We gave our review of our Ikea cabinets that we added to the basement, HERE, and hinted at a little problem that required us to brainstorm up our own little Ikea hack to fix the way the toe kick looked.
As background for the issue we’re talking about… the toe kicks from IKEA come with two end caps that you would use if your cabinets weren’t butting up to a wall. Like this corner in our kitchen:
However, since we have one long stretch of cabinets in the basement, we didn’t need those end caps. But…because the toe kick only comes in one length that was too short for our full run of cabinets, we were left with a raw edge and a bad looking seam in the middle.
So, we came up with a hack to modify and use the end caps to make the joints fit together better. The only tools needed are a coping saw and a box knife (although this could probably be done completely with a box knife).
The toe kick has a channel running in the back that allows you to use tabs (the empty slot in the middle of the additional plastic pieces of the toe kick) to connect two pieces of toe kick together, keeping the toe kick in line. So, we decided to cut the end caps to allow the connector tab to pass through them.
First we used the coping saw to cut the end caps to accept the tabs.
Then, we used a box knife to score the line between the two cuts.
After scoring the line with the box knife, I was able to fold the tab back and forth a couple of times before being able to break off the tab.
This is what it looks like after making space for the tab.
And here is the end cap attached to the toe kick, and again with the tab in place.
Here is a close up of what the end caps look like on either side of the toe kick joint.
From a distance, the end cap makes the toe kick joint look intentional, instead of just an unfortunate, semi-crooked seam, which is what it looked like before. It’s still not as nice as it would be if it was all one solid piece, but it’s as good as we can do in this instance.
A pretty quick and easy solution to the issue we found. And, it was free since the end caps come with the toe kick anyway and we weren’t using it otherwise.
What are your best Ikea hacks? We’ve shared a few small ideas before, HERE, and HERE.
It may be winter, but now is the perfect time to do a little preparation for spring and summer. I spent an evening replacing Weber grill parts the other day and decided to share it here with you all.
We got this Weber grill from a garage sale five years ago for $5. The owner said the lid wouldn’t go on, so Melissa picked up the lid, and put it right on. It was meant to be and it’s been great for us.
After five years of use, it was ready to be refreshed with some new parts. It needed a new cleaning system, and I wanted a new grill grate. I put them both on my Christmas list, and ended up getting them both.
So after the holidays settled down, I wheeled the grill around the house and into the garage. The grill grate wasn’t much of a task, as you could imagine. It’s basically just replacing one for the other.
The bad part was the cleaning system had slowly been rusting away for a year or two, and I was down to only one damper blade. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Literally. Apologies in advance for the images in this post.
You can see the system I had was quite rusty. It came with a thumb screw that twisted off without much resistance, so I resorted to using the angle grinder with a cut-off wheel to cut the old damper rod off on either side of the nut on the bottom of the grill that held the damper blades in place. You could just as easily use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw.
Here’s the new set from Weber. Make sure and get the right set for your grill. My grill is the 22 1/2 inch kettle, so this one fits.
If you have the 18″ model, you will want part 90992. It can be purchased by calling Weber at 1-800-446-1071
After some quick instructions, with good diagrams (this is Weber we’re dealing with, after all, not Ikea, folks), I assembled the new damper blades and inserted them into the grill.
This is the new model that uses the “H” drive assembly, instead of the nut and thumbscrew to keep it in place. The rod was easy to insert into the opening to lock the new system in place. It’s a little tricky to see here, but it will make a lot more sense when you have the parts in front of you.
Easy as that! My grill is practically as good as new, or rather as good as new-to-us, as the case was with our grill.
I also used my bar clamp to re-shape the kettle to be round again.
To do that, I used a tape measure and took measurements perpendicular to each other until I found measurements that weren’t the same and clamped the longest measurement until they all matched.
By now, you all know that we’re pretty thrifty. So, in this case, it’s no surprise we opted to fix the grill instead of replace. If your grill is also a little worse for the wear, don’t let these little things force you into throwing it out and going to buy a new one for $100. All of the Weber accessories are easy to install and it was a quick little project.
Anyone else doing projects this winter while looking forward to warming weather? After all the sickness we’ve had this winter, Melissa is hoping the groundhog is wrong and spring is on its way soon!
~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. And, we won’t recommend anything we’re not personally a fan of! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~
Today, I’m sharing a quick tutorial for how to patch damaged wood floors without having to rip up the entire floor or hire a flooring expert. This is a a good trick for homeowners to know because damaged floors can cost a lot of money to repair.
So if you follow the Instagram account or saw the posts about the washing machine flood of 2016, you know a piece of our new engineered hardwood floor took some damage.
Engineered hardwood flooring is made in the same manner as plywood, where many layers of wood are glued together. The top layer is thin, and pre-finished. In our case, water saturated this area and seeped between the layers causing the uppermost (finished) layer to swell and buckle up.
Thankfully, we only had one piece that was damaged so it wasn’t a huge repair job. Shortly after the incident, I got to work replacing that piece.
