Friday, October 24, 2014

Garage in flux

So, I built the miter saw table as step 1 in a very multi-step plan to reorganize the garage. Since then the garage project has grown even more. I thought I was going to tear out the workbench that was in the little nook in our garage and replace it with something more useful for me and then be done.

But... then I stared at it some more and decided it might work better to make the nook the main storage area for the garage and then tear out the storage shelves that were here when we moved in and make that my work space. In the long run, it makes more sense, but for now the garage is a disaster as basically everything has to be unloaded from it's storage place before anything can be rebuilt. Good thing the cars aren't in here yet!

I was hoping to reuse the wood from the storage shelves, but the previous owner built it with NAILS. Ugh. I don't think he really intended for someone to come in and tear them out. He's really making me work for it - 2 and 3 inch nails everywhere. But I'm determined... mostly because I'm cheap. We'll see what I can make work!

Just thought I'd post about the progress in the garage since the blog's been quiet this week! I'm still here! But this is a slow process since the busyness of fall is starting to ramp up and when I do get time in the garage, I have to step over 7000 things to get to anything. I'm anxious to get it done since I have projects queueing up in my mind and need space and organization to build them!

Here's what I have so far -

"Nook" before:

Clean slate:

Decided to cut plywood to fit on the back wall since it was just studs and exposed insulation back there. It really is a hodgepodge of different woods and drywall in this area - so I just added to the mix!

Aaaaand, surprising no one, I had to paint it... Don't you just love this purple?! It's what I used for our front door a few months ago... a gem from the Oops bin at Home Depot - $7 for the gallon, hell yeah! The oops bin deserves it's own post. I love the oops bin.

Next, I'll build and paint (whitish) shelves all the way to the ceiling to store whatever of this crap that makes the cut to be kept:

Holy crap, that's a lot of crap.

Hopefully I can get it going this weekend so I can get back to building things that are more fun! I'm getting twitchy. ;)

read more

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Miter Saw Table

So, it's fall!

And as much as I love fall and am actually making a bigger effort this year to live in the moment of fall and enjoy it for what it is without thinking of it as a precursor to winter, I do have to admit that winter is coming. And that means it would be nice if we could use the garage to, you know, put cars in.

Since the garage is also where I work on projects, it is pretty messy right now with my workbench, tools, and random "in progress" projects all over. I've been staring at different areas of the garage to find ways to make the whole space more usable. I know that if I can get it arranged well, I can make it work for the cars, storage, and a workshop. At least, I hope so!

My staring and thinking helped me figure out that the work table area that was there when we moved in is actually wasted space right now - the table itself is too tall and too deep for me to use, so it basically just holds materials on top and has bigger tools and a bunch of random stuff stashed underneath. Time to pull that out! (this picture is actually deceiving since my miter and table saws are both out right now! It's usually even more cluttered!)

In thinking about a better design, I decided I need to get my miter saw up onto a small table that I can pull out and put away as I need it. (Depending on how it works, I may make one for my table saw and my chop saw as well, though I use those two much less often. We'll see.)

But first things first.

So, GARAGE RENO - PART 1 - Time to build a miter saw table!

I looked around at different plans and designs online and decided I wanted to build one that would allow the saw to sit down in it so that the piece I'm cutting can lay across the table and be level. For space conservation, I decided to design something with drop-leaf wings like this (found on Wilker Do's):

Hers is beautiful, but I wanted to make mine with wood I had on hand, so I needed to design it to using 2x4s instead of plywood.

So, I measured my saw, decided about how tall I wanted the whole thing to be, and drew up a plan. (If you decide to build a table like this, be sure to add a couple of inches to the width to allow for the saw to rotate for angle cuts.) I cut the 2x4s and started screwing them together.  Below, you can see the picture of my basic design. I used 2x4s for the legs and cross pieces. I don't have a picture of this step, but I basically made 2 identical frames - the front and back frames. Then I used my Kreg Jig (love that thing!) to attach scrap 1x8s to the top and 1x2s to the bottom to connect the frames together. Does that make sense? 2x4s probably would have been better on the bottom, but I didn't have the right size pocket screws and was impatient (shocking) - so no trip to the store first. ;)

I'm not sure where I went wrong with my math, but the saw ended up sitting just under an inch too low. As luck would have it, though, the difference was actually the exact same size as a 1x2, so I put 2 1x2s across to support the saw and raise it up to the perfect level. This was a happy mistake, since the saw seems more secure this way anyway!

