Doors, Wheels, and Headboards

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What do you do when you have a box spring and mattress and no bed set? Why, you make one of course. Bed sets are expensive and then you have to worry about getting matching furniture, a dresser, end tables, dressing table, etc. Who wants to shop through huge department stores offering no interest for five years and the best deals in town? Not me!

Instead of barn wood, this time I am going to use an old five panel door. It was a free door we got from a friend. They got it off of Craigslist. If you are looking for one, I would suggest Craigslist, garage sales, swap meets, or construction areas. People tear down old houses and the stuff is just going to the dump, They are often glad for someone to take it off their hands.

One side of the door I had was covered in a seventies era wavy panel, which much to my glee, came off easily and uncovered that side of the door was unpainted. Therefore, it was easy to sand the edges and prep for finish. After two coats of polyurethane, it was ready to go. I used 2x4s to create legs that could easily be adjusted for height and screwed to any standard bed frame.

Now for the fun stuff. I purchased an old iron wheel on Craigslist which I used for the play Oklahoma. It is a great piece, but what in the world was I going to do with it afterwords? Using the door knob hole, I inserted the axle of the wheel and wired the socket from an an old lamp through the hole. I attached the wheel securely with a bolt and plugged that baby in. We have a headboard with a lamp all ready to go. Check out the video below!

 

Cords Cords, and More Cords

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Flat screen televisions are great. You can hang them on the wall, above the mantle, or use the stand to put them on a cabinet. They don’t take up too much room, but their picture quality is excellent. Plasma, LCD, or LED, each has their pros and cons. It used to be if you wanted a big screen tv you needed a large room because the bigger the screen, the bigger the tv. Rear projection tvs were big, but the picture quality was bad and it seemed like you constantly had to adjust them to get the best color mix and sharpness. Tube tvs are rarely seen anymore. Flat panel tvs are light, easy to move, and easy to adjust.

But they still require lots of cords. One day someone will come up with a working high quality way to transmit HD video wirelessly, but until then, we are stuck wiring up all components. If the owners of the house were forward thinking or you own the house, you can hide the wires inside the wall. Many new houses come with an outlet and cable jack high up on the wall where most people would put the tv. You can buy boxes to easily install and run cords through the walls behind the drywall.

But what do you do when you are renting or decide to hang a tv in an unusual place? You can’t or don’t want to run the cords through the wall. What can you do? You can use cable runners, which stick on the wall. They usually come in white and are paintable to match the wall color. If you can run them on top of some molding or chair rail, you may be able to camouflage the runner from a casual glance. But at the end of the day, it is still visible. Also, what are you going to do at the end of the run? The cords have to come out somewhere. Do you have a media cabinet or shelf to put them on? Is that hidden from view? If you have a good system, you may have everything running through a receiver and only one HDMI cable going to your tv. You still want to hide that cord. My receiver is old, so it doesn’t have a way to run HDMI.

What components do you have running to your tv: Apple TV, Xbox, Playstation, Fire TV, DVD player, Bluray player, cable box? I have some components onside an old antique radio under the tv and some on shelves hidden by a privacy screen. So I had a lot of cords running all over the place.

To solve the problem of the cord nest in a stylish and designer approved way, I turned to my stash of barn wood I still had from taking down the barn. I made a frame out of 1×2 boards to start. I took the barn wood, cleaned the boards with a power washer, and ripped them to the same width. I then nailed them to the frame at an angle. I took my circular saw and cut them to the frame, then cleaned the line with a flush cut bit on my router. I nailed some perpendicular pieces across the boards on the back to strengthen it up and cut out some channels in the frame where the cords drop from the tv and out the sides.

Using a level and a stud finder, I prepped the piece to hang on the wall. It took three people to hang, two to hold and one to run the cords. I pushed it up against the tv and screwed it to the wall. It created four screw holes in the wall, but that’s no different than hanging pictures on the wall and can be easily patched. Now I have I great decorative piece on the wall that also hides all of my cords. Mission accomplished. Check out the video below and try it out for your house.

