Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tutorial: Making weights for my Craft Tent

This summer I will be doing several craft shows and farmer's markets.  I haven't gone to shows in a few years and am in the process of improving my gear.  At a recent show I saw some weights to hold down your canopy that are easy and space-saving.  I thought I'd try it:

Materials needed to make four 18" weights:  

 - 6 ft of 2 inch diameter pvc pipe, cut into four 18" pieces
- empty half gallon milk bottle or some plastic pouring bottle
- four long eye rings with nut attached

- large bowl or bucket to hold dry concrete
- Post Set no-mix concrete
- some empty throw-away containers to hold water & mix the concrete (not too big)
- cardboard
- rubber bands
- duck tape
- plastic wrap
- wooden paint mixing stick or throw-away large spoon

OK.  Let's get started.  If the store didn't cut your pipe into pieces, you can do that yourself with a hacksaw.  Make sure the ends are fairly straight so your weight can stand up.

Tape a square of doubled plastic wrap to the bottom of your tubes and fasten with rubber bands.  This is so the wet concrete won't drip out. 

Now cut four squares about the size of your tube end out of the cardboard and tape it over the end, on top of the plastic.  This is to keep the bottom flat once the concrete is poured in.

 Now tape your four tubes together so that they will stand up and be secure while you are working on them.  This step isn't essential but I found that a single tube fell over easily, which could be a disaster if it is half-full of concrete. I stuffed paper and plastic bags between them to hold them apart a bit.

Make sure you have plastic or cardboard laid over your working surfaces because you definitely don't want spilled concrete getting on anything.  I had to work inside but it might be preferable to set up a work table outside to do all this.

Now make four ring holders by cutting some cardboard slightly larger than the tube diameter. Cut down to the center and then into a small "V".  This is to hold your O-ring upright until the concrete hardens.  Even though you won't be doing that until later, you want these holders pre-made because the concrete hardens quickly.

Now to make your funnel.  Cut a plastic milk bottle in half.  The half with the hole will be your funnel and the other half your scoop.  Please don't use any kitchen equipment! Everything you will be using will have to be thrown out in the end because it will be covered with hardened concrete.

Now comes the messy part.
Scoop into a large bowl or bucket about half a bag of the concrete mix.  Do this outside if you can because it tends to spill all over the place.  These bags are meant for a construction job, not your kitchen.  SCOOP it out. Don't pour or else you will get a facefull of nasty concrete dust.  Trust me, I did this.  Yuck.
Also, pour water into a large pitcher to have it on hand when you are ready to mix.
Have a medium-sized container (coffee can, crappy plastic bucket or such) on hand to mix into.  I used a paper paint can but that proved unsatisfactory with this heavy material and ended up tearing apart before I was finished.  Get your paint-mixing sticks out.  OK.  ready?

Now pour a little water (maybe a cup or two) into your mixing container and then, using a dedicated scoop, put in about two cups of concrete and add it to the water. (Don't dump it in or the dust will billow up into your face.  Gently pour in in.)  Immediately mix this up until it is the consistency of soft peanut butter, adding water or powder until it is right.
Put your milk bottle funnel into the top of one of the tubes and spoon the wet concrete mix into it.  Push it around until it falls into the tube.  Repeat this process until the tube is filled to the top.  (Don't dawdle. This stuff sets up fairly quickly.)

As soon as you've filled one, you should set in the O-ring.  Don't wait and risk having the concrete harden before you get it in.  It may be helpful to tape the cardboard into place. In any case, make sure your ring is in the center of the tube.

OK! Now leave this someplace secure for several hours to harden up.  Overnight is best.
In the morning take off all the cardboard, tape, plastic wrap, etc.  At this point I sanded off the ugly red writing on the tubes and wrote my name on them in permanent marker.
Now, lay them on their sides and leave them out for another day and night to cure.  The concrete will be hard but still damp and you need to let it dry fully.
This whole project took about two hours, including mistakes.

And... Voila!
You can attach rope or bungee cords to the rings and tie them to your canopy crossbars so they hang at each corner of your tent.  These are very versatile and can be used as counter weights or to hold down your screen house or ... person full of hot air!
Have fun!

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