Then I got mad, because I forgot to figure in casters into my plan of the height of the table. Off to Harbor Freight to find the smallest locking casters possible. The smallest they had were 3" and I really didn't like it when I attached them - too tall, too rickety, hard to lock. Boo. So I took them off.  I was frustrated because I felt like the table really needed to be 3" shorter anyway, so that I could add nicer casters later. In a bit of an angry move, I grabbed my new Ryobi Reciprocating Saw (early happy birthday to me!) and cut off the whole bottom of the table and then used my circular saw to cut 3" off each leg. This was a risky move since it could have ended with me endlessly cutting "just a little more" off each leg to make them even, but fortunately it actually worked! I glued and screwed the bottom back on and needed only one small shim to even out the table. :)

Next I decided to add a shelf under the saw since I'm always needing a place to stash my measuring tape or pencil when I'm working. I cut 2 1x2s to attach as supports and then cut a piece of scrap plywood to fit and just glued it down. Here it is with my drills holding it in place to dry.

Later that night, I ran over the whole thing quickly with a sanding block and then painted it. I could make something up about how I painted it to protect the wood or something, but let's be real here... I painted it because of course I did. I love color. It needed PAINT.

Next it was time to rig up the wings. I attached a 1x2 to the side of the table to give the wing more support and to allow for space for the support wing to be added later. I put a hinge on a scrap shelf from our closet and used 2" screws (to be sure it would go through the 1x2 and into the table) to attach it to the table.

I was about to start on the other side, but then noticed that my workbench looked pretty close to the same height. Grabbed a scrap and my level. Well, how about that?! Suddenly I'm feeling pretty good about hacking off the legs and leaving the casters off. And all of the other little measuring mistakes along the way. This. Is. Awesome. How randomly lucky is that?!

So, yeah. I'm going to go ahead and not bother with the other wing on this table. When I'm cutting a long piece, I can support it with the workbench!! Awesome! And to keep that height perfection, I'm going to try just leaving the casters off - it's light and it's sturdy, I'll just drag it.

So, I still need to add the wing support on the other side of the table, but otherwise, I'm DONE! (I'll add a picture when I get that finished.)

What do you think? Any questions about how I did something? Ask in the comments!

On to the next phase of the Garage Reno - tearing out that huge bench top!

read more

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Range hood


I already showed you the fun transformations I made on the porch chairs - now here's another!

When we first bought this house, redoing the kitchen was high on our to-do list! However, buying a house was a huge stretch for us and a full kitchen reno was out of the question. Instead, we replaced the cabinets and counters and then have stepped through small changes here and there.

And then the stove died. 6 months after we moved in. Four days before Thanksgiving. Good times.  The appliance salesman tried to sell us a matching hood to go with the new range, but we couldn't fork over the money to replace something that was working fine just to have it match. Instead, I decided to spend about $7 and try some "titanium silver" spray paint. I wasn't sure if it would work, but it wasn't going to be worse, so I took down the hood, washed it and taped over the button panel, headed to the yard (Brad just LOVES when I spray paint in the grass... where is the sarcasm font?), and gave it a try. I loved how it worked! Woo-hoo for saving $100+ dollars!


Maybe I should try it on the dishwasher... hmm. Have any of you ever tried that?

read more

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Console Table

After I built the shoe shelf for the coat closet last year, I was immediately addicted to building! Within the next month, I built two end tables for our family room, a see-saw for the kids, and a console table for next to our back door! (This also fell over the government shutdown, so Brad was home and so I had a little more flexibility with my time!)

For a while, we had a craft table and supplies here. It was nice to have a place for the kids' general craft supplies to be accessible to them all of the time and they used this area often.

This is the best "before" picture I can find. See the Ikea loveliness for organizing some of the craft supplies? LOVE. It's mostly kitchen organizers.

Of course, it eventually became a clutter magnet with half-done projects, coloring books, etc and they rarely had space to actually work at the table. Plus, they just keep growing and we were finding that they weren't fitting at the table as well as they used to. :p 

Partly in an effort to "de-preschool" and declutter parts of our home, I decided to move the craft table and supplies to the basement and put a more narrow table in this space. I went hunting through Ana White's plans and decided on this table

I modified the plans to add a shelf and to make the table fit the space perfectly. I used 1x8s instead of 1x4s for the back and side aprons. Then I installed 1x2s across the back and front to support the plywood shelf. Here's what it looks like from underneath. 

