While putting together our house’s before & after page and paint color/source page last week, we realized that the photos for a couple of rooms were already looking out of date. One notable example was our upstairs family room, which has gotten a few important additions since we first shared it back in July. Can you spot them?
sofa | similar rug | chair | desk | ottomans | wall bookcase | blue drum stool | similar basket table | chandelier | similar beanbag | similar art
Probably the most prominent update is the addition of this oversized capiz globe light that has literally been in Sherry’s mood boards and Pinterest pages for years. It’s probably one of Serena & Lily’s most well-known designs, but we’ve never had a spot where it made sense (or could fit!). That is until we found ourselves owning this living room with generous vaulted ceilings (they’re around 10′ tall at the peak).
Now that the framing of the substructure of this deck is done, we needed to work on the rim joist. This is the piece that attaches to the front of each tail of the joists, connecting them together and creating those graceful but difficult curves.
If you missed the first part of this build, be sure and check that out HERE
We did a lot of brainstorming on how to get this curved rim joist.
We went with our plan A which was to use a 2×12 on all of the straight sections, then 1/2” plywood on the curves. The hope was that the 1/2” ply would be malleable enough to make the curves without snapping. Then we would build up the thickness needed by laminating three layers of plywood together.
Let me kill the suspense and tell you that it worked like a charm and while it was a very time consuming process, it was very satisfying and man, what a transformation it made to the deck.
We would start by cutting full sheets of plywood into strips, utilizing the top half of our scaffolding as a large workbench and outfield table.
Actually, this was often used as a walking platform when working on this side of the deck as well. After cutting strips, we would pick out and use the ones with the clearest grain. We noticed that any strips with crazy grain orientation would want to snap under the pressure. Sure you could always kerf the back, but instead we stuck with clear grain pieces and didn’t have a single one fail on the install.
The first layer of the strip would then need to be cut to the needed length so it would end at the center of a joist. Then to start attaching it, each joist tail was coated in a quick drying construction adhesive.
Then the start of the board would be attached with a few screws and a heavy duty metal clamp, while the majority of the board would be held out straight.
Now deploy all the other clamps you have and then some, to start making the curve. As one of us would make the bend, the other would be setting clamps to keep it bent or driving in screws if that was enough to hold it.
I don’t know if you can make it out but the straight 2×12 has a half lap on both ends and you’ll see how this comes into play in just a few minutes.
The first layer of 1/2” ply butted up against this half lap on this side, then ended half on a joist at the other end. Which is where another first layer started.
Once the entire curve had the first layer established, now we repeated the process but with layer two. This is where the plywood strip would start on top of the half lap of the straight 2×12 which helps join things together by tying it in.
On this layer we tried to leave the strips as long as we could, only cutting something shorter if the seam lined up too close with the lower layer seam.
After getting the entire 2nd layer attached with construction adhesive, clamps, and screws, we repeated for a third time on layer three. Again being mindful to stagger the seams. We were also really diligent about looking for gaps. The larger clamps did a great job at holding the big spaces closed but some areas required quite a few smaller clamps in between to really close all the gaps. So after getting the bulk curve in place, we doubled checked both the top and bottom seam to see where it needed extra persuasion.
After getting a curve done, Jake went back and added in a few bolts to the connection between the 2×12 straight rim and the laminated ply rim.
We started off with the tightest and hardness radius then moved out from there. While everything else was more simple with the curves, it was still a pretty time consuming process. It took us two days to get them all set. None of us minded though, I honestly was fascinated by the process and was also extremely giddy about the drastic change it was making to the deck.
You know the great thing about building a deck in the trees? I’ll always be able to see the intricate and beautiful framing of it. The framing of a structure is one of my favorite things to look at so I’m so happy I have a way of being able to see this one.
With the rim joist done, it’s onto the next major step of the project which is covering up the substructure with decking. The first thing in this step was to first apply a protective tape to the top side of every single surface of the framing. If you’ve ever had to demo a deck before, you’ll know that the top side of the framing is typically rotten even when the rest of the board isn’t, this tape is designed to protect the tops of all of these members by acting as a barrier between wood and moisture.
So while this step is a little time consuming, it will drastically effect the life span of your structure. I’m using the Trex Protect tape Beam and Joist Tape which is a self-adhesive butyl tape that won’t bleed, dry out quickly, or curl up like many asphalt based tapes.
After that step, it was right into attaching the deck boards. One of the challenges here was getting material staged up on the deck for us to pull from. We ended up utilizing the fork lift again to lift a big stack of material up into the air, then a few carefully placed walk boards to allow us to assembly line unload and slide over to the start position.
For this project I am very excited to be working with Trex, using their Transcend decking line which is a composite decking material.
