Strawberry Obelisk Build

You may have seen my last blog entry about the Strawberry Post. Well, I have been trying to move my strawberries out of the retaining wall and I thought building something that would hold 60 strawberries would help me clear out most of the wall but I wasn't even close. It was time to find a way to build something to hold even more plants. I headed back to Pinterest for inspiration and found several pictures of obelisks that I really liked. I knew it would look nice to have something tall at the start of the garden so as soon as the sick 5 year old's ibuprofen kicked in and he wanted to head out for some sunshine and gardening on Friday morning, we busted out the power tools and got to work.

Strawberry Obelisk by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Now, here's the embarrassing part. This was a MAJOR blogger fail. Between the rush to finish the project while there was still sunshine (at least a week of rain is predicted after this one sunny day) and the sick kiddo, I just hit the ground running and failed to take a lot of pictures along the way.  I knew the base needed to be square so I dragged out some scrap cedar 4x4s and cut them all to the length of the shortest one which was 22". I then arranged them in a square and screwed them together with 3 1/2 inch screws. Those things aren't coming apart any time soon.

Then I started monkeying around with the height. I opted to use some 2x4s in my stash. While pine isn't ideal for an outdoor structure, I think it'll outlast the strawberry plants so in the interest of saving money, I stuck with basic stud 2x4s. I cut them in half, 48" long then I angled the ends. I forget what angle I used but the scrap triangle was about 1" by 3.5" by 3.64". The ends are parallel with one another so that I could put a flat top on it. I hope to put something interesting up top eventually.

BUILD BREAK ALERT: The sick little dude was losing interest in my build but I wanted him to stay outside with me to get some sunshine and fresh air so I took a break from the obelisk and he and I busted out a work bench.

Mini Tool Bench - 1

Sadly, he didn't stick around long enough to use it as he got tired and wanted to snuggle with the dog and ended up falling asleep on the couch.

So, back to the obelisk (work fast Julie, he won't sleep all day).

I then marked out where I'd want the "shelves" (for lack of a better word) and measured the front edge. The first one had a front edge of 6" and the back edge was around 3". I determined that a 15 degree cut would get the piece in properly. I cut 4 of these at a time then used my nailer to shoot brads through the edges of the shelves into the 2x4s. I put three in each side.

Strawberry Obelisk by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I realized I might someday want to move this beast but I didn't want a piece of wood to rot underneath so I tipped it over and stapled some hardware cloth to the bottom.

Strawberry Obelisk by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

This will also keep moles or other burrowing rodents from making a home in my strawberry plants.

Then I started the tedious process of filling this thing with dirt.

Note to you: If you build one of these, go ahead and do the base, hardware cloth, and maybe 2 levels at the bottom and then start filling with soil. Fill it up, add another layer or two of 'shelves' then fill some more.

I had to try to squeeze about 4 cubic feet of soil in between the shelves. That was just silly and annoying but I got through it then I soaked it with water to prep it for planting.

Finally, I plucked out a ton of strawberry plants from the wall and stuffed them in the pockets. I think I got more than 100 strawberry plants into this planter. Sadly, the wall still isn't emptied.

Strawberry Obelisk by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

So, that's strawberry grower number 2. There may be a number 3, we'll just have to see what I can think up.

Thank you for reading,
Julie



Strawberry Post Build

As I wait for the PNW weather to shape up this year, I've been keeping busy tending to seeds and setting up the garden beds so everything is ready once it warms up a bit. I noticed my wall of strawberries was looking a bit ragged and the morning glory (ack, boo, hiss) was already starting to strangle my little pants so I decided I'd had enough and it was time to move the strawberry plants. Having already moved lots of runners to other beds throughout the property, I've run out of space so I knew I had to think vertically. I came up with 2 solutions, the first of which is the strawberry post:

Strawberry Post

Here's how I made it.