 

 

Middle Schoolers/ Punks with Potential

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Fine, so middle schoolers aren't really punks per se, but they are a rambunctious lot no doubt. In our local area, middle school is 6th – 8th grade. Our school has high rankings and great comments on all the various websites you use to learn about local schools. We live in a suburban area with an ethnically and financially diverse population. The middle school only offers very few electives: choir, band, and art/tech. Shop classes were cut years ago, which is a travesty. Because of the lack of choices, each program has tons if students, many of whom are not really interested in the class they are taking. And isn't that the purpose of electives, to learn more about topics you are interested in apart from the core academic classes? Choir is full of kids who don't like to sing, but wanted to take the easiest class.

Dealing with classes full of unmotivated kids all day can be very draining. I feel bad for the teachers who must be constantly frustrated. I think over time, teachers lose some of the cock-eyed optimism and motivation they started with. They get to the point of doing what they have to do to get the kids through the class, and nothing more. I don't blame them. No one can swim upstream forever.

The middle school had absolutely no drama program, no class, no club, nothing. The high school offers drama classes and puts on productions, but the program is not huge, well-supported, or well attended. Part of the problem is that incoming freshmen have no knowledge, experience, or excitement to join drama. They arrive from middle school completely ignorant of what drama can offer. It should not be this way! Freshmen should be knocking down the doors to join the drama club and take drama classes. So how can we make it happen?

Myself and two other parents decided to do something about it. We got involved in the choir program and built up some money through the choir boosters. Then we approached the choir teacher to ask for his support. We had to convince him that we were going to do all of the work and take on the burden, but we needed a faculty sponsor to make it official. With some trepidation, he agreed. He had wanted to do something for years, but it is just way too much work and energy for one person.

With his cooperation, we got approval from the school and began planning. It took an entire school year to plant the seeds to actually do the show this year. We chose a show, Oklahoma, and scheduled information meetings and auditions. We advertised through choir, word of mouth, and posters. On our information meeting day, we showed up nervous that the room would be empty. But it wasn't! In fact, it was packed with excited and energized students. Audition day arrived and over fifty kids showed up. Fifty kids were excited to be a part of something new, unique, and challenging. We couldn't believe it. It was really happening!

We sent home information to parents and tried to prep them for just how big of a commitment a full scale production can be. We understood that many students and parents wouldn't believe it until they experienced it, so we prepared ourselves for complaints and long conversations. Winter break came and went and it was time to start rehearsals. We had cast everyone who tried out to give the experience to the largest number of kids. It wasn't easy to set our cast. Middle school boys have higher voices and are much shorter then middle school girls. Our lead boys were at least a foot shorter than their lead girl counterparts. And we only had six boys try out, so our options were few. By rehearsal time, we had already lost around fifteen kids. How many more would we lose before it was over?

We decided as directors to set our expectations high. These kids were brand new and had no idea what their limitations were, so why set them low? Make them believe they could do whatever we taught them and then put in the work to get them there. It wasn't easy, but we worked and worked until slowly they began to get it. Kids who claimed they couldn't dance were doing dance steps, and kids who were terrified of being on stage were acting and singing. Teachers and administrators would peek their head into the cafeteria during practices and many commented they were amazed at what we had gotten the kids to do. How did we do it? By expecting nothing less. We had the advantage of coming into the school at the end of the day when the teachers were worn out. We were fresh and ready to go.

No one will ever acuse middle schoolers of focusing too much! They constantly had to be brought back and refocused. They find it physically impossible to go more than 30 seconds without talking. They can't go more than 30 minutes without checking their phones. They can look you in the eyes while you talk to them and not know anything you said when you ask them to repeat it back. But they believe they can do anything. They want to learn and want to do well.

