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It would be awesome if our homes could just maintain their current state throughout the years without any required intervention on our part to make repairs. But unfortunately, that's not the case.

Like most other things in life, things break down in the home and require some upkeep to ensure our homes are in tip-top shape and functioning properly.

The good news is we have the tools and equipment to help you make the fix at West Ashley Tool & Rental!

And while you'll need to call in the pros to help out with big jobs that require some in-depth knowledge or experience — like fixing major plumbing issues or repairing faulty wiring — there are plenty of other things you can do yourself to make minor repairs. Rather than having to call in a handyman every time something needs attention, you can save yourself the hassle — and your wallet — by tackling certain issues on your own.

If you're planning to become a homeowner sometime soon, here are some tasks you should get familiar with.

Changing Air Filters

The filters on your furnace or air conditioner need to be cleaned or changed from time to time, otherwise, the system can become overloaded and have to work harder than necessary. This will waste both energy and money.

Changing your air filters on a regular basis is also important to maintain good air quality and help avoid your home from being dusty all the time. Air filters should be changed every three to six months, depending on whether or not there's anyone in the home with allergies or other respiratory issues.

Fixing Running Toilets

If you hear the constant noise of water continually moving long after you're toilet's been flushed, it doesn't mean there's a big problem with your plumbing. In fact, running toilets are usually an easy fix. Most often running toilets are the result of an issue with the chain, flapper, or float. Don't worry about putting your hands inside the tank to deal with the issue, as the water in there is clean.

Shutting Off the Water

One of the first things you do when you first move into a home is locate the main water shut-off valve for your home. This can prove to be very important if you suddenly experience a burst pipe and water is gushing out of the pipes.

The longer the water is allowed to come pouring out, the more damage can be done to your home. As soon as you notice something like this, all you need to do is turn off the water valve and the water will stop. At that point, you may need to call a plumber.

Unclogging Drains

It's easy for hair to makes its way into a bathroom sink, or large food particles to do down the drain. In either case, you may experience slow draining due to a clogged drain.

You may be able to unclog the drain by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain, then pouring a mixture of baking soda, water, and vinegar. Cover the drain and wait a few minutes, then pour more boiling water down the drain. If that doesn't work, there are chemical products you can buy at your grocery store that may work.

For more stubborn issues, you may be inclined to get yourself a plumbing snake and fish out the debris manually. This is not a job for the faint of heart, as what you pull out maybe gross. That said, it can still save you a visit from the plumber, which can save you a few bucks.

Fixing Caulking

There's a lot of moisture that builds up in places like showers and sinks. That's why these areas are caulked to prevent any damage done to the drywall by the humidity. Plus, caulking helps to prevent the growth of mold.

However, caulking can succumb to time and break down, which may eventually need to be replaced. In this case, a recaulking job may be required. 

To recaulk, start by removing the old caulk with a tool and some vinegar, then tape the area that must be re-caulked. Using a caulk gun, apply the material where needed and finish off by smoothing the line with your finger — ensuring you're wearing gloves — to get a smooth finish. 

Patching Dents in the Wall

It's tough not to get your walls marked up, especially if you've got kids or pets in the house. You might even be the culprits of dents in the wall, whether because of moving furniture or simply bumping into the wall when walking with something in your hand. Or maybe you're looking to patch up an area where you once had something hanging.

Whatever the case may be, fixing dents can be easy with a little know-how and the right materials.

To fix holes and dings in the wall, use some quick-drying spackle to fill the hole. Once dry, sand the area down, then finish it off with a little touch-up paint. If you're dealing with a larger hole, you'll likely need a patch kit from the hardware store. Either way, this is definitely a job you can do yourself.

This content was originally published here.

 

Gardening skyrocketed in popularity in 2020. With more people interested over time, folks with minimal space for a garden are looking for techniques that work for them. Growing above ground is the way to go for many people without space for in-ground gardens. There are many raised garden techniques to try. Some you might not have heard of yet! Today we will discover which above-ground gardening styles are the best for your space.

Let’s get started!

Raised Beds

Raised beds are an obvious choice for anyone wanting to grow above ground. This tried and true method is ideal for in-ground garden spaces without proper soil health requirements. If your soil is rocky or of poor quality, build a raised bed from 5 inches to 2 feet tall. Fill each bed with compost and rich growing material for the desired effect. Raised beds are easier to manage in small spaces. This method also decreases weeds and pests because of the new growing medium. Raised beds also allow for better drainage to take place, which prevents root rot. Higher yields are possible in raised beds because all of these factors combined to create the perfect environment for plants to thrive.

