View from the Garage

April 19, 2018

Garden Path

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:31 pm

I needed a better path to the upper part of the backyard. I think it came out really nice.

Path 2

The concrete work was done by Cesar Lomeli, a local craftsman. He placed the black and white pebbles, and black and white sand, in brown concrete. The designs are his.

The path started out quite a bit sloppier:

My friend Ken and I collected rocks at a huge industrial rock yard called Hanson Aggregates.  Here’s Ken looking for the exact best rock. We carried 4000 lbs of rock from the curb to the upper yard and lined the path.



Door frame

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:15 pm

Made a door frame in the outdoor woodworking. The wood is Western red cedar. I like the exposed joinery. More to come, here.

Path 3

Rusty metal

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:12 pm

Added some “rusty metal” panels to cover the treated lumber in the planters. The metal is 16-guage Cor-Ten steel that is supposed to rust on the surface but then slow down and pretty much stop rusting so that the metal doesn’t deteriorate completely. I pickled the clean sheets with vinegar, then sprayed with hydrogen peroxide to create the rust.


March 3, 2018


Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:06 am

Made some new handrails for home. They are Western red cedar. Nice, once in a while, to make something that is easily done in a day.


February 18, 2018

“Japanese-style” joint

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:42 am

I wanted to make a strong right-angle support for a bunch of special plants in the yard. I decided to have a little fun and try to do my interpretation of Japanese joinery. So I set the diagonal member into the vertical and horizontal members and used mortise and tenon joinery to hold it together. The wood is Western red cedar, which is soft and easy to work.

Plant stand 5

Plant stand 6

Redoing the back yard

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:29 am

We redid our patio in the rear yard. Now it looks like this:

Back yard1

Our yard had a deck, patio, and overhead that was put in in 1988 or so. The deck and overhead were redwood and mostly pretty chewed up by termites. Worse, the drains in the patio were very badly clogged by roots and no longer functioned. So the first thing we did was cut the saltillo tile and concrete slab to insert new pipe. Before, the pipe had been white poly landscaping pipe with only sliding joints, and we replaced it with 4″ ABS pipe with cemented joints.


Then my friend Ken Olson and I tore out pretty much everything. (Later we also tore out the retaining wall you can see in the photo.)

Back yard 2

Then we put up a new overhead trellis, based on the one I’d put up 30 years ago, except that we used 2×8 Western red cedar boards instead of 2×6 redwood:

Orig yard (3)

We replaced the old planters with new ones made from treated doug fir rather than redwood, plus some stairs going up to the “breakfast nook”, an area with more winter sunshine than the rest of the patio. The Buddha statue came from Lotus Sculpture in Oceanside about 20 miles north, and the fountain came from Stone Forest. I fitted the fountain with a much smaller pump than recommended to make the fountain more restful. Behind the fountain there are two panels of Cor-Ten steel below the Buddha. This steel is supposed to rust on the surface (as it has now, because I cleaned it and applied hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer) and then not further rust. It’s an experiment, we’ll see how it works out.

Back yard2

Ken and I put in the deck, also with 2×6 Western red cedar:

Back yard4

Here’s Ken and me working on the deck:


The pavers were put in by a local artisan, Cesar Lomeli. He also did a beautiful work on the stairs, using black, white, and multicolored pebbles plus coarse black and white sands:

Back yard 1 (3)Back yard 3 (1)

We had a little fun, adding some adornments to the quartzite pavers:

January 26, 2018

Closet doors

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:16 am

Made some closet doors of red oak.

Closet door

Each pair of vertical slats was resawed and book matched from a 1″ thick oak board, and each lower slat is a continuation of its upper slat. This means I had 44 slats to keep track of the position of the ends and faces, not easy.

Closet door 2


Closet door 1

For the pulls, I carved an inset rather than a pull that extended beyond the door face, so that the doors could slide the full way without hitting the other door’s knob.

Closet door detail



January 25, 2018

Bath cabinets installed

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:53 am

I finished and installed the cabinets in the two bathrooms. I made both from purpleheart panels and frames of red oak. The colors of these woods harmonize. The countertops are granite and the mirror frame is purpleheart.

Downstairs master bath:

Den bath cabinets 1

Downstairs guest bath:

Den bath cabinets 2

Den bath cabinets 3Den bath cabinets 4Den bath cabinets 5

November 13, 2015

Big Staghorn Fern!

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:58 am

Bought this huge staghorn fern at the San Diego Botanic Garden sale. But then, I had to mount it! I made the backing board out of the same cedar that the house is sided with, but together the plant and board must weigh more than 100 lbs. I made a support bracket from redwood and screwed it to the studs, but getting the plant up to in involved getting a block and tackle. Now that it’s up, it looks pretty good I think.

IMG_2628 (1)


June 28, 2015

Slideshow in the kitchen

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:41 pm


When we replaced the old SubZero refrigerator, the new one was 14″ shorter (and 1/2″ wider, which caused me some midnight panic-level work adjusting the cabinetry). So to fill the new gap on top, I installed an old 18″ computer monitor to present a photo slideshow. I was lucky to have a monitor with resolution 1600×1200, which matches the 4×3 format of many photos. The slideshow is driven by a raspberry pi minicomputer hidden behind the screen. The pi runs feh to render the slideshow frames, and about 10,000 jpegs are on the SD card. The pi uses chrontab to turn the screen on at times when someone is likely to be home and off at night. Since the monitor is narrower than the refrigerator, I added louvered panels on either side of the screen. The louvers allow for the air circulation needed by the refrigerator. The louvers are maple to match the cabinets.

