Monday, July 29, 2013

Finishing touches: restoring/repairing an existing privacy fence

If you've been following along, you won't need this, but the last post on the fence was here.  I didn't get photos of Capel staining it, or putting the caps on. I'm not as good at documenting his work as my own, I'm afraid. In any case, here the caps are, having just been stained, a couple of weekends ago.

We looked into factory made caps, the kind with a little pyramid top, but we couldn't get the right size for our posts and they were unbelievably expensive. So for about $8 instead of $128, we bought a length of cedar and Capel cut and stained pieces to make the caps himself.

Then last weekend, he scraped and re-stained the old panels on the outside of the fence, because it was pretty worn. 

And, ta-da, the fence is back!

We didn't re-stain the inside. I like the lichen-y look and the inside is not nearly as worn as the outside. Here, the old pink climbing rose I planted the month we arrived. And next to it, a new salmon colored climbing rose to grow up beside it. The plan is to train them along the top of the fence, spilling out over the top to the outside ...

Someday, we'll have a little hut for the garbage, but until then, at least it's not impinging on the neighbors' front yards. We're happy. They're happy. And the new fence posts are as solid as a rock--literally. This method of setting the posts is amazingly good (see this post for details). 

We're both a little shocked and amazed we could do this ourselves. Guess we're not quite newbie DIYers any more. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to make wood window screens 11: Installing the screening material and finishing your screen

The sky is just lightening, birds chittering, cats only just waking, I'm sitting here with my first cup of coffee, and I am excited for two reasons. One, because I am going to spend the entire day where? You guessed it. In the garden! We've had 100 degree weather for most of three weeks then three days of rain, and the vines and crabgrass and poison ivy have just exploded. Today should be partly cloudy and 84 degrees. Perfect for a long mid-July day of battling weeds.

But second and at long last. Today. Right this minute. Finally. Woohoo. The long promised final post on installing screening.

Whew! We are almost done. (Well, with a demonstration of screenmaking, that is. Personally, I still have many, many screens to make). In this post we will cover how to install the screening material and finish your screen. These are the steps remaining:

10. Put the screening in
11. Nail the trim over the screening
12. Put in the fasteners and install the screens

10. Put the screening in

Here we are with our screening. Charcoal grey aluminum screening. We picked it up at our favorite local hardware store, the Melrose Lumber and hardware store right around the corner.

It's quite a bit longer than our frame, as you can see.

We start by unrolling it and--without cutting anything--begin by placing one end of the screening material along one edge of the frame. We square it up (and here is where two people are handy), I hold it even while Capel staples, beginning in the center and working out from the center alternately on both sides.

You can see we have left overlap on both sides. Leave enough to make it easy to grasp the screening material and pull it taut, don't skimp.

Here's a close-up. There's nothing fancy here. In fact our stapler may not be strong enough, because our staples don't go all the way in and we wind up having to hammer them flat. Hopefully, you have a better stapler than we do.

Now we are working on the side that is OPPOSITE to the first side we already stapled, and you can see me pulling the screen taut. Not too tight, or you will get wavy unevenness, just taut and even. Screening has lines and you can pretty easily see when it is straight.

Once the two opposite sides are stapled, we cut off the end of the screen, so the roll of screen is not in our way. That first cut we do with those yellow metal shears you see off to the left, and we do not cut it too close, so there is still four inches or so hanging off the second side that we just stapled.

And here you see a corner of the second side up close. 

Now we work on the third side, here you see Capel holding the screen and stapling as he goes (leaving me free to take a photo). Again, he starts with one staple in the center and then works out alternately on both sides. When that's done, he staples the fourth side, opposite.


Now we've stapled all four sides and since the staples are sticking out, I invent a way to hammer them down without gouging out the screen frame ...

Then Capel takes a box-cutter with a new, sharp blade and cuts the screen around the edges, putting the edge of the blade right up into the edge of the rabbet. The screen can get a little torn and raggedy-edged on this step, but as long as the part that will be visible is not mangled, you'll be fine, don't worry.

11. Nail the trim over the screening

Now we are ready for step 11. All the edges are trimmed, and we lay out each piece of trim. As I explained some time ago, we cut each piece of trim to fit the rabbeting in each screen exactly and labelled the pieces with tape flags and sewing pins, so these pieces were labelled Screen 5T (for top), 5B, 5L and 5R. Here they are laid out.

And, again, a close-up.

A close-up of one of the tape flag labels, 5L.

Now, we start fastening them down. We're using wire nails 1/2" by 19. You want to make sure they will go through the trim, screening and into the frame, but not be so big that they will split the trim. They're really minuscule and yet they work and are remarkably easy to put in.

So here is the first piece in.

And now the second, and then we just work all around in a circle (rather than doing opposite sides), to make sure the mitered corners are snug and matched up as we go. You don't have to worry about putting too many nails in. Fewer is better. Just enough to hold the trim on and keep the screening secure. The staples are doing most of the work of keeping the screening attached to the frame.

And, that's all. It's finished. Now, these screens are under a porch, so I didn't countersink, fill and paint the nail holes. I might do that when I get to the second story screens. Not sure. I haven't seen any rust stains on the screens we made last year.

The reason not to counter-sink and fill them would be to leave them visible so that the trim can easily be removed if the screening ever needs to be replaced. Your call.

12. Put in the fasteners and install the screens

And that's it! The screen is in the window. What an amazing feeling!!!

'Yay,' says Minky, who discovers it within 3 seconds flat, natch. 'A new perch!'

For the entire series on making wooden window screens, click on the category "How to Make Wood Window Screens Series", in the Topics list along the right-hand side of the home page. There is also now an index tab at the top of the home page, listing all the posts in sequential order, with a link to each one.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's blooming new?

I went out early Sunday morning, just as the sky was lightening and the Cleomes were covered in bees. By the time I decided to get my camera, there weren't as many. I wish I could convey the early morning peace of the bees shifting magically here and there and their slight undercurrent of buzziness.

The last two day lilies bloomed for the first time a week or so ago, and I keep meaning to post photos. This is Aabachee. It's got an elegant, recurved form. For more about this variety and the others I put in this year, see my Crazy Daylily post from July here.

This is Daquiri ...

And here is a tall drink of a plant called Bonariensis, a kind of a verbena, that came up from seed and has only just bloomed ...

And, the first Dahlia of the year

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Farmhouse Topiary: Just for Fun

Just for fun. Because for a year Capel has been too lazy to get out the ladder and trim the top of one of the bushes out front -- it sprouted a little mini-bush on top. And this weekend, in a moment of I don't know what, I saw a topiary ball balanced on top.

frowzy bush

+ hedge trimmers (+ ladder)

= budding topiary!