September 22, 2014

The Importance of Mock Ups

Hi,

Sorry for yet another delay -- finishing the garage has turned out to be more of a project than I expected. (And the birds have taken a backburner as well... Expect a post on our new Towhees in the near future...)

Over my years of construction, plumbing, engineering, furniture design, boat building, etc., I've come to appreciate the value of finding some way of mocking up some kind of scale model (the larger the scale, the better) of the finished project. Case in point... the photo below...

tv mock up 420 IMG_8425.JPG

That's a 1:1 cardboard model of our soon-to-be large-screen TV for the new rec room... It's surprising how a simple cardboard big screen puts things in perspective... Here are the considerations that typically occur regardless of the challenge:

  • Space: Does a walk through of the first floor of the "house to be" really work for you? Use stakes and yellow tape to find out... CAD goes just so far...
  • Seating: The cardboard imitation above raised all kinds of questions about exactly where people will sit. We intend to use that TV not just as a TV but as a computer monitor... What do we do with the computer desk? How will the light change in the room season by season?
  • Electrical/cable/etc..: Yup... All that stuff... Years ago I was a plumber's assistant and was helping to lay out the water for a new restaurant... While the blueprints were all well and good, it wasn't until we started laying down tape measures to mock up the place that the owners realized that the sink was in the wrong place... Thousands of dollars were saved in that discovery. Logistics in all forms matter.
  • Aesthetics: Yeah, I'm the last person on planet Earth to talk about this... Still... Subjects such as placement, light and shadow, and color do matter....
  • Place your rough mock up (be it bird feeder or or mansion) where you want it, and then make it physically happen. It's much easier to get it perfect beforehand than get it right after the fact.
I don't know... You can see by our trellis project, I practice what I preach... Mock ups are wonderful things...

By the well-designed feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

By Location, Birds and Natural History Books (a global reference)

Bookmark and Share

September 14, 2014

9_11_2014

100px-Black_Ribbon.svg.png

Hi,

Sorry to be so tardy (yet again!), but 9/11 is a tough time for me... I'd like to explain, but I don't think my bosses would be too keen on my explanation... But know this... I have many deep emotions this time of year, and fear isn't one of them. As each journalist is beheaded, each attack occurs on U.S. soil, as each U.S. Embassy is attacked... Those who perpetrate or perpetuate such vile acts might want to reflect on Yamamoto's famous quote... "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Someday I can perhaps explain and keep my job...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

Bookmark and Share

September 6, 2014

Sealing a Garage Door

Hi,

Sorry about being tardy (yet again!)

But I thought I'd take a break from the birds and let you in on a little secret I stumbled upon -- how to actually seal up the bottom of a garage door. There are a number of caveats here, but we might as well get started... Pics will follow...

  • If your door is falling apart, kiss your checkbook goodbye and buy a new one... That takes care of 90% of the problem...
  • If the meeting plane between your driveway and your garage door landing isn't flat and square to the garage opening, see the comment about your checkbook. (There's no problem that a good contractor can't fix if you just throw enough cash at him/her.) If you want to take on the project yourself, that's fine, but you really should be fluent in stuff like concrete and epoxy and screeding, etc...
Alrighty then... Let's say that your legitimate garage door comes pretty close to actually mating with its destination, but not exactly... You might want to take the following steps...
  1. Buy a gasket that seats between the concrete and your door. Note in the shot below the long strip of lumpy gray rubber. That has been secured with copious amounts of Phenoseal and later by Rust-Oleum's LeakSeal...

    420 garage door open with foam IMG_8349.JPG

  2. So far, so good... But you still have the junction where the corner of the door meets the concrete. Here's where the secret comes in... I opened the door as in the photo above and sprayed in a big gob of 'Great Stuff' expanding foaming goo. I gave that a few minutes and then covered it with cellophane. This is critical!!! If the goo gets into the mechanical parts of the door, you're going to need a new job to pay for the carnage. Do not let the goo actually get into the mechanical workings of the door!!! But if you're careful...
  3. If you are careful, you can immediately close the door and let it sit for a day... The cellophane will keep the glop away from the mechanics of the door, and at the same time allow you to create perfect molds for the corners... Then just open the door, trim, and you have a sealed door...

