Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Building a Chicken Coop

July 14, 2013
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Chicken coop finished

A few months back my friends Kyle and Nick joined me in an endeavor to build a chicken coop for our friends at the Avolon Hot Springs. Avalon is an amazing place high above Middletown, CA in the mountains of Lake County. It dates back to the 1850′s when it was called Howard Hot Springs and catered to the rich and famous Victorians.

Today it still retains a lot of its history with original springs still on the property, rustic cabins, and a beautiful main hall. We were happy to help out and add to the charm on Avalon. Also, fresh eggs when we visit are a plus.

Below are some of the photos and plans. We precut and built most of it in my basement and then transported it up there. Even with that pre-planning it still took us a day and a half to assemble and paint it.

Chicken coop cleaning door
(We added a door for cleaning and a thick plastic floor for easy cleaning)



Chicken Coop Insulation
(We used organic recycled materials for the insulation)

Chicken coop plans
(The plans I drew up. Click the photo for a larger image)

All in all it was a very fun and rewarding project. It’s also quite simple and the average DIY’er should have no problem tackling it. It was all of our first times too! For more photos, check out the chicken coop build photo set on Flickr.

Birdhouse for Twitter HQ

April 11, 2013
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Twitter birdhouse kiosk

A few months back my friend @nick showed up at my door with an idea and a cardboard box full of wood. He and his coworkers from Twitter were building a kiosk that would take photos and tweet them from @twisitor. Naturally, I thought the project was hilarious so we headed down to the garage.

The wood he brought was a nice veneered bamboo with a bull-nosed edge on one side which gave it a nice finished look. The shingles were cut by @nick and his cohorts from cheap shims they got from the hardware store. The nailgun made quick work of the project and it turned out great! Everyone liked it so much that it ended up in the lobby. Thanks @nick for a fun and random project!

Interview for BobVila.com

December 6, 2011
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Recently Jane Dagmi, a writer for Bob Vila, found me on Twitter and began to follow the restoration process of my Victorian house. She approached me along with 3 other DIY renovation bloggers to write about our workshops and our restoration process. It was an honor and the first interview I’ve ever done like this. I hope you enjoy it.

SanFranVic’s John Clarke Mills: In the Workshop

Since then, I have also syndicated my house blog content onto Bob Vila’s crowd-sourced blog for do-it-yourselfers. Check out Bob Vila Nation for a look at what other DIY’ers like myself are building.

Victorian library build

August 30, 2011
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Victorian Library

For the past nine days my father and I, with the help of my house mate and other friends, built a victorian library in my double parlor. It is built entirely of red oak and stained a dark walnut color to match the banister we built two summers ago. This has been a long time dream of mine even before we had this house and now it’s finally complete. We still have a little bit of decorating left to do but its ready to be lived in.

During the build process I blogged daily and uploaded as many photos as I could. If you’d like to see what it took check out the victorian library posts on sanfranvic.com.

Building a workshop workbench

January 19, 2010
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Every shop needs a good workbench and its about time I built myself one. I sourced most of the parts locally from the $75 solid maple butcher block top to the $40 shelves with drawers I got at a local salvage yard. The only things I bought new were the three Rockler vises which I have yet to install. The picture above is of everything all mocked up.

I have assembled the bottom section out of 4×4′s and 2×4′s secured with long galvanized deck screws. The base frame itself is 45″ long and 23″ deep. The butcher block will overhang 3″ on the front and back, and 12″ and 18″ respectively on the left and right. This will accommodate the vice setup I will be installing but I will post more on that when its complete. For now, you can see more pictures by clicking on the image above.

Restoring a victorian staircase

August 10, 2009
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This week my father flew to San Francisco to help me, and teach me, to build a banister and repair a staircase. We tore down the wall that used to be there, replaced all the treads, and put in a matching banister and railing that we copied from the upstairs banister. For the past five days of the build I have been blogging over on SanFranVic.com where you can follow the story and see all the photos.

Building a maple recycling center

July 19, 2009
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Since space is always at a premium, especially in my kitchen, its important to use every inch as best as possible. Instead of having two separate trash bins it made more sense to combine them into one piece of furniture and gain table top space. So I searched the internet to find something that would fit but unfortunately nothing came up. So it was off to the shop to solve the problem.

With the help of my roommate, we built this trash and recycling center out of maple plywood using simple dowel joinery. We finished it in a cabernet color and added some simple hardware like magnetic latches and handles from our local hardware store. All in all the project only took a few hours total and solved a big problem.

Lighting for my friends wedding

July 6, 2009
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My long time friend Caroline and her fiance Regan asked my housemate Brian and I to do the lighting for their wedding because they had seen our renovation work on sanfranvic.com. We were both honored and excited to help out. Not only did it save them thousands of dollars from hiring a lighting expert it allowed us to give them something they will always remember.

The light array was pretty simple and only took a few hours to setup. We hung up five strands of 32 foot strings of ping pong ball lights from the reception house to a rope 10 feet up that we ran parallel to the house. That rope was held up by two pieces of 10′ galvanized steel conduit that was anchored to the ground with a few pieces of rope and some stakes. The hard part was just getting the lights up and taught so they were high above everyones head. I’m happy to say that even after the storm that came through they still stayed up and everything went off without a hitch.

I’d like to thank Caroline and Regan for having me and I was honored to be a part of your wedding. I was happy to help and even happier to give you a present that you’ll always remember and cant be returned. It was a great time and something I wont soon forget.

Gigabit Ethernet for your home

March 9, 2009
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Its always been my dream to have an automated house and the first step is hardwired Ethernet. Whether you are going to be running video over Ethernet, VoIP, or just the good old Internet you really just cant beat copper. Although wireless has come a long way since 802.11b it will just never keep up. Besides the fact that copper performs flawlessly and extremely fast, there are no reliability issues that you inevitably run into while using on WiFi. If anyone out there reading has found a perfect WiFi Access Point that can run at gigabit speeds for hours at a time with 5 – 10 devices on it please let me know. It would have saved me a lot of trouble!


For the full writeup with tons of pictures please see my post Wiring For High Speed Ethernet on San Fran Vic.

Copyright © 2005-2011 John Clarke Mills

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