I opted to put a shelf on the bottom of the table instead of the stretcher and trim. To do this, I installed the trim pieces (step 4 in the plans linked above) at the front and back of the table (instead of on either side of the stretcher, as described) and then added a piece of plywood, cut to size, to make the shelf. Here's what that looks like from underneath on the finished table.

I also left off the breadboard on top of the table (steps 8 & 9) because I liked the smooth look of one solid piece on top. 

The edges of the plywood were showing above the trim on both shelves, and I didn't like the way they looked because they took the stain differently than the other surfaces. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered a lot of people, but these are the kinds of things that can quietly drive me crazy if I don't deal with them! ;) 

I solved the problem by cutting a thin dowel piece to fit and nailing it to the plywood. 

I chose to stain this table instead of painting it. WOW, that was a pain. So many coats, and I couldn't get the color to be quite what I wanted. It turned out to be a sort of blue-gray. I was really going for gray, but I have to say that this color has grown on me now that the table as been in place for a while. 

Overall, I'm happy with how the table turned out and it was fairly easy. The staining process took longer than the building process! 

If you have any questions or comments about how I did the modifications, let me know in the comments! 

read more

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cube End Table

It's hard to believe that, with all of the furniture and accessories I've bought at Ikea over the years, this is my first "Ikea Hack." And it's made from Lack tables - so I get to call it a "Lack Hack" ... and that's just fun.

Lack Hack.

 ... Sometimes it's the small things that amuse me.

Anyway, I saw versions of this table one day when I was looking around on Pinterest. Apparently it's a hack of a West Elm table that they used to sell for $150!

I love the modern look of the table and I like the way it works in our living room.

And it was so easy!

I only needed:
   2 Ikea Lack tables
   A little bit of Liquid Nails glue
   15 minutes
   A little bit of patience

Want to make one too? Here's all I did:

1. Unpack the Lack tables and assemble one of them according to the quintessential wordless directions.

2. Lay the other table top on the ground so that the colored side is facing up.

3. Flip the assembled table and apply some Liquid Nails. It's probably best if you apply it in fun patterns, obviously.

4. Carefully flip the table and position squarely on the other table top. Don't worry about getting it perfect right away. The benefit of the Liquid Nails over super glue is that it doesn't adhere immediately. You can slide the legs around a bit to get them in the right places and then just wipe up the excess glue within 20 minutes.

5. Apply some weight on the table to keep the legs in place while the glue sets.

That's it! And now I have 4 more pretty table legs to do something with. I love this color and am excited to find something fun do do with the legs! Any ideas? 

read more

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Birthday See-Saw!

For our younger daughter's 4th birthday, I decided to build a see saw using Ana White's plans. She said it was a super quick build - only took her 45 minutes! I'll say it took me a few of hours a tad bit longer than that. But it was only a month after my first build, and I'm no expert carpenter! :)

This project taught me a lot about keeping my pieces level while I'm working, which also means that building on the floor of the garage isn't a great plan. Of course, I learned this by trial and error, so there was a fair amount of doing and redoing involved in this project. Wood filler is a beautiful thing! (And building a work bench was added to the TO DO list!) Also of note if you plan to build this, locking washers on the outsides of the bolt are necessary so that the nuts don't loosen over time. Learned that one from experience too!

Thinking back on this project, I have to say something about buying the materials. I needed a 10" bolt and wasn't finding one. An employee told me they didn't stock them in that size, but she showed me where they had threaded metal rods, which are basically the same thing for my purpose here, but she said, "oh, shoot, it looks like the smallest we have is 20" and that will be way too long for what you need." Fortunately, my awesome in-laws had just bought me a chop saw for my birthday so I said, "That's ok, I have a chop saw." A man shopping in the aisle said, "YOU have a chop saw?" in a tone that told me he seriously doubted I did. It was so satisfying to be able to say "yes, actually" and rattle off the name of it (as if I had any idea what I was talking about, which I actually didn't at the time, but we'll just keep that between us!) This was not the first or last time my knowledge or abilities were questioned in the hardware store and it can be pretty annoying, but it's also very empowering to be able to show that I actually do know what I'm talking about, and that one can actually use power tools and be female at the same time! Hell yes!

But I digress...

