Sunday, November 24, 2013

Built a Kitchen Buffet in time for Thanksgiving

The latest and greatest project!  I do mean 'greatest' - I think each project is a little better than the last.  This was the first project where I incorporated tile and glass, so pretty proud of how it all came out.

Knocking Off Crate and Barrel
The inspiration for this was a buffet we saw at Crate and Barrel:
The Galvin Sideboard is $1,200 and was also a bit too long for our spot in the kitchen.  I liked the stainless steel top and even looked into buying a sheet of metal, although I haven't worked with bending steel sheet.  In the end though, we decided this piece would be the perfect use of some of our extra backsplash tile.  The Galvin also comes up short in that it has three small storage areas which couldn't hold anything wider than a dinner plate.  We wanted something that could store serving dishes and such.

I built the buffet starting with the doors for a few reasons.  I had never worked with glass before and routing a slot for it to sit in might be difficult.  I was also cutting the individual boards for the doors with angled corners and anything off of a perfect 45 degree angle could cause the doors to be slightly larger or smaller than planned.  So the thought was to build the doors and then build the box to go around.

The buffet is built out of S4S pine boards from Home Depot.  For some of the larger pieces, I used their pre-joined 24"x48" boards rather than joining several together myself using kreg screws.  Pamela never liked the look of pocket holes, so I wanted to minimize the number of holes I'd have to fill.

My brother had used some Rustoleum Satin Espresso spray paint for a project of his and we really liked the look.  It's not quite as dark as some of the furniture we've purchased, but I might go back and give it a protective finish which may make it a bit deeper.  Working with spray paint was a bit harder than normal paint + paintbrush.  It was easy to cover large areas, but when you care about the finish and drips and paint buildup, it may not be the best way to go.

The top of the buffet uses a 24"x48" board cut down to match the frame.  On top of that, I shaved down some strips to about 3/8" for around the edge of the tile.  Again, the tile is leftover from our backsplash and I think is a nice touch to bring the kitchen together.
The glass is simple 16"x20" sheets from Home Depot and I bought some retainer clips online.  We picked out the handles and hinges from HD too.  The hinges make a big deal about using a Forstner bit to rout the cup holes, but I didn't find that necessary.  I also added some magnetic catches for the doors to help them stay shut.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Spider

I was working on another project (post to come soon) but got sidetracked with the Halloween spirit.  The spider below was made from some scrap wood/plywood.
Very spooky!
I had originally planned to make the spider free-standing, but that would likely have been a lot harder than I realized.

We went to a neighbor's Halloween party and a guest actually complimented us on the spider.  Since we are right at the entrance to the neighborhood, everyone sees our house and decorations coming in and coming out.  Now I think we'll have to put something together for Christmas.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy Anniversary! Two Years of Homeownership

October 3, 2013 marks two years in our home.  Thankfully, the past two years have been trouble free.  We moved in soon after Hurriance Irene came through the northeast and caused substantial flooding in the basement.  The prior owner had to get the basement pumped and treated, as well as replace damaged equipment.

About a year ago, we experienced Hurricane Sandy and were concerned about similar damage.  We really lucked out and, in fact, never lost power.

We've completed a bunch of projects and made the house ours.  In the future there are a list of things we'd like to do; we'll have to see if we ever get around to them:

  • Automatic sprinklers for the yard
  • Add another bathroom
  • Clean and maintain a clean garage
  • Fight off violet (weed) growing in the lawn
  • Change out some of the hedges in the front

The Blog
It's been over two years of posts on this blog.  The first post was September 19, 2011.  I posted a lot of content early on in the blog - I had a lot to say about the home buying process, then once I got setup in the garage/workshop I was excited to share my creations.  The posts have certainly been less frequent, but I've got plenty of other projects to share over time.

For those interested in some data, I've been running Google Analytics along with this blogger account.  It wasn't setup from Day 1, but since GA has been tracking, I've had 12,299 page view from 4,703 unique visitors.

The biggest daily page view count was January 18, 2013 when the site received 204 pageviews perhaps related to this post - Garage Driving Range.

