Thursday, July 5, 2007

Building a Cedar Raised Bed Garden

In my previous post, I detailed the design and plan for my raised bed garden. After a couple months building it on a limited time basis, I've completed the garden. There some change to my original plan like adding a drip irrigation system and putting blue stones in the pathways. The following is my journal of getting it from design to completion. Before I start, here are a few photos of my finished garden with vegetables!

Cutting the Lumber

I started cross cutting the 4x4 into size (28 inches). Next is to dado out a slot (3/4 deep) from the 4x4 pieces. Because my table saw can't dado out more than 3/4 at a time, I have to run 3 passes for each slot. The most challenging part is creating the 45 degree slots.

Next came the cross cutting of the 2x6 pieces. 4ft. and 32" lengths. Now we're ready for assembly.


Originally, I planned to use outdoor wood glue to tie the pieces together, but I decided that would be too much of a hassle and I ended up using deck screws. The assembly is pretty straight forward. You build your raised bed containers upside down. It's important to assembly it in a level surface, I did it in my car garage. Just slide the 2x6 pieces into the 4x4 slots. This is where a rubber mallet comes handy for those tight fits. Once in it's in place, I used a 2 1/2 inch screws to toe-nail (screen) the 2x6 into the 4x4 post. For the first level, I recommend using 2 screws, 1 toe-nail and 1 from the side of the post. On the other levels, just a toe-nail is good enough.

All the raised beds assembled and sitting my garage. Now I just need some muscles to move them into my yard. Because it's made from cedar lumber it's surprisingly light.

Installing the beds

Because the area where I'm installing is basically my old garden, so digging a 8 inch deep hole is not a big effort because the soil is relatively soft and easily dig into. The spacing I chose between the corner beds is dictate by my arbor, which around 42 inches wide.

After installing the raised beds and arbor.

One of the biggest pain in my old garden is watering the plants and vegetables. I don't mine doing the regular watering, but the pain is that the nearest water spout is 60 feet away. Dragging the hose 60 feet every time I want to water is not what I enjoy. After some research, I decided on a drip irrigation system. If you Google on drip irrigation, there are lots of links that'll get you started, I definitely recommend reading these URLs:

I bought most of my irrigation parts from the Drip Store, which have some excellent articles about drip irrigation in general. My plan was just to water my raised bed garden, but I ended up running hose to all my plants around my house. I'm very happy with the results so far. Now back to the garden, I used mostly 1 G.P.H. emmiters and a 10 G.P.H. mister in each raised bed container.

Adding the Soil
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the project. I estimate I would need 5 cu. yard of soil to fill the beds. So I order the soil from my local nursery, 3 cu. yards of mushroom soil and 2 cu. yards of "organic" soil mix together before delivery to my driveway. In order to get the soil into the beds, I have to use a ramp so my wheelbarrow to clear the top of the raised top so I can dump the soil into them. Moving 5 cu. yard of heavy soil is not fun!!!. My plan is to top off my beds annually with compost and work it into the existing soil.

Finishing Touches
  • I decided to install 5/4 x 4 boards on top of the edge of the corner raised bed. It'll allow you to sit on the bed while working on the garden.
  • I put 18x18 and 12x12 cut Pennsylvania blue stone in the pathway and fill the gaps with medium size river gravel I got from Home Depot.
  • I also built 5 ft tall trellises for climbing vegetables.

Overall, the raised beds turn out great. It's early July and with all the benefits of a raised bed garden, my vegetables have never look better. Because of this, I'm planning of expanding it next spring, maybe 2 more containers and multi-level.

UPDATED (Feb 16, 2009), some of you requested more photos of my build, I've uploaded all the photos I taken during this project to my personal photo site. All the photos can be view here.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Raised Bed Garden Journal - The Design & Parts List


We've a vegetable area (12' x 12') where we tried to grow our vegetables during the summer months. We've some success, but not great. Over the years, the area seems to have more weeds than vegetables. I've decide to clean up that area and replace it with a nice raised bed garden. After some research about the benefits of a raised bed garden. Since our soil is mostly clay, a raised bed garden will be a big improvement.

Photo of the existing garden area. As you can see, not very attractive at all.

Here a few benefits:
  • Higher Yields
  • Improved Soil Conditions
  • Ease of Working
  • Ease of Pest Control
  • Water Conservation
More detail info on the benefits of raised bed garden:There are many articles describing the advantages if you google for it.

Looking for a Plan

In the spirit of DIY, of course, I would like to build my own fancy raised bed garden. First, I would need some research on the size and shape of a raised bed. Some more Google on the net to see if anyone else built their own raised garden. Here are a few sites I found and use them as a guide for mine.
Initially, I was planning to use pressure treated lumber to build the beds. But after reading this excellent article "Does Pressure-Treated Wood Belong in the Garden?", I changed my mine to use cedar instead. I think you can still use pressure treated wood but install a plastic lining to the inner wall of the bed to prevent arsenic leakage into the soil.