One main reason for going with a composite is it’s superior durability. unlike wood, and even many PVC options, high-performance Trex decking resists fading, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. Another huge high point is high-performance Trex composites retain their beauty for decades with minimal upkeep meaning I won’t ever have to sand and refinish this massive surface.
I didn’t want the deck to be all one color and pattern. To give it some visual interest we placed a dark stripe right on top of the three joists sistered together then used a lighter color on the rest. This stripe was our starting point for the decking. The boards aren’t long enough to span from the front all the way to the back so we were again conscious and choosy about where we landed the seams on the boards we put down. Not only staggering them but also making sure the butt joint would be on a wide support for both boards coming together.
With the stripe down we picked up the lighter color and started working to the left. Working around the trees isn’t difficult but it is going to be time consuming so to start off we actually started laying down the deck boards that would be a continuous run from the center stripe all the way off the deck. This meant we work in front of the back tree all the way until the back of the front most tree.
You can see we’re placing full boards down then letting the free end run wild. This is another time the accurate 3D model of the project was handy: When ordering the deck boards, we already knew the dimension of this area and could order boards in different lengths instead of just guessing or working with one size and having a ton of waste.
I’ll tell you the best part about this step….creating a super easy walking surface! After a week and a half of having to move a ladder anywhere we wanted to go, or balancing and picking a small path, it was a giant relief to have a solid and large area to not only walk but to also work from.
At the end of day 1 on decking, we only made it this far….but remember the first day of a new process is always the most time consuming. We finished the day by using a circular saw to cut the majority of the wild end off so it doesn’t strain the portion of the board that is attached to the deck.
Day 2 on decking, we covered much more ground, largely because we had our system figured out. What we worked out is a two man team works best. One person could set the new deck board in place and do all the pre drilling, while a second person followed behind actually driving in the screws.
For a securing method, we’re using the hidden fastener approach meaning the screws go into the side of the deck boards instead of on the face where you’ll be able to see them.
I love the way the boards look without screws showing everywhere, it’s a small thing but gives the finished appearance a super clean and tidy look. To accomplish this look, we’re using an incredibly handy deck jig made by Kreg specifically for this hidden fastner approach.
It’s very unassuming because it’s small and lightweight, but this simple jig takes out almost all of the thought work in laying down the deck boards. The face of the jig is covered in useful alignment tools for getting the jig in line with the joist, whether it be straight or at an angle. A pre drill bit that has a collar on it is included so that when you set the jig in place to drill a hole, the collar will regulate the depth, not allowing you to go too shallow or deep.
Next you can drop a screw into the same port and use the driver bit (also with a collar) to set the screw. The collar once again now allowing you to go over or under tighten. After that you can repeat with the next hole.
Something I didn’t realize until tackling this project is composite decking expands and contracts just like real wood does. With that, a 1/4” space needs to be left in between each board to allow for movement. The Kreg Deck Jig comes with three spacers to make this job go quicker. It isn’t crucial that the spacers be placed when predrilling the holes, but it is when the screws start going in. If they aren’t set then the screw will push the board over, messing up the gap.
Once we got to the second side of the deck we really started flying. We again started in the center of the deck so we could lay down a ton of boards without having to work around the trees. Jake and David both took a side, working out from the middle, and I would hop back and forth to do the predrilling so that we could all keep moving.
Something else that made this job go quick is having a good set of knee pads. You’ll see that I am able to easily slide from joist to joist, moving the Kreg jig along to very quickly knock out the pre drilling. This was my first time trying out these ToughBuilt knee pads and I was beyond impressed.
They might look a little intense but they are extremely comfortable and are designed with full mobility in mind. t’s not only easy and comfortable to go from standing to kneeling but the design also keeps the pads square on the knee and won’t allow it to side shift.
Ok lets talk about working around these trees. Again, it’s important to leave room for movement here. There is 7” around the tree on the framing for growth, but on the decking we ultimately wanted to leave 2”. This will be for when the wind blows and the trees moves a bit. Should the tree get closer to the edge of any deck surface in the future then they can always be trimmed back some. For now though, we would just get close then do all the final trimming and sizing at the very end.
So each board would get roughly cut with a jig saw so all the boards around the tree could be laid down and attached. Once the tree was fully covered on all side then the final cut would happen.
Jake held onto a putty knife that is exactly 2” wide to make this step easier. He would run the putty knife around the base of the tree and mark off with a sharpie where 2” fell, then use a jigsaw to cut it out.
It took us 2.5 days to complete the decking and man, it was a wonderful feeling getting to the very end. We were all very smoked but extremely satisfied.
Of course we weren’t quite done yet. At this point all the ends are still left running wild and need to be cut flush to the rim joist. I planned on doing this with a flush trim bit in a router but to ease the amount of work the bit had to do, we first used a combination of a jigsaw or circular saw to trim the bulk of the overhang. Then came back with a router to square it up nice and neat. Whew, look at those curves coming out.
