Thursday, December 17, 2020

Front Yard part five

We're going to have a fence installed at the perimeter of the yard where the raised beds are located - we lost too many plants to predators last year to ignore them any longer.  I say "have" a fence installed, because I don't feel like doing it myself! 

Before we can install the fence, we have to figure out exactly where we want to put it. We planned ahead and called those fire-starting, ill-prepared very nice folks at PG&E, and they came by and marked the location of the gas line. This was fortunate, because the gas pipe runs very close to where we were thinking of putting the fence.

After the gas line, the next biggest obstacle was the brick patio in front of the house. Eventually the whole patio is going to do one, but for now we just need to get rid of the two (2) feet furthest from the porch. 

It was pretty obvious that the bricks had been installed on top of a concrete pad - it wasn't exactly clear how deep the concrete was, or whether it was solid - I was hoping it might just be a concrete perimeter...

We started chipping away at the soon became apparent that the concrete was a thick slab all the way through....this means more effort to break it up and more broken concrete to get rid of.

This is after about 45 minutes of breaking off bricks and, mostly, pieces of bricks, with the spike attachment on the jackhammer. It might look sunny in these photos, but it was less than 50F/10C and there was a strong wind.

After cleanup phase #1 and a quick raid attack on the thinnest corner of the slab, I was relieved to discover there was essentially no rebar in the concrete.

Breaking up the thicker side of the slab required quite a bit more effort so I handed the jackhammer over to Amy Sheep. 

All done! Well sort of....we've removed about two (2) feet of the patio. There's at least another fifteen feet to go, but I have a feeling we won't be doing any more of it ourselves. The fence can now go in between the remaining section of the patio and the gas line which is marked with the yellow flag in the photo below.

In addition to all the debris strewn around in the above photo, we filled ten five-gallon buckets with broken up masonry.

After lunch we carted all the debris over to the driveway. Then we filled in the hole and smoothed out the dirt between the remaining patio and the raised beds.

That just left a tree stump to get rid looked pretty small at first...

Looking quite a bit bigger after a hour or so alternating between the spade, the trowel, the jackhammer and the circular saw... 

Finished it off with the chain saw and my sledge hammer. Now we just need to put the fence up.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Garage Cabinets

This post has been two years in the making....clearly getting it finished wasn't a priority! So, we used to have some ceiling mounted cabinets in our kitchen. The photo below was taken in January 2019 about ten minutes before I ripped them off the ceiling.

I think it was probably six months later when I had a free weekend that I chopped the cabinets in half, made some replacement back panels out of pegboard, and hung them in the garage. That's how they stayed for the next year or so, while I gradually filled them up with what my mother would call "junk."

Back in April/May when work was pretty slow I sealed the garage floor with epoxy and painted the walls and ceiling. The cabinets had to come down off the wall for that, and since I was always planning to paint them eventually, I figured the time had come. Of course, within a few minutes of taking down the cabinets, the pace of business ramped up in a big way and the painting project hit a wall.

Eventually, the doors and shelves got a coat of primer....

And the cabinets were repaired...

....prepared for additional shelf pegs...

...and painted with primer.

After that, the cabinets were painted white on the inside, and black on the outside, and the doors were painted black.

Ready to re-install? Not quite. After the garage was painted, the bench and toolbox went back where they came from.

It turns out that our plan for world domination will succeed more smoothly if the toolbox and bench were placed at the other side of the garage. It's called mirror plane symmetry. It also means that folks can take bicycles in and out of the basement without going close to the '68.

So, back to the cabinets. They're attached to the wall with a French cleat - the advantage of this method is that the cleat can be mounted directly into the wall studs; the cabinets do not necessary have to overlap studs as they would if mounted independently. 

A spacer piece at the back of the cabinets helps them hang correctly. 

Junk reinstated: 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Front Yard part four

It's the morning after the night before, and the night before was Thanksgiving 2020. With that out of the way, and in light of the relatively low-key approach  Amy Sheep and I have taken to our projects recently, we were more than ready to get back to diggin' dirt and swingin' the sledgehammer. We had a serious need to get dirty and sweaty. In the yard.

First up was finishing the retaining in wall. Each course is set back ½ an inch from the previous layer, and attached with rebar stakes every two (2) feet or less.

Remember to wear your safety specs when pounding rebar or you might get some doins in your peepers.

All done - we'll be adding a decorative cap to the wall later:

For this part of the project I have been road testing the very comfortable and hard wearing gloves I received for my recent birthday. This is how they looked after a morning's worth of work:

With the retaining wall completed we went back to installing weed cloth on the lower section of the steps. As you can see from Amy Sheep's thermal clothing, the ambient temperature was hovering around 60 F/15 C in spite of the sun being out.

This is the finished look. Time fort cup o'tea; no wagon wheels this time though.

After tea on the lawn dirt-laden slope, we were ready to move onto the interesting bit - installing the redwood tread caps. As previously mentioned, we have been waiting a while to get hold of enough redwood to complete this part of the project. We started by constructing the ideal front piece, and then we used it to cut the others to the same dimensions.

Time for installation. We drilled pilot holes in one section, and then used it as a template so all the holes are in the same places on each board and all the screw heads are aligned. 

Moved on to the side pieces:

Lower section all done:

Mid-section also completed up to the retaining wall:

And the top section. We actually completed this on the same day, but by the time we were done it was too dark to take decent photos, so this picture was snapped the following morning.

We haven't quite figured out how the top step is going to meet the upper retaining wall and/or fence, so this little bit is unfinished for now:

We added the same redwood cap to the retaining wall. This bit was done the next day.

The stairs are starting to look like a professional project. I'm happy to report that this phase of the project has been a LOT more enjoyable.

The next "step" was to fill the stairs with Decomposed Granite (DG), which is in essence crushed stone. It is easy to compact and forms a solid pad. We picked up 10 cubic feet which was just about enough to fill the finished sections of the steps.

We'll be putting DG down on the walkways too, but first we have to install the irrigation. We get a flow rate in the range 7-8 Gallons per minute, so we are using ¾ inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe which will be buried about six inches down. I broke ground between the lower and middle raised beds.

This is later after I dug a twenty (20) foot trench and laid the first section of the pipe. The vertical section in the foreground will eventually be connected to the water supply.

The irrigation supplies all three beds, and each bed has an independent shut-off valve. I dry fitted the pipe together initially and the did all the glue-ups at the end.

The PVC cement leaves unsightly purple stains if you're not really careful.

This is the finished look after glue-up and installation of the pipe clamps.

The main line was duly buried six inches under, or thereabouts.

This is the overall look of the yard at the end of the Thanksgiving break. We still have to finish up the walkways and connect the irrigation. We'll also be installing a perimeter fence to keep out the predators that decimated last year's strawberry crop.

The area behind the retaining wall also need backfilling with dirt before we can install the DG, and the level of the dirt needs to be raised inside the planters and in several other locations.  Stay tooned to find out where all that dirt is going to come from!