Garden Arch Bridge

Garden Arch Bridge

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Garden Arch Bridge

The Garden Arch Bridge is another summer project for the garden. Arching over a dry river bed where the runoff from the property travels. This part of my summer 2020 journey of adventuring into woodworking as a side hobby when time allows.

Daniel said he needs a bridge to go over the ditch that helps control the water flow during rain and winter melt. He wouldn’t settle on anything but an arch bridge.

I wondered if in the woodworking field that people do free patterns for projects like I do for crochet. I found Garden Arch Bridge Plans. I downloaded the pattern and formed a shopping list and looked at what we already had here on the grounds.

We made a mistake during purchasing wood and saw deck boards. We didn’t pay attention to the thickness of those decking boards. They were supposed to be 2×4 planks. We didn’t notice until the bridge was complete and it complicated matters.

Arch Bridge Creating the Arch

Arch Bridge Creating the Arch

You should know, I studied engineering and went to college, so measuring and problem-solving in this area isn’t new to me.

Using the measurements and using screws. I was able to plot the arch onto the wood without any difficulties. Using screws at the cut points and using flexible metal use it as a line to trace. I did both plotting at the same time for each measurement so both are identical pieces.

The challenge was to cut the pieces with a jigsaw. The first arch was a bit rough but I learned my lessons and did the second arch in one pass.

Arch Bridge Frame

Arch Bridge Frame

Creating the cross beams and exactly measuring it precisely so the bridge has an exact mirror down the centre will make my life easier in the future.

I stained the pieces as I went to make it much easier.

Knowing that it will need to be assembled, I thought it would be easier to pre-drill all of the frame and post holes in advance! What a pain on the 4×4 posts! Hated it but got it done. I even cut the holes for the rope railing.

To make it easier, we did a rope railing as I was concerned I couldn’t get the shape right. Being in Nova Scotia with roping and the sea seems to make sense for our grounds.

Arch Bridge Hand Washed

Arch Bridge Hand Washed

I hand handed with a sponge sanding pad and then washed all of the planks and posts to remove off any imperfections. It allowed me to inspect each piece.

I then rolled the stain onto the components, using a brush for touch-ups if needed.

I set the boards on the frame, without screwing them into position and had to wait for Daniel to do his landscaping to prepare it to arch over.

Arch Bridge - Waiting for Daniel

Arch Bridge – Waiting for Daniel

Arch Bridge - Preparing Pad

Arch Bridge – Preparing Pad

Canada Day came and thought I could take half-day off work.

Daniel dug out the ditch a little deeper. We put in landscape fabric and then loaded some riverstone into the trench. Using the survey tool Daniel uses on the grounds. Both sides of the bridge were levelled. Using bricks we had from the patio that was removed, they were positioned and levelled.

The goal was to build the bridge over because it may be too heavy to build it and lift it by hand.

Arch Bridge - Assembly

Arch Bridge – Assembly

I assembled the bridge. The post holes were already pre-drilled and so was the frame. Using carriage bolts, the posts are not supports for the bridge, merely visual accessories. Using a leveller, I levelled the posts perfectly vertical to how it sits across the ditch. I didn’t want to put them on before hand and realize the bridge posts don’t look straight up.

I drilled the holes first, then screwed in the boards to the frame. This prevents the boards from splitting. Also, the instructions stated to do that.

Arch Bridge - First Time Through

Arch Bridge – First Time Through

The bridge was unusable. The planks were so flexible, that it wouldn’t take much more weight for me to snap them as I walked. It was then we realized we subbed the plank boards and they are much thinner than they should have been.

I was deflated. The bridge needs a middle support beam to prevent the flexing.

So the bridge had to be taken apart but Daniel thought we could lift it out of position and I could crawl underneath it to add more support beams.

Arch Bridge - Fixing

Arch Bridge – Fixing

Arch Bridge Creation

Arch Bridge Creation

I crawled under this taking measurements. Getting the same arch curve was my nemesis. I looked at the off-cuts I had left over to see if I could use any of it to create new beams. In looking at the off-cuts of the archways, I realized they have the exact arch shaping.

I created a middle beam but the beam had to be in 5 parts. 2 long boards, and 3 short. I plotted the off-cut arch. I was able to trace the arch curve onto the new pieces.

I tested the new pieces and really didn’t have any trouble. I even figured out the ends of the angle of the pieces to be 7.5 degrees. Fits like a glove.

