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Building Archives - Page 3 of 4 - Oneida Trail

Establishing a Garden

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Garden Established

Garden Resurgence

Soul-comfortingly, we reinstated garden space where my grandmother used to have her garden. Constantly, I’m drawn back to the skills and homesteading choices of her generation. Where did so many baby-boomers and Generation X people go wrong? Oh yea…selling method marketing began in their generations.

Poop Panic

With a truckload of raunchy smelling horse manure, Michelle stares wide-eyed at Chris and says, “We got to dump this in the woods.”

Materials List:

  • Framing Lumber: 2x6s: Cedar, un-treated & rot resistant… or not or Hugelkurtur beds
  • 25 Exterior screws: 3”
  • Soil: Green Compost, Municipality’s Compost, Local Manure
  • Fence Posts
  • Rabbit or Deer Fencing
  • Cardboard


  • Drill/Impact Driver
  • Measuring Tape
  • Cutting Saw: circular saw, miter saw, etc.
  • Level

Game Plan:

  • Use un-treated wood: cedar would be nice…
  • Provide protection (grid setup easy to fence in)
  • As beginners, have a large but manageable space
  • Use raised beds: neat, provides moisture retention, easy planning
  • High sunlight location during the day
  • Mostly leveled surface
  • Four raised beds: 4’ x 10’

Savvy Salvaging

First, we scored some old framing lumber from Pa. He assured us it wasn’t pressure treated. They were pretty beat up non-cedar 2x6s, so they probably won’t last very long, but we couldn’t beat the “price.” After three seasons, they are still well in tact. We decided to create four 4’ x 10’ beds. Four foot is a little wide in retrospect; I’d go with 42” wide beds if I did it again.

Trick: Put cupcakes near garden bed project. Associate cupcakes with garden work.
Trick: Put cupcakes near garden bed project. Associate cupcakes with garden work.

In a maximized sun location, we setup a board and put the level on it to gauge the land’s tilt. It was tilted slightly, so we shoveled out one end a bit to get it close—we didn’t worry too much about being completely level. Then we drilled and screwed the boards into each other: two screws per joint.

Free Manure

On craigslist, we found someone giving aged horse manure for free with a nominal charge to dump it on your truck or trailer, so we borrowed pa’s truck and headed over. It turned out to be an old friend from high school, so the dumping of the shit was…free. =). Make sure the compost is aged for at least a year—two years to be safer. It was still really stinky, and we had a massive panic attack that we got the wrong stuff and almost tried to dump it in the nearby woods. Thankfully, it ended up working very well when we mixed it with peat moss and humus. Oh yea! Make sure you put, layer, and water down some cardboard to smother the grass before adding your soil. Don’t get tricked into buying fabric sheets.

We were weed-whacking the walkways for a while. This was dumb, so we layered wet cardboard then topped it with woodchips from our municipality’s composting service. It’s a nice organized look. Me likes!

Upgrades: Mulched walkways, fitted cold frames, and straw weed cover.
Upgrades: Mulched walkways, fitted cold frames, and straw weed cover.

We initially didn’t plan on having a fence, but the rabbits struck quickly in the game, forcing us to reconsider. Deer are not an issue here, so we were able to buy some fence poles off of craigslist and bought some rabbit fencing from the hardware store. We haven’t had a problem since. The rabbit fence is short enough for us youngsters to hop over, but we did extend it in one area with a moveable stake that opens the area.

Haha, B!@#@! We win this time!
Haha, B!@#@! We win this time!

We changed from graph paper to garden bed pictures to organize our crop rotation and planting. Take pictures then crop and scale the images to one page. Then you can just write where and what you planted. We change pen color to delineate a different planting time in the season. Pictures are a great way to document your growing season and plant maturity rates during the year.

Use an image editor or Preview to document and manage your plantings.
Use an image editor or Preview to document and manage your plantings.

