NorthGateInside SouthGateInside

New gates seen from the backyard: Left-hand outswing gate on north side of house, Narrower right-hand outswing gate on south side of house

by George Taniwaki

There are two gates between the front and back yards of my mother’s house, one on the north side and one on the south side. In my mom’s neighborhood, all fences have six-foot cedar pickets. All the gates are hung so that their hinges are attached to adjacent 4"x4" posts. The gates swing toward the front yard and the gate hinges and latches face the front yard. Views of the new gates from the backyard are shown above.

Both old gates at my mom’s house are probably three decades old. They are weathered and sag so much that they drag on the ground. Neither was particularly well-designed or was hung properly when new, so the problem has been festering for a while. I finally decided to replace them both. Each new gate took about three days to build and install. (Yes, I’m a really slow woodworker and I could never make a living doing this.)

Why gates fail

Before I begin to build the new gates, I think about why the old gates failed. There seems to be two problems. They were not designed to absorb the forces on them and they were not built using good construction practices.

The main force on the gate is gravity. This force is transferred to the hinges. The gravitational force is spread across the entire width of the gate (Fig 1a). But the hinge support is not. This causes torque which also has to be absorbed by the hinge and the gate frame.

This torque causes stress which can cause the gate to fail. The hinge post can rot or get loose or the screws on hinge can come loose (whole gate tips), the gate can split at the joint between the stiles and rails, or the gate can rack (Fig 1b).

GateStaticForces GateFailureModes

Figure 1a, b. Forces on the gate, Failure modes include failure at hinge, failure at joint between rails and stiles, and racking

Prepare the opening

To reduce the chance of early failure, I want to carefully prepare both the hinge post and the latch post before hanging the new gate. First, ensure the posts are stable and plumb (Fig 2a). Even if the post does not wobble, check if it is attached securely to the fence rails. Remove any nails used to attach rails to the post and replace them with a combination of urethane glue and corrosion resistant lag screws (Fig 2b) to stabilize them. If needed, add pressure-treated 2×4 lumber as blocking to support the gate hinges and latch. If the post is near a building wall, use an angle bracket to anchor the post (Fig 2c).

CheckPlumb LagScrews


Figure 2 a, b, c. Check for plumb, Replace nails with lag screws, Anchor post to wall

Make the frame

There are three common options for making a gate frame. The stiles can be full height, the rails can be full-width, or the corners can be mitered (Fig 3a). Once screwed together, the gate needs support to prevent it from sagging. You can use either pressure-treated lumber to make an angled brace to take compression load or a corrosion resistant cable tightened with a turnbuckle to take tension load (Fig 3b).

The frame of the gate should be made of pressure-treated lumber. To ensure stability, use pocket screws, not nails, to hold the gate frame together. First, drill the pocket screw holes using a jig (Fig 3c). Before installing the screws, measure the diagonals to ensure the frame is square (Fig 3d). I used a cable to support the load (Fig 3e).

Finally, if possible, cut any holes, mortises, or notches needed for the latch hardware now. My gate latch requires a single notch (Fig 3f). More on installing the latch later.

GateFrameOptions GateSupportOptions

DrillPocektHoles CheckDiagonals

AddCable CutLatchMortise

Figure 3a, b, c, d, e, f. Gate frame options (Full-height stiles, Full-width rails, Mitered corners), Support options (Brace, Cable), Drilling pocket screws, Measure the diagonals to ensure square, Add cable, Cut a notch for the latch

Prepare and attach the pickets

The cedar pickets at the store are very rough and not very attractive and need to be cleaned up. I use a random orbit sander to smooth the faces (Fig 4a). Then I use a block plane to smooth the sides (Fig 4b) and to chamfer the edges (Fig 4c). Once all the pickets are ready, use corrosion resistant screws to attach them to the gate frame. I start from the hinge side and align the first picket flush to the edge. Then I insert spacers (pieces of cardboard folded in half) and attach the next picket (Fig 4d). I continue until until only 2 pickets remain. I leave them off. I will attach them after the gate is hung.

