Enjoyment of Your Outdoor Activities

A Gazebo Will Enhance the Enjoyment of Your Outdoor Activities

Building a gazebo is not as difficult as one might think – – especially if you purchase a kit or a partially constructed gazebo. However, even if you purchase a gazebo kit, there are certain things you must take into consideration before you even begin to take the pieces out of their boxes. Gazebos are a wonderful home improvement that will add value to your home and enhance your enjoyment of your backyard or lakefront property. With a little planning, and the right tips, you can construct a gazebo in a weekend or two.

Before beginning any construction project, including building a gazebo, you should check with your local government office for any required building permits. The fines for building without a permit could be quite steep and are easily avoided with a telephone call to your local Building and Codes Enforcement Office.

Once you have determined whether you need a building permit, the next step is to choose the site for your gazebo. Gazebos are often used as a focal point for a garden or a gathering spot beside a lake or in a backyard. How you are planning to use your gazebo will help you determine the placement. Take into consider existing structures and the size of your gazebo when planning the location. It is a good idea to use some stakes and string to physically stake out your gazebo to see how the location and size of the gazebo will work. The size of your gazebo is another factor in the location – – a good rule of thumb is an eight-foot gazebo will comfortably hold two people, two chairs and a small table. With every two-foot addition to the size of the gazebo, you can add two people to the count.

Once you have established the size and location of your gazebo, you must determine what building materials to use in the construction. Wood is the most popular building material; however, there are gazebo kits available in vinyl. Vinyl will last a very long time and does not need to be repainted or weatherproofed. I prefer wood for gazebos because of the aesthetic value.

There are several excellent choices of wood for gazebos:

  1. Cedar is the best wood for gazebos because it is lightweight, naturally repels insects and resists warping, splitting and cupping. In addition, cedar is beautiful and weathers extremely well.
  2. Redwood is another good choice for material because it resists decay and repels insects. However, redwood is more expensive than cedar and can significantly increase the cost of your gazebo.
  3. Pine is an inexpensive but good choice for gazebos. It is easy to work with; however, you will need to treat the wood and do more maintenance because pine tends to not weather as well as cedar or redwood.

Browse the selection of gazebo kits and plans available from The Gazebo Factory and Summerwood Designs.

Basic Drawer Side Construction

Basic Drawer Side Construction

Many types of joints are used in the construction of drawers. The joints range from the traditional dovetail to the nailed butt. The strongest joint is the one that is in-between the front and the sides. This is where the drawer takes the most abuse. The joint should look good and go with the design of the cabinet since this is the joint that everyone sees.

The half-blind dovetail joint has been used for over two hundred years and is still the best joint available for strength when properly completed. Originally the dovetail joint was cut by hand and was seen on all price ranges of furniture. Today, the half-blind dovetail joint is basically seen on high-end and custom-made drawers. This type of joint is not seen on the outside of the drawer. When looking to the inside the dovetail joint may be seen. A half-blind dovetail joint may be used on any of the drawer types (lipped, flush and overlay).

The straight dovetail joint that shows to the outside is not universally used in high end furniture. When used, a false front it put on the drawer to cover the dovetail unless the dovetail design is part of the desired look.

The sliding dovetail is used only on an overlay drawer. It is easy to make once the proper setup has been completed. This dovetail slot is visible from the top edge of the drawer front and can distract from the look of the cabinet once it is completed. That is why the overlay drawer front is used.

The box joint is made by using either a router or table saw. It does not have the interlocking capabilities of the dovetail. The box joint yields a strong hold due to the many gluing surfaces it provides.

A plain rabbet or dado joint connects the drawer together with an ease in construction. The joints do not interlock. There is no good gluing surface so the drawer will not last the test of time. The hybrid dado-and-rabbet joint does provide the locking of the pieces together. It is easy to make but it exposes the end-grain on the drawer front. This means a false front will need to be added unless it is part of the cabinet design.

Lock joints are strong and simple. They are especially used when dealing with routed drawer locks. A special router bit is used to produce both parts. This type of locked joint works well on all three drawer types (lipped, flush and overlay).

When deciding on what type of drawer construction to use it is best to consider the visual appearance after the project is complete. Each jointing procedure provides a different look to the completed drawer. The particular look could add character and dimension to any woodworking project.

Outdoor Fireplace Construction

Outdoor Fireplace Construction

If you’re looking for a great way to accent your patio, garden or just favorite spot in the yard, then adding an outdoor fireplace is it. By adding an outdoor fireplace, you can create a snug and cozy alcove for just two, or make a fantastic gathering spot for your guests. No matter what you choose, you’ll find that an out door fireplace becomes a focal point in your outdoor occasions.

Outdoor fireplace construction isn’t for everyone. It is a complicated task in its entirety. That doesn’t mean you can’t sub out the hard stuff and do the easy stuff yourself.

Location of the outdoor fireplace should be on a level area preferably with a wind buffer like a hill or trees that block prevailing winds. You may need to install shrubbery or a fence to prevent prevailing winds from ruining your outdoor gathering with wind and flying hot ash!

You’ll need a good foundation to start with, so after you decide where you are placing it, dig a footer. It should be a minimum of 8″ into the virgin soil. Set up a set of forms if your soil is sandy and loose. Set a series of #8 rebar inside of the footer and pour on some concrete. Mixing a few bags should be enough for small projects, but if you’re going all out, you may want to think about calling in some help and a cement truck.

After your foundation has dried, its time to add some blocks. Concrete blocks are set with mortar mix and a trowel. Spread a layer about 1-2″ thick along the foundation and set the blocks on it. Use a string line and tape measure to square up the blocks as you set the four corners. After the corners are set, fill in the rest using a line as a straight edge. Add more mortar and continue adding alternating corners and rows until you reach the top. Keep the height of the joints uniform by adding more than you need and tapping the block down until it’s the same as the rest. Wipe away the excess mortar with a wet sponge.

In the center of the blocks, add the fire slab and fire brick in the same way as the block. Mix fire mortar for the inner hearth and fire brick. Stack the center until you reach the top.

You should make the chimney at least 10 feet high to prevent smoke from getting in your face when you sitting or standing next to it. If you’re unclear how a chimney works, you can find countless blueprints and side drawings of fireplaces and how they work on the web or call your local building department for more details to fireplace codes specific to your region.