Deck for Camper Part IV

Posted: September 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

This is an ongoing saga of building a deck for our permanent camper spot.  Here’s the first post.    In the most recent post about the deck, I mentioned having issues with some of the balusters warping.  I took a picture of a couple that had warped really bad.   If I had it to do over, I might consider looking at iron balusters.  While they would have been more expensive, I wouldn’t have had any issues with warping.  And I’m pretty sure they would last forever.


You can see how bad these had warped.  And they were actually installed at the time.  I ended up replacing them with additional balusters.   Here’s a few more pictures.


I love this next picture.  It shows how much room I have under the deck.  The kayaks had been under here.  I had them pulled out for this picture.  Trying to think about what type of kayak holder I can build.  Something will allow PVC pipe to be around a iron pipe or something.  That way I can roll a kayak in upside down and have it kept off the ground.

We had been considering something like this kayak rack.  But it will take additional space on our lot.  The space under the deck is unused.  So it is the perfect place.


This picture shows the last bit of balusters needed.  As before, I had bought enough but they had warped before I could use them.  Since this picture was taken, me and my son went and added more balusters and replaced some more warped ones.  Still have a little bit of decking to work on.  I’m designing some brackets that will hold decking between the deck and camper for part of the deck.  Hope to get some of that done this coming weekend.


Although I thought this project would have lasted a few weekends, we are now a few months in.  While the deck is mostly finished (and usable), there’s still a few more things to work on.


Deck for Camper Part III

Posted: September 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

I’ve had a couple of posts (original, update) about the progress of our deck at our campsite.  We spent a little time out there this past weekend.  While we planned to only rest and not do any work, we did get a couple of things done.

First we were able to get about 2/3 of the balusters installed.  My son came out and helped me get those up.  By the time we had finished we had the process down really good.  I ended up using the baluster calculator at  You put in your baluster size, spacer size and the length of the area where you are putting them up.  It gives you a lot of info.  Like whether you start with a baluster or spacer on centerline.  This makes is very easy.  Plus it helps you calculate the number balusters needed.

I built a simple jig.  Just simply a few boards clamped to my drillpress to make the countersink holes.  I cut the balusters to the proper length using my miter saw using the stopblock feature of the folding stand.

I had actually bought enough balusters to do the entire deck.  But once I got them home and opened them, I realized how many were in bad shape.  Some serious warp-age.  I ended up taking 37 back to Home Depot.  They didn’t have any that looked good, so I’ll have to purchase more at another store.  But I’m already setup to make getting them ready a quick process.







After we put up the balusters, I went ahead and installed some solar deck lights.  The lights are some I bought from Amazon.  I got a 12 pack for less than $30.  To be honest, at that price, I was very skeptical.  I ended up placing them between the posts on the center line (I already had it marked from putting up the balusters).  The following pics show some of the views at dusk with the lights on.  It does a great job of highlighting the deck, but not really flooding the area with light.  Even on the inside of the deck, there’s just enough light to help you see what you are doing, but it definitely isn’t too bright.

I’m very happy with the look.




The above pics were from my wife’s phone.  This one is from mine.


The flash came on.  Makes it look like it isn’t nearly as dark.  My wife and I have the same phone.  Why do her pics turn out so much better than mine?  :^(


Deck for Camper Part II

Posted: August 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

Here’s the prior post on building our deck for our camper/campsite.

We spent another weekend working on the deck at the campsite.  We were able to get a few things done.  Firstly, we cut the posts so they were all level and then we were able to get the handrails done.


You can see we also added stairs.  This was awesome since were able to retire the temporary stairs I built a while ago.  Thank God nobody was injured my temp stairs.


We added a small concrete landing spot to support the stairs and give us somewhere to land.  We’ll probably either add concrete running to the parking area or just add gravel.




You can see from the below picture that I need to add some more temporary decking between the deck and the camper.  I didn’t want the permanent part of the deck too close to the camper.  Otherwise, it would be very difficult to get the camper in and out of the spot.


If we have to pull the camper out, we could remove the temp section and leave it off until the camper comes back.

We also cut the decking boards off even.  It looks a little weird in this picture as we had just washed off the deck.

I’m so excited to get a lot closer to be done.  We still need to add the balusters.  But I’m so looking forward to going to the camper and being able to relax.  Here’s a pic from my deck.  My wife put out some corn and the deer came and stacked up.




New Deck for Camper

Posted: August 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

I’ve had a few posts earlier this year talking about reclaiming some old wood used by picnic tables. We were planning to use this wood to build a deck at our new campsite. Well the time finally arrived. Our new campsites were available and we moved in. Now we have the ability to start working on our deck. We started by going through all of the requirements provided by the campsite and SRA (Sabine River Association). To get approval for the deck we had to provide some basic info to the campground. Once they approved they requested approval for SRA. Here’s some of the hand drawn and Visio docs we used to gain approval.