Raised beds make garden work easier on the knees and back, making it a more accessible garden for everyone. To learn more on how to start your own raised beds, click here.

Raised Row Gardens

If you have the space for an in-ground garden but lack healthy soil, raised row garden beds may be perfect for you. This method takes much less work than building a raised bed will. Build up mounds of nutrient-rich growing medium like compost and plant away to your heart’s content. The runoff from this method will eventually benefit the rest of the previous low-quality soil underneath. Nutrients from each raised row will become part of the soil as a whole. Additionally, the elevated beds will be safe from overwatering. Raised rows will also save you the time, money, and energy you might have spent creating raised beds while giving you similar results. For more on the raised row method, click here.

Straw Bale Garden

Straw bale gardens are an unusual but effective choice. Strawbale gardens are automatically a form of the raised beds. This garden method doesn’t need to be placed on good soil at all. Instead, the bales of straw are transformed into the growing medium itself. Preparing the bales for growing in will take two weeks but will save you so much time in the garden for the rest of the season. Bales of straw are much cheaper than a typical raised bed—Prep each bale by watering in a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every day leading up to planting. Once the bales are decomposed, switch to a regular fertilizer and begin planting once the bale’s interior temperature is back to normal. Plant directly into the hay bales and grow plants that tend to be smaller varieties. The tight structure of the bales is the perfect strength to hold the root systems of each plant.

Choose your location carefully with this method! Once the hay bales are placed and prepared, they are there for good! Corn is the only plant that doesn’t grow particularly well with this method—trellis other varieties like normal with this method for the best results.

Container Garden

A lack of green space is no reason not to garden! Grow bags, hanging baskets, and patio containers are all making gardening more accessible to everyone. Especially when you are a first-time gardener, there are ways to start a container garden on a budget.  Containers are perfect for beginners because they create a more controlled environment for each variety. Starting fresh in a container means less of a chance for pest damage and disease. If your container garden has any issues, they are easier to control one pot at a time! The fun part here is choosing your container! Anything can be a container for gardening as long as it has good drainage holes. Again, taller varieties like corn and vining vegetables will be very difficult to grow in a container garden. Choose smaller varieties like dwarf or determinate tomato plants, greens, and bush beans.

This content was originally published here.

One way to spruce up posts is to cover them with a maintenance-free material. AZEK makes a PVC Column Wrap that’s super easy to install. Simply glue together three sides, slide them over the post, glue and clamp the last side in place, and then never worry about painting or staining again. AZEK Column Wrap is available for 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 posts. Order it at home centers and lumberyards that carry Azek products.

Move-Anywhere Umbrella

This moveable umbrella is one of our favorite reader-submitted DIY deck ideas. “I needed a stand for the large shade umbrella I bought for our patio,” says reader Brenda Barnes, “but all the ones I could find were designed for use under a patio table. Then I had a brilliant idea. I bought a large resin flowerpot and filled it about a third full with concrete. While the concrete was wet, I inserted a short length of PVC pipe that was just slightly larger in diameter than the umbrella pole. I covered the bottom of the pipe with duct tape so it wouldn’t fill with concrete. Then I drilled a few drainage holes above the concrete, filled the pot with potting soil and planted some shade-loving plants. Now I have a windproof umbrella stand and a beautiful pot of flowers in one!”

There’s no need to learn how to build a covered deck when you can easily build this deck with pergola using our project plans.

This content was originally published here.

More and more people decide to grow herbs in their homes – it’s simple, cheap, and you know that the way they’ve grown is completely organic, without any chemicals! But, growing your own herbs can help you in other things as well, and that is decorating.

You may wonder how something so simple-looking as herbs can do it, but if you experiment with the planters, you will realize that there are many options to try out. It can be painting, drawing, using stickers or ribbons – it’s all a matter of taste. In this article, we are showing you ten amazing ideas for small herb gardens. Let us know which one is your favorite!

Are you looking for a way to decorate your kitchen or maybe your backyard? In that case, this hanging herb garden would fit perfectly no matter where you would put it. To make your own, here are the materials that you need: 5 – 1/2″ planks, 24″ long x 5 1/2″ wide, 8 – 3/16 threaded rod, 36″ long, 4 – threaded rod coupling, 20 – 3/16 nuts/washers, 4 – 3/16 crown bolts, drill and 3 1/2″ holes saw.

