OK to report on how the construction of the mash tun went...
I had not too much trouble, though I did wind up making several trips to Lowes (there ain't no hope depot 'round here, doh!)
I think the braid is too long and I will probably shorten it to about 7-8 inches.
The 3/4 double ended nipple was too short, and the next larger size was a bit too long, so I had to use multiple washers to get it to fit tight. It does not leak though, and I am pretty much ready to use it.
I will have to make yet another trip to the store though, because I forgot the hose for draining it into the boil pot. D'oh!
My copy of beersmith II came in and I'm working with the program now.
I'm now searching for recipes and have a few simple ones ready. I'm just going to do several of them without a lot of consultation, first because they're super simple and are scaled from other people's recipes that I know work (smash, IPA, pale ale etc), and second because when you ask for recipe help you often get more than you bargained for....
I am however wanting to brew a stout, and I'm going to post another thread about using beersmith II and coming up with a stout recipe. That will be in the recipes forum if anyone is interested.
Thanks for all the great replies!