Dinner Table Build

 

My wife wanted a round table to go in our newly refreshed kitchen. My wife wanted a table that would match our countertops without taking too much room in the kitchen. I scavenged wood from new home work sites. I always ask if I can take wood, which most will say yes.

The base was ripped down from 2×8’s. The pedestal was made from 4 2×8’s ripped down and screwed together. I braced the hollow center with square discs to keep it rigid.

The top was ripped down from 2×6’s and attached with wooden dowels and TiteBond III. I use this glue anytime I am gluing up projects to keep from having multiple glue bottles opened, even if waterproof glue is not needed. I used a circular saw to rough cut the top. Then set up a jig on the table saw to finish the round top. The top measures 42″.  I could buy a 3 foot roundtop or a 4 foot roundtop from our local Lowes Home Improvement, but it was either too small or too big. 42″ is just right. I used a planer to smooth out the rough surface of each board. I then used 80, 120, and 220 grit sandpaper to get it to a dining room table to a quality finish. I later stained it with dark walnut and put a polyurethane coat on it. The base is white-washed. I may go back and just paint it white to match our cabinets.

For my first furniture grade table, I think it turned out quite beautiful. Leave a comment on what you think.

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2017 Garden

I prepared my garden space by tilling and conditioning it with wood ash, sawdust, and leaves. I built the base for the potato box, since I want to build this up and not out. I have never planted potatoes but I wanted to try. I purchased some rolled fencing that has 2×3 inch rectangular holes in it for my trellis. I used a small section last year for my cucumbers, and it worked great. I was going to run rope for the plants to climb on, but as I  started with it, I noticed too much play in the rope and eventually would sag. I did not want to keep fixing it later so fencing was the next available option.

To water the garden, I purchased a 300+ gallon cube tote and hooked it up to the gutters we installed 2 years ago. We just got a couple of good rains, and the tote is overflowing. I am strongly considering purchasing at least 1 more. A couple of years ago, I bought 2 55 gallon barrels for our front flower bed. To keep them from being an eyesore, I broke apart some pallets and lined the outside of the barrel to make them to appear as wooden barrels. That was a great success. To the water tote, I will do something like that but create a “wellhouse” look to it. No one wants to look at a plastic tote that has a metal exoskeleton. Once I do this, I will document and do another post for your information.

I started my seeds 10-12 days ago. They are growing strong. I started with toilet paper rolls to be able to stick it straight into the ground without disturbing  the roots. I quickly ran out. So I improvised with paper cups I made from old bills and students’ work. I guess I could theoretically say, “I am sorry, but worms ate your work.” After seeding 300+ of them, I ran out. So I will be making more. I found bread delivery trays, and cut them shorter to fit in my grow area.

I bought a bag of strawberry plants, I have 4 viable plants growing. Hopefully the other 4 will survive (not looking good for them).  I have squash (2 variations), cucumber, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, cantaloupe, and watermelon started. I will also plant okra, corn, green beans, onions, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. I am getting seedlings from my mother-in-law. I may plant more, if I had time.

I haven’t decided yet, but I will more than likely line the area of the garden between the rows with old worksheets from my students to act as a weed barrier. Newspaper would be better, but who receives newspaper anymore? My school’s library don’t even receive it anymore. I have used cardboard in the past, but just don’t have enough. I will probably break them down and put in my compost. I figure if people are cardboard for worm castings, it should be fine in the compost.

I will try to find some type of mulch to use. I don’t want to use bag mulch since it is processed so much. I am looking at hay, pine needles(checking if it will make my soil to acidic) or just buy bulk mulch from a landscaping yard. If you have any suggestions, I would welcome your responses and ideas.

Experimenting in Gardening

My first year of gardening, was basically a success. I wished I took time to take pictures and write down what was a successful practice versus what I should have done differently. 2016 was a great year for weather in Central Texas. We had enough rain, the temperature stayed decent, and I had virgin soil.

In my 2016 garden, I had 9 tomato plants, cucumber plants, green beans, jalapeno pepper, bell peppers, cantaloupe, and a watermelon. I started half of them from seeds, but my wife bought the tomatoes, watermelon and the cantaloupe. Besides the peppers, everything took off. The tomatoes produced all summer, until later in August when the garden got flooded by a rain system that blew through. We gave so many away and froze many more. We had to just allow some fall to the ground because didn’t have enough room or enough people we knew to take them. The plants grew about 6 feet tall and produced dozens of slicing tomatoes and hundreds of cherry tomatoes.

We got 8-10 good sized sweet cantaloupe to eat, but lost 6 more melons to that rain. We had 3 watermelons that grew, but never turned the lighter green. I found out a little late when one of them rotted on the vine. That is when I knew the other 2 melons had to be pulled. Just in time too because they were the best melons I ever had. We learned that pay attention more to the harvest days than to the color of the fruit, because sometimes they will not get the color but will be ripe.

Our green beans produced through June, until we went on vacation for July 4th. They produced really well and picked every 3-4 days. The cucumbers were awesome. We couldn’t pick them fast enough. They finally turned tart sometime late July, but definitely got plenty of fresh ones for salads.

Carpentry- How I got started

When you are a kid, you job is to play. I far back as I can remember, I played with Legos. I built anything and everything. I followed the directions that came with the kits, and I just thought of other things (a working crane came to mind) that I thought was cool. As I grew up, I always looked for lumber to pick up and use to make forts, tree houses, and ramps to jump bikes. I sometimes found some with nails, so I reused the nails. Other times, I had to figure how to attach wood together.