The kitchen leaves us with plenty of decoration ideas! One of the best ideas is those that don’t occupy much space, just like these hanging mason jars turned into a herb garden. Besides the jars and the herb supplies, you will also need hooks and wire. Depending on the variety of herbs you’ve chosen, you can place them near a window to get plenty of sunlight.

This content was originally published here.

Build your own outdoor brick pizza oven! This is CHEAP and easy. Learn how to make a DIY pizza oven to enjoy homemade cheesy flatbreads! Whether you have a fancy yard or just a small patio area, this cheap DIY pizza oven will look great. And who doesn’t love a backyard pizza oven?

I love how this one looks good and is easy to make but won’t break the bank. Plus, it looks like anyone can make this. No special skills necessary.

Who doesn’t dream of an outdoor pizza oven on the patio during summer? This fantastic tutorial from The Gardener takes you step by step to make your own DIY pizza oven. Anyone can build this! Or take a look at this clay pizza oven.

Cheap DIY Pizza Oven Supplies:

You need a concrete table or concrete slab, no smaller than 3′ x 3′ to build your backyard pizza oven on. It should be sturdy and a safe distance from the house.

For the building frame:

For the oven:

Build Your Own Outdoor Brick Pizza Oven:

Head over to The Gardener to get full instructions for making this amazing DIY pizza oven! Let us know if you make one!

More DIY pizza oven tutorials you’ll want to check out:

How To Make The Pizza

Use my pizza crust recipe when making pizza for your new pizza oven. Decide not to make the DIY pizza oven? Throw your pizza on the grill!

More Outdoor DIY Projects You’ll Love

FAQ About DIY Pizza Ovens

How much does it cost to build a pizza oven?

If you use one of these tutorials above it can cost as little as $100 or build a high quality one with inserts for up to $4,500.

If you use one of these tutorials above it can cost as little as $100 or build a high quality one with inserts for up to $4,500.

Why is brick oven pizza better than oven pizza?

This isn’t even disputed! Brick oven pizza is just better because the brick heats the dough more slowly than steel and allows the whole pizza to cook simultaneously.

This isn’t even disputed! Brick oven pizza is just better because the brick heats the dough more slowly than steel and allows the whole pizza to cook simultaneously.

This content was originally published here.

Everybody’s favorite warm-season garden star? Tomatoes. We plant them, we nurture them, we rejoice with every yellow blossom and, in harmony, we curse the dreaded tomato horned worm when it inevitably appears.

In our recent Gardening 101 webinar, viewers had so many questions about tomatoes we couldn’t answer them all. So here’s the information you need to create a tomato heaven in your garden, whether it’s in your backyard or in containers on the patio or balcony.

The secret recipe

The secret to growing good tomatoes starts with how you plant them, which is deeper in the ground than you might think.

Trim off the lower leaves on the plant, leaving the top third in place. Then dig a hole deep enough to bury the plant all the way up to those top leaves.

Actually, dig it a little deeper than that, because before you plant anything, you’re going to toss in a handful of organic vegetable fertilizer, a handful of bone meal, a handful of worm castings, a couple of pulverized egg shells and two or three uncoated aspirin tablets — yes, aspirin! — into each hole. You also can add a fish head, if you’ve got one.

Cover the additives with a bit of soil and add the plant. Fill in the hole, burying the plant so only the leafy top is above ground, and create a water well around the base of the plant. Water gently, but thoroughly, and wait for the magic.

Roots will develop where the lower leaves were, creating a strong, extensive root system that will support a robust, thriving plant.

Let’s pick some tomato questions

Q. How early can you plant tomatoes outside in the East Bay, specifically Moraga?

A. No matter where you live, the main factor in planting is the soil temperature. For tomatoes, peppers and other warm season crops, the soil temperature should be at least 60 degrees. Peppers actually prefer it a little warmer, 65 to 75.

You can invest in a soil thermometer, or just wait until we’re having warming daytime and nighttime temperatures, which generally arrive in May.

Q. I plant primarily in containers. Can I use the same container and soil I previously planted tomatoes in for planting something different?

A. You can use the same pots, if they’re in good shape, but you’ll need to replace the soil.

Q. I’m just starting a garden this summer in planter boxes. Should I rotate next year or can I plant the same veggies? I plan on planting herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers.

A. The basic guideline for crop rotation is to avoid planting crops from the same family (such as the solanaceae family, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra and potatoes) in the same spot year after year. Generally, waiting three years to plant those crops in the same place again is recommended, so you avoid building up soil-borne pathogens that thrive on that particular plant family.