Time went on and we needed help. Parents stepped up and volunteered to help with sets, costumes, publicity, etc. things starting rolling as the clock ticked down to show time. Many parents commented on how impressed they were. But we still had our unbelievers. Some parents complained about the time commitment, pulled their kids out of crucial rehearsals, and refused to volunteer. We had to just carry on. We weren't going to let a few ornery parents derail our hard work. On the night before we opened, we had a parent storm into rehearsal to tell us how things were going to be as he proceeded to tell us no one will care because it was only a little middle school show anyway. After resisting the urge to fight back and punch him in the nose, we finished the conversation and he went on his way. I turned to my fellow directors and we agreed we would have the last laugh after he actually saw the show. Let it be noted that he had never done one thing to help.

Opening night was a huge success! People loved it! Proud parents gushed in amazement. Teachers couldn't believe it was their students on the stage. We had a show, a real live honest to goodness show! We packed the house. We had a short run, three shows over one weekend, but it was a huge success. The cast members didn't want it to end. Parents who had been conspicuously absent suddenly appeared asking what they could do to help. Our irate dad offered his version of an apology by expressing how good the show was. Everyone was asking what show we are going to do next year.

So how does this article fit on a DIY blog? People love to complain about problems, but very few people stand up to do something about it. If your kid's school is lacking a certain program, find out a way you can make it happen. The only way our middle school was ever going to put on a play was if we jumped in and did it. If your neighborhood is boring because no one knows each other, plan a neighborhood BBQ. If a local park is dirty, organize a clean-up day. After the show, we sent out a survey to parents to try and improve our process for next year. One respondent said she showed up to volunteer once, but because it was so unorganized, she decided to never volunteer again. That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard! She obviously saw a need. Instead of walking away, she could have stepped up to organize our volunteer efforts, thus solving her issue and greatly helping the show. Sometimes “someone else” is actually you. If it needs to get done, jump in and do it yourself. You'll ensure it gets done, and you can make sure it is done right.

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

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I'm a hat guy. I'm old fashioned like that. Back in the day every man wore a hat to go outside and your job defined what kind of hat you wore. Cowboys in cowboy hats, farmers in straw hats, business men in fedoras, etc etc. Everyone also knew hat etiquette, when to keep the hat on and when to take it off. Nowadays, the only people who still learn and follow proper hat etiquette are military members. They always take their cover (the Navy's term for hat) when indoors and put it back on when they go outside. Old timers may still do the right thing, but they were raised by hat wearers.

Why wear hats at all? Well, I've worn them for so long, I feel like I'm missing something when I walk outside without one, like my head is naked. Hats protect you from the elements, sun or rain. Hats define what your doing or who you are. Hats complete the “look.” A man in a suit and tie with a fedora looks very put together. Baseball caps are casual or sporty. A pork pie is less serious or professional than the fedora and can also be worn with more casual or trendy attire. The driving cap is a great all around look and can be professional or casual.

The problem with hats is not acquiring them. That's easy! The problem is storing them. I started with baseball caps and have acquired a whole stack, including my favorite sports teams, locations, brands, and more. When I “grew up” and got a real job, I could no longer wear baseball caps everyday. Eventually I made the decision to move on and start getting some hats I could actually wear to work. I can deal with the whispers and funny looks, so that wasn't a part of the consideration. For the baseball hats, I found the Perfect Curve caprack. It can be hung in the closet and can store 18 caps without damaging or reshaping. That is huge!! A hat that gets shaped wrong cannot be worn.

Now for the fedoras and pork pies. They cannot be set down on their brim. Most people do that, but that is a sure fire way to ruin the shape of the brim. To set down temporarily, you place upside down on the crown, but they can't be left that way or you will flatten the crown. Hanging them on a regular hook is ok for a bit longer storage, but you still run the risk of creating an indent from the tip of the hook. So what? I needed something that would store my hats while still maintaining their shape and allowing for longer storage. Summer straw hats spend the entire winter on the rack and they need a nice home.