Arch Bridge

Arch Bridge

I stained up the new pieces and crawled under the bridge and assembled the new bracing.

We lifted the bridge back into position and then pre-drilled the holes and screwed the centre of the planks to the new centre beam. The bridge went from a potential trampoline to a solid bridge with the new beam.

I learned a lot of lessons but thankfully, I had a free pattern to use to help me make the pieces. Next time, double-check the wood at the lumber yard.

Landscaping around the bridge can now be completed and gardens built out.

Arch Bridge

Arch Bridge

Photo Gallery of Steps

Arch Bridge Creating the Arch

Arch Bridge Creating the Arch. Download the bridge. Cut the planks. The bridge took 15 planks per side. So 30 top planks. I made 32 to ensure I had enough.

Arch Bridge Creation

Arch Bridge Creation. Plot the archways so they are identical. Using jig-saw. 

Arch Bridge Frame

Arch Bridge Frame. Cut and secure the cross beams. If I were to do it again. I would consider making 3 archways instead of two to have a solid 1 beam across the middle. Mine has a centre beam that is attached to the cross beams in 5 pieces. It’s still solid though. 

Arch Bridge - Stained

I pre-drilled all of the holes for the posts. I used only 1 hole for the middle as I felt it could compromise the structure if I did two there. I stained the pieces as I completed major steps to allow for drying time.

Wood Planks

I soaked the posts and planks in a trash bin for half a day. Turning the wood over inside the pail. The washing fluid to remove off any manufacturing stains or defects only works if it doesn’t dry out as it’s working. So I figured soaking it will help the cleaning solution really get into all of the crevices. 

Arch Bridge Cleaning

I hand sanded each piece after I cut them. I just used a foam sanding pad. Using a deck cleaning solution. Each piece was inspected for the top surface that will be exposed. Using a roller, I rolled on the cleaner. I then used a pad to give it a light scrub for each piece.

Arch Bridge Hand Washed

Arch Bridge Hand Washed – I left to try. The next morning, I went out to stain each piece and laid it on the frame to dry. 

Arch Bridge - Waiting for Daniel

Arch Bridge – Waiting for Daniel. Nothing is assembled other than the main frame. The boards will be secured once ready.

Arch Bridge Ditch

Arch Bridge Ditch. The bridge area needed to be prepared before it goes into position. 

Arch Bridge - Preparing Pad

Arch Bridge – Preparing Pad. The ditch was dug out a bit. Landscape fabric went down. Then some river stones. Water does go through the ditch when it rains. So the water can work its way through the river stone. The pads were levelled in height using a survey tool. There ended up being 6 pads after the bridge was repaired. 

Arch Bridge - Assembly

Arch Bridge – Posts were levelled and then screwed in final place first. Holes were pre-drilled and screwed to the frame. The planks by the posts were cut in the centre. 

Arch Bridge

Arch Bridge. The outside posts beyond the centre, the planks remarkable lined up without having to do any special notch cutting. That was a miracle. I used half inch dowels on the edge of sponge painting sticks to get the half inch distance. I used a spare piece to of wood to ensure the edges were even. I favoured the edge facing outward to where we see the most to be flush. 

Arch Bridge - First Time Through

Arch Bridge – First Time Through. We realized we couldn’t walk on the bridge without a significant bend. It was a trampoline line and my weight could snap planks.

Arch Bridge - Fixing

Arch Bridge – We lifted the bridge out and put it on horses so I could crawl under and make a new centre beam. New pieces were created, sanded and stained so when you look down between the boards, it matches. 

Arch Bridge

Arch Bridge. The bridge was put back. It’s now walkable and can be enjoyed. 

More Ideas

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  2. Insect Hotel
  3. Chickadee Towers

Mikey, aka Michael Sellick, of The Crochet Crowd, started this online journey back in 2008. A mere hobby in trying to reach out to others as he was mentally struggling with his own issues. His goal was simple, find others in the yarn communities, like him, that have a common interest.

The journey and main baby of the whole idea started with a YouTube Channel and then in 2011, an official website was developed. Michael is not only the face of The Crochet Crowd but also the working engine behind the crowd in self-taught programming, social media and so much more.

Enjoy the stitching journey. Life is short, enjoy this wonderful hobby and all of the learning opportunities that come with it.