The front porch – our first DIY ever…

Our front porch just got a little bit better!

We have a new glider – a nice, comfortable, new glider.

DSCN4787

We replaced our old glider simply because it was uncomfortable. It was small and a bit cramped for two people to enjoy at the same time. It was squeaky with it’s less than good quality hardware. The wood was splintery and had not held up to outdoor use despite frequent maintenance attempts.

DSCN2762

I felt like we weren’t utilizing the porch as often as we could and would if the seating was more comfortable and free of splinters. We have been keeping an eye on this particular glider at our local plant nursery for over a year now – hoping for a really big sale.  It has gone on and off sale over the last year, but it has never really gotten low enough in price for us to snap it up. Over the holiday, it was on sale again. I also had some Greenbucks to use up between 7/4/14 and 7/17/14.  I had earned the Greenbucks by buying a bunch of plants this spring (mostly for my front flower bed redo – here and here).  I figured this was the time to just get it done.  I am happy to report it is done. The glider has been purchased at maximum discount and is now on our front porch! In fact, I publish this post from the comfort of our new glider.

DSCN4789

Since hanging out here on our new glider, we were talking about how nice our front porch is and the fact that it has been 17 years since we rebuilt the whole thing – and it looks as good as it did the day we finished it – we think. I talked a little bit about it in our Successes List… that we did it, why we did it, and it was our first big DIY project ever on the homestead.

Scan 12

We are still pretty proud of our accomplishment to this day.

It is a nice space – sort of that typical old fashioned porch – covered, partially enclosed, on the front of the house – it just has a nice feeling – I think. It is a great place to just take a break. My favorite is to hang out there during a nice calm rainstorm (not the kind where there is thunder and lightning and tornados – I prefer to be safe and sound inside for those storms) – just a nice steady rain in the afternoon or evening.

The ceiling and roof structure had to be rebuilt all those years ago because it was sagging and not properly attached to the house.  I did the demo. Tad did some quick but extensive planning and sketching of the new porch. We did some measurements. We ordered up the supplies from the building supply store. We rebuilt it to better than ever. It was surprisingly quick from start to finish. It was exciting to get our first major DIY project successfully completed.

DSCN2755

Here are some of the details:

The ceiling was finished with tongue and groove/beadboard  and crown moulding for added detail – and that was what was up on the ceiling prior to demo.  I like it – it feels period to the house – because it is.

DSCN4798

We added a second light source and put in two arts and crafts style fixtures.  We still really love the style and detail it adds to the overall porch appeal.

DSCN4801

The previous flooring was tongue and groove that had been painted multiple times.  I initially thought I could strip the paint, refinish it, and call it good.  Nope. The paint was too thick, the wood was rotted in multiple spots, and Tad thought we needed to redo the flooring structure while we were redoing the ceiling structure as well. He was right. We put in Doulgas Fir tongue and groove flooring.  It is beautiful. It has held up really well. It has required minimal maintenance – just a light sanding, and some deck finish every few years.

Scan 11

We replaced our arts and crafts style screen door (you can see a glimpse of that door in the photo above) with a custom designed door from a local security door company.

DSCN4813

It is nature inspired with the textured branches and the decorative leaves.

DSCN4823

We get a lot of complements on it. We like that we can get a fresh breeze while still maintaining a high level of security.

DSCN4806

We ordered our mailbox from a catalog way back in 1997. It has and is still serving us well. We still think it is the best.

DSCN4796

Tad made the door bell from slate, did all the wiring himself, and installed it as part of the initial porch renovation. It is a detail that probably only we notice, but that is ok with us. We like it.

DSCN4847

There were two unexpected quirks during the porch rebuild – completely unrelated to DIY or construction or anything like that – just quirks to comment on…

The first came when Tad was ripping out the porch floor while I was at work one day. There was a small animal carcass in the hole.  It had been there a long while – it was mummified. Tad asked the advice of a neighbor across the street what he thought he should do.  The neighbor’s suggestion was to throw some dirt on it and perform the sign of the cross – or some such thing. I wasn’t there so I can’t completely confirm that was what was said.  Tad had the good sense to call me at work and run that plan by me.  It was a no go.  The carcass was removed and appropriately disposed of.  We theorized that the animal must have squeezed in through the small air openings on the side of the porch.  To avoid this from happening again in the future, we tightly secured some metal mesh screen over the openings on the inside.

