Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Productive Shop Time

The spouse is away for a few days so the mouse is at PLAY! I was out in the shop yesterday making nasty holes in the walls. There was a phone jack mounted on the wall right were I want to put my new clamp rack. I had to rip open the wall to find out the cord was passed through a stud on an angle. Then I had to widen the rip to relocate the jack. Today I made an even bigger hole so I could actually patch it with a nice square piece of drywall. I got to put the new Dremel Multi-Max to work and it was SWEET. The patch work isn't pretty but the clamp rack will hide it.

I made a vow this morning to build this rack with only the wood I had available in the shop. It's getting to be a bad habit running to the hardware store for a new piece of wood every time I want to make something. By now I should have enough off cuts to makes simple things like a clamp rack! So sure enough I managed to find enough suitable pieces.

My inspiration for the rack came from ShopNotes July issue #106. Also the quick fix rack I had built about a month ago ripped out of the wall after I added the rest of my new clamps to it. The spouse will be proud of me because as usual I "coloured outside the lines" and didn't follow the directions or dimensions in the ShopNotes plan. However in my defence the article did say to modify the plan for your own needs. I also have a couple ideas for future additions to the rack, but I want to get it up and see how it works before I add anything.

I can't post a picture yet as the plaster on the drywall patch is still drying so I can't hang the rack. Hopefully I will get it up later tonight.

The spouse and an old friend from BC are due back tomorrow. Looks like the rest of this week won't afford me much shop time. But it's been a GREAT couple of days out there!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are Projects Ever Finished?

The patio is done.

For this year.

I got the perma sand in and I am a little disappointed with it as it did not harden quite as much as I thought it would. But it is what it is and for now it's DONE. We are just going to let it be over the winter and see how it fares. Next year I will apply a chemical cocktail to it to seal it and bring up the colour in the stone. But I want to see how it winters first.

The go kart now has a steering wheel and sort of a steering linkage. It was a test setup that seems to be working so I may keep it. I am ready for THAT project to be DONE! I would like to see the grandson ride it at least once before the snow flies. But there are still numerous little things that have to be completed on it. Tick, Tick.

I bought a Sears Router Crafter on Kijiji for $75.00. These things are obsolete now, but they still do what they did very well. This one is in exceptional condition. Another toy I will get to try out over the long winter.

I bought the Dremel Multi-Max and ALL the accessories. This is one of those tools you don't think you really need till you try it out. Suddenly the possibilities are endless. We have some caulking around the windows that needs to be replaced and it's a job we have been putting off because it is so labour intensive. Not anymore! But that one will wait till next spring now too.

I also bought a Drill Doctor 350X . It was on sale at Canadian Tire for $50.00 so I took the plunge. Drill bits are relatively inexpensive and I have been in the habit of just tossing them when they are dull. This little machine changes everything I every believed about drill bits. First of all, most drill bits are not SHARP when new. I know this because after sharpening a few of them with the Drill Doctor I have drilled holes like never before! Even in METAL! I was trying to drill a tap hole into the end of 1/2" shaft for a 1/4x20 bolt. The drill bit was making a lot of smoke and very little penetration. I ran it through the Drill Doctor then drilled the hole like a hot knife through butter! The difference was astonishing. It also sharpens masonry bits which are NOT cheap to replace. This was a GREAT investment.
The credit card needs a rest. So does my bank account. I need longer days. And I need to actually FINISH a project.

Friday, September 11, 2009

End of Days (Off)

My "vacation" is over. Another one I can chalk up to being NO vacation at all. I got the patio finished yesterday, cleaned out and grouted all the crevices with King permasand. Now it's just a matter of letting it dry thoroughly. They were calling for rain again today but I really hope it holds off and the patio gets a couple of days of dry weather at least. It's not as perfect s I would like it to be, but it is what it is now.

I think I am going to give myself a day of retail therapy today. Canadian Tire has a huge clearance sale on, including the Dremel Multi-Max for $99.00. Yep I think I deserve it. I'll probably go and do this shopping BEFORE the spouse gets home from work. My lists adds up to just over $300.00 Fortunately it's the last baseball game of the season for the spouse so I will only be subjected to the evil stare for a couple of hours. By the time the spouse gets home from the game I will be gone to work. There IS a method to my madness.

Jockey is also having it's semi-annual clearance sale. Maybe I can stop there tomorrow after work and pick up a few things. Can a gal ever have enough underwear? I'll pick up a few things for the spouse as well just to smooth things over.