Ahhhh, oh my goodness. What a tremendous amount of work but it’s soo cool and also so beautiful.
I love the overall high definition wood grain patterns of this Trex decking with the Havana Gold boards having a warm, golden color while Spiced Rum offers an appealing contrast with its earthy umber tones. It’s very reassuring after all this work that it’s stunning vibrancy will remain unchanged for years.
Ok hang in there with me, it might seem like a good stopping point but there was one more major step to complete this portion of the build, Fasca. This is the board that will cover up the face of the wooden rim joist. So more curves.
Thankfully this Trex composite decking is flexible and didn’t have any issues with the job. The Trex facia boards might look the same but they are actually slightly thinner than the deck boards. For color I went with the darker color of the stripe on the deck which is Spiced Rum. This way when looking at the deck from the top, the Havana Gold will be outlined with the darker color.
These boards are installed very easily, by simply holding the board in place then screwing it into the rim joist. Before getting started we first went around the deck and painted a small portion a dark color. This is because it will take two facia boards stacked on top of each other to make up the height of the rim joist. So instead of having the pressure treated wood showing through, this will help camouflage the gap.
Next we started with the top board. Here we position the board just slightly over flush with the top of the deck. That’s because this board will want to expand and contract up and down and when it contracts I don’t want the deck edge being exposed. David and I actually started off trying to stick with the hidden faster approach even on this facia but noticed that it wasn’t holding the boards down all the way on the tighter curved surfaces. With that, we switched over to face screwing the boards on instead.
With the deck on, it’s pretty difficult to utilize clamps so instead one of us would hold out the long board so that it would be as straight as possible while the other person would slowly work towards the end screwing it down as they went.
We first went around the entire deck and attached the top boards. This way we could work with full length boards and see where the seams would fall, then also avoid working around the beams for the mean time.
On the second pass we repeated the process but on the bottom. Here the main thing we looked for is to once again make sure the seams would be staggered. This step of the process went very quick and we were able to complete the entire facia in just a single day.
: ) Would you take a look at that. I can’t express how giddy I was at this point. Also very tired, this was a massive undertaking and I think that’s saying something, coming from me. Ha.
Next up for Part 3 of the deck will be building a unique set of stairs for it. So if you’re enjoying the build, be sure to stay tuned.
Where are my Halloween lovin’ friends? Time for some Halloween fun!
I’ve rounded up some DIYShowOff Halloween ideas from DIYShowOff past for inspiration for your upcoming weekend Halloween projects.
Past DIYShowOff Halloween Ideas
Skeleton Fairy Couture – perfect for adding Halloween touches to your decor. Attach to a wreath, pin onto your jacket, position in a plant, unlimited ideas and so much fun – a little reminiscent of playing with paper dolls only more creative and 3D. I’m on the hunt for supplies again this year…with felt accents for skeleton diffusers! CUTE!
Halloween (witch) dreamcatcher // tea party – this whimsical witch-catcher is just too cute! A great Halloween themed craft idea. Gather some friends and cider! Or make one up and add it to your “BOO” for a friend or neighbor.
The Raven inspired Halloween party ideas – throwing a monster bash? A black and white Poe theme is perfectly POEtic! I’m gathering up my props from the past to create a Poe-themed window at my wellness studio. Can’t wait!
DIY chicken wire/cheesecloth spooky skeleton ghost – this guy hangs out in our (storage) barn all year long until it’s time to come out of hiding! A scary sight when you walk in to rummage through the treasures. And a fun addition to the grape arbor/gazebo with the curtains blowing around. Spooky!
This video is all about solutions for tricky clamping situations when the usual methods just won’t work. Check it out.
When you have an unusual shape and multiple joints that need securing at the same time, grab a scrap board and place your glue up on top.
Now place a scrap blocks at the ends as well as the joints, then attach them to the backer board with a screw. Leave just a slight gap so that next you can use some wedges to apply pressure at every joint.
When you’re trying to clamp onto a sloped surface, the clamp will just slip more as you tighten more. To solve this, grab a scrap and make two notch boards that have parallel clamping surfaces. You can leave a foot at the end of these boards to hook onto your project.
When gluing on something long, such as this trim piece, you could use as many clamps as you can get on the surface…..or you can use a caul. This caul has a slight cup in it and if you place it with the curve facing the trim piece, you can use two clamps on either end to apply even pressure over the entire length.
With a similar principal in mind, another method would be to use F style clamps but leave a small gap between the trim and the neck of the clamp.
This way you can use a wedge to apply a larger footprint of pressure and not have to use so many clamps.
