Monday, March 16, 2015

Cutting Circles, Pi, and Pie

On Saturday (14 MAR) I joined other members of the Mid-Mitten Wild Ones Chapter at the Chippewa Nature Center to construct wooden oriole feeders, bee nesting blocks made of drilled pieces of lumber, and bee nesting boxes like the one below.

Bee nesting box at the Saginaw Chippewa Academy - Summer 2014

Because this is my design for a bee nesting tower, I was in charge of this part of the construction.  I brought all of the necessary materials and tools to construct seven of these structures.  Three of the structures were purchased by Wild Ones' members, three were purchased by ITC Holdings to place in rain gardens and at their corporate headquarters, and the final structure is being donated to the Chippewa Nature Center.

I wanted to get lots of photographs to detail the build, but I was too busy working most of the time.  Lucy Chargot (Mid-Mitten Chapter President) took a few photos including this one.  I am standing to the left with a drill in my hand - the most tie consuming part of constructing these bee houses is drilling and chiseling out the holes through the 4 x 6 posts.

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Working on 4 x 6 posts for the bee nesting boxes - photo by Lucy Chargot

The tubes going through the posts are made of 3" Schedule 30 PVC pipe.  This pipe has an outside diameter of 3.25 inches so I use a holesaw with a 3.25 inch diameter to drill through the posts.  The saw can only cut through about 1.5 inches of the post at a time so it is necessary to use a gouge to chisel out the excess material.

Chiseling out the holes through the wood is the hardest part of the job.

Eventually we had a total of 20 holes drilled/chiseled out on the seven posts - six of the posts had three holes in each, one member wanted a post with only two holes.

Drilling out the holes is a multi-step process - Drill, chisel, Drill, chisel, drill.

The other part of constructing these bee nesting boxes consisted of cutting and gluing up the PVC pipes that fit through the hole.  I cut the pipes at home with a compound-miter saw.  This made it easy to cut each pipe at a consistent angle (30 degrees).  If you are only cutting a few pieces this can easily be done with a hacksaw.  End-caps are glued on using PVC glue.  The outside of the pipes can be sanded or painted with a PVC paint

A pile of the completed PVC pipes waiting to be installed in the posts

After the glue has dried, the pipe can be filled with hollow stems, sections of bamboo, twigs with a hollow center, or in this case cardboard tubes made as bee nesting tubes.

Each piece of pipe was packed with cardboard nesting tubes

The next time I make one of these nesting boxes I plan to take detailed photographs of the process.

One last thing about Saturday.   It was Pi Day!   What that you ask?

Pi is a number - expressed to the ten-thousandths place it read as 3.1415.  The circumference of any circle is its diameter times pi.  The are of any circle is its radius squared time pi.  So what does that have to do with Saturday?

It was March 14th 2015.  3/14/15.  3.1415.  So how did we celebrate, besides cutting lots of circles?  With pie of course!

Happy Pi Day - enjoying some pie

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