If possible, attach the hinges now. Lay the hinges on the gate, place a straight edge (I use a loose picket) on top of the hinges to align them, and screw the hinges into the frame (Fig 4e).

At this point, the gate is ready to stain and varnish, but I did not do this.

SandPickets PlanePickets

EaseEdges AttachPickets


Figure 4a, b, c, d, e. Sand the faces, Plane the sides, Chamfer the edges, Screw the pickets to the frame, Attach the hinges

Hang the gate

I am going the install this gate by myself. To hold it in place temporarily while I screw in the hinges, I make a shim. Place scrap wood (I used pickets from the old gate) at the base of the gate opening and ensure they are level and exactly at the height you want the bottom of the gate. Push dirt around as needed (Fig 5a). Rest the gate on top of the shim, ensure it is plumb, and screw the hinges to the post (Fig 5b). Remove the shim and test that the gate is level, swings freely, and does not bind.

There are three pickets left to install, one on the latch post and two on the gate itself. Measure the width needed to be covered by these three pickets, subtract the width of two spacers. Now divide by three. That will be the width of each picket. Rip the pickets to the correct width (Fig 5c). Use a block plane to joint the pickets (Fig 5d). Attach one picket to the latch post (Fig 5e) and the other two to the gate (Fig 5f). The picket on the gate may overlap the post. This is fine.

TemporaryShim AttachGate

RipPickets FinalMeasure

LastPicketsDetail LastPicketsDetail2

Figure 5a, b, c, d, e, f. A temporary base to hold the gate, Gate is hung, Rip the final pickets to width, Finish with block plane, Attach one picket on latch post, Attach two pickets to gate

Install the latch

I use a low-profile 2-way latch by Fenix. Unfortunately, there is a design flaw in the spring action. The latch bar will bind unless the hole for it in the latch handle is cut slightly larger and at an angle so that the bottom of the hole is wider than the top. I mark the outline for the larger hole using a red marker (Fig 6a) and use a file to enlarge the hole. I cut notches in the pickets in the gate to allow the latch handle through (no photo).

In another design flaw, the screws that come with the Fenix latch are too short to securely attach the latch handle to the gate. I pick two 5mm x 60mm (#8 x 2-1/2") corrosion resistant deck screws, paint the heads black, and use them to attach the latch handle to the gate. I attach the latch keep to the post and adjust its height until the latch opens and shuts smoothly. The gate is done (Fig 6b).



Figure 6a, b. Modifying the latch hardware, The finished north gate


A simple jig lets you make a straight cut on a curved piece

by George Taniwaki

The instructions below show how to create a jig to make a straight cut using a band saw on an irregularly shaped object. The jig is made of modeling clay and is attached with duct tape to a crosscut sled that rides in the miter slot of the band saw.

An important warning. You should not use modeling clay and duct tape to make a jig for a table saw or miter saw. Kickback forces can damage the part or cause injury to you or bystanders.

For this particular project, the jig will hold the parabolic reflector for a recessed light fixture. The reflector is made of plastic with a metalized coating. The reflector is about 100mm (4") in diameter at the bottom, 75mm (3") in diameter at the top, and 125mm (5") tall. I want to cut 25mm (1") off the bottom. (An explanation of why I want to do this at the end of the blog post.)

Make a crosscut sled

The first step in making the jig is to make a reusable crosscut sled. The sled consists of two pieces. The bed is made from 6mm (1/4") plywood. The back is made from 19mm (3/4") plywood that is tall enough to hold any piece that will fed through the band saw. Note the notch in the back to allow the sled to fit under the band saw work light.

The crosscut sled should then be attached to a runner that will fit in the miter slot of the band saw. I simply attached mine to the miter gauge using bolts recessed into the back of the sled.


A band saw crosscut sled

Make a mold

An easy way to make a solid jig for an irregularly shaped object is to use modeling clay to make a mold. You can buy modeling clay at any hobby shop such as Michaels. To keep the modeling clay from sticking to the object, cover the object with thin plastic food wrap such as Glad cling wrap or lightly spray it with oil such as WD-40 to act as a release agent.