A different method of cauls is glue cauls….have you ever had something longer than your clamps that you needed to clamp together? Instead of buying 8’ clamps a trick is to first glue down some scrap blocks to brown construction paper. Then glue the paper down on either side of your joint.
After about 30 seconds and a bit of downward pressure, the pieces are ready to be clamped onto and pull things together. After it dried, the cauls can be knocked off and the paper sanded away.
I) Another work around for not having really long clamps is to prop your glue up on two boards then screw down a scrap at the end.
Now on the end you need to clamp something to, use another scrap with a lag bolt threaded in the edge.
Screw it down so the lag bolt is touching the wood, then as you thread out on the lag bolt, it applies pressure to the joint and negates having to have extremely long clamps.
Pieces often shift during clamping which can be frustrating so to get a perfectly flush edge, use a scrap to shoot a brad nail or two into the edge of the wood.
Trim off the head so only a small nub is remaining. Now line up your joining board and press it down onto the nails.
Now when you clamp the joint, the slick surface won’t matter.
I love that last trick but another method that gets the same results is biscuits.
They also won’t allow your boards to shift while applying pressure with a clamp.
Sometimes when clamping, you’ll run into situations where the clamps don’t have a long enough reach.
Hand Screw clamps are a wonderful solution because they are made with a wooden body, meaning you can very quickly screw on extensions for any length you need.
Want a more even pressure when clamps can’t reach the center of a board? Never rule out just dumb weight.
So many items around a shop can work for clamping including…extra glue bottles….
Or even a bucket of water set directly on top or on an expanded footprint that fits the surface area.
Or one I particular like is a door jam. If you have a mobile work bench, roll the glue up to a door jam and use a few scraps to go up to the jam.
You can place them at a slight angle then use wedges to get them snug. Now as you tap them vertical it applies more pressure down to the workpiece. If you create a larger footprint like I have with 2x4s, then the pressure is distributed over the entire piece.
Then last but not least, don’t rule out the power of tape. When glueing together four miters, lay out a piece of tape with the adhesive facing up.
Place your parts so that the corners touch, then after applying glue, simply roll it up and let it dry.
I hope these tips have helped you learn a trick or two! Leave me a comment below and let me know what your favorite trick is, if I didn’t mention it.
If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll know that I purchased a commercial space, called The Wood Shed, here in the Hill Country of Texas. In the back yard area there is this small grove of live oaks and at the time there was a worn out tree house spanning across some of them.
I tore it down almost immediately but then started on building this 700 square foot floating deck that uses only the surrounding trees to support it. This was a massive undertaking that is most certainly among my favorite of all time builds so let me start at the beginning and explain the process.
The first thing I need to mention is this took months of planning. Jacob, who is the lead carpenter on this build does have a background in building tree houses but we still ran the plans through several engineers, had the trees inspected by an arborist, and Jacob even did a detail 3D model of the entire structure and trees.
When building in the trees, it’s important to remember that they are living, growing, moving things so you have to allow for their movement or you can end up damaging the tree and having a failing structure. There are these special bolts called TABS, tree attachment bolts, that are massive and are specially designed to build in the trees. Each one of these is rated at 10,000 lbs which is nuts to me.
This threaded portion here will be inserted into the tree until half of the bose is buried in the trunk.
Then the deck will be resting on this portion of the bolt which will be sticking out.
In order to get a level, all of these TABs need to be drilled on the same plane however, getting a level line on 8 different trees was kind of a problem but Jake showed me a new trick for it called a water level. It’s a simple tool made from a clear flexible hose with water in it then it works on the principal that water will always find it’s own level regardless if the ends of the tube are touching each other or 50 feet apart.
To use the tool, I would hold my end of the tube still, at the starting elevation then Jake could move his end of the tube to transfer that elevation to the next tree.
After repeating on the other trees and getting the TAB locations marked, we started predrilling. The TABs need about 8 1/2” of depth, so we made a mark on the auger to have a visual on the progress. The important thing to pay attention to on this step is that we were going in straight. Not only square to the tree, but also keeping the bit level. To check for square, one of us would hold a square to give the driller a visual reference on the left and right position of the drill.
Then I would stop every little bit to check a level and make sure my up and down position was also good.
Once the depth was reached, now the bit is switched out to a different bit that will enlarge the outside of the hole and allow for the boss to nest into the tree.
This bit looks like a forstner bit but has a long center pin that fits in the pre drill hole I just drilled which helps keep the forester centered.
This step was incredibly challenging. We needed to go about 3 1/2” into the tree and just to give you a better idea on time, this one hole took 45 mins. These live oaks are no joke!
After getting it drilled through, now was to insert the TAB into place. A few things here, we would sanitize the threads and anything else that woulld be coming in contact with the freshly drilled hole….maybe overkill, but it’s an easy thing to do.
