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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Breaking Bits

So, I have been using these Phillips deck screws and they're great. They're very strong. I like them. BUT, I have been tearing up bits left and right.

I finally got a #2 Phillips driver bit that advertises that is lasts 5 times as long (I forget what brand). Well, I agree with their advertising.  I used the junk out of that thing and it never even showed wear.  However, all of a sudden like, the tip snapped off at an angle.  Time for a new bit.  You served me well, though, little bit.  I'll be getting another just like you.

Unfortunately, the broken bit signaled the end of my decking installation tonight. But, I really like how it's looking.

Update: Race Brothers actually was switching all of their driver bit/drill bit inventory when I swung in there today to pick up another bit.  They still carry all the cheap bits, but for their "top-of-the-line" bits, they've switched to Irwin.  I'm glad about this since when I Googled "strong driver bits" last night, I found some pretty positive reviews of the strength of Irwin impact bits.  So, of course, that's what I bought.  One of the many things that I have learned about doing home improvement projects is this: Don't waste your time and effort working with inferior tools or the wrong tools for the job.  Get the right tools and you'll save yourself all kinds of time, energy, and needless frustration.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Lazy Sunday on Deck

It doesn't appear that I got much done. It's because I kind of didn't. I didn't get started till almost 2 and I needed to come in and eat and feed the children just after 5 so I only really pulled out 3 hours worth of work.

Perhaps some real construction pros are reading this and are like "that should've been enough to finish it." Well, not for me.

I got all the posts cut, notched, drilled, and bolted to the deck where they belong.

Earlier today I posted a blog and I said my goals were to get the posts installed and get a good start on the decking.  I suppose I met my goals if you consider a "good start" to be screwing down two boards. Though, in my defense, the first boards are the most crucial since they will determine how all the other boards will lay.

I'll get some more decking down tomorrow.  We'll see how much. Not to worry. I'll keep you all in the loop.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Quick Deck Update

Well, this is the deck as of yesterday's improvements.  I had more on my list to do, but I also did some things that needed done that weren't on the list.  So, I'm still good.

Notice that the stairs are in and worked out perfectly. They fell JUST below the door just as planned. Also, I added all the perimeter boards.

I got all the tall posts for the privacy fence notched out and predrilled and ready to install. One is in, which you can see on the far left. Four more to go. Then seven more short ones.

So, today, I plan on having all the posts installed and I want to have a good start on the decking.  I'll have a limited amount of daylight today. By the time we eat lunch after church, it'll probably be 1:30 before I can get back out there.

I'll post another update from what gets done today.  Maybe tonight?  We'll see.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Door Glass Replacement

As I mentioned in a previous post a couple months back, I found these brand new replacement windows for our double doors in the back of our house.  I never did show the before and after of that little project.  But, it's never too late.


The installation went very well throughout the whole process.  I did have to make some adjustments to the doors as the glass was slightly too tall and about three quarters of an inch shy from being the correct width.  So, I filled the gap with a strip of wood along the side and I cut into the door to make the opening tall enough for them.  Then, it was just a matter of trimming them in place.

It really improved the look of the old doors and with a fresh coat of paint  that we'll put on after we get done with the deck, they'll look nice and new.  I was super ready to see that old clouded glass go away.  And just in time, really.  Since, I'm building the deck now, It would have been a shame to not be able to hardly see it through our glass doors.

Truth be told, the reason that I wasn't in any hurry to blog about this home improvement project is because I made a mistake.  I dry fit both pieces of glass before I began the trimming and caulking process.  They both fit nice and snug, however.  When I went to put the second glass in (the left), it wouldn't go in very well.  I started pressing in on the side that it was stuck on and it when in with a sort of thud.  It cracked the glass.  And, I watched it as it shot across the width of the door leaving a crack all the way across.  I was furious with myself.  But, what are you gonna do?  So, it's not perfect.  At some point, the glass will need to be replaced (or repaired?).

Regardless, I'm still happy with the improvement.  It was still worth the $40 I paid for the glass.  And, I love the crystal clear view.  I imagine that I'll love it even more with our deck complete.  Which, this weekend stands to bring some major progress in that category.  Stay tuned.

Ran Out Of Deck Puns For Blog Titles

Well, it's Thursday now.  I was supposed to have had all the joists in and the upper stringers done.  But, alas, I have yet to touch a stringer.  I did, however, get all the joists done.  And, they look great!

What set me back a bit was not having the material with which to make the stringers.  So, I moved on to planning out the decking.  We're going with the pattern pictured here. (No, this is not our deck)  The boards will make squares wrapping around the tree that comes up through our deck.  So, we'll have four lines of connection points as you see here radiating out from the tree.  The problem I ran into was that none of these proposed lines of connections landed on a joist.  The last thing we want to do is have places in our deck that are bouncy or spongy, so I needed to add two joists and a bunch of blocking.  I almost got done with that before finally quitting for the night around 9:00.  It should only take about 30-40 minutes to knock out the rest.

