Category: DIY

Build a Backyard Fire Pit

A sophisticated fire pit in the backyard can include a number of features like gas lines and in-built seating to add a dramatic punch! It is an inexpensive method to build a pit on your own than hiring a professional. You should start with digging a pit that takes roughly around eight hours. Add in cemented covers and retaining walls. While picking a significant spot for the pit, ensure that you look for a flattened area which measures around 10-12 feet in diameter.

Materials
1. Course concrete sand (1 cubic yard)
2. Retaining wall units
3. Concrete Adhesive
4. Gravel

Tools
1. Level
2. String
3. Stake
4. Shovel
5. Rake
6. Tape measure
7. Handheld tamp
8. Mallet
9. Wheelbarrow
10. Safety gloves
11. Wet saw
12. Plate compactor

Procedure – How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit

  1. Cut a part of the string which should have a length similar to the radius of the fire pit. Tie one end of the string to a stake that is kept at the center of the fire pit. The other end of the string is connected to an upside down can. Using paint, draw a circle to identify the boundary of the pit. Dig out the dirt and debris present within the marked circle. Ensure that the pit is around 18 inches deep.
  2. Gravel must be poured within the pit at a height of six inches. Make sure that you the base is smooth by pouring the gravel after every layer inside. Once you’ve raked the topmost layer, tamp it down. You can spread a thin layer of sand atop the granite layer.
  3. Mark an inner radius within the fire pit which functions as an efficient guide for placing retaining walls. After you’ve placed the first row retaining walls within the inner circle, secure the units into the gravel using a mallet. Ensure that the retaining wall units are at equal levels.
  4. The second row of retaining walls can comprise of a groove at the bottom and a ridge that stands at the end. This easily interlocks the retaining wall units together. Once the units are clean you can stick each unit together using concrete adhesive. The pavers added to the fire pit consist of 4-6 inch of a gravel base.
  5. The pavers can be laid in suitable pattern which depends upon the kind of style you’re looking for. You can lay the pavers in a staggered layout or arrange the bricks against one another. In order to get a smooth edge you can always purchase pavers from a store. Aluminum or plastic edge restraint keeps the pavers from moving.
  6. Using a plate compactor, the surface of the paver remains compact therefore being highly necessary. The pavers around the pit are usually tapped to remove the sharp corners for a less uniform look.


About Pole Barn Truss Spacing

Back in the day (early 1990’s) I was on the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA) Board of Directors. One of my fellow board members from the Midwest wanted to take a peek at how pole barns were constructed in the West, so I invited him out for a tour.

After spending a day looking at several of our building projects, his comment to me was, “The inspectors in our area would never let a pole building be constructed with roof trusses placed every 12 feet.”

Twenty years later, I beg to differ. Hansen Buildings has buildings in each of the 50 states and all of them have roof trusses on what my board member friend would describe as being “widely spaced.”

Modern truss design is highly computerized. Enter the span of the truss, bay spacing and load conditions and the engineering programs will design a truss which will meet the design criteria. The lumber and steel plates the trusses are constructed from, have no idea how far apart they are going to be placed. They are inanimate! Yet, somewhere in the deep, dark reaches of history, lies the theory wood trusses must be spaced no more than 24″ on center, or maybe 48″, or perhaps even eight or ten feet? The reality is, there is no magic number.

While H. Howard Doane is credited with being the innovator of the modern pole barn, it was his Agricultural Service farm manager, Bernon Perkins, who is credited with refining the evolution of the modern pole building to a long-lasting structure. It was Perkins who pioneered roof purlins being placed on edge. With this design change, roof trusses could be placed 12 feet apart, making it possible for roofs to support the loads to which they would be subjected.

I’ve had roof truss manufacturers try to convince me it is impossible to place wood trusses at spacings of over every 4 feet. Their defense is, “Our engineers will not allow us to.” The manufacturers of the steel roof truss plates (also referred to as gussets or Gang-nails), provide the engineering design for pre-fabricated wood trusses. Their programs will allow for trusses to be placed on 12 foot or even 16 foot centers, and their engineers will place their engineer’s seal on the drawings to verify.


