Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Summer Projects

Just wanted to show off a couple of summer projects Karen and I have completed.  First is the "amphitheater" that we built on the south side of our house.  We started in May, but got delayed by snowstorms.  Finally finished it mid-summer.

Area for our little rock seating area dug out of the slope.  Foreground is the rock retaining wall we finished last year.
Moss rock I carried over from the pallet we had delivered from Lyons.

A good start, but project postponed due to inclement weather.

Closer view.  We loved the look of the moss rock...actually lichen-covered Lyons sandstone.

After stacking the foundation, we used Lyons Colorado Sandstone flagstone for the seat and back.  Lyons is about twenty miles southeast of us.  It's famous for its hard, reddish or salmon colored sandstone.   Family owned quarries there were started in the early 1800's and are still doing a booming business to this day.

The patio stone in front of the seating area is not natural stone, but concrete patio stones from Lowe's.  Hard to tell from these photo's but they are a charcoal color.  We liked the look and had already spent more than enough money on the more expensive natural stone.  We improved the soil in the foreground and planted grass seed.

Finished project with fawn munching on our new grass and flowers.  We are throwing down a lot of grass and wildflower seed around the house.  This should look a lot better next year after the grass and flowers out-compete the weeds.

The other project I wanted to show is our new picnic table.  I found plans for this table at

Carpenter/Handyman Rod Nussbaumer shares his ideas and easy-to-follow (free) plans at the above link.  Using his plans, I ended up with a sturdy, attractive table without having to put in diagonal braces under the tabletop.  The plans/drawings are clear and easy to understand.  The design is elegantly simple.  Cutting was easy.  The most difficult aspects of building this was assembling the pieces.  Oh, and of course, picking out decent, low-knot wood that wasn't bowed, checked, or warped.  I used Douglas Fir from Lowes and attacked it with a belt sander to get a reasonably smooth product.  The lumber consists of two-by-sixes and two-by-fours.  Lumber, hardware, and stain ran me about $150.

Our table is seven-and-a-half feet long with a nice wide top and wide seats.  After assembling the first seat, I sat in it and was surprised how low it was relative to the table top.  I left it like that, but followed Karen's suggestion to lift the other seat (right side in this photo) by cutting and placing a couple of small two-by-six blocks between the seat supports and the seat.  This lifted that seat one-and-a-half inches up closer to the table top.  If I were to build another table, I would shorten the  legs about two inches, put the seats the same height above the ground, and end up with the table top a couple of inches closer to the seats.

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