Monday, April 29, 2013

Preventing the Abuse of Couch Cushions with a PVC Tent

Don't you hate it when you walk in a room to see your entire couch dismantled because your kids commandeered your furniture to make a fort? Me too. Furniture is for sitting, not for a tent city re-creation. But kids need a hide-out so I decided to create a PVC tent that could easily be put up and taken down with minimal fuss and less furniture damage.  

Materials (get at home improvement store):
2 - 10 ft. 3/4" PVC pipe 
6 -  3/4" Tee PVC connector
8 - 3/4" 45 Degree elbow spig X slip PVC connector. (one side of the elbow will be smaller than the other because you will slip the smaller side directly into the tee.

Measure and mark one 10-inch PVC pipe for 3 pieces that will be 32 inches and 1 piece that will be 24 inches. The other PVC pipe will be marked for 3 - 24 inch pieces and 4 - 12 inch pieces.

This way you will have
   3 pieces of pipe that are 32 inches, 
   4 pieces that will be 24 inches and, 
   4 pieces that will be 12 inches. 

You only have to saw the PVC pipe half way through and you can bend it the rest of the way with your hands so it will snap and break. Very easy to work with and a bit forgiving, so if your measurements are a little off, you can still work with it.

Next you take your 45 degree elbows and your tee connectors and fit them together as shown in the picture. This will create 2 pieces for the roof of the tent and 4 pieces to connect the sides.

The 4-24 inch PVC pipe will be put into the elbows to make the roof of the tent. The 4-12 inch PVC pieces will be used to make the sides of the tent as shown in the picture. You have now created the front and the back of the tent. 

The 3 - 32 inch PVC pipe pieces will be used to connect the front and back of the tent through the tee connectors.

Give all the connections a good squeeze before you flip it on its side. I found no reason to glue it together, I like being able to take it apart and shove it in the closet when company unexpectedly shows up.

Throw a blanket over it and viola! Tent!

I really have to say that I enjoyed playing with the PVC pipe. They remind me of  giant tinker toys.

I know there is some left overs in the picture, but you won't have that, I'm making other fun things with this stuff in the future !!!

Grade: A 

Skill Level: Medium

Difficulty Level: Medium

Frustration Level: Low


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Brick Wall

I'm pretty much fed up with weeding the edges of my vegetable garden.  You shouldn't mulch or put down chemicals on plants that you plan on eating, which makes vegetable gardens a particular challenge. So when I saw my friend Jeana selling her old EP Henry locking bricks on the internet for only a buck each, I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a wall border for my vegetable garden to reduce the weeds.  I was so lucky that her bricks matched what I had at home.

I convinced my sister that she needed half these bricks for her yard also. So I convinced her to split the workload with me (ha ha ha sucker.) This was a great deal for me since these blocks are usually $1.85 each at a garden center, and it was a great deal for Jeana because my sister and I moved over 300 bricks out of her yard and into our cars. It took about 3 trips filling our 2 trunks with so many bricks, that we drove all the way home on 2 wheels (shhhhhh, don't tell our husbands).

What is really nice about these bricks, is that they have a lip on the bottom so that you can lock the bricks in place so you really don't need to use adhesive if you are doing a wall only 3 bricks high. They also have a nice little place to put your hands to reduce the chance of slamming your finger (true for most people but probably not myself since I am always injuring myself.)

Carrying the bricks is the most difficult part, the rest of the process is pretty easy:

1)Dig out a trench for your bricks about 3 inches deep.

2)Dump sand in the trench. I used sandy soil since my yard is full of it and it is free.

3) Rake the sand to what seems to be level

4)Place the brick in the sand and smack the brick with a rubber mallet. 

5) Check it with a level to make sure it is actually level. I found this free bubble level app for my smart phone, boy is it neat. I'll never loose my level again because this one has a GPS tracker. If brick is not level wiggle it around until it is. Once it is in the right place, put another brick next to it and you can feel with your hand if it is the same height as the last brick you put in. This step is very important so you don't have a crooked wall.

6) For places that will be under the dirt you can use cinder blocks instead of  the pretty bricks.

7) Once you are finished the bottom layer, start piling the rest of bricks on top and push them so they are flat, with the lip hanging over the edge in the back (this is the locking feature that makes it so easy to work with). I would not recommend going past 3 bricks high without some sort of brick adhesive.

Keep in mind I am not a landscaper, I'm a mom who want's an inexpensive brick wall that I can put together quickly. It works, it keeps the weeds out, it looks good and its still standing, that's basically all I need from a brick wall.

Best thing about this project is that it looks great!! The worst thing is that I injured myself (see picture below). I really have to remember to use gloves!!!

Grade: A 

Skill Level: Low

Difficulty Level: Easy

Frustration Level: Low

Injury Level: High

Price: $$ 

I made a brick "sammich" with my thumb. oooouchie. I hope the nail doesn't fall off.

Next time, I'm going to remember to wear my gloves!