Soften the clay by working it in your hands. Press it against the object you want to fit on the crosscut sled. While still soft, add bits of modeling clay to the mold so that it fits squarely against the crosscut sled. Let the modeling clay cool to harden it.

Wrap the finished mold in plastic food wrap so it doesn’t stick to the part. If you only need to make a single cut, you can skip this step.


Modeling clay and the finished mold

Band saw setup

Attach the mold to the crosscut sled using strips of duct tape, aligning it so the line to cut is directly above the edge of the crosscut sled.

Place the object to be cut in the mold on the crosscut sled. Make sure the object is aligned to the band saw blade using a machinist square. Then attach the object to the mold using strips of duct tape. Start up the band saw and slowly push the crosscut sled through.

BandSawSetupBack BandSawSetupSide

Aligning the object to the blade (left); Preparing the push the crosscut bed through the band saw (right)

* * * *

The need for this jig arose because I wanted to replace the GX24 compact fluorescent light bulbs (four pin base) in the kitchen with standard E26 LED bulbs (screw-in base). We remodeled the kitchen in 2008. Back then it was obvious incandescent bulbs were going to become obsolete soon, so we installed ten recessed light fixtures with state-of-the-art CFL bulbs. Now, just over 10 years later, CFLs are obsolete. The problem with GX24 bulbs is that the ballast is part of the fixture, not the bulb. Unlike office lights, kitchen lights are flipped on and off all day long and the ballast eventually burns out with no easy way to replace it.

Replacing the bulbs requires removing the ballast and adding a GX24 to E26 adapter.  The adapter is about an inch long, which is why we need to cut an inch off the reflectors.

LED bulbs should have a life of 20,000 hours. So hopefully we won’t have ever replace the bulbs again. Technology moves too fast for me.


Find three mistakes with this package design

by George Taniwaki

I bought a box of assorted hose clamps and was excited when they arrived. I opened the box but could not easily find the 3/4-inch clamp I needed (see photo above). The guide seems to indicate they should be in the right-most slot and there should be six of them. Instead, the slot contains the 1-inch clamps and there are only two of them.

What’s up with that? Then I noticed the three annoying problems. Do you see them too? First, there are five clamp sizes in the box, but there are only 4 slots. The slot second from the left contains two different sized clamps.

Second, even within the limitations of not having the same number of slots as sizes, the clamps are not sorted in the same order as the guide. The sizes in the guide are listed as 7/8", 1", 1/2", 5/8", and 3/4". The sizes in the slots are 5/8", 1/2" and 7/8", 3/4", and 1". None of the clamps in the guide line up to a slot. Further, neither the guide or the clamps are sorted in size order.

Finally, the guide contains pictures of clamps. They do not match the actual clamps. The images of the 7/8", 1" and 1/2" clamps seem correct, but the images for 5/8" and 3/4" seem to be reversed.

Bad design makes me anxious. My solution was to put the hose clamps in a Plano fishing tackle box in size order, label the slots, and throw away the original package. I even tossed in a 1-1/2" clamp I found in my parts drawer.


There, fixed it

* * * *

A similar problem occurred with an order of assorted springs I bought on Amazon. They came delivered in an identical size tray as the hose clamps. But this tray has seven slots instead of just four. Unfortunately, the package contains 29 different size springs, so there still more sizes than slots.


So many springs, so few slots

Springs are specified by their wire size, diameter, and length. For instance 0.035"x0.25"x0.5" indicates the spring is made from a wire with a diameter of 0.035" wound into a spring with diameter of 0.25" and a length of 0.5".

Ugh. The springs are sorted into slots by their least useful dimension, length. Length is not useful because you can easily use a pair of wire cutters to shorten a spring that is too long. A much more useful way to sort springs is by wire diameter and spring diameter.

Also, like the pictures on the hose clamps guide, the pictures on the spring guide do not match the springs specified. It appears that all seven pictures are identical, although the two on the left are reduced in size.