You can grow the same plants, just not in the same places they were last season. Grow tomatoes where you grew your herbs, herbs where you grew your cucumbers, and cucumbers where your tomatoes were.

Q. Should I remove my tomato plant’s suckers — the leaves or little shoots that grow where the branch meets the stem?

A. Yes. They won’t produce tomatoes, and they take up valuable resources from the parts of the plant that do.

Q. Do you advocate putting a tomato plant on side for a few days before planting to stimulate horizontal development of roots?

A. Rather than just putting plants on their side and later planting, try digging a small trench that extends from the planting hole and gently bend the leggy stem into the trench and cover with soil. leaving the crown of the plant exposed above ground.

The leggy stem portion will grow vertical roots at the same time roots are extending from the root ball at the base of the plant.

Q. Will my tomato, eggplant and pepper plants from last summer survive and give vegetables this year? I have hot peppers from last year that have a lot of peppers on them…

A. If you lived in the tropics your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants could well last for more than one year. But generally in Northern California, winters are too cold, and we need to pull the plants out when they stop producing and replant when the weather warms in early spring.

Occasionally, a plant, such as your hot pepper, will over winter. You can certainly experiment with keeping it going for another year by harvesting the fruit and then applying compost and a bit of organic fertilizer, but not till after the danger of frost.

Q. I’ve been told to cut back drastically on water to get tomatoes to ripen. Is this true of indeterminate tomatoes? My second harvest of tomatoes were much smaller and tough skinned, and I wonder if they needed more water.

A. The method you’re describing is known as dry farming, which produces smaller, fewer and more intensely flavored tomatoes. Dry farming works with either determinate or indeterminate tomatoes, although you’ll want a variety that has a strong root system. Organic farmers in the Central Valley have experimented with many varieties and found that the hybrid Early Girl and the new variety, New Girl, do best.

Dry farming is a bit more involved than just cutting back on water. You need to prepare the beds beforehand, adding a lot of compost and other amendments into the soil to make it very loamy. After planting, cover the beds with straw or other mulch. Water as usual until the first fruit sets, then shut off the irrigation. This should force the plants to put down deeper roots to get the water they need.

Your plants could end up looking pretty sad, but the fruit will be amazing.

Q. I was going to pull my tomato plant, but it started producing again. What’s going on?

A. It’s just Mother Nature taunting us. Many tomatoes continue to produce long after the summer season has waned. If you like green tomatoes and don’t have a need for the bed, there’s no reason you can’t keep them growing, but the tomatoes won’t have enough sun and heat to ripen on the vine. Those that you ripen off the vine won’t taste as good as those you harvested in the summer. Bite the bullet, pull the plants and put something else in the bed.

Q. I get “volunteer” tomatoes every year. Should I just thin them out and go?

Sure, gardeners like to take advantage of freebies, and with volunteer tomatoes, you never know what you’ll get — maybe even a brand new hybrid. But you shouldn’t count on them for your main tomato production. For one, they might not taste very good.

Let them grow, if they aren’t taking up valuable space, but plant some varieties that you know will be tasty and will produce.

 

This content was originally published here.

From improving garden soil using recycled kitchen waste to preventing animals from getting into your garden, here’s a list of 20 clever tips and tricks to make gardening easier and more fun. Great for anyone who has green fingers and even better for those who don’t!

We have all the equipment you need to get your garden ready for the growing season at West Ashley Tool & Rental.
 

1. Grow Seedlings in a Lemon Peel Instead of the Classic Pot

The peel will compost into the soil, adding nutrients to the plants as they grow. (via My Roman Apartment)
 

2. Plastic Fork Protector

Prevent animals from getting into your garden by strategically placing plastic forks in the soil. (via Hawaii Gardening)
 

3. Packing Peanuts = Light Pots and Less Soil

Use packing peanuts in the bottom of your large pots to improve drainage and make them lighter and easier to move around. (via The Gardening Cook)
 

4. Epsom Salt Works Great for Fertilizing Plants

Using epsom salt for plants is a natural and cost efficient way to give them that extra boost to help your plants thrive. (via TomatoDirt)
 

5. Keep Houseplants from Leaking Dirt with Coffee Filters

The coffee filter will allow water to pass through but not soil. (via Craftaholics Anonymous)
 

6. A Simple Seed Viability Test

Have seeds left over from past seasons, and not sure if they’re still good? To test your old seeds, put some between wet paper towels and see if they sprout. When in doubt, buy fresh seeds. (via Today’s Homeowner)
 

