This weekend I needed to make a lectern to set on my desk in the office so I can stand while I work, but I also didn't want to miss the planting season so I made the prototype of a modular squirrel exclosure instead.
Why? Squirrels have been sapping my will to garden. Margaret and I have enjoyed gardening the last couple of years, but both the containers on her deck and our plot in the community garden are ravaged by squirrels on a regular basis. It's not just stealing produce when it's almost ripe, either. Whenever we work in the garden, they seem drawn to the freshly-dug earth, because within a day or two after we plant seeds or seedlings, squirrels come through and re-dig the area. I have no idea what goes on in a squirrel's brain, but my favorite guess is that new-tilled dirt looks like some other squirrel might have buried an acorn there, so they make sure there's nothing to be found. In the process, they uproot our beet seeds or lettuce seedlings. If we were in the backwoods I could take care of this the old-fashioned way, but we're inside the city limits so I am forced to watch in impotent rage . . .
This is quite demoralizing! So with some cheap fencing material and the Kreg jig, here's what I did:
I brainstormed some ideas before I started.
I wanted an exclosure sized for our Earthbox containers. But during the off season, I wanted to be able to take it apart and store it flat. Ideally, it should be modular so I can put it together in different configurations when it's needed. I imagine setting it up either around our Earthboxes or out in our plot. I decided that rather than bolting them together with eyebolts or staples sticking out in two different directions, I would simply bore holes near the corners and tie the sides together. I came up with some panel sizes and went out to buy enough green treated 1 x 4's to make a sample.
The chopsaw would work fine for this project, but I really wanted consistent length crosscuts without taking a lot of time to measure each part individually, so I used the flipstops on my crosscutting sled.
Pile of parts ready for pocket holes.
Pocket holes are quick to bore. I imagine that if I want to get fancy, and make a furniture-grade cypress armoire to grow tomatoes on the deck someday, with a fancy roof and a door on hinges, I might use mortise & tenon joints. For today, I want a quick test of concept, so the Kreg jig is the way to go.
Pocket-holed frames also go together quite quickly.
I staple some netting to the inside face of each panel.
At each corner of each panel, I bored a half-inch hole one inch in, in each direction.
Put the panels in their desired positions, run some wire through the holes, and twist it to tighten. These joints tighten up quite nicely.
And there it is. We'll see if squirrels get in and mess with the baby bok choy and chard in there.