Will woodwork for food

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Blog entry by Brad posted 06-24-2011 04:40 PM 4278 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I haven’t posted in a while due to business trips, family visits and our annual Spring planting. Unfortunately, the lack of posting corresponds with an absence from the workshop. Alas, my sanctuary has sat idle as I go about my other duties.

Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t take every opportunity to pick up my hand tools when the occasion arises. Our newly-built raised vegetable bed is a case in point. Last year my lady and I planted a vegetable garden for the first time. Flush with success (we’re convinced that a single zucchini plant could feed the world…or at least our neighborhood), we decided to significantly expand our arable space.

So I poked around the internet for some plans to build a raised bed and settled on this one.

A trip to the local big-box store turned up 6 untreated (treated lumber leaches bad stuff into your food so make sure it’s untreated) cedar 2×6s and 1×4 by 4 stacked along our fence. The lumber stack mocked me for a couple of weeks as I knocked out assignments in Salt Lake City and D.C.

One overcast Saturday afternoon proved to be the perfect time to assemble the casing. Aflutter with excitement, I grabbed my “new” D-8 Disston cross-cut saw freshly delivered from an eBay seller in Missouri and strolled to the back patio to put it to use.

The carpentry was straightforward. Starting with the 4×4, I laid out four lengths of 18” each to serve as the corner posts. Then I broke a sweat with the Disston cutting them to length. The cut wasn’t perfectly square along the x and y axes, but it was impressively close (impressive to me) considering that a handsaw did the deed.

Hmmmm. Clearly it needed a good sharpening. And when I laid the blade upright along my workbench there was a noticeable concave curve from toe to heel. So the sharpening would need a heavy jointing as well….but not now. Time to get back to work.

Two of the 2×6s I cut in half to form the box ends. Holy smoke. The saw jumped around in the kerf like popcorn in a pot as I cut. So to the sharpening and jointing list, I added a serious saw set reduction to address the hippity-hoppity sawing action.

UPDATE: A month later I jointed the saw twice and sharpened three times and there are still faint traces of flats on some of the saw teeth. But it cuts much better and I’ll go with it for now.

With the pieces cut it was time to assemble them. But when I “dry fitted” them on the patio, I noticed that the edges were severely out of joint. So I lugged them to my garage workbench and shed much sweat with my Stanley Bailey #7 to edge joint them. I had never jointed an 8’ long board so it was good practice.

Some of the edges were really out of whack and I didn’t feel the need to have them mate perfectly. Just good enough to keep dirt from seeping out.

The carcass would be assembled using galvanized screws versus nails. The 3 ½” screws would hold much better over time and their added strength would be needed as the box acted as a “retaining wall” of sorts for the soil to be deposited within.

The screws were too long to try and muscle into the wood so I drilled pilot holes for each one. Here’s a shot of my 10” Craftsman brace…

…which I set aside in favor of my ancient Black and Decker rechargeable drill. Well, it was either that or lose 5 lbs drilling 32 pilot holes by hand. In retrospect, I should have drilled some of the pilot holes this way to gain experience using the brace on a “trash” project. Meaning, a project where the margin of error was very wide and mistakes would go unnoticed.

After assembly, I muscled it over to our chosen location. Then moved it aside to dig up the sprinkler hose beneath it so that it could be relocated outside of the bed area. You see, when I turn my garden area, I have a very nasty habit of puncturing sprinkler hoses. Oh sure, I’ve tried to ignore my errors. But the sink-holes that develop advertise my sloppy work to my frowning girlfriend. And she, with a glance, forces me to fix them anyway. My little ditch-digging foray assures that such a turn of events won’t play out with this garden bed.

After relocating the sprinkler hose I moved the box to its final resting place and placed stakes to hold the frame securely while I removed the grass and tilled the soil beneath. At this point I should have leveled the box, but in the heat of the project, I spaced it.

My lady’s brother supplied his brawn and pickup to ferry in a yard of dirt/compost mix. Bob may be in his 50s, but the man has a P90X workout body that came in handy as he retilled my initial tilling, then wheel barreled in the dirt, then tilled it again.

And here’s the final result, complete with yummy plants growing outside my home office window.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

5 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4093 days

#1 posted 06-24-2011 04:42 PM

Looks like a nice planter. I will be over for dinner in about two months. : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2689 days

#2 posted 06-24-2011 05:42 PM

I got through half that post before realizing it was a flower bed (not a sleeping bed). #iblamelackofcaffeine

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2423 days

#3 posted 12-02-2011 09:26 PM

There is nothing that compares with the satisfaction that comes from growing and eating your own produce. It is almost magical.
Oh Man! You had me slappi’n my sides laughing, when you described your girlfriend correcting you, “with a glance”. I thought I was alone in this world, having my wife indicating her displeasure with my efforts with a glance.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3581 days

#4 posted 12-02-2011 09:50 PM

what is zuchini i have been told before but forget is it eggplant which again we don’t call it here or marrow or what.You American Jocks talk funny.LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2773 days

#5 posted 12-02-2011 10:05 PM

Nice work

-- David in Damascus, MD

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