Building greenhouse shelving: finished

Yesterday I did the finishing touches on the greenhouse shelving: installing the sink and a second coat of stain.  (See the first, second, and third posts, if you missed them.)

But first, I screwed a couple of small blocks to secure the potting bench to the foundation, both so it can’t tip, and because it’ll eventually have water pipes mounted to it:

Block to secure potting bench

Then I installed the sink:

Sink

It is supported by boards underneath:

Under sink

I also added a hose reel to the side of the potting bench; later I’ll add a tap under the sink for it (and others above). This hose will be for ad-hoc watering of anything in the greenhouse:

Hose reel

The potting bench had hooks on the side, which I removed when mounting the sink, so I put them on the right of the right-hand shelves; perhaps useful for tools:

Hooks

A view of the back of the sink, above the louver vent, from outside:

Outside by sink

Another shot from outside, showing the back of the shelves:

Back

The completed shelves with a second coat of stain:

Shelves with second coat of stain

A wide-angle shot of the shelves:

Shelves

Another view of the shelves and sink:

Shelves and sink

This morning I went out there and put some trays on the shelves, as a demo of usage:

Trays on shelves

Potting bench and sink

Trays on shelves

Right shelves

A wide-angle of the inside of the whole greenhouse:

Whole greenhouse

This concludes this construction project. Hopefully Jenn will get good use out of these shelves, significantly increasing the growing capacity within the greenhouse.

A separate but related project will be to install plumbing: connecting a pipe from the nearby underground pipe, routing it to a tap under the hose reel, another tap for the sink, and a third tap on the back shelves for irrigation. Hooked onto that I’ll have a water timer and splitter, with irrigation tubing going to each shelf, and mister emitters as needed to irrigate the seedling trays. That’ll be a project for another day.

Building greenhouse shelving: staining and installing

Over the weekend I continued work on the greenhouse shelving project.  (See the first and second posts, if you missed them.)

But first, during the week I ordered a new interlocking rubber mat for the floor, and added that when it arrived:

Mat

It nicely covers all of the exposed floor space (the part where the stool is will have the sink above it). It came with four 3×3’ portions, but I only needed two here; I’ll probably use the other two in the workshop.

Here’s a closeup of the mat:

Mat

I originally wasn’t going to paint or stain the shelves, figuring they’d be fine, but realized that they’ll be exposed to a lot of moisture, so could grow mold (and rot, but I wasn’t so worried about that). So I decided to stain them. They do look nicer stained, too.

Here I’m staining the back posts; they are attached at the bottom, so I’m just leaning them forward to stain behind:

Staining posts

Staining the right posts:

Staining posts

Then I started staining the shelves, doing the bottom and sides of each shelf with it leaning vertically:

Staining bottom of shelf

I then placed the shelf in position, screwed it to the supports, then stained the top:

Installing bottom shelf

I figured that it’d be easier to install each shelf as I go, to make it easier to reach the screws. And leaving the top till after installation would avoid too much handling wet stain.

Two shelves done:

Two shelves done

For the next shelf, I added a support for the sink; it will be held up on the right side by this L-shaped bracket below the shelf:

Sink mount

The back and left side of the sink will be supported by these L-shaped boards (and the others will be used elsewhere); I’ll add them next weekend:

Sink mount

The back shelves installed; four 2×6’ shelves, and a small shelf above the power strip:

Back shelves installed

The bottom-right shelf installed:

Bottom-right shelf installed

All four right shelves installed; three 2×6’ shelves (actually a couple of inches wider and shallower than the back ones, to give more floor space), and one shallower one (about 10” deep), enabling the second-from-top shelf to be used as an extra workbench if needed:

Right shelves installed

The shelves only have one coat of stain at present. I will probably give them a second coat next weekend.

Here’s a wide-angle view of all of the shelves:

Wide-angle of shelves

Next weekend I’ll give the shelves a second coat, and install the sink.

Building greenhouse shelving: right shelves

Some more progress on building custom shelving for the greenhouse this past weekend (see last week’s post if you missed the start of the project).

