carpentry, homesteading, tools, wood working

Rainy Days Are Not Just For Movies

We have all been there.  The forecast calls for rain all weekend, and there are a million things that need to be done outside.  You just feel like throwing up your hands and sitting in the house all day, but thing are a little different around here.  A rainy day is an opportunity to have a little fun and get things accomplished at the same time!  Maybe straighten up the garage a little, or even get a little shop time in with no time limit.  It is not very often that you can turn on the music and take all day to do a project.  Especially not in the spring, summer, and fall.  So we took on a little woodworking project you can build on a rainy day and on a budget.  The Adirondack chair, iconic the symbol of country living, and camp fires.  We built this one for around $50, which is about 1/3 of what you can buy one for.

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This project was built out of 6 pieces of 5/4″ x 6″ x 8′ decking.  We also used 2″ and 2.5″ decking screws.  We used a few basic wood working tools that most of us have in the shop like a table saw, jig saw, router, and screw gun.  We have developed a cut sheet to maximize our lumber, so Pandora radio was turned on and all of the boards were cut to length.

 

We prefer our Adirondack chairs built at an 80 degree angle this is a little different than the traditional 75 degrees.  It allows you to sit back in the chair a little more comfortably.  Because of this we also have to cut the bottom of our legs at a 5 degree angle.  We also like a contoured seat which requires an arch to be cut in the stringers.  The stringers and arm rests also have rounded ends that can all be cut with a jig saw.

 

Once we have all of the jig saw work done we round over the rough edges with a 3/8″ round over bit on our router table. This gives the stringers and arms a finished look.  As you can see in the picture on the right, the arms get one end that is rounded and the other is only half rounded.  We also round over all of the edges that were ripped on the table saw, it is time consuming, but worth the extra effort.  We then move on to  assemble the stringers, front brace, and legs.  After that, the back is assembled.  To make the arched top, we mock up the back and make an arc with a radius of 19 inches.  Again we round over the cut edges. After the back is assembled it is connected to the stringers at the rear of the arches we cut earlier.  It is placed at a 100 degree angle.  This is crucial to the chairs comfort, using a protractor to get this angle.

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Now that the back is attached it is a good time to secure the seat slats, and because they are only 1.5 inches wide it is best to pre-drill your holes or they will split.

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Then add the middle back brace, locating it by placing the arm on the chair temporarily, and marking where they meet the back.  These braces are cut on an angle to accept the arms.

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After this, the arms can be secured along with the arm braces.

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We also add our own signature feature, a wine glass holder.  We have broken so many glasses throughout the years that it only made sense to find a way to secure them.  We accomplished this by drilling a 1″ hole in the arm and then use the jig saw to connect it to the outer edge, again route the edges.  Once everything is secure, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

This project took us just a little over 3 hrs, but I am sure it could be done quicker if we were in a hurry.  This chair will actually be raffled off to raise money for a fund in memory of my Aunt.  It was a great way to spend a rainy morning, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  A rainy day can be so productive weather it’s in the wood shop or making that great meal that you never quite have the time to make.  So next time it rains, don’t curse the heavens, just change up your game plan.  And don’t forget rain makes corn.

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carpentry, gardening, homesteading, wood working

How To Build a Greenhouse Bench For Under 20 Dollars

On our homestead, we are always looking for ways to save time and money. This project did both.  Last fall I received the best gift a gardener could ever hope for, a green house.  It was a 6’x8′ un-heated greenhouse from Harbor Freight.  Before the snow began to fly, we built a base and assembled the greenhouse.  We even made a short youtube video covering the construction.

Once it was assembled, we realized that we would need to build benches for our plants.  The benches needed to be sturdy and inexpensive.  We looked at many designs on the internet, but they were either made with expensive materials or looked cheaply made.  We put the bench idea on the back burner for the winter.

Most homesteaders know that when a project needs to be done, you look around your property, in your sheds, garages and barns to see what materials you have. An idea struck me when I saw a pile of used 2″ x 4″s just waiting to be re-purposed for a project like this.  I picked them up and brought them over to the area where I was boiling down sap to make maple syrup.  Now I could kill two birds with one stone.  Boiling sap can be boring, so this project was a perfect distraction.  I quickly sketched up some plans and began to make sawdust.img_2284

There were only 7 of the 2″ x 4″s  so to make them go further I ripped 3 of them in half to make the center slats and spacers.  I made the spacers the same size as the top of the legs 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ so that the bench had symmetry.

I also cut the long outside boards on a 45 degree angle at the corners to give the bench a more finished look.  I started putting the table together by screwing one long side and two of  the short sides together at the corners using 2-1/2″ construction screws.

The next step was to begin screwing and stacking in the slats and spacers.  We secured them with the same type of screw we used for the corners.  We were careful to use temporary spacers in the corners where the legs would eventually go.

 When all of the slats were stacked we added the last outside board to the bench.

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It was then time to put the legs on.  We attached each leg using 4 large lag screws.  We also used a square before screwing them down to make sure they were positioned properly.  These screws were also re-purposed from a prior project.

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Once the legs were secured we added a small stretcher between them made out of a ripped piece of 2″ x 4″.

Finally our project was finished and we now had a nice sturdy bench to put our plants on.

The bench was made so that it would fit perfectly inside the base of the green house.  We designed it this way so that we could secure it to the walls with screws to avoid tipping.  It was a tight fit but it made it, just as planned!

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The whole project took less than 2 hours to complete.  And because we had re-purposed all of the materials, the only cost was our time and effort.  The maple sap wasn’t even done boiling by the time we finished.  This greenhouse bench was the perfect homestead project.  It was low cost and will pay us back with all of the vegetables that it will help start.  On the homestead you never know where your next inspiration will come from.  Often it’s an article in a magazine, or something we see on the internet, but sometimes it’s just a simple pile of 2″ X 4″ s.