December 12, 2014

Plant shelf

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 9:31 pm

Yesterday I added this shelf for plants outside the kitchen window. The shelf is California Live Oak, 2-1/4″ thick, 6′ long, and quite heavy. I found the lumber at Tropical Exotic Hardwood in Carlsbad, CA

Kitchen plant shelf  003

April 9, 2014

Walnut shelf

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:27 am



A friend gave me this 8/4 rough walnut board, from a tree from his farm near Sacramento. I sanded the top to get a better finish, then drilled matching holes in the block wall and the board, and used short pieces of rigid pipe to support the shelf, so it has no visible supports. It’s right outside the kitchen door that we use most of the time for entry and exit, so we see it often. It’s a nice place to put attractive plants.

To stabilize a large check in one end of the board, I let in a spline to join the sides of the split.



February 23, 2011

Urban tree

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:26 am

When we cut down a Monterey pine tree near the front door because the roots were becoming destructive, it left a big empty place. After considering many alternatives, I made this ‘tree’ for the spot. It’s supposed to evoke the baobab trees we saw in Tanzania. It’s made of redwood, and the ‘leaves’ are glass made by local artist Bobbi Hirschkoff .

Click on the video to see how it moves in the slightest breeze.

March 13, 2010

Keyboard Tray

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 10:51 pm

Upgraded my keyboard tray with a shelf of canarywood. Feathering the underside surface made the edges thinner, giving it a lighter appearance. Works great; before, I had to have the mouse on the top of the desk, which was ergonomically unsuitable. Finished with 2 coats Zinnsler shellac and some paste wax.

January 12, 2009

Cat tree

Filed under: Cats, House work — thefusionguy @ 12:33 am

Here’s a “cat tree” I built for the kitties. It’s completely out of scrap materials, and it’s placed in front of our “Africa corner.”

Dozi really liked it, and climbed directly to the top:

So what’s the VERY FIRST thing ol’ Dozi does? She takes a walk on the valence!

This leads to the bookcase, always good for a stroll.

But there was no further place to go—fortunately…

Happily, she ended up back on the ground without falling or knocking off all the books or jumping 8 feet.

The next time she tried it, she knocked down a book; only one book. The title? “Cat’s Cradle.” Who’d have thought we’d have a literate cat?

September 22, 2006

Cap of the New Cap

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 11:05 pm

OK, in spite of all the personal travail, I managed to complete the privacy screen on the porch. It’s redwood 1x2s screwed to 4×4 posts. I think it looks pretty good, and it serves its purpose. Next on the agenda is to get the termites gone so they don’t chow down on the new wood.


July 15, 2006

New Deck Cap

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:05 pm

Well, after more than 20 years of faithful service, the redwood cap on the low wall around my upstairs deck became too termite-eaten to use. See:


The cap and rail were both pretty badly chomped. So it was time for removing the cap and replacing it with new redwood. But when I removed the cap, I found some dry rot in one place. It looked pretty bad, but it wasn’t that hard to remove all of the damaged boards, and I replaced two 2×4 wall plates with treated 2x4s. Fixed the rot and termites both. Then I wrapped the top of the wall with a product called JiffySeal, which is an asphalt impregnated fiberglass cloth which sticks to everything. I endeavored to stick it to the building paper under the siding to keep everything dry. See:


Then I put on a new cap of clean dry redwood:


Looks pretty good, I think, and much better sealed for weather than the previous setup. But what to do with the old chewed-up wood? So I resawed it and cut it into 3-foot pieces and made a composter out of it:


I filled it halfway now with leaves and inedible figs from a huge ficus tree in my yard. So far (4 days) no compost, but I think it’s beginning to cook. On the good side, I’ve been elected “Man of the Year” by the fruit flies, which think they have gone to heaven.

September 4, 2005

Another bench

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 12:18 am

This bench is cedar, 3 inches thick. I cut part of it off and made the supports which are glued directly to the studs through a bridle joint.

After trimming the plank for the supports, I set the remainder on my bench for a few days. When I moved the plank, I found a small indentation which lined up with a hole in the planck. I think there was some boring insect in the board. I did some research on the web which said that the insect larvae–probably powder post beetles–could be killed by freezing the board for 3 days or by kiln drying to at least 140 F. Well, my freezer is far too small, so I set up instead a plastic tent around the plank in the strong July San Diego sun. This got the surface, at least, to 175 F! Next day I flipped the plank and repeated. So sign since of the bugs…

I planed the board flat with a jack plane, sanded smooth with a belt sander and random orbit sander, and finished with wipe-on/wipe-off polyurethane. Here’s how it looks:

The thick board had a few checks in the ends. I added some purpleheart dovetail keys to reduce the tendency to split. I think they look pretty good, and they are very easy to set into such a soft wood as cedar.


Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 12:02 am

Here’s how the washroom looks now.

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