Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy working on a wide variety of projects, including rebuilding small engine carburetors, taking down fencing, building garden plots, creating a wildflower field, replacing a well pump, and minor auto repairs, among other things.
It’s one of the “other things” I’m writing about today: building and hanging birdhouses. A dozen of them, actually, from small chickadee abodes to huge owl boxes. They’re fun to build, relatively easy, relatively cheap and provide joy for years. Building them is the easy part. The hard part is mounting them high enough on trees. But that’s nothing a little cleverness can’t solve.
Continue reading “For the Bird(houses)”
A few weeks ago, I decided to update the appearance of our fireplace with whitewash. The results were great, but the change highlighted how deficient our mantle was. So on a recent Sunday, I decided to tackle the mantle and give the fireplace a proper finished look.
Continue reading “Fireplace Finishing Touches: Mantle Edition”
One of the few improvements we made to our house after moving in was to replace the roof and to install a solar array. I love the environmental aspect of solar, as well as the prospect of cheaper electricity, but perhaps the coolest aspect of the solar system is the ability to monitor its energy production through an app or website. And, as I later learned, it could also tell me how much energy I was consuming. Unfortunately, getting that information proved tricker than I thought.
Continue reading “The Power of the Electric Meter”
Making things is fun, but even more fun is making things with and for other people. Last year, my sister moved into a new house and in her basement, there was a perfect place for a big workbench. Too bad she didn’t have one — until recently.
Continue reading “Workbench for My Sister”
It was a little over 13 years ago that our family brought a little chocolate bundle of joy into our lives. Milo joined our family as a palm-sized pup, but being a Labrador Retriever, he displayed an unflinching devotion to his food bowl and quickly ate his way into adulthood. I like to think he loves us, as we love him, but we also know that when the chips are down, Milo will absolutely snarf up those chips — and plead for more.
Recently, though, his food fixation has become increasingly disruptive. So much so, we’ve had to take action. And, I’m pleased to say, that required a trip to the woodshop.
Continue reading “A Dog’s Breakfast”
One of the first things we did after moving into our new house was to install a wood-burning fireplace insert into our living room. In the months since, we’ve made ample use of the fireplace, but it never felt quite right. Finally one recent weekend, I decided to do something about it. Hopefully I don’t come to regret it.
Continue reading “Another Brick In the Hall”
One of my favorite shows when I was kid was Beyond 2000, which I loved for a variety of reasons: the geekiness, the environmental hopefulness, the futuristic optimism, and let’s not forget the Australian accents. I think it always left with me an idealistic vision of how technology could not only be used to improve lives, but also solve real problems.
I don’t know if the show holds up, and if I’m being honest, I can’t say I remember too many specifics from the show — it’s been decades since I’ve seen it. I do recall one episode featuring an indoor ski slope in a Japanese mall — ok, hardly solving real world problems — but I know others definitely dealt with renewable energy and things of that sort. Ever since, I’ve wanted to try to bring some of that Beyond 2000 future into my actual life.
And that is how I ended up with 11 smart thermostats in a house for two people. 🤪
Continue reading “Invasion of the Smart Thermostats”
When I started to demolish the extraordinary well-built kennels in the garage, I assumed I’d throw everything into the trash dumpster. But I quickly realized that a significant portion of the debris was in the form perfectly usable pine 2x4s and 2x6s. Throwing them away would be a tremendous waste. And with wood prices being as high as they are, reusing the timber would not only be good for the environment, it’d be kind to my wallet.
Among the ways I could reuse the wood would be to build bench tops by laminating them together. I figured this would be a fairly simple weekend project. As usual, I was wrong.
Continue reading “From Trash to Table”
I may be stupid, but I’m not dumb. Using a four-car garage as a woodshop/ping-pong room/tractor garage/man cave means I need to make sure there’s something in this place for Cyn, too. So for her birthday last October, I bought her a nice little greenhouse to put in our future garden.
Continue reading “Little Greenhouse on the Prairie”