Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bench-Building Workshop

I've had this idea percolating for a few years to host a small building-workshop and finally got to make it a reality.

There were a couple of reasons this idea hadn't been shared, but the biggest reason was just that I don't have enough tools for multiple people to work with at once. After that was put out there, we'd decided that this was going to be a Bring-Your-Own-Drill workshop, and somewhere along the lines, I'd decided that we'd build benches (pretty sure the logic was, "Who can't use an extra bench?").

It ultimately ended up being a group of four ladies that would come over and build benches. I gathered a few benches from the interwebz to propose to them and they ended up choosing three different benches.

One was building this

Two were building this

And the other one sent me this screenshot and asked if we could do this.

I had to draw up the plans for the final bench (and mention that we wouldn't be doing the hardware that day), but it was probably the simplest of the three. 

After deciding on benches, I did a lot of the prep work in the week leading up to the workshop. That included buying all of the lumber for all four benches, [under]estimating how many screws we would need, printing out and making notes on the plans, reminding the ladies to charge their drills, making nearly all of the cuts, pre-drilling most of the pocket holes, and getting all of the tools we would need prepped in the garage (if it sounds exhausting, it was!).

The morning of the workshop, I was ready!

Well, other than not having bought enough pocket hole screws, but I wouldn't find that out for a few more hours.

Everyone got their plans and a pencil, some wood glue, a cotton rag to clean up any excess of wood glue and a tape measure.

In addition to what you see in that photo, I had prepped snacks and water bottles because building furniture takes a lot of effort.

When everyone was here, I went over a couple key points that you may not think about if you haven't worked with wood before (covered that they shouldn't rub their hands along the wood in case of splinters, glue spills should be cleaned up with a wet rag, etc.). At this point I'd also passed out everyone's lumber and had them look through the plans to get a general idea of how things are going to be put together.

Dry-fitting the pieces seems to be a natural part of the building process (and it was so awesome to watch!) because everyone immediately picked up wood and started to try to place it where it should go. Some of the gals' pieces from step 1 weren't cut yet, so I had them man the saw.

Key points to cover (in addition to mentioning that they should have hearing and eye protection - which I didn't provide - bad, bad Gina!) were to start the saw before putting it on the wood, keep the blade spinning until it was lifted, and to keep fingers far, far away from the blade.

They rocked it.

Drilling screws into lumber (even if the holes are pre-drilled) was something that I'd forgotten wasn't easy. There's a pressure that should be applied, and when the screw "bites" into the adjoining lumber, it jerks a little. Little things like this were fun little lessons we got to work in to the workshop. Even towards the end, I had to tighten the screws because I had more of a "feeling" on how they should be than the builders. 

They got comfortable enough to help each other when I was busy with someone else.

And mastered tools I hadn't even planned on them using. 

That's Nicole. I hadn't pre-drilled pocket holes to attach the seat and shelves to in the More Like Home bench plan... honestly, I'm not sure why I didn't, but she got a little instruction on how to do it and rocked out all of the pocket holes for her seat and shelf. 

For the record, this is a perfect example of why you should have a Kreg Jig Mini on-hand. Would've had to disassemble this to pre-drill those holes if I didn't have it. 

Most of the Upholstered X-Bench was assembled with the nail gun. I think Linda got a little trigger happy, but her bench turned out ahh-maz-ing. This was the last bench that I'd started the prep-work on, and I waaaaay over-thought the plans (don't believe me? Click over to the plans and read the comments! I was pretty NUTS). They were accurate (of course) and super easy to follow... So I'm thinking i may build one of these! LOVE this one. 

Shelby, givin' her bench a good sanding. This is going to look stunning when the hardware's put on it. 


And here are all the ladies with their finished benches!

And here's a photo of all of us garage-buddies, dogs included.

Left to right: Linda, Edna, me (Gina), Nicole, Shelby
And up front is Luna and Percy, the fur-legged helpers. 

If you'll allow me to share some tips that I've learned from this, the biggest I can give is to choose a smaller project! I think I threw these ladies in the deep in with this and, while they swam, it would've probably been a little less overwhelming at times if we'd have done something like a bird house or a picture frame.

Another thing would be to either 1) have an experienced helper or 2) keep the group number smaller (I think 2-3 for this-sized project, 3-4 for a smaller, simpler project). 

Finally, having everyone do the same project would simplify things. It wasn't really bad when it came to building the pieces, but prep-work could have been sped up if I didn't have to mentally switch gears between projects. 

