Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Platform Bird Feeder Update #2

We are a day behind on the bird feeder because it rained and paint and rain do not go together.
 The post was in the ground and we had cut and attached the trim pieces. But the pieces needed to have the screw holes filled with wood putty and then sanded before I could prime and paint the post.
Today I filled, sanded, and primed (2 coats). The post is looking good. 
I cannot wait until tomorrow because we should be able to get 2 coats of exterior semi gloss on the post. Then we just slide the metal post that is on the bottom of the bird feeder into the hole that R drilled into the top of the post.  Maybe do a little raking and leveling and then just kick back and see what birds will come to the feeder.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Platform Bird Feeder Update #1

The actual feeder is complete except for paint touch up and painting the screw heads black.  The feeder is sturdier thanks to L braces and reassembling with screws rather than nails.  I also tried to build the feeder using design elements from our house.  
I modified the spade strap hinges that I used on the garden shed shutters.  I wanted them to look like outside corner straps.  These particular hinges were a mistake purchase off of eBay.  I wanted strap hinges for my kitchen cabinets and in my enthusiastic searching I found a huge box of brand new spade strap hinges for 10 bucks.  When they arrived I realized that they were offset hinges that are used on cabinet doors that sit on top of the cabinet rails and stiles and not inset like my cabinet doors.  The listing failed to mention 'offset' but there were plenty of photos so it was my fault.  It has worked out for me because I was able to use them on the garden shed shutters and now as a decorative element on the platform bird feeder.
I used 8 hinges to make the four outside corner straps.  On four of the hinges I used a cut off wheel on a pneumatic grinder to cut off the strap which gave me a flat strap.  On the other four hinges I used the same grinder and cut off wheel to cut the strap where I would be left with a flat strap with a small amount (1/8th inch) of the part that made these hinges offset hinges.
Each corner would use 1 of each type of strap.  But before I could add them to the feeder I put a barrel bit in the grinder and smoothed the area where the strap was cut off.  Then I spray painted them satin black.
Once the paint was dry I attached the strap with the little offset part first.  I then attached the flat strap with it slightly overlapping the first strap.  This means that you will never see any wood or paint showing at the corner.  If I had used just two absolutely flat straps it would have been very hard to install them without seeing wood or paint.  From afar it looks like one continuous outside corner strap.  Photos will probably be a lot easier to understand than my explanation.  Seriously, just look at the photos.
I also added black painted L braces to attach the roof to the corner posts.  This area was quite wobbly in the original design so rather than paint them grey to match the feeder I decided to spray them satin black like the outside corner straps.
R dug the hole and set the 6X6 post.  Tomorrow I will prime and paint the post white.  We are also going to add a 1X6 trim board at the top and bottom to dress up the post. 
 Here is a little reminder of what I started with and what I ended up with.  I think it is an improvement.  What do you think?

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Curb Appeal and Curbside Treasures

R has been kicking it lately in the curbside treasure department. It's the time of year where people are setting stuff to the curb rather than storing them through the winter.  Here are a few of the things he has brought home.
This is a covered platform bird feeder.  It will be perfect once I make a few repairs and modifications.  I have something like this on my 'to do' list so it was perfect timing.
We have an assortment of chainsaws and R's favortite brand is Stihl.  I bought him one for Christmas about 10 years ago.  He also has his father's very very old Stihl chainsaw (he doesn't use it).  He found this one and it is smaller than the one he has so that is good.  He hasn't had time to look into it mechanically but he does know it has compression which means that the piston, ring, and valves are still good and nothing inside is seized up.  The chain (blade) is frozen in place on the bar so it may just need a new bar, chain, and a tune up.  A new Stihl chainsaw in this size will cost Around $200.00.  So it is well worth fixing.
He also found this very cool chimera.  Needs a little welding work but nothing that we cannot do.  It will look great on the back patio when we finally get it poured.  Both of us were drawn to the legs of the chimera.  You usually don't see such large cast iron legs.
And finally he found the bottom stand part of a fire pit that you would put on a deck.  I would like to make some sort of concrete bowl to sit in it and then plant it with red geraniums but I first have to come up with a method to do that.
And finally we tidied up the curb in front of the house by edging the lawn along the edge of the curb.  We do this once a year because if we didn't the grass and weeds would eventually grow right over the curb.  This also gives us a chance to sweep up any debris along the curb, too.
Our ground is so hard due to the fact that it is clay and we have had very little rain in the last month or so.  They have predicted rain but it usually just sprinkles and that's it.  So the first day I was able to completely finished the side where the mailbox is located.
Then I started the other side and completed about 1/3 of that when the bottom of my foot started screaming at me to stop.  The dirt was very hard on that side and it was too hot to put on shoes with a thick sole.  So we sweep up the curb and called it quits.  

The next day was cooler and my foot felt much better.  I was able to edge another 1/3 before it started to rain.  We had a real gully washer and that took care of any remaining dirt that we had left behind in our haste to get inside and out of the rain.
The next day we finished up and because of the rain the edging along the curb was much easier.

You can see in the photos how awful the lawn looks due to the lack of rain.  The only vegetation that is growing is the weeds.

We will start the game room roof as soon as we catch up on a few small projects.  Tomorrow is a mowing day for R.  He has one client who is selling her home so even if the lawn hasn't grown much she still wants it mowed.  His other client is on vacation and wants his lawn mowed, too.  Then he has 3 offices that need to be mowed.  So Fridays are a busy day for him.

I mowed our lawn 3 days ago so I am going to work on painting the platform bird feeder.  I have already taken it half apart.  I plan on replacing the plywood floor with hardware cloth so that any moisture can drain away.

I will paint it to match the house and it will set atop of a 6X6 post.  I have a few ideas for customizing it and can't wait to see how it turns out.