I had some barn wood still from Grandpa's barn, so I cut out some circles for hangers and arranged them on the finished piece of barn wood. To store more hats in less space, I made the hangers sit at different distances away from the rack so hats could overlap without touching each other. I covered the circles with some faux leather for looks. Someday I would like to recover with real leather or suede. It turned out great. My hats have a great home and the piece looks great. Check out the video below and tell me what you think!

 

 

Santa’s Workshop

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When you enjoy DIY or have some skills, there is no better gift than a homemade gift right? It's more personal, carries more meaning. But at what cost? It has been awhile since my last post, and that is because I have been busy in Santa's workshop. In my case, that's my garage, or to be more accurate, half my garage. The other half is storage. I've never had a car in my garage, at any house. One day when I have a separate workshop and a basement for storage, I might park cars in the garage. But until that day, the cars are relegated to the driveway. At our house, the garage is the main point of entry. It leads into the mud room/hallway where shoes, bags and jackets can be deposited. But when Santa's Workshop is open for business, the garage is closed. All traffic must go through the front door. That also means that I have to get anything that is needed from the garage. This year's present was much too large to just cover with a tarp. It required complete exclusion from garage access.

You know from my previous post that I have a whole stack of barnwood harvested from a local barn. Well, that wood won't do me any good just sitting there will it? Combine a stack of barn wood with Christmas and I have my work cut out for me. When we were first married, I made a kitchen table with a folding butterfly leaf. Our family grew quickly so we never really had the leaf closed up. The table just fit the six of us with no room to spare. It was time to grow and get a table more fitting for our family size. Also, I was never really happy with the previous table top. The table was maple and cherry and I really liked how the legs turned out, but for the top I tried to save money by layering maple on top of plywood. It just never worked out right. I refinished it a few years ago which helped some, but it still bugged me every time I sat down to eat.

Barn wood is great because it is aged and dried. You know there will be no more warping. But that also means the pieces are already warped and misshapened. If I had a planer and jointer, that wouldn't be a problem, but alas I do not. The edges were already rabbeted so using pipe clamps I glued the table top together. No matter how many clamps I used, I couldn't quite get every board to lay flush, but with some cross pieces screwed in from underneath, I could pull all of the boards securely together.

The apron required ripping the boards to width so I used the table saw as sort of a poor man's jointer. The legs are made from a 2×6 board from the barn secured to the apron with corner braces and bolts. It all went together square, but did not keep the table from rocking back and forth. I needed some angled braces for that. One end of the braces is bolted to the legs with a hex bolt going all the way through the leg. For the apron end, I chiseled out an insert for the brace so the actual apron would keep it from sliding or moving. It was then attached by a straight metal brace. It looks great and works really well.

I also decided to build a bench for one side of the table. We always seem to be pulling the piano bench in when we are feeding the neighbor kids or friends so why not just build one up front? You can cram more kids onto a bench than you can individual chairs. I used the same method for the top of the bench and then cut two pieces of a beam for the legs. A 2×6 support goes length wise down the center of the bench and rests on the legs in a cut out notch. I had to use my reciprocating saw to cut the beam for the legs, but just cut the notch on the table saw and cleaned it up with a chisel. The beam is secured to the support brace by a long hex bolt going all the way through.

 

With the table and bench built and ready for finishing I proceeded to blanket the entire garage in fine sanding dust. Every box, shoes, tools, bikes, everything had a fine coat of dust. I didn't sand everything perfectly smooth except for the top. I still want it to look a bit rough like barn wood should. I used a satin polyurethane finish sprayed onto the underside of the table top, the apron, legs, and the bench. Three coats were enough to provide a good solid finish. Then came the adventure of the tabletop.