DSCN4743

The second came when a building supply company employee used my credit card number to make a few calls to a “dating” service.  My statement showed up one day. I noticed some charges that I didn’t make. I called the number on the statement. I told them my story. They told me that they record every call ever made to them. They pulled up the calls and played them for me to see if I recognized the voice. I didn’t recognize the voice. The guy said “This is Todd – call me for a good time” – or some such line.  They also told me the phone numbers that the calls were made from. I didn’t recognize the numbers, but I wrote them down. The company nicely reversed the charges. I did some sleuthing – as in, I called the numbers they provided and discovered two of the calls were from the building supply company where we purchased our porch supplies.  The third call was from a personal residence. A woman answered that number. I asked for Todd and she said I had the wrong number. So, I assumed the guy’s name wasn’t really Todd.  I called the building supply company and spoke with the manager about this unfortunate event.  Based on the telephone numbers where the calls were made from, he was able to deduce a possible suspect employee.  I called the credit card company and told them the story.  The police contacted me a week or so later to get my statement. They caught the guy. He went to jail for $70 worth of credit card fraud!

So – to recap:

  • Comfortable seating is a must for the front porch.
  • We are still excited about our porch ceiling, lighting, flooring, security door, mailbox, and door bell after 17 years.
  • Sometimes a neighbor’s suggestion is not the best suggestion – especially when it involves just throwing some dirt over the problem.
  • Don’t steal and use someone else’s credit card information unless you want to end up in jail – I suspect this one is sort of common sense.
  • Finally, I wonder if I should have been a private detective?  I did love Nancy Drew  mysteries as a child.

DSCN4828

Outdoor dining – one step forward, one step back…

The theme of this project is definitely “one step forward, one step back”.

Back in May, I thought I was well on my way to an outdoor dining table.

We finally decided on the wood species we would use for the table top. I tracked down some planks at a local lumber yard. I thought they could just plane the planks at the lumber yard and the table top would be ready to be finished. I was wrong. What the lumber yard considered “cleaned up” was no where near cleaned up enough for a table top.

DSCN4391

So, they referred me to a local woodworker. Well, that woodworker came through. The white oak planks for my outdoor dining table are perfect! They are beautiful – all the same length and thickness, smooth radius edges all around, nicely sanded. He says that I should do a light hand sanding on one side. I will follow his instructions before finishing the wood. Though, I could probably get away without doing any sanding. The planks are that smooth.

DSCN4666

One step forward.

The wood planks are different widths so I needed to decide if there was a particular design that I liked best. I laid out the planks in different order with different spacing. I had the cat vote. She preferred this version which also happens to be the version I like!

DSCN4663

Next step is to get the base done. I want something interesting, something different, something unique. I thought it would be easy to get some custom furniture maker or metal fabricator interested in creating my outdoor dining table. I was wrong.

One step back.

I started the search a month ago. These are the specifications I have sent out – including the attached sketch:

  • I’ve got 4 white oak planks for the top of the table. All are 90” in length. All are random widths – 8”, 6 7/8 “, 5 1/8”, 7”. All are 1 5/16” thick.
  • That is about 27” inches worth of wood width for the table top. I was hoping for about 38” wide for the top. So, I need about another 11” of metal and spacing to fill in the difference (I was thinking only 1/4” between planks). I am leaning towards varied metal strips to separate the wood planks.
  • I prefer asymmetry on the table top for some interest if possible.
  • I was hoping for a natural steel look if that is possible with stainless steel. Stainless steel because I am hoping for minimal rust being that it is an outdoor table.
  • We were thinking that we would also like the table on locking casters. We would like the top of the table at 29-30” from the floor.
  • The total length of the table should be anywhere between 90” (the length of the white oak planks) – 96” maximum.
  • Finally, I was hoping for an easy way to attach the white oak planks to the top of the table.
  • I was thinking about picnic table X type legs.
  • I am open to suggestions.

Table top 2

So far I have struck out with getting anyone to want to take on the job.

I had hoped to have an outdoor dining table by now.

I continue to be in search of someone willing and able to help me complete my outdoor dining table.

I am not giving up – dang it!

White Oak for outdoor dining and boat building…

The outdoor projects have jumped to the top of the list now that spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner here in Colorado. The first thing I want to do is get going on making our outdoor space functional, comfortable, and pleasant to hang out in.

We have some of the elements already in place – the grill, comfortable lounging furniture, comfortable dining chairs, some art, and the most recent addition of shade.