I've also been running ads through Google AdSense which displays ads and pays you either per click or on a CPM basis which is cost per mil (cost per thousand pageviews).  It tells me that I've had 15,661 pagviews and 68 ad clicks over the history for a grand total of $77.71.

Clearly, I am not quitting my day job!

Thanks to everyone who has visited and here's to many happy years to come!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Fix Damaged Interior Window Trim

Oh the joy of dog ownership!
We let our dogs on the couch.  They like to lay with us when we are on the couch, one also sleeps on the couch.  Besides the major downside of the couch getting worn and stained over time, the dogs also like to perch on the back of the couch like cats and watch cars and people/other dogs walking by.  When they are particularly excited, like when they see Daddy walking home from the train, they paw at the window frame.

This is what the interior of our front window looked like:
We left the windows un-repaired for some time for a couple of reasons.  We were waiting for Lucky to get old enough to not have accidents before we got a new couch; one that wouldn't allow them to perch by the window.  The other reason was that we couldn't locate the matching trim.  We brought pictures to Home Depot who said to call Andersen Windows but they couldn't help.  We did have a referral of someone who said they'd either find it or custom make it, and fix the window, all for $100, but we thought it'd just get destroyed again and be another $100 out the window (ha).

The big break was finding it on  It wasn't carried in our local store but at another one not too far.

The process was pretty simple:

First, trim around the old apron with a box cutter.  There's likely tape around the edges and if you pry off the old apron it'll rip off a nice chunk of paint and maybe dry-wall.
Note that when you pry off the drywall with a hammer, use a thin board so that you don't damage the drywall.
Second, remove the old stool.  I again delicately trimmed around the edges with a box cutter.  Then I banged the shit out of the stool with a hammer to separate it from the other pieces of the window frame.
Third, remove any remaining nails and sand around the edges to remove old built up paint.
Fourth, cut the new stool and attach.  We bought a 7' piece of 1x2 select pine and cut it down in both dimensions to match the old piece.  I used a few 2 1/2" 8D brads to attach and counter-sunk them.
Fifth, cut the new apron and attach.  You'll need to cut at a 45 degree angle.  I also used even smaller finishing nails to attach.  Since our trim patter was pretty curvy, it was hard to find good spots to hammer in a nail.

Lastly, fill in nail holes, dings with wood filler, sand and paint.

Final final step, hope you don't have to do this all again in a few months!
Don't even think about it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hanging Flower Display

A triple whammy on this one - made something for Pamela (happy wife), spruced up our living room (happy home), and used only scrap material in the process!

The idea for the... shelf?  display?  came from something Pamela saw on Pinterest - a Floating Vase

We both really liked the idea of adding color to the walls with fresh flowers and set about to re-create.

As I started planning though, there was one thing I didn't like about the design.  The jar is attached by steel wire which is tied together to hold the jar aloft.  It does add a great "floating" element, but I thought this would make it difficult to clean out the jar / change flowers.  You'd need to change the water in the jar as you changed flowers, otherwise you'd get green residue.

My flower display would need to be easy to change.  I bought some large C-brackets from Home Depot, but they didn't make them large enough for the size of jar we wanted to use.  The above jar is a small maraschino cherry jar.  We planned to use larger Ball canning jars.  The idea was a C-bracket installed below as a platform, then another larger C-bracket near the mouth that would prevent the jar from being knocked over.  The look would be a bit more 'industrial' and they didn't have large enough C-brackets so I abandoned that idea.

Instead, we decided to simply build a flush-mounted mini shelf.

I used scrap wood and cut out two matching boards to 18.5" tall by 5.5" wide.  The width fit the jar with some extra space.  The height was targeted to be less tall than our mirror, but was really decided by the available scrap wood I had.
I next cut out a small platform for the jar to sit on.  The jar is somewhat supported below by a small block of wood I cut at a 45 degree angle.  The reality is that the platform is secured by two wood screws which I think would support it just fine.  The angled wood below is a design touch and will also prevent any sagging.