This is definitely something that I'd love to do again, and I'd love to offer suggestions if any of you have been contemplating doing something like this. 

Is this something that people would be interested in? Or am I as crazy as I thought I was when the idea was still only known to me? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Someday Desk

I'm going to start off this post stating that the desk that I'm posting about didn't actually work out for me, but I still want to share all about it because, someday, it will be my desk.

You see, the overall plan for my master bedroom has been to have a desk in there. My sewing machine currently lives on a chair in my kitchen, always plugged in and ready to go in case something needs mended (which happens often enough for me to leave it there, plugged in, ready to be used).

I've been on the lookout for the perfect sawhorse desk, and when Ana White posted a roundup of the sawhorse desk trend, one picture in particular had me drooling.

The part that cracked me up about it is that I'd actually pinned that image without any interest in the desk, but for the love of the room divider..

Crazy, right?

Well, the craziest part is that it's a frickin' IKEA desk. Of all the places I didn't think to look (what's wrong with me, right?). So I contacted Ana and asked her if she could draw up plans (that ended up veering a little from the IKEA for ease of building - not everyone has a table saw that can bevel - and stability).

The part that had me at "Hello" was the adjustable height. Sometimes I want to work standing up. That's just how it is. Sometimes I want to sit with good posture. Sometimes (like now), I want the desk low so I sit with one foot on the desk and the other knee resting against it.

The part that wasn't so appealing was that it was $35/sawhorse. Okay, don't look at me like I'm crazy... I know that's not unreasonable AT ALL, but I have to make things difficult. I wanted to make TWO desks (remember the friend that I built the barnwood frames for last April? Well, her birthday came again and I wanted to give her something to replace the cheap fold-up table that she was using as a desk).

So! For a dollar and change over the cost of ONE sawhorse, I was able to build four.

I painted my friend's coral because I wanted to help her bring color into her space (this is the Rustoleum Painter's Touch spray paint in Coral, gloss). I may or may not have been inspired by the color of the sawhorse in the plans...

And the painting of mine got put on hold because I learned that the space that I have been saving for my sewing area was going to be used for a new treadmill.

oh. yay.

But I want to make it known that I am keeping this desk (and will build a top for it when everyone realizes that no one is going to use the treadmill), and it WILL be in my bedroom. In the meantime, let me show you how easy it was to build!

That's it!

Okay, there's a little more to it (and I'd accidentally swapped the boards in the above photo, creating more work for myself later), but this is what I had about an hour in. The plans say to use pocket holes to screw the top dividers in, which i thought would be difficult since there's a board there.

It was totally fine.

They actually came together unbelievably quickly, and all that was left to figure out was what hardware to use and how to measure for the holes.

The plan was to use scrap 2x4s as spacers, which worked out beautifully! I ended up buying 3 1/2" long 3/8" bolts and pre-drilled the holes using a 1/2" bit (thought that using a 3/8" bit might be a tad too snug, making it difficult to adjust). Buy the nuts while you're there, too... They don't add much structurally, but they make sure the bolts don't just slip out on a whim.

After drilling the hole with the 2x4s flat, I put them on their side and drilled another (lumber is apparently an amazing notepad!).

On the first bench that I'd pre-drilled the holes for, I also added another 2x4, flat, as a spacer.

But I now feel that this one was unnecessary. At this height, the adjustable part becomes wobbly and you would need to probably shove some shims next to it for stability. It was also a little too high for me to use comfortably (at 5'7"), and I couldn't see myself actually using that notch.

Finally, when all of the holes were pre-drilled using spacers, I'd decided that I could probably drill one with the adjustable part sitting in the sawhorses so we'd have somewhere to store the bolts if we wanted the desk at the lowest position.

That wasn't common sense for me, unfortunately, it took me putting the desk at the lowest setting and realizing that I had nowhere to store the bolts for me to think of it.

Never claimed to be smart ;-)

Here's the first one finished, and I used it as a worktable to build the second. It was awesome. Set to the third notch, it's a little taller than countertop height and was perfect to work on.

And here it is in my room, half-heartely staged as my sewing area since I was still pouting that it won't actually be my sewing area (for now).

The top is a door from Baby Goats' closet remodel. It's nothing fancy, but I'm thinking of painting the bases navy and doing a light stain on the top (or even just using poly) when I get to it. I'll update this post when I finish my friend's, too! She still has to decide how long she wants hers to be (ohh, the possibilities!).

