Project Updates


Time is a great teacher. There are many times when I write my column
then put it away to be read at a later date. During the later review,
I realize what needs to be removed, what needs further explanation
and even typographic errors. This same situation occurs in the
projects I perform as I often change them after construction has
finished. A “finished” project reveals its flaws to me much more
readily after I can step back and look at a full scale model.

I built a Manitoba fly trap about two years ago. The fly trap is a
pyramid-shape contraption that allows flies access through the bottom
then directs them to seek sunshine by climbing or flying up the
interior of the pyramid until the end of their trip occurs inside a
one gallon pickle jar.
I tried to save money on the construction of the fly trap. I used
plastic to cover the frame and attempted to paint the plastic in
order to block sunlight from the portions where none was needed. The
plastic ripped and I eventually removed it. I replaced the portion of
the body that needed to block sunshine with ¼ inch plywood. I then
used fabric cloth (screen) to over the part of the frame that need to
allow sunlight. All of this additional weight meant the four main legs needed extra
support as they began to crack from the weight. I wanted to correct
his problem and let my readers know before construction revealed
flaws in the design.

It was not careful review that made me modify my second project-the
tornado shelter. I crawled inside it this winter and imagined how I
would feel in the event we had to use the shelter. I decided it
needed more structure out of pure fear.
The tornado shelter is actually based on plans for an outdoor tornado
shelter however I built it in the angle beneath our steps. In between
the double-thick and hurricane-strapped studs I decided to add more two
by four boards. In between each bank of studs, I stacked more two by
fours one on top of the other from the bottom to the top. Each
stacked board is glued to the one beneath it and also fastened to the
stud on either end. I remembered this is the way they used to build
grain elevators. I’ve seen old grain elevators topple over and still
not implode so I thought this might be a good additional design
After the glue dried, I then covered the whole mess with plywood
that was glued and fastened to that mass of wood. This will then be
covered with car siding to make it look nice. It will either be a
wooden cocoon or wooden coffin, however the more glue I smell and
screw heads I see; the more I trust the shelter’s integrity.

I’ve always said I typically build my projects three times before I
am satisfied. Maybe time and experience have brought that number down
to two. Anyway, I share my projects with you so I like to share my
repairs and improvements as well.

here are the original stories

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