My need to lower the cost of building raised garden beds has lead me to an entertaining new hobby and a small collection of power tools that makes that makes the new hobby more productive while injecting fun into the equation.
I’m being led into my new hobby by my best friend, Dr. Andy Sobieski, who among his many educational accomplishments has a Masters in Industrial Arts (aka “shop”) and the best collection of tools in the known universe.
Andy describes himself as a “Craigslist bottom feeder.” and I too have joined the ranks of this delightful hobby. Although I’m only a lowly starfish in the Bottomfeeder legion, I find myself searching CraigsList on my 13-inch Sony Duo several times a week while sucking down a latte at a local Starbucks.
My buddy has always been thrifty and is an accomplished woodworker. I’m cheap, and a total klutz when it comes to building good looking wood projects. But how good do framed beds filled with loose, organically rich, garden soil really need to be?
Put off by an estimated $200 lumber bill associated with building my dreamy 360 square feet of raised garden beds, I searched Craigs list for “free lumber” and “free wood.”
Bingo, there it was right here in my home town, “free 2x8 redwood framing.” Free redwood structural framing?
Be still my damaged heart. So off I went, charged power tools and prybar in the back of my Hyundai Velociraptor. What I found when I arrived in the nearby urban village of Valley Center was a short stack of eight foot lengths of 2x8 and 2x6 framing timber. I didn’t need my power tools but it did take two trips and a stop at Dairy Queen for an Orange Julius to get the wood home.
One of the hidden benefits of looking for salvaged wood here in Southern California is finding old redwood framing timber. Many of the homes (including the one my father built for his family in Azusa, CA, were framed with redwood). This means if you look at Craigslist you’ll find contractors engaged in tear downs or rebuilds trying to dispose of redwood.
It is an article of faith in my family that termites hate redwood, scampering away screaming in a reedy voice at the smell of this mainstay of Southern California home construction.
Being a true Craigslist bottom feeder can lead to the acquisition of some very useful power tools. Cordless drills or a circular saw are assumed. as is a small prybar. But equally high on the list is an oscillating multifunction tool and a good selection of saw blades. Equipped with a hardened straight or 270 degree saw attachments, a multi function tool can easily cut through nails in old timber. And if you want to do something fancy, a multi function tool is also great for sanding jobs.
But Craigslist bottom feeding can also lead to some fun whimsical construction. Now imagine a rooftop fort inspired by hobbit architecture or a science fantasy chicken coop.
A friend from my days at Demo, Dave Washburn, is another craigslist bottom feeder. I love the raised flower planters he builds using salvaged wood.
For today, I ‘m able to haul my Craigslist treasures home in my hatchback Hyundai coupe, But I can see the day coming when I talk myself into buying a used pickup with a shiny diamond plate bed as a necessary accoutrement to my Craigs list bottom feeding.
Craigs list bottom feeding; its good for the soul and recycling is good for the envioronment.--Jim Forbes on April 5, 2014.