I used my Rockwell 3.0 Amp Sonicrafter with the Wood and Nail End Cut Blade to cut out part of that board. I pulled out extra nails and cleaned up the corners with a chisel and box knife. This prepared the hole for the new piece. I made sure to cut the board so that the seam it created would look intentional and not like a patch.
To do that, I ended up cutting out a larger portion of the flooring than was damaged so we didn’t have a tiny board that looked like an obvious patch.
Because it is difficult to freehand a cut that ends up perfectly square, I measured and marked both sides of the hole and connected them with a line to get an exact fit.
After getting the new piece cut to length, I used the Stanley block plane my grandpa gave me to slightly undercut the sides so it would slide into the hole better.
A quick tip for test fits, tape a piece of paper or leave a tape “tail” on the patch to help get the piece back out of the hole after test fitting.
I tacked the new piece in with brad nails, since we couldn’t install it using the tongue and groove method. So, you could use finishing nails, which isn’t ideal in a high traffic area.
So, you’ll need to use a nail set to hammer the nail below the surface without damaging the surface with the hammer. If you’ve never used a mail set, it looks like this and is a great tool to have on hand for less than $5.
Then, once you get the nails set into the flooring, you’ll need to fill them in with a fill stick. (That link goes to a case of 6, which you won’t need, but we couldn’t find individual ones on Home Depot’s website, so you might check elsewhere before buying 6 of them!)
To fill the nail hole, rub the stick across the indention like a crayon until you have slightly over filled it. Rub it with your finger to smooth it out, the friction heats the fill material just enough to make it easier to work with. Then, use a rag to rub it smooth and clean off any excess. If you place the nails along some darker spots like grain, the darker fill stick will help hide the imperfections.
And there it is! We were able to patch damaged wood floors without spending a dime since we had all the materials on hand. No one can even tell we had a washing machine flood, right?
Of course, all this depends on actually having a spare piece of flooring on hand, so that’s a great reason to keep your leftovers after a flooring project. If you didn’t have any extra and only need a small section, you might be able to go the store and see if they’ll give you a sample that’s large enough.
Any questions? Have you ever had to patch damaged wood floors? This is a totally DIYable fix and will save you so much if you don’t have to call a flooring expert to come help you! Good luck!
~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. And, we won’t recommend anything we’re not personally a fan of! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~
Recently we tackled a big job to kick off the basement renovation, so I thought I’d share a few tips for how to replace a double door, DIwYatt style.
One of the biggest issues with replacing a door is to make sure you get a good tight seal, so it doesn’t leak. Not only does it hurt the efficiency of your home, but it also opens a door, literally, to a bunch of other problems. In our case, this has been needing to be done since we moved in, but we just never got around to it since the basement hasn’t been a priority. But, not only was it frustrating to not have a key or a deadbolt on that door, it also let a bunch of dirt, leaves, moisture, and bugs in. Melissa has been wanting to do this project for awhile. Judging by the amount of dead bugs on the floor, that’s no surprise.
The first, and most important step to get the right sized replacement door. That seems like it wouldn’t be that hard, but even after careful measuring, we’ve found it’s really easy to get wrong, especially if you decide to change door styles instead of going back with the same door size and layout. Our old door was made up of a 30 inch door and a 30 inch window panel next to it. We wanted a larger door, so in our case, it was better to go back in with a 36 inch door, with two side light windows.
Getting the door home is also a challenge, so the trailer came in handy. The shipping pallet the door was attached to was very helpful in getting it home and around to the back of the house.
The next step is to start removing the old door. If you don’t plan on saving the old door, it’s pretty quick to destroy and remove it that way, but we wanted to at least donate the door to the local Re-Store, so we needed to be careful with the removal.
We started by removing the interior trim, as well as cutting the caulking between the brick mold (exterior trim) and the house.
The plates for the striker and deadbolt also needed to be removed, because the screws that hold them on are long enough to gain strength from the jack-stud.
At this point, the only thing holding the door in place is the nails through the brick mold into the house. To start, we used a hammer and a scrap block on the inside to start pushing the old door and nails out of the house. Once the door was started, we were able to use a pry bar to remove it the rest of the way.
The last thing to do to get the old door out is to pry up the door sill. When you put a door in, you want to use an exterior caulk that will withstand the weather and keep the water, bugs, and air out (or in). In an odd turn of events, our old door looked like it has been set in place using liquid nail instead of exterior caulk, perhaps one of the reasons it wasn’t sealed very well. But, it did make it hard to remove. We used the pry bar again to get the sill free and we were ready to take the door out of the opening.
It left a bunch of residue that had to be removed, but you’ll need to remove any old caulk as well, because it could prevent the new caulk from forming a good seal.
If you hadn’t guessed it, pretty much the theme of this post is getting a good seal. If you can do that, your door project will likely go just fine.
After scraping the liquid nail from the opening, we were ready to put the new door in. A couple of things to check at this point are the squareness of the opening and the flatness of the sill. Tom Silva from This Old House has a couple of good videos explaining how to do this. Here is one that we watched prior to tackling this projects. It’s a little more involved than you need, but it will give you some good background information. You can skip ahead to the 12:00 mark if you’d like.