None of that was on my calendar.  So, I still feel good about the amount of progress I've made in the time frame for which I've given myself.  I'm hoping that the weather works out where I can continue tonight.  If so, I'll make a trip to Lowe's on the way home from work to grab the stringers material.  I'll get the rest of the blocking done and then start cutting out my stringers.


I don't have any cool photos that show the most recent changes but that's fine because it wouldn't be all that different from yesterday's.  But, I do have the drawing that I've been using to plan this deck with.  I haven't shared that yet.  As always, click on them to make them bigger.  The first photo is where I have it now.  The second is the steps I have left to do, not including the actual decking.  I have this in an editable GIMP file that has all the different steps in separate layers.  This way, I could add the layers or remove them from view to help me in the designing stage.  I've included the file in the 'Downloads' section under sub-header 'GIMP Creations' in the drop-down list at the top of this blog.  Feel free to download it and play around to your heart's content.  Don't have GIMP?  No problem.  That is also found in the 'Downloads' section above under the 'Software' sub-header.  What's that you say?  Photo editing software that's comparable to better than Photoshop being given away for free?  No, it's not too good to be true.  It's open source software.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

Stacking the Deck

So, last night, I commenced to adding joists to our deck in progress.  This is the part that I really love since it really shows it coming together.  I worked from almost 4:00 until 10:30 stopping only to eat a quick dinner and then get the children ready for bed and in bed.

Getting the joists up really shows how big it actually will be.  Jodi and I sort of like to do things big.  I mean, if you're going to do something, why not do it big, right?  Go all out.  I can almost guarantee you that I won't be saying later "Man, I wish we would've made this deck bigger."  Conversely, I can't imagine any scenario in which I would long for it to be smaller.


As you can see from my calendar, I have been doing pretty well.  Although, I may have been slightly too optimistic in my plans.  It's now the 20th and as you can see from the above photo, I'm not quite done with the joists.  Which means, I'll be wrapping those up tonight before I get the opportunity to start building my upper stringers.  The other issue is that I don't have the material to build my stringers.  I'll have to make a quick run to Lowe's when I'm ready for them, I suppose.  The good news is that I have all the measurements worked out which is half the battle with stringers.  Check back tomorrow to see what I got done tonight.

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

All Hands On Deck!

The time has finally arrived!  We will now commence to building the deck.  Oh, how we have looked forward to this day.  As a matter of fact, we started planning the design of our deck shortly after the renovation of the back room of our house back in January '08.  You should definitely go and check out that blog because it has a pretty good slideshow of the before and (almost) after of that project.

The renovation of that back room changed the layout of how one exits our house from the back.  This path was originally through the back door located in the kitchen then through and out through the side of the mudroom.  We removed both of those doors enabling a much larger kitchen and put a new double door heading straight out the back from the center of that room.  This left us with about a 4 foot drop for which Jacob and I built a staircase in August '09.  Yes, I waited 19 months to build a staircase to a door that I installed.

The deck design has changed in several ways over the course of the last few weeks.  Here's a 3D rendering of our original design.  I haven't wasted the time making an updated version of the 3D rendering since actually building the deck is 3D enough for me.  But, I wanted you, the reader, to be able to visualize it.  I actually made this design public on this blog back in 2011 when I was building the outdoor closet and redesigned basement door.  This rendering isn't accurate for height, though.  We'll have three steps coming down to the deck from our back door and then three more going down from the deck to the brick patio.  Also, we took out the angle coming from the house on the left side in the rendering. 
Our deck will go straight out towards the property line giving us much more space.  And, we are incorporating a privacy fence on that side of the deck.  Without it we would feel a bit on display to the home next door.  We haven't decided on the style yet, but I kind of like this one pictured here.  Click on it to make it bigger.

We started this project Nov. 9 &10.  My mother took the children for the weekend so that Jodi and I could get a jump start on the project.  And, we did, too.  We dug all 13 holes for the posts and poured a total of 1280 lbs of concrete.  Last week, we got all the landscaping fabric down and all the post brackets bolted in place.  Then, we started with the rock.

I called around and got a cheap price for clean gravel, but the cost of delivery was way too high, so I just figured I'd get it myself.  I got one ton dumped in the back of my truck and it took me and my friend, Matt, close to an hour to get it out and then spread out.  I would've needed to do that probably three more times, so we decided delivery may be worth it after all.  I called around again and got a cheap delivery price with just a little bit more money for the rock.  It was totally worth it.  We got the rest of what we needed (2.25 tons) and all I had to do was spread it in place.  Though, I did get overworked that night, got a slight fever, couldn't eat, threw up my lunch, but then felt much better afterwards.

I just got the last of the beams in place last night.  My favorite part was getting this part done and then going out to the yard and looking across all of the beams to see them in perfect alignment.  I mean, PERFECT alignment.  But, what do I expect?  Of course, it's perfect.  I've been planning this deck for almost six years.

Tonight, will be a joist filled evening!

Here's a quick link to the next deck update blog.

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