During the week, I took the center posts to the greenhouse to help visualize them, and determine the best place for the topmost shelf:

Back posts

I also ordered a 2 foot long power strip with lots of outlets, to mount onto the posts:

Power strip

And I held the plastic sink in place, to visualize that option. I got this outdoor sink as a present a while back, but haven’t used it yet (my original idea for it didn’t work out). But I think it’ll fit perfectly, with some minor modifications, between the potting bench and back shelves:

Sink

On Saturday, I took everything out of the greenhouse in preparation for installing weed control fabric:

Greenhouse evacuated

The empty greenhouse:

Empty greenhouse

Installed weedmat:

Weedmat

I also replaced the power cord with an optimal length one; the one I had before was too long, and bright orange:

Power cord

Then I put the potting bench back inside, and stacked the plant trays and such on top to get them out of the way:

Potting bench and stacked stuff

Back in the workshop, I added horizontal 2x4s to the back-right posts, to help support the right shelves:

Posts

I also built a small top shelf on the back-center posts:

Top shelf

And mounted the new power strip underneath (with the Eero Beacon wi-fi extender plugged in upside-down at the end):

Mounted power strip

I took the posts to the greenhouse (this is a wide-angle shot):

Stuff in greenhouse

The posts are mounted to the wooden foundation with deck screws, ensuring the shelves can’t tip over or move:

Mounted posts

A wide-angle shot of the back shelves, with only two of the four shelves (plus the top one) in place. I left the other two in the shop to help copy them for the right shelves:

Back shelves

A closer look at the left side of the back shelves:

Back shelves

And the right side:

Back shelves

The right posts of the right shelves, similarly mounted to the foundation:

Right posts

I made middle posts for the right shelves, but it bothered me that the posts didn’t line up with the metal frame of the greenhouse… so I took them back to the shop and pulled them apart and re-made them (see the revised edition later). A minor detail, but I’d rather be happy with it. Here’s the initial edition sitting in place:

Right middle posts

After doing the edging and bracing for the first right shelf, I took it to the greenhouse to check the fit; perfect:

Checking shelf fit

So I finished that shelf, and the others:

Shelf

The bottom shelf, revised middle posts, and right posts:

Shelf and posts

Here’s a view of the back and right shelves. A fun detail is that the right shelves don’t have edge trim on their left side, since they abut the back shelves; I thought it’d be tidier to not have two edges next to each other:

Shelves

A closer view of the meeting of the shelves (they aren’t attached to the supports yet):

Meeting of the shelves

I’m now done building the shelves, but ran out of time to finish installing them.

This morning I wanted to check that the sink would fit, so I went out there and wedged it in place with the stool. Yep, that’ll work nicely:

Sink

The sink and shelves (again, some shelves are missing, and they aren’t attached yet):

Sink and shelves

Since I was going to the greenhouse, I took a couple more shelves over there. Here’s a view of the ones there currently; I’ll take the remaining three over another day:

Shelves

Next weekend I’ll finish installing the shelves, plus the sink.

Building greenhouse shelving: back shelves

Over the weekend I started a fairly small new construction project: building some custom wooden shelving for our greenhouse.

Here’s an older photo of the greenhouse, showing the potting bench and a couple of small wire racks:

Greenhouse

To increase the capacity of growing space, I designed and am building wooden shelving, sized to fit the greenhouse and the plant trays.  I considered various designs, but decided on an outer frame of vertical-oriented 1x2s, with horizontal cross-braces supporting slats, also 1x2s. That should make it more sturdy and tidy than other concepts I considered.

To start, the shelf edge and bracing (perhaps not the proper terms, but works for me):

Shelf edge and bracing

The shelf slats, with plenty of space for excess water drainage:

Shelf slats

After making one prototype shelf, I took it to the greenhouse to confirm the sizing. Perfect fit! The vertical 2×4 represents one of the shelf posts; the posts will be on the ends, resting on the wooden foundation, plus some extra in the middle:

Shelf in greenhouse

Here you can see the full width. The shelf is 69” wide by 22” deep:

Shelf in greenhouse

Having confirmed that, I then cloned that shelf three times, for a total of four shelves at the back of the greenhouse, each shelf taking a total of 10 8’ 1×2 boards:

Making more shelves

That done, I made a couple of sets of side posts and shelf supports out of 2x4s. It probably would have been plenty sturdy using 2x2s, but no harm making it stronger.  The shelves will rest on and be screwed into those supports. The bottom ones are treated 2x4s sticking half below the posts, as they will also be screwed into the wooden foundation, so the shelves can’t tip over:

Side posts and supports

Finally for now, I started on the back posts and supports. These are just to help prevent the shelves from sagging in the middle. This isn’t quite done, as it’ll have a 2×4 at the top to mount a power strip onto:

Back posts and supports

That’s all I had time for this past weekend. Next weekend (probably), I’ll install weed mat on the floor of the greenhouse, finish the posts, and install them.

