Overcome Sign

Now that I have my wooden wall up, it is time to do some decoration. You might notice this broken pipe fragment from a previous engagement with our house. That is the pipe that broke off in the wall when I was trying to change out the supply valve. It was a deep low point in the renovation, but just a few days later I got the pluming and wall repaired and a new vanity installed.

I found a nice looking plaque at the hardware store, but wanted the scale to be a little different. I measured and copied the dimensions and 3d printed a template so I could replicate it at any length I wanted. I could also scale it up and down. The template goes on with double sticky tape, and a router template transfer bit copies the shape over.

With that made I routed the edges using a roman ogee bit and made a little mounting block to hold the pipe section on.

To hang this I was going to run a wire across the back, but the pipe valve’s weight would have the plaque leaning heavily from a center hang point. I needed some way to make two solid mounting points. I came up with this keyhole print. You drill a 1″ forstner hole about 1/4″ deep, and screw on the attachment. Now, a screw or nail head sticking out of the wall will register in the key hole. They make router bits for doing this, but my print is a lot easier to install. I mounted two in the back and hung up the plaque.

Last but not least this sign needs a word. I have always liked the unofficial motto of the Marine Corps. Improvise Adapt Overcome. This felt like an Overcome moment for me, so that is what I will use. I printed a two layer font white on black so that it looks like the IMPACT font with its usual white text and black outline. This is where a multicolor printer would come in a lot of handy. Instead I had to do it all with Z-height differences in color. Hopefully my next printer with come with some multi material options.

Now if I am ever in the shop working on a project that seems to have gone really belly up, I can look up and remember a worse situation I was able to overcome.

Garage Wooden Wall

The wall in our garage next to the house entrance has some issues. Multiple things had been attached and removed, and there was once a dart board. The result is a serious amount of holes. There are a lot of things I want to attach to this wall. They are often too small to use french cleats and I don’t want a million wall anchors. Why not use wood?

I picked up a pile of tongue and groove pine and covered the outward face in boiled linseed oil (BLO) to offer a little color and basic protection.

Everything got pulled away from the wall and I put in the first slat. I made really sure the first one was tight up against the wall and level. After that, things went pretty smoothly. I worked my way up the wall and got to some outlets that were disused. The house had a number of intercoms that were removed, phone jacks, and some switches I don’t need any more. I went through and measured everything’s position and saved it so I can reopen those boxes again if I want them in the future.

I put a corner mold on the outside edge and used a little scribe piece of pine to help smooth the transition between the door mold and the wood wall.

With everything up I could accessorize a bit. I bought wooden switch plates so the light switches and outlet would look nicer and blend in better.


3D Printed Enhancements

As I stated earlier, part of the reason for doing this is to support mounting options. I have a remote for my new AC system, an indoor/outdoor thermometer and a remote for the ceiling dust filter. The AC remote already had a mounting bracket, the others had to be designed and printed

While taking the garage door wall controls off the wall, the plastic started coming apart. The clips were breaking off and screw holes splitting. I printed a cradle that the housing would fit in and offer new mounting screw holes. The bodies were bonded into the cradle and allowed to cure overnight. The only place I had access to screw holes was under the main button. The base is thick enough to keep it from flapping under use.


I continued to add the signs and other accessories to my wall as I put the desk back and cleaned up. I was able to mount my shiny red metal first aid kit down low in easy reach. I also screwed a sealed CAT tourniquet to the wall. Hopefully that never comes in handy. Having the wall here has been nice. The space feels a lot warmer, and I have already added more items since taking this picture. I might pick continue this theme elsewhere in the shop, but not any time soon.

Garage Door Insulation and Repair

"No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater... than central air."
-AZRAEL, in Kevin Smith's Dogma

I got a mini-spit air conditioner installed in the garage this past week! The indoor unit sits up high near the ceiling, and supply lines are run out to a small outdoor heat exchanger and power source. It uses no indoor floor space and all gets controlled from a single remote.

I wanted to maximize the chances of this thing keeping the garage at a reasonable temperature when I got out there, so I am going to insulate the garage doors like I did at the last house. First though, I had some repair work to do.


My large garage door is very large. It is 18 feet wide, which is bigger than your typical double wide door. The extra size means more weight and stress. I had a garage door tune up done and they pointed out some damage. Replacing this would be crazy expensive, so I am going to try to patch it up and get a few more years out of it. The smaller door gets used quite frequently, but this one only gets cycled only a few times a week.

The first issue is that the main lifting arm brace broke the top central rib. Some of the panel is split as well.

I supported a series of rivets by placing a strip of aluminum across the top and drilling through it into a C channel in the bottom groove. The space was so small and awkward that I had to use a right angle drill. Maybe I should have pulled the door up to work on it. That should stop that panel split from advancing any further.

