Home & Garden Projects

This is a hypertufa birdbath I made to cover my very unsightly well cover, since it was taking away from the look of my hydrangea garden. I made a wood frame for the base, and used a cardboard tube to keep the inside hollow. Note the detail (below right) of the knot pattern I carved into one of the wood panels of the pedestal mold. 
The knot pattern is barely visible, except when the sun hits it just right and creates an outlining shadow.  

For the top of the birdbath, I built another mold from wood, and carved a Celtic knot
 pattern I had designed into the mold.  The pattern was probably a bit too complex for the hypertufa, however; and some of the raised knot crumbled when I removed the mold (see photo below right). But the broken lines just add to the ancient look of the hypertufa. For those of you who have browsed my novel, you might notice the same knot pattern on the front and back cover, as well as under the chapter headings.   

Having built it all myself, it's a real delight to see the robins and finches enjoying it throughout the summer!

This is a concrete casting of a lotus leaf I made in 2013. The one pictured is my first attempt, made from just 
concrete, water, and a bit of green dye.  I tried a couple more using sand and Portland cement in various combinations, but none of those turned 
out as nicely as the first. The mix for this one was very wet and sticky and hard to work with, but the end result was far superior to the others.  To make one, you start with a mound of sand that you mold to the dramatic ruffles of the leaf as best as possible (I spent 3 full hours just shaping the sand for this one!). You lay your leaf upside-down on the mold then cover it with the concrete mix.  It's also good to use a layer of drywall tape (the plastic mesh type) for reinforcement. Once the concrete is in place you cover it with plastic till it cures. 

For Christmas of 2012, I promised my wife a new kitchen cabinet made from discarded pallets. She had shown me
some examples of pallet furniture on Pinterest and we both loved the look. I found a bunch of matching pallets at work and took them  home. I cut the boards apart with a reciprocating saw (the nails wouldn't budge at all and I wanted to preserve the nail heads anyhow) and the wood sat in my garage for almost a year before I summoned the guts for this project. I sanded the boards with a belt sander and found that the wood beneath the dirt and algae buildup was quite beautiful and strong, though I have no idea what kind of wood these pallets were made from. The actual construction was a challenge since most of the boards were quite warped, gouged and unbendable, but I chose to use them all as is, for as natural a look as possible.
Aside from the pallets, I used a few tree stakes for joining the sides to the front, and I used plywood for the shelves and back.
I finished the cabinet with a thin coat of polyurethane and sanded it very lightly.
The cabinet is 7'x4' and used 9 4'x3' pallets with very little scrap left over.

We had a pretty large Ash tree in our yard that was kind of special to us, because the kids used to climb it when they were younger. Unfortunately though, the tree was beginning to die from the Emerald Ash Borers that recently moved into our area. So as a way of memorializing the tree, and making an indoor habitat for our cats, my wife came up with the idea of bringing some of the tree inside. 

Interior sliding barn door...actually made from engineered hardwood flooring!