Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘DIY

Mukluk Retread

leave a comment »

With a nod to some excellent directions found online at lostcreekadventures.org posted by Greg Weiss in 2017, Cyndie took her kitchen skills out into the shop over the weekend to resole her favorite Steger Mukluks. The original petroleum-based material on the sole can become dysfunctionally sticky as it ages, while the rest of the boot holds up almost as good as new.

To avoid a long wait for having someone experienced to the job for her, Cyndie bravely chose to do it herself.

She just recently finished her first attempt at a classic Swedish princess cake that turned out spectacular and received rave reviews. How hard could it be to resole a mukluk? She procured all the ingredients on the “recipe” and printed out the directions. Instead of an apron in the kitchen, she was wearing overalls in the shop.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

In order to assure the 3M marine adhesive sealant fully cures before testing the durability of the added rubber bits, the plan is to leave the boots alone for at least a week. I’m inclined to suggest a thin overcoat of the remaining sealant if she is willing to wait an additional week of curing.

Even if the project takes a month, it is still a year quicker than the waiting list to have someone experienced to do it for her.

Watching her work, I had to resist an urge to see how it tasted when she was done.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2022 at 7:00 am

Updating Benches

with 3 comments

The old log benches around the firepit up at the lake have aged to the point of being overly mossy and crumbling from decomposition. Another perfect opportunity for making use of the store of old lumber we saved from the resurfacing of our deck at home.

Elysa is up at the lake this weekend so I asked her to send me a photo of the benches as they looked yesterday.

It’s fitting to use leftover lumber because that’s how the original benches were made when the log home was built at the lake. Twelve-inch cedar log pieces made for excellent firepit seating.

My idea for replacements won’t be made of logs but they will have some cedar boards and be custom made.

I mixed in some green-treated boards for the added strength and weight to bolster the finished benches. After measuring the old log benches, I designed one tall one and a pair of shorter versions to match.

The results are satisfying and I look forward to testing them out by the lake next time we get a chance to drive them up. The simulated firepit on my driveway didn’t quite match the desired ambiance.

Gives me extra incentive to make the trek up to our favorite place as soon as possible!

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2021 at 9:15 am

Reclaimed Materials

leave a comment »

After leaving work early yesterday in order to ride up to the lake with Cyndie’s mom, we made quick work of slapping some shingles on the woodshed before the impending rain arrived. While still in the car, I watched a refresher video about shingling a roof. Then, I immediately disregarded the details about properly staggering the rows and made it up randomly as I went along.

It’s a shed for firewood, after all. Plus, the slant of the roof and the trees behind the shed make the rooftop hardly visible.

We were racing darkness, the dusk-related onslaught of mosquitos, and the dinner bell to achieve, at the very least, the top row before the evening rain started to fall.

I love that I was able to make use of old spare shingles from both our home and up here at the lake –two different colors. I think it contributes nicely to the rustic “at-the-lake” appearance of the structure.

The only materials I needed to purchase for this shed were the screws, the four concrete footing blocks, and a roll of roofing felt underlayment. All the lumber and shingles were reclaimed material retrieved from storage.

I still want to put the finishing touches on the peak and trim some edges to feel my work is complete. I can accomplish those after the rain stops.

All that needs to happen after that is to fill the shed with split firewood and it will look just perfect.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2021 at 6:00 am

Fence Maintenance

with 6 comments

I’ve tried a number of methods in dealing with fence posts that get pushed up by the freezing and thawing cycles that occur in our location. Our land has areas where the level of ground water sits just below the surface. It will drop during extended drought, but otherwise it doesn’t take much digging to reach moisture.

Every time it freezes, the water expands and the pressure slowly but surely pushes fence posts toward the sky.

Upon consultation with the owner of the company that originally installed our fencing, I learned that they would likely use a skid-steer tractor and press down with the hydraulic bucket. He suggested I save their time and my money and use the same method with my diesel tractor.

So, I did, and was amazed at how easily that pushed posts down. Almost too easy. It requires painstaking control and mental focus to avoid wreaking total havoc by overtaxing the limits of the posts or cross planks. One wrong slip and I risk doing much more damage than improvement.