A number of the center ribs had de-bonded from the panels. They are just held on with some kind of adhesive. I guess decades of movement and thermal cycling got to them. I used a silicon adhesive between the two to try and stick them back together with a flexible bond. While that setup, I drilled and riveted through the outside panel into the inner rib.

My only worry is that this doesn’t hold well enough and the rivets end up ripping through the outer panel. If that happens I am probably going to have to get a new door. Time will tell.


With the door reinforced I could add some insulation (weight unfortunately). Being mindful of stress on the big door, I went with 1/2″ rigid foam. 6 panels are enough to do my small and large doors. They are silver foiled on one side and white with writing on the other. I had the text side facing inward at my last place. I wanted this to look a little nicer, so I painted all the text side with white paint.

In retrospect the paint might have actually lowered the R value vs the original foil surface. Oh well. One coat did a decent job, but you can still see the dark text. A second coat covered it up nicely.

With all the panels painted and dry I went about cutting them up on the table saw and slipping them into the panel cavities behind the ribs and hurricane bars. Liquid nails held everything in. That stuff doesn’t seem to cure well when the glob is too thick; I would use silicone next time. A few panels needed a re-glue, but overall it was a success. The paint looks very clean and helps reflect light inside. Now I just need to wait for the dead of summer to see how well the whole system works.

Stone Borders

I had a little project that involved 10 tons of Alabama strip rubble.

Our house came with some sections of the back yard that had gorgeous stone separating the flower beds from the rest of the yard. It has been around for a number of years and could use a little help in spots, but the age and moss make it look really wonderful.

The trick was that not all the beds had it. On top of that, out front they had used some really basic concrete border stones. It was done well, but compared to the really nice stuff in the back, it felt lacking.

I went through the yard and measured out every place where I thought I would want a stone border. Luckily the neighbors had info on where I could get more stone. I had to make a special order and buy it from Alabama sight unseen. I over-bought, but didn’t want to run out! My process was to dig up any border that was there, till the edge if needed, dig a trench about 6 inches deep, fill it with paver sand, and pound in the first layer of brick.

Along the side of the house I heavily altered the path of the bed to straighten the edge. It took a lot of tilling, but was eventually a nice rock bed. A lot of rain comes over that corner of the house, so the rocks should help prevent erosion.

After a lot of digging through the pile looking for the right stone I got more organized. I started unpacking the whole pallet and sorting the stones by size and whether they were good for the base layer, or not.

As the project went on I kept adding new areas to the list. Originally I wasn’t going to do any transitions from the flagstone walkway we have, but broke down and did it. Basically every place I found this black plastic boarder I dug it up and replaced it with a stone border.

I didn’t take many pictures of the process because I was too sweaty and covered in sand most of the time. The project started in mid May and didn’t finish until late October. Lots of evenings and weekends! All told I put down 8 or 9 tons of stone with another ton getting stored in the side yard, and some fraction of a ton being given away. That came out to around 550 feet of trenches dug for the stone to go into. Roughly 4 tons of paver base sand placed in the trenches to give the first layer a stable footing, and another 2-3000 pounds of sand to help fill in around the first stone. Because some of the rock borders got expanded I needed more egg rocks (looks like small river stones) to rejuvenate areas and fill them in. That was another 4 tons of rock. Speaking of which, here is what 60 bags of egg rock looks like in my suburban.

At 3000 pounds I was 50% over the stated cargo capacity. The suspension was completely bottomed out. Oops! Good thing I got all the other runs of rock and sand in 20-30 bag increments.


I don’t know how many hours I worked on it over the nearly 5 months, but I will never do that again! It was worth it all though. The new borders really help separate the various trees and beds from the rest of the yard, and the walkways look stunning with that rock border. I trenched everywhere and packed in the first layer. Once I had the first layer in everywhere, I came back and used landscape adhesive to glue on a second layer of stone. That gave the first layer time to settle in more with the weather.

The front turned out well, and I had enough to lay some of the longer more interesting looking stones along the walkway and edge of the driveway. At the end of this slide show you can see where I stored my extra stone for some future flowerbed expansion.

In the back we added all new border around the shed, expanded the area across the back of the pool deck and planted 2 new citrus trees.

  • 5 months of work
  • 550 feet of trenches
  • 10 tons of Alabama strip rubble
  • 5 tons of base and paver sand
  • 4 tons of egg rock

Did I mention it was a lot of work? I am hoping after a year or two that the rain will settle in the sand and make it all look a bit more natural. The colors of the stone are really pretty, but a few touches of moss would make it all just right.

