Project Progress

This blog is in reverse chronological order.
Start at the end if you want to experience the process in forward time!

December 28, 2016
The final step: adding the sign.

December 24, 2016
The official Opening Day. Many people stopped by to ask questions and there was unanimous positive reaction. Dora and I brought food to donate and within an hour of installation, there were already additional donations.
Building the support structure.  Ta Da! Open for business.

December 22, 2016
Digging day! A bit of advice: dig holes when the ground is not frozen. It really wasn't so bad; the ground was barely frozen and we used the trick of putting salt on the sight and covering it with plastic for a couple sunny days. Dora's dad came out to help again, and Avi and John brought lots of muscle and enthusiasm. 
John, Dora, Bill (dad) checking to see if the holes are deep enough.   Dora and Bill getting ready to attach temporary bracing to make sure everything will be nice and straight.

December 16, 2016
Finishing touches!! Rhett found the perfect latch for the door, so we installed that, took off the plastic (Dora was so happy), and redesigned the support structure. We're going to have two treated posts instead of one, with 4" x 4" diagonals (instead of 2" x 4"). We're also changing the angle of the diagonals to attach lower on the post. I took a cedar shingle to the lovely and talented Sara Sanders so she could paint a sign for us.

December 8, 2016
Staining day! Dora doesn't like how green and blotchy the stain (called "drift wood") turned on the outer pine boards, but I think it's fine. The inside is especially beautiful.

December 6, 2016
We put on the roof today. I also sanded the inside of the pantry (preparing to stain) while Dora was cutting and installing the drip edge. The pantry is really heavy now. We're starting to worry about our plan for the support structure...

November 29, 2016
Thanksgiving and illness invaded our work time, so it's been a while. We got so much done today! Dora's dad came to help out and he's quite the master worker. He fixed the door for us and helped cut the chalkboard for the back side of the pantry. We did a final polish of the cedar siding, cut cedar trim pieces, and attached everything to the pantry. 

 Playing with spacing  Done!

November 16, 2016
We attached the door tonight. The hinges are a little crooked and closing the door is putting a bit of pressure on them. We'll have to figure out how to fix that.

November 12, 2016
The door is really, really flat now. Hooray!

I used the chop saw to cut the pieces for the support frame. There will be four pieces of cedar screwed onto the bottom of the box, with four diagonal pieces attaching from them to a 4x4 cedar post. Here are the pieces, cut and ready to assemble. (The pieces that will be screwed to the box are hiding under the diagonal pieces.) Some of our drawings are here, too.

November 10, 2016
The door needed some extra attention to get it flat, so Dora and I did some gluing, nailing and clamping today. Hopefully, we'll have a nice, flat door tomorrow.

November 9, 2016
Yep. Two weeks since I've worked on the LFP. I cut the mortises for the hinges on the frame today. I'm surprised how much I enjoy doing that -- nice, slow, careful work.

Dora and I then worked on the structural support. We did a lot of drawing and measuring and deciding. Then we ripped one of the cedar 4x4 posts in half so we'll have cedar 2x4s on the bottom of the box.

October 19, 2016
Rhett has been helping me quite a bit this month, since Dora is so busy teaching.  We put the door together today. I had to squirt caulking into the window slots on all the edges, then slide them onto the plastic, re-measure the diagonals a thousand times to make it square, and then hammer in the corner joiners. Now it's drying. 

Next week is the last week of the block (eek!), with my final on Wednesday, and then I'm off to an education conference on Thursday and Friday. It looks like I won't be able to get back to the maker space to work for two weeks. 

October 12, 2016
I learned how to mortise a hinge into the door with a chisel. I discovered that I'm pretty good at this slow-moving, fine work. Rhett also cut the plastic window for the door.

October 8, 2016
We cut a new edge piece and then spent some time experimenting with different ways to join the door together. This is going to be hard.

October 5, 2016
Both Dora and I are in very busy classes this block, so progress will slow even more. Boo.

Today we started building the door itself. We measured and cut the four edge pieces, and then cut a groove in them to hold the window. One of the frame pieces has the groove out of line (oops!). So tomorrow I'll go to Menards and get another piece of 1x2, some caulking, and some joining hardware.

September 29, 2016
We attached the support pieces to the box, and clamped the everything together. This is upside down now:

September 26, 2016
Dora thought it would be fun to cut some decorative pieces to support the bottom frame piece (where I plan to write "Little Free Pantry"). I learned how to use a band saw, the giant belt sander, and a Dremel. Lots of fun! Here they are:

September 23, 2016
We glued and nailed the front frame onto the box today. I learned how to counter-sink nails.