Again, my solution was put the springs in a Plano tackle box sorted by wire diameter and then spring diameter (mixing different lengths in the same slot), label the slots, and throw away the original package.


Again, fixed. My anxiety alleviated

* * * *

Incidentally, you can estimate the springiness of a spring using the following formula. Start with Hooke’s law:

F = kx

The spring constant, k, can be estimated by

k = G*d4/(8*D3*n)

where G is shear modulus of the spring material (about 11×106 lb/in2 for steel)
    d is diameter of wire
    D is mean diameter of spring (or outside diameter – wire diameter)
    n is number of active coils (coils at ends usually are not active, so total coils – 2)

A handy calculator with explanation can be found at (membership required).


The versatile design of this shoe rack can fit many needs

by George Taniwaki

I’m a member of the Washington Karate Association, which has a dojo in Bellevue. Traditionally, one removes shoes before entering a Japanese home or a sacred area. The genkan or foyer of the dojo has a shoe rack for the students. The current one needed to be replaced and I offered to make one. An exploded view of my design is shown in Figure 1 below. The design ideas and the techniques I used to make this shoe rack can also be scaled up or down for your needs.

Shoe rack design

The shoe rack will get heavy use as there are up to 4 classes a day at the dojo. On rainy and snowy days, the shoes can be wet. For durability and water resistance, I decided to make the shoe rack out of 19mm (3/4") particle board with melamine surface on both sides. I will cover any exposed edges with melamine edge banding.

Children tend to lean on or step on the shoe rack. To help resist damage, I will reinforce the shelves by adding a lip to the front.

To keep water from wet shoes from dripping on the floor, I will tip the shelf toward the front by 50mm (2"), or about 12 deg. The lip will then catch any water.

The melamine boards I used come in 2.4m (8′) lengths. Even with the reinforcement provided by the lip, I decide the shelves should be 1/3 the length of a full board or 0.8m (2′-8") long. (I felt that a shelf 1/2 the length of a full board or 1.2m (4′) could sag or break.)

To ensure tall boots can fit on the shoe rack, I space the shelves 250mm (10") apart.

I want every child to be able to reach every shelf, so the rack will only have 4 shelves, making it 1m (40") tall. This also  leaves room under the shoe rack for any overflow shoes.

Finally, the rack will be heavy, so I  will include two holes, each 100mm (4") in diameter on each side near the top to act as carrying handles.

There are many ways to attach the shelves to the sides of the shoe rack. I decided to rout out a mortise into the sides and use glue and screws to attach the shelves. The mortise should support the weight of a child without a bracket and also help resist racking.


Figure 1. Exploded view of the shoe rack

The basic design of this shoe rack is very versatile. More shelves can be added to make a taller rack for a walk-in closet. Or it can be made with fewer shelves and using furniture grade wood to fit the entryway of a Japanese-style home.

Cut the stock and prepare the shelves

The first step is to cut the sides and shelves to length using a panel saw, table saw, sliding miter saw, or handheld circular saw (Fig 2a). Use a sharp blade and push the stock (or the saw) slowly to get a clean cut.

I used a circular saw to make my cuts. Notice that I use a 50mm (2") thick sheet of polystyrene foam insulation as a sacrificial backing board under the work piece. It’s cheap, flat, smooth, light, easy to keep clean, sturdy, and protects your blade (or router bit) from damage.

Each shelf will consist of a bottom and a front cut from a single piece (Fig 2b). The front will have a dado that the bottom will fit into. Use a table saw with a dado bit to plough a 19mm wide by 5mm deep (3/4" x 0.2") dado (Fig 2c) on each shelf. The dado will be on the front of the shelf and will receive the bottom. Rip the shelves to separate the bottoms from the fronts (Fig 2d). Before cutting the actual stock, make a prototype and check dry fit (Fig 2e).