Taming My Gushing Gutters

I have done a lot of work to keep my porch from flooding recently. I jetted the drains, cleaned paint off of channel inlets, added additional piping to take water away to the back yard, and cleaned up a rotted door. All the work to clear the channel drain in the pool decking has helped the water move away more quickly, but when it rains hard a ton of water still floods down onto the porch. Here is the issue.

I have a really big section of roof across the back of the house that drains down to the pool area. If we get a mildly heavy rain coming in, the water coming off the roof has so much speed it shoots right over the gutter. Here is a shot from a low angle on the roof. You can’t even see the gutter.

To fix this issue I am going to install some gusher guards. They are usually for the corners of roof where you funnel a lot of water together and get high flows. Instead I am going to install them flat along that back section of gutter.

At first I was only able to find a few packs of the guards in town. I did a little over half of the gutter run back in August, then got distracted with hurricanes and work. I did get to test my theory out though. We had a duck drowner rain storm and I was able to capture this shot.

The area to the left of the red line has no guards, the area to the right does. Some water still gets past the guards on the right, but is largely captured. This is mostly due to the supports used between the pool enclosure and the roof line. I couldn’t fit a guard over them, so they let water skip right over the gutter. I don’t need to capture 100% of it, just enough to keep the deck from getting flooded badly.

Eventually I was able to pick up the remainder of the guards and get them installed. Now the entire long stretch of roof is covered.

If I repeat the low angle shot of the roof line, you can see the water will hit those guards and be guided into the gutter instead of jumping right over. Hopefully I can stop dealing with leaky items for a while.

Leaky Pool Problem

It seems that I am stuck in a bit of a leak rut right now. I fixed the suburban just in time to realize I have a pool leak. There is a great test where you put a bucket on your pool steps and fill it to the same level as the pool. After a few days if the level is lower in the pool than the bucket, then you know it is a leak, and not just evaporation.

I did that and attempted my own leak detection tests. 30 minutes in the pool with a mask and syringe of ink didn’t turn anything up, so I called the pros. They told us it was under a pony tail palm tree in the back planter bed.

I don’t know if the plant was to blame, but it was right on top of the problem area and a lot of roots grew around the pipe. We pulled the two shrubs and saved the palms to another location. I started digging to find the water line, and sure enough. Those leak detection folks knew what they were doing. It was right there under the little palm. The elbow has some kind of issue.

I plugged all the return lines into the pool with plumber’s putty because the corks I could get were too small for the job. After that and letting the system drain down I was able to cut out the bad elbow. It is tough working at arm’s length in a muddy hole.

I drained the last of the water, cleaned the pipe and installed a new elbow. A compression fitting went between the horizontal pipe and the new elbow.

After letting the cement cure for a while I pulled the plugs to let water in, and eventually fired up the pump. No more leaks! The elbow was under some kind of stress and had a growing crack on the bottom side.

The back looks a little sad without the plants, but I bet we will get some potted plants going in no time.

Hurricane Dorian

Though the storm’s impact will be felt for years to come in the Bahamas, hurricane Dorian has left us with little negative to report. Honestly the only thing is that, Nigel, our beloved new lime tree was felled. Not sure if it had an issue with the trunk, or if we didn’t have it staked well enough. Someday I will get a real lime tree to grow big and tall and give me lots of limes.

I have updated the hurricane guide with a few minor pointers. One piece of advice I have in there is to do a practice run of your shutters at least once to make sure everything fits right. Sure enough, I had put it off and ended up needing a lot of work to get everything in place. There is a screen that goes across the back of the porch. The anchors in the pool deck were all completely full of crud. Some even had broken off studs that required me to drill them out.

I spent hours clearing them out with a pick and compressed air. Thankfully there was plenty of time to work on this. A Fast moving storm would have induced a bit more panic. The other issue was that the two screens used to come together into some kind of bar at the corner of the porch. That doesn’t exist anymore, and the screens don’t really mesh together.

I just used some rope to lace everything up, but it was a hokey solution. I am going to get some kevlar cord that doesn’t stretch and has a high test load to pull it all together next time.

Our shed seemed pretty well built, but I cut a piece of 2×4 and ripped an edge so it would go over the door threshold and push the door shut securely. I also marked where screws should go so as to best tie them into the frame of the ramp. This is easy to install and remove, and guarantees that the doors will stay shut.

While I waited out the storm I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent it putting all the hurricane hardware in order. It was in a loose bucket, and is now in organized bins. This has the bolts, nuts, anchors and install tools I need to put up the back screen. Including instructions would be good too!

Going through all the hardware I ended up throwing out more than half of it. Someone had used a #2 philips bit or something. The heads all had some damage, and many were heavily stripped out. Replacing this will mean an easier install next time.

Conclusion: If you haven’t checked the hurricane hardware for your house, assume something is going to be wrong with it. Even if you have, and it has been years, it is worth a check.