Once I had built the base of the see saw and had cut the other pieces, I painted everything before assembling the rest. The way the 2x4s are positioned, I knew painting between them would be a pain. This way, I just had touch-up painting to do over the screw holes once it was all together.

The girls love their seesaw and it was a hit at the birthday party that weekend - there was a line!

We have realized that most kids have never played on a basic seesaw like this since most playgrounds don't have them anymore. We have had a few accidental hands-on physics lessons, if you know what I mean. So if you build one, keep that in mind - the kids need to be taught how to get on and off without flipping their friends! Gravity is REAL, man!

So, who's going to build one?!

read more

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Whale Painting - Kids Craft!

We spent a wonderful few days in Maine this summer with Brad's parents - what a beautiful place!
As a gift and special souvenir, one of Brad's parents' friends made the girls solid wood whales! He left them unfinished so that the girls could paint them themselves. It was such a special gift and the girls have been looking forward to painting them. What kid doesn't love a chance to paint?!

We finally started them today and had lots of fun! The kids love to create too!

I painted a base coat of light blue acrylic wall paint to seal the wood and because experience has shown me that they tend to jump right into cool designs and so would end up leaving some bare wood, which they said they didn't actually want. Plus, I wanted to play too! ;) 

Once again, I forgot to take "before" pictures, but at least I remembered before both sides were painted! 

I cut some small wood blocks to prop the whales up so that the girls could paint the edges without making them stick to the paper. Otherwise just some papers from the recycle bin and a paper plate for the paints - nothing fancy needed here!

As tempting as it is sometimes to offer advice or ideas, I generally try to stay out of their way once I put crafty stuff in front of them. Both girls decided to mostly stick to blues on the first side of the whales. 

Proof - I wasn't lying about the dirty dishes in the sink, ha! Keeping it real, here... 

Pretty! They say the other side is going to be more varied - can't wait to see what they decide to do!

They finished the other sides - 

read more

The Coat Closet - my first build!

Our coat closet is one of those spaces that always felt like a work-in-progress. There has been a LOT of staring involved in this one...

When we toured this house before we bought it, I loved that the previous owners had installed a second rod low enough for the kids to hang their own coats - brilliant! Once we moved in, I was less excited that they also had swinging saloon-style doors on the closet. The front door and the door to the garage both open toward (and then covering) this closet... add 2 adults and 2 kids trying to come in and put their shoes and coats away, and no clearance between the opening doors and the stairwell, and, well, I sort of ripped the swinging (never fully closing) doors off that closet one day. Oh, the satisfaction.

But then the closet was in plain sight every time we walked down the stairs... ahhh! Disorder, clutter, I can't even...

It needed to be WAY more organized now. As it was, we had very little space for shoes, bags, mittens, etc, so it was pretty messy.

First I tried tearing out the shelves and rods and put in a bookshelf and hooks on the walls in front of it. This was actually a pretty good solution for a while. The shelves offered a lot more shoe storage and also allowed for cube organizers for holding hats, balls, etc. But then winter came, coats were bigger, they hung in the way of the shelves, ... clutter (I can't stand clutter!)

... more staring, more measuring.

(Realizing that I really need to take more before and during pictures... sorry for the lack so far! Ha!)

Anyway, fast forward through tearing that out, emptying a different shelf from the basement and hauling it upstairs only to realize it wouldn't actually fit, tearing the jerry-rigged door frame off, spackling and painting... and then more staring and googling.

Internet searching brought up lots of "almost right" but super pricey options. Thankfully, my google searching also turned up these plans. It didn't look much more difficult that assembling Ikea furniture (which I have a LOT of experience at, ha!) and the government shutdown was looming, so I decided the build-it-myself option was better then the spend-too-much option!

I had so much fun building this and Ana White's plans made it so easy! I seriously had it to this point in an evening! I loved being able to customize the size to fit the closet just the way I wanted it to, and the whole thing was just so empowering!

Once I had it in place, I realized I needed the backing so that the shoes wouldn't slip back too far. I decided to paint a subtle circle design on the piece before attaching it (by dipping a plastic cup in paint and stamping the circles in an overlapping pattern) but realized after that it was a bit too subtle and not really noticeable, but oh well! Not every plan works out.

Add lots of hooks on the walls at all different heights for coats, hats, bags, etc and we're all set!

This solution has actually held up now for a year, so maybe I've finally found a solution that will last!

So, what space in your home are you constantly changing? (or staring at...)  ;) 
read more