7. Feeding Plants with Milk

Using milk during the growing season can help add calcium to the soil and help prevent blossom-end rot. (via Gardening Know How)
 

8. Sprinkle Egg Shells Around Your Plants

Crushed egg shells add valuable nutrients to soil, and deter pests from harming your plants. (via Seeds Now)
 

9. Chamomile Tea

Soaking seeds in cooled chamomile tea before planting helps them to germinate and prevents fungus. (via Sanctuary Gardener)


 

10. Growing Roses

Here is a great tip for growing propagate roses by sticking them into potatoes. Potatoes help to keep the rose cuttings moist as the roots beging to develop and this helps the roses to grow healthier. (via Amateur Gardening)


The post 20 Gardening Tips and Clever Ideas That Every Gardener Should Know appeared first on Handy Home Tips.

This content was originally published here.

This is a great time of year to work on your home. Think garden preparation, landscaping, spring lawn prep. But that doesn't mean that you need to run out and buy new tools, especially for work you only need to do once, or even once a year. Instead, you might want to consider rentals.

If you are installing a wood fence, a post hole digger is a useful tool. A manual post hole digger would only cost you between $25 and $40, depending on the manufacturer. For just a medium size area, it would still take most of the day to dig all the holes for the fence posts. Or you could purchase a motorized auger with the accessories needed to drill all the holes needed within a couple of hours. It would cost over $700, but the time to complete the job could be cut by up to 30 percent.

"Here's where you need to ask yourself: When would you use the tool again? Are you going into the fence building business? Will you need this tool again before six months? If the answer is no, then consider renting. For the same tool and the same time savings, you can rent an auger for around $70."

Every area of your home, both inside and out, has a project where it could make better sense to rent the needed tools or equipment.

Home
While many homeowners may own a power drill, it still may be an item that you don't have and rarely use. Practically any small hand tool can be rented. A good example is the power drill for specialty purposes such as a right angle drill. This tool can be a plug-in style or a cordless. The convenience of this tool is evident when you are trying to drill or screw into an area with limited space. Approximate daily rental: $15

Nail guns are also a great rental item, but unless you also own an air compressor, you'll have to rent both items. That in itself isn't a bad idea, because the time savings of using a nail gun is worth the extra cost of rental. However, there are nail guns available, both in a finish nail and framing nail, that don't require the use of an air compressor. These cordless nail guns are typically powered by a CO2 cartridge and since they have no hoses attached, they are much more convenient for the homeowner and easier to move around the project. Approximate daily rental: $25

Another tool used in the home would be the jamb saw. This is especially helpful if you are installing new flooring, such as ceramic tile. Since the height of the floor will likely change, you'll want to cut a small portion off of the door jambs so the new flooring can tuck up under and give you a finished look. The jamb saw will allow you to make that cut quickly and professionally. Approximate daily rental: $15

Restoring the look of an old faded deck is a popular project for many homeowners. Nothing speeds that job along like a pressure washer. Several styles are available. Be sure to explain your project to the rental associate. In addition to the pressure washer, be sure to examine all the accessories available. For a deck job, it would be worth the cost to rent the scrub brush attachment. Approximate daily rental: $75

Lawn
Several projects in the yard require the use of specialty equipment and, because often these projects don't need to be completed on a regular basis, renting the equipment makes more sense.

As mentioned previously, a motorized auger can be a tremendous time saver when it comes to installing a fence requiring multiple fence post holes. Augers can be operated by one person or two and come with different attachments. Approximate daily rental: $70

For large projects that require moving large quantities of earth, nothing beats renting a larger piece of equipment to get the job done. We have skid steer loaders, walk behind loaders and mini excavators if you really need to move some dirt!

Lawn aerators, lawn rollers, sod cutters. lawnmowers, seed spreaders. Everything you need to get your lawn ready for the growing season. In stock and ready to go.

What To Ask Before Renting
To make sure your rental experience is a good one, there are a few things you should always ask before renting any tools or equipment.

At West Ashley Tool & Rental, we make sure you get the right equipment the first time.

Learn all about how I built a custom mudroom and took an empty nook and turned it into a beautiful, functional space.

I’m partnering with my friends from DAP Products today to show you how I transformed this empty nook at my mom’s house into a gorgeous custom mudroom!

The process for this was definitely a challenge as space was tight and I ran into a few roadblocks along the way, but the beauty of built-in projects is that there’s pretty much nothing a little trim, caulk, and paint can’t fix!

Get The Printable Plans

I’ve put together printable PDF plans, which you can use to create your own beautiful mudroom. These plans include your supply list, cut list, and the broken down steps.