CutParts  ShelfDetail2

PlowDado  RipShelf


Figures 2a to 2e. Cut parts to length; Design detail for the shelves; Plow dado for shelf front; Rip the shelf to separate the bottom from the front; Test dry fit of prototype

Note: Table saw riving knife, blade guard, and dust collector removed for demonstration only. Do not operate power tools without safety features in place

Assemble the shelves

Dry fit the shelf bottoms and fronts, selecting the better surface to be the top. Then glue them up, clamp, and let dry overnight (Fig 3a). Notice how I clamped all four shelves at once. I laid heavy tiles on top to keep the shelf bottoms from popping up. I also put shims underneath the back of the shelf bottoms to keep the shelf bottoms parallel to the bar clamps and the shelf fronts perpendicular to the bottoms.

Unclamp the shelves and stand them front side down. The backs of the shelf bottoms will have a raw edge. Cover them with melamine edge banding (Fig 3b) and trim off the excess (fig 3c). For more details on using hot-melt adhesive banding, see this Oct 2012 blog post.

I did not bother to add banding to the raw edge on the bottom of the shelf front.

GlueUpShelf  ApplyBandingShelf


Figures 3a to 3c. Glue up the shelves; Apply melamine edge banding to the back of the shelf bottoms; Trim the banding

Mortise the sides

To cut a clean mortise, you must use a template. See this Jun 2019 blog post on how to make a perfect mortising template for a shape that consists of right angle corners.

Using a pencil and straight edge, lay out the position of the shelves every 250mm (10") on the left and right sides with the 50mm (2") slope. Lay the left and right mortising templates onto the sides and ensure they align to the pencil marks.

Remove the templates and drill two 4mm (5/32") holes in the sides for each shelf (Fig 4a). There may be a small amount of tear out. Flip the side over and countersink the screw holes by 3mm (1/8")  (Fig 4b).

Flip the sides over again, align the templates to the pencil marks, and rout out 5mm (0.2") deep mortises using a plunge router (Fig 4c). If you do not own a plunge router, first use a Forstner bit to create 5mm (0.2") deep holes for the router bit. This will prevent kickback that could gouge the sides or the templates.

DrillPilot1  DrillCountersink


Figure 4a to 4c. Drill the pilot holes; Countersink the pilot holes; Use the jig and cut the mortises

Add handholds and banding

The shoe rack will weight about 25kg (55 lb). To make it easier to move, cut handholds at the top of each side. The most important consideration is to avoid tear out. Mark the location of the center of the hand hold and drill a pilot hole through the side (Fig 5a). Using a drill with a 100mm (4") hole cutting bit to cut through one surface of the melamine (Fig 5b). Make sure the drill is up to speed before making contact with the melamine surface to reduce tear out. Press down on the surface lightly so that the speed stays high. Cut about half way through the side.

Flip the side over and repeat on the other side (Fig 5c) until the hand hold is complete. Cutting from both sides rather than one side reduces chance of tear out.

Cut the melamine edge banding to length (Fig 5d) and apply it (Fig 5e). Note that you probably cannot get a hot iron to follow the concave surface of the handhold and get hot-melt banding to adhere to the surface. Instead I used self-adhesive banding. The adhesive is not as strong as hot-melt adhesive.

CutHandhold  CutHandhold2

CutHandhold3  ApplyBanding


Figure 5a to 5e. Drill a pilot hole for handholds through the side; Use hole cutting bit and drill through one surface of the melamine; Turn over a drill through the other surface; Cut and lay out the self-adhesive melamine banding; Apply the banding

Final assembly

Before final assembly, remove any adhesive residue from the shelves and sides using mineral oil (dissolves most sticky adhesives) followed by warm soapy water (Fig 6a).

Label the four shelves to indicate which mortise it will fit into, selecting the best shelf for the top, which is the most visible. Use a chisel to clean the corners of the mortises and to make any adjustments to ensure the shelf fits (Fig 6b).

Dry fit the shelves into the sides and drill two 2mm (5/64") pilot holes in each shelf (Fig 6c). Glue up the shelves to one of the sides and drive two 4mmx40mm (#7 x 1-5/8") screws into each shelf (Fig 6d). Flip over and repeat on the other side. The screws will hold the shelves in place so there is no need to use clamps.

After the glue has dried, fill the screw holes and any gaps in the joints with white caulk.

