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Showing posts with the label diy projects

Cutting The Firebrick Floor - DIY Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Project

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The oven construction process has been one focused on:  planning (the foundation), building (the foundation), planning (the stand), building (the stand).  And, then more planning (for the oven).  And...now comes the ACTUAL building of the oven.  That starts with learning how to handle the wetsaw and cut out the floor.  Thanks to my VERY HANDY brother-in-law, we went with an isolated floor.  That means, we cut the floor of the oven to be 40" diameter and *then* cut out the soldier course to lay NEXT to the floor.   We started with cutting the oven entry:  Then, thanks to the jig that my brother-in-law made, we quickly cut out the rest of the floor and the soliders: We began to figure out the oven opening and how to make the transition pieces from opening arch to oven dome: And, cut out the second layer of the dome - these only with side-cuts, no tilt cuts (yet): We also built our indispensable tool (IT) or dome gauge - to help place the bricks of the dome: We did ALL of the inital

Stripping Forms From Concrete Hearth - Pizza Oven Build - July 2024

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Last week, I completed the concrete pour of the raised (reinforced with rebar) hearth for our DIY pizza oven build project.  After a few days of allowing the concrete to cure (wet curing), I stripped the forms and was able to see the final product.  Good news, all around.  The backer rod, caulk and sand held and the forms didn't leak.  The concrete also settled down into the Pressed Bond Beam blocks and filled all the available space.   Below is a look at the fresh concrete right after stripping the forms: The first thing I did was to put a couple of levels on the surface: And...more good news:  dead perfect level.  Both directions: Other good news include the hearth being square, fully-formed.  And all six drainage pipes clear and useful.   With the forms removed, I'm now DONE with the stand construction and can move on to the actual oven build. It has been quite a journey. January 2024 -  Location decision in our backyard . January 2024 -  Using LEGOs to decide on the size/

Couple of Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Hearth Construction Tips Via YouTube - May 2024

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Last week, I posted my latest update on our backyard pizza oven build where I mortared in the first course of the cinderblock stand .  I'm on my way this week to swap out some of the blocks and to pick up the rest of the angle iron so I can drystack the rest of the stand.  At risk of getting things out of order, I'm going to talk a little bit about the suspended hearth.  That hearth sits ON TOP of the stand.  It is reinforced concrete that is framed up with a 2x6.  That means - at the VERY MOST, the hearth is 5.5" thick.  But, because you overlap the forms with the block stand, you lose about an inch - so it becomes something like 4.5" thick.   I'm thinking about the hearth and the materials required as I run to the hardware store and I found a bunch tips that I'm going to use in my hearth build via the  Blood Sweat and Beers YouTube channel  -  this video where he walks through his reinforced hearth forms and setup .   I thought it was worth documenting here

Stripping Concrete Slab Forms - DIY Pizza Oven - May 2024

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Just 48 hours ago, I shared the details and photos of how I poured our backyard wood-fired pizza oven reinforced foundation slab using 46 sixty-pound bags of 4000 PSI concrete and a MudMixer.  I've kept the slab (mostly) wet using a garden hose and covered it in plastic.  48-or-so hours after the pour, I knocked down the supports and began to remove the forms.  Here's what was left:  an almost (for a first timer with a non-super-discerning eye) perfect 5.5" thick reinforced concrete slab: The light color (and discoloration) is from the plastic sheet touching the concrete as it cured.  I'm not the least bit worried about that as I know the slab will continue to change color.  I'm happy with the straight lines and the lack of air pockets around the edge.  I used a heavy hammer to vibrate the forms in an attempt to get the concrete mix down along the edge/face of the forms.  It seemed to have worked.   After a few more days, I'll get out there and snap some chalk

DIY Pizza Oven Foundation Slab - Rebar and Reinforcement - May 2024

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Last week, I ran through the details of the final dimensions of our backyard wood-fired pizza oven including the reinforced slab, the block stand and the insulated hearth.  I had been thinking of a 39" diameter oven and after looking through the actual dimensions of the block stand (less than 16" per block), I've settled on these final dimensions: Reinforced foundation slab: 72" wide x 80" deep. Stand: 4 blocks wide x 4.5 blocks deep - 62.5" wide x 70.312" deep. Hearth: Same as stand.  Framed with 2x6 dimensional lumber. Oven: 39" interior, 51" exterior side-to-side x 64" front-to-back. The first major task is to pour the foundation slab.  The steps to get that done include: Excavate the site Lay down 1/2" gravel and compact the base Think about drainage on/around the foundation slab  Set up the forms and stake them level and square Buy the material (concrete, rebar, cinder blocks, angle iron) Lay down a 6 mil vapor barrier In

Pizza Oven Dimension Changes - Slab and Stand (Actuals) - Cinder Block Construction - May 2024

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This past weekend, I went out and began to assemble the frame for the concrete slab pour that will sit on top of the 4" or so layer of gravel for our backyard pizza oven.  I have posted about and pretty much considered my dimensions for this oven done.  The last time I shared the dimensions, I called them 'final, final'.  That was this post - where I included these as the final dimensions :   Slab: 78" wide, 86" deep. 6.5' wide, 7'2" deep). Stand: 72" wide, 80" deep (4.5 blocks wide, 5 blocks deep) Leaving reveal of 6" total both dimensions. 3" all ways. That's what I have now - for lumber.  78" wide slab x 86" deep slab.  But....after I assembled the forms, I decided to lay some of the concrete blocks inside the footprint to make sure I was accurate in my dimensions.  And, that's when it looked like this: I put down 4 blocks wide and 2.5 blocks (so far) deep.  Knowing that I spec'd a 3" reveal, my mind

