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.





Craftsman Vise Restoration

Posted: November 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

Here’s a couple of new Vises from Amazon:

Yost LV4 Home Vise 41/2″

IRWIN Tools Multi-Purpose Bench Vise, 5-Inch

DeWalt DXCMBV6 6 In. Heavy-Duty Bench Vise with Swivel Base


My dad passed away in November, 2016 at 93 years old.  When my family and I were going though everything, I ran across a vise.  This vise had been in the same location since I was a little kid.  I had used this vise to hold my bikes while I was working on them.  I had used it to hold my BB guns to try to site it in (this never really worked).  The vise had always been under this lean-to connected to an outside storage building


There was a table that my Uncle Dale build which held the vise, but it sat right at the edge of the roofline.  So this vise was constantly getting hit with rain, snow, and wind.  Anyway it was in pretty rough shape.

I removed the vise from the table.  Donald (Dale’s son) wanted the table since his dad had made it.  I brought the vise home and did a basic cleaning on it.  Just using Simple Green and a degreaser got some of the gunk off, but it still looked pretty bad.


In fact, until this point, I couldn’t really even tell that the original color was red.  Anyway, I wasn’t overly concerned with the condition.  After all, it is a tool.  But my biggest issue was that the bolts were stuck.  The bolt on the side that allow it to swivel were stuck solid.  The bolt that holds the base to the body of the vise was also stuck.  So I decided I needed to take it apart and rebuilt it.

I first needed to work on getting the bolts unfrozen.  So I went through many processes trying to do so.  I heated the bolt with a small blowtorch.  Then I tried heating the nut side.  Then I tried putting the vise in the freezer overnight.  Then the blowtorch on the bolt.  Then I went through an entire spray can of blaster.

Ended up the best method was to spray blaster ,  Then wait for a week.  Spray again, wait…   After a month, amazingly the bolts, just loosened up enough that I could remove them.  At this point, I spent a lot of time with wire wheel brushes attached to my drill press cleaning the metal.  I tried to use my sandblaster, but the blasting media I bought a little to big for my small air compressor.  So I was mostly using wire brushes.

Here’s a picture of the base after I removed all the gunk, paint, and rust:


After they were all cleaned, I used an alcohol wipe to get all the remaining residue off.

I had done a little searching on the proper spray paint color for Craftsman red.  Most of the posts suggested Rust-oleum Regal Red.  So I ordered a can.


Here’s a picture of the parts getting painted:


A few coats of paint, and then it was time for assembly.  Luckily, the vise went back together so much easier than taking it apart.

Here’s a few pictures of the final product.


Overall I’m happy with the vise.  There’s some definite pitting on the handles, but not too bad.

The single best thing about this vise; every time I see it, I think about my dad.  And I have to walk past it every day going through the garage.

Here’s a picture of my dad when I took him out to get a steak for his 93rd birthday.

Dad on Birthday 2016

Adding rod holders to Kayak

Posted: September 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

amazon business1

For my birthday this year my wife bought me a angler kayak.  I wanted my wife to be able to go fishing with me (and yes she actually wants to go with me).  We bought her a little less expensive kayak from WalMart.  It was a Sun Dolphin Kayak.

But it wasn’t a fishing kayak.  So it didn’t have any rod holders.  One of the first upgrades we did was to add a couple of rod holders.  We ordered Floor Pack of 2 Flush Mount Canoe Kayak Fishing Rod Holder with Gashet Cover Cap from Amazon.  It was around $10 for two rod holders.  That’s much cheaper than Wal-Mart or anywhere else.

I hadn’t noticed before, but the kayak had marks on it like it was made to have rod holders installed.


Just like the nipples, there are three screw holes.


Those little nipples tell you where to drill.  I ended up using a hole saw aligned with the center nipple.  Then I could insert the rod holder and drill the other holes.


So I drilled the hole out with the hole saw with the drill straight up and down.  Well this didn’t turn out too good.  The rod holder has the hole at an angle.  You can see from this picture, why the angled cut is important:


So to get around this, I decided to use my Dremel Tool to make the circle more of an oval to match the rod holder.


After making the circle into more of an oval, the rod holder fits perfect.


Now I just need to drill the holes for the screws.  Turns out the three holes don’t match the nipples exactly so it is a thing I didn’t drill them first.


Once the screwholes are drilled, the rod holders come with specific screws.  They aren’t actually screws.  You need an Allen Wrench to tighten them.   I assume this is so you don’t overtighten them with a Battery operated driver.


Here’s the finished product on the first side:


Now I’m ready to install the second rod holder, but now I’ve got a little better experience.  My goal was to drill the hole with the drill angled so it would create an oval.


So doing this made the rod holder fit a little better, but it still wasn’t 100%.  I had to use the Dremel Tool again.


Now the Rod Holder fits perfectly.  Time to drill the screw holes and put in the screws.


Here’s the finished product.  Overall these rod holders are awesome.  I love the rubber lids to keep water out.


You may have seen my previous post about why I bought a SawStop:  Why I Bought a SawStop

But I saw on Facebook today that SawStop is giving away a cabinet saw in celebration of their 50K like on Instagram.

Click this link to enter the contest:


Of if you are ready to purchase a SawStop.  Check out my Amazon link below:

SawStop Jobsite Saw

SawStop 1.75 HP Cabinet Saw

SawStop 3 HP Cabinet Saw (like the one they are giving away).