When threading it in, it’s again important that it goes in level so after every few turns, we would throw a level on it.
It’s amazing just how quickly this gets too hard to turn by hand. So we added in some leverage by attaching a pipe wrench to the TAB. Then, when that wasn’t enough, adding a cheater bar to the pipe wrench.
This turned out to be everybody’s favorite part of the process as we all took turns rotating the TAB into place.
There were only 6 TABs but it took us an entire day to get them all set. Something we ended up trying to make the drilling step go faster was to wrap a ratchet strap around the tree and the drill. Then as Jake would hold the trigger and keep the drill straight, I would slowly tighten down on the ratchet, allowing it to assist in pushing the drill into the cut.
To give you an idea on how effective this was, the first three holes took us about 45 mins a piece to drill, but the strap cut that time down to 10 mins….and it saved our shoulders and chests from getting black and blue.
On to Day 2!
One beam, the smallest here up front, was the only one we were able to make ourselves, the other two had to be specially ordered and delivered.
It was actually really cool watching it all get delivered because the two beams showed up on their own truck and the driver was able to tilt up his bed and dump it directly on site. If you’re in Texas and have timber needs then I’ll leave you a link below or HERE.
We started by trying to set the back most beam, which is the second largest. It weighs 470 lbs and is around 24′ long.
The first obstacle was simply how to move such a heavy piece into place. It turns out we were able to wrap a few straps around it and use the power of all three of us to drag it over.
Next thing to figure out was to get it lifted 9’ in the air….we were going to try a few chain hoists, but since I have a fork lift, decided to try that first. That worked exceptionally well.
Not only was it easy lifting but the ability to side shift the forks and therefore the beam left and right was easy peasy. However, it’s worth noting that Jake has lifted heavy items like this before with just the use of chain hoists.
Ok, that went smoothly, but now it was on to the biggest beam….this one weighs 470 and is 24 feet long.
We actually tried the same method of pulling it but had no luck. So I went and grabbed another useful tool….a side by side. We strapped onto one side of the beam and used it to drag it forward.
Once the tail passed the trees, I used the fork lift to pick it up and bring it back into place. This way we could use the side by side once again to drag it in to the groove of trees and thread it into place.
Every step on this project was something new to figure out. We would start off with the main objective of something, in this case, we need to get this beam over and up there, then just work out how to do that little by little until eventually, our objective was met and we could look to repeating the process on the next challenge.
After setting the two largest beams, setting the third was a piece of cake! To make the smallest one….which btw: small in this case is 34’ feet long and weighs 950lbs …..we cut each beam to the same length then lamented it together to make up a three layered beam.
Even though it’s heavy, Jake and I found it wasn’t too heavy for us to simply lift it up and carry it over into place.
Once all three beams were in place, now we could attach the unique hardware. Each beam has two TABs. At one end there is a static arrangement…
…while the other end has a dynamic arrangement.
The static will stay stationary but the dynamic has a long slot that the TAB goes through, which will allow movement room as the tree grows or moves.
First two days and two major steps down, now it was on to day three which was another tough one….setting the joists. The element that really makes this a tough job is that we need to get every single one 10’ in the air. Also, because of our spans and load, every piece of material we’re working with is not only huge and also very heavy.
We started the day off by looking at the plans and marking off where each joist needed to be located on the beams. I can not stress to you how incredibly valuable having a set of detailed plans was. Jake invested so much time perfecting things digitally in the 3D model where every angle and length was accurate so that when we moved to the next step, he could easily call out the exact location or length or angle or answer to any other question posed. If you’re tackling something as equally complex, I highly recommend the time investment.
So one thing that made joist day so tough is the weight of everything and getting every board lifted up and moved into place, but another was every joist required two different angles to be cut in on either end. Because I didn’t just want a massive floating deck that was 9’ in the air with no posts going down to the ground…I also wanted the deck to have curves which meant the front of a joist could need a 16.4 degree cut but the back might need a 117 degree cut.
We worked out a system where Jacob would make all the cuts on the joists, on the ground, then him and I would helf the joist up and onto the beams where David was stationed. From there, we would not only place the joist on it’s tick mark on the beam but also make sure the over hang off the beam was correct.
There was a ton of blocking needed throughout the deck, not only in between each joists where each beam was but also around the trees. So David and I would keep ourselves busy while Jake would be cutting the next joist, by adding in the blocking. The blocking in between the joists prevent the joists from being able to roll.
then the blocking around the trees of course gives us framing members to attach to while also giving the tree plenty of room to grow in the future. With these being live oaks, we left about 7” of room on all sides of the trees.
Just a tip if you’re working up high like this, we constantly would screw in temporary scraps on the underside of the joists to create a shelf to hold up the next board we would be putting in. This way you don’t have to hold it flush on top.