New Compost Bin Sign: Feed Me - December 2023

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It was just a few days back that I mused about adding a little personality to our garden via the addition of a way-finding sign on our compost bins .  I was seeing that various users from our house (ahem aheam...the kids) were dumping our kitchen waste in the bin that I was viewing as 'cooking' instead of the storage (not properly mixed bin) that I can get to over time.   I posted about the signage because I wanted to remind myself to make one this Spring.  But, I found myself with a tiny bit of time and decided to just jump on it right now.  This *is* 2024, right?  At least in terms of gardening seasons, I'm call it 2024. I had some cut-offs of cedar pickets that I used for a different project laying around, so I grabbed one of them and some paint.  I painted the words "Feed Me" on the board in white.  Outlined in a navy blue.  Then, spray a topcoat (clear) on top of the paint in an attempt at making the sign lasting just.a.little.bit.longer than it would normall

Bleached Pinecones - Winter Arrangements - December 2023

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On my winter evergreen arrangement-making journey this year, I also added a new side-project:  bleaching pinecones.  I've shown a few of my arrangements - including the original and some V2's and all of them featured a number of foraged pinecones.  Some of them were on the tips of the pine branches and others were tucked in with a piece of wire.   When we were last up in Wisconsin, I picked up a few pinecones that were on the driveway.  They were dropped by the upright pine trees.  Here's what they look like pre-bleaching: One-way-or-the-other, I came across the idea of bleaching pinecones as a winter project.  There are dozens of how-to articles like this one that show you the very simple process:  find acorns, put them in a bowl that contains a water and bleach mixture, and weigh them down so they don't float.   That's what I did:  I tucked two into a bleach and water bath overnight.  15-or-so hours later, I pulled them out.  They need a half-day or so to dry o

2023 Yard and Garden To-Do List Late-Summer Check-in - September 2023

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My 2023 yard and garden to-do list had 25 items on it and with most 1 of the growing season behind us, I thought it would be helpful (for me!) to do a mid-season check-in.  How am I doing against my priorities?  What do I need to do before the season ends?  Let's run through the list and see how we're doing: 1.  Evergreens.  I wanted to plant more evergreens.  I've planted 19 evergreens so far this season:  five Boxwoods in front, a Columnar Scotch Pine tree in back and now 13 more Boxwoods in back.  I also transplanted a large Boxwood from the front-to-back.  So..20 evergreens including one transplant.  I'd say... Done .  2.  IB2DW Extension.   I wanted to extend the bed and add 'clustered evergreens' along with other things like grasses and annuals.  I haven't added anything, but I did amend the soil with biosolids and carved out some turf to extend the bed a little bit.  I'd say this is: Incomplete.   3.  Front porch bed.   I amended the bed with

Teal Oil for Teak Patio Table - Summer 2023

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It isn't the patio container box ( which...is #23 on my 2023 to-do list) , but it *is* something:  I applied a coat of Teak Oil to our patio table.  The top is, indeed, teak.  And, after a few passes with a sander, I was able to get down to some nice, clean teak.  And the top soaked the oil right up.   Is it a seasonal project?  Sort-of?  I'm going to count it on my 2023 to-do list check-in, for sure.

Backyard Retractable Hose Reel Mounted to 6x6 Post - May 2023

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Beginning in Spring 2022, I have talked about installing a second yard hydrant in our backyard featuring a self-rewinding hose reel.  I included it on my 2022 to-do list and failed to install the post and reel in 2022.   I carried that task over to our 2023 list and put it at #5:  install a second hose reel .  I had the hose reel for more than a year, so it was simply a matter of installing the post to hold the reel. This is the third of these reels that I have at the house - the first one is in the garage .  The second one is about half-way back attached to our fence .  This third one is planned for close to the spigot.  I have historically used a loose hose to water the patio containers.  I thought this upgrade would keep things a bit more tidy.   Ahead of digging the hole, I called J.U.L.I.E. and had them mark any underground utilities.  In the photo below, you can see the red line for electrical underground.  And the orange stake is where I wanted to dig the post.  All clear.  I c

DIY Walnut Stain - Refinement for Next Season - February 2022

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Last Fall and this past Winter, I made my first batch of Black Walnut stain using found walnuts in my backyard .  I made a slurry and let it stand for a few months, then bottled it up with a 1:1 ratio of filtered slurry : rubbing alcohol .  I gave away a couple of pints of the stuff to family and one of my brother-in-laws gave me some feedback:  See below. Note to future Jake:  Collect and use more walnuts and reduce the rubbing alcohol by 50%.  Use 2:1 walnut slurry:rubbing alcohol this time. Something else to add to my 2022 to-do-list .

Mounting Another Staghorn Fern - Pine Board and Moss - February 2022

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This is now - unofficially - Staghorn Fern Week - on in my garden diary.  This is the third post in as many days about Staghorn Ferns starting with my first post about bringing home a small 4" Staghorn Fern that the kids and I mounted on a pine board .  Then, yesterday I posted a little story about how I found four 6" - and more mature - Staghorn Ferns at Home Depot and decided I was going to make up a few mounted ferns for Valentine's Day this year.  In that first post, I showed a little look into how we (the kids and I) put together the first mounted fern.  Here, below, is a closer look (with more photos) of how I put together one of these larger Staghorn Ferns using the same process.   I started this larger, more mature Staghorn with the same size board, but I used a larger bowl to make a slightly larger circle.  Below, you can see the circle I drew in pencil along with the 1-1/4 narrow-threaded drywall screws that I put around the circumference of the circle.  I used