My aunt’s husband had me help him to demolish old houses. My grandmother’s husband had me dig ditches for sewer lines, learn a little about electrical circuits, and I worked after my senior year of high school for a HVAC man to learn other skills of the trade before I left for college. My adopted mom’s dad passed away 8 years ago and left me his wood tools. I started learning how to use them, and my skills have increased. I am not professionally educated, but my skills are pretty good, if I can toot my own horn. I have thought about going to take cabinet building courses.

I started making easels and toy boxes for nieces and nephews for Christmas, to keep the tradition of Papa alive. I also build things now for Christmases and birthdays to show my boys, as well as nieces and nephews, that not everything has to be bought. I have built cabinets, countertops, tables, chairs, a learning tower for my sons to be on the same level as I am or my wife in the kitchen or the garage, bed frame, picture frames, and many other things.

My wife will find pictures of items on Pinterest or other sites to have my build in my spare time (laughing). I also find things I want to build. When I have that thing I need to do, I wait until the boys are asleep, and then spend 3-5 hours a night in the garage working until it is completed.

I don’t like spending money on something I can build, or think that I can build. Also, I don’t like spending money if I can keep from it. This is where I save HUGE amounts. In the city that I live, there are numerous houses under construction. I go to some, talk to a foreman to see if I can clean up some of the scrap wood. It will just go in the landfill so they typically will say yes. Now, you may have to pull nails, which I save and reuse in some projects. I will also pick up pallets, which works wonders with the things that don’t require precision or perfect wood planks. Don’t feel bad scavenging for free things. The first time or 2 will make you feel uncomfortable, but soon you will understand that you are recycling, keeping perfectly good material out of the landfill, and you are saving a massive amounts of money. Most of the time, I run the wood through a planer, turning it into furniture grade wood.

Welcome

Many times we look out and see the world is flying by us. Why? What is causing us to keep from living life? Is it school? Work? Bills? Family? Illness? Injury? Many of today’s conveniences are our shackles. I am a victim of that, as many of you.

My life was not always picturesque. When I was around 7 yrs old, my birth mother was diagnosed with cancer, and passed away at age of 9. I lived with family members, bouncing around from house to house. I lived with my grandparents and my room was in an old trailer house behind the main house that did not have working utilities whatsoever. There were times when there was snow on the ground, but I still had to sleep out there. The windows were screwed shut so I couldn’t open them in the heat of the summer, which it would get 100 degrees or better.

Some seasons during my childhood, I did not know if I would have plenty to eat, or even a roof over my head. I told my family I was staying at a friend’s house but just stayed in the local neighborhood tree house. That was not safe, but I was able to escape. I would go to friends’ houses close to a meal so maybe I would be able to have a good meal that day. My family tried to provide, and most of the time they did. I tell you these things to give you a background in my life, not to feel sorry for me. I don’t. All the experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I was adopted at age 13, but my adopted parents separated when I was 17, and eventually divorced years later.

In my 20’s, I tried to show the world I had money (well, had a job) and bought expensive things. I paid for most of them but some were on credit. New cars were my kryptonite. When I was in high school, my cars were even below the classification of a junker. Most of them had a supply of water and oil in the back to top off before each trip, regardless if it was 5 or 50 miles. One car caught fire, twice. Another car I had to make sure I could pull out of my parking spot because no reverse. I was embarrassed by my vehicles.

Needless to say, I was the typical person, buying more than I needed. I wanted to impress with what I could buy but maybe not what I could afford. I thought I could do it all, still think that to some degree today. It wasn’t until 2008 when the market crashed, work was slow, and I was in a job I did not like and did not pay. I needed to change, but still wanted my lifestyle. I picked up handy man and lawn maintenance jobs in order to make ends meet. It was during this time I racked up a lot of debt.

I went back to school to get extra classes under my belt so I could get a teaching job. Yes, another poor-timing life change because massive budget cuts in schools left me to take a job in a place far from the world my wife and I knew. Through 6 years of teaching, I see the collapse of education. The “I show up to class so I should pass” attitude, the laziness that exists in students that is reinforced by the parents, and the addiction to technology the students have today. I still love the thought of purity of teaching, but the bastardization of the school system leaves many teachers second guessing their commitment.

Good things have happened as well. I could not ask for 2 better sons (4 and 2 yrs) and a loving wife. I am learning to garden (teaching the boys where I can), improving my carpentry skills, and trying to prepare for the unknown. This is what this blog is about, taking the things I am learning, and sharing with those that are like-minded. The ways that we can have some self-sustainability so that we are not dependent on society.  Work a little harder, strive for what is simpler, and live life to the fullest. Not to go off grid but could if I had to.

I can’t help thinking bad things can and will happen. They have happened before, happening in other parts of the world, and it is just a matter of time that they will happen in our own little world. This is an experiment to see if someone can learn how to gain sustainability. Gardening, carpentry, homesteading, and all the other abilities one needs in order to gain freedom. This experiment is not just to prepare for the worst, but also to fund trips to enjoy life, by visiting God’s wonders, nature, and what man has built for our enjoyment. If I can give those reading this a some insight to achieving freedom, that is what I am trying to do. This is not for everyone, but it is working for me and my family. Along the way, I will have co-authors helping with helpful hints and advice about certain things.

From growing a garden and making your own furniture to survival skills and protection during emergencies… Showing you how to be less dependent now so when it will really counts, you will be ready.

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