You can see from the images, I was initially planning two parts.  A 14′ by 14′ section that would be covered and a 8′ by 24′ part that would run along side the camper and not be covered.  We decided to move forward with the 8′ by 24′ part at first.  We’ll revisit the other part of the deck at another time.

Once we had approval, our first step was to layout where the deck posts would be. Per their rules, we had to use 4×4 posts since it wouldn’t have a roof. 4×6 posts are required if you’ll have a roof. We had to go 18” deep in the ground. We dug the holes with a post hold digger and a trench shovel. It was a lot of work, but wasn’t too bad. We considered renting an auger, but decided we’d just get ‘er done. We had a total of 8 post holes to dig. We made the decision to use larger beams and joists which would limit the number of required posts. We could have used more posts and lessened the size of the beams and joists. Just a personal choice. We didn’t really like digging the post holes. Our deck is 8’ by 24’ so, the beams and joists are all running a little less than 8’. We used our cement mixer to mix the concrete. It never seems to work as good as I’d expect. I wonder if there’s a way to make the drum rotate in the opposite direction. It seems that would work better.
Here’s a few pictures of the posts in the ground.


We used 2”x12” treated for the beams. These things were beasts. They were very heavy. We used bolts and brackets to attach them to the posts.

Then we ran the joists. We used 2″x10″ joists.  We used joist hangers to attach the joists to the beams. We wanted to make the deck just slightly lower than the step into the camper. Didn’t want it level as I didn’t want water to run off the deck into the camper. I think it will be great. I hate those wobbly steps on the camper. Here’s some picks from the first weekend with joists installed.

IMG_1392IMG_1393Then we needed to add additional posts (not in the ground) to be used with the railing. Handrails can typically go about 6 feet and all of my posts are almost 8 feet apart. So I’ll need an additional post attached to the beams or Joists. I used bolts to attach these posts to the beams. I centered them the best I could except where the stairs would be. I made that post 3’ away from the corner post.


You can tell from the last two pics above, I put one of the posts on the wrong side of the beam.  I didn’t notice this until I was taking pics.  So I fixed that before moving forward.


Now we started working on the decking. These are the boards that were reclaimed from the picnic tables. We had previously power washed and stained these boards. Some of these boards were pretty bent. We used a board bender and a large clamp to get them back into shape. The board bender worked much better than expected. I surprised with the amount of bow I was able to remove using this device. Only takes saving a few boards for this device to pay back the purchase cost.

We also used Kreg Deck spacers to keep our gap between the boards fairly consistent.
Here’s a pic of the deck as we got the deck boards laid down.  We used ‘red’ deck screws  The screws matched the stain we used very good.  It was impressive how nice it looked.

I haven’t had time to install the boards on the end, which will have the most work. I’ll have to cut out a lot holes around the posts. Once this piece is done, I’ll need to work on the railing and stairs. But at least I have somewhere to sit and enjoy the scenery. Here’s a couple of pics of the mama and baby deer eating the corn we put out.


I do love how much storage I have under the deck.  It is nice that it holds both kayaks and still has room to spare.


Rustic Cooler

Posted: May 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

I ride a vanpool to work each day.  That ends up meaning I’ve got two 45 minute trips each day where I can relax and watch anything I want (on my phone anyway).  I end up watching a lot of YouTube DIY guys.  One of the guys I follow is DIY Pete.  He did a patio cooler that I really liked:

How to Build a Patio Cooler

I decided I wanted to build my own.

I really like doing things with rustic wood.  I’ve never been one to try to distress new wood to make it look old.  I also don’t really like taking old wood and trying to make it look new.  I like to work with what I have.

I had quite a bit of wood left over from an old swingset.  When we moved from Little Elm to Frisco (about 15 years ago), a friend of mine was trying to sell a wooden swing/playset for a friend.  Once I saw it, I loved it.  It had very large beams and a lot of thick wood.  I doubt it was a box-store product.  It appeared to have been custom or at least made from really nice wood.  It had seen many years of use, but the wood was still in pretty good shape.  So I purchased it and moved it to our yard.  Our kids used it until they outgrew it.  At that point, we donated it to our church.  They put in their playground area for the Kid’s Day Out program.  It stayed there until their Insurance required them to purchase a commercial grade playground set.  So I took down the playset and took the wood home.  I couldn’t bare to see that good wood going to waste.

In this pic you can see the playset.  Just to see the nice construction:


The above pic is one I received when I was inquiring about purchasing the set in 2005 (dang that seems like a long time ago).

So this cooler turned into the about the best use I could come up with for part of the wood.  I’ve still got some bits and pieces left that will become another project at some time.