The beauty of this project is that it can work as a built-in project or as a standalone mudroom. If you do choose to go the standalone route, you’ll just add a bit more trim around the top and bottom, or you can use veneer edge banding to finish things off.

Make Sure You Have The Right Tools

If you are lacking the proper tools & equipment for the job, give West Ashley Tool & Rental a call. We stock a number of pnuematic nail guns, saws and otherpower tools to help you get the job done the right way...the first time.

Building A Custom Mudroom

Before I could get started with building, I needed to cut all of my plywood pieces down to size. For this, I used my table saw, Kreg Adaptive Cutting System, and my miter saw. If you don’t have an Adaptive Cutting System, you can use the Kreg Rip-Cut and/or the Kreg Accu-Cut to get the needed cuts without your table saw.

To start building the base, I cut the pieces down to size for the stretchers, then drilled pocket holes in the stretchers as well as the top edge of side walls for the base.

To build the base, I added DAP Weldwood Wood Glue to the stretchers and then clamped them in place. The Weldwood Wood Glue is what I use on all of my DIY projects and I love how quickly it dries and how strong the hold is. Well…unless I mess up and have to take something apart. Then it’s a fight to break that bond.

I attached them using 1 1/4″ pocket screws. I added two stretchers to the back of the base and one to the bottom front. The pocket holes on the side walls need to be on the upper edge of the bases so they can be used to attach the bench.

For the upper portion of the mudroom, I drilled all of my pocket holes, then got to assembling the main carcass using wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket screws.

Using the shelves and dividers as spacers made assembling the entire unit much easier and more efficient. I attached the shelves and dividers using 1 1/4″ pocket screws. To keep the whole unit square, I also nailed a scrap 1×2 across the back as a scab to square up the unit while I installed the center dividers on the shelves.

The back of the unit is faux shiplap and I used 1/2″ plywood as a backing and 1/4″ plywood for the slats. The backing is cut to the size of the back of the unit and required two pieces to be attached together to cover the entire back. Then I used my Rip-Cut to cut the strips of 1/4″ plywood down for the shiplap.

I used stacks of playing cards to make a 1/8″ gap between the slats, then glued and nailed them in place with 5/8″ brad nails.

The plywood I purchased wasp refinished, so I gave it a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper to scuff it up for the paint to adhere better. You won’t necessarily need to do this if you are using regular unfinished plywood.

The shiplap strips overlapped a bit on the final edge of the panel. To clean this up, I used my flush cut router bit and palm router.

To attach the back panel to the upper unit, I first laid it face down on the floor, then drilled countersunk pilot holes and added 1 1/4″ screws. Once the perimeter was attached, I stood the unit up and measured where the shelves and dividers were to also secure the panel in place in the middle of the unit.

With everything built, I headed over to my mom’s house to start the installation process. I first needed to remove the baseboards in the nook, then brought in the bases.

I set the bases in place and attached the bench on top of them using 1 1/4″ pocket screws and the pocket holes I had drilled prior to assembling the base.

For the upper unit, I didn’t grab a photo of this as it was a bit of a tense and stressful install. I built the unit to fit perfectly inside the nook, so it was a tight fit already. Because of this, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that the doorframe for the garage entry door would be in the way. We ended up tearing out the trim and taking the door and hinges off to fit the upper unit in place. It was big, and heavy, and a lot of words were said that aren’t exactly family friendly.

Once the upper unit was installed, I went to work filling all of the pocket holes and nail holes using DAP Premium Wood Filler. This wood filler is by far my favorite to use on my projects, whether I’m painting or staining the finished product. Other than when you’re using a very light stain like Natural or Golden Pecan, it takes the stain color so well and blends in beautifully.

With the pocket holes being so large, it takes about 2 coats of the wood filler to get them smooth, sanding the dry filler in between coats. I did all of this before adding the face frame to the front of the unit to make the sanding process easier.

While I waited on the wood filler to dry, I added the face frame pieces to the front of the mudroom bench with 1 1/4″ brad nails. You can find all of the approximate measurements for these in the printable plans. Once the wood filler was dry and sanded,

I added the face frame to the upper portion of the unit and filled all of the nail holes with wood filler.

Once everything was sanded, I used DAP Alex Flex caulk on all edges of the unit as well as on the bench top where the panel and vertical pieces join, just to give it a cleaner, seamless look. It dries in 30 minutes and is flexible and won’t crack, which makes filling all of these gaps between the trim a breeze and I won’t have to worry about them later.