There is one other complication with that method that pretty much stops me from even driving up to the fence. The ground in many of the areas of pushed up posts is so wet that my big tractor would sink into the mud and create an even messier problem to be solved.

That led me to desperately trying to simplify the task by just pounding down on the most obvious posts that had pushed up. Several different techniques to protect the post from damage and get the right angle and leverage all brought minimal results.

Yesterday spawned a new insight. I had a hand tool with a square steel pad for tamping soil that I figured would work to pound the top of the posts without damaging them. I also thought it wouldn’t hurt to add my 170 pounds of pressure to stand on a plank when slamming down on the top of a post.

IMG_iP0814eCH

 

The thing is, I couldn’t feel if it was doing any good. I enlisted Cyndie’s help to watch for progress, which ended up providing great encouragement when she would report how much it was working.

I was thrilled. Right up to the point the steel tamper began to shatter under the mis-use. I tried to carry on, but the loss of weight in the tool seemed to diminish progress. Another tool was needed. We don’t have a specific sledge hammer, but I contemplated rigging something to use the wood splitting maul for the purpose.

That’s when the next inspiration struck. I could modify the broken tamper to make it the handle of a weighty block of wood that would match the fence posts I was pounding.

 

Look out fence posts. Here I come.

.

.

Brick Fix

leave a comment »

Okay, it was a paver, not a brick. We are up at the lake for the weekend! It’s the first time I’ve been up here all summer and the first thing I noticed was a gaping hole in the front steps.

After opening windows, adding water to the pond, and then cleaning out the gutter on the backside of the house (don’t ask), I decided that the busted paver deserved immediate attention. The only problem was, I had no idea how the steps were built. I didn’t know if cement was involved and if it would even be possible to remove just one “brick.”

So, I just started slow. Perseverance paid off and the paver eventually started to come loose. Once I had it out, it was time to hunt for a replacement.

Oh, yeah, that might have been a smart thing to figure out before tearing into the top, center step in front of the door.

With Cyndie’s help, we came up with a replacement paver and set about devising a process to install it.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

We are both quite proud of the result.

After that, it was time for a swim. Oh what a divine treat that was.

Topped off with a pizza from our favorite local restaurant, it was a wonderfully satisfying day for us.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

August 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

Working Alone

leave a comment »

My high hope of building a footbridge in a single weekend fell victim to my need to accomplish all the tasks without a helper and also my being the sole entertainer for Delilah’s high-energy needs.

Add in the less-than-ideal windy and cold spring weather, plus the limitations of the batteries for my cordless circular saw, and my inability to finish by the end of the day yesterday was not all that surprising.

I resorted to two different solutions for supporting the long boards that I cut. That treated lumber is really heavy compared to the remnants of the old cedar deck boards I’m using for bracing.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The pallets had a tendency to collapse, so I switched up to plan B on the second day: old moldy hay bales. That provided welcome consistency.

Because the bridge will end up being very heavy, I decided to build the frame right next to the washout I’m covering and then drag it into position.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I was able to haul the boards down by the fence and begin to screw some of the cross-supports into position but quit when the time had passed for Delilah’s dinner. I’ll leave the finishing until next weekend.

Trying to screw the pieces together square and true proved challenging on the uneven ground. I want to give that the time and attention necessary to get everything precisely the way I want it. Then I plan to move it into position before screwing down the floorboards.

I’m not sure I’d be able to lift it if I waited until it was completely built. I mean, not without someone with a strong back to help me.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Sappy Mess

with 4 comments

We are guessing there is a trick to making wreaths out of pine boughs that we don’t know about. If you have been following along, last month we lost a pine tree in a storm and Cyndie saved branches for holiday decorating.

When I came inside from plowing the driveway last night, the house was heavily pine-scented as production was in full swing.

What we don’t know is how others who work with pine boughs deal with the sap. Cyndie has resorted to wearing gloves, but has not mastered preventing the sap from getting everywhere.

She decided that she would include a pair of gloves with each wreath when she delivers these beauties to the intended recipients.

