pumpkins, although only two of them were actually growing inside the raised bed.

If you look carefully you can see a water melon on the left of the pumpkin

We didn't get around to thinning out the plants once they had got going, so most of the onions and leeks grew in clumps.

Labor Day harvest, September 2, 2019: One pumpkin, one water melon, one bell pepper, and one white onion (no partridge or pear tree).

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Kitchen Remodel Part Two

Let's get back at it! The kitchen remodel has moved on a lot in the last few months. After the tile was gone, and the walls repaired, it was time to prep for the new countertops. Ripping out the old "some-kind-of-80s-plastic" counters was easy because they were not mounted to the cabinets. Once they were gone, I installed a ¾ inch plywood base for the new granite counters

We hired professionals to manufacture and install the countertops. We had them install the new single-bowl under-mount sink at the same time. I did the plumbing myself.

After the countertops were installed it became apparent that the drywall at the dining room side was badly we cut it out, installed some shims against the studs, and fitted another piece of snazzy purple drywall.

I had to put some blocking behind the wall above the stove so that there is somewhere solid to mount the extractor hood.

This one is later after I patched the dry wall and trial installed the hood - basically it is suspended from two heavy gauge screws. I had to figure out the precise location for the screws before the new wall tile goes up.

Onto the lighting: The original ceiling-mounted cabinet that we removed right at the start of the project had an under-mounted light, which we wanted to replace with pendants. The first step was installing the mounting boxes at the ceiling and running the cables.

Figuring out the wiring at the wall switches was a bit more complex because I decided to replace the antiquated wiring at the dining room light at the same time.

Then it was time to do the usual rinse-and-repeat of skimming the new drywall followed by applying texture.

The new lighting fixtures above the counter and in the dining room were installed a week or so later.

To be continued...

Monday, July 1, 2019

Kitchen Remodel Part One

If your first thought on seeing our cooking area is "1980's Country Kitchen" then we're on the same page: ugly tile and far too much wood!

A project like this takes a lot of planning, but one thing we knew right at the start was that the ceiling-mounted cabinets had to go, and go they did (stay tuned to find out where they went).

We've been waiting almost two years to get rid of the hideous tile back-splash, and it did not want to go quietly - tile removal quickly turned into drywall replacement.

We also ripped out the ridiculous pull-out extractor we could never remember we had and demolished the central cabinet to make way for our modern hood.

No more tile!

Here's how it looked about three hours later after I installed the blocking which will allow me to attach the replacement drywall. While I was working on this the rest of the team popped out to h*** d**** to pick up some very snazzy purple drywall.

Time for dinner!

The next day I installed the replacement drywall and put the kitchen back together. The mud can wait for another day!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Raised Beds

This project has been a battle against the elements. It all started by at the beginning of February when we picked up a bunch of redwood lumber from out local big-box store. Redwood is more expensive than regular lumber, but it has a natural high tolerance to fungus and dry rot etc. Using chemically treated rot-resistant lumber is discouraged for this application because ultimately the chemicals leach into the soil.

We actually assembled the short sides of the planters in the garage because it was raining at the time.

After lunch it brightened up for a bit and, with help from my apprentice, we got the first planter constructed and roughly installed before the skies re-opened.

This photo was taken a few days later when normal weather had resumed:

What followed was a number of weeks of being too busy or the weather being too wet, but somewhere in between we managed to get the second planter put together and roughly installed.

Fast forward to the beginning of April and with the improving weather we managed to level the second planter, and dig out above the upper planter so we could get our shinny new wheelbarrow around the back. 

my new a seven foot level. 

The dirt we removed was pilled into the planters:

A couple of weeks later we picked up about 400 cubic yards of top soil and our first batch of plants and this was the result:

Watch this space...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Paint Booth

I wanted to build a small paint booth in the workshop where I could use my airbrush. Most of the paint I use is water-based acrylic, but some of it isn't, and the primer I use is pretty obnoxious. I made a trial booth out of a few scrap pieces of plywood and some masking tape. It was ok, but it wasn't very well vented, and it was a bit dark.

The paint preparation area needed a bit of a re-think as well.

I decided to move the booth into the space next to my bench grinder.

I had to modify the bench in this area, but it is an ideal location because I already installed an overhead LED light, and it is right in front of a ventilation opening.

Mocked-up the new booth - basically the same bits of plywood, but modified to accommodate a standard 20" x 25" furnace air-filter, and with a large opening in the top panel to let the light in.

I took the booth apart and installed a cheap bathroom extractor fan and a short piece of ducting which is routed to the exterior, and then taped over the rest of the vent opening.

I re-built the paint booth around the fan after cutting a suitable opening in the rear panel.

I covered the top of the booth with a sheet of ⅛ inch Plexiglas.

I even managed to sort out the paint prep station.

After a bit of testing, I can confirm it works really well. I can spray whatever paint I like and not smell it anywhere in the house. Yay!

....and the paint prep station is looking a bit more like its old self!