Luckily, we had a square opening and a flat sill.
After opening it up and removing the moving handles, we did several test fits to be sure what our installation approach was going to be. At this point, we marked and pre-drilled the holes where the screws would hold the door to the house would be. Melissa was already excited because this was quite the transformation already.
We ended up laying the door down on it’s exterior face on some blocks so we would have easy access to the interior side of the brick mold and the bottom of the sill plate for applying caulk.
First, remove all the old caulk off the house with a scraper or putty knife.
You’ll need to use exterior caulk. Melissa almost goofed and bought the wrong kind when she ran to get some mid-project.
You also need to apply two think lines of caulk along the concrete.
You want your beads of caulk to be THICK unless you want your door to leak. You’ll hear Tom Silva stress this at about 12:35 in the video above, and you’ll hear him get annoyed about having to repeat himself at about the 12:43 mark.
After applying the caulk, we carefully lifted it into place. It’s heavy, so you may want to enlist the help of a neighbor. Melissa was able to help me with this step.
Once it was in place, we started working on shimming the opening around the screws and getting it secured in place. This step is important to make sure your door frame is true so your door will seal and swing correctly.
Once everything is in place, you can cut off the excess shim lengths. A hammer and chisel work well for that.
Next we used some minimally expanding foam to fill in the gaps between the door and the frame.
The next step was to caulk around the brick mold and fill in all of the exterior holes to prepare for painting.
Again, too much caulk is better than too little here. Just smooth out the bead with your finger for a nice clean, paint-able look.
Then, we painted the door and the door frame and the exterior door trim with white exterior paint and we were done, at least from the outside. Of course, we also had to add the hardware. When we replaced the locks and knob on the front door when we moved in five years ago, we actually bought the matching hardware for this basement door. Melissa had totally forgotten about that and wanted to buy a new one, but I knew where it was stashed in the garage. For as much as she complains about the messy garage, I did pretty well finding it.
Melissa has been working on painting the interior of the door as well, and we had to add new trim, as well, so we’ll be back with a post about that pretty soon.
As for the outside, we’re already enjoying this upgrade a lot. Not only is it a wider door to come in and out while carrying things like table and chairs, but it’s also nice that it’s white to match the rest of the exterior trim on our windows and doors. Oh, and it no longer leaks.
The old door:
And the new one:
Much better. Much more secure (it actually locks with a deadbolt!) and much-better sealed. Thanks to a good caulk job.
Any questions on replacing a door? Leave us a comment, below.
It’s an open seating event and the majority of the people bring blankets, although there are chair sections in the back if you prefer lawn chairs. Blanket seating is nice, especially because we bring a picnic supper, but it can get quite uncomfortable to sit and watch an entire play with no back support. Plus, since it’s it’s crowded, you can’t really stretch out and lounge around, so sitting up straight for that long is rough. This is the photo from the last time we were there, which shows the crowd.
Last time, we went with our picnic basket and blanket and enjoyed the show from our blanket, in spite of a rain delay. While waiting, we discussed options for the next year, and how we could be more comfortable. Seats are allowed in the blanket area as long as they touch or nearly touch the ground. We considered stadium seats, beach chairs, and bed rest pillows. But as the year went on, we had forgotten, until about two hours before we planned to leave for this year’s event. Plus, all those options are fairly expensive.
Melissa ran to Wal-Mart for some groceries and came back with a couple pillows, but they were too flimsy to really help us out much. We brainstormed for a few minutes, and decided to try making some stadium seats out of scrap MDF we had piled up in the garage, leftover from a custom order.
I cut out two backs and two seats, basically making them as large as I could with the scraps we had available. I also measured across my body to make sure 18 inches wide for the seat would be comfortable enough. It was also big enough to fit our old outdoor cushions for some added seat padding.
To attach them, I drilled holes at the top corners of the back and the front corners of the seat, but I’ll get into that more later. I also cut out two handles from the back and seat by drilling four holes and then connecting them with the jig saw. These line up with each other when the seat is folded up so you can easily carry it.
Now, it was time to attach the pieces together. I used a 3/4 inch drill bit to make holes that were large enough for a piece of chain to slide through. We also considered using some nylon rope, but decided to try the chain first.
We had some small chain on hand so I figured that would work well to attach the back to the seat.
I used spare nuts and bolts to secure the chains together after looping them through the holes, but if you used rope, you would just need to tie it off with not so it wouldn’t pull through the holes in the seat. I attached the other end of the chains so that the back made a comfortable angle with the seat. I would guess that ours are about 105 degree angles, but you could make your chains, or ropes, any length that’s comfortable for you.
The nice thing about using the looped chain as opposed to a knotted rope is that it’s semi-adjustable. If you want a straighter back, just keep the chain on top of the seat back. If you want it more reclined, let it slip off and down the side. See the difference? It’s probably 10-15 degrees difference in incline.
Once the seats and backs were chained together, we were essentially done with DIY stadium seat because the pieces worked as a functioning chair that opens and closes.
