Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   steel birdhouse
Monday, May 11 2009

This morning I used a sheet of one inch styrofoam to form a sloping skirt over the rocks covering the PVC air duct on the outside of the north wall of the greenhouse. And once that was in place, I started shoveling dirt from a nearby pile against the north wall. This was the first indiscriminate backfilling on the greenhouse foundation to date; up until this point nearly all backfill had consisted of carefully-cleaned rocks. Even when I'm moving it by the shovelful, though, backfilling doesn't happen very quickly. My goal was to build a mound over four feet high to reach the top of the north wall, though I didn't get much beyond two feet today.

Tomorrow we'd be attending a little birthday get together off Zena Road at the new residence of our friends Chris and Kirsty, the photogenic vegan Buddhists who used to live in Woodstock. It would be Chris' birthday, and I thought I'd make him a gift from some of the Cor-Ten weathering steel he'd given me (leftover siding from the house he'd just built). I tested it first to see if it would be easy to weld, and when welding proved easy, I decided to make a little birdhouse.
The birdhouse measured about four by six by eight inches and featured a hole for birds with shoulders no wider than 1.25 inches. The construction relied on three right-angle bends of the Cor-Ten, all of which I did on my bending break, though the material was almost too thick for my particular break. Unlike Chris and Kirsty's boxy modernesque house, the birdhouse ended up with a standard gabled roof (its ridge being one of those three bends). The main body of the birdhouse was comprised of three pieces (a long piece bent twice to form both gabled ends and the floor, and then two rectangles for the ungabled ends). I tacked it together with spot welds, mostly at the corners. As for the roof, I left it detachable so the box can be cleaned out if necessary.
The only major difficulty in making the birdhouse was the 1.25 inch bird hole, which I tried to cut with a hole saw. It turned out that none of my hole saws were appropriate for cutting metal. (I pretty much destroyed one trying.) In the end I had to drill a starter hole with a drill and crudely cut the larger hole out with a jigsaw. It looked so rough when I was done that I used the stick welder to melt the steel all around the hole's edge to even it up and make it more æsthetically-compatible with the birdhouse's other welds. In the end, the birdhouse turned out much better than I'd expected. Gretchen was delighted by it too.
I should mention that I did all my welding out in the driveway and wore no special protection except for a welding mask. I didn't even wear shoes, which wouldn't have been a problem had I not accidentally stepped on a blob of steel that had been glowing and molten about a minute before. Spring isn't that old but already my feet are so tough that I heard the hiss of sweat boiling away from the the sole of my foot before I felt the heat. By then it was too late; I had a nice quarter-sized patch of toasted foot skin. For the rest of the day this spot would start to hurt whenever I sat still for a few minutes. My solution was to prepare a little salsa jar lid of ice that I could lower my foot into whenever I needed relief.

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