It is very sad to be looking forward to going back to work for a rest. Sometimes, MY LIFE SUCKS!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Patio Pergatory

If I can give you one piece of good advice about putting in a patio it would be HIRE SOMEONE ELSE to do it for you. This past weekend was absolute HELL! The very first day, the spouse's back went out. Mine wasn't faring much better as it never has. If the eldest son didn't show up with a small bucket loader we would have NEVER got the job done.

First as you recall I framed in the step the fill in the dip in the yard with the dirt we removed from the patio area. This is all well and good except it wasn't enough dirt. We still need another 6 to 8 yards of topsoil to level it out. I can hardly wait to have to do THAT job.

Saturday the eldest showed up with a skid steer that wouldn't fit through the side access with the bucket on so he had to drag the bucket in behind the tractor. That did a lovely job on the front lawn. But he did manage to move most of the dirt out of the patio area and that was a bonus. So we managed to get that framed and levelled and tamped. Then he moved the stone and the sand from the driveway to the entrance of the access so we wouldn't have to wheel barrow it all the way around the house. I still wasn't looking forward to that job.

Fortunately he showed up Sunday with a smaller bucket loader that DID fit though the access and he moved all the gravel and sand with that. That meant we now had both those layers tamped and levelled. I spray painted an outline of the patio on the grass so we could do a mock layout of the stone and it wasn't long before we realized we were NOT going to have enough stone to do the entire patio area.

Labour Day Monday and of course EVERYTHING is closed. But we drove around for 4 hours till we luckily found a one man landscape operation AND he actually had some flagstone AND he was willing to deliver it for a small fee THAT DAY! So we bought another HALF TON of flagstone. Oh lucky us.

That meant it was time to go back home and start moving the 1 1/2 TONS of flagstone into place BY HAND. There was only me and the spouse to do this part of the job and the fact we are not divorced means we either really love each other OR we both have incredible tolerance for AGONY.

We finished around 7:00 p.m. including tamping the stone down. We were both WHIPPED!

The last part of the job which hasn't been done yet is putting masonry sand in all the crevices. It rained today and is supposed to rain for the next few days. The patio has to be DRY before we can put the sand in. So I guess we get a rest. YAY!

Even with the help we had on Saturday and Sunday this job was way too big for two people in 3 days. If we hadn't had the machinery to move the dirt, gravel and sand there is NO WAY this job would be anywhere near done.

When it IS finally completed it will be a lovely addition to the yard. But in retrospect, I wouldn't do it again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Serious LABOUR Days

The spouse decided since I was on vacation this weekend, it would be a good time to tackle the patio project in the back yard. Obviously our ideas of "vacation" differ.

Previous owners of this home had laid pieces of slate in various locations around the yard, with no apparent reason. We have been diligently digging them all up for the past two years and have amassed quite a pile.

The area we have been using as a "recreational" spot needed something other then dirt so I came up with the brilliant idea of putting all the slate there as a 15 x 15 foot flagstone patio. I don't think my brilliant idea included me actually doing all the labour.

We also have a nasty dip in the backyard that needs some serious fill in an attempt to try to level it. I fear the pitch of the slope is so bad we will never actually get it level, but we could lose the gully. In order to do this the steps leading up to the backyard have to be raised another 7 inches. Here I am starting the excavation around the step so I can add a riser and then back fill the whole thing with the dirt that has to be removed from the patio area.

Our driveway now contains a pile consisting of 2.5 yards of 3/4 stone, which will be the bed for the patio, and a pile of 2 yards of sand which will go on top of the gravel, then the flagstone on top of that with masonry sand between the grooves.

So the plan looks like this: remove the dirt from the patio area to a depth of 5 inches. Level and tamp the area with a slope of 1/4 inch per foot. Put a vertical 2x6 pressure treated wood border around the area. Load in the gravel to a depth of 3 inches for drainage. Tamp and level the 3/4 gravel with a stone dust mix. Cover the gravel with 2 inches of sand. Tamp and level that, the whole time keeping the proper slope. Set the flagstones in the sand ONE BY ONE until the area is filled. Tamp this lightly to level, then fill the crevices with masonry sand, moisten with a hose and one last tamping to set everything in place.

Oh and I also have to tamp the dirt I put into the gully to pack it down so it doesn't wash away and add a two pieces of slab, each 2 inches thick and 3 feet long by 1 foot wide to the top of the steps for the new landing.

We have rented a 18" vibrating tamper for the weekend. We also HOPE to have use of a skid steer to move the sand and gravel from the driveway AROUND the house to the back yard. If not, my poor old wheel barrow is in for a rough weekend. All the rest of the work gets done by the always ready helper - Manual Labour.

Oh wait... that's MY name in Spanish. Wish me luck.