The deck is divided in kinda of two distinct sides with three joists laminated together being here.
Day three was us setting these three joists then everything to the left side.
Day four we all showed up kinda smoked but ready to repeat the process to set the joists to the right of the three joists.
The second day of any process is always easier in the sense that the system is figured out, the tools needed are set up and a groove between team members is established. Which is always a great feeling for me.
One unique thing we had to figure out on this right side of the deck was coming off at an angle from the three joists to the front beams. This was complicated because One) the steep angles were a new challenge for Jacob to figure out how to cut with a circular saw. The problem is the blade can only be set so far over. He ended up making up a jig that he could rest the shoe of the saw on to raise it up higher on one side and give him the additional angle needed. Then he would make two cuts in order to get the depth needed. That’s a great trick.
Then the second thing to figure out was attaching them securely. We ended up cutting and placing these small blocks that have an angle cut in on one side. This way, as the joist was placed in it’s needed location we would have plenty of meat to attach into.
Throughout the entire deck we were using a combination of screws and nails. Typically using nails to pin items into place and get them positioned and set but then coming back with screws to squeeze things together. In some areas, like these angled joists we would also come back with metal straps and bolts to reinforce the connection. Other hardware used was joists hangers on any joists not on a beam….for these we grabbed the standard hangers but gave them all a coat of black paint before installing them.
After the angled joists were installed we went back to tossing up then installing the regular joists that spanned from the front beam to the back.
It was really cool at this point to walk under the deck not only is it beautiful to look at but it’s a crazy cool feeling to watch the progress as the day goes on.
Also on the front, it was spectacular to see the curves coming to life. You could walk under the front edge, looking up, and follow the bends that definitely give it a gracefulness but added so much additional work.
Day 5 started with another slightly unique system, sister joists together in order to span from the center, largest beam, to the front most beam. These will make up the forward most area of the deck that will be the tightest radius but create a very quaint and cozy viewing or seating option, once the deck is complete.
It’s a fun thing to experience, building a deck in the trees….because the more boards you throw up and attach, the more walking area you’re giving yourself. To get to one point to the other we would most often just balance beam across and stay up on top, but scaffolding and as many tall ladders as possible under was also a time saver. Oh and if we were working in one area for a bit, then just throwing up a full sheet of plywood to use as a sitting area and work bench was very handy.
At this point, we were all three very tired….it’s not only hard work but it’s also summer in Texas. Thank goodness we had the wonderful shade of the trees themselves as we were building. But looking out over the deck from either the bottom side or the top side, it was extremely easy to feel proud and also excited by what we were doing.
Now of course there is a lot more to go but I’ve had to break this project into a few parts because there is so much involved. In the next episode I’ll start right here and show you how we capped off and joined all the tails of the joists to eventually create the stunning curves you see in the final deck.
Stay tuned if you’re interested in seeing it and leave me a comment down below on what you think about it so far.
We had other plans for this week’s post, but then Hurricane Sally made her way ever-so-slowly through the gulf and gave us a few solid days of rain, rain, and more rain. Thankfully it was nothing more than that (no power lost, and no flooding for us), which has us feeling incredibly grateful – and we hope everyone who was more directly affected is safe and their homes are ok. Since we couldn’t take the outdoor photos we had planned for an exterior update this week, we realized we should build two blog pages that had been sorely missing for the last, oh, four months. So to everyone who has been asking for those, we finally made them!
First, we’ve got a brand-spankin’ new Before & After page for our house here in Florida. Click HERE to see it.
“After” may be a bit presumptuous since none of our spaces have reached what we believe will be their “absolute final stages” (it has only been 4 months!) but they’ve all come so far – and we have to admit that they feel extremely good to us already!
We are all looking for the perfect home – but some of us are prepared to work at the imperfect one we have to get there. According to a new survey by Pilkington it takes approximately £26,000 of renovations to achieve the “perfect” home after moving in, and it takes on average five years after […]
The process of taking raw material and turning it into something functional, has always struck me as a magical process. So to have the opportunity to start by splitting a log then spending my days transforming it’s pieces into a finely crafted piece of furniture, that will most certainly lost my entire lifetime, is extraordinary.
Throw in the fact that I’m in the tranquil Tennessee countryside surrounded by hand tools and good company, there is no wonder I always come back reinvigorated and at peace.
Greg Pennington is a master chairmaker in Hendersonville, TN who I met only a year ago but who I feel like I’ve known lifetimes. Not only is his friendly demeanor infectious, but he is an incredible teacher full of valuable knowledge and information.
Building at Greg’s always starts the same, with splitting a log to then turn into a piece of furniture. He not only teaches you how to use the traditional tools for this task but also the reason behind it.