This year, I let the chickens do some of the work. Although a slight charade catching them (as always!), they were placed in the beds to till the area and find some slugs. The next day I added our somewhat finished compost from last year and they did a solid job spreading it out.

Spring: Chickens digging up slugs, spreading compost, and tilling beds.
Spring: Chickens digging up slugs, spreading compost, and tilling beds.

The reins are ours,


Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations:

  • Permaculture: Place garden in a high traffic area. For example, between your driveway and front door to maximize interaction. Pick stuff for dinner on your way in! It’s not a trudge to the corner of your lot to maintain your garden.
  • Permaculture: Use Hugelkurtur beds – woody debris and logs underneath layered organic matter. This skips the wood framed beds, saves money on materials, and utilizes local shrub & fallen tree waste (if applicable in your area).
  • Permaculture: Use more synergistic plants and food forest layouts.
  • Do 3.5’ wide beds: otherwise, it’s a pretty large space to hop over.
  • Instead of getting the manure, peat moss, and humus, we should have just gotten yards of certified compost from our municipality service (OCRRA compost). It would have been cheaper and less work. They offer wood chips to cover your plants and prevent weed maintenance, too! $15 for six yards of either compost or wood chips; you can mix and match. A yard is about a truck bed load.





Replacing Rotting Door Wood: Rot to Not

How did I miss this?
Time to Address This

The Judge

Michelle comes home to an awkwardly smiling Chris. Chris presents the door he drove 45 minutes to get. It was supposed to have built-in-blinds with a luscious and deep stained wooden interior. “Where are the blinds?” “Didn’t have them. Just this screen.” “Hmmm…that’s weird.” “Yea.” “Oh well, hey is that rotting?” Stumbling explanation ensues.

Rotten Altitude?

Up and up he hikes into…new territory once again. Now, he’s entered the land of rotting wood doors! Oh no! As always, it’s time to explore and try something new. It’s a slight bummer that I’ve needlessly brought it upon myself; however, let’s get this door back to something worth using, and also save my “deal of the century” reputation with Michelle.


  • Piece of Wood
  • Wood Putty
  • Stain or Paint, Polyurethane, Brushes or Rollers
  • Biscuits for Joint Planer
  • Wood Glue


  • Oscillating Tool or Multi-Tool
  • Chisel
  • Joint Planer
  • Brad Driver
  • Table Saw
  • 4 ft Clamps and Small Clamps
  • Oscillating Sander and Pads

Get Away Decay

To remove the rot I checked out some online videos, and I saw people using an oscillating multi-tool. I didn’t have one, but my neighbor Michael Greenwood did. He was kind enough to lend me the tool; thanks Mike!

My Cutting Tool of Choice
My Cutting Tool of Choice

I originally intended to remove the entire bottom piece of framing wood; however, after removing layers of the door, I found that I couldn’t figure out how to remove the tempered glass (probably needed some heat applied to the seals) and I wasn’t sure if I really did want to remove it and make the seal weakened/have to reseal it well, so I decided to just cut out the bad parts. I created my guidelines as well as fastened a piece of wood to coax the oscillating cutter. I removed some good wood on one side so it matched the other side.

Cutting out the Rot
Cutting out the Rot
Right Side: This Door Came Free with Doyle Security
Right Side: This Door Came with Free Doyle Security

I also sanded the entire door and frame at this point. The bottom threshold piece was pretty beat up and I thought I’d have to replace it, but it was a nice hardwood and sanding it did the trick.


Door Threshold Piece
Door Threshold Piece
Sanding Magic
Sanding Magic

Once everything was sanded with my oscillating sander, I started to cut the replacement wood piece. I made this piece into an “L” shape; my plan was to have a two tier level replacement piece where I could have plane biscuits on each level for extra strength. This didn’t work out; the planer was too big to reach the bottom level on the door, so I didn’t get my overkill worth of strength.