September 22, 2016
I got a little bit ahead in my class so I had time to go to the Maker Space again today. I continued to scrape shingles until Dora had time to help me. Then I measured and cut the pieces for the door frame. Rhett did a little planing for me to hide some of my previous construction sins, and the frame fits nicely now. I ran out of time, so tomorrow is gluing and nailing day.  

I realized that we'll need more siding (since I've decided to cover two sides instead of just one back), so Dora is collecting more of them for me and will bring them tomorrow.

Friday to do:
  • Attach the frame
  • Call the restore about roofing felt

September 21, 2016
I went over in the evening today during public hours. I was the only one there for most of the time, so Rhett spent a lot of time helping me. He showed me how to use the belt sander; boy, is that thing fast! Unfortunately, I ripped two belts while learning to use it. Rhett was very sweet and blamed the low quality of the belts, but I know the truth...

Here is some of the progress:


 After Scraping

Mostly Sanded

There will be more sanding after I cut the shingles into the size I want them to be.

I've decided to put the cedar siding on the sides and the chalkboard on the back. The cedar is so beautiful that I want to use it as much as possible. 

September 15, 2016
I started working on the cedar shingles. They are re-purposed and in need of a great deal of sanding. I spent a couple hours scraping the thickest paint off, and then started sanding. It's nasty, dusty work but the shingles are looking better.

I walked past the approved location today and there are utility flags in the ground and they are plenty far away for our location. Now I need to finish this thing!

September 12, 2016
I attached the shelf to the box. It took some ingenuity and a really cool extension for the drill because the screws are so close to the side of the box that I couldn't get the drill in there over the screws. Here's what it looks like now. (I took the picture after cleaning up, with some project supplies in the box.)

September 9, 2016
I met with Tom and we have an exact location. WooHoo!! Now we just wait for the utilities guy to sign off on it.

September 8, 2016
Dora and I met today for the first time in over a week. I started a new course that's been keeping me pretty busy, so our schedules were not overlapping in a useful way.

Today we cut a shelf for the LFP. In the process, we discovered that the back of the box is slightly narrower than the front. It's not a problem, though; just something to accommodate (using the sander). I learned how to use a belt sander, a sliding compound miter saw, and a jointer. Fun stuff!

We discussed siding and rescued a chalkboard for possible use on the sides of the LFP. I'm starting to change my mind about the chalkboard. Instead of putting chalk boards on the sides, I may put one just on the back. If we face the LFP east toward the road, then the chalkboard will face the foot traffic from the parking lot--good idea. But putting the chalkboard on the back also means that it's less convenient to get the chalk from the pantry and walk around to draw/write on the back. I'm leaning toward having it on the back, but still not positive.

I replied to Tom's email suggesting that we meet tomorrow or Monday.

If I have time tonight (unlikely, considering I'm writing this blog instead of doing my homework), I'll go over to the Maker Space during public hours and get started on the sanding of cedar siding.

September 2, 2016
Tom replied, suggesting that we meet by the approximate location so that we can decide together exactly where the LFP is to be installed. He also recommended that we not pour a slab, but simply put the post in the ground with cement around it. 

September 1, 2016
I sent email to Tom to confirm the exact location of the LFP so that I can call the utility company about digging. I included the idea of pouring a concrete slab so that we can make the whole structure as portable as possible. I also asked if the university would rather have their physical plant guys pour the slab instead of me.

August 31, 2016
Another fun day! We attached the bottom to the sides, and cut the roof and attached it to the box. Look! (I know it looks pretty much the same but there are screws and glue involved this time.)



The last day of class is in two days. I realized last weekend that I will not be able to finish in time, but now I'm beginning to understanding what that actually means. On Monday I start full-force into an academically demanding semester. It will be difficult to make the time to finish the pantry. I'm going to need to be very determined! Tomorrow is presentation day in class, so I won't be able to get any building done. I'll see if Dora is available on Friday afternoon; maybe we can get the door started. Here's some of the other stuff that I bought. I love the cedar posts; they'll look beautiful with the cedar siding.

Thursday to do:
  • Present project to class.
  • Research more hinges--options and techniques
  • Research ideas for mounting. Eddie had an idea about using a metal plate, making it super-portable (maybe a little too portable). But let's think about that.

