Monday, March 25, 2013

Got hardware?

 Yes the title of this blog sounds quirky but I have my reasons.  One of them is that I am always on the hunt for the stuff (hardware that is), rusty and used.  What is it you ask and why do I need it so badly?  It is the stuff you really have to go searching for inside a dark unassuming place and it is never out in the open.  Most people don't even know they have it until I ask for it and when I do they never know what to charge me because they didn't know they had in the first place, and didn't think it had any value.  I for one, think hardware has great appeal and charm to the birdhouses I build so the quest to find it never ends.  Here is a sampling of some the houses I made for an Upcycling event that occurred over the weekend in Danville, CA.  Please read on and you will see why it is I want $65 a pop for my creations.  Unreasonable not really?  They do take several hours to build and no two are ever alike.
 Here is the organized stack of wood I currently use for the houses and my other never ending projects (well it used to be organized).  Yes I hoard wood when I can find it.  Where do I get it?  On the streets, in alleys ways, scary places sometimes but really most of it is being tossed out or sometimes gets donated to my shop if I am lucky.  If you has some bring it in the next time you are in Castro Valley I always encourage donations.  It keeps my costs down in this ever ending challenge to make a living in this crazy business.  As for my favorite pieces to use for the houses they are redwood fencing, painted preferably, chipping even better.  Redwood is great for the birdhouses as the wood can stand up to the outdoor elements I mean it has to they use it for fencing after all.
This is my stash of hardware.  I collect anything that has appeal including door hinges, drawer pulls,  and just about anything that has a hole in it.  Letters or numbers are my favorite.  I am always adding to this box whenever money permits or when I pull off a piece from some other project.  I really like painted hardware that has a natural aged look.  Any color really.  Rusty pieces are always great finds, old rust not new rust, and yes there is a difference.  New rust has a bright orange appearance and when touched can get all over everything, aged rust has done its job years ago and cannot be rubbed off, it also looks much better.  I am not sure you needed that much information but I thought I would key you in on some of my secrets of rust.  I hereby dub you knighthood of rust.
 Ok back to the building here you see me measuring a place to cut the board.  As you can see I have already cut a piece and forgot to take a photo with me and the tape measure.  I get lazy sometimes and just measure the next cut with a previously cut board.  Smart, right?  So for each house I need 4 side pieces, a roof, and a base.  All need cutting.  I don't ever have a template I just get creative and make something out of the wood pieces I have salvaged over the last few months.  It keeps me guessing and the end result will never look the same. 
Here is me using the chop saw as they call it.  Greatest purchase I have ever made to date.  This little guy packs a punch and can cut through just about any wood and with great precision.  The chop got used quite a bit this last week.  Sure my neighbors upstairs appreciated that.  Hey it's not like I build these houses everyday so I'm sure they can live with it for a few days.
 So after I finished cutting all of the pieces for the house but before beginning the assembly I have to drill a hole for the birds to enter.  I use a board just beneath the one I am drilling, it helps keep you bit from breaking.  The drill bit I used is 1"1/4.  Yes those are my big feet in the picture, try not to look at them and focus only on the cutting that is being done.  After doing these houses for so long you start to use techniques that are safer.  This being one of them, stand and drill.  My weight (200+) helps with stability so I can make a clean safe cut.  
 And here you go a piece of wood with a eye in it.  Yes that's me in the background holding up the finished product.  Looks good, right?  The board that is.  One step I left out which I will point out now is that I lightly sanding the wood prior to my cutting.  Some wood can look to perfect and since I am not perfect myself I make sure my houses reflect a little of my image.  Worn, imperfect but solidly built.  Ok enough about me.   
 The assembly of the houses is pretty easy for the most part once all of the pieces are cut.  I use nails (all recycled or purchased from a second use source) for my houses.  I have been known to use rusty nails as well.  They work just fine for these houses.  A little secret, when using a hammer always hide your thumb or tuck it away, trust me on this one.  I am a quick learning and had to learn the hard way years ago in my infancy building days.  I'll spare you the details just take my word for it hide the thumb when banging away. 
 See it is starting to look like a little house already.  This one I built at an angle.  I have made many of these over the years and it amazes me on how many variations of the houses I have built.  By the way I do not follow the standard rules for building a house and there are many for attracting a certain kind of bird.  Diameter of hole, height of hole from floor, depth and length or interior are all specifics to follow if you are trying to attract a certain species of bird.  My houses are made to look good or at least I think they look good.  Some birds will use them others will not.  They are mainly decorative but I still make them with a clean out so just in case it does happen (get occupied) they are able to be cleaned out with ease.   
 After the house is built my creative juices start to flow.  I start grabbing pieces of hardware to attach to the houses.  Numbers are my favorite, I think I said that early.  I take my time with this process and attach the hardware with recycled screws and nails again collected from my weekly treasure hunting.  I take the look of the house into consideration and start with one piece and then the next until I am done.  It can take time for this process and I have been known to leave a piece alone for a while if I don't feel it.  Yes, yes I consider myself an artist not a Van Gogh but a close relative like a third cousin who was married to one.
 Here is the side view of a completed house using a door lock, a house number, coat hanger and metal cover.  All sides get covered with something.  I do wonder sometimes, what do the birds think of the houses?  Do you think they are saying "Do you really expect me to raise our children in that crazy looking house",or "Is this all we can afford?"  Well whatever they say I still love making them and will continue to do so as long as I am in this business of re purposing.
 Front view, say cheese.
 So here are some others that were built in the course of a few days.  The one to the left has a table leg as a perch, still had the wheel attached so I used it.  Kinda a bear getting that leg on but it's all in a days work at Restore & Rework.
Close ups of my creations ready for the garden in someones home and hopefully a possible occupancy, you never know.  Thanks for reading.  Oh and I have to give credit to my daughter Danielle for the taking of all of these wonderful photos.  She was peaking over my back when I was writing this and kept bugging me to mention her.  Cisco