I collected 4 fence boards and cut them to equal length (about 4' give or take, I just cut them all to the length of the shortest board). I then used a 2" forstner bit to drill out the holes.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap


Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

My tips for you on this part:

1) Don't try any other kind of drill bit. Trust me, the forstner bit is your friend.
2) Wear long pants that hang OVER rain boots. If you wear skinny jeans that tuck inside your rain boots, you'll be fishing sawdust and shavings out of your boots for days.
3) Use a guide to establish the center vertical line.
4) Mark that line every 3" and then drill the holes in a zig-zag pattern down the length of the board leaving some room at the top and bottom for installation.

Next, I screwed the 4 boards together to form a box. I made sure they were all aligned the same so that there weren't two holes directly adjacent to one another.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Then I went in for the night because it was getting dark. That's what happens when you don't start your project until after dinner.

The next morning, I screwed a hunk of 4x4 with some shims into the bottom to create a nice heavy base. Hmmm, I failed to take a picture of this step and now it's buried. Picture this ... the 4x4 is shoved up to just about an inch below the lowest holes then a screw is secured in from each side. It's not perfectly centered and I don't care.

I stood around in my garage wondering how I'd make this neat tower strong enough to stand upright in one of my big blue tubs when I remembered I had about 1/4 of a bag of quickcrete left from setting a fence post recently. It wasn't as much as I would have liked but I think it'll do the trick. To avoid a dumb mess, I lined a nursery pot with a plastic garbage bag and dumped in the powdered cement mix.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Next, I positioned the post inside then poured in the right amount of water and stirred/poked the cement with a paint stir stick.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Now, this next step is optional but it kept me from rushing the cement setting process. I ran to the store to buy bananas. When I got home, the cement was hard. Yay.

I moved the whole nursery pot, cement, post, garbage bag setup into one of my big blue tubs in the garden.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Then I back filled with potting soil all the way to just below the top of the tub.

I returned to my mess work area and grabbed a 1" pvc pipe that was longer than my post. I drilled tiny holes in it along the length then fed it down the center of my post. This will serve as a way to water this in the summer, hopefully without washing out too much soil. It'll keep it moist from the inside.

Filling the post was a bit of a trick. I figured out pretty quickly that it worked MUCH better if I got the potting soil good and wet before loading it in the top. Once I figured that out, it went pretty quickly. I filled the whole thing then started pulling up strawberry plants from the old location to transplant into the post.

I found it was easiest to shove my finger in and down at a pretty steep angle to make room for the strawberry plant roots.
Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I loaded up the post from the bottom up and worked my way around the post in a spiral pattern. It worked out great because as I poked the soil in the next hole up, it shoved soil down to back-fill the hole below where I'd just planted.

When I finished filling the post, I gave it a good rinse with my watering can as well as tested out the center watering post. Then I just happened to find a solar light I wasn't using and I popped it over the watering pipe.

Strawberry Post by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I was able to plant 12 strawberry plants on each side plus a few more around the base and several up top so I have at least 60 plants in this small space. I love the way it looks too. Now, let's hope my strawberry plants stop being so angry that I transplanted them. Hopefully I'll be able to update with pictures of thriving strawberry plants in a few weeks or at least by the end of the summer.

Thank you for reading,
Julie



Bike Garage Build

Our garage isn't very big, definitely not big enough for all my tools and the family bikes, scooters, skate boards, inline skates, soccer balls .... you get the picture. I find that when everything is piled in there, I'll grab the tool I need for a task but I won't put it away because I hate tripping over stuff. As a result, the bikes were often being left on the front porch or next to the driveway. In our rainy weather, that's a quick way to turn a great bike into a rusty pile of useless metal. I'd been planning to build a bike garage for at least a year but just hadn't gotten around to it until this past week. Last Monday, our sweet neighbor kindly asked me if I'd move the pile of recycled fence boards that I had acquired because they were leaning on the fence between our properties and were a bit of an eyesore. I felt terrible for putting her in the position of having to ask us to clean up our space so I got right to dealing with the lumber. A week later, we have a bike garage:

The Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I'm so excited about this build but I can't really give you any sort of blueprint or plans for how I did it. I followed the same steps I usually do with a scrap/recycled materials build:

1) I use pinterest to gather ideas and inspiration on a board.
2) I stare at the piles of materials I have to chose from.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap
This is just one of several wood piles

3) I jump into the project with both feet.
4) I start cutting stuff up and attaching it to other cut up stuff.
5) I change my mind a lot. With each new decision comes the process of deciding if my new idea is good enough to bother undoing what work I've done to that point.
6) I take a break and let the progress to that point sink in and I consciously and subconsciously think through the next stages of the project.
7) I cut more stuff and attach more stuff to other stuff.
8) At some point I declare the project complete.
9) I enjoy the feeling of creating something out of recycled materials.

So, let's get started with the pictures I took along the way.

The size of the structure was based on the 8' garage door window panel I had found on the side of the road last summer as well and the shortest length of fence board I had to use.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap
My 5 year old decided to test out how well the bike garage would contain his wheels. 

Once I realized I could use the red cedar decking for the floor, I replaced the header beam with an unpainted 2x6 from my scrap pile. If I remember correctly, that was part of our old carport that we removed to put in the garden.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap


I knew I was getting to the point where I'd be needing a roof before too long but I was struggling with the materials I had on hand. I didn't have enough plywood to make a proper base for a shingled roof, nor did I even have tar paper and shingles. I messaged a friend who tends to have some pretty great building materials in her garage and asked if they had anything I could use to make a roof. Boy did they ever come through for me!!

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap

They gave me 4 aluminum panels for the roof. The best part is since the panels have a 1 inch edge all around, they are super sturdy so I didn't have to build a frame for them to sit on. I merely notched out the horizontal supports of the existing structure and slid them into place.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap

I did reinforce with a few screws across the top but they were really easy to install and look great. I also caulked along the seams to keep rain from pouring down between the 4 panels.

I took some time to test out the waterproofing job I had done. It was nice to sit in the shed while it rained on the aluminum panels above me.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap

I wasn't sure what kind of a door I wanted to put on the structure but after the 5 year old struggled to get his bike from the driveway, across the gravel space, and up into the shed, I knew it needed a ramp. Mr. BSR and I talked over lots of different ideas and in the end, I opted for one of my favorite looks - the dutch door but instead of both sections opening to the side, I attached the bottom section to the floor with a piano hinge and it became a fold out ramp.

I had an old fence gate in my pile of scraps (pictured above) so I opted to disassemble that and use it for the door. Knowing this, I put the front walls on leaving enough space on the left for shelves and then made the door opening as wide as the gate I had.

Bike Garage by Julie at Build Sew Reap

Taking apart the gate wasn't easy but I took it one galvanized nail at a time and pulled them all out.

Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build Sew Reap

First I built the bottom part of the door and got it installed. Then I built the top part. Working with reclaimed wood isn't easy because it's often warped, missing chunks, or presents other challenges along the way. Despite lots of measuring twice, checking plumb and level, and trying to remain consistent with measurements, the doorway was not actually perfectly rectangular. Apparently the original gate wasn't either. I adapted though, and created just the right door for the job.

Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build Sew Reap

The ramp portion is lightweight enough that the 5 year old can open it himself. The top portion holds the bottom portion in place too so when it's all closed up, even a hefty wind won't blow it back open. I need to find a latch to put on the top part so we can also lock the shed when we aren't around. Late last night, long after I'd taken all the pictures, I remembered where I might find just the lock I need (hint: it's stuck to a post in my remaining scrap pile).

This is what the shed looks like as you round the corner of our private road and approach our driveway. I think it's nice enough looking to be a front yard shed. The neighbors' bushes should continue to grow up behind it too which will provide a nice backdrop. I'm also considering mulching around it to give it a homier look. The other neighbor has a pile of mulch she wants off her driveway so I think I can procure the materials for free yet again. Woo hoo!

Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build Sew Reap

It features shelves for helmets, balls, and other small equipment (boy oh boy I'm so excited to dig stuff out of the back of the garage and load it in).

Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build Sew Reap

And it looks like it's been there for years despite being a fully custom build that just happened over the past week.

Bike Garage Build by Julie at Build Sew Reap

Now the kids can easily get to their equipment and I can reclaim the garage for my tools. I think I'll make a cool sign for the build. At the suggestion of one of my most favorite friends, this will be called "The Wheelhouse." I think a pyrography project is in order!

The Wheelhouse Sign

Thank you for reading,
Julie



Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

You may know by now that I have lists of projects I'd like to tackle around the house. Many items fall lower and lower in priority as more pressing needs arise. One of those projects is was the fireplace surround.

Another thing you may know about me is that I have a wood pile. Ok, I have several wood piles, maybe many. I'm a member of my local Buy Nothing Project group as well as Gift Everything, and several social groups where people will often list that they're giving away lumber and I guess I've got a bit of a reputation because I always seem to get tagged in those posts. I do occasionally say no to a pile of lumber but I'm a bit of a sucker for well cared for new project pieces.

That brings me to my latest project which is made mostly out of wood I had in my scrap wood pile. I present to you, my new fireplace surround:

Fireplace - main

Here's where I started on Saturday morning as the kids were watching a bit of Odd Squad:

Fireplace Upgrade DIY on a Budget

Ooooh boy am I ever thrilled with the new look. Let's break it down though.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

Most of the pieces were primed MDF boards in various widths. The ridged portion of the columns is actually the back side of the door jambs that came with the pantry doors. I also used some of this when I built the fire truck toddler bed (look at the running boards).

I didn't have much of a plan but more just a basic idea of what I wanted to do. Knowing I was working within the confines of my wood pile for the lower half of the build, I just took it one element at a time. All the pieces are glued and nailed, sometimes screwed, into place. The grey is a Behr color called Burnished Pewter and the white is also Behr, called Navajo White. We've used the Navajo White on many walls, the trim throughout the house, the doors (shaking my head, I forgot to blog this upgrade), and even the kitchen cabinets.

The top of the build was where I did spend some money. I purchased a pack of cedar planks for just under $20 at my local home improvement center. They fit together (tongue and groove), smell great, and one pack was just barely more than what I needed.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

For years, we've tossed our keys on the mantle as we walked in the door. Well, not any more! Now there's a secret key hanging spot behind the TV. I love that our spare keys aren't going to get lost now.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

I didn't want to buy a new mount for our TV so I built the whole paneled wall behind it but cut the pieces to fit around the mounting hardware.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

I searched around the house for just the right things to put on our mantle. I found this wine bottle with the cool stopper lid and painted the inside with some "biscuit" craft paint I had on hand. I then clipped some red branches off my favorite bush out front and dropped them in. The label is chalkboard but I haven't figured out what I want to write on it just yet.

I also added 4 books that I think are pretty representative of my little family. The Dangerous Book for Girls, The Dangerous Book for Boys, Rules for my Son, and The Pocket Guide Dangerous Book for Boys. I'm definitely a mom of boys.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

I found this awhile back tucked in a corner at the craft store. It was on clearance and our last name starts with "S" so I bought it. I brought it home and it didn't fit where I wanted it to go so I stashed it somewhere weird until now. I LOVE it here on the fireplace.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

For our 10th anniversary in mid January, I had the flu but while my brain was totally foggy, somehow it hit me that we should do a welding class together once I was well enough. I found a fun hobby level class that we took together one Sunday afternoon and we had so much fun. During our practice time, we got our hands on the left over scraps they had set out for us and we just kept welding stuff together. In the end, we made this boat. The boat that won't float. We also made some killer wolf heads out of steel so this wasn't our official take-away but I'd venture to say we were almost more excited about this scrappy little boat than the pre-cut pattern wolf heads.

Fireplace Surround DIY on a Budget

Amelia has been supervising the project from atop her cat climber bookshelf and I think I got the kitty seal of approval.

Thank you for reading,
Julie



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