August 30, 2016
Dora was willing to come in again today. This project would not be happening without her. Today was a planning day. We talked more about height, posts, shelves, door, shingles (roof and cedar), and wrap. I went to Menards in the evening and bought
  • stainless steel hinges (that I don't think will work)
  • 1" x 2" for the door and frame
  • 1" x 6" for the top and bottom of the front
  • acrylic for the door
  • 4" x 4" cedar post
I wanted to buy plywood for the shelves, but they couldn't cut it and I couldn't take a 4' x 8' sheet in my little Toyota. I was also hoping for a more attractive solution for anchoring the post to the concrete, but they had the same kind of post hardware that Keosauqua Lumber had. I wanted to look at door pulls and magnetic latches, but I ran out of time. (They close at 10:00.)

Wednesday to do:
  • Screw bottom and roof onto sides.

August 29, 2016
Dora came in to the Maker Space just for me today (normal days open are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday). We cut both sides, the back and the bottom. The top still needs to be cut. Cutting accurately is amazingly difficult. We screwed the back to the sides and sat the roof on top just to see how it looks. Here it is:

We're going back tomorrow to finish the top. The whole box is pretty heavy. I think we're going to need a 6x6 to hold it up. 

Tuesday to do:
  • Cut the roof.
  • Re-think shelves.
  • Look for material for the front. Maybe go shopping.

August 27, 2016
I finished drawing the pieces and cut the board into reasonably-sized pieces. Dora and I took a trip to the ReStore and lucked out on a stack of shingles. They had some nice door pulls too, but I haven't decided if I want a handle or a knob, so I decided to wait. I also worked on the shingles a bit more, trying to get them cleaned up. Everything is taking way longer than I had hoped. Learning takes time and I don't know how to do any of the building part of this project! But I know how to use a table saw now! Dora is sooooo patient.

The Maker Space isn't open on Sunday, so 
Monday to do:
  • Cut out pieces (that's going to take a while)

August 26, 2016
I bought a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 plywood today and gathered re-purposed cedar shingles. We also looked at some options for mounting the LFP, including hardware to attach the post to concrete, and stared at a couple pieces of 4x4 posts sitting around the Maker Space. (They're probably too short.) We did a little redesigning of the LFP, including increasing the overhang of the roof, and making the roof less slanted to increase interior space. The sides, back, and bottom of the main box are all drawn on the wood; tomorrow I'll finish measuring and drawing the roof. Dora recommends cutting the roof part of the wood off first, then a cut between the sides and the other two pieces. That will give me smaller, more manageable pieces, and easier to re-square pieces as necessary. Here's a picture of the computer screen with the layout, and starting to measure the bottom of the box.


I have class in the morning, so I'll work on the LFP tomorrow after lunch. 

Saturday to do:
  • Finish drawing pieces
  • Cut all pieces (sides, bottom, back, roof)
  • Decide about the door frame and hinges
  • Clean up some shingles

August 25, 2016
Today was quite the day. I heard from almost everyone! I had email from Jessica, Suzan, and Amellia waiting in my IN box at lunchtime. So much good advice: Check with the city about laws, consider using ready-built structures like newspaper boxes, target privately-owned and publicly-operated sites, and call the local food cupboard for their input. And everyone was supportive. Just having someone cheer me on was helpful!

The meeting for tonight was cancelled. That's ok because it's really about the second phase of the project (spreading LFPs).

Dora sent me her schematic. Isn't it wonderful? We will still tweak it a bit, like maybe a metal roof, or the chalkboard on top of the cedar shingles instead of under, or move the shelves around a little. But Dora says let's just start building! I love her attitude!

Today was the first time that I finished my entire to-do list. Here's tomorrow's:

Friday to do:
  • Go with Dora to buy a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 plywood.
  • Start drawing and cutting the pieces for the LFP!!

August 24, 2016
I sent email to Utopia Park and Artwalk. No word from Tom yet; I'll bug him tomorrow if I haven't heard anything by then.
I'm meeting with Dora tomorrow to make sure the materials list is complete. I also want to do some practice-with-reaching tests to get a "feel" for how high the LFP should be. I biked around Fairfield this morning and photographed the two registered, active Little Free Libraries. Note the heights:


 Main Street    Adams Avenue

I visited a few of the installation sites that we've proposed so far. I like the one near the Market the best now. I told Ken about it this morning and he agreed that this would be an ideal spot. I hope that the people who need to approve the location agree!