For the handles, I marked the center and drilled four holes in the “corners” of the handle area. I made it about 4 inches long and deep enough for my knuckles to fit through.
Then, I used the jigsaw to connect those holes and cut out the handle hole.
You’ll want to be sure to sand this so it’s more comfortable to carry. But, it works well and made it a lot less awkward to haul this around.
At this point, I had a little extra time, so I roughly sanded all of the edges with 80 grit sandpaper and Melissa scrounged around her stash of pillows to add some nicer seat cushions.
These were really sturdy to use for the play, and made watching from the ground so much more comfortable, but there could have been a little more cushioning to make them softer since we were sitting in them for more than just a short picnic. Melissa wanted to bring some additional cushioning, but I thought we’d be fine. I underestimated the toll the seats would take on our bottoms for the length of the play. Next year, we will take more cushions so we can have one for the back and the bottom.
Overall, though, we’re really excited to have these for various blanket-seating events. From things like ballgames to outdoor concerts or plays. Even just for things like picnics, or trips to the beach, or future soccer practices and t-ball tournaments, I think we’ll get a lot of use out of these. They happened to fit perfectly in the bag our printer came in, randomly, so for now, we have them stashed in there with the cushions for easy access and throwing in the car. You know, for those spontaneous summer picnics we’re sure to take with a baby and a busy schedule, right?
For now, we just left them raw MDF since we didn’t have time to paint them, but I think Melissa may give them a few coats of outdoor paint to make them more moisture resistant. Of course, if you happened to have some plywood or even some nice cedar boards, you could really make these fancy. Or you could paint them with your favorite team logo or customize them with family names.
All in all, this DIY stadium seat turned out really well for a super quick project and really made the event a lot more fun since we weren’t crunched up trying to get comfortable sitting on a blanket. And, we think these were a great way to use up scrap lumber, and we like that they are sturdy, easy to carry, and for us, were totally free. Plus, they can be customized to suit your preference for the best angle and cushioning, not to mention color or other design features.
…if you did want to buy a similar option, we found a few at Target to compare to. (affiliate links)
This Coleman stadium seat is the most similar to our version, but it isn’t wood. In fact, it might be nice that it isn’t wood since it wood be lighter to carry around if you had to walk a long way with them, or if you wanted kids to be able to carry their own.
What do you think, is this DIY stadium seat something you’d make? Or buy? What kinds of events can you see yourself using it for? How would you customize it? We’d love to hear your ideas and feedback!
~ This post contains affiliate links, which means we will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our direct link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but it helps us! Please reach out if you have any questions about sponsorship or ads on our blog. We’re happy to help explain how this works, and as always, thank you for reading and supporting LovingHere! ~
Now that we’re on this side of the kitchen remodel and looking back, we have a few tips that we wanted to share about doing the cabinet installation ourselves.
It was certainly worth it, for us, to tackle this part of the process ourselves. When we bought the cabinets from Lowe’s, they told us the average installation cost was about ……………. of the total cabinet price, which means we saved about ……….by doing this ourselves.
Even though it’s totally DIYable, there are a few important things to keep in mind. For the basics, you can read this post for how we prepped and handled the installation.
That being said, it’s a lot of work, and we’re hopeful these tips will help you avoid any major problems you might face if you decide to tackle this yourself, too.
1. Paint/stain the unfinished edges of the filler pieces that go between cabinets or between the cabinet and the wall. This will help hide the seams and give a more finished look. Then, use clamps to help hold everything tightly together when attaching everything together. It’s a fool-proof method…as opposed to asking your wife to hold it steady…not that we know that from experience of anything.
It’s also good to connect a row of cabinets together before installing them to the wall.
2. Make a jigs for drilling holes into the doors and drawers for the pulls and knobs. This will speed up the process of aligning the holes to drill and drilling them.
3. For hanging upper cabinets, screw a board to the wall for the cabinets to sit on. This will make it easier to hold the cabinets level on the wall and on the same horizontal plane. This is especially important if you’re working with a small crew of one tired husband and one barely-strong-enough-to-help wife.
Also, the larger the cabinet, the heavier it is, so the more you’ll need this extra set of “hands.”
4. After finding the studs that you will be anchoring the cabinets to, measure and mark on the back of the cabinet where the studs will be and pre-drill the holes. This will help you hit the stud the first time easily. It also helps prevent any splitting of the cabinet wood, especially if your cabinets aren’t solid wood.
5. If you are taking the drywall out at the beginning, take pictures of the studs and where the electrical lines run and transfer those marks to the drywall behind where the cabinets will be. This will be helpful when you are rehanging the cabinets and want to mount them to the studs. Of course, it’s important to not paint over those lines when you paint the room. That was a mistake we made and then learned from later.
6. Take the time to check, and recheck the cabinets are level. A package of shims is one essential tool you might not think to have on hand, but it’s well worth it to not end up with countertops that oranges immediately roll off of.
7. Remember, caulk hides a multitude of sins. Even after carefully measuring and trimming our cabinets, it helped to run a thin bead of caulk down the edge where it meets the wall.. Then, carefully paint the caulk to prevent it from yellowing over time (that’s an important step!) and you’ll be amazed by the professional look.