If you split a log along it’s grain and let it dictate it’s path then it will be worlds stronger than a similar piece you cut at the bandsaw or tablesaw. And if you’re interested in building a chair to last a lifetime, and then some, then that strength is needed. This is just one golden nugget of information I learned from Greg during the class.
I’m predisposition to feel at home in a shop because it’s very much my happy place. However, Greg’s shop brings on a new level of joy and comfort that I don’t experience anywhere else. The atmosphere, and the work, makes me feel relaxed, at peace, and meditative even. It’s an environment that I can potentially joke with a friend on an adjacent shave horse, or sit in an easy silence and listen to the unique tool noises.
Greg is making chair making more accessible by offering templates for several different chairs, jigs, and rockers, this one included. There are links in the description for Greg’s class schedule as well as the templates available.
Greg’s class offers me the opportunity to use an assortment of tools that I don’t typically incorporate in my normal projects. Coming from using mostly power tools, it’s interesting and exciting to me to see and understand which hand tools takes the place of which power tool.
I’ve done power carving before where I’ve removed a lot of material at once to try and shape something, and it was very satisfying. But it’s just a different sort of satisfation, using a scorp and feeling the sensation of removing one chunk at a time.
Then moving to a tranvisher to smooth out the rough marks left from the scorp…
then moving to a spoke shave to remove the rough marks left from the travisher…
to then move to a card scraper and be left with an unmarred seat that looks smooth and flawless.
Making this very traditional Windsor chair, it’s easy in the sense that Greg won’t allow you to mess it up, but it’s a lot of work. It’s full of details that require patient and attention but the fact that it takes so much intentional thought and movement, makes the end of the week’s result that much more satisfying.
It’s a little surreal to me that I will have this item for the rest of my life. Wherever I go, this chair will be with me. Then even after I pass, it could very well go through another person’s lifespan as well. I can only think of one or two other things that share the same longevity. So this is special, and my hands made it, out of a tree.
Sticking to the traditional Windsor style, after I perfected the chair, I painted it with Real Milk Paint. First with two coats of red then two coats of black. The idea behind the color scheme is so when wear spots start showing up on small areas of the chair, slight red will show through instead of bare wood.
I’m using Real Milk Paint for this final finishing touch. Real Milk Paint is known for their traditional color palette which is based on antique furniture. This is an environmental friendly, non-toxic, powedered paint where you just add water. The fact that it comes in a powder form means it doesn’t have a shelf life and also gives you the freedom to mix up your needed amount on a project to project basis. It has an extremely fast dry time of 30 mins so I was able to get all my coats of paint done in a single day instead of prolonging the steps over multiple days. I love Real Milk Paint because it acts much like a wood stain, in that it absorbs into the wood rather than lay on top of it. This allows for all the intricate details of the piece to be seen, even through the paint.
If you’re curious, the tape on the bottom is applied before paint, so that after things are buffed and prepped for oil, I would have a clean spot to sign and date my work before applying a few coats of oil to it.
If you are looking for a project as a relaxing escape or a unique learning experience, I highly recommend taking a class from Greg. You’ll not only be able to take away a mind full of useful information but also an heirloom piece of furniture that you’ll always be proud of.
If you’ve followed along for a while you’ve seen our bedroom fireplace get a few updates over on Instagram Stories, but today we’re telling the whole sordid tale of how our update ideas recently veered off-course (and how we ended up at Plan B when Plan A went bust). Last time you saw it on the blog, it looked a little something like this:
similar stools |art | frame for art | similar rug | similar pot | wheeled plant stand
But we should rewind for a second. It was pretty bleak looking when we first started Operation Revive The Fireplace. There was a bunch of dried glue and gunk leftover from some tiles that had once covered the surround (not to mention a rusty screen and general grime). But Sherry had that look in her eye that said “don’t second guess me, this is going to work” and after nearly a decade and a half of marriage I have learned not to question this look.
I started off by flipping out the wings on my miter saw stand and cutting down the material that will make up the four legs. If you would like a set of plans with a cultist and material list, you can find those here: https://bit.ly/2EP4A22
After cutting the angle on the bottom of the leg, I went to the top and used a template to trace the needed top profile. BTW: a template for this shape comes with a set the purchase of a set of plans.
After tracing the shape, I used a bandsaw to cut it out. It can be a little tricky to do with a bandsaw because of the length so grab a friend if you’re able to. If not, a jigsaw would also work.
After I got one of the legs fully cut on top and bottom, I used it to trace the different cuts on the remaining three legs then repeated with the cutting process.
With this project being so large, I find it easiest to work directly on the floor of my shop instead of a workbench. I laid out all four legs in the orientation they would end up, then started marking the locations of the stretchers. These are the pieces that will span from leg to leg.
