Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Split-level Pergola

There's a curious berm in the side yard--I've always wondered about it. Compared with most of Florida this berm is more like a hill, a fledgling mountain that rises nearly three feet above a depression in the yard. Very odd. Why would this be? Possibly something is buried there? (This is Florida, after all.)

The little hill and valley is, coincidentally, the exact right spot for the new pergola. No other place in the side yard makes sense because this offers this best view from the back porch. It is meant to be. One option is to flatten everything out--chop off the hill and fill in the valley. But this means digging, and who knows what I might dig up? So I've decided to preserve the natural slope of the earth (not that I'm scared) and build a split-level pergola.

In between vacations and rainstorms, I've been able to set the concrete post anchors and a foundation for the pergola. These hexagonal pavers were used in the old walkway. Ugly. I'll cover them with flagstones when the pergola is done, and I'll make a flagstone walkway to the patio.

In any case, the pavers cover the top of the hill. Nothing is getting out of there now.

More rain today. I intended to cut out the rafter curves, but my plan to use a router did not work. Now everything is soaking wet. So I quit.

More about my failures later...

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Bridge: Drawboring the Hand Rails

I'm discussing this out of order because I want to remember--years from now when I am too old to do anything except read my blog posts--how I attached the rails for the bridge. The idea is called drawboring,

In case you've forgotten, old man Fred, you silly old man sitting there doing nothing, the hand rails were mortise and tenon (look it up). Yes, I'm talking to you.

You drilled some holes into the posts, and then you inserted the rail tenons into the post mortices and marked the locations with a pencil. Normally you'd just drill through the post and the tenon, but with drawboring you want the tenon hole to be slightly off center. This way, the dowels will pull the hand rails up tight when you push them through. Do you remember any of this? Probably not.

Of course, to do this you need to make the ends of the dowels come to a point so that they can slip into the off-center holes. It didn't always work and you broke some posts and had to start over and said some unpleasant things in the back yard. But it was a very nice day. If you can, why not get up and take a walk, you old turd?

Yesterday I finished the steps and added some ornamental touches on the sides. It is pretty much done. Now I just need to let the green wood of the bridge dry out so that it isn't so darn heavy. How many people will it take to move this thing?

Next: Moving on to a new project: the pergola!