You’ll also want to be sure and caulk the seems between the cabinets and the backsplash. In wet areas, near the sink, this is essential. In other areas, it’s more aesthetic, but still a good idea.
All in all, it’s not a hard project if you have a plan and all the tools you’ll need. Not to mention, willing helpers.
Oh, and just as a refresher, if you’re installing a sink cabinet, here’s some tips of how to do that special installation, here.
Those are our seven best tips for DIY cabinet installation. What tips would you add to the list?
I think we mentioned in the post about the new doors for the basement guest room that there are a few house upgrades we’re making in every room in the house, slowly but surely, as we make our way through each room.
One of those upgrades is switching out the damaged hollow core doors with white panel doors. Another upgrade is switching our light switches and electrical outlets from almond to white.
In the guestroom makeover, we went one step further and decided to install the tamper resistant outlets in an attempt to start baby proofing the house.
Overall, it’s a pretty simple process…
We also had several phone and cable boxes in that room, but for those, we just used a plain wall cover since we don’t have a house phone or cable coming into that room.
This next step is something that wouldn’t be a bad idea to do even if you aren’t changing you outlets. Go buy yourself an outlet tester. They have special ones for GFI outlets also.
These testers are easy to use. They light up and tell you that your outlet is wired right (or wrong). In this room, all of the outlets were wired with the hot and neutral backwards, Plus, we found out none of the grounds were connected. Just another frustrating development we’ve found in the electrical work here.
Flip the breaker switch off. It’s good to leave the tester plugged in so you know it is really off.
When you get ready to start replacing the wiring, if your wires are pushed into the back of the outlets, it may be worth it to just cut the old outlet off instead of pulling the wires out. Sometimes it’s difficult to get old outlets to release the wires
After that, you’re ready to get your new outlet ready to install. They make outlets with easy shark-bite style holes in the back, but the outlets with screws are the better way to go. It’s a good idea to screw in the posts (screws) that you don’t plan on using, as well as unscrew the posts a little for the ones you will be using. This helps give you more room to get the wires attached.
Once the outlet is prepared, its time to prepare the wires. I stripped the protective coating off the wires with my wire strippers. You’ll need somewhere around an inch, or slightly less, bare wires. I also use pliers to bend a little hook at the end of each one that will wrap around the posts. Most needle-nose pliers are about the perfect size to create the loop you’ll need.
I also find it easier if the wire is hooking in the same direction the screw turns to tighten.
Assuming the wiring in the house is hooked up correctly, the black wire goes to the brass side and white wire goes to the silver side. The bare copper wire is the ground and goes to the green screw on the bottom of the outlet. You want to place the little hook around each post and then use your screw driver to tighten the post down on top of the wire.
This isn’t a bad time to take your vacuum and clean out the outlet box to remove any of the bugs, sheet rock dust, or whatever else might be in there from the initial installation or years of being in the walls.
In the picture above, you can kind of see the bendy shape of the wires. It makes it easier to put the outlet back in the box if you form your wires into this shape before pushing it back in the box. The “S” shape keeps you from having a tangled mess to shove in there. Plus, if the wires go nicely into the box, it’s less likely any of the wires will accidentally loosen as you handle the outlet.
Once everything is put back, be sure to check the outlet to make sure you get the lights for a correct wiring set up.
Then all you need is the face plate. We spent a little more on these new outlets with the baby in mind. That “TR” stands for tamper resistant, meaning something has to go in both holes for the gates in the vertical slots to open. It’s just less likely a kid will be able to stick something in there and shock himself. Or herself.
It’s a pretty easy process, but can be tricky or intimidating if you’ve never done it before. We recommend you always consult a professional electrician before doing any electrical work in your house. You also need to be sure to follow any local permit requirements and housing codes.
All in all, this was a quick update that makes the room feel a lot more modern and upgraded, not to mention safe.
Have you ever replaced outlets or light switches? Have you found any wrong wiring in your DIY projects? What are some of your favorite tips?
Melissa knew long before we started planning Beanie’s nursery that she wanted a full wall of books to read with our little one. It became my job to make that a reality.
I started by talking about the steps to build our own book ledges in THIS POST. Once we got them primed, painted, and covered with a clear coat, we were ready to hang them on the wall.
The first step was to make sure we hung each shelf far enough apart that even the tallest books would fit. Melissa had her mom measure a couple of the larger books she wants for the future, “I Spy” and “Where’s Waldo.” Both of those would fit in a 14 each space between each shelf, but we decided to go for 16 inches to give us a little extra room.
We also knew we needed the bottom shelf to sit above the outlet so we would still have access to that if we needed it.
I measured the wall and found the studs, using tape as markers so I wouldn’t have to draw on the walls. I made sure to mark each stud every 16 inches up the wall.
Then, I pre-drilled the holes in each shelf to line up with the studs. There were six studs behind each shelf, and we decided to use four screws per shelf, which should be more than enough to keep these securely attached to the wall, even if she finds some sort of super-heavy children’s books made of concrete.