Baby Goats is loving it in her [floorless] room, so I may have to decide on a desk for her soon, too (no, she's not getting mine!). But first we have to do flooring (the laminate that was in there was waterlogged from when the water that caused the mold in her closet came, so we just pulled it all up and plan to replace with the same flooring that we used in the closet).

And next time we meet, I'll get to describe why i have my sawhorses set up this way (hint, if you follow me on Facebook, you've probably seen it).

In the meantime, go visit Ana White for plans on building your own adjustable-height sawhorse desks and, if you build/use them, I'll live vicariously through you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


When trying to come up with a title for this blog post, all that came to mind was 'Lemons'. Because that's what I got. 

11 days ago, I was cleaning out Baby Goats' closet and found that the back corner was covered in mold. After the initial freak out (everyone does that when they find mold, right?), then carefully assessing the situation... it wasn't looking good. Worst case scenario: Bathroom Remodel.

Turns out there were no leaks and we didn't have to tear the bathroom apart! Exciting stuff, right? Except that I still had to deal with the mess left in the closet after the mold was removed. Cell phone pic of what I was left with. 

Concrete subfloor, patched drywall, no baseboards, and a whole lotta "What-the-heck-do-I-do-now?"

I finished drywalling and texturing the walls, added some cheap flooring and baseboards, and ended up with a closet that was pretty much exactly how it looked before I found the mold. 

That was find and good, and all, but i was already working in there! Might as well Make it functional (lemons to lemonade!)... 

And pink..!

I started out with these grand ol' plans to do a built-in closet tower, a desk, and some toy storage in there. That was before I measured it and realized that there was not enough room to do much of anything. This is a reach-in closet that measures 70" x 24', so a 2' closet tower would pretty much eat away all of the functional space (the rest is tucked into the corners and wouldn't be fun to sit in to do homework). 

Ahhh well! Found these plans for the closet tower from Ana White (of course!) and built it from the most amazing plywood on the market, Purebond

But I modified the plans (is there ever a time that I don't?). Instead of building the tower and then building a base, I just notched out space for my baseboards with my jig saw before assembling the tower. 

And added 3 drawers.

I chose to keep the side shelves the depth of the original shelf, at just under 12". It makes the closet not feel so cramped, which is how I imagined it would feel if I did the shelves the depth of the closet tower. Also decided to do two shelves at the top of the tower, and only one short shelf so that we would have room, later on, to hang full-length dresses/coats. 

For now, it gets to house a giant recycle box full of stuffed animals.

There are still some finishing touches (obviously handles or pulls on the drawers, and I have to attach the threshold), but for now, we have a livable, much more functional closet that is mold-free... and probably the prettiest "room" in the house..!

Monday, January 26, 2015

DIY Bookseller Shelf

Happy Monday, everyone!

Since finishing the dresser for my master bedroom, it kinda pumped me up to getting the bedroom more functional. Something that I've been wanting to do for a few years is to create a nightstand based on the Pier 1 Bookseller's Shelf (which retails for $250)

Luckily, I had just the piece to use to create my own version.

While not an exact match (mine is more like the Ballard Designs version... or, maybe a happy mix of the two?), I was able to get the look by modifying an existing x book caddy. Remember this?

Well, after building Baby Goats' storage bed, we no longer needed a bookshelf in her bedroom. So this has been waiting patiently in my garage, awaiting it's new life as a nightstand.

And it was suuuuuper easy to do! If you want to build this piece, go build the x book caddy from (plans here) and then come back with an extra 1x2, a 1 x 12 x 4 and a couple hours.

All you're building is this

And it'll screw nicely around the x book caddy!

Cut List

2 - 1x2 @ 27" (back legs)
2 - 1x2 @ 19" (front legs)
2 - 1x2 @ 6 1/2" (top of sides)
2 - 1x2 @ 25 1/4* (stretchers) - cut this to match the width of your finished x book caddy
2 - 1x12 @ 8 1/2" (arcs)
1 - 1x12 @ 28" (top)

I always start with the arcs first, so that I can modify any other cuts to it (like, if I accidentally cut the arc too short, I can lengthen the adjoining board, or vice versa)

The best part of this is that this is the hardest part. Cut two of these (making sure to keep it 1 1/2" wide, consistently) with your jig saw.

And then build two of these, making sure they mirror each other (I put my kreg jig holes on the insides so they were easier to hide) using glue and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws.