    Garage door 420 closed with foam IMG_8350.JPG

Just like that, garage door be sealed and you can pretty much stop worrying about water and creepy crawlies...

By the feeders

CapeCodAlan

Bookmark and Share

August 25, 2014

New Shelf, Crow Eating Habits, and Finger...

where shelf will go_420 IMG_8246.JPG

OK... That's where a chunk of this board will ultimately rest...

board 420 IMG_8247.JPG

But more of that later... On to the crows and their eating habits... Wow... Where to begin? Let's see... I've been watching crows now for a good five years, and I'm finally beginning to pick up some of their eating habits. Here are four (and a few ain't so pretty...):

  • First, crows prefer meat... Yeah, you can give them bread and popcorn, but they really get down with stuff like 'Haw Dawgs' and chicken...
  • You can tell when a crow has been sleeping and is now ready to eat because it will stand on one foot, stretch a wing, and yawn... No joke
  • Beak cleaning is a pre-dine must for the buggers... Look for beak swiping...
  • And lastly, crow defecation is extremely common immediately before I feed them. I don't know whether this is a gastrointestinal purging, a social act, or maybe it's just their way of interacting with me personally... (Hey! I've had dinner dates who upon meeting me spontaneously had to go, so...)
Now, let's get back to the shelf... I'm going to let you in one one fantastic little carpenter's secret... There will be times when you're trying to put up a level shelf, but one of the brackets mysteriously shifts up or down by an eighth. I've spent years beating myself up over this rare but curious phenomenon. I've finally discovered what is happening. Every so often the fastener being used will hit some sort of an obstacle (knot or nail) and that will divert its course... As I said, this is rare, but it does happen...

Before I go, there is the matter of that metal splinter in my finger... It's been at least six weeks since I got that splinter, and I'm still not right. (That's one reason I'm not posting as often as I used to...) My finger/hand/arm just don't "feel right". I would imagine you medical experts out there are screaming at the computer right now insisting that I see a doctor. Well, that's my call... But I will offer this word of advice -- if you get one of those splinters, see a doctor ASAP. Who knows what coatings the manufacturer puts on objects like screws and nails... Take it from someone who learned it the hard way...

Well... All for now...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

By Location, Birds and Natural History Books (a global reference)

Bookmark and Share

August 13, 2014

Splinter...

Hi,

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed I've been off line for a while... While the reasons are multiple, the photo below at least explains a part of the problem...

PUSS FINGER 420.JPG

Yup, the pic above ain't pretty... And it shouldn't be... This is what happens when you neglect a splinter (a metal splinter no less) for a week...

Making stuff for the home and backyard is just a part of this blog. (You can always Google on "eBirdseed.com blog woodworking")... So far, so good right? Well, no good deed goes unpunished, and this time I 'got punished bad'... I was simply finishing putting in some trim in the garage, when the simple act of driving a screw stuck a tiny metal sliver into my finger. At the time it was no more than an, "Ouch, you S.O.B.!" What followed has been five weeks (and few posts) of hassle... Words to the wise from one now wiser concerning things like splinters...

  1. First, don't get the splinter to begin with -- use a set of quality mechanic's gloves. (And eye safety goes without saying...)
  2. Should you get a splinter, remove it ASAP and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the appropriate plan of action...
  3. Keep the wound clean -- once a puncture gets infected, it's a horror to bring under control...
  4. Don't be surprised if your doctor has to open the infected area... (In my case I had to remove an entire layer of skin using an approach that makes the application of leaches look civilized... As I said, see a doctor ASAP!)
So... ... ...