I wanted a thick finish that filled in all holes and cracks and could also smooth out any uneven spots of the tabletop. You don't want to be sliding a glass of milk across your table just to have it crash when hitting a seam in the wood. And you don't want liquid spills drying in the cracks between boards. Using an epoxy resin, which is very expensive, I coated the table top. I had to take over one of the kid's rooms because it is too cold out in the garage for the epoxy to cure completely. I set up a tarp and a folding table in the room. Come to find out there were lots of seams in the table top not necessarily visible to the naked eye. I ended up having to buy another box of epoxy for the second coat because so much was running through the cracks and off the edges. Once the first coat dried and sealed things up, I applied the second smoothing coat and let that dry.

The following morning when I attempted to lift the new table top off the folding table, I found it was stuck, completely epoxied to the table! I tried prying it off with a pry bar, tried to saw through it, and tried a chisel. Nothing worked. The two tables had become one. I ended up having to use my Dremel to cut out holes in the folding table and then cutting down the edges to match the perpendicular supports. The epoxy and top layer of the folding table are there to stay, adding some great strength to my tabletop. The folding table on the other hand has two giant gaping holes in it and will have to be resurfaced with plywood or something. You should have seen my wife's face when she saw the folding table!

I woke up early Christmas morning as I always do and hefted the tabletop downstairs to assemble everything in the dining area. When everyone came downstairs, it took a moment for her to notice a new table just sitting there, but when she did it was a huge hit! The barn wood looks great and the table fits our family much better. However, Santa's Workshop will be closed for the foreseeable future. It's time to spend my evenings inside rather than out in the garage.

Keep checking my YouTube channel for the how to video. I am still working on editing and putting it together.

Update. Here is the video! It's a little long, but it was a big project. Enjoy!

 

 

The Good Old-Fashioned Barn Razing

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I have mentioned in previous posts the use of barn wood from my grandpa's barn. There is some extra meaning in all of those projects because everytime I look at the finished product I remember days spent playing in the hay loft, mucking stalls, feeding the cows, stepping in manure, and playing in the corral. Unfortunately, I am out of that wood, but I still have lots of projects I want to complete using barn wood. How could I find more? The price of barn wood is super high when you try to buy it from reclaimed materials stores. Once in a blue moon something may pop up on Craigslist, but is gone almost immediately. Without knowing the land owner, it's almost impossible to get to a barn in time to harvest the wood before the whole thing is gone.

But recently my luck changed. A friend mentioned to my wife some small projects he built out of wood from an old barn on the property where he works that the owners are planning to tear down. It is no longer needed as a barn and the land is more valuable than the building. She immediately became interested, knowing I am always on the lookout. The discussion involved getting me to help build a stable for the church Christmas party live nativity, and know she knew they had a hook to get me to say yes.

And of course she was absolutely right. The time it will take to build a simple outline of a stable is well worth all of the free wood I can harvest! The company has already contracted someone to tear town the barn, so it was only a matter of weeks until my chance was gone. The contractor just had one other job to finish first. We set up a time with my friend and we met him at the barn to take a look. It was fantastic! There is wood of different dimensions, doors, and windows. So with a hammer and crowbar we set out to work. I took out a window that is still mostly intact and started in on some wall boards and doors. The giving was slow and the sun went down before we could really get all we wanted.

Every day was one day closer to the bulldozer, so I had to hurry back before it was too late. I decided the job needed to go faster, so I got a reciprocal saw for the return trip. Man, did that make a difference! Instead of trying to pull out multiple nails on multiple studs for each board, I ripped down one side inside the stud and then could just pry the board off the wall. I took down an entire wall, and then the walls of two pens. With another van load cut down, my garage now has a huge stack of barn wood ready to go.

I would talk about my plans for the wood, but that would ruin Christmas now wouldn't it? You will just have to wait and see with everyone else!

