Learning About Science By Growing Radishes: Day 1/2

In the introduction post to this topic, I just said the kids were doing this activity. It is actually just the 10 and 8 year old.

On the first day they made mini planters out of cardboard juice boxes.

Inside there is a wet paper towel. The towel has circles with numbers in them. A seed is placed on each number.

I took these pictures on the second day, and they have already started to sprout.

On day two they made something to show different growing environments.

Basically, it is a cup with paper towels in it. The towels are inside of water in the cup. There were three seeds put directly in the water. Three seeds on a paper towel. Three seeds on a paper towel wrapped in plastic wrap. Lastly, there are three seeds on the cup’s lid with no water.

They also made planters to plant seeds in the dirt. Currently, there are seeds in the planters marked 2a and 2b.

They are pretty excited so far to see what is happening with their seeds. It has been a lot of setup to get all of this done. Now they are entering more of a monitoring stage.

-Joshua

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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.  IMG_0961

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.

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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.

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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 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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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 to 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

Bathroom Remodel: Excavating the Past

The next phase of the bathroom remodel is to remove the tile and fix the floor underneath. I have been holding off on removing the tile because I knew there was rot in the subfloor around the toilet. 

To get to the subfloor I had to peal back the layers of time. So far as I could tell nothing had ever been taken off the floor before. Everyone in the past had just added another layer to the top. 

Many layers makes for a tall floor.

The first step was to smash the tile so I could remove it. Surprisingly, there was actually concrete backer board under the tile. I didn’t think that the tiling had been done correctly in the past. 

Under the tile and concrete board were 3 layers of linoleum. Removing linoleum isn’t difficult, but no one had ever felt the need before I guess. 

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Beneath all that was the original layer. I am not exactly sure if it was linoleum or something different. It didn’t look quite like linoleum to me, but I don’t know much about the stuff.  This layer looked somewhat like parquet I think. 

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Lastly I had to remove a layer of 1/4th inch plywood that was attached directly to the subfloor. 


While it was a lot of work to remove all these layers it was interesting to see how people had decorated in the past. None of these floor coverings appeal to me, but somebody thought they were great at some time. 

-Joshua

Shower Removal 

On Saturday I am going to be tearing out our old shower. It is the last part of the bathroom that has the original tile, the tile is probably over 60 years old. While it is good to use old things, this tile needs to go. Some of the tiles on the floor of the shower are cracked, and it is impossible to keep all the grout clean. 

The bathroom has a shower stall and a separate bathtub. I have already turned the bathtub into a shower reusing the original metal tub. So now it is time to do something else with the shower space. 

I am going to be building shelves in the showers location. The spot is about 38 inches deep which is to big for shelves. So, I am going to build shelves about 19 inches deep in the bathroom. Behind the bathroom is a blank wall in the area we are using as an office. At some point I am going to put a hole in the office wall and build a built in shelf backed up to the bathroom shelf. 

My only dilemma is how to build the shelves. Do I want to do any drywall or just attach plywood to the studs directly? Using only plywood means I will have more space on my shelves. I am trying to figure out if there is a downside to not using the drywall that I am not seeing. 


-Joshua

And There Goes Summer…

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This is going to be one of my mish-mash posts I’m afraid! It’ll have a little bit of homeschooling and remodeling. I thought that you, our dear readers, deserve an explanation for why we haven’t been posting too many pictures of our food or garden harvests or homeschooling or homesteading!

We have been spending most of the summer prepping for remodeling our garage into a master bedroom suite. And not prepping as in preparing for us to do it ourselves! Well, we will be doing part of it ourselves, but the major construction part we are hiring out to a company that has greatly impressed us so far. Before we could even agree to the remodeling agreement though, we had to come up with money for it! That was an adventure in itself. Josh ended up having to remodel the entire bathtub area in our single full bathroom in about two weeks. We took a lot of pictures of that (Josh put an album up of that experience on Facebook) but haven’t been able to post about it yet.

I am also preparing to homeschool four of my kids this coming year. I am hoping to start the day after Labor Day. My youngest boy starts kindergarten. My oldest boy will be in 7th grade! I will be using all videos with them again this year, but we are hoping to move to perhaps only half videos next school year. Homeschooling four kids takes up a lot of space. I think I might need more than two homeschool-dedicated bookcases! I’ve also learned this year that the 3-ring binder is definitely a homeschooling mom’s best friend. I don’t seem to have enough of them!

I also have two more posts partially drafted about Comic-Con and the San Diego County Fair. They are both old news now, but since both happen every year, they might still be helpful for next year’s events!

So our major remodeling project begins October 3rd hopefully. We will definitely be posting about that experience here. I am not quite sure how the remodeling and homeschooling will work together. I have a feeling that most of our homeschooling will be happening at Grandma’s and Lola’s houses. The major work should be done by January, but since Josh and I are taking care of installing most of the finishes (flooring, bathroom fixtures and vanity, painting), we probably won’t really be done until the end of February.

I do know that it is a given that the next 6 months will be very busy, so there may be a lot of these little mish-mash posts for a little while.

If any of you have hints for living through a major remodel (fortunately, it won’t really affect our kitchen or current single bathroom. Mostly we will be dealing with just noise, dust, and our driveway being full of materials), we will gladly take them to heart!  Thank  you so much to all of you who take the time to read our blog! We appreciate all of you!

– Lynn

Glass Bottle Bird Feeder

One of our sons really wanted to have a bird feeder.  He tried a number of ways to make his own.  One of those was peanut butter and raisins.on a toilet paper tube, that one didn’t attract any birds.  He also convinced Lynn to buy a large bag of bird seed, which he put some of in a container on our picnic table.  That idea did attract some birds, but they pooped on our table.  Personally, I find that to be less then optimal.

Because we had the bag of seeds, and I wanted to help him out I decided to look up how to build a bird feeder.  I wanted to find one that I could make out of materials I had on hand so I wouldn’t have to spend any money if it didn’t attract birds.  After looking at many pictures online, I found this idea to make a bird feeder out of an old bottle.  It is a simple idea and is easily customized to the materials you have on hand.

I found an old San Pellegrino bottle in the recycling bag, all I had to do was remove the label.

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I also had some scrap wood sitting around that I was able to cut to the right sizes.  The original place I got my idea just had two pieces of wood screwed together.  I always build stronger then that so I cut some angled pieces to go under the horizontal board for strength. After screwing the wood pieces together, I painted them with primer to help protect from moisture.

 

Then I drilled holes in the vertical board where the bottle would be hanging from.  I don’t have any specific measurements for where to put the holes.  It will depend on the size of the bottle and backboard that you use. The original plan called for wire to hang the bottle, but all I had was garden twine.  The twine works just fine (haha a rhyme), but will not last as long as the wire would.

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Last I took an old 4×4 that was in the yard when I moved in and buried about a foot of it in the ground, then I attached the bird feeder boards I made to the 4×4.

The hardest part might have been filling the bottle with bird seeds.  I think the easiest way is to make a funnel out of a piece of paper and dump the seeds down that into the bottle.

The feeder does attract birds.  So far I have only seen doves drawn to the feeder, but it is fun watching the doves sit on the feeder and eat the seeds.  This is an easy project that I think just about anybody can do.  There isn’t a need for any specialized tools.  In fact, if your boards are already the correct size then all you need is a drill.

-Joshua