As for me, I think I've got the infection on the run, but still there is a bit of puffiness/redness/tenderness... The possibility of losing the finger is still out there...

Hope you heed these words...

Stay safe by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

By Location, Birds and Natural History Books (a global reference)

Bookmark and Share

August 10, 2014

Oh, Those Baby Blues!

Another first for Casa CapeCodAlan: a family of bluebirds somewhere in the neighborhood! We had been observing lots of youngsters near our feeders in the past few weeks, the "ruffled feathers open mouth begging" behavior is hard to miss, and very cute. But lots of baby birds species look very similar; most are mottled and drab colored, and all are small.

01_three bluebirds.JPG

Over the past week, however, this crew has started to take on color, and that's what clued us in to the fact that they weren't just some of our ubiquitous little brown birds.

02_four bluebirds.JPG

Once there was enough color and markings for a proper identification, zip over to the ol' Sibley's, and voila! Baby bluebirds. And they are simply charming.

03_two bluebirds.jpg

So it is to be hoped that we will see even more bluebirds this coming winter, due to our sweet neighborhood bluebird family!

Happily blue by the feeders.
Cape Cod Alan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

By Location, Birds and Natural History Books (a global reference)

Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2014

Making Shelf Etc... Very Tricky...

Hi,

After all our home woodworking posts about birdhouses, bird roosts, feeder mounts, and the woodworking that goes into them (Google on eBirdseed.com and woodworking), I figured it was about time to hit you with a bit of engineering and woodworking trickery. My problem was to mount a shelf (two actually, but one will suffice for explanation) in a finished garage without the help of studs using just scraps. Ready? Here's the finished shelf and window: Note that the shelf has a level on it...

shelf from afar 420 IMG_8063.JPG

And here it is in a closer look...

shelf close up 420 IMG_8062.JPG

Now, before you say "Big whoop" understand that the shelf is bedrock solid... But how can that be? Here's the tricky part... Without studs, I didn't have a lot to work with, but I did have the following:

  • EZ-Ancor drywall hardware... (Mollies will work too...)
  • The bottom of a secure rail (the horizontal piece of trim below the window)
  • Possibly well-placed shelf supports
  • Glue
  • Inclined planes
Here's the skinny... The sneaky part is to trap the shelf in three dimensions. (Can you see where this technique has wider usages???) Deep breath now for the details...

  1. I needed to cut the shelf snug between the vertical stiles of the window trim...
  2. Next, the shelf supports had to be carefully milled such that their grain was 90 degrees to the EZ-Ancor attachment screws that go into the wall...
  3. Once you have the supports, you need to bore them for those attachment screws by drawing the appropriate alignment reference lines across the grain and drilling using a bit just slightly larger than your screw diameter (Here is where exceptional caution comes in... A drill press and sufficient clamps must be used to stop movement of the support...)
  4. Alrighty then... All that being done, temporarily place the shelf and supports into position (complete with a level) and use a small Phillips head screwdriver to slightly dimple the wall where the screw diameter hole emerges...
  5. Remove the shelf et al and use an awl to mark for the pilot hole for the EZ-Ancor about 1/64" -- 1/32" above the dimple... Now set the EZ-Ancors...
  6. Go back to your drill press, and clamp and drill a hole big enough to allow passage of the EZ-Ancor screw but leave about 3/8" for screw shank only...
  7. Test fit... If you've done everything just right, the shelf will be level and will start to snug when you tighten the screws into the EZ-Ancor
  8. Lastly, put glue onto the back shelf edge, the back face of the shelf, and onto the tops of the supports, and assemble... Now drive the screws...
The ploy is simple: use the inclined plane of the screws into the EZ-Ancor and the rail and stiles to 'trap' the shelf. Add to that a quality glue, and you have created a three-dimensional monolithic structure... And that is one strong puppy... Told you it was tricky...

Something to think about by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

By Location, Birds and Natural History Books (a global reference)

Bookmark and Share