Recarpeting the Cat Stands

Jeff and I actually first made our cat stands many moons ago, when we discovered that buying the suckers was going to be a serious pain in the wallet. We bought eight feet of 4×4, which the folks at the store cut down to two 3′ and one 2′ length for us, along with some scraps of (nicer looking) plywood for the base and the top. There was some slight awkwardness holding the first flat piece in place while we added the second – possibly they should have had two screws each. Still, it’s kind of fun (and occasionally handy) to be able to rotate the top around for cleaning, moving, etc. Then we wrapped carpet remnants from our house around two of the three posts, nailed them in place, and voilà! Cat stands.

Since Tinkerbell enjoys shredding the stands as much as the next cat, though, the carpet was getting rather the worse for wear. Short carpet fibers regularly swirled around the living room, and the longer warp or weft threads dangled irritatingly from the stand itself. It was time to seek out additional carpet. I kept meaning to wander over to the flooring place just down the strip mall from our gym, but December sent me into hibernation mode, and I kept failing to accompany Jeff to his personal training sessions.

Enter my mother and her new carpet! I spent New Year’s with my mom, and while exploring closets found the remnants from her recent carpet acquisition. I asked, she said yes, and they made the trip home with me.

I then killed two birds with one stone and gave Lily a nice long walk while simultaneously visiting the neighborhood hardware store for tack nails (actually intended for carpet!). Amusingly, after I’d pulled the old carpet off, Tink actually tried to maul the post-less old carpet she was used to, knocking it into Lily’s water dish.

I cut out the first piece of carpet for the 3′ stand, found that it wrapped much more tightly than I’d anticipated, and began improvising. The first side I could indeed attach with several moderately-spaced new tack nails. I also put a couple on the opposite side to keep it tightly wrapped. Once the carpet covered the original side for a second time, though, it was too thick for the tack nails. I got the last couple of the longer, original nails out and dug through the discards I’d pulled from the old carpet for a few more straight-ish ones. A little lumpy visually, but effective.

I cut a shorter and narrower second piece of carpet for the 2′ stand. It still wrapped too tightly. I decided to let the extra width billow out, since I was out of long nails. I tacked down the beginning and end with moderately-spaced lines of tack nails on the “left” and “back” sides of the post. I didn’t like how off-center the result was, so I added a couple of tack nails on the “right” side (and I think the front of the left, too). That forced the extra width to the front of the post, which you can see in the photo below.

Completed cat stands!

Coda: The Gate

Then we got a dog.

(Confused? This series started with an intro/bench, an arbor, and chicken coop part 1 and part 2.)

Luckily, she’s a small dog. There were only 3 spots in the back fence to patch (though I’d gotten pretty good at wiring wire mesh to wire mesh from finishing the chicken run, so…more wouldn’t have been too bad, I guess?). Which left the glaring omission of a gate. Which brings us back to the arbor. And more hinges. (And more wire mesh!)

This time I went solo to buy wood. Bad plan. Somehow I bought 2×6. And asked for not quite the right lengths. Back to the mother-in-law’s. Received some 2x2s and borrowed the handheld saw again. Got Jeff’s help on the hinges, latticed it like the sides, added mesh and voila! Now your sneak peek is reality:

This time the gate really should exist!

The Coop: Part 2

So many more steps. (Missed Part 1? Read it here.)

Get out the cement sealer (epoxy shield). Mix it. Wait an hour. Roll it on the whole darn coop (I’d actually bought OSB, not plywood – it really needed that water protection). Stop for the day to let it dry.

Get out the actual paint. Roll it on the whole darn coop. Stop for the day to let it dry. (And I think I did this part over two days?)

Realize how many gaps there are. Caulk the snot out of it with every tube in the house.

Try to attach the fourth side. Realize with a nesting box the full length of the wall, it would attach to the outside of the other walls. Borrow mother-in-law’s handheld saw. Hack a bunch off. Decide this wall should hinge too, or the coop will never get cleaned. Drive to hardware store. Attach wall.

Think about how mesh for run will attach. Add door and trim to be compatible with both that and covering the exit.

More minor adjustments (not to mention enclosing the run), and it’s ready for chickens!

It’s a chicken coop!