Table Sawed "L" Piece of Wood
Table Sawed “L” Piece of Wood
Joint Planer: Nice tool Pa introduced me to
Joint Planer: Nice tool Pa introduced me to. Use it for joining wood indiscreetly. I used it previously for a small table top. It’s just a sideways saw blade.

After dry fitting the piece, it was ready for a go. I moved the door inside the house to achieve proper temperatures for the wood glue. Step 1: Wood glue massacre. Step 2: Torture clamps!

Joint Planer creates the right size holes for these wooden biscuits to be glued in.
The joint planer creates the right size holes for these wooden biscuits to be glued in.
Biscuit Close Up: It's smiling at you.
Biscuit Close Up: It’s smiling at you.
Torturing Wood. One of my hobbies.
Torturing Wood. One of my hobbies.
Fitted Piece with Putty
Fitted Piece with Putty

There were several imperfections during this entire process. While I was cutting the rotting piece out, I scratched the sides of the wood.

<img class="size-medium wp-image-287" src="http://www lipitor generic.oneidatrail.com/app/uploads/2014/07/IMG_2472-213×300.jpg” alt=”Oscillating Cutter Marks and Gap” width=”213″ height=”300″ />
Oscillating Cutter Marks and Gap

The cut replacement wood piece was a solid fit, but it left a small gap (mainly because I didn’t cut accurately and it was difficult to do it perfectly–I think I was using an old blade). I really wanted to keep the wood visible, but I failed to match the two types of wood and I didn’t even try to match the putty infill, so even with these going against me, I did a trial stain test anyway. Surprise, surprise, it looked like crap, so I had no choice but to paint it; thankfully, it looked great painted. I actually used an exterior paint on the bottom of the door to really help prevent moisture penetrating the wood again. The paint has two layers, and then I added two layers of polyurethane to seal it and prevent marking up the paint.

Painted Door
Painted Door
Wood Putty Hid the Lines Well

To reattach the trim pieces, which I also sanded and painted, I planned on borrowing dad’s small finishing nailer and compressor. He asked why I would haul all of that over for just a couple of quick nails and sent me home with a Brad driver. This little baby worked like a charm.

Brad Driver
Brad Driver
Simply press the finishing nails in.
Simply press the finishing nails in with any built up anger you’re holding on to.

Overall, I’m happy with the result even though there was a lot of adjustments made along the way. The door is tempered glass which will be good for a moving house, and it looks nice and new again; a little bummed I had to hide the wood grain with paint–I hate painting wood. I bought bottom door weatherstripping, and I still have to attach it, but this door is pretty much waiting for its home!

The reins are ours,


Categories: Building

Tiny House Trailer Restoration

Power Tools...Stay Clear!
Power Tools…Stay Clear!

Metal Fan

Bringing our trailer back to life was my first experience battling metal. Turns out battling and playing metal are two very different skill sets. Overall, it was a pretty exhilarating and tiring venture.

The Process

Cascading spark-fireworks fly while Chris gets nailed with breaking shuriken-like metal cut-off discs. Not painless.

Materials List:

  • 10 Metal Cut-Off discs
  • 5 Metal Grinding Discs
  • 1 Gallon of Metal Paint, Brushes & Rollers


  • Angle Grinder
  • Steel Cup Brush
  • Safety Glasses, Heavy Gloves, Mask, Latex Gloves for Painting

 Game Plan:

  • Use steel brush cup to grind off all surface rust
  • Cut off and grind unnecessary components
  • Use a rust converter/primer
  • Paint 2-3 layers of strong oil paint to seal

Got your Grain of Salt? Read on.

Remember, this was done by a guy who has no idea what he’s really doing—be encouraged and afraid. Disclaimer aside, the wood was past its prime and starting to detach already; luckily taking it off was simple with a drill and crowbar.