Also for all of you that scrap your metal...R dropped off just a handful of items all classified as mixed metal and walked away with 39 bucks so scrap prices are going up.

And for those of you who have Japanese beetle problems.  I am lucky enough to know a Master Gardener who volunteers at the Applewood Estate.  She told me that Michigan State has developed a method for dealing with the Japanese beetles.  Their hope is that this will completely eradicate the beetles.  I will write more about this later and post photos of what to do. 

I also plan to write a post about the history of Applewood and Charles Stewart Mott.  I was able to get some photos when I was recently there but it started to rain and the high humidity was making my phone camera not to work very well.  We will be going back there soon to take the inside tour.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

How to Keep Track of Your Plants and Trees

Have you ever bought multiples of a plant and then have one die and when you go to buy a replacement plant you can't remember which color you need to buy? This happened to me so many times that I decided to do something about it.
I bought several empty thick binders (you might be lucky and already have a few around the house) and those plastic pages that store baseball cards. The plastic pages can be purchased on eBay and Amazon and the binders can be found everywhere from drugstores, office supply stores, and online.
Look for binders that have pockets inside the front and back covers.  These large pockets are perfect for the large cardboard identification tags found on bags of bulbs.

If you are like me, then you might need several binders. I have three binders.  One for hostas, one for perennial plants, and one for trees and shrubs.
The plant tag goes into the sleeve where you normally insert the baseball card. You may need to trim off the bottom or sides of the plant tag to make it fit, just make sure that you do not cut off any important info. You now have a record of that plant and what variety you purchased, along with watering, sun info, and probably a photo of the plant.
My number 1 tip is buy a lot of those plastic pages. You will use more than you think. Trust me. I learned the hard way and not only reordered once but twice.

In the spring if there is a plant that has died and I decide to go with a different plant then I remove the old tag and insert the new tag.

Having a binder, or in my case binders, comes in handy during the winter when you want to shop the seed and bulbs catalogs. It is easier to see what colors you already have in your garden. Also, by reading the tags you can find out when your garden is lacking blooms. In my case, I need early and late bloomers that are high in nectar for the honeybees. The warm weather is lasting longer into the fall and longer than my flowers are currently blooming.  So I need something for my honeybees to forage on without going to their honey reserves too soon.

I, also, need flowers in late winter/early spring and may need to plant some Lenten Roses (Helleborus). They bloom at the end of the winter, they are deer resistant, and are drought resistant. I need to find out if they can survive by my black walnut trees because the plants are rather pricey to just buy and see what happens.

This binder method is a very economical way to organize your plant tags. The next time a friend asks you "what is the name of that flower" you can say "just a minute and I can tell you exactly what that plant is called and the exact color name."

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FYI The last time I counted my hostas I had over 300 different varieties and since that time I have purchased at least 100 more varieties. That's a whole lotta hostas.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Repairing a Stripped Out Screw Hole in Wood

Who hasn't stripped out a screw hole in wood and thought "now what am I going to do?"  Don't fret because it is easier and cheaper to fix than you think.
We needed to fixed some stripped out holes in the ends of oak slats that were in the cast iron bench that we bought at auction last week.  Yes, I know I could buy new oak slats but the last time I bought oak slats for a bench it cost over 50 bucks and it just isn't cost effective, especially when there is nothing wrong with the oak slats except that the screw holes were stripped out.  AND I know we could have just cut 4 inches off of each end but then we would have a bench that seats 1 1/2 persons.  Trust me this fix is cheap and easy and we lose nothing.
I purchased two different size dowels that are 36 inches long at my local hardware store for $1.69 each.  The largest hole that was stripped out was bigger than 3/8" but smaller than 7/16th.  This meant that we needed to make the stripped out hole 7/16th in diameter and to do that we used a spade bit or should I say a rusty 7/16th spade bit.
Once the hole was enlarged we squirted a couple of drops of exterior grade wood glue into the hole.  Then we put a little bit of glue on the dowel.  Too much glue makes a mess so just put enough glue so that the wood dowel will end up covered in glue and none squirts out.
Make sure your wood glue is for exterior use if the wood is to be outside. Actually just buy exterior glue all the time because it also works for interior use.  We use TitebondII Wood glue and I now buy it in the 16oz size because I did a little figuring and found that I can get 16 ozs for 1 1/2 times the cost of the 8 oz size.

Use a rubber mallet or a hammer to tap the dowel all the way into the hole.  We cut off the dowel and left about 1/2 inch sticking out.  Once everything is dry we will cut the dowel flush with the end of the oak slat using the chop saw.  You could also use a hand saw.
The oak slat is now like a new board because we used a dowel to completely fill the hole.   When we reassemble the bench we will need to drill a pilot hole before screwing in the fastener.
The bench ends are already painted and ready for the oak slats to be reinstalled.  These bench ends are different than most other bench ends.  These require the screws to be screwed into the ends which means that the screws are going into the end grain which isn't the strongest method.

I bought a quart of exterior stain with a sealant yesterday.  The stain is a dark grey semi transparent stain.  I chose this color because it is a compromise between both of our choices.  He wanted a dark stain and I wanted satin black or dark grey paint.  He got his stain and I got my win.

This process will also work on hinge holes that get stripped out on your door jamb.  I know some people use wood matches and glue but on a heavy door you want the hinge to stay put and not get loose in a month.  

A loose hinge makes your door drag on the floor when it is open or fall away from the jamb at the top.  This will require you to pull up on the door handle when you are trying to close the door.  Pull upward on that door knob for too long and now your droopy door also has a broken door knob.

It is so easy and cheap inexpensive to do it the right way once than to keep redoing it the wrong way.

Total Cost to Fix 10 Slats
2 dowels at $1.69 each
Total Cost      $3.38

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