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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Our house has a wide open space flowing from the kitchen to the family room at the back of the house. The formal dining room is actually in the front living room, but we never use it as such because it is carpeted, and no one in their right mind with kids eats over carpet. The kitchen has enough space for a table in a sort of breakfast nook, so we eat there. It has a sliding door to the back patio so it is a little tight, but it works.
The family room is naturally divided into two separate spaces. The middle space is deeper and has a bay window. The far side has the fireplace at the end with shelves on both sides and a large window to the backyard. Since a family room is the less formal space in the house where good friends and family can hang out, lets be honest and admit it revolves around comfortable couches and the tv.
So our first dilemma was where to put the tv. The first option was on a stand in the bay window, but it is never a good idea to backlight the tv with large windows. It would be good spot because we would be able to see the tv while working in the kitchen, but we just couldn't waste a bay window like that.
The second choice was above the fireplace. Our fireplace is up off the ground with a concrete bench, so the tv would be way too high. You would need a recliner just to watch tv without straining your neck. The final option was on the inside wall of the fireplace room. You can't see the tv from the kitchen, but we could live with that. So now the tv is placed, the couches naturally went around the tv. This left the middle area open and empty. The room had no built in lighting apart from one pot light aimed at the fireplace so it was both dark and empty.
Remember, this is a rental, so I can't build anything permanent. With that in mind, one of my first projects in the house was a window bench for the bay window. I did it in one evening with a 2×4 frame and plywood base and seat. I framed it in pine and painted the whole thing. The original idea was to get foam and fabric and make a cushion for the top. Of course, this never happened, so I had an ugly plywood bench. I left the front open, which is great for books and storage, but the top needed some serious help.
I have a friend who bought an older home and they had to redo some of the hardwood floor. He let me take all of the solid oak pieces that they tore out. It was all sitting in a pile in my garage and I decided the oak would look great on my bench.
After many hours of pulling nails and sanding, I had a pile large enough to cover the top of the bench. But just covering it in oak isn't enough for me. Oh no. I wanted the bench to be a unique reading nook, so with that in mind I decided to incorporate hard bound books into the top. I went to the thrift store and found hard bound books with interesting covers.
I also couldn't just put plain old oak down either. I wanted it to be multicolored without having to buy a bunch of stain, so I made my own vinegar based stains. I'll talk more about that process in a later post. With the boards stained and prepped, I began the installation. There was a lot of mixing and matching and cutting, but in the end it came together great. Three coats of varnish later, the top was done.
Now for the face. I couldn't just leave it white. To get the books to fit on the top I had to take out extra pages until they were the right thickness. So I decided to use the extra pages and decoupage glue to cover the face of the bench. I think the hardest part was to avoid getting glue on the carpet!
In the end, I had a great looking bay window bench that is completely removable from the room. Will I take it with me? I don't know. Maybe I'll ask the next tenants if they want it, maybe I'll take it. It will be hard to let it go, but when will I ever live in a house with a bay window of the same dimensions? In the meantime, we will enjoy it. Finally, that middle room has an identity. Let me know what you think in the comments.
The front porch, a place to sit with a glass of lemonade, talk to the neighbors, and watch the kids zoom up and down the street on their bikes. It's a perfect place to watch a summer lightning storm or read a good book. If you are lucky, you have a large wrap around porch complete with a porch swing. If you have spent a little time creating the perfect porch, maybe you have a cooler and some speakers to blast summer hits from the Beach Boys.
Shift scenes to a city park. You have all seen the iconic pictures of old men playing checkers or chess in the park right? Ringers sit and wait for unsuspecting challengers. Old men while away the hours until their wives call them home to supper, talking about the good ole days and swapping stories and jokes. People walking their dogs stop to watch the action and say hello to the regulars. Runners wave as they pass and skateboarders zoom by with headphones blasting deep bass beats.
How about combining the scene at the park with the relaxing atmosphere of the front porch? Create an outdoor checkerboard the perfect size for your front porch and discover the secrets of lazy days shouting “King me!” and scoring multiple jumps. For this checkerboard, all you need are pieces of scrap wood, preferably a 4×4, some paint, and some patience. Don't worry about your board being perfectly level or smooth. You are going for the outdoor homemade look. You want something that would sell for big bucks at a folk art store and would be the upscale envy of any Cracker Barrel customer. A steady hand and some paint complete the board.