Decking Removed: Surface Rust
Decking Removed: Surface Rust

In an ideal world, I’d rent and use a sand blaster to get off all the surface rust. After some quick research, I got some quotes for around 300-500 dollars, so we decided against it. That left me with the ol’ time consuming way: 4 ½” angle grinder with a steel cup. Why is it always the ol’ time consuming way with me? I wore heavy gloves and mask for the dust—I always err on the side of caution with safety. It’s a good thing because those steel threads detached, stabbing me during this step.

Angle Grinder with Steel Brush Cup
Angle Grinder with Steel Cup Brush

After steel brush grinding a third of it, I got fed up and called the guy who sold me the Rust Converter, and I asked him if this step was really necessary. He said yes. I got back to work—rattling my skeletal frame like a baby toy.

Steel Brushed: Not very Differet!
Steel Brushed: Not very Different!

The next step was chemistry…so you wouldn’t understand. I kid. Maybe you would; I wouldn’t.  I looked for a somewhat eco-option, so even though POR15 Rust Preventative and paint was recommended on online, I went with Rust Converter from The Rust Store. “Rust Converter, a water-based primer, contains two active ingredients: Tannic acid and an organic polymer.” It isn’t harmless, but it looks a lot less processed and toxic. I applied two coats as recommended. I got a gallon and used about 3/5ths of it. Looked a lot better with it! *You may want to use Bull Frog Rust Remover or Rust Release Supergel before the rust converter, but I thought my grinding work was enough prep.

Rust Converted: Better.
Rust Converted/Primed: Better.

Rust Spots Still Slightly Visible
Rust Spots Still Slightly Visible

Before painting the trailer, it was time to do some cutting, the scary spark stuff. Using metal cut-off discs and grinders, I cut off the lip on the inside wheel well, mending plates in the front, and metal hangers in the back near the rear lights. I also grinded down and cut the screws that previously held the wooden bed down.

Confession: I don’t know why the blades warped and broke so quickly but they did; I must have been using the wrong adapter with the angle grinder (*Confirmed with Pa). The discs would snap and shoot out and I got hit twice in the arm pretty miserably, haha. Something needed adjusting, and I didn’t figure it out totally. The ¼” steel was tough to cut through; so I did start to use the thicker blades and even the grinder disc once to get through the entire thing.

Iron Maiden Guides My Blade
Iron Maiden Guides My Blade

The D-rings were 2” below the top of the frame, so I left them on the trailer. I know a lot of people cut off all the unneeded trailer parts, but I think I can use these to secure things to my trailer (potential Solman Solar generator) or even use them to brace the trailer to the ground if I lived in a really windy area. Hope leaving them doesn’t end up biting me in the butt….like a metal cut-off disc…I also used silicone for some holes left over from the screws as well as threaded road to fill in two large holes. Some of the steel tube framing is hollow and open, so I don’t know if this is necessary for all trailers for the metal to adjust or if it’s going to lead to future rust issues. Feedback and thoughts would be appreciated! With everything cut, grinded, plugged, and primed, I went with the only metal paint I found in the area: rust-oleum. I read mixed reviews on it, but I had faith in the preparation job, so I hoped the positive reviews were right! Although not eco-friendly, the paint was very sticky and made the trailer look spanking new! I put two coats on. After the winter, I’m happy to report the paint is still holding and looking great. Satisfying result!

Painted Trailer: Looking Spanking New!
Painted Trailer: Looking Spanking New!

Paint Close Up
Paint Close Up

Painted Wheel wells
Painted Wheel wells

The reins are ours,


Reflections, Hindsight, and Alterations

  • Before the framing lumber got delivered I had a little time so I put a quick third coat on this spring even though the paint was holding up well.
  • Had to grind off the paint for the wheel’s threaded rods, so I could attach the wheels and nuts this spring—a little extra work.
  • I wonder if I should have tried to grind off the rust with a grinding disc instead of a steel cup brush. It would have exposed more of the metal and taken more of the rust away. If people do that–I’d get the rust converter/primer on ASAP because it re-rusts quickly when exposed to the elements.


  • The Rust Store: http://www.theruststore.com/
Categories: Building