DIY Rustic Barnwood Table

OldBarn-SnowIn 1980, an unusually heavy snowfall severely damaged the old wooden barn on our place. We propped the roof up and used the barn for another 10 years or so before taking it down and building a replacement.

My beautiful pictureMost of the Douglas fir wood was damaged, but we saved the rest and have used it for various projects, plus have given a lot of it away.

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We wanted a small table with a shelf to fit between our two recliners: something more interesting than the usual fare. I decided to create a table that appeared to be rustic old. The old fir barn wood fit the bill! I chose pieces that still had some red tone from the hundred-year-old paint job.

I won’t include measurements here because you can make your table any size you want, just by following these steps.

After cutting and sanding all the pieces for the project, I glued the three top pieces together (center plus two sides). I clamped them flat and glued with wood glue.

For the end pieces, I cut a 3/8 inch slot on each end of the table and on each end piece, then splined the top and ends with (3/4 inch blade-kerf width) wood splines and glued. Once dry, I tapered the sides from center to end.

I scorched the exposed edges to continue with the vintage look. Metal pieces clamped in place prevented me from scorching the top or bottom.

I assembled the apron next, then inserted the pre-cut corner blocks. These were cut out for the leg tenons.

The table saw blade is set at 45° so that all the cuts on the legs are 45°. Meanwhile with a tapering jig against the fence, the tapering jig is set so that the leg will taper 1/4″ in its entire length as it is being cut. I screwed in tying blocks and taped them to the leg top surface to keep the leg from sliding as it was being cut. I used a homemade pushing stick to keep my hand away from the blade.

I taped the leg parts together as a test for fit, and once okay, glued and clamped.

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I cut out the leg tenons using multiple passes on a table saw and then cleaned them up using a chisel. It was a tricky business with the old, brittle wood.

I assembled the top to the apron, using tape for correct placement, then screwed the apron to the table top through the pre-drilled holes in the blocks.

I inserted each leg tenon into the blocks and screwed through the pre-drilled hole in the middle.

I custom-made metal tabs that would hold the shelf using some metal scrap I had around.

The tabs were installed at the height of the bottom of the shelf.

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I applied a clear lacquer finish to prevent any modern stains. I like that all the flaws are historic.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Stay tuned for the publication of our new book, Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt. You can see how the yurt is progressing via Facebook’s Yurt Yaks.

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2018 by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without permission. Thank you.

 

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. III: The Ring Tower

After a long, wet winter, we finally got a few sunny days to assemble the ring to the tower and then lift it up! To note, this is a ring for a 6′ dome and we’ll be talking about a 3′ dome in the book. It’s a lot easier to build and manage. This 6′ ring weighed about 200 pounds. As you can see, there’s a 12g metal ring inside (for added strength) that adds to the weight. FinishedRing6-ft

The ring will be temporarily held in place by a tower. Once the rafters are bolted into place, the tower goes away. When I assembled yurts in the past, the tower wood would be salvaged and used for interior wall framing.

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Once the components were ready and it was dry enough to drive to the yurt, it was time for installation. The tower was built so I could just take out a couple of screws and then finish assembly on-site. The ring required a neighbor with a strong back to muscle it into its new home.

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You can see the tower parts on the right side of the yurt. I assembled the tower on the inside, given that it would not fit through the door otherwise.

The next step was to attach the tower to the ring…

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and strap it in readiness for hoisting. To keep the bottom from sliding out I attached a cable that laced through the outside legs and bolted to two walls on either side.

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After shoving it against the far wall, I jacked it up about 2-1/2′ to make the angle of the strap going over the doorway and to the truck a little less severe. I installed a cut pipe on the doorway so the strap would slide easily. You can see the cable attached to the wall in this photo.

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And there she is! You can see the movie on our Facebook page or by heading over to this link on YouTube.

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I put small lengths of conduit underneath the tower so that I could shove it into place after determining the center.

