Saturday, March 16, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Banner

A little bit of Irish in our home!

  Well, it was time to replace the "Love" banner that I put up on Valentine's Day, and I knew I wanted to do something for St. Patrick's Day.  I thought that a banner with shamrocks and Irish flags would be just the thing.

  I found a pack of 12 shamrocks at the Dollar Store. They had two colors, a light green and the dark green with glitter that I ended up using.

  Irish flags turned out to be harder to find. I looked at the Dollar Store and some of the other craft stores in our area, but ended up finding them on sale at Oriental Trading. I was already ordering some stuff for Perrin's upcoming birthday, so I added them on to my order and found a coupon code for free shipping. Pretty sweet!

  I took the flags off their flagpoles and strung them and the shamrocks through the same loop onto a long string of jute. Once I was happy with the spacing, I hot glued the shamrocks into place.

  I call this my "James Bond" glue gun because it comes with its own case and three more tips.  The whole thing looks pretty awesome. It's plugged into the power strip on my new sawhorse desk (Andrew will be blogging about that soon). 

  And that easily, I had a St. Patrick's Day Banner! It cost me about $3 to make - I didn't use all the shamrocks and flags, so I have to come up with something else for them. There's always next year ...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Storage Closet

 This is a project that has been on my list (literally) since the day before we bought the house. That's about sixteen months of waiting! It's also been about three months since I started the project, and it's only just been finished.

This was the way the room looked before: a little inset section and a weird little hutch thing.  We weren't terribly in love with the hutch, since it was extremely shallow and not much use for storing anything but paper towels.

First step was the fun part: pulling off the hutch.

Once it was off, I had to sand down and patch up the wall behind the unit (I may or may not have broken a hole in the wall while prying off the boards).  There were a few sections that needed help already, so no big deal.

Stud wall came next!  Since I was trying to extend an existing wall on the right, I set the front of the stud exactly 1/2" behind the front of the wall, to allow room for sheetrock.  I bought the doors ahead of time, and subtracted the width of the doors and the width of the facing trim from the total width of the closet to determine how wide to make the wall on the left.

The header was fun to build: start by screwing a top plate to the roof, then construct the actual header and rest it on the top of the 2x4s on the side.  Then you can cut the spacers to go between the header and the top plate.

Here's how to build the header:  cut two 2x4s to the right length, then screw them together with a series of 1/2" plywood spacers in between.  The width of a 2x4 is actually 1 1/2", so two of them plus 1/2" plywood equals the true width (3 1/2") of a 2x4.

Stand the header on edge, and attach it to the bracing studs.

I cut Sheetrock panels to fit over my new walls, and screwed them in place.

Cue my least favorite part!  The screw holes and all the joints needed to be mudded and taped (is that how you pluralize mud?) and smoothed until they are indistinguishable from the area around them.  I learned three very important things during this phase:

  1. No matter how much money you'd save, don't use the leftover mudding compound from the previous owner.
  2. If you get the tape wet (dip into a bucket or run under a faucet) before you apply it, you virtually eliminate bubbles.
  3. I hate mud.

At this stage, the project expanded to take on the whole room.  Since we had to paint over the new walls, we might as well paint all the walls.  Since we had to paint the walls, we might as well paint the baseboards.  Since we were painting the baseboards, we might as well replace the trim ... and so on. 

When it was all painted up, I installed trim around the closet.

 I needed facing boards for the top and sides, a board to conceal the hardware for opening the closet doors.  Then I added regular trim around the outside.  The inside trim was just white-painted boards.

Add in some sliding doors to hide everything (I think I put the door knobs in the wrong place), and the project is just about done.

 We picked up some shelving at Lowe's, added a few hooks to hang brooms and aprons, and filled it all up!

 The space is so much more functional now!  The closet was worth the wait :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pallet Recycling Stand

I found a use for all the leftover pallets from my last project!  Since I don't have a garden, vegetable stakes were out (though my mother-in-law has a garden ... hmmm ... want some stakes for Mother's Day? Useful  for both vegetables and vampires ...)

Samantha gets the credit for the original idea: one day when putting an empty carton in the recycling bin, she told me it would be very nice to have some sort of high stand to make it easy for us to lean over the railing and place stuff into.  I thought "a use for my scraps!" and the idea was born. 

So, I came in with three requirements: first, to use only pallet scraps; second, to have room for both bins, with the top one accessible to load; third, to have some method of corralling the cut-down cardboard boxes that get piled next to the trash can waiting for recycling day.

I had plenty of leftover scraps, as I mentioned before.  I had the center pieces from about four pallets, and nearly a whole pallet's worth of face pieces.  That made things both easy and hard: easy because I didn't have to find (or spend money for) the lumber, and hard because the lumber was full of cut-off nails and not square.

Getting the post pieces ready involved a lot of careful cutting.  There were nails all over most of my pieces (when I was preparing the pallets for my other projects, my attention was naturally on the face pieces, not on saving the centers for later use).  I didn't worry about getting the pieces all the same, just on cutting down what I had to usable dimensions.

Once I had six posts (two tall to bracket the cardboard slot and to make the far edge of the recycling area, two short for the near edge of the recycling area to allow easy access to the top bin), I used my new toy dado blade set to cut grooves for the two 'floors' of the stand.

Make this to fit your own recycling bins: mine fit nicely within an 18" tall frame. 

More scraps were cut to width and length to make parallel trusses to support the two floors and provide some stability to the posts.

Once I had the 'frame' laid out and nailed in place with my brad gun, I started adding the flooring and siding using the pallet scraps I had left. I made the pallets square to each other using the process outlined in this post, then nailed them in place.

It didn't take long to get the floor done, and then enough side pieces to provide the cardboard section with some stability.  One thing I wish I'd done was keep a few pieces to wall in the base of the cardboard slot: after a couple weeks of use, I noticed that skinny pieces tend to slip out the sides at the bottom.  Next time I've got a pallet under deconstruction, I'll add more there.

I added some rails on the bottom to guide the bins into place and stop them when they get to the end.  That keeps it nice and tidy in the garage!  Just position the bin in the open area where you want it, and lay the guide boards right next to it and nail them in.

To my eternal shame, my garage used to look like this:

 But now it looks like this!

A small difference, but it still gives me a twinge of satisfaction every time I take the trash out and think "I made my house more organized!"  Which is weird, I know, but it's how my brain works.  Every project in the house makes it that much more 'mine.'

I'd only change two things about the project: I'd add more pieces to the bottom sides of the cardboard section, and I would use 2x stock to make the posts.  It's cool to say that it's all re-claimed wood (in keeping with the whole recycling thing), but it honestly, cutting around the nails made it more complicated than it needed to be.  The 2x stock would provide more stability, too.

Table Saw (dado blade helps but isn't necessary)
Chop Saw
Brad Nailer