Tag Archives: home

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.

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

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.

 

Raise the Roof!! Or Rather, Lay the Roof.

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Labor Day weekend, the last weekend of summer, and in our area at least, the last weekend before school starts. There is always high expectation the summer will go out with a bang and we will be refreshed enough to last us through until the next holiday. Last year we took a camping trip to Neah Bay, the northwestern most point in the contiguous United States for a camping adventure that included kayaking, scuba diving, spear fishing, and playing on the beach. We went with our friends, another family, and promised to do it again next year. It was all great fun.

This year we were thinking of a more land locked adventure in the Northern Cascades, one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. for our camping trip. We envisioned hikes to alpine lakes, wildlife sightings, and walks along fern strewn grounds through old growth cedar forest. We phoned our friends to make plans and finalize the location and they dropped the bomb. They desperately needed a new roof on their house and had to get it done before the rainy season starts. They couldn't spend a frivolous weekend in the woods when there was work to be done and the arrival of months of gray skies was imminent.

Well, we couldn't go camping when we knew they were home working, and we had promised to spend Labor Day weekend together anyway. So it was decided. We were having a roofing party. Now I don't have a ton of roofing experience, but I have done it in the bitter cold of winter in Utah and don't want to ever do that again! Our friends began some of the prep work during the week, but on Thursday evening a monsoon rolled in, the likes of which is rarely seen in these parts. We hoped it wasn't a precursor for the weekend!

The Thursday storm set things back and Friday after work I went over to help them tear of the two layers of old shingles until dark. We had hoped to be completed and ready to start installing by Saturday morning, but no such luck. We also needed to replace a few soft rotting boards of plywood. We didn't really start laying tar paper and shingles until noon on Saturday. Our prayers for sunshine were answered however. But be careful what you pray for! Just ask my bright red neck and my almost heat exhausted self! The bright hot sun mixed with tar paper and shingles makes for a long day.

 

Sunday was a much needed day of rest and Monday we got right back to it. The completed roof looks so much nicer and changes the appearance of the entire house! It was a great weekend of good old fashioned work. It reminds me of the days of community barn raising where everyone pitched in to help. We had a few other guys helping us out as well, which made a big difference. And an entire family showed up on Monday and took care of picking up all of the old shingles that were just thrown from the roof. That was amazing! I made sure to get my son involved to teach him how to lay a roof, just as my dad did for me. You never know. He may have a weekend vacation on top of a friends' roof someday in his future as well. I hope we set the right example and he too will choose to raise the roof over pitching a tent!