The Design

For the garden, one of the main features I would like to have is an arbor to serve as a focal point. It serves as an entrance to the garden. Because of time constraint, I'm planning on buying an arbor instead of building one. I shopped online and I've decided on this one. The Rosedale Arbor. The price is reasonable and it's expandable.

After searching online for bed design, I've decide to settle for the design from this site. "the Sussex". The height will be 22" (4 pieces of 2x6 boards). In the pathways, I planning to put some sort of flag stone. I'm thinking of putting down irregular Pennsylvania Blue Stone. The overall dimension of the garden will be 12' W x 12' L x 22" H.

Using SketchUp, I created the following drawing.
SketchUp files. Overall design and detail post cut measurements.

The Parts List
This project requires 4 x 4 cedar posts, and 2x6 boards.
  • 37 pieces of 2x6 8-foot cedar boards
  • 8 pieces of 4x4 8-foot cedar posts
  • Outdoor deck screws. (2lbs)

(37) 2x6 boards and (8) 4x4 posts

Tools needed:

  • Cordless drill
  • Power Miter Saw. Must have the capability to cut 2x6 boards
  • Table Saw
  • Dado blades
  • Mallet
  • Shovel
  • Leveler ruler
  • A Sledgehammer to help pound the bed to level.
In the next article, The building of the raised beds garden.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Create Your Own Glass Cleaner

Using house hold items around the house, you can make your own glass cleaner. It's not hard and you avoid cancer causing chemicals that are store bought brands.

3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup alcohol
1/4 teaspoon dish washing liquid
a few drops blue food coloring

Combine the vinegar, alcohol, dish washing liquid, and food coloring, then add enough water to make 1 quart. If you prefer a ammonia cleaner, substitute 2 tablespoons ammonia for the vinegar.


1. White vinegar is best for cleaning.
2. When you use vinegar to wash windows, dry with newspapers.
3. To keep your freshly cleaned oven from stinking up your house next time you bake something, wipe it with white vinegar as a final rinse. It neutralizes the harsh alkali of oven cleaners.
4. Clean the Coffee Maker: Fill the water reservoir half way and run the coffee maker as you normally do and then run it once full of water.

Friday, February 23, 2007

ProAC 2.5 Clone Project - Part 4

Putting the speakers together

Continuing from the last article. Once you've installed the crossover module into the bottom of each speaker cabinet, it's time to glue the rear panel to close the speaker cabinet. Next, use the sander to sand flush all the seams. Fill any gaps with wood fillers. Clean all surfaces from dust with a damp towel/rag prior to applying the wood veneer.

Applying Wood Veneer

Parts and tools needed
  • Wood Veneer
  • Contact cement
  • Router with a straight bit (for trimming excess)
  • Roller pin
Here are the steps applying wood veneer. Apply to the side first, then the front.
  1. Cut the veneer to size. I added 1/2 inch to each edge.
  2. Apply contact cement to the back of the veneer and the speaker cabinet surface. I used a 3" roller designed to apply contact cement.
  3. Wait for the contact to dry. I waited 25 minutes for mine. Depending of the contact cement you're using, the drying time varies based on the manufacturer or the humility. Read the label.
  4. Before you apply the veneer to the speaker cabinet, a word of warning. Once the veneer and the speaker touch, it's final. The saying "That is all she wrote" applies here. So make sure everything align correctly before you apply the veneer. A good tip I read in a forum for applying contact cement surfaces is to wrap wax paper around sticks, put them on the surface, lay the veneer on top of these sticks. This will give a better way to align the veneer properly. Once you're satisfied with the alignment, simply slide the sticks out one by one.
  5. Use the roller pin on the veneer. Start from the middle and roll it out to the edges. Make sure there aren't any trapped air bubbles.
  6. Trim the edge excess with the router.
Repeat the above steps for all the surfaces. The toughest part to trim the excess off those circular speaker holes with the bevel. You need to trim the bevel edge with the utility knife.

Sand all the veneer surfaces with an orbital sander. I started with a 150 grit and ended with a 220 grit sandpaper. I chose to finish the veneer with clear shellac from Zinsser. Here are the steps I took to finish the veneer.
  1. First coat, apply liberally amount of shellac with a brush
  2. Wait for it to dry (1 hour or so)
  3. Hand sand with a 220 grit sandpaper.
  4. Clean the surfaces with a damp towel.
  5. Apply the second coat of shellac
  6. Wait for it to dry. It takes much longer for the second coat. I left it dry over night.
  7. Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.
  8. Clean the surfaces with a damp towel.
  9. Repeat the step 5 and 6 for the 3rd coat
  10. Again, wait for the shellac to dry. Left it dry over night.
  11. Lightly sand with 220 or higher grit sandpaper. The finer the better.
  12. Clean the surfaces with a damp towel.
  13. Repeat the 4th coat as you would the 3rd coat. I was planning to put on 4 coats of shellac.
  14. For the final coat sanding, I used "9999" steel wood, make sure it said "9999" on the label. After this sanding, you should a piano finish.