To make a cleaner looking finish project and also a stronger connection, I decided to make these a half lap joint. I measured up from the end of the leg on all four then making sure the top profile cut was touching, I pulled out a tape measure to the dimension the bottom splay needed to be then made sure the legs were positioned as far a part as they should be.
Now that the legs are staged in their final position, I grabbed the bottom stretcher and simply set it in place directly onto of the legs. Here, I made sure the board landed on my pencil marks on both legs, then used a pencil to mark the top and also the bottom. This will indicate where the half lap on the legs needs to be cut in. Then before moving the board, I went to the underside…you might need a short pencil to do this….and also marked the stretcher the same which will indicate where the half lap is needed on the stretcher.
Now on to making all of the half laps, to do this you want to set the depth of your saw to half the overall depth of your material.
Then you take out half the material at the connection, on both boards being joined together. If you go the same route as me and use a circular saw, then a quick method is to make multiple cuts with the saw where the material needs to be removed.
then break out the pieces and clean up the bottom. I typically use a chisel to just bend over the pieces until the majority break off then chisel up the bottom flush but a claw on a hammer also works.
After knocking out one, I would set the part back into place on the floor then repeat on the next one. BTW: If you want to simplify this project you can skip the half laps and just face screw the stretchers to the inside of the frame. However, this does give it a pretty tidy look at the end. If you go the half lap route, I always take my time making the first two cuts to establish the boundary of joint, then zoom away to cut out all the inside cuts.
I always recommend dry fitting your pieces before applying any glue so this is just a dry run for me, as you can see, the stretcher is still left long at this point.
Ok, good to go! I hauled the stretcher over to the miter saw to cut it to length. After repeating for the top stretcher I started adding glue and attaching things.
Since this is an outdoor project be sure to use a water proof wood glue on any joints. I applied a good amount then slipped in the stretchers. Don’t be afraid to use a mallet to work it into position, it should be a tight joint.
I attached things using three outdoor rated screws per connection, however if you wanted an upgrade, two bolts on each location would be a good choice.
Ok lets stand up the two ends and connect the two. This step is certainly easier to call in a friend for help. After roughly placing both ends, I held one end of the beam in it’s socket while David, who is actually the Manager of The Wood Shed but was doing some work in my shop, moved in the other leg so it could also be craddled.
Once it’s up there, I climbed up to get it snuggly seated all the way down, then attached it. The thing to pay attention to here is I left the beam a little long so there would be a nice over hang on either end.
So I just had to make sure the distance it was overhanging was correct before I drove in the screws. I placed screws in from both sides, but again bolts would be an upgraded option here.
Perfect, moving on. Now to the inside of the frame I first cut then added in some gussets. These are a small part compared to everything else on the build but they are important to keep the frame from being able to rack left and right. I quickly cut both sides to the needed angle then lined them up to be center to the header and the top stretcher. Just a tip for you, I always try and get some screws started in my board when I know I’ll only have one hand available for securing.
Gussets are added, which adds rigidity so lets add the swing and give it a test run! We aren’t done yet, but I’m too impatient to wait. I added in some eye lets to the top header beam then hung up my swing.
If you’re needing a swing as well then check out my website as I have templates for making this one here: http://bit.ly/2L8wsjt Over the years I’ve built plenty of these two seaters and also a single person seater option and they make wonderful gifts.
Ok lets add on two more additions. There is some built in wasted space on frames because since the swing needs to be inside the gussets on the frame, however long the gussets are is just open space. To put it to some sort of use, I built in some little end tables, if you will.
I started by making a few more half laps joints in this bottom stretcher then holding a 2×4 in place to trace out the profile.
This gave me the area I needed to take away to make a matching arm. I cut the waste out at the bandsaw then glued these pieces into place.
Next I cut up and sanded a few fence pickets to make the top deck boards. After lining them up, I secured them into place with screws. I didn’t glue these in just so I can easily replace them in the future should I need to.
Honestly, I don’t know if these will be handy or not. My porch swing does come with a cup holder in both arms, which seems to be the most valuable. But who knows, maybe I’ll want to carve a spoon while swinging and be able to use the end table for my tools. Or maybe even a bluetooth speaker for some music.
Ok, last detail! A top cap. This is just for aesthetics but I think gives the frame a more complete look. After sanding down a board, I cut it to length then used a few screws to secure it to the top of the beam.
Annnnd done. It can be a bit awkward to move this big heavy thing but it definitely can be done with two people. Or it could be built in place.
I placed mine out in front of my shop so I have a nice place to go take a call or relax at the end of the day.
If you’re interested in other designs, I also built this different style of porch swing frame a few years ago and it has a roof to provide some shade.
I’ll leave you a link to all the things I’ve mentioned below. If you purchase a set of plans or templates from me, then a big thank you for supporting what I do.