 

A Place To Rest on Halloween

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It's Halloween, which closely rivals Christmas as our favorite holiday of the year. In terms of storage boxes, Christmas is still the far and away winner with Halloween as the solid second. But we don't go crazy overboard with lawn decorations like many people do and we don't do the whole chase the kids down the street with a chainsaw bit on Halloween night. The same goes for Christmas, when we have simple white lights on the house and a wreath on the door. Our decorating goes on inside where we can enjoy it for the whole month.

One of our big traditions, which is not unheard of, but certainly not common, is the Halloween tree. Many years ago a fake Christmas tree was brought into our home, much to my horror. I will never forgo a real tree, so now we celebrate with two trees. The real tree is placed in the front room where it's sparkling lights can be seen from the street, and the fake tree hides itself in shame in the family room. For Halloween, we string it with orange lights and we have spider, skeleton, and pumpkin ornaments. A witch's hat topper completes the look. During November we keep the lights and replace the ornaments with things we are thankful for and harvest related ornaments.

And every year we host a Halloween party. We invite all of the kids in the neighborhood and the kids from church along with their families. It's a simple affair with some games for the kids and great chile for the adults. The adults can sit around, talk, and get to know each other better while the kids race through the house. The attendees always help by bringing chile, sides, and sweets. Last year we decorated with a giant spider crawling up the cathedral ceiling. This year we had witch's brooms flying around the room like the picture at the top. But then I took things a step further and decided to build a casket. That's right, I took it upon myself to build a full human size coffin for the front room.

I used 3/8 inch plywood and 2x4s and started by measuring my own dimensions, then adding at least five inches to every measuement. I measured and marked the shape and started to cut. My daughter joined in and helped while I put together the base and the frame and then cut and attached the sides and the top plate. I found the shape and natural warping of the wood made things a little complicated, but it went together after a bit of wrangling. I grabbed some piano hinges and a safety hinge off of Amazon and attached the lid. To prep the plywood so it didn't show all of the knots, cracks, and screw holes. I used drywall spackling because it is much cheaper than wood filler and it was being painted over anyway. It took a lot of spackle, but after letting it dry and sanding, it turned out very smooth. With a good coat of paint, the exterior was ready to go. During a trip to the local thrift store, I found some thick red curtains that were perfect when attached to the inside of the box with staples.

Now what to do with the inside? I could lie in wait and pop out to scare party goers, but that wouldn't allow me to be much help in hosting the party. So I went into our costume boxes and found the bloodied tux from last year's corpse bride and groom costume. I stuffed the tux and added some shoes (which made the whole thing much creepier for some reason). I found a skull on clearance at the drug store to complete the body.

 

After cutting a hole in the shirt, I inserted my daughter's iPod and attached it to an external charger tucked inside the body. After activating the Digital Dudz app which shows a beating heart or maggots, it was ready to go. The coffin was a big hit at the party, but now I need to sell it on Craigslist to recoup some of the money. And where in the world would I store a full size coffin during the rest of the year?

So if you want to buy a coffin let me know, or build one yourself from the video. And tell me what you think in the comments below!

 

A Smile in the Face of Haters

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Hopefully after reading my posts and watching the videos I embedded, you were curious and decided to go to my channel to check out my other videos. And then after being so impressed with the wisdom and information shared in the videos, you subscribed to my channel so you would never miss a video. Okay, so maybe you weren't quite so impressed. I said “hopefully” didn't I?

Adding videos and throwing them out there for public consumption has been an experience to say the least. It's fun to check in and watch the views counter rise every so slowly. I hit a hundred views! Then a thousand! People are actually watching what I made and uploaded. My videos aren't random funny moments I happened to film with my phone. They are actual projects and ideas that I decided to film and talk about, edit, and upload. Does that mean they are useful to everyone? No. I realize that and never expected otherwise.

It has been fascinating to see which videos are the most watched. You think you know which ones will garner the most interest, but you will be surprised, just as I have been. And then there are the videos that garner controversy. What in the world? No one is forcing you people to watch my video. And if you do happen to click on the monstrosity that is my attempt to teach you something you may not know, no one is forcing you to sit through it to the very end. In fact, in the sidebar, there's a whole slew of other related videos you could watch instead. It's even possible that what you think is trash could be valuable to someone else.