This is the final product:


Here’s a bit of the build.  I did good at first taking pictures, then got busy trying to finish and didn’t take as many pictures.

I loosely followed the plans DIY Pete used.  I probably made the wooden box a little big for the ice chest.  I had a few ice chests (mine, my dad’s, my father in law’s) to choose from.  As people pass away, I keep inheriting stuff.

The first thing I did was cut the posts.  I used the length suggest in the plans.  It could have been a little taller or shorter if needed.  I cut these with my miter saw.


Then I needed to build the front/back/sides.  I decided to put a notch in the runners and put my slats into that notch.  Just to make it look a little cleaner.  I used my miter saw and SawStop table saw for this.


I used my Kreg Jig to put in pocket holes.  This is how I attached the runners to the posts.


Then I laid out the slats on the runners in a way I thought looked good.  I used a brad nailer to attach them to the runners.


Then I attached the completed sections to the posts.  I used a large pipe clamp to hold it together while I inserted the Kreg Outdoor screws.


Then I was able to get the basic frame put together.


Then I needed to add supports for the cooler at the bottom.  These were attached using pocket hole screws created using the Kreg Jig.


You can also see above that I filled any previous screw holes in the wood with brown caulk.  Since the cooler was red, I didn’t want any red coming through on the final product.

Now’s the point when I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  I just pushed through to finish.  Once it was pretty much done, I used a black piano hinge to attach the lid.

Then I started looking for a handle for the top.  Went to a local specialty store and loved some of these, but the price tag made me want to faint.


So I found a cheaper option.   I got the one I used from my local Home Depot.  I can’t find it on their website.  But is similar to this one at Amazon.

Either way, I’m happy with the result.  Now to get it out to the new campsite and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Oh yeah, I added a bottle opener.  A friend gave me the one I used.  I believe they got it at The Big Texan.  It is similar to this one.


Reclaiming Wood part II

Posted: December 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

I recently did a blog post about reclaiming some wood.

After we got the second set of wood home, we decided to lay everything out at once in the driveway and power wash it.


You can see there’s a lot of ‘gunk’ on these boards.  So I pulled out the Power Washer.  This pic shows one board partially cleaned:


Here’s a pic after I had done one side.




This pic shows the boards after I had flipped half before power washing the other side:


We put the boards sideways to dry.  There’s some warping, but it will mostly come out once we stack the boards.


Next project will be to pre-stain the boards.



Reclaiming old wood

Posted: December 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

At my work, there are 7 picnic tables in our open area:


I remember helping to build these probably 15 years or so ago.  Over the years, I’ve taken it on myself to repair a few of them.  Mostly pulling out old rusty screws and adding new deck screws.   Well it was that time again.  There were a couple of tables about to fall over because of the screws being in such bad shape.  I asked the building manager if we cared if I spent some time (and have them by the deck screws) and repair the tables.  He said corporate building services had asked if they could bring us new tables.  I guess they are wanting ones they can purchase and that are meant for a corporate environment.  I guess it is less of an insurance liability.   So he wanted them gone.  I thought about it for a while.  Six of the tables are 10′ long and built out of all 2″ X 6″ X 10′ boards.  Each table had 9 2×6 boards.  That’s over 50 2X6 boards.  They are pressure treated and run about $9 each.   They aren’t in perfect shape, but the underside of each board is pretty nice.  Or it will be nice once I power wash them.

So the wife and I ran to work on the weekend and took apart the first 3 tables.  Wasn’t too hard.  We were armed with our Drill and Driver and prybar.   Of course the old rusty screws were almost impossible to get out.  The heads broke off of most as we tried to remove them.  So we had to pry them apart.  But in the end, we had a truck full of boards. IMG-0372

As you can see, the wood is aged.  But we’ll see how it looks after some time with the power washer and the stain sprayer.  Some of them have some warpage, but most are pretty straight.   My goal is to use this wood for decking on a deck.  We are going to lease a spot for a camper at Wind Point Park.  We are allowed to build decks, sheds, or just about anything on our lot.  I was eventually planning to save up enough to build the deck.  But this will be a big jumpstart.

Here’s a pic showing the bases of the tables before I took them apart:


And here’s a picture of all the wood after I stacked it in the back yard and took apart the A frame bases:


Since we took these pictures, we’ve went and taken down 3 more of the tables.  That seems to be about the limit my small truck can move at once.  We were bottoming out the truck as it was.

So the question everyone may be asking.  This sure seems like a lot of work just to save a little money.  Well that is correct.  Goodness knows I’m cheap (just ask my wife), but it isn’t just about the money.  I can’t stand the thought of throwing away decent lumber.

I’m going to document each part of the process.  I’ll make more posts later.