Monday, June 11, 2012

The Big Pour - Part 2 - More Concrete Floor

I finally got outside over the weekend to work on the concrete floor. In case you're just joining in, I dug out the area beneath my deck to create some storage space - this entailed digging several cubic yards of dirt and applying some temporary supports. I'm in the second phase, which is to pour a concrete floor - initially I did a pad 30"x30" and I re-used the same form for the second part. Originally I was going to do an elongated second pour (you can see I've dug out about a 6' long trench):

I nixed that idea though because of space considerations - much easier to fit a wheelbarrow for the mixing in the remaining space, pluse I can re-use the form. When the second pad dries I can place the wheelbarrow on the already set-up concrete for the next pad. Besides it's much easier and I already know each section will take about 7 bags of Quickcrete. Here's the form:

Another bonus with this method is that I'm not totally wearing myself out trying to do everything at once. It does take a while to do this - several hours for each slab.

I got a bit rushed towards the end as I met some friends for dinner. You usually wait a bit for the concrete to set up, apply the texture then edge. Here I've just floated and edged so it's not going to be the prettiest slab (not that it needs to be). I started the first pour in October of last year (2011) and the whole project started in April - it's now June of 2012. I'm not sure where all the time went but at this rate I'll be done in 2015 or so. This is the first post:

-- John

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Carpenter Bee Traps - My Own Design

Two years ago I posted about some Carpenter Bee Traps that members of the Northcrest community purchased as part of a group buy. Here's the original post:

I don't condone killing the bees unless they're a nuisance (in my case they make cheese of my house - with so much wood in the ceilings and eaves). This is one alternative that doesn't involve pesticides.

What the bee holes look like

Repaired hole, reopened by bees

There were a couple of things I didn't like about the design of those traps - the main one had to do with durability - the thin plywood began to delaminate with exposure to rain, etc - also the wood surfaces stained and were getting moldy. Plus I just thought they looked ugly hanging there with this long set of bottles underneath.

After one season of use

So after I took them down and examined the results (above) of a season of use, my initial thought was that I could paint them and put some roofing felt on thier tops (I have two) to keep them out of the weather a bit - all that seemed like a lot of effort for something that's basically made of scrap wood, stapled together. I decided to make up something of my own design. My goals: 1) keep it simple in construction; 2) something easy to make; 3) with a minimum profile, and 4) durability to weather. What I came up with is a length of scrap tubafore, with a couple of holes drilled in it. The cap of a bottle would be glued into a countersink on the bottom, eliminating the need for two bottles.

This was my prototype:

I had this "Goop" adhesive laying around -worked well!
Drill through the cap

Last year frankly there weren't enough bees to really mess with the traps. I think the previous year's traps basically "did the job" and eliminated most from the house along with their progeny. This year they were out once again and in numbers, so I revisited my earlier redesign and put a couple up - both the original design and my new design, for a comparison. I did paint my prototype before hanging.

Similar to prototype

The results after a couple of days:

As you can see, my new design on the right (this is looking out of a window under the South eave of my house) is just as effective as the original design. So I made a couple of variations of the design and put up some more:

Including this "under mount" version near the downspout - also very effective:

And the results thus far:

And the original:

I think I've gotten about 3 dozen bees so far - it's been 10 days or so. I think you can follow how I made these - very simple if you have a drill press and some Forstner bits but you can probably manage with a spade bit and 9/16" (for the bee hole) bit with some scrap wood. If you paint them (I used a coat of primer and one coat of the trim paint on my house) they'll last for many years - just remember to take them down when the bees are gone.

-- John