The Coop: Part 1

I have to admit, I was surprised and bummed to find that there were so many steps to building even the simplest (box) chicken coop. (Heck, you know I don’t iron or pin my fabric if I think I can get away with it.) You’ve recently read that my mother-in-law talked me into framing the thing. Then I found out it needed a foundation. And “What are you going to do to weatherproof it?” Jeff asked. Good grief!

A trip to Lowe’s for landscaping bricks. Reclaiming the cement sealant I’d bought years ago for the basement floor. Luckily I’d recently acquired some paint since it could double for redoing the front porch.

Then I had to clear out black raspberry canes, weeds, and other detritus. Lay the foundation. Build a rectangle for the base. Fasten the plywood onto it. Add vertical beams. Fasten three sides on (first having cut the exit into the third). (Found a neat trick: rotate the bars for resting the top on so that it has a little bit of ventilation/slope.) Try to fasten the top on with hinges (for easy egg retrieval). The coop was going under the deck, surely I could balance it on the deck’s upright? Nope. Add a hand, a head? Recipe for disaster. Stop. Re-evalute. Rotate the whole darn coop up against the house. Lean the top on the house. Now the hinges will go on. Try to add a board for the nesting box to the fourth (unattached) side. Jeff gets home to help with that part. Exhausted, stop for the day. Pray it doesn’t rain.

Cleared ground and foundation for the chicken coop. Ready to get it done? Go to Part 2!

Intermediate Woodworking: The Arbor

The bench was not enough preparation. Before I’d even finished the bench, I roped my mother-in-law into a wood buying trip (she’s actually got a big enough vehicle to transport what I needed) for both the chicken coop and a new arbor for the entry to the backyard. She saved me from several silly mistakes (for example, yes, I should use framing on the coop instead of just slapping plywood together in a box shape).

(Edit from the future: Chicken coop posts can be found here and here.)

I thought the arbor would be easy. Four 2x4s for the uprights, three 1x4s for cross pieces, a bunch of 1×2 to lattice the sides.

And for a bit, it seemed like it actually would be easy. I framed a rectangle, and another. I laid out the lattice. But…

The screws we had lying around the house were terrible. Stripped the second you looked at them. There are still some sticking an inch or more out of the top of the final result. So I made another trip to the hardware store for some star headed screws.

The structure wouldn’t hold together when it stood up. Just fell to pieces. So I made a trip over to my mother-in-law’s to take her up on the offer of her extra L-brackets.

And then to top it all off, I didn’t measure the opening. The arbor is comparatively enormous. So terribly out of proportion. I almost cut the whole thing down (after Jeff helped me cable tie it to fence) to get it down to size. But I’m lazy. So “let’s give it the winter” we thought. And if you peek ahead (which you have to, because apparently I don’t do progress photos), you’ll see that that may have turned out to be a good thing:

The new arbor (camouflaged by previous trellis, now with sneak peek gate which you can now read about here) and a bonus snow-covered bench to the right.

New topic: Woodworking!

What can I say? I took a break from clothes. The tags (or some simple scrolling) will help you skip this section if you want. (And at some point maybe I’ll add more menu options. And then add posts about building websites. :P)

What got me into woodworking? It’s a little convoluted. The short version has basically two prongs:

– I went to an environmental school and helped raise chickens in 6th grade. My city now has a pilot ordinance allowing chickens through a licensing process. I want chickens, they need somewhere to live. Woodworking.

– I have actually used some power tools before. Besides sewing machines. (Can I just add that I think it is so funny that Husqvarna makes farming equipment in addition to my lovely sewing machine. I have to recalibrate my brain every time I go to the feed store now.) I helped build sets for several theatrical productions one summer…under heavy supervision. And Jeff and I (but mostly Jeff) have made a bunch of raised beds and a cold frame for our garden.

So needless to say I wanted to start small. Not with a whole chicken coop. We had a bunch of leftover boards that I (poorly) assembled into a bench. (With a little help from my mother-in-law, who not only owns a very handy chop saw but also provided a great trick for cutting two boards to the exact same length – stack them on top of each other!) So my bench now has a seat, and a back, and two wobbly little legs under the seat, and two identical long legs affixed to the back. It’s under a mound of snow right now, or I’d show you a picture. (Or would I? My mother saw it and thought I was finally getting over my perfectionism. Um…maybe not!)

In lieu of the bench, here is a nice view of my front garden, with a little bit of raised bed and some cold frame visible on the far side of the sidewalk. (And I’ve laid brick, too!)