Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fun Pumpkin Carving for Kids

My kiddos carved some pumpkins this year. They chose a template from Better Homes & Gardens. They each spent quite a bit of time on their pumpkins, I was quite impressed with what they did.

Chewy (aka Baby Girl) chose a Jack Russell Terrier. You may notice a resemblance to our dog, Ranger.


Scooter (aka Dude) chose a howling wolf.


Are you carving pumpkins this year?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Easy DIY Pull Up Bar

I'm going to be 40 years old soon. For my birthday I asked for a pull up bar. A long time ago I could whip out pull ups. No longer can I do that and I want to be able to do one for my fortieth! My husband built me a DIY pull bar because they were super expensive to order and he didn't like the reviews or looks of some of the manufactured ones.


I don't have any photos of the construction process because I wasn't involved. (It was a birthday gift!) But Biker Boy built it quickly and said it was easy.


He framed it around our garage door that leads into the house. It uses two 2x6 boards. He angled the bottom and rounded the cuts, but you could just use straight boards. The boards are drilled into the wall/door studs. Biker Boy used a pocket hole jig to make holes to put the screws in. He put 5-6 in each side of each board, so 10-12 screws in each board. Those boards aren't going anywhere with that many screws into a stud.


Biker Boy originally was going to use a wooden closet rod pole we had laying around, but we had some metal trampoline poles and he used one of those. Bike Boy used a spade bit to drill holes into the side boards and inserted the poles through the holes. The poles are wedged in those holes, so we left them. You could use screws through the wood and into the pole to keep the pole steady and in place.


I try to do one to two when I leave the house. The kids are really great at reminding me. They also like to hang from the bar and attempt their own pull ups. Here's my girl and I each attempting one after we took a tandem ride together. See the dog peering out the door?


It's not the fanciest thing ever, but it's just in our garage. It works, it was fast to make, and it was cheap! A perfect birthday gift! Do you attempt pull ups? 

Friday, September 29, 2017

DIY Playhouse & Swingset


It's finished. It took a couple of months, lots of screws, and plenty of hard work.

You can catch up on our slow progress at these past posts:



For the door, we built a dutch door. Grooved plywood was cut to size and 2x6 boards outlined the plywood.


Two hinges are on each portion of the door. The dutch door allows more light and air to come into the playhouse. As if it weren't airy enough with the space between the boards and light enough with a window facing south and a window facing north!


This is the latch to keep the door closed. It's on the outside bottom door. It can be accessed from the inside by opening the top door.


This is the latch that holds the top and bottom doors together. It's located on the inside of the door.


We didn't do anything fancy for stairs or a deck. We were ready to be done with this thing. We built a quick ladder. You can see the green post that anchors the playhouse to the ground. While the playhouse is heavy, we still wanted to make sure it wasn't going to blow over with the 80mph gusts we can have. (Our trampoline blew away with shallow anchors, so now we anchor everything deep.) All the wood lies on concrete pavers to prevent it from rotting fast on wet ground.


The swingset is modeled after the old one we dismantled. All the wood is new to us (used...donated from Grandpa) and the brackets are from the old set. This set is 7 inches higher than the old one, now that the kids are bigger. And in a test of how high the new swingset can go, one of the children fell off on their first use, and we took a lovely 3 hour trip to urgent care. (The kid was fine, just had contusions.)


I don't have many interior shots, but it's nice and roomy. A 5x7 inch outdoor rug fit in the playhouse. (Hello...clearance tags at Target!) We scored two cheap outdoor pillows at a grocery store. We had two cushioned foldable chairs that we put in and found a table we had built a long time ago. Nothing stylish and fancy. The kids and I have been using the playhouse to read. The kids even tried to sleep in it one night, but that didn't last when it started to rain. It got too loud for them with the steel roofing. (Or they were just scared about bears.)


I don't have a breakdown for cost, but I estimate it would be around $400 if you had to purchase lumber. We only had to purchase some screws, steel roofing, concrete pavers, and one 2x6! That rang in less than $100, which this thrifty mama likes! All the rest of the materials were leftover from the old playset or were donated from the grandparent's remodel (windows, deck boards, and lots of other boards...we are so grateful!)

We have cleaned the boards, but we still have to seal them. (Thank you again to the grandparents for the supplies). It's been raining like crazy here, so we need to wait for some dry days to apply the clear water sealer. We like the natural look of the boards. It reminds us of a ghost town house that has windows! The green bench...it was one I built here...way back in 2010...and was repainted a couple of years ago.


I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to playhouses, because we dreamed of building one for a long time. This was the year, with donated boards, and an okay from Biker Boy, that we got to do it! It is now our "Toy House."

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Building a Playset Part 4: The Siding and Roofing

Previously on the Playset:

Part 1: The Base
Part 2: The Floor
Part 3: The Walls

Today I'm moving on to the siding and roofing.