Melissa helped by supporting one end of each shelf while I worked my way across each shelf. She made sure to line up the end with the mark on the tape.
I also started each screw ahead of time to save time.
The first one was the hardest because we had to do all the measuring. After that it went really fast.
Pretty soon, they were all attached and I was ready to touch up the screws with some paint so they wouldn’t show as much. Of course, the screws aren’t likely to show since the books will be sitting in front of them, but this made sure of the fact.
When I left the room to get cleaned up for the night, Melissa couldn’t wait another minute to try them out. She said she was very careful to avoid any wet paint but I made her wait until the next day to finish loading them up with books.
She has been collecting used books from garage sales or borrowing them for awhile now but she’s still hoping to add several more favorites to our own collection. She’s really excited to start reading these to Beanie. Most of them, I’ve actually never read, but I’m sure I’ll get the chance. Plus, she said she has like 20-30 more books on her favorite list she’s still hoping to add to the collection so we’ll need to choose some of the best ones for little babies to put on the shelves at first. Then, we can switch to new ones as Beanie grows up.
We’re another step closer to having the nursery ready. The next big thing is probably to get it all cleaned up and organized so we have room for the crib and the rocking chair.
What do you think of this project? Or Melissa’s enthusiasm for children’s books?
A couple weekends ago, I put together the book ledge shelves for Beanie’s nursery. Since then, we’ve been working on getting them painted and hung on the wall. Melissa is pretty excited about this project being checked off the list.
We considered just buying pre-made ledges, since this idea is certainly not original to us, but the cheapest option we found came from IKEA, and since Melissa wanted the shelves to span the entire wall, we would have needed to buy a whole bunch of these 45-inch shelves, probably at least eight of them, for a total of $120. That’s not a crazy price, but we knew we could build them ourselves for a lot cheaper.
Overall, it was a pretty quick project, if you don’t count how many days it took us to get them painted. We were working on other projects, and took a few days off in the middle.
The first step was to determine exactly how many shelves we needed and what size they should be. Melissa helped by getting the measurements of some of the larger books she wanted and then planning how low and how she wanted each shelf to be on the wall.
Once we had a plan, I started by picking out the lumber I’d need from Home Depot. We needed four 1″x3″ select pine boards and eight 1″x2″ select pine boards, all of which were eight feet long. For this project, it was important to make sure the 1″x3″ boards didn’t have any twists or bows in them. You can just look down the board from one end to make sure they are straight.
The total lumber cost was $46 for four 8-foot shelves. Way cheaper than buying the shelves from Ikea, which would have come to more than $120 for shorter than 8-foot shelves.
The 1″x3″ would be used as the bottom of the shelf, and the 1″x2″ boards will be used for the front and back. So my first step was to pre-drill the screw holes on the back side so the shelves could sit flush against the wall.
Then, I was ready to attach the back to the bottom. I applied a bead of glue along the whole board.
After that, I spread the glue with my finger.
And then finish attaching it with screws. I clamped it down to hold it in place.
Here it is attached.
I glued the front face on the same as the back, but instead of using screws to attach it, I brad nailed it in place. This was to keep the front face from having large holes to fill later.
I did have a little bit of squeeze out from the glue. I wiped it away with a rag.
After all of the glue was dry, I use a hand plane and chisels to smooth the joints and get rid of excess glue.
At this point, the shelves were ready to fill any holes with wood filler and then sand smooth.
I slightly rounded over all corners on the front face to make them less sharp. After all, this is going into a child’s room.
We used 2 coats of Zinsser primer before adding the finish coat.
We’ll be back to talk about getting these shelves installed soon. Melissa couldn’t wait more than five minutes to start filling them with books. I think it’s the thing she was most excited about in the nursery, except for the actual baby to come, of course.
She’s still collecting books for Beanie. What are some of your suggestions for the best books to read to little ones?
Now that we had the headboard made, it was time to figure out how to hang it on the wall. Go back and read this post for ow we built and upholstered this giant headboard for only $25.
We considered several options for this, including building legs for the headboard and attaching them to the bed frame. But, we ended up deciding it would be easiest to attach the headboard to the wall for a few reasons. First, we’re using two twin bed frames and may want to pull them apart if we have guests who aren’t a couple spending the night, like Melissa’s mom and sister, who always come help us host the garage sale each year. Having the headboard on the wall would make it quicker and easier to switch the room arrangement. Also, if we built legs for the headboard, we’d have to cover them or stain them since they would likely show, at least a little bit. More work.
So, we needed a way to securely attach the headboard to the wall above the bed so it wouldn’t be able to be knocked down by a bump in the night. Melissa suggested she also wanted it to hang perfectly flat against the wall (unlike how pictures are often slightly offset from the wall at the top where the hanging hardware hits the wall). That led us to the idea to use a wooden cleat system.
This is the same hanging system we used to mount our wooden growth chart, which is out most popular post, by the way, if you want to check it out, but we didn’t include a tutorial for that and we’ve gotten quite a few questions on how we did it.
The first step was to create the two cleats, one to attach to the wall and one to attach to the headboard. (More info here on how we created the frame for the headboard.)
