There is no doubt that a lot of folks are letting their creative juices flow today and becoming members of what is touted as the “maker community”. It is so great to see … and to see that great American ingenuity in play in so many ways.
Being a machinist for almost 30 years now … I like to think I have a little of the MAKER in me as well … and not only in metalworking. Here at Kentech Inc. … our various Kipware® machine shop software software titles are used by thousands of professional machinists and machine shops around the world … and also by thousands of MAKERS as well. People doing everything from woodworking to metalworking in garage shops and professional machine shops around the world. We like to think that if a product is good … it finds it’s way into many places. And we are proud of the fact that our Kipware® conversational CNC programming software has made parts for SpaceX as well as that coat rack for Average Joe or Jane.
With that MAKER and DIY spirit bubbling inside ( watching Yard Crashers on the DIY network with some java certainly HELPS ) me and my wife decided that this summer would be the summer of our personal YARD CRASH. And so it began.
Looking aerially at the yard … I laid out my vision to see if the wife approved. First … a curved walkway leading from the house to a brand new firepit. Not one of those metal, cheap firepits … I mean a new brick firepit with a metal inner ring and nice stone cap. Halfway down the walkway … a detour to our own designed and constructed water feature … waterfall or fountain. And here’s where the wife chimed in. “How about this” she says later in the evening. She shows me a pic on Pinterest of a bamboo themed waterfall. “I like it” I reply … we’ll think about the design in more detail as we get closer. But there it is … our vision.
The START of Construction
The DEMOLITION and DESIGNER MAKER
The next day we begin the layout in the space where we decided to work … marking the area with string … and removing all the sod. Big job … but we get it done in a couple of days … and start the remodel.
PHASE 1 – Privacy Panels
The CARPENTER MAKER
The first item in the rebuild was to install some privacy panels to insure our nights spent by the firepit were nice and cozy and private. My wife had a “bamboo theme” in mind … which carried over from the waterfall idea … so we got to designing. We came up with a wooden frame clad on both sides with bamboo fencing. Came out and looked great … just the right amount of light coming through and bamboo effect was very elegant.
PHASE 2 – The Fire Pit
The MASON MAKER
We purchased a stone firepit kit from a local stoneware vendor and during the week I got the area prepped and the firepit installed. Leveling and preparing for the first layer was quite a job … but it came out great and the feeling of accomplishment was fantastic. If you’re a MAKER … you know what I’m talking about. Friends always say “We just have someone build it” … but there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment that lasts for years as every time you look at it .. you can proudly say “I built that !!”.
With the fire pit installed … I lay out the artistic walkway … line the outer edge with cobblestones … and fill the inside with stone dust. I was a little apprehensive about using the stone dust as a bottom … it was quite dusty to start with … but it turned out fabulous. Once a good rain shower did it’s thing … it hardened up nicely and makes for a great walkway.
PHASE 3 – The Water Feature
The ENGINEER and PLUMBER MAKER
The more I viewed my wife’s idea for the water feature … and the more we discussed the details … the more confidence I gained that I could do it. I don’t think my wife was quite as confident though … a lot of probing questions like “How you gonna do this?”
First … we needed to bring electricity from the house to the waterfall area. Following the local code … we dug our trench ( what a b*&%$ ) … layed our cable inside our PVC piping … and presto. 4 new plugs … an outdoor switch … and plenty of juice for our pump. Tough job but very professionally done … and all to code. The wife was the hardest worker through it all. Chipping in with the ditch digging … and keeping me straight and focused through all the aggravation and at times frustration and hard work.
Next … I bought some reclaimed wooden beams … 6x6x10 … that were once used in the old railroad yard in our city. They became the perfect uprights to support our bamboo “waterfall”.
After the ties had set in their concrete moorings for a week … and another trip to Home Depot ( it became our Saturday morning breakfast trip ) … I began the plumbing work. Again … with the constant nudging from the wife to keep me on the straight and narrow … we got it all in and we’re ready for the big reveal. Remember this was only a vision and a theory … we had never really tried the design. Judge for yourself with the video below :
You can see it all in the video … the bamboo privacy panels and the working waterfall feature. Below is a closer look at the design “behind the scenes”.
The BIG REVEAL …
And that was that. After the wife lent her gardening touches … the big reveal :
… and CONFIRMATION !!
As I mentioned above … I’m a big fan of YARD CRASHERS on the DIY network. A lot of great memories of sitting and binge watching the show on rainy days … getting stoked to start projects of my own around the house … fueling the MAKER spirit if you will.
So when the project was completed … I couldn’t resist tweeting a pic to the host of the show, Matt Blashaw. And low and behold … it got his attention and he replied … AND APPROVED !! WoooHooo !!
As the summer nights and weekends go by … we are enjoying the fruits of our work with fabulous fires in the pit with friends and family … accompanied by the zen like sounds of the waterfall. In fact … we have christened the garden with the name the KenZenSue Garden.
Being a machinist I always took a ton of pride in my work … but a lot of it was “business”. It was great to unleash my MAKER side and work on a “for fun” project … and to enjoy the results. To all the fellow MAKERS out there … be proud and go get’em.
Kenney Skonieczny – President