After that (probably a subsequent weekend), I will also build a second set of shelves along the right-hand wall of the greenhouse; much the same as the back ones, and connected to them. So the final result will be about 95 square feet of L-shaped shelving. That’ll hold a lot of seedlings!

Later, once the ground unfreezes, I will add a couple of taps and irrigation emitters for all of the shelves to water the plants.

Stay tuned!

Adding a back door to the cat feeder

As mentioned in previous Caturday posts, I wanted to add a back door to the feeder area of the cat house, to enable a cat to escape if trapped inside by another cat (let’s be honest, Pumpkin) or wildlife.

After considering various options, I decided that the best place for a door would be on the side, next to the access door. A big advantage with this location is that usage of the door would be visible from both the outside cam and the feeder cam.

Today the weather was clear enough (albeit very cold) for me to do this.

Here’s the side of the cat house, prior to installation:

Side of the cat house

A view from the feeder cam of me cutting a rough hole in the wall with my jigsaw:

Cutting a rough hole in the wall

This rough hole let me confirm the position and such:

Rough hole in the wall

I then made the hole larger, based on the cat door template, and tried fitting the door insert (a little tight here):

Larger hole and trying insert

I paused for lunch, and a cat investigated my handiwork:

Cat investigating

Me screwing the door insert into wood blocks above and below it:

David screwing insert

Horizontal boards above and below the insert give it something to mount onto.  I also (rather messily) removed portions of the batten boards:

Boards and insert in place

The outside portion of the door installed:

Outside installed

Inside; you can see the mounting boards:

Inside

Outside with screw caps:

Outside with screw caps

I touched up the paint above and below the door:

Painted

Finished:

Finished

Now that I’m done, I kinda wish I had gotten a white door, instead of brown. I got brown to match the other two cat doors (front and back of the shelter portion), but those are on red walls, so brown works better; white would have worked better here. Oh well; I’m sure I won’t notice after a while, and I could replace it if it really bothers me.

Finally, a cat peeking out:

Cat peeking out

Merry Christmas cats! 🎄

Building a platform for cat cabins

On yesterday’s Caturday post I showed the cats exploring a new platform with two cat cabins, that I built and installed under our main deck.

Here’s more info on the construction and installation process. It was a very simple project, taking only a few hours. I didn’t paint it or do anything fancy; it’s basically just a 4×5’ sheet of OSB, with some treated 2x4s underneath for rigidity, and some blocks on top to hold the cabins in place, plus a camera housing.

Since it’s not painted, the OSB will degrade over time, but it should hold up for many years, probably longer than the cats’ lifetimes. If it is still in use when it eventually falls apart, I can always whip up a new one.

Other than the second cabin, the camera, and my time, there was no cost (though of course those are non-trivial costs). The OSB sheet was one left from the chicken coop project, and the 2x4s from various other projects.

Here’s building the platform in the (messy) workshop. I used the new cabin as a template for the blocks, which were nailed to the OSB from the bottom. The two cabins are angled so their doors point towards the camera, for a better view inside:

Building the platform

I included treated 2x4s underneath to give it a bit of strength, plus hooks to hold the wires (some of which I didn’t end up using):

2x4s and hooks underneath

Me being me, of course I wanted to include a camera so I could watch the cats in the cabins.  I bought a new one (I’m currently up to 18 cams!) and mounted it on some blocks at the edge of the platform, with a couple of bits of plywood to enclose it. The camera is waterproof, but I wanted to prevent the cats from knocking it out of position. The plywood forms a steep triangle to stop cats from sitting on top:

Camera housing

Here’s a shot of me about to cut a bit of wood, taken by that camera:

Me

I then brought the platform, the new cabin, and various tools from the shop on a cart:

Bringing over on cart

When I got there, a cat was in the old cabin, but departed after a moment:

Old cabin position

I put the platform on the ground to prepare the site:

On the ground

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to install it under the deck, below the gazebo, to shelter the cabins from rain and snow. The corner near the swimming pool area is a few feet off the ground, providing enough room for the cabins. I excavated a few inches of the dirt to give a bit more headroom:

Excavated a bit

Here’s a closer look of the dirt:

Excavated a bit

I put the platform in place, propped up on some wood to get it fairly level (a slight slope towards the front for drainage):

Propped up in place

Here’s the back corner, sitting on a rock:

Back corner on rock

Leveling:

Leveling

Hooking up the electrical cords for the heating pads in the cabins, and the camera:

Hooking up electrical

The power cords are mounted underneath with hooks:

Power cords with hooks

I attached 4×4 posts as legs on the front:

Legs

Then used a spare bit of stained cedar (leftover from the pool deck extension project) as front trim, which serves the dual purpose of giving the platform more rigidity, and making it look tidier:

Front trim

I also used another bit of the same OSB sheet as a wall, to provide shelter from the wind and rain on the pool side:

Wall

Here are a couple of closer looks at the cabins:

Cabins

Cabins

The finished platform:

Finished

Finished

As I said, a very simple project. But they seem to appreciate it; the cabins have been well used by the cats so far.

A picture from yesterday’s post, of Porcini exploring the platform:

Porcini exploring the platform

A view of our deck and the platform from farther back (and if you look very closely, two cats visible: Pumpkin in a cabin, Porcini by the pool steps):

Deck and platform

Here’s a closer view, with Pumpkin looking at me:

Pumpkin in a cabin

No doubt you’ll see lots more of the platform and cabins in the weekly Caturday posts!

Flock Friday for November 1

For this Flock Friday, I’m going to include the photos in chronological order, rather than grouping by ducks, new chickens, old chickens, and birds, like I usually do.

But as it happens, we start with the ducks anyway, exploring the northwest bank of the pond and the grass beyond:

Ducks

Ducks

Ducks

Next is a sequence of shots from inside the old chicken coop, as the pop door opens. No, it isn’t snowing inside, that’s just the bedding dust getting stirred up by their wings:

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

Chicken pop door opening

One of the new chickens has started laying! Here’s the first new egg, laid outside (as I expected; there are only a few places private enough to lay, and this is one of them):

First new chicken egg

So that was what I was waiting for to open up the nesting boxes, previously covered with plywood to prevent them sleeping in there:

Nesting boxes open for business

The new chickens investigating the nesting boxes:

Investigating nesting boxes

The second egg, laid in a box:

Second egg

A chicken coming out of a nesting box; now we know who is laying:

Chcken coming out of nesting box

Since we had a chicken escape through the hole in the run roof, I decided to repair it, with welded wire instead of netting as before. Eventually I want to replace all of the roof netting with welded wire, though no point in doing that just before snow is likely:

Run roof repair

Back to the ducks, on the edge of pond next to the overflow channel:

Ducks on edge of pond

The ducks with their heads together:

Ducks

As mentioned on my Dejus blog, it’s below freezing at night now, so I put out water heaters, including a heating pad under the hummingbird feeder to keep it from freezing. It hangs off paperclips to prevent the heating pad from touching the plastic base of the feeder, to avoid it melting:

Hummingbird feeder with heater

A chicken in a nesting box, working on laying an egg (as seen from the outside access door):

Chicken in nesting box

The older chickens are still molting; there are feathers everywhere in their run:

Chicken feathers

Chicken feathers

I’m looking forward to them finishing that process, since they’ve pretty much stopped laying eggs at present. But having a rest is good for them.

The temperature is cold enough to partially freeze the pond overnight, though it is thawing during the day (for now):

Ducks in partially frozen pond

Ducks in partially frozen pond

That’s it for this week!

Project of summarizing projects

I’ve done a number of building projects over the years, and while I have a building category on the homestead blog, if I wanted to point people to the construction steps of a specific project, there wasn’t a very good summary of that; it was very difficult to hunt down the individual blog posts that cover that project. I also have tags, like “chicken coop” or “duck house”, but they get “polluted” with posts on their usage, as opposed to construction. Perhaps bad planning on my part.

So I recently started a new project, of a different sort: I added some new posts to the blog to summarize my various building projects. They are a custom post type, which keeps them separate from the regular posts, and able to be skimmed without the other topics.

Each post covers one project, and includes links to all of the individual blog posts discussing work on it, along with one photo from each post as a visual indication of progress.

Initially I have added posts on two projects.

A very small project, building some potato planters for the veggie garden:

A very large project, building a new chicken coop:

Click those links to read those summary posts, and click through to the individual blog posts to read more details and see more photos.

For extra meta fun, I also added a post that summarizes the summaries. That will be a useful one to visit to quickly jump to project summaries you’re interested in reading.