DSCN2499

Just a little reminder about our shade solution. Our courtyard is open to the sky. We love that at night. Though it is really, really hot and blindly glaring during the dog days of summer. Last fall, we had horizontal type roman shades installed over our courtyard space – to provide some much needed shade during the summer months. The shades got installed in October or November so we didn’t really get to try them out. We like the look – a bit modern. We like the functionality – easily extended to provide shade and easily retracted to allow for sunshine inside as desired. I am looking forward to getting some good use out of these shades this year.

DSCN2503

We had a round teak table and chairs that served us well for 15 years or so. The set was still in really good shape but didn’t work the greatest in our new outdoor space. So, we passed it on to a friend where it can continue to get good use for many more years to come.

DSCN1835

Last summer we got new light weight, comfortable dining chairs – in anticipation of getting a new rectangular dining table that would work in our outdoor space.

DSCN4435

We shopped around quite a bit for a new rectangular table but never found anything that met all my requirements.  Yes, I’ve got a list of things I want in our outdoor dining table.  You know I like a good list. So, here goes:

  • I want a table that is about 8 feet long and 36-38 inches wide.
  • I want the design and style to work with the dining chairs and lounge furniture. It needs to be sort of eclectic I think.
  • I want a metal base – so it doesn’t rot if it sits in water.
  • I want the top to be wood.
  • I want the top to be thick – like 1.5-2 inches or so.
  • I want the table top to be slatted – rather than solid – to allow for water to easily drain off.

While out and about, we did discover that we tended to gravitate towards the salvaged wood pieces. We even considered some beautiful pieces at the local store, Revampt –  which is where my new office cabinet is coming from.  Unfortunately, the tables that we like were a bit expensive and not specifically intended for outdoor use.

So, we’ve concluded that we will need to make our own. I made my own desk so I figure an outdoor dining table is doable.

With one decision out of the way (that our table will be custom), I have been whittling down the options for the table top material over the last few weeks (because there are a bazillion options out there).

I initially thought about salvaged wood since we liked the salvaged tables at our local Revampt store. It wasn’t easy, but I did finally find a local source in town that sells salvaged wood. My options were maple, oak, or mahagony. This remained at the top of my list for quite some time because I thought it would work in with the rest of the patio furniture with it’s slightly industrial and eclectic vibe. Below is a photo of a table top in the showroom of the salvaged wood place – made from the salvaged oak. I think it is cool. I also liked the idea of using something that was already out there rather than cutting down another tree just for my table top. Tad wasn’t as impressed by this idea as I was. The salvage wood itself was a bit pricey, and it was in pretty rough shape.

IMG_0748

Then, we thought about using Beetle Kill Pine. It isn’t salvage, but we have a ton of this stuff in Colorado since the Pine Beetle killed thousands of acres of Pine trees in our state.  We thought we could do something to help use it up.  We went to the lumber yard to check it out.  We quickly realized that Beetle Kill Pine is not going to work as an outdoor, exposed to the elements dining table. It is really soft – and, a bit too rustic for the style I was going for.

IMG_0757

We talked to the guys at the lumber yard and they made a few suggestions.

We finally decided on White Oak. Unfortunately, it isn’t the most environmentally friendly decision, but I do think it is probably the most practical decision – I hope it will last forever – or at least for the rest of my lifetime. Apparently, boat builders used to make boats from white oak.  I figure if it worked for boats that crossed the oceans, then it should work for my outdoor dining table. So, I ended up with four rough cut 8′-2″ planks that are 2″ thick, in random widths.

IMG_0759

I was excited – the project had finally begun.

Then, there was a hiccup. I had to figure out how to get the boards planed and perfected so they are straight, flat, and all the same length. I initially thought I could do this myself with our largish collection of tools. Tad nicely pointed out that we don’t have a planer or a table saw capable of cutting a 2 inch thick board.  Then, the lumber yard said that they could clean up the boards for me by planing both flat sides and laser cutting one edge. That sounded good to me. I was feeling lucky. That was until I got home and pulled the planks out of my car.

DSCN4391

I quickly discovered that “cleaned up” was nowhere near cleaned up enough.  So, I headed back to the lumber yard and explained my situation. They said they couldn’t help me, but they did refer me to a local woodworker.

I dropped my 4 planks off to my local woodworker this week. He was totally nice and very patient with me. He says that they can get my table top material exactly like I want it. And – they are going to add a small radius on all the edges. And – they will even do a machine sand for me.

All I will have to do is a little hand sanding and apply the finish.

Oh – and decide on a table base design – and decide on what metal to use for the base – and finally get the base made…