So what, pray tell, would you use for pieces? You could always steal pieces from your game closet, but what fun is that? Instead, collect some bottle caps of your favorite beverages. We went with the epic battle of cola vs root beer. You could do Coke vs Pepsi or even use caps from something a little stronger. The best thing about it? Someone just has to drink the sodas so you can use the caps. Tough life eh?
Check out my how to video below and then fire up the saw. Summer's half gone!!
Old vinyl records are the best. Growing up I had a bright orange hard cased record player. It had a handle like a suitcase and could travel with me from room to room. I had the adapter for 45s or could play full size records. We had read along books where it would ding when it was time to turn the page, just like the old film or slide projectors. One of my favorites was Davy Crockett, to go along with the greatest Disney adventure movie ever! Records would scratch or melt in the sun and cassette tapes slowly took their place before cd's, digital downloads, and streaming music came along.
I am also from a very musical family and love all types of music. There was always some sort of music playing the house, be it instrumental, vocal, or store bought. Music filled the home. I believe music is very powerful and can be used to great effect. There is a time and place for classical, spiritual, country, rock, alternative, folk, bluegrass, broadway, and maybe even rap.
Our current home has a huge front room with vaulted ceilings. We decided to make the front section of that room our music corner. The piano is there and a violin and banjo hang opposite along with a print of a violin painting I first saw in the Smithsonian. But the wall above the piano was empty. It was too tall for a painting or picture.
So I decided to create a vinyl record wall. Using old records I got from the thrift store, and after much thought on how to execute, I used black nylon webbing straps. I bought a roll on Amazon, measured it to length and burned holes using a soldering iron. I attached the records with paper fasteners. I attached the bands to a strip of molding and mounting the molding to the wall. You can see the complete how to video on my YouTube channel.
It has been great fun to have people come over and look at the records. I have all genres and there are always a few that bring back a memory or two. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I love books. I love reading. I love bookstores and libraries and covet homes with big floor to ceiling book shelves with a rolling ladder. One of the first things I do when I move to a new place is to sign up for a library card. I especially love old books. I love the smell of books and the feel of books. But books are heavy and books take up a lot of space. Books are hard to move around from place to place, especially if they are not being read regularly.
Then came e-readers. E-readers like the Kindle and Nook are awesome. You can fit thousands of books on a single device and the battery lasts forever. You can use a tablet, but the e-ink on an e-reader is easy on the eyes and can be read in bright sunlight just like a real book. I used to have the problem when I traveled for work of loading down my suitcase with books. If I was going to be away for a week I would have to pack four or five books in my suitcase. I couldn't afford to just buy new books, especially when there is a library full of free books at home. Now I can pack one device, smaller than the average paperback, and carry more books than I'll ever read on one trip. You lose the feel, smell, and experience of holding and reading a real book, but I can live with the trade off in convenience and size. I can check out e-books from the library even easier than going and checking out real books.
I'm also a big fan of the audiobook. Download a book from the library on your phone or MP3 player via the Overdrive app and you can make your commute enjoyable and educational. I'll get to the end of a long road trip and want to keep going because the book isn't done yet!
So how do I incorporate books into my home design and decorations? There are a certain number of antique books that I will never get rid of. Some were passed down from my parents or grandparents. Others are just cool books I have found at garage sales or thrift stores. They need to be displayed for others to see and enjoy. I can't keep good books hidden away on a shelf or in a closet. I also had some books that I knew I would never read again in paper format. If I do decide to revisit them, I'll load them onto my e-reader. Instead of throwing them away or recycling them, I decided to use them to build shelves. This design uses a hard back book and an “L” bracket to create a floating shelf. When other books are stacked on top, it creates the illusion that the books are floating on the wall. It is a great effect and has been a huge talking point for friends and neighbors visiting the house. It is a simple project requiring only the purchase of the bracket, a book, some glue, and some screws and can be made for well under $5.