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The last step was to turn it so it is lined up to the 12 rafter corners on the walls. Check out the homemade plumb bobs (plummets).

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We’re ready for the rafters! Stay tuned while we once again wait for it to stop raining.

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We are writing a detailed book about the entire process from start to finish so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Be sure to check back as we progress, and be on the watch for news on the book. You can also find us on Facebook.

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz
ISBN-13: 978-0692957370
ISBN-10: 0692957375

Thanks for stopping by! Photos by Robin Koontz and Marvin Denmark.

How to Build a Small Cable Suspension Bridge

INSTRUCTABLE-BRIDGE-LOGOWildcatMarvin

As mentioned, we built this bridge and wrote a “how we did it” book about the process a few years ago. Recently, I thought it would be fun to share the basics of this design as an Instructable for people who have enough skill to be able to take the information and work with it. And as we do in our book, we recommend having your specific design approved by an engineer just to be on the safe side.

Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge – the Basics Plus a Video Demo

I entered their “Outdoor” contest and you can kindly vote if you like by clicking the little vote button at the top of the instructable page. Thanks! I need a t-shirt.

Making a Quick and Simple “Stop” for Multiple Cuts

When I’m cutting a lot of boards the same length and angle, it doesn’t make sense to measure each time, or mark multiple cuts along a single board. Employing a block stop system is not only efficient, it also allows the boss to set up a cut and turn someone loose on the task who knows how to safely run the saw and won’t have to worry about careful measuring.

quickstop1Use scrap wood – 2 pieces of 2x material + a piece of 3/4” material (plus whatever needed) to create a support base that is at the same level as the cutoff saw’s base. In this photo a layer of cardboard was used under the 3/4” material to obtain the right level.

quickstop5Check that the base of the saw is at the same level as the support base.

quickstop2Secure the cutoff saw to the worktable. Then square up one end of a board and mark it for your proper length to be cut multiple times, creating your set-up board.

Lay the set-up board so the length mark is directly under the blade. Center the support base under the other end. Fasten both 2x scraps down securely to the work table. Leave the 3/4” scrap loose for now.

quickstop3Nick the set-up board with the blade at the length mark. No need to cut it to length, you might have a use for it elsewhere.

quickstop4Keeping the set-up board held securely, flush edges with the 3/4” scrap. Pencil mark the 2x support base.

quickstop9Fasten the 3/4” scrap to the 2x support base at your pencil mark: the end of this board is your stop length.

quickstop8Use a straight cut scrap to flush the 3/4” stop board edge with the board to be cut. Start cutting! If you are cutting angles, just make sure the top of the angle hits the stop block. Otherwise you risk undermining.

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Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2017 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Adjusting a Suspension Bridge Deck

One of the hazards of building a bridge in the woods is that there are trees in the woods. And trees sometimes fall. It was only a couple of weeks after my bridge was completed that a tree fell on it. It bounced off without causing damage other than a dent in a deck board.

A couple of years ago during a flood, a tree next to the bridge came down, and while not actually falling on the bridge, parts leaned heavily on the suspension cable. I cut off the branches that were in our way and let the rest stay for now since I was busy with other projects. This spring I finally cut the rest of the tree that was affecting the bridge cable. I knew that the deck had sagged a bit and would need to be adjusted at some point.

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That’s why I have turnbuckles installed on all the deadman-to-post cable connections as shown in my book, Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge. I could just turn them to pull the posts back and level out the deck again.

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I used  what was handy to provide a resistance (something to work against) to turning the turnbuckle – in this case a big stick and a metal pipe.

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WD40 oil worked to loosen up the connections. They weren’t rusty having been protected under the cover of those white tubes all these years, but they didn’t want to break loose easily.

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I used a small bar for turning, but a longer one could have made things easier.

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I used a pencil mark to verify if I was tightening or loosening.

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Once they broke loose, each turnbuckle turned easily.

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Jeep seemed amused that one side was now lower than the other. But that’s just part of the process!