I painted it to match the trim color in the house (PPG Macaroon Cream) and ended up painting the entire unit with 3 coats.

Once all of the painting was done, I got to work (re)building the drawers. The unit didn’t initially have a face frame on the lower portion, but with the location of the garage door trim, I needed to adapt and had to rebuild the drawers a bit smaller and shimming the inside of the drawer openings with plywood so that I had a flush surface to add the drawer slides.

I built the drawers from 3/4″ plywood and attached a 1/4″ plywood bottom with wood glue and narrow crown staples. You can use a brad nailer, but in my head, the staples have a bit more bite than the brad nails for something like this.

To build the drawer faces, I cut down to size the poplar rails and stiles as well as 1/4″ plywood for the panel. I used my tongue and groove router bit on the rails and stiles to glue the frame together. You don’t need to have a great big router table for this, either. In fact, prior to this, I had a small RYOBI router table and would use this same bit to build my drawers and cabinet doors.

With all of my pieces prepped, I glued and clamped them together and set them aside to dry.

To build the door, I cut my boards down to size and drilled pocket holes into the stiles and the middle two rails. I routed a 3/8″ deep groove all of the way across the rail on the upper end of the plywood panel, partially across the bottom rail and also partially across the stiles. This way the plywood panel fits nicely into the groove for the lower portion of the door.

I assembled the door with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket screws, then stained it in Golden Oak stain. When the stain was dry, I finished it off with several coats of Minwax Wipe-On polyurethane in satin sheen.

When the drawers were dry, I sanded them and prepped them for paint. There was a bit of tear out in the wood from the router, so I filled those areas with wood filler, then painted them with three coats of paint.

Once the door finish was dry, I cut wire mesh to size (3/4″ overlap on each side) and attached it in place with 3/4″ narrow crown staples.

I loaded everything up in my truck and took it all over to my mom’s house for final assembly. I used partial wrap hinges for the door and added magnetic closures to the top and bottom of the opening. For the top opening, I added a small 3/4″ piece of blocking, flush with the bottom edge of the face frame to attach the magnetic closure. Once the door was hung, I drilled the hole and added the knob.

I installed the drawers using 20″ side mount drawer slides. I set my gap for the drawers using playing cards. With the hole locations for the handle already marked, I drove 1 1/4″ wood screws through those marks to temporarily attach the drawer front. I pulled the drawer out and attached it from the inside at all four corners using 1 1/4″ wood screws. I then used a 3/16″ drill bit to drill the holes for the handle to be attached.

To finish everything off, I added hooks to the back panel as well as inside the cabinet, then cut and installed the baseboards where they had been removed. I caulked and touched up paint and was done!

Built-In Mudroom Bench

I am so happy with how this mudroom turned out. This area was just a wasted space full of potential before. Now, it’s a fully functional area filled with extra storage, a place to hang coats and bags, plus drawers for holding blankets or whatever you need.

If you’d like to build this mudroom, make sure you get the plans with all of the steps broken down into easy to follow directions, along with the cut list and supplies needed. For more projects like this one, make sure to check out my printable plans page!

This content was originally published here.

Cattle panel arches are an excellent, inexpensive way to grow more food in less space.

What is a cattle panel trellis?

Commercially made garden arches constructed of wood or metal are attractive, but they’re also expensive. If you’re looking for a great way to increase the growing space in your garden, a simple cattle panel trellis does the job just as effectively as these more costly options. While it’s not quite as elegant as some manufactured garden arches, it certainly makes up for this shortcoming by being extremely effective, affordable, and easy to install.

Simply stated, a cattle panel trellis is a wire arch made from a piece of common farm fencing known as a cattle panel (also called a feedlot panel or a livestock panel). Typically made from woven, four-gauge, galvanized wire, standard cattle panels are 16 feet long and 50 inches wide. They are straight, not rolled like fencing. Cattle panels can be found at various farm supply stores. The panel is bent into an arch and attached to stakes hammered into the ground. Here’s the process I followed to make my cattle panel trellis, along with some important lessons I learned along the way.

It didn’t take long for my newly installed arches to be covered with productive plants.

Materials needed for a cattle panel trellis

To make a single cattle panel trellis you’ll need:

The most difficult part of building a cattle panel garden arch may well be getting the cattle panel to your home. They are deceivingly heavy. You’ll need two people to get the panel into the bed of a pickup truck. Since the panel is way longer than a truck bed, it’s easiest to turn the panel up onto its edge and bend it into an arch that sits between the wheel wells of the truck’s bed. Use bungee straps and tie-downs to safely hold it in place while you drive home. Alternatively, you may be able to transport the panel in a flat-bed trailer hitched behind your vehicle or find a farm supply store that delivers. You’ll need two people to take the panel from the truck to the site of your arch, too. Again, they are surprisingly heavy!