Guide to Installing a Garden Fence

Types of Garden Fencing

Featheredge garden fencing is composed of overlapping timber vertical boards. This is the heaviest and sturdiest type of panel, providing you excellent privacy. It’s also great for fencing.

Waneylap fencing is composed of overlapping timber horizontal boards, a less expensive fence that provide high level of privacy.

Trellis fencing could be used on its own as a decorative panel on top of a solid fence, or as an open screen fencing.

Palisade garden fencing provides visibility as well as good security in the form of a typical picket-style fencing.

Fence Posts

The next step to take is choosing the right fence posts. Concrete and wood fence posts both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Concrete posts ensure a sturdy fence, however they do require a lot of work, while wood fence posts are a lot easier to handle. But because they are buried under the ground, they’re prone to rot.

Fence Height

Next, decide on your fence’s height. Work out post length before you calculate the number of panels you’ll need. It’s best to treat your panels with some sort of all-purpose preservative.

Before building your garden fence, use a string to mark your boundary line. Treat the area with a weed killer and clear away any vegetation, and then lay out your fence posts evenly along the string.

After checking the location of power cables and water pipes, use a metal spoke, bar or rod to make a line of evenly spaced holes. The post holes must be three times as wide as your post and should be two-feet deep. Once your posts are in place, provide a support to the end of each post by packing brick or stone hardcore into the hole’s base.

Then fill each post hole with water halfway and then pour the concrete mix. When concrete reaches the level of the ground, slope the concrete away from the fence post so water will run off. With a spirit level, check is your post is vertical on both adjacent sides, and then prop it up with one to two wood battens in order to hold it in position while the concrete mix sets. Allow the concrete mix to harden for at least one hour, before you attach your fence panels.

Once it’s dry, screw your panels to your posts using two to three post clips for each panel. Add concrete gravel or treated fence boards along the bottom, or place a gap at least four inches to keep the panels off the ground and prevent rot. Finally, screw your fence panels to your posts using two to three U-shaped post clips on each post.


Building a Fence

Important Things To Do

Observe property lines. Never risk having to put down your fence by going even an inch over your boundaries. Review the blueprint of your house or line drawing or obtain a new survey from your land surveyor to be sure of the boundaries. Fence contractors often install a foot inside the property line, to ensure that they build on the safe side.

Respect the limits. Fence builders get necessary permits and should be aware of regulations of local zoning on height of the fence, setbacks, distance from a street, and other building restrictions. Typically, height limits are six feet for the back and side yards, four feet for the front yards. Often, there are more restrictive rules that apply to the corner lots, where blind curves could limit visibility of drivers. To avoid any dispute, ask about restrictions before you choose the type of fence to construct.

Observe the HOA rules. It’s your job to know the do’s and dont’s of home owners associations (HOA), not the fencing contractor. To avoid suffering from committee wrath, engaging in a dispute, it’s important to observe HOA guidelines. These guidelines could dictate the fence height, style, and maintenance.

Nice Things to Do

Share the plans you have regarding your fence. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises; so before building a fence, save yourself a dispute and talk to your neighbours. If there are already issues regarding boundaries, be sure to resolve them before building a fence. You do not have to show them the design you want for your fence; it will only invite trouble. They simply have to live with your personal choice unless it poses danger or reduces property values.

Put the best fence face outward. Putting the more finished side of the fence on the yard of your neighbour or facing the road is a common practice.

Maintain. It is your responsibility to clean and take care of both sides of the fence. If a section starts to age and lean, make necessary repair or simply replace it.

Good Things to Know

The word “fence” includes hedges and trees that make barriers.

If you have a compelling reason for wanting to erect an extra high fence, to block a noisy street, or an unsightly view, apply to your local zoning board for variance. Your neighbours can comment regarding your request during the hearing.