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I worked on all four turnbuckles, using line of sight to achieve the results I wanted.

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All done, until the next tree takes a dive into the creek and the bridge is in its way.

This all only took about 30 minutes. Here’s a movie of the process if you’ve never seen a turnbuckle in action.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2017 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Deter deer with kinetic art

FenceTurtlesThis just in from my spousal unit: Just about anyone who gardens has contended with all kinds of critter invasions. Over the years we’ve dealt with rabbits, squirrels, cats (ours), and worst of all, deer and elk. We tried electric wire fencing and the deer soon learned to just jump through it, since they have to be grounded to get shocked. Finally an elk tore it all down and we started over.

We used 50″X16’ hog panels for the bottom and cobbled together a top system using concrete reinforcement wire we had around. After twenty years, the wood has deteriorated to the point that the panels are falling apart. I ripped down the bad parts and replaced them with two wires – one about two inches from the top of the rail and one level with where the top system used to be.

I noticed neighbors doing something like this and then hung up CDs or DVDs, which spun around and apparently spooked away the deer. It seemed like a great idea, but not very attractive. So I decided to use shapes, and turtles seemed like something fun (see previous post about our turtle haven). Here is my how-to. I noticed other metal art projects tell people they need a grinder or band saw, but I just used metal shears and old aluminum siding.

Turtles1I suspect you could find aluminum panels at a scrap yard. We had some that were ripped off a building.

Turtles2Turtle pattern was printed out in a couple of sizes. This is the biggest one.

Turtles3 The trick to cutting is to having one side up or one down. Metal won’t cut flat when using cutters.

Turtles4Trace the pattern with pencil or chalk.

Turtles5Ready to cut!

Turtles6Work carefully. Wear gloves to be on the safe side. I don’t.

Turtles7Scrap your metal bits and recycle them.Turtles8Here’s a gang of turtles.Turtles9Drill holes top and bottom, a ruler helps if you can’t visualize perpendicular or you’re pickier than I am.Turtles10Got holes, ready for hangers and beads!Turtles11I bought these ring things but a big jump ring would work, or make your own. Turtles12I decided to add beads, because I had them. I doubt that the deer will be impressed. Fishing line is tied on, long enough lengths to place them wherever you decide between the two wires.Turtles13Here’s how to tie on the bottom beads so they don’t fall off!

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I cut the fishing line on-site and tied both ends to swivel fishing hooks. Then I tied wire to the bottoms to keep them from sliding around.

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TurtlesAllDoneKinetic art is fun to watch, and so far Bambi and his gang haven’t come near them. If you want to see one in action, check out the YouTube Video:

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2017 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

Zip Line Challenge

My spousal unit, who actually writes this blog, is an author and illustrator of books for kids. She ran across this website for aspiring engineers, and thought it would be interesting to some of my readers. DiscoverE (formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation) helps to unite, mobilize, and support engineering and technology volunteer communities. They hope to increase the collaborative footprint in K-12 education and celebrate with the public as it discovers the value of engineering education and careers.

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I was especially intrigued by their Zip Line Challenge for kids. It’s actually a model that challenges kids to transport a ping-pong ball down a zip line from start to finish in 4 seconds or less. The activity discusses many of the considerations when designing and building a zip line. I’ve uploaded the PDF so you can download it from here, or you can get it from the website listed above. There are a lot of other creative engineering related activities there, all free to download and use in your classroom, home, summer camp, whatever.

Check it out: zip-line-challenge_091316

One of these years I hope to finish my zip line. All is ready, but now the brush has grown up so much I have to hire a tree climber to clear the 420 foot long pathway.

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View from the zip line tower to the landing 420 feet down the hill.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our bridge book if you’re thinking about a DIY suspension bridge. Here is the link: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System.

And if you’re curious about Robin Koontz’s books, look her up on Amazon as well: Books by Robin Koontz

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2017 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.