But alas, this is the internet after all and people love to drop nasty comments. You can say what you want to say without filters because you are sitting in your mom's basement in your skivvies drinking diet soda and petting your cat. See, I just did it! And it was so easy. I've found that most people leave constructive comments, even if it's an opposing opinion. And I've learned some valuable things from comments.

But how do you react to the haters? I try very hard to thank everyone for their comment and to very politely respond. Take the high road if you will. Everyone has the right to their opinion right? But there is one that is starting to really stick in my craw. Multiple commenters have said the same thing, given the same criticism. I pointed the first commenter to my video, where I explain my reasoning. The second I thanked for his ideas. The third I politely agreed to disagree. If there is another, I may say just what I'm thinking. Who knows. If I do, will it affect the number of subscribers. And if so, positively or negatively?

I want to avoid the anonymous arguing that the internet engenders, but when is enough quite enough? I guess we'll just have to find out won't we?

Check out my videos and leave some positive comments ;), or leave some in the comments section below.

 

Craigslist and Crossfit

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There are many places for you to sell your stuff. For years, Saturday mornings were for garage sales and flea markets. People always made sure to have cash on hand for that special find. You were restricted to local fads and fashion. If a particular item you wanted wasn't available in your area you were out of luck until the whole family jumped in the station wagon and you all took off for grandma's house. You gave yourself plenty of time to chase after those cardboard signs on the side of the road. You were hunting in new territory after all.

Flea markets were the best because all of those garage sales came to one place. The vendors did all of the work for you and brought those treasures down to local drive in. The fun was in the bargaining, the back and forth. Of course, there were always antique stores if you were rolling in it. They have everything all cleaned up and presentable, and you pay for that service all the way.

All of these methods were great, but left a big hole in your heart when you couldn't find the last piece to your full set of Garbage Pail Kids cards. After searching high and low, your collection still was not presentable to the world. Enter online auctions. Yahoo and eBay started out as fierce competitors. I actually preferred Yahoo for a long time. You could get better deals hands down. But eBay grew in popularity and simply had a much greater inventory. Yahoo slowly started to fade away as eBay became more and more popular.

You started by buying all of those things you had been searching for, and when your collection was either complete, or you were out of money, whichever came first, you decided, “Hey, I could do this! In fact, I could make a ton of money selling my sock monkey collection. Then I would have enough to really buy every Matchbox car ever made!” You posted your first item for sale. The pictures were crappy, taken with a 1.5 megapixel digital camera onto a floppy disk. You charged too little for shipping and realized it was a royal pain to guess the weight of the package without knowing where you were sending it yet.

But you learned and technology got better. You verified your Paypal account and didn't even realize that when eBay bought Paypal, you were getting double charged by the same company. Ebay's rates kept slowly creeping up, so you had to find things with high margins just to make a profit. It was great that there is pretty much a buyer for everything you have to sell somewhere in the world. There's always someone who wants to pay for your junk. You no longer have to waste entire Saturdays. But man, you wished you could actually keep more of what you were making. You realized you could just charge a ton for shipping to make up for your losses, until eBay caught on to that scheme and started charging you a percentage of shipping costs as well.

The big things were the killer. High shipping costs and high auction prices drove up eBay's percentage. Enter Craigslist. So you've once again limited yourself to one geographic area. But because you are online, your customer base is everyone in that area, not just the motivated people who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn on weekends. You are still advertising for millions of people if you live in a populated area. And there are no fees. There are no Paypal processing fees or frozen funds because of a dispute. It's back to the old days of cash and carry.

