A Garden Bridge of My Own - Deck and Rails
The Beginning and Inspiration
It was actually inspired by a co worker who saw a small bridge on the curbside pickup and it did not fit into her car, so she came to work wishing that she had been able to get it into a vehicle of any kind
I asked if it was something that I could build for her, and she looked surprised and nodded her head. She then, drew a rough picture of what it looked like and I took her picture home with me that day.
The other day, my husband left me for a fishing trip and my daughter and I jumped in the car and headed to the lumber yard. There is a special section that has end cuts and I felt that this bridge would be the perfect use for them, plus - win/win, I would not have to spend a lot of time cutting them all the same length. They were all pretty close. I did take a blade width off the end of some pieces because they like to put the product code on the end of the lumber.
The Lumber List
I felt that two by twelve boards were the answer for the sides. You know, nice and sturdy and able to support a little weight of someone decided that they needed to climb on it.
The one by fours were about two foot long, so they worked out pretty well for the width of the bridge. Then, we found some sturdy two by fours for the support for the railing and found two, two by two boards that would work perfectly for the decorative smaller rails. Sure, I would have to cut them myself, but that was okay, since I had to cut them at an angle for the side, so that the rail would go up at an angle.
We did not know how many one by fours we needed for the deck, but we stacked them across the two by twelves and then, bought a couple more for good measure.
I was able to use my radial arm saw for the short pieces, but needed to walk to the shed and grab the circular saw. I used the circular saw to cut the angles needed for the tapering deck on the walk way.
I used a hammer and some regular house nails to nail everything together. It seems pretty sturdy.
Feeling the Edge
My father was a carpenter, from a long line of carpenters. You have to learn to feel the edge of boards, to feel with your hand at the joints, to make sure that the edges are even. Flat.
As you prepare to nail ends of boards to sides of boards, you need to feel for that edge. Then, all your edges will be consistent. If you don't feel for the edge, your edge may look haphazard and unprofessional.
Adding a Railing
The railing consists of a hand rail, and four side rails. The hand rail needs to have two angled cuts going the same direction. Math majors: it's a parallelogram. [Funny, you thought you'd never use that information. There you have it!]
It has two large side rails and two smaller side rails.
To make the railing, I measured the piece I cut off for the angle on the 2 x 12. The length was 18 3/4 inches long. So, I used that for the rail measurement. Both ends had to be cut the same direction with a 45 degree angle. The rail had to be on en
The two end rails had to have a 45 degree cut on the top end, and a straight 90 degree cut on the bottom. The two middle rails, same.
I took the railing, and took an end rail and added a nail to the side by the end of the long angle. I tapped a nail through the side rail, into the end of the hand rail. I connected the other three rails to the hand rail. Then, I flipped it around and nailed two nails into the two side rails through the hand rail. This secured them from the top side.
I built four matching rails.
Then, connected them to the bridge. As I nailed them down, the tensile strength increased.
Respect the Saws - They are Dangerous
It's actually not a good idea to cut the boards, so cutting it was fairly treacherous. You have to be extremely cautious. It's dangerous in many ways.
First, the board could be snapped by the saw blade. If you can clamp it before you saw it, would be a better idea.
Second, the board could be forcibly torn from your hands, resulting in abrasions. Third the saw blade could potentially pull your hand into it, resulting in loss of fingers, hand, and perhaps life.
So, be careful. Saws are dangerous. Safety first!
Ideas for Outside Use
I'm not sure if my co worker has plans for digging a hole, lining it with plastic and setting the bridge over it and putting water or plants in the hole. A line of larger rocks to hold the plastic steady if you choose to fill with water.
Natural rain should help keep the water filled.
The deck could be treated with a water sealer, like Thompson's Water Seal, which is used to keep regular decks from rotting and deteriorating. That would be an option.
Okay. An update: the coworker has a small strip of dirt alongside her small sidewalk that contains greens, a plastic edge and her lawn. We carried the bridge and set it across the dirt from sidewalk to lawn.
She had a small boy with a fishing pole and a string, that was exactly the right size for the proportions of the bridge.
It turned out very cute. She's going to paint the bridge with primer and a white paint and then it will complement her house paint.