It's not terribly exciting. We recycled lumber from a deck and used deck boards on the walls. We cut them to size and screwed them up with exterior screws to the frame boards. I used a washer to help space the boards and leave a gap for when the wood swells because of water. Many of the boards are warped, so some spaces are larger and some are smaller. "It's just a playset" is what we keep telling ourselves.

Here are a bunch of photos. I haven't been the best about documenting the building, because I tend to be building it and not taking photos.







The roof is simple. It's an 8x8 foot square with two cross braces. The cross braces are held with metal joist brackets. We used four sheets of metal roofing with exterior metal roofing screws. The hardest part was squaring up the wood before putting on the metal, but it came together. Wait, no, I take that back. The hardest part was put it up. Biker Boy and I pushed and pulled and got it up on the playhouse. First we cut off the tall vertical beams on the playset to size and then placed the roof on top. One of the crossbeams is resting on the frame of the house and the roof slants to let rainwater run off it. We used some heavy duty screws to screw it into the frame. It turned out better than I expected. We finished the siding under the roof after it was in place. The photos below show after the roof was up, but before we finished the siding.




Next time...the playset and door. We just have a ladder/stairs left to make. Almost done!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Building a Playset Part 3 - The Walls

Previously on The Playset:

Part 1: The Base
Part 2: The Floor

Today I'm showing the walls.

The six foot wide walls each have a window. The window is 3x5. The windows are used and were handed down to us. Since we were given a bunch of 2x6 boards, we used those for the framing. I didn't use a standard (to code for a home) framing for the windows, because this is just a playset fort. The framing was sturdy enough to support the windows and the structure.







The eight foot wide wall that faces the playset, has the three ground to roof boards, plus 2 extra floor to roof boards. The roof will be 10 feet from the ground on that side. This side will be completely covered in siding. There is a horizontal 2x6 board attached to the vertical boards that will support the swingset beam. More on the swingset later. Also, more on the siding later (but you can see a preview of some it here). You can also see that we have anchored the playset into the ground with some posts.



The other eight foot wide wall has the door. The door was framed about with 2x6 boards also. An additional floor to roof board was placed to install siding on. The roof will be 9 feet from the ground on the door side.



We're so very thankful for how much money we have been able to save with recycling. The playset is not looking too bad for building it with used parts and lumber. We call it our "ghost town fort." It reminds us of some ghost town buildings we have seen. We're close to being completed with it, it just needs a door and a few more siding pieces. I'll cover the siding and then the roof next.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building a Playset Part 2 - The Floor

Continuing on with the playset building...

We built a base.

Now we have a floor.


We are using used lumber from Grandpa's old deck, so that determined the way our floorboards ran. The floorboards are cut to the shorter length (6 foot). The floor is made of 2x6 boards. This playset is pretty sturdy and heavy, which is good because we get some serious winds here.


The floor was easy enough, I didn't even have to rip any boards. The kids and I were able to do it on our own and Biker Boy just checked our screws later on. I used 17 full width boards and they ended up being spaced every so slightly on the 6x8 base. This isn't going to be an airtight fort, but that's okay. We plan to put an outdoor rug over the floor at some point. Something we can vacuum or take out and hose down.

Up next...windows! Spoiler: You can see a frame for the window in the photo above.

I'm starting to call this playset "My Fort!" I seem to be doing a majority of the work on it, so I think I'm going to play in it. Or decorate it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Building a Playset Part 1 - The Base

We took down our decade old cedar playset and we're building a new one. It's going to be larger. And it's going to be a lot of work.

We are using wood that was from a deck from the kids' grandparents down the street. That has saved us a bunch of money and also contributed to the design.

First up....The Base.

Here's a Sketchup view of what we used to design, plan, and help build the playset. We still have to put on the swingset part and the plan doesn't show some of the structural additions we made.


The structure is sitting on our septic field, so we can't dig into the ground and anchor it with concrete. We had 6 concrete pavers, so we leveled the ground and placed those down. Since wood will absorb water from concrete, we placed metal spacers between the wood and concrete.


The base consists of 6 vertical 2x6 boards. Those are connected by 2x6 stringers that are 2 feet off the ground. Why off the ground? Snakes. Water. Snakes.

We used a level and right-angle square tool to get everything square, straight, and level (even if it doesn't look like it in the photo!). Rather than measure 2 feet up from the ground to place the outside horizontal boards, we used the level. We were given some floor joist holders, so we utilized those to put in two floor joists. We are doing our best to work with bent and warped boards, and so far it's working. We will cut the vertical boards to size later on. The right side will be 10 feet and the left will be 9. That means the fort will be 8 feet tall and slope down to 7 feet tall. The roof will be angled.


To strengthen the whole playset we installed 4 angle boards cut at 45 degrees. That made the playset sturdy! We will be installing more angles as we go along.  Angles are good!


Next up...the floor!

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