Pomegranate Soda

This year for Christmas we got a DrinkMate Sparkling Water and Soda Maker. Our children like soda, but we don’t really want them to have all that extra sugar. With this soda maker we can make our own soda and control the amount of sugar. This particular machine can carbonate any drink. What you make is limited only by your imagination.

Our children did take that a little far though. They were all spouting off things that we could use the soda maker for, and many of the ideas were bizarre. Our 10 year old had the oddest ideas. He wanted to carbonate gravy. I don’t know what he thought we could do with carbonated gravy though.

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Mahogany Plywood Dining Table with I-beam legs

Who builds their own dining table?  Only a crazy person!  Even worse is somebody that builds a table that weighs at least 400 pounds.

About two years ago our dining table started to look really worn out.  The table top had a thin veneer that was starting to disappear in patches. The seats were made of PVC faux leather, and large pieces of the material were breaking off leaving only the thin cloth backing left.

We started to look for a new dining table, but were not happy with the choices available.  Either we would have to buy something that would fall apart just like our old table, or we spend at least $3000 on something made out of solid materials.  So, I of course got the crazy idea to build my own table.

I started searching the internet for table ideas.  Somehow, I got the really crazy idea to use i-beams as the base for the table and bench I wanted to build.  Lynn isn’t able to visualize things in her head so I attempted to design the table using Sketchup.

I was able to buy the i-beams that I wanted at a local metal shop.  They cut the beams down to size for me, which is good because there is no way I could have done that myself.  The beams I bought had been sitting outside so they were covered in surface rust. 

Using my grinder, I removed most of that rust.  The metal underneath didn’t look new, but had a sort of aged patina look which is what I wanted.  To darken up the metal I cleaned it all with mineral spirits.  Then I sprayed with with a clear semi gloss enamel for protection.\

Knowing that this would end up being a very heavy table I had to come up with a way to attach the parts.  I decided to drill holes in the i-beams and the angle iron that the table top would rest on.  The i-beams and angle iron are then bolted together.  I used large bolts so the table and bench are strong enough to hold a lot of weight.

As you can see from the dates in the pictures, I was able to get the legs completed over a year ago.  That is the point I ran into some difficulties.  I bought reclaimed wood to build the table top, but the wood wasn’t level and was more difficult to work with then I had thought it would be.  I was able to get the bench top put together, but was never able to make the tabletop work.  Periodically, I would try different ideas, but none of them worked out.

Eventually, I ran out of ideas for making the reclaimed wood work.  I was about ready to give up on making my own table, and Lynn was starting to talk about buying a new table.  Then inspiration struck me.  Why not use plywood to make the table and bench top?  I did a google search to see if someone else had done something like that before, and I found something I liked at a blog called Vintage Revivals.  They had created tabletops for a restaurant by stacking plywood.  They used 2 pieces of plywood and a strip of wood on the bottom edges to give the appearance of 3 pieces.  Ultimately, I decided on 3 pieces of plywood to make the tabletop higher and thicker since it matched the height of the reclaimed wood I originally planned to use.

Taking Vintage Revivals idea, I started looking into plywood.  Lynn and I finally decided on using African Mahogany plywood for the top and bottom piece with maple for the middle.  The total price for the wood and the urethane I used was about $450.  The store I bought the wood at cut it to size for me.  Each sheet of plywood was 4ft by 8ft.  My tabletop is 3ft by 7ft, and the bench is 15in by 7ft.  The bench needed one sheet of plywood and left just a small piece of scrap leftover.  From the table I have some scrap pieces that are 1ft by 8ft and some smaller pieces.  I will be able to use those to make a small shelf in our kitchen, and possibly a mantle for our fireplace.

I attached the pieces of plywood together with some heavy duty glue and finishing nails.  Once the plywood was attached together I used a sander to make sure all the edges lined up and were smooth.

Finally, I finished the table with polyurethane.  When I bought the wood I asked for suggestions on products for finishing the table.  One of the suggestions was a product from General Finishes called Enduro-var.  I was told it would amber the wood giving it a bit of an aged appearance.  There were other products suggested too, but I liked the idea of giving the wood the aged appearance.  I thought that would go well with the somewhat rusty looking i-beams.

Bringing the table into the house to assemble it was easier then expected.  The tabletop was the hardest part because Lynn and our oldest son had to work together to carry one of the sides.

There are a few minor things I wish looked better on the table. For instance, I was trying to move the unfinished tabletop by myself and put a small gouge on the top of the table.  The polyurethane did a good job of blending the gouge in so that it isn’t a major eyesore, mostly it just bugs me because I know it is there.

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Overall, I am really pleased with this DIY mahogany dining table.  As built it cost under $1000. There is the cost of the reclaimed wood that I didn’t use, but I think I will be able to come up with a good use for that someday. I do think you have to be pretty crazy to build something like this because it is heavy and that makes it difficult to work with.  However, should you choose to do it you will end up with a solid table that should lasts for a long time.

-Joshua

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Easy Raised Garden Beds

One of my gardening goals for this year is to get my oldest three children more involved.  I want them to learn how to grow their own food, and not just eat what dad grows.  I think it would be sad for them to grow up without any ideas how to grow plants, and think that it is a hard thing that only a select few with “green thumbs” can do.