This is after 4 coats of Shellac

The more layer of shellac you apply the better the finish will look. Of course you can choose whatever technique on finishing you desire.

Building the Plinth
  • Cut 2 pieces of 3/4" MDF to size. 1" from all the edges of my speakers. I glued them together to create a 1-1/2" thick plinth.
  • Round the top edges with a 1/2" router bit.
  • Painted the Plinth glossy black with a spray can.
  • Glue it to the bottom of the speaker cabinet.

This project may look daunting but once you're committed and get going. It's not as tough as you think. I enjoy working on this project immensely and now I'm still reaping the reward for the work I've done. Now that I've built a pair of loudspeakers, I'm thinking of building a subwoofer next.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

ProAC 2.5 Clone Project - Part 3


After you've put together your speaker box together (except the rear panel), you're ready to build your crossover module. I built mine based on this diagram.I followed the optional notch filter using the 1.5 Ohm and 5.6 Ohm resistors. I used an extra piece of laminated flooring cut to size to fit at the bottom of the speaker.

Top View

Bottom View

After testing the crossover module to make sure it works, it's glued to the bottom of the speakers cabinet. Also, it is a good time to label the speaker wires prior closing the back panel.
Glue the rear panel to close the cabinet. In the last article, we'll apply the maple veneer, finishes build the plinth and install the speaker drivers.

Monday, January 22, 2007

ProAC 2.5 Clone Project - Part 2

In my previous article, I listed all the tools, material and parts used to build my pair of speakers.

Cutting - I used the dimension from here to cut my MDF sheets to size. When working with MDF, I highly recommend wearing a dust mask and goggle. MDF is very dusty.

Panels - When I bought my 4'x8' MDF sheets at the hardware store, I asked them to cut it in half (4' x 4'). Two reasons, it's easy to drive them home and to cut on my tablesaw. I used the tablesaw to cut the panels to dimension.

Speaker and port holes - Use the router with the Jasper jig to cut all those circles. Cut the recess first, then cut through on the inner diameter. When cutting the recess, make sure you account for the thickness of your veneer. I made that mistake. I did not do that, so my speaker drivers sit a bit deeper than desire. I also use the Jasper jig to cut the holes for the bracing piece. Note: If I'm to build another pair, I would veneer the front panel first before I cut the speaker circles. You should get a better look and fit. Trimming veneer from the recess part is difficult.

Putting the front and side part together - Glue everything except for the rear panel to allow access for installing the crossover and damping materials. I used drywall screw in addition to glue. In hindsight, I don't think the screws were necessary. The wood glue provides a very strong bond.
After the glue dries, use the orbital sander with varying grits to sand excess glue and any imperfections in your cuts. In some area, I had hairline gaps, I used wood fillers to fill these gaps.

Port and Binding posts - I added a 100mm x 100mm bracing for the port and glue it to the inside of the cabinet as mentioned here. Before gluing the port, I decided to paint the inside of my PVC pipe black (a glossy black aerosol spray paint can). At this point, I decided to apply the Maple veneer, glue in the Ports (PVC pipes) and the binding posts to the rear panels. Add the damping material (felt and poly-fill)

Add Damping materials - Add the roof felt to all the internal surfaces except for the front. I used spray adhesive and stapler. Then glue the poly-fill on top of the roof felt. I used spray adhesive. Also, this is when I install my crossover module. I'll cover on building the crossover module in the next article.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Flash Element TD - "Interest" ugrade to level 28

Here is a strategy/walkthrough that'll get to level 28 with "Interest" only upgrades. After level 28, you can pick your desire "element" upgrade and finished with a descent score. I use this technique to create my "All Fire", "All Arrow", "All Rockets", "All Water", etc final scene.

We'll use only "cannons" for land critters and "airs" for air critters. The desire placement for cannons are from the upper right corner to lower left corner on the map. Experiment your placements.

Round 1: 1 x canon (lvl1)

Round 2: upgrade canon to level2
Round 3: Add a 2nd cannon

Round 4: Upgrade 1st canon to level3

Round 8: Sell all your cannons, add 2 airs (lvl2).