I used the table saw, set on an angle, to cut the 2×4 down on a bevel to create the two cleats.
Just make sure the angle is exactly the same and it will fit together perfectly.
Remember, the top piece will be attached to whatever you’re hanging. The bottom piece will be attached to the wall.
I used my hand plane to remove any rough edges and smooth the corners a bit.
I actually ended up creating one long cleat to attach to the wall (to allow me to find and hit wall studs easier when hanging it) and then two sorter cleats for the back of the headboard, one for each side. You could use one long piece for the top as well if you wanted, but these were the scrap pieces I had on hand.
This is what it looked like in a practice test before I attached everything. The pieces are being propped up in place here to make sure they fit together correctly.
I attached the wall cleat to the wall, being sure to hit at least two studs.
You can see how it works better from this angle. The other cleat, made with the opposite angle as this one, slips between the wall cleat and the wall, creating a secure hanging system.
And then I screwed the headboard cleats to the back of the headboard using holes I pre-drilled with my Kreg jig. I propped them up with scrap boards to ensure they were the right distance away from the back of the headboard to fit securely over the wall cleat.
Then, it was as easy as slipping the headboard cleat onto the top of the wall cleat, which securely holds it in place.
It was a quick, easy process, and now the headboard hangs perfectly flush with the wall and is very secure.
The only way to remove it is to lift it up and off the wall cleat, which won’t happen by accident as it’s pretty heavy. However, you can slide it side to side, with a little effort, to make sure it’s centered. I measured from either side of the window to get it exactly how Melissa wanted it.
Then, I moved in the bed frames and mattresses, again keeping everything centered. You can see how the headboard tucks behind the mattresses. We also have a couple inches of overhang from the headboard on either side, which was perfect considering the door was already that size so I didn’t have to cut it at all. It is also a nice height to balance out the large king bed.
If you’re looking for more information on wooden cleat hanging systems, you can check out this link for a video tutorial. It really is one of the best ways to hang heavy items securely to the wall.
What are some of your preferred hanging methods? With a kid on the way, we’ve both been thinking about ways to start the baby-proofing process and this wall hanging system is one easy way to make sure kids can’t pull things down on top of them.
This year, for the third year in a row, we’re working to keep the darn birds from stealing all our blueberries before they are ripe. So frustrating.
Just look at all those little berries we have to protect.
Last year, Wyatt really stepped up the bird barrier “house” but we used the same netting as we had used before and the birds were able to pick it up and walk under it. Seriously, these darn things are smarter than I gave them credit for.
Of course, it should have served as a warning when we had the Yard Bird incident last summer.
Poor little guy was probably going into the netting to catch a bird that was eating our blueberries…and then he got stuck. We might as well have just built a hawk trap as well as it ended up working.
But, this year, Wyatt decided to use wire instead of netting. It is sturdier so they won’t be able to pick it up with their beaks and walk under it to get in. And hopefully it won’t be as dangerous in terms of snagging bird/hawk feet and trapping them.
I wanted to use the chicken wire for the entire height of the sides, which are about 5 feet tall. I had picked up a roll of 2 foot wide wire at the thrift shop this winter, so we just needed a 3 foot wide roll to cover the rest of the height. I unrolled the wires and attached them to the corner posts one at a time with zip ties.
The wire only covered the sides and back, because we are still utilizing the hanging front door.
I used zip ties to attach the two rolls of wire together on each side.
We went ahead and used the netting for the roof portion by draping one piece across the top and zip tying it to the wire sides and corner posts. We figure that’s all sealed up so there’s no way a bird could get in there, and hopefully, they won’t get stuck in it, either. Sheesh.
We also grabbed a new, larger hook for the wind chimes that are hanging next to our strawberries.
The hook we used last year was so small the chimes hung too low to catch any of the breeze. They were basically useless other than just decoration.
We also added a bunch of mulch to the inside and outside of the little “house” so hopefully the birds can’t “dig” under the chicken wire. I think it should provide the extra protection we need.
It’s a little hard to see in the photos, but there is about 3-4 inches of mulch piled up on the inside of the “fence.” I figure that should help keep them from going under the wire…if they could even fit under there.
All in all, we’re doing everything we can to help protect our berries this year…again. Fingers crossed this is the year we’ll win.
When you need long clamps for a project, you head to your local home improvement store. When you get to the clamp section you might find yourself in sticker shock. The truth is, long clamps are kind of an expensive thing.
Instead of spending the $70 for two of these clamps, I went another route.
In the same clamp section, Home Depot sells these for $13.97 each.
They are the clamp part of the bar clamp. With these all you need is a piece of 3/4 inch pipe.
There are varying opinions about what type of pipe to use. The packaging suggests black pipe, which is what I went with. Quick online research mentions that black pipe could potentially stain wood, with recommendations of a painters tape barrier. Others suggest galvanized pipe which some people experience slippage between the clamp and pipe. You can decide for yourself.
