Garden Box Construction, Part 1

So, wow – let me start with last night. I spent a lot of hours at the kitchen table, looking over my notes and trying to figure out how much actual wood we needed to purchase.

I also was working out where each brace needed to be placed, doing a lot of math and fractions and numbers. This took… a ridiculously long time for me. I have a newfound appreciation for how quickly Bob can process numbers in his head, converting fractions in his head while talking things out aloud.

Hours! I sat there, slowly plotting things and trying to map out where everything was to go. I’m hoping I’ll get faster, but it was rough – my brain hurt after a while.

To make things worse, Liz and I were going over things around 11PM and we discovered that with the cap (on top), the box would ultimately be too wide. So I had to go back and recalculate everything. Instead of notching the decking boards, we were now going to increase the width by keeping a set of the 2×2’s on the outside… resulting in an upward cascade of recalculations.

A little after midnight, we got to what we felt were some good numbers and finally called it a night. Whew!

Fast forward to the next morning: we had Bob’s truck, and were making a plan to spend the morning picking up supplies. After a delicious breakfast at Lula Cafe (where several folks recognized us, even though we moved away from Logan Square many years ago)… we made our way to Menard’s for lumber.

We were new to the process here, in that there’s an area in back where you get your lumber. Instead of putting it into a cart and wheeling it up to the checkout… it seems that most folks will pay first inside, then drive their cars into the (outdoor) lumber yard to load up. There’s a security guard that checks your vehicle, before you enter and after you leave, to ensure you’re only getting what you paid for.

On our way in, I noticed that there were two custom mailboxes for candy and dog biscuits. While I was a customer, this made me sad that I was neither a dog nor a child.

Inside the lumber yard. There’s a smaller upstairs area where some of the smaller lengths were stored. Here’s where all the 2×2’s were.

The full haul! I don’t feel that this photo really does justice to just how much wood we got. And the boards were heavy! Like… super heavy!

I’m not sure if this is due to the pressure treated lumber being new (sometimes it’s wet), or due to the wood being outside during yesterday’s snow/rain storm. Either way, some of these boards were sopping wet and were about 5x heavier than I expected them to be.

We spent a good deal of time at Menard’s. Originally we had a few 10′ boards we were going to get… but we balked at sticking them out of the back of Bob’s truck. Since we could fit 8′ boards comfortably… we opted to recalculate on the spot and just go with more of those boards instead.

At Home Depot, we had several more things on our shopping list – screws, clamps, and some new tools. We spent a good deal of time here as well, working through things and talking a lot of things through.

Back at the house, starting to unload.

As a side note: I originally imagined we’d spend the morning gathering our supplies, and possibly end the day with one of the boxes being partially built. By the time we got home and began unloading it was close to 5PM. Boy was I way off. This would become a recurring theme, in the coming days.

I unloaded boards and placed them by the cellar door, while Liz took them, one by one, inside.

One of our fancy purchases: a DeWalt Impact Driver. While we’ve been using the Ryobi set that Seth got us when we closed on the house… we felt with this project, it was time to take things up a notch. We’ve had the good fortune to use some of Bob’s tools, and Liz and I both really, really liked the DeWalts.

The wood, all moved in.

We eventually placed everything flat on the ground and spaced them out a bit, hoping that would help them dry a bit more.

After finishing, Liz and I decided that we were too pooped to continue working. Our next steps would have included using our miter saw to make cuts… and we just didn’t feel like we had our heads on right enough. It didn’t feel like a safe thing to do, especially since this would be our first time doing cuts.

So we called it a night. Day 1 ended up just being a supply run.

Garden Box Planning Mode

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