Thursday to do:
  • Email Tom for status.
  • Meet with Dora in the afternoon (finalize design) and maybe with the whole group in the evening. (Dora is still trying to confirm.)
  • Confirm that I have a car for Friday to go shopping for supplies. 
  • Check the collection of free wood scraps on Main near railroad tracks to look for useful stuff.

August 23, 2016
I sent the pantry plans to Dora and she is putting them into Sketchup. (I couldn't find plans online; I made my own.) I'm going to see if any of the computers on campus have Sketchup installed so I can learn how to use it. It looks really cool!

First draft of LFP

Met with Tom today and he likes the project and is going to try to get a final ok from whomever needs to sign off on this. He thought of installing the LFP between the ladies' dome and the market. Dora and I both think that this could be the ideal location. I still haven't had a chance to send email to Barbara with more details about the project. I still need to do that just in case Tom ends up saying no.
We have a meeting scheduled with Gaelyn, Ellora, and Anna on Thursday evening. I was hoping to buy materials on Thursday afternoon, but will wait until Friday so I can use the feedback from the meeting to make adjustments to the shopping list.
The Maker Space is open Wed/Thur/Sat 1:00-5:00 and again in the evenings. Dora said that she would open it at other times if I need it. I will.
I have not heard anything from the coordinator in Arkansas.
I still haven't contacted anyone from the local Little Free Libraries. Need to do that.
I drove past the church south of town. They don't have the free clothing building any more. Hm.

Wednesday to do:
  • Contact Little Free Libraries local coordinator.
  • Email Barbara the project website.
  • Meet with Dora to "finalize" plans. (They may still change based on Thursday night's meeting's feedback.)
  • Visit LFL to measure their heights.
  • Visit LFP possible locations to photograph surroundings.

August 22, 2016
First official day of the project (first day of class). Met briefly with Ken. He gave me a list of names to contact, including those for permission on campus (list in personal notes).
Talked with Barbara at Utopia Park. First answer is no, but she'll think about it. I will more aggressively pursue other options.
Met with Dora. She emphasized that she needs the plans for the LFP to give me feedback. More names too (list in personal notes).

Tuesday to do:
  • Send email to Tom asking for a meeting to discuss project and permissions.
  • Find project plans and email to Dora.
  • Email Barbara the project website.
  • Email LFP project coordinator in Arkansas.

August 19, 2016
Heard back from Amellia. She recommends the Utopia Park location (so far a unanimous choice); talk to Pam or Barbara.

Monday to do:
  • Call Pam/Barbara
  • Contact Artwalk for name of Little Free Libraries local coordinator
  • Check in with Dora

August 18, 2016
Clarified and confirmed course schedule with Ken: Go to workout classes in the mornings, and work on the project in the afternoons and evenings.

August 17, 2016
Meeting with Dora at the Maker Space. Great person, great facility. The Maker Space will provide all of the tools needed for this project. 
Dora has great ideas; she will be a valuable resource and mentor. She thought that the Utopia Park mailbox location was the best idea. She had been thinking about installing one in the Little Chicago area of Fairfield, so the project idea quickly grew into two LFPs, and then almost instantly into an added workshop to inspire others build their own LFPs.

I will limit my class project just to building and installing one LFP. (The class is only two weeks long!) But after the class in finished, the social experiment of 'does this work?' will begin, including offering the workshop. I'll try to remember to advertise the workshop at the church south of town that has the free used clothing store; they may want to add an LFP to their facility.

August 16, 2016
I walked around campus to look for possible LFP locations. By the old pond is too remote, but on the road by the greenhouses seems reasonable. Next to the mailboxes is probably the best location for accessibility and convenience for both donors and those in need. The mailboxes may have the added benefit of less red tape for permission.

August 15, 2016
I bumped into Gaelyn and he told me about some people on campus who are thinking about creating a Little Free Pantry. I'm going to meet with one of them to see if we can work together.

August 11, 2016
I created a timeline for the project, and I'm working on making a simple website (this one!) to document my work.

August 10, 2016
I sent an email to the professor of the course, asking for approval for the project. He got back to me right away and said YES! Hooray!

August 9, 2016
I've been trying to think of a project to do for my upcoming class, Health-Related Fitness. I want the project to be health-related, helpful to others, and take about 30 hours of work. Today I read about Free Little Pantries and decided that I want to create one in my town. I searched the web for some examples and found this:

Barbara Hays,
Aug 24, 2016, 1:10 PM