Here’s the tricky part. They sell 60 inch (5 foot) black pipe with the threaded ends for about $15 each. Not much savings there. OR you can buy the 120 inch (10 foot) just under $11. Home Depot will cut the pipe down to length, AND re-thread the cut ends for free! What a great deal! So here are my materials.
The head of the clamp fixture screws onto the threads on the end of the pipe.
The tail end of the pipe clamp fixture slides on and is held on by those silver plates below.
Then you screw this key ring looking keeper on the the threads on the end to keep the tail end fixture from sliding off.
It’s a nice little set of clamps.
2 x 48 inch aluminum bar clamp: $74.94
2 x bar clamp fixture: $27.94
1 x 10 foot of 3/4 inch black pipe, (cut down into two 5 foot sections and re-threaded for free): $10.82
Savings of $36.18 and about six more inches of clamping!
A plus side to using these bar clamps is that you can extend the bar to any length you need by adding a coupling and another bar.
These might not be as cool as getting some antique ones from an auction, but they are quick, affordable, and functional.
Who doesn’t need a 4 foot clamp? Or two for that matter!? It’s a small investment that every garage needs!
When we left off talking about the nook shelving, things were already starting to look a lot better, but we were also anxious to add the trim at the top and really complete the whole area.
There’s clearly something missing in these photos. Those dark shadows at the top aren’t so great, huh?
Not to mention when you look closer up at the ceiling and walls behind the cabinets.
So, to finish up this area, I needed to add trim and tops to the open shelving. I started with the tops of each shelving area. They were just going to sit on top of the cabinet and be attached to the trim. So I measured my openings and left them an inch wider. The extra inch allowed them to sit on top of the cabinets.
I did this for both the corner (triangle) shelves and the (square) shelves in the middle, making each top piece the same shape as the shelves, just slightly larger.
Then I moved on to the trim that would fit between the cabinets and the ceiling on the front face. Like this:
The only tricky part with the trim was the angles of the cuts. Because of the triangle corner, the angles had to be cut at a 22.5 degree angle. This is because the 90 degree angle needed to be split between two 45 degree joints. Each joint splits the 45 degree angle in half, making the angle to cut on each piece 22.5 degrees.
(If you aren’t great at math, you can ask for clarification here, but I figure it’s unlikely anyone will be copying this exact project in their house so I should go over our method pretty quickly. Feel free to ask about any trim questions you have when doing your own projects.)
Once the pieces were cut, I was ready to glue and nail them together. In our situation, it was easier to attach the pieces together and install them all at one time. I attached the tops to the trim with my Kreg Jig and pocket hole screws. After they were attached, I filled the nail holes and any cracks with paintable wood putty and then sanded it down. This is the plan we used:
Because the ceiling wasn’t quite straight, I had to rip the front trim pieces down in several areas to get a perfect fit. The shortest could be 3/4 of an inch wide and the tallest could be 1 and 1/4 of an inch wide. So I glued and nailed the pieces together with the bottom sides of the trim flush. Then I planed and sanded them to fit with the ceiling. Like this:
It looks a little funny on its own, but once it’s all painted, it just blends in and looks nice.
I did a dry fitting (several times) to make sure everything fit as snugly as possible.
With a couple of coats of primer and paint, we were ready to install. Once it was wedged in place, I nailed it in place with a small finish nail gun. To finish it off, I caulked the edges and Melissa painted the caulk.
It really makes the room look complete, like we purchased the entire unit from the cabinet manufacturer and had it installed.
But we didn’t. We really saved more than $1000 by doing it ourselves.
See, much better?
The kitchen is really coming along, and we’re really almost done now, I promise. And even though taking out this small wall where the pantry used to be was a pain, we’re really glad we spent the time and effort to do this renovation how we really wanted it. It’s hard to believe we’ve gone from this:
So much more open and functional. Not to mention light and bright.
It helps to see the before and afters when we get frustrated about this taking a year…but man, we’ve done so much in this one room!
What’s been your favorite project so far in the kitchen renovation? Melissa and I both like the nook transformation and the new pantry area a lot!
We’re slowly checking off the list of remaining kitchen projects and one of those was reusing the can light we removed from the soffit above the sink in the entryway to the garage.
There had been a regular flush mount lighting fixture in that location.
Although for awhile, it has looked like this, a dark area with wires sticking out of the junction box:
We thought we could reuse the entire can light, but ended up having to buy a new base kit and only reusing the frame on the outside. Basically, the builders had removed one of the necessary side braces. But, a replacement base kit was only about $7 at Home Depot, and we could still reuse the trim ring from the old can light kit.
Because we were working with an existing hole in the ceiling, I did some prep work to make sure the face frame would be large enough to cover the hole we’d need to cut and to determine the best way to enlarge the hole for the can light.
I created a template using a compass set a little over half as wide as the can light on some paper. After cutting it out and taping it to the ceiling, I was ready to use it to cut the right size hole with my Dremel tool and dry wall bit.
Here’s the piece we cut out. Reminds me of Star Wars…
After cutting out the hole, I was ready to go into the attic and fasten the new kit into place. It has adjustable arms that extend to the ceiling joists with nails.
As usual, when you’re doing any wiring, we recommend you