RemoveGlue  ChiselCorners

DrillPilot2  ReinforcementScrews

Figure 6a to 6d. Clean the finished shelves and sides; Use a chisel to clean the corners of the mortises; Drill pilot holes; Glue up, add screws, flip over a repeat

[Update: There was a flaw in my design of the shoe rack. The 10" depth for the shelves works fine for children’s shoes, but not for adults. The solution was to turn the rack around. A picture is shown below. I think it looks fine this way.]


Figure 7. The shoe rack flipped around so that adult shoes will fit


Spring is in the air, get planting!

by George Taniwaki

My wife, Sue, bought three plastic planters shaped like oak wine barrels and three shepherd hooks to put in them (two shown above). Before putting the planters in the garden, I noticed several problems with them.

  1. There are no drainage holes on the bottom. Real oak barrels have gaps between the staves which will allow excess water to drain out. A plastic barrel will fill with water and may allow the plant roots to rot.
  2. There are no feet to elevate the bottom. If I add drain holes to the bottom of the planters, they will eventually get plugged if the bottom is in contact with the ground.
  3. The shepherd hooks are heavy and will tilt over if not supported.
  4. Once filled with dirt, the planters will be too heavy to easily move and may break if lifted.

Naturally, I could not just ignore these problems. So I spent a weekend fixing them before transferring the plants into the new planters. My solutions to these problems are listed below and illustrated in the pencil sketch (Fig 1).

  1. Add three drainage holes to the bottom of each planter.
  2. Add four rot-resistant feet to the bottom of each planter.
  3. Add a pillow filled with lightweight and rot-resistant foam peanuts to the bottom of each planter to reduce the amount of soil needed to fill it. It should also help keep the drain holes from getting clogged.
  4. Add a vertical sleeve made of copper plumbing pipe in the center of each planter to hold the shepherd hook.


Figure 1. Pencil sketch of the planter

Make the feet and attach them

Using a 5mm (3/16”) diameter bit, drill seven holes through the base of each planter.  Six holes  are equally spaced on the rim (a hexagonal pattern) and the seventh goes in the center (Fig 2a). Three holes on the rim and the center hole will hold the feet. The other three holes will be for drainage.

Using 100mm (4”) diameter hole cutting bit, cut out four feet for each planter from a scrap piece of 125x20mm (5×3/4”) plastic decking (Fig 2b). If needed, use a Forstner bit to countersink the bottom of each foot to accept a fender washer (Fig 2c).

Using 5x60mm (#8 x 2-1/2”) bolts with fender washers and nuts, attach four feet to each planter (Fig 2d, 2e). Actually, only the center bolt needs to be long so that it can hold the copper pipe. The other bolts can be shorter, but I didn’t want to take the time to buy and sort different length bolts.

DrillHoles  CutFeet

CountersinkFeet  FootParts

AttachFeet  InsidePlanter

Figure 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f. Drill seven holes in planter base; Cut out the feet; Countersink feet to accept fender washers; Bolt, washers, foot, and nut; Attach feet to the planter; Inside of planter showing bolts

Make the sleeves and attach them

Start with a 1m (3’) piece of 13mm (1/2”) copper pipe and cut it into three 330mm (12”) long pieces. Drill a 3mm ( 1/8”) diameter hole, 50mm (2”) from one end (Fig 3a).  The hole will allow water to drain out of the sleeve.

Mix up a batch of epoxy putty (also called wood filler or Bondo). Find the end of the copper sleeve with the drain hole and fill 25mm (1”) of the end of the sleeve (Fig 3b). Push the sleeve onto the center bolt and add putty around the base of the sleeve to securely attach it (Fig 3d).