About Stainless Steel Railing

Stainless steel railings are available in many shapes and sizes. The most common designs are square and round. While each style provides a modern twist they each offer their own individual characteristics. Square tubes are typically known as a very contemporary design, while round tubes are considered for a wider selection of applications.

A unique design can be achieved by paring a round post with a square top rail and vice versa. Mixing and matching post and top rail combinations coupled with various infill options provides consumers with a wide variety of choices when choosing a stainless steel railing system for their home, office, or business.

Glass infill is a great option for maintaining a seamless look on an outdoor deck, balcony, or overlook. Glass railing will create an invisible barrier that won’t obscure a phenomenal view. Glass is available in many different shades, thicknesses, and even patterns. Glass and stainless steel railings do not require a top rail but it is possible to mount one with post mounted handrail brackets. A top rail on a glass railing system frames the glass panels and offers a nice finished look.

Glass panels can often be expensive depending on which type of glass is used. A more cost effective option is cable or wire infill. Cable systems are very easy to install and need little attention over time. After the initial installation the cables may need to be re-tensioned after they have had time to settle. Beyond a quick re-tensioning they are very care free. Whereas glass panels require regular cleaning in order to maintain the seamless clear view.

Another option is the bar system railing. The bar systems offer a very unique aesthetic. The bars can only be used with square posts because the fittings required to mount the bars are square and flat. Because of the requisite square posts the bar system is a very contemporary design that is suited to very specific buildings and layouts. A round top rail may be added for a contrasting design.

Stainless steel railing is a great application for exterior surfaces as well. There are two grades of stainless that are commonly used in stainless steel railing, 304 and 316. 316 stainless has a higher corrosion resistance ratting. Typically, 316 steel is recommended for any application that is within five miles of saltwater. 304 stainless is acceptable for all other exterior and indoor uses.


Tips for Plastering a Wall

These are simple pre-cut patches. You’ll need a putty knife, sandpaper, goop (joint compound) and time preferably without children.

Next, cut away any excess drywall. Clean the area. Stick the patch on top of your hole cutting any excess away. Be careful as it bubbles very easily – slow wins this race here.

Now you can add some putty with your knife. You want to add little bits at a time for a thin even coat. Go in one direction from top to bottom.

Let it dry again before adding a second coat. Add a third coat if necessary.

After drying one more time, take some sandpaper to it to smooth the edges.

Larger holes are a bit more involved. The hole my sister made was a very large hole. You will need a utility knife or a drywall knife and a straight edge.

Carefully draw a rectangle or square around the hole. Cut the entire piece out of the wall.

Next you’ll need the help from a carpenter or your local hardware store. You need a few plywood strips cut to just a little bit longer then your hole. These back your hole and give it support.

Once you have these, place them inside the hole vertically and screw them into place.

Now, measure your drywall, cut to size and screw to the plywood strips.

Add drywall tape to the outer edge of your rectangle.

With putty knife and joint compound add a layer to the edges being sure to cover the screws.

Let dry and add an extra coat.

Use sandpaper to smooth and even out the edges.


DIY Pergola

Tools and Materials for a DIY Pergola:

  • 2 x 10 Wood Boards
  • 2 x 6 Wood Boards
  • 4 x 4 Wood Posts
  • Tape Measure
  • Clamps
  • Washers
  • Wood Sealant
  • Wood Stain
  • Nuts
  • Leveler
  • Saw (Circular Preferred)
  • Power Drill

How to Build a DIY Pergola:

  1. Create the Frame: Determine the area in which the pergola will be installed. Once this has been marked, install a 4 x 4 wood post at each corner of the area. Make sure the posts are secure as they will support the remainder of the structure. Next, measure and cut the 2 x 6 wood boards (if needed) to frame out the top of the pergola. These boards should be secured onto each wood post to create the base of the lattice structure that will come later.
  2. Prepare and Install the Joist Hangers: Shade members will the elements that create the lattice top for the pergola. On the side of the frame that is closest to the house, install a ledger board – this board should be secure 6 inches higher than the frame of the pergola. Next, install joist hangers 6 inches apart from one another along the ledger board.
  3. Prepare and Install the Shade Members: Determine the length of the shade members based on the size of the pergola from and the desired overhang of the structure. Using the 2 x 10 wood boards, cut the shade members to the appropriate size. Install the shade members using the installed joist hangers and laying them across the frame parallel to the house. Once the parallel shade members are in place, cut 2 x 3 inch notches in the perpendicular shade members and lay them across the opposite direction, using the notched, nuts and washers to secure them into place.
  4. Paint, Seal and Enjoy: Once all the elements have been installed and tested for stability, it is time to put the finishing touched on the pergola. Sand and stain all the wood pieces and allow to dry completely. Then, seal the structure with an all-weather sealant. Finally, lay back and enjoy your new pergola!


Lay Block Paving

The first thing you are going to need to do is gather up materials and supplies for laying block paving. There are a few things you will need. The most essential materials are going to be your paving blocks. Now these blocks are almost always exclusively made of stone. People use sandstone and granite quite often but there is a whole range of different stone and stone hybrid materials that you can use. Basically choose something that fits your purposes.

If you are looking to create the best look possible you may want to go with something softer and more malleable that you can eventually replace when it goes out of style. If you are going for function you will want something harder that will last and not take a lot of damage from constant use or weight. Before you purchase your stone it is a good idea to measure the dimensions you need beforehand and then purchase the stone from your local masonry supply. Always get a few extra plates in case you make a mistake or one breaks in transit. If there are broken paving stones delivered you can always return them.

You will also need a light plate compactor. Most people do not own this piece of equipment but you can easily rent or purchase one online or at your local hardware supply store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. You also have the option of using a simple claw hammer and various sizes of wood to lay block paving in a small area but it is not recommended simply for the fact that it will lead to much more unstable blocks.

Once you have your materials you need to start work in your area. Make sure all debris and other materials are cleared and then begin to set your sub base. Your sub base will ideally be made of very fine gravel or preferably sand. You are going to want to set a sub base of roughly 70 mm deep so that your paving stones appear to be level with the ground but are also protected from the dirt underneath the sub base. This will also help with any drainage issues you may have with your block paving path.

After this you need to start to clear a canal around the perimeter of the sub base you have just set. This canal needs to then be filled with quick dry concrete and leveled off. Once the concrete has dried you grab whatever edging blocks you decided to purchase and put them around the edge of the perimeter. Take a straight piece of lumber and a carpenters level to make sure each edge stone is level and straight. After this you need to wait for no less than 72 hours for everything to become level and set. Avoid the urge to mess with the pathway or it will not set properly.

After you wait for the 72 hour period you need to start fully laying the path. You take your blocks and put them over the sub base in the pattern that you want. After you have set every stone exactly how you want it you use the light plate compactor or your piece of wood to push the stones into the sub base and concrete. Make sure that there are no spaces or gaps in between each stone or you will have serious problems with contracting and expanding joints in the long term. The only place you are going to leave a space is if the stones are jointed. In that case leave just enough room for them to set.


DIY Magazine Storage Containers

Before you start the woodwork project, you need to prepare the following tools to save you time and disappointment. You should handle these tools with care because they might hurt you if you will be careless. Children should not be left unattended with all these tools scattered in your house. Therefore, you need to keep them away from children. Here is the list of required tools.

  • Drill
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander
  • Nail gun
  • Safety glasses
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Pencil to draw
  • Tape

After preparing all the tools above, you need to acquire all necessary materials for making this woodwork project. Just a tip, avoid buying the materials under heavy time constraints because this will make you choose the wrong materials which could affect the quality of your finished wooden magazine storage containers. It is therefore recommended to acquire all materials way ahead of time. The required materials are:

  • ¼ inches plywood
  • 1 x4 pine

After all the tools and materials are ready, you can now start to make your DIY wooden magazine storage containers. Here are the following steps.