Select a full sun location for your trellis. This one is positioned between two raised beds.

Where to put your vegetable garden arch trellis

Once you’ve collected your materials, it’s time to select a site for your cattle panel trellis. The “legs” of the arch need to be about 5 feet apart to keep the arch from bowing in at the base. Choose a position that passes over a garden walkway or perhaps between two raised beds. For a really cool effect, line several cattle panel arches up next to each other to create a long tunnel. Make sure the site receives at least 8 hours of full sun if you plan to grow sun-loving climbing vegetables on your wire arch.

Try to orient your arch so the opening faces north/south to encourage a good amount of sunlight reaches both sides of the arch equally. If doing so isn’t possible, don’t worry about it. Face the opening whichever direction works best for your garden’s design.

If possible, orient your arch so the opening faces north/south. This provides maximum sunlight exposure to both sides of the trellis.

How to install a cattle panel trellis

Once you’ve selected the site, position the four studded T-posts so one will be at each corner of the arch. Use a tape measure to be sure the posts are equidistant on both sides and that the rectangle they form has square corners. Use the sledgehammer to hammer the posts into the ground, ensuring they are perfectly straight by holding the torpedo level flush with the stake as your partner carefully hammers them in. If a stake is not straight when you’re done, pull it out and try again. Ensure that each of the four posts is hammered in to the same depth.

After the four posts are installed, bend the cattle panel into an arch. I like to mark the center wire with a piece of masking tape first so I can make sure it stays at the top center as the panel is bent. Otherwise, your arch may not be centered and straight. Both partners have to use equal force to bend the arch to keep it straight. It can be a challenging job because the fence piece is large and unwieldy. Bring your sense of humor.

Use the zip ties to secure the arch to the outside of the T-posts where each horizontal wire of the panel meets the post. You’ll need about 6 zip ties per post, depending on how deeply you hammered in the posts.

Use UV-resistant zip ties to fasten the panel to your T-posts at each juncture.

What to grow on your wire arch

There are many vining veggies you can grow on your cattle panel trellis. Try pole beans, squash, cucumbers, gourds, mini pumpkins, cantaloupes, and Malabar spinach. Last season, I grew 4 different types of cucumbers on one of my trellises and spaghetti squash and Kentucky Wonder pole beans on the other. Vines with heavy fruits, like winter squash and cantaloupes, should be fastened to the cattle panel trellis with twine as they grow. Light veggies like pole beans and Malabar spinach do not need any extra support.

I plant 4 to 5 cucumbers, melons, or squash vines on each side of the arch. For beans, I plant 15-20 seeds along each side. It’s also fun to plant climbing annual flowers on your garden arch in combination with the edibles. They’ll help support pollinators and add beauty to the garden. Try morning glories, Spanish flag, climbing nasturtiums, or cypress vine.

Cucumbers are one of my favorite crops for vertical growing.

How to maintain a cattle panel garden arch

To take care of your wire arch trellis, there’s really not much to do. I recommend replacing the zip ties at the start of every growing season so they don’t fail in the middle of summer when the trellis is laden with crops. If you’d prefer not to have to complete this task, use wire to fasten the panel to the posts instead of zip ties.

If you live in a growing zone with lots of freeze-thaw cycles, there’s a good chance the stakes may heave out of the ground, bend, or become crooked through the winter. Check the posts each spring and re-install any that have gone wonky during the off season.

Crops that will grow to be heavy, such as this immature buttercup squash, need to be tied to the panel with twine for extra support.

Alternate method of making a wire arch trellis

If you don’t have any way to get a 16-foot piece of heavy feedlot fencing to your property, there’s an alternate way to build a cattle panel trellis using two 8-foot-long panels instead. Fasten the two panels together at the top. They’ll form a Gothic-style arch instead of a classic arch. Use wood slats to act as “spreader bars” to keep the top of the arch from caving in as per the photo below. The two smaller panels are definitely easier to handle and can be attached to metal studded T-posts as described above or you can attach them to wooden posts as shown in the photo. You’ll find more on this method of garden arch building here.

This wire arch is made from two 8-foot long panels fastened together at the top to form a Gothic arch. See how the wood cross-slats keep it from caving in?

This content was originally published here.

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