Home Improvement

Garage Cabinets

The shelves next to our garage fridge have been working well so it was time to work on using the space above the fridge for more storage. I looked at a bunch of different designs but eventually decided to see if I could build “real” cabinets.

To kick it off, I built some simple boxes using pocket holes. Since this was just being used in the garage, I wasn’t too concerned about having those pocket holes showing. Obviously for something nicer you’d want a different type of joinery. The dimensions are 24″ wide, 30″ high and 24″ deep. That’s a lot deeper than a standard cabinet but it works fine in this location.

To mount it to the wall, I went with a french cleat system. This let me easily hang them on the wall and get them positioned the way I wanted them. After they were in place, I did add some screws into the studs but those really aren’t necessary. I was able to hang from the edge of the cabinets with them just sitting in the french cleat.

This was the first time I had ever built a face frame and doors. I’m really happy I went for it because it turned these quick and dirty cabinets into something that looks respectable. I just used a bunch of scrap 2x4s to do it but it turned out great. I picked up some cheap self-closing hinges and handles from Amazon to complete the doors.

I’m extremely happy with how these turned out. They are a great place to store our extra stash of paper towels, toilets paper and other random bulky supplies. And since they have doors, I don’t have to worry about them getting all dusty. I want to start doing more stuff with doors in the garage to make it at least appear to be a little more tidy.

garagecabinets1 garagecabinets2 garagecabinets3

Generator Interlock

generatorinletAs you may remember, we’ve lost power at our house three times in the last 12 months and we’ve lost it quite a bit in the past two. We have used our new generator for the two latest incidents, and it worked great, but I’m a lazy human. Running an extension cord through the house and feeding it around the house to run various things is annoying. It was time for an upgrade.

We had an electrician come by and he installed an interlock kit in our electrical panel. Now we have a 240v male plug on the outside of our house. When the power goes out, I shut off the power from the street, flip over to power from this plug and then plug the generator into the house. We can then choose which circuits to power from the generator. We’ll be able to easily keep the fridges running, power up the furnace, and have hot water from our tankless water heater. And if we have to pick and choose because the generator can’t provide enough power, it’s just a flick of a circuit breaker to choose a different combination of circuits. It will be really nice to have light switches and everything like that working as normal.

After we bought the generator, we joked that it meant the power would never go out again. That wasn’t true. We’ll see how long it takes before we get to really use this new capability. The first big wind storm of the fall is the one that usually knocks us out so we might not have to wait too long…

Adjustable Watering

opensprinkler_v20s_5-500x500Last year was very dry and, despite my attempts to give the yard the right amount of water, it still died. This year has been pretty dry as well, but the yard is still green. The difference? I’m using the “Zimmerman Method” this year.

Our OpenSprinkler system has a setting that lets you enable a calculation for how much water to apply to the yard. If I had some rain sensors in the yard, those would be handy, but it turns out that you can get a pretty good idea of how much to water based on some variables from weather data. You can read the full explanation on the OpenSprinkler github page, but here’s the basic idea:

Zimmerman uses 3 pieces of data: Mean humidity ( defined as (min+max)/2 ), mean temp, and precipitation.
They are weighted in the following manner:

  • 30 – mean humidity
  • (mean temp – 70)*4
  • Precipitation * 200

Those are all divided by 100 and added together, then 100 is added for a scale, which is then bound to 0 to 200.

That gives you a percentage and your normal schedule is adjusted by that percentage. So for example, today it is cloudy, cooler and kind of humid. The watering schedule is only 32% of normal.

This setting has worked remarkably well. At the end of the year I’ll do a full comparison of the water used between the two summers, but the data is already looking pretty good. We’re using more water at the times we need it and saving money other times.

This sprinkler controller is basically someone’s grown up hobby project, but it sure is handy. It has definitely paid for itself already.

Survival Sunday

incaseofzombiesLast year we stocked up to prepare for a 3-4 day emergency so we’d still have food, water, etc. Those kits rapidly expire so we needed a way to stay on top of it. Today was the First Bi-Annual Survival Sunday. Here’s our current list of activities for these Survival Sundays:

  • Pour stored gas into vehicles and buy new. Add fuel stabilizer to gas cans.
  • Fill propane
  • Check food stores. Eat anything that’s going bad in the next 12 months. Replace.
  • Check water rations. Replace as needed.
  • Go through survival kit checking expiration dates on medicine, charges on batteries, etc.
  • Start up the generator and test it.
  • Check ammo supplies
  • Check expiration date on fire alarms and test alarm system
  • Check car first aid kits for expiration dates
  • Check fire extinguishers

Aside form getting a little too rambunctious with the smoke for the alarm test (our alarm kept going off), the day was a success. It’s probably totally unnecessary, but who knows, maybe we’ll be glad we did it some day. Given how often we’ve lost power in the last 12 months, some of this will probably come in handy. Bundling all this work into a single afternoon makes it a little less daunting than spreading it out over the year and forgetting everything.

Spreading Gravel

The driveway/parking lot at church is part gravel and part blacktop. Our friendly neighborhood rapscallions enjoy flying around the gravel circle and throwing gravel everywhere. Over time that has led to some big ruts and potholes that collect puddles and make mud. With wet weather on the horizon, it was time to do some repairs.

I ordered 12 yards of 5/8″ minus from Pacific Topsoil and had that delivered on Friday. On Saturday, Logan and I rented a small loader backhoe tractor to spread it around. It was the first time I’ve towed anything with my truck and it was awesome! The rental website claims that this was a 6000 pound trailer and tractor combo.

Neither Logan nor I knew the best way to spread the gravel around but we figured it out as we went. By the end we had a good method going. Hopefully the parts we did at the beginning hold up ok too.

Tyla brought Elijah to church near the end of the project and he loved moving the gravel and driving the tractor. He also thought it was pretty cool that the truck was towing a trailer. He had to ride with me to pull the tractor back to Home Depot.

Being a trustee at church is a lot of extra time and work, but days like today are fun!

gravel1 gravel2 gravel3 gravel4