Round 9: Sell all your air towers and add 2 cannons (lvl3 & lv1)

Round 10: Upgrade the cannons to level 3
Round 11 (Boss): Add 3 more level3 cannons (5 total). Sell down to 3 when the boss is close to dying.

Round 12 - Round 16: You can get by these rounds with 3 cannons (level3). On 16, try to sell all but one before round is over.

Round 17: buy 4 air towers(lvl3) Try to sell all air towers before end of round

Round 18: Add 5 x level3 cannons

Round 19: 2 more cannons (level3)
Round 21: 1 more cannon (level3). 8 total.

Round 22: Add 4 Arrow towers (level3)

Round 25: Add 1 more cannon(level3)
Round 26: Add 10 more Arrow towers(lvl3). You should have 9 cannons and 14 arrows

Round 27: Add 6 Air towers(lvl3). Sell the air towards to the of the level. Below screenshot, I had 6 air towers, it's not enough, I would use 7 or 8.

Round 28: Sell all the air towers if you haven't sold them.

Wood!, upgrade to whatever you desire.

Updated 01/22/07
For a good reference to help maximize gold jump here Flash Element Turret Defense Interest Calculator

Monday, January 15, 2007

Flash Element TD - Final Battles

Fire Storm

Well this blog article is a bit off topic, but it's a how-to. Last week, I found this game on It's a flash game based Warcraft TD game inspired by Elemental TD for WarcraftIII. It got popular really fast. Because of its popularity, the game author(s) is updating the game almost daily. The game is quite addicting. Anyway, I decided to have some fun with the game. I wanted to build crazy last battle (Level 38). So far, I got all Fire Element Towers scene. I wanted to do screencast of all my final battles, but I haven't found a free screencast software I can use on my Mac, so I settle for screenshots. I'm planning to do "All Arrow Towers", "All Earth Towers", "All Cannon Towers". I'll update with more screenshots later.

Before we can do that, we need to build up a lot of money to afford to setup the last battle. So far, this is my strategy to save as much money as possible before the last battle. I usually can get to about 20,000 coins using the following strategy.

Rockets in my pocket (UPDATE: 1/18/2007)

These guys (kids) didn't make past the lower right corner on Round 39.
Ok, I'm using another coin accumulating strategy ("Interest" only upgrade to Round 28). There are 5 woods upgrade you can get in the game. To get rocket towers, you need one of each elements (fire, earth, water). So, do the first 2 upgrade as interest and the rest with the elements. Follow the mentioned guide up to round 21 and upgrade to fire. Use fire towers to get you to round 35. After round 35, I used the rocket towers exclusively. In round 22, use 2 fire towers (lvl4) and sell down to 1 on the boss 2nd pass.
  • Round 23-24: use 1 fire tower (lvl4)
  • Round 25-31: use 2 fire towers (lvl4)
  • Round 32: 4 fire towers
  • Round 33 (boss): 9 fire towers. sell down to 5 towers towards the end.
  • Round 34: 5 fires
  • Round 35: 7 fires
Upgrade and now you can start building rockets, start with 2 upgraded towers

Play the game here

Build your money strategy (OLD: 1/11/2007)
I'm pretty sure other folks have a better path, because I see crazy high scores of 60K+. The general path is get to level 7, buy Fire tower with wood and buy "Interest" with the rest. There are 3 boss levels, I usually ignore them. I try to kill them in 2 rounds.

Round 1: Build a Level 2 Arrow tower(AT).

Round 2: Upgrade Arrow to level 3. (note: Sometime the last monster escape, I wouldn't worry too much about it. You can buy back that life later)

Round 5: Add second Arrow (level 3)

Round 6: Add 3rd Arrow tower(level 2)

Round 8: Buy Fire Elemental and the rest of the wood, buy interest.
Round 9: Upgrade 3rd Arrow to level 3

Round 10: Add 1st Fire Tower

Round 13: Add 2nd Fire Tower

Round 16: Sell 1st Arrow tower and replace it with Fire Tower
Round 17 : Sell 2nd Arrow tower and replace it with Fire Tower

Round 18: Upgrade 1st Fire Tower(FT) to level 2. Sell 3rd Arrow tower and replace it with Fire Tower.

Round 19: Upgrade FT1 and FT2 to level2
Round 21: Upgrade all FT to level2

Round 26: Add the 6th FT and upgrade the 1st FT to level2

From now on, the strategy is to reinforce these 6 positions with more Fire Towers.

Round 30: Add 2 more FT(lvl2)

Round 32: Add 4 more FT(lvl2)

Round 32 (Boss): Add more

Round 36: and upgrade and add more. I pretty much have all the FT at least level2 and level3. It may be overkill. Adjust to your need.

Round 37: Add more. You should have 20k in coins after this round.

The Setup - Spend at will.

The final battle