River Rock Feature

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River Rock Feature

We had a low spot in our yard, and needed a solution to get the water to drain. We wanted something functional, but attractive. We did a river rock feature that worked out great! Check out my video below about it, or keep reading for more details:

BACKGROUND

On the south side of our house, there is this spot in the yard that tends to hold water. That was very evident this winter and spring, because we had an unusually wet spring. Even through June of this year, it was very wet. That spot was wet enough that I could not mow parts of it, even if it had not rained for a week. 

Something had to be done. 

We have done this in another spot, and erosion was really bad with nothing added back to the trench. That's when we discovered rover rocks. You can get them in multiple sizes and they are relatively inexpensive. Have you ever seen some grayish rocks on the shore of a large lake or reservoir? That's called "rip rap" (not sure where the name came from) and it is to prevent erosion. The idea is that the water moves through the rocks slower since they are at all different kinds of angles. We used the concept of rip rap with the river rocks. And it really works!

TOOLS & MATERIALS

(using these affiliate links helps me!)

Bow rake - http://amzn.to/2tc0sCX
Shovel - http://amzn.to/2tc0ASX
Pick Axe - http://amzn.to/2v1TuNR
Wheelbarrow - sourced locally
Buckets - Lowe's or Home Depot or leftover from paint like me. ;)
River rocks - sourced locally
 

STEPS

Look at your area and see where the water has already traveled. That is the best location for your trench. Some civil engineers say that "water has memory" meaning that if you try to divert it to another path, it is likely to try to get back to its original path. I know, it sounds weird, but they study this kind of thing. One bonus of following the path the water has already been taking from a visual standpoint is that it will look very organic. 

Begin very lightly at first, since you don't need it to be deep right there. Basically, you look at the entire length of the place you need a trench, and figure out how deep you must dig as you go so that all of it will be downhill. And keep in mind, if it is over 25 feet like ours was, by the time you dig about an inch deeper ever foot or two, by the time you get to the end, it will be pretty deep. The aim here is to just be gradual with it, but ensure that the water can actually flow down. 

I used a pick axe for most of the actual digging, but if you will notice, I'm not really swinging it like you normally would to dig a large hole. This is because I wanted to shape the ditch kind of like a bowl so that the river rocks would fit in there nicely. 

Sometimes, you will run across roots. Most of them were pretty minor, so I just cut them and kept going. If I had come across some really major ones, I would have just tried to dig around them and leave them intact. 

We ran out of light that first day, as we started laying out the river rocks. Stack them like puzzle pieces against one another. Don't leave any gaps, or at least as few as possible. You should have kind of a bowl shape when the rocks are in the trench. 

Don't forget to stop for worms. ;)

The next day, we decided to dig a second trench. It appeared that there was another really low spot and that it would seriously help get this water out of this area to dig a second one. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 2.16.57 AM.jpg

Just repeat those steps of digging the trench, pulling out the excess dirt and putting the river rocks down in a bowl shape. 

We picked up the excess dirt and dumped it on the back part of our property. There is always a need for some dirt, so I'm sure we will go get some from the pile before too long. 

Even little Alexander got in on the wheelbarrow action. This was his first wheelbarrow ride and he loved it. 

Since we dug that second trench, we didn't have enough rocks. I headed back to the local stone supplier to pick up another 260 lbs of rocks.

Before we could get everything quite done though, it rained really hard. We decided to just play in it, since there was no lightning. 

Finally, we laid out the remainder of the river rocks, sat back and enjoyed the beauty that this functional landscaping will provide. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was very hard work here in Mississippi in July, as it is crazy hot with the added dose of very high humidity. We made it through it and I'm glad we did. We have had a couple of rains since finishing this project, and it seems to really be helping. 

I like how it turned out and I really like the organic flow of the trenches. By following the path the water had already taken, it made for a visually interesting addition to our yard. 

Do you have a lot spot in your yard that could be improved with a little more drainage? Try this out and don't forget to use some rocks to slow the water a bit and prevent erosion!