An easily pinnable picture of easy raised garden beds

Since I needed to build three garden beds, I wanted to make raised garden beds that were quick and easy to put together.  Fortunately, I saw a product at Home Depot that happened to do exactly what I wanted. It is an 8in x 8in x 6in block with slots that a 2×6 board can slide into.  There is a small hole in the middle of the bricks that a piece of rebar can go into to help hold the bricks together or stack them to the ground.  Each brick costs $2.97 at my local store.

I also bought my redwood for the sides of the raised garden beds at Home Depot.  I wanted each raised garden bed to be 4ft by 3ft.  Of course, Home Depot doesn’t sell boards in those sizes so they have to be cut down.  Home Depot does do limited cutting for free, mostly to make the boards fit into customer’s cars.  I bought 8 foot boards that I had them cut in half for me for the 4 foot side.  I also bought 12 foot boards that I had cut in half for transportation.  I have my own table saw so I cut them into 3 foot sections myself.  I had to pay for one cut at Home Depot, so I paid 75 cents for my wood to be cut.

Getting these blocks and having Home Depot cut the wood for you is an easy way to build a raised garden bed.  If you don’t have the ability or tools to build your own garden bed I highly suggest doing it this way.

Once my boys and I put the beds together, we filled them as close to the Square Foot Garden method as we could.  That is 1/3rd vermiculite, 1/3rd peat, and compost.  Vermiculite is very expensive so I never quite make the 1/3rd on that.

Then I let the boys plan out what would be in their garden beds.  I bought a few new seeds for them in addition to letting them picks seeds from my collection.  We made a grid on paper and wrote out what seeds were going in each square foot.  I want them to remember what what they planted and see the different stages of growth for each type.

Corran doesn’t want to grow vegetables because he doesn’t want to eat them.  I grew corn last year in one of my raised beds, and it actually did pretty good.  I picked a blue corn because I liked the color.  We ended up with a number of ears, but they were not particularly edible.  Corran does like corn so he picked a yellow sweet corn to fill most of his bed.

Matthias really likes carrots so he mostly went this those in his raised garden bed.  The Madhu Ras Melons are a type of honey melon from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They are supposed to be from India and grow well in hot dry areas.  Our summers are very dry and tend to be fairly hot.  Hopefully, this melon will do well here.

Ian’s garden has the most variety.  He wanted to do corn to be like Corran, but does enjoy a few types of vegetables that he really wanted to try to grow.

I was able to plant Ian’s garden about 5 days before his brothers.  Our weather has been nearly perfect for sprouting seeds so all of his plants have sprouted.  He is very excited about his garden, and the plants that are growing in it.

-Joshua

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How to Repair a Rotten Subfloor

Awhile ago I posted about removing the tile and linoleum on my bathroom floor. Mostly, I took it off because I didn’t want to add yet another layer to an already high floor. I also knew there was rot in the subfloor around the toilet. I had seen the rot on one of my excursions under the house. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the worst of the rot, all I have is the surface plywood picture. 

My subfloor is built out of 1.5 inch thick wood planks. For those to rot through there had to be years of wet conditions. 

Repairing the floor isn’t a hard job if the damaged area isn’t too large. If you have damage to floor joists then you may want to get a professional to do the work. 

First you will need to clear the rot by cutting it out. If you can cut back to floor joists then it will be easier to attach the section of plywood that will make up the new floor. 


Once the rot is removed then you may need to add supports between the joists.  The joists in my house are pretty far apart so I had to add quite a network of wood to make a support that I felt would be strong enough for the floor and toilet. You may not need to make add all the supports like I did if you can easily span the joists with your plywood. Another thing you can do is attach a 2×6 directly to the joists and use that as the attachment point for your plywood. 


Next attach plywood to your supports or joists. This step is where I made the biggest mistake. I read up on how to do this before attempting it myself. Everything I read said to use a layer of 3/4th inch plywood. With my sub floor being so thick I should have done more then one layer of plywood. That would have saved me some work and money later. If you are making this repair in a potential wet spot make sure you use screws that will work there. Someone in the past had attempted a repair around the toilet using drywall screws, and they had rusted pretty badly. 

After the plywood is in place, you will need to use floor leveling compound to make the floor level if the plywood isn’t flush with the original floor. This is where not using more plywood hurt me. I had to use a lot of floor leveling compound. Plywood is cheaper and easier to work with. So make sure you get the plywood as close to flush with the original floor as you can. 

Once the floor is level or as close to it as possible then you are ready to start tiling the floor, and that will be another post. 

-Joshua

Paver Snowmen/Gingerbread Men

A republish from last year. This was a fun project to do, and getting out last year’s project brings back good memories. 

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The only place I was able to find the correct shaped pavers was Home Depot.  The pavers were only 67 cents each so they make for a cheap project.  I also bought a can of white and light brown spray paint.  We had all of the materials we used for decorating on hand.

First we put the paver on a box in the drive way and spray painted them white for snowmen and brown for gingerbread.  The pavers were already sort of brown, but were unevenly colored.  They needed to be painted for a better look.

The spray paint dried within minutes and we were able to decorate our pavers.  We used acrylic paint, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, and ribbons.  I was also able to fashion some hats out of scrap wood.  Each child was able to decorate in their own way.

Our 11-year-old’s snowmen and gingerbread man
Our 8 year old’s gingerbread men and snowman
Our 6 year old’s snowman, alien, and cyclops. I could see myself making something like this as a child.
Our 4 year old is really into black. Not a traditional snowman color.

These were easy and quick decorations that we will be using as decorations for family.  I also learned that the combination of gorilla glue and acrylic paint is VERY hard to clean off your hands.

-Joshua