You can also visit the main projects page, which includes an infinitely scrolling list of all project posts.

These last two are also listed in the site menu on every page, hidden behind the “hamburger” icon in the top-left corner.

I will add more summaries of past projects over time, till caught up. Next will probably be building the chicken run. Look for subsequent posts on building the cat house, the berry cage, the duck house, the pool deck extension, and lots more. I’m not sure yet if I’ll include assembling pre-made things, like the greenhouse and deck gazebo. Or things like garden plumbing. Let me know if you think those should be included.

I hope you’ll find this resource useful. I know I will.

Building a pool deck extension

We have an above-ground swimming pool, that we set up around July and take down around September. We only swim in it a few times during summer, typically when the air temperature is 90° F (32° C) or more. It is a big hit during our summer party, too. But getting into the pool involved walking down a flight of steps from the deck, around the deck, and climbing a rickety ladder up and down, despite the pool being positioned a few feet from the deck. The pool can’t be set up any closer, due to a retaining wall and the support legs of the pool.

So a project in the last week or two was to improve that by building a small extension to the deck, enabling direct access to the pool.

Here’s the “before” picture; the deck railing and pool beyond:

Railing and pool

I removed that portion of the railing, blocking the gap with a temporary barrier. I also brought over a bunch of tools:

Removed railing

I built a pair of gates, using some reclaimed material from the old railing:

Gate

I also purchased some nice plastic pool steps, which Jenn assembled:

Pool steps

I rested the steps in the pool, to confirm their height; they’re floating, as they need to be weighted down with sand:

Steps in pool

Building the deck extension joists, using treated lumber:

Deck joists

Adding cedar deck boards, to match the main deck:

Deck boards

Adding trim around the edges:

Adding trim

Stained:

Stained

Looking from the ground next to the pool, where you can see the aforementioned retaining wall and pool legs, plus the attachment point and a post in a concrete footing:

Attachment point and posts

I considered several concepts for the deck, including having it removable, or hinge up like a drawbridge. Since I need to take down and set up the pool each year, I thought that having it be able to get out of the way would help with that. But ultimately I decided to make it a fixed deck, since that would be more sturdy, and it is very heavy. I determined that I should be able to assemble and disassemble the pool even with the deck fixed in place, since the pool leg under the deck will fit between the deck legs.

So I trimmed the trim of the main deck, to avoid unevenness there:

Trimmed trim

The underside of the deck, ready to be installed:

Underside of deck

The deck resting on boards, during installation; since it is rather large and heavy, it was a bit awkward to maneuver by myself, but I managed (Jenn was at work):

Resting on boards

The deck mounted, with missing boards for reasons:

Installed

Me under the deck, attaching bracing to the legs:

Me under the deck

Adding a railing post:

Railing post

Using the router to have nice rolled edges on the top of the railings, to match the main deck:

Routing railings

The extra deck boards and gates installed:

Gates

Initially I mounted the gates to open onto the main deck, as above, based on my original idea of having the extension fold upwards. But Jenn pointed out that it’d make more sense for them to swing the other way, now that it’s fixed in place. So I re-hung them to open that way, which is indeed much tidier:

Gates opening onto deck

Here are the gates closed, with a cane bolt to hold the right one closed, and a key-lockable latch for the left one:

Gates

When the pool isn’t there, we’ll probably lock the gates, for safety.

Next, I finished the railings, again to match the main deck:

Railings

The railing from the other side:

Railings

And I stained the railings:

Stained railings

The completed deck extension:

Finished deck

Finally, Jenn and I mounted the steps into the pool. Easier said than done, since she endured the chill water to position a mat under the steps, and hang buckets of sand below the steps to weigh them down:

Mounted steps

The steps are designed to fill the legs with sand, but we decided to hang buckets instead, to make it easier to move the steps when taking down the pool. It’ll be easier to set up the steps next year when assembling the pool, since I’ll be able to do it before filling with water.

The finished deck extension, complete with lights on the railing:

Finished

(The temporary rope barrier was to stop kids from diving during our annual party; that is normally a nice spot to sit and dangle feet in the pool, or rest beverages or pool floats.)

The deck and pool got a lot of use during our party on Saturday, and was admired by all. We had our first official swim on Sunday, and found the deck extension and steps so much nicer. To paraphrase someone at our party, this is how the deck should have always been.