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DIY Industrial Bookends

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DIY Industrial Bookends

VIDEO

My mom loves books. No, I don't think you understand...she LOVES books! I wanted to giver her something related to a passion of hers, so I made some industrial bookends. For more details, take a look at the video below or keep reading. 

BACKGROUND

As I mentioned above, the onerous of this project was to bless my mom with a gift pertaining to something that she loves dearly...books. I had seen some photos here and there of industrial styled bookends. I wanted to try my hand at making some.

I looked in the scrap bin to see if there were any interesting pieces that I could use. Turns out, there were! I found this cool piece of maple that had a large crack in it, but it looked awesome. 

TOOLS & MATERIALS

Table Saw - http://amzn.to/2s8JpAD
Jointer - http://amzn.to/2suPzMd
Wood Glue - http://amzn.to/2s93w1K
Miter saw - http://amzn.to/2ruEfLs
Forstner bits - http://amzn.to/2sFZBIU
Plug cutters - http://amzn.to/2sgUP4j
Flush trim saw - http://amzn.to/2sFTqVh
Cordless drill/driver - http://amzn.to/2runtMh
Kreg Jig Mini - http://amzn.to/2sfE8nk

STEPS

Assemble the black iron pieces so you can figure out exactly what dimensions your pieces need to be. This is a simple way to visualize the finished product, and they are not hard to screw together and take back apart quickly.

Take all of the pipe pieces back apart and clean with acetone. There is often a greasy residue left on these, and the acetone will remove it and any stickers nicely. I have also just used some dish soap and a hose to rinse the grease off of these in the past. 

Mill your lumber to the size you need. In order for these to look uniform with each other, run each of the boards through the table saw at the same setting. That way, they will all be exactly the same width. 

I used a forstner bit to drill out some holes for the decorative walnut plugs I wanted to put in. Lay out some lines with a bit of simple measuring so that they look nice and planned. You won't regret it. 

Drill out the pocket holes in the piece that will become the bottom/horizontal one. Drilling these on the bottom will help hold it all together, but they will never be seen. Use a bit of wood glue and attach the vertical piece and the horizontal piece using pocket screws. 

Assemble all of the pipe pieces again, and attach to your wooden base using some small, 1/2" wood screws. Be sure to pre drill your holes where the screws will go. Even thought they are small screws, this will help your now finished material to not split as you put in the screws. I was going to go back and paint the heads of these screws black to match the pipes, but after I got it done, I didn't think the silver screws looked bad, so I just left them. 

Use some spray lacquer to put a few coats on everything, including the pipes. Lacquer is a nice finish for metal and wood. I used some satin lacquer, because I didn't want these to be shiny. In between coats, I sand lightly with 320 grit sandpaper. 

That's it! Sit back and enjoy whatever books you'll be holding up with these new bookends! I hope you make some of these and I'd love to see them or see any twist you put on the design. Tag me on Instagram @Brudaddy if you do make them. 

Let me know if you have any questions or comments down below!

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I Was Mentioned on Woodtalk

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I Was Mentioned on Woodtalk

I always listen to this podcast about woodworking, Woodtalk. I have listened to it for over a year now, and it is really entertaining and informative. It is hosted by 3 guys that impart different kinds of knowledge on the listeners, and it is not dull. They're always ribbing each other, and talking about the different stuff they're working on. 

Yesterday, I downloaded the most recent show that came out, but didn't get a chance to listen to it until today. And guess what? They mentioned my one of the videos on my YouTube channel! That's so exciting!

Matt Cremona, whom I have followed for a couple of years now, talked about the video I just released about How to Make a Simple Kids Workbench. He noted that it was nice to see how a little boy was taking interest in the woodshop and I was actually showing him how to use the machines and everything. Thanks for mentioning my video, Matt, and keep up the good work!

The other two hosts are Marc Spagnuolo, aka The Wood Whisperer, and Shannon Rogers from renaissancewoodworker.com

If you don't already listen to it, give it a try. It is a fun podcast and helps pass the day just a little bit faster. 

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