  • Step 1: Draw the cuts. Get the plywood and cut it into eight pieces. Each piece should have the dimensions of 11×11 inches. Utilize the 5-gallon bucket to draw a natural S shape from each cut plywood pieces by placing it on top of the plywood pieces. Make sure that before you place the bucket, it is dry and clean. Start the S shape from the corner across the plywood piece. End the curve to a 6-inch mark on the opposing side. A smooth S shape will do. To be exact, an elongated S curve is suggested.
  • Step 2: Cut the curves. Pile two pieces of cut plywood and make sure that the smooth sides meet each other. Fasten the two pieces together with a tape at all four sides of the plywood. Make sure that they are fused together and they won’t be moved with any movement. After making sure that the two pieces are fastened together, cut the curve with the use of a jigsaw. You can also use a band saw if a jigsaw is not available. While doing it, make sure that you are wearing you safety glasses to protect your eyes from any flying particles caused by the plywood being sawed. Also do it in a stationary area, for example at the edge of a table, or a chair, to make sure that you will be able to cut the plywood pieces carefully while tracing an S curve.
  • Step 3: Nail the S-curve plywood with the pines. Cut the pine boards with a saw into 6 and 11 inches in lengths. The longer pine board will be positioned to the other side of the two S-curve plywood pieces while the shorter pine board will be placed at the opposing side of the two plywood pieces. Drill a 1-inch diameter in each shorter pine board pieces. After that, nail the pieces together. Nail the plywood to the pine boards with a 1- inch finish nails. To make the surfaces smoother, sand them properly. You can also paint them in any color of your preference to add vibrancy.

The total number of wooden magazines storage containers that can be finished in this DIY woodwork project is 8 cases. You can place them in your living room, library room, and bedrooms to organize all magazines in your house. You can also give them away as a gift to your relatives and friends. It’s simple and easy.


DIY Window Decoration Ideas

Tie-backs

An often overlooked but very easy way to personalise your window decorations, the tie backs that curtains usually come with tend to be fairly boring.

So why not replace them with…

  • Antique door knobs. Only basic DIY skills required here. Add some boutique doorknobs to pull your curtains back behind. Stylish, and affordable.
  • Gold or silver chains. But without the cost of the real precious metals obviously! Buy some heavy chains to use as ties, and spray them the colour of your choice.
  • Leather belts. Use some old leather belts – as long as they’re not too frayed around the buckle. Or in fact, even if they are! It all depends what look you’re going for.
  • Neck ties. Got a whole bunch of gentleman’s ties knocking around? Here’s a possible use for them. This can be a great option because there are lots of patterns readily available.

Valance

If you’re not down with your curtain-related terminology, “valance” is the decoration that hangs along the top of your frame. It often serves to hide the curtain rail or any other mechanism that you’ve got up there. They’re also sometimes known as “swag.”

Instead of expensive shop-bought valances you can try…

  • Pennants or small flags. This is particularly easy in the US, where most sports team, camps, and societies seem to do their own little bunting flags. There’s no need to sew these together to make a valance. You can simply tie them up in a row, possibly with a little bit of ribbon if they don’t come with attachments of their own. Great for kids’ rooms.
  • DIY with fun fabric. This will require some basic DIY skills again. All you really need to do is make a long and flat U-frame to shape the valance. Polystyrene is a good option for a lightweight material to use for this – you can get it in the form of ‘insulation panels’ from most DIY stores. You can pick up some interesting fabric (you won’t need very much after all!) for surprisingly little too. Then all you need to do is wrap your fabric around your carefully measured A-frame and pin it in place. Make sure the pattern is straight!

Curtains

New curtains can be horribly expensive – especially if you’re trying to match existing décor. So why not make your own matching sets for a fraction of the cost of buying them new?

How about…

  • Re-purposing old bed sheets. You’re going to need some basic sewing skills for this one, but the world is then your oyster when it comes to plaits and ruffles.
  • Printing designs on plain linen curtains. Saving you the expense of pricey patterns, is this fun solution. The easiest way to do this is with stencils and spray paint. But you could also make a stamp out of a sponge for easy repeat patterns.