Don’t these look festive for the season?!

They sure smell good, too.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 13, 2019 at 7:00 am

Playing Plumber

leave a comment »

Picking up where things left off Saturday night, I started Sunday with a trip to Hudson to pick up the new kitchen faucet fixtures I bought online the night before. Around twelve hours after discovering the problem of dripping water beneath the sink, I was driving home with the solution in my possession. What a luxury to have such easy access to the specific items we seek.

For all the times I grump about the problems related to over-consumerism in society, I do benefit from the conveniences offered.

However, despite all the benefits of readily available goods, the faucet still didn’t install itself. This morning my body is a little stiff and sore from playing plumber for the hours spent figuring out how to dismantle the old leaky parts and then reversing the process to install the new set.

Much to my great satisfaction, the details of this plumbing project were all within my ability to deduce and execute, despite having little experience with plumbing.

Twice, I was able to get a little extra practice by doing things over after discovering I had made errors. The whole time I was working on this project, I thought the line with the drippy shutoff valve was the cold water supply, so when I did the initial flow test, I discovered I’d connected the lines wrong.

Easy to fix, so with only that single trip to the hardware store, I completed the sink project in time for lunch.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

That left me the afternoon to suffer clearing some of the most un-fun snow ever that was the result of Saturday’s rain and the following flakes that relentlessly continued to blow across our land off and on since.

Both shovel and plow were only half a match for the underlayer of frozen crunch that sometimes popped free with ease, but more often stayed welded to the ground below. Trying to clean it all up was a relatively thankless task, which made it easy to retreat from the battle after a minimum effort and seek a few moments of chill in the easy chair before Sunday was completely over.

I thoroughly enjoyed washing my hands at the kitchen sink when I got in.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2019 at 7:00 am

Just Yucky

leave a comment »

Overall, yesterday rates a solid “Yuck” on the scale of pleasurable days. Most notable of our multiple grievances was the weather. My least favorite condition during our snow season is rain, and that is what we received in the middle of the day. After that, the temperature drops enough to turn the precipitation to snowflakes, but then also locks the wetness on the ground into ice.

It’s a hassle to plow and shovel and a hazard to walk and drive on. Seriously yucky.

I had hoped to avoid the great outdoors for the afternoon and enjoy college football on tv, but the Minnesota team I root for was soundly defeated by rival Wisconsin. Far from any joy to be had there, but plenty of yuck.

How could the night end any worse?

How about sprawled out upside down under the kitchen sink trying to dismantle old fittings in search of the once intermittent small leak under the faucet that picked yesterday evening to reveal itself as not very intermittent any more.

Two things I discovered: It was not clear at all which point on the fixture was leaking and the rarely-used shutoff valve on the cold water line didn’t seal all that well. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We decided to solve the first problem by simply replacing the whole works with a new faucet. That means this morning we have no water in the kitchen and I need to venture out in the winter storm to pick up the replacement. That’s a little yucky, but with a potential solution making it worth the risk.

Today offers one other bright spot for us. It is the last day of the deer hunting season! We can stop making Delilah wear the extra blaze orange harness that she glumly tolerates.

Tomorrow is going to be even better. Sunshine is forecast to replace the stormy sky. I’m hoping we’ll have water in the kitchen sink again, too.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2019 at 9:59 am

Project Complete

with 6 comments

We did it. It just didn’t make sense to wait for some future opportunity to replace the top boards of the railings. We were too close to the end to let the project hang unfinished for any length of time.

I pulled screws out of the old boards yesterday morning and installed the new boards in the afternoon. When I lifted the first board off the railing, we made a startling discovery.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I’m glad we waited this late in the season because, unknown to us, there were a lot of wasp nests hanging underneath the boards. Our recent freeze rendered the nests vacant.

Here is just a portion of the screws pulled to remove the railing boards:

 

Even though it’s just a small step in the overall deck refurbishment project, the large number of screws take a significant amount of time to extract.

The grand finale that put an exclamation point on the whole job for us was getting the leftover lumber off the driveway and into storage in the hay shed.

Done and done.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 28, 2019 at 6:00 am