Now enter the creep factor. You have no idea who you are meeting. Are they honest? Should you tell them where you live or meet in a public place? What if the item you are selling is too big to take to a public place? Do you want to give total strangers your phone number and address? The whole system is built on trust and unfortunatley the world is full of untrustworthy people. It's amazing actually that Craigslist has flourished and grown so much. Despite the drawbacks and uncertainty, people are adamant to look for the good and trust others. That's an awesome thing in this world.

On the other hand, you have to resign yourself to the fact people have no manners. They send rude emails. They don't show up for appointments. They try to talk you down in price even after you've agreed and driven halfway to meet them. But then the next guy shows up on time, pays without complaint, and thanks you. All is right again in Craigslist land and you go ahead and do it again.

I have begun a little side business selling jump boxes for plyo metric and Crossfit workouts. Because people want different sizes, I take orders and when it is done I email them back and set up a time for pick up. Unfortunately I have found that Craigslist buyers often have cash burning a hole in their pocket when they initially contact me. They agree on a price and the time it will take, but a week later when the box is done and I text them back, suddenly they don't respond. Or they do and say they are no longer interested. That money they had last week is long gone. Well now I have an unsold jump box that cost me time and money to build and no buyer. I have to go back and try to sell that particular size, hoping someone else wants it. And with Craigslist I can't really ask them to give me a deposit up front to keep them honest. There is no rating system that gives them confidence in my honesty. People choose to trust on Craigslist, but not enough to give me money in advance. I'm stuck selling for a customer who may or may not follow through.

It's frustrating, but I don't know that there is a solution. It seems things have gone full circle. I've got something in my garage I want to get rid of and I need to find someone local willing to buy it. Maybe I should put out a garage sale sign out on the corner.

 

 

So You Didn’t Get a Hammock and Now You Need a Massage

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You sit at a desk all day staring at a computer, or maybe you didn't heed my sage advice and you went camping without a hammock. And now you are paying the price. Your shoulders are sore and your back aches. There's a crick in your neck that just won't go away. I guess pine cones don't make good pillows. But wait! You're one of the lucky ones. You have a spouse or significant other who is willing to give you a massage. There is nothing better. If I had the cash, I would love to support my local masseuses and would frequent them regularly. The few times I have gone for a professional massage, it was wonderful until the hard sell at the end to buy into a membership. Sorry, that isn't in the budget.

What's the worst part about getting a massage at home instead of at a spa? You don't have a face hole in your bed that's what!! Am I right? There is no way to get a proper massage of the shoulders when you have to turn your head to one side to the other just to breath. Even if you try some fancy pillow packing trick, your head will still be at an unnatural angle and you are more in danger of getting another knot than getting a relaxing massage. But we here at the green workbench don't tuck our tails between our legs and raise the white flag of surrender. No siree! We come up with a solution and try it out, that's what we do. You look at massage tables online. Holy guacamole, those things are expensive, and it's just a padded folding table with a face hole. We can build that.

I found hinges at Rockler that are used for folding tables. They lock into place. I grabbed some wood, hopefully you have some lying around from previous projects. I had some foam padding from some packages. All I needed was the vinyl. Vinyl cleans easily and doesn't soak up whatever massage oil or lotion you are using. I just grabbed whatever was on sale, which is why my table is the color of salmon puke. But I was going for cheap. I cut a face hole in the board, and with some staples and some glue, upholstered it. I made the legs adjustable and attached them. Now you can place the folding table at the edge of any bed of any height and create an instant massage table. The hole is placed so that your neck isn't tilted up at a weird angle because it's a gradual rise from your chest up. I also included a small padded “pillow” for your forehead which helps a lot. It is connected with string sewn through the vinyl, foam, and board, but it is tied loosely so it is somewhat adjustable.

Check out the video and let me know what you think in the comments. So if you have a sore aching back and shoulders or if you just want an intimate candlelit evening at home, there's no need to waste your fortune on visits to the masseuse or fancy tables, just pull the folding, adjustable massage table out from under your bed and you are ready to go.