I was excited to also finally use my router on this project to counter sink the screws so it would sit flush with the wall.  I routed out a 1/2" circle around the supporting screw that would hold the display to the wall, as well as in the back so that the screw heads for the platform/support would let the project sit flat.
I used some primer paint I had sitting in the garage after sanding the project down.

Pamela picked some bold flowers and we'll be excited to change them with our mood and the seasons.  She also pointed out that we could do candles in the winter.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Re-Do A Backsplash

Hire someone.  Well, we did, but at the same time it isn't all that difficult.

Step 1: Plan to have your kitchen out of service for some time
This isn't going to be a weekend project and it'll create a big mess.  You'll also have to cut the power to areas of your kitchen, so you'll be ordering delivery while the kitchen is out of service.

The first real step once you decide you want a new backsplash is to pick the tile.  Home Depot has a good selection and there are a lot of good sites online where you can look at sample kitchens (just search Google for 'backsplash tile').

Pamela's mother was in town and found a Tile Shop nearby.  We went and were really impressed by all the samples as well as kitchen mock-ups.  I think it is important to be able to feel the tile and that's where internet searches fall short.

The tile seemed to run from maybe $5 per square foot all the way up to $25 and above.  The Tile Shop had

Step 2: Demolish your existing backsplash
There's a chance that you can use a pry bar and pop the individual tiles or sets of tiles off.  You'd hope to then be able to simply patch and smooth the existing drywall.  It didn't work this way for us.  If the tile is on correctly, the "mud" is like glue between the tile and the drywall.  When you pull off a tile, you will get big chunks of drywall.

This was really the point at which we decided to hire someone.  Before we had guys come in, we did save some money by taking down some lights that were mounted below the cabinets.  Thankfully, I took an Electronics class in high school which included house wiring.  The additional cost of an electrician would've been quite a burden.
Old Tile and Wires from Lights

We made such little progress after many hours of trying to remove the tile ourselves that we realized we'd never get done or we'd be unable to appropriately fix the drywall leading to an uneven new backsplash.

The guys we hired who had done this many times said that they rarely see situations where the tile comes off easily.  Instead, they plan on completely cutting out the old drywall and replacing it with fresh drywall.

New Drywall Up

New Drywall
 It's a pretty simple process - pry or break off some tile around the edges then use a cutting tool to take down the whole wall.  You then measure and cut new drywall and screw it into the studs.  Viola!  You don't need to prime or paint this, because it'll soon be covered.

Step 3:  Install new backsplash
Again, we outsourced this, but I will provide the quick run-down.

First, layout and measure the tile.  You'll then need a wet saw to cut the tile as you have to leave openings for the different switches and outlets.

Once everything was cut and tested for fit, they mixed the mortar ("mud") and smoothed with a trowel.  The mud dries quickly so you need to do smaller areas and work quickly.

After all the tile is up, don't worry if things don't look perfect - the imperfect spacing between tiles or groups of tile really disappear once you grout the tile.

Pick a grout color, mix it and apply.  It dries after 20 minutes or so, then you can remove the excess with a sponge and water.

Step 4: Re-install switches, outlets, and lights
Our old switches, outlets, and respective covers were a taupe color while the new tile and grout called for white.  Pamela and I worked together to replace all the fixtures.  Make sure you kill the power from the breaker in the basement!

Step 5: The Big Reveal!
Here's the old (picture is from the online listing when the home was for sale)
The Old

The New

Boom! Backsplash'd
And the lights work!
Lookin' Good!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This is why you buy a house


When we started thinking about getting a house I had dreamed of having a basement with high ceilings where I could swing a golf club.  Our basement doesn't have that, so I couldn't make a full swing.

Pamela's parents got me a long indoor putting green last Christmas which I've kept in the basement.  This Christmas, Pamela got me a driving range mat so it was only a matter of time until I cleared out enough space in the garage / workshop.

After completing Walt's coffee table and organizing all my scrap wood into a big junk pile, I now have enough room.

Now if I could only teach the dogs to act as my ball return...