CutSleeve  MixFiller


Figure 3a, 3b, 3c. Cut the copper sleeve and drill drain hole; Mix up epoxy putty; Attach the sleeve to the bottom of the planter

Make the donut-shaped pillow

Lay out a roll of nonwoven polypropylene ground fabric. Trace out two instances of the top of the barrel (Fig 4a). Cut out the fabric, outside the lines you have drawn, making a donut shape. Sew the two halves together, leaving a 100mm (4”) opening to allow filling. Pour about 0.02m3 (0.5 cu.ft.) of foam peanuts (Fig 4b) into the pillow and finish sewing the seam (Fig 4c). Place the finished pillow over the copper sleeve and lay it at the bottom of the planter (Fig 4d).

SackCut  FoamPeanuts

Sack  SackInPlanter

Figure 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Cut out the fabric; Example of polystyrene foam peanuts (with cat); Sew the two halves together and fill with foam peanuts; Place the pillow in the bottom of the planter

Finish and admire

Clean off any excess rust from the shepherd hook (Fig 5a). Place the planter in the desired spot in the garden, fill it with dirt, being careful not to detach the sleeve or get dirt in it. Transfer any plants. Slide in the shepherd hook (Fig 5b). Water the plants. Admire your work.

This project took a weekend and only cost a few dollars since I had almost all the materials already on-hand. (I guess I keep a lot of junk around in my tool shed.)

ShepherdHooks  SleeveCloseup2

Figure 5a, 5b, 5c. Clean the shepherd hooks; Detail of copper sleeve with shepherd hook

All photos and drawings by George Taniwaki


Oh light, you really turn me on!

[Note: This entry was posted on 17 Sep 2019. It is backdated to keep it in chronological order.]

by George Taniwaki

In the breakfast area of the TownePlace Suite hotel in Mukilteo, Washington, there is a mural painted on the wall of a Boeing 787 soaring above a silhouette of some local attractions. That’s not unusual, Boeing has a large factory in nearby Everett where the 787 is made.

But the mural is so small. It doesn’t cover the whole wall. So someone put a white wood frame around it to make it look like a painting instead of a mural. There, that fixed it.

But the airplane doesn’t pop out. So they added a light fixture above it to highlight it with a switch to control it. There, that fixed it.

But the light switch is covered by the faux frame. So they cut a hole in the frame. There, that fixed it.

Luckily the switch cover is white, so this botched attempt at art enhancement isn’t very noticeable. It took me a while staring at the wall while eating my breakfast to figure out what I was looking at.

Much thanks to my wife Susan for doing her best Vanna White impression.

* * * *

Sometimes it isn’t just a frame that ruins the art. Sometimes, the art itself gets ruined by well-meaning but incompetent workers. For some prominent examples of “botched” art restoration, see what happened to Ecce Homo (BBC Sep 2012), King Tutankhamen funerary mask (artnet Jan 2015), Virgin Mary in Ranadoiro (All World Report Sep 2018), and St. George in Navarra (Smithsonian Jun 2019).

* * * *

As a side note, the breakfast the TownePlace Suite includes Chinese (congee), Japanese (misoshiru and rice), and American (sausage, eggs, cereal with milk) options. Pretty odd selection for a suburban hotel until you realize the number of vendors that must stay here while visiting Boeing.

by George Taniwaki

This is a continuation of my class notes from Landscaping in the Northwest without the Need for Automatic Sprinklers, taught by noted local plant writer and speaker Marianne Binetti and sponsored by the Cascade Water Alliance.

Part 1 of this blog entry is posted in April 2014.


Plants mentioned on page 5, Gold band yucca, Miss Willmott’s ghost, Blue fescue, Allium


Plants mentioned on page 6, Smoke tree, Golden ninebark, Huckleberry, Elderberry, Salmonberry


Plants mentioned on page 7, Rosemary, Sedum razzleberry


Plants mentioned on page 8, Sword fern, Sedum autumnjoy, Euphorbia


Plants mentioned on page 9, Begonia, Hen and chicks, Sempervivum glabifolium, Sedum angelina, Woolly thyme, Sandwort, Moss lawn, Blue star creeper


Plants mentioned on page 10, Sedum echeverias, Creeping jenny, Christmas rose

Note: The hyperlinks to nurseries and garden shops in this blog post were added by me and are for reference only. They were not part of the lecture and are not meant as endorsements by me or the instructor.