The Fixer topics

The Fixer archives

terraforming my homestead

flat spot at top of our hill – future radio installation?

I have also heard it called “hardscaping”. I simply called it “tractor work” for the 20 years I did it commercially. My vision was one of the reasons I was successful at it. I could visualize re-formed landscape better than most. Exceptionally skilled driving was another part of it. I appear to have lost very little of either in over a dozen years since I sold The Gentleman Farmer.

I have been gaining control of our little homestead over the last few years, but have not […]

mini grader

I spent over 20 years operating a business based on my 40-100 horsepower tractors and every implement I could operate from them. I had many people in positions to know tell me I was particularly good at it. I was. I am a driver. Tractors are tools to be driven. Of course I was good at it.

But that was another life. I am several times removed from that. Or am I?

The apron to my new shop annex was awaiting the season to hire a truck and tractor operator for the finish grade that couldn’t be completed before […]

what I’ve been up to

concrete apron for shop entrance

I was not sure, but suspected I would enjoy having a cement mixer to complete little odds’n’ends concrete jobs around the homestead. Concrete work is notoriously physically demanding … that’s otherwise known as Hard Work. But I imagined doing little bits at a time at an old man pace. How hard could two or three batches in a high-quality small-batch mixer be?

I know, I know, questions like that often bite you in the sitter-downer.

However, the pleasure is all mine. I AM able to get little jobs done without abusing overly […]

etched in concrete

My wife and I keep reminding me to act my age. That is easier said than done. On the other hand, FEELING MY AGE is a piece of cake.

The theory is “I will do little bits per day” – therefore not abusing my 69-year-old body. Unfortunately, my ability to correctly estimate, or properly plan just what A Little Bit IS appears to be a weakness of mine.

Somewhat understandable when I am doing things I have almost no experience doing. Take tiny concrete jobs for example. I was in my mid-20s the last time I fed an electric […]

I beat the zero-car-garage plague

There is a peculiar disease running rampant in the USofA. A huge percentage of the two-car garages in this country are so stuffed full of … uh, belongings … that the cars park outside. Hundreds of thousands of HoneyDo lists have “clean up the garage” on them. Of course one answer is the ubiquitous Storage Unit. There are probably one of those for every fifty people in every town from coast to coast.

Exceptional people actually park two cars in their two car garage.

A couple weeks prior to my first year anniversary of living in the new homestead, […]

greenhouse design

I enjoy old-school mechanical drawing, drafting and design … with paper, pencil, T-square, triangles and such. Having a simple drawing board, perhaps even a genuine drafting desk has been on my short list every time I end up with a home that has space for it.

My new studio may well be the place this happens, but not until we are fully moved in and settled.

Meanwhile, I have a lot of projects that really require some planning and drawing to insure they fit together well, have the right materials, and in some cases, communicate to the builder […]

splitting station

I am working over the now enclosed breezeway. It is nearly completely sealed from the weather and has significant insulation. I expect it to make a pleasant work environment when I get done working on it. Akin to spending 100 hours setting up a computer to save yourself 5 hours of bookkeeping.

Since our cabin is rather small, our woodstove is necessarily small as well. Firewood requires another split or two before it can come in to heat the house. Thus every day we heat with wood, that is to say every day this winter, I spend 15 minutes […]

box fan box

We have been living with a really ugly shroud for our box fan.

It started life as a temporary housing for my box fan to vent the smoke from my home coffee roasting out the shop window. I hinged it to the ceiling, then swung it out of the way for the 99% of the time it was not in use.

In that application, being ugly just did not inspire change.

It made its way here from that house, serving the same need in a similar fashion at my studio window.

Forest fire smoke motivated me to drag out […]


I just finished expanding last year’s winter heat storage unit and improving on it a bit. With 20-bucks-worth of new lumber, I was able to scrounge the rest of the needed materials.

Good thing, because that left me cash to pay someone else to cut and split a cord of wood for us.

A neighbor charges $120 for a fat cord of dry lodgepole pine delivered.

It is hard to beat a deal like that. Lets me focus on my mountain of projects that I cannot easily subcontract… like building the woodshed.

Stacked inside is one-third of […]

handrail from scraps

I have had a number of requests for a handrail.

Silly. It is only three steps down. Even an old guy can hop up or down three steps.

Still, some womenfolk think they need a handrail for those three steps.

Okay. Okay. It is on my list.

Just a long ways down in a very big list of things I wanna/gotta do.

That is to say, “unlikely any time in the near future”.

Well, that was before Mama arrived a few days ago.

She wants a handrail.

She gets a handrail.

As do the rest of the requesters.

Today […]

radio, reloading bench

I am more than a little surprised today to discover I never shared my finished product here. Ta Da! One of the endearing bits of me as far as the Missus is concerned is my role as “Shelf-Meister”. I have squeezed just about as much shelf space into this (and prior) homes as imaginable. Of course they are STRONG, but also functional and suit the spaces handsomely for us.

The white shelves to the left were TEMPORARY with those metal shelf brackets that everybody uses and scrap lumber that happened to be somewhat close to the right shape. Lots […]

trombone hangers

The best advice serious professional trombone players give regarding storing your horns goes something like this:

I have never seen a trombone damaged by falling from inside its case.

In other words, the finest trombone stands on the market today are less safe than putting your horn away whenever you are not holding it.

But, I play them a lot less if I have to open the case, put them together, then reverse the process when I’m done tootin’ around.

Here is my compromise.

They are there for ready access and reasonably secure. Yeah, a 9.2 earthquake would […]