Attach your aprons to the front and back of the legs using glue and 1 1/4" pocket hole screws.

And attach the top, leaving a 1/2" overhang on the back and even overhang on the sides. It's easiest to attach it from the bottom through the aprons using glue and 1 1/4" finish nails or screws.

When this is finished, it attaches through the x book caddy through the corners of the x.

Simple as that!

I had a tougher time finding somewhere in my house that didn't have wonky lighting so that I could photograph the darned thing. It will not live in my kitchen, this is my nightstand.

Maybe sharing all these Master Bedroom posts will be motivation enough to actually paint in there!

How's your bedroom looking? I hear all the time that the master is always neglected, please tell me that's true and that I'm not the only one!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Free (or Very Cheap) DIY Indoor Clothesline

I don't know about you, but I will never have a magazine-worthy laundry room. It's essentially a hallway (from the garage to another hallway) with a washer and dryer in it, and I have done NOTHING to this room since moving in.

Until my dryer went out on New Years Eve.

You see, you don't really notice a dryer isn't working until you need it.

My dryer was loaded with wet clothes, but it just wouldn't turn on! And it just happened to be one of the few rainy days here in the Valley of the Sun, so I couldn't just hang 'em up outside (let me put your worries to rest, the dryer door latch had worn out, so it was a cheap and easy fix... we just had to wait on the part to come in).


So I needed a way to line dry a load of laundry IN the laundry room, and I didn't want it to be a permanent fixture in there. I could buy a retractable clothesline on amazon, but none of the multiple line ones (to dry an entire load of laundry) were a) affordable and b) reliable (the cheap ones had bad reviews, and I hate doing laundry enough already. The last thing I need is a clothesline to wrestle with and make me hate it more). Didn't help that it had to be mailed.

So I made my own!

And the whole thing rolls up into a not-very-noticeable (in person, anyway) position when not in use.

I'll give you step-by-step instructions. Note, this is a lot of words, but it's really easy. Three boards with hooks and holes. That's it!

To "build" this, you'll need

3 - Scrap pieces of wood approx 15" long (can be a 1x3, 1x4 or 1x6, or scrap plywood!)
4 - lengths of rope the length of your laundry room (plus a few inches)
4 - cup hooks
2 - eye hooks
4 - screws to mount to the wall (mount to studs, and use drywall anchors if necessary)

Start by drilling four holes into two of the boards. Use a drill bit that's slightly larger than the rope (but not too much, so that you can tie a knot in the back and the rope won't pull through).

I did mine approximately like this

So that the holes mirrored each other when hung on the wall, I stacked my two boards and drilled through both at the same time. This will help to keep the lines level when everything's hung.

Then, so that the rope wouldn't interfere with mounting the board to the wall, I used my Kreg Jig bit to countersink holes about halfway through the back of the board. It's not pretty, but this is what it looked like (remember, I used scrap boards!).

Now attach the cup hooks to the bottom of one of boards with the holes.

And attach eye hooks to the top of the other. This is what they should look like (notice the holes are mirrored, so when they're attached to the wall, they'll line up. This is the view from the front, and the back should have the countersunk holes).

The only thing left to do with these two is attach the rope. Measure the length of your laundry room and add two inches. That'll be the length of the rope you'll need (cut a little longer and you can shorten if you need to!). Pull the rope through the holes, tie in the back (burn the edges if you have a rope that frays). Pull taut and the rope should be nestled inside the board so the board can sit flush on the wall.

The third board should have cup hooks attached to the front of it. When you're finished with that, this is what you should have.

As shown above, you'll attach the top and bottom pictured boards to the wall. Keep in mind that this should be a reachable height, but high enough to keep the clothes from resting on the washer and dryer. Attach the boards level from the ground and through the studs, using drywall anchors where necessary.

When this is all finished, you'll make any necessary adjustments to the length of rope. If it's too long, untie the knot on the "traveling" board and retie where necessary.

If you paint the boards the same color as your walls (or to match any existing cabinetry) they blend in and no one notices them!

Can I admit that this has come in really handy? I used to hang clothes that couldn't be put in the dryer on hangers (or on door knobs, or the top of the laundry room door), and now there's no more looking for free space. I just pull out the clothesline and pin 'em up.

Still don't love doing laundry, but this is helping to make the experience [a little] better!

How's your laundry situation? Do you have an indoor clothesline? Outdoor? Or do you just not buy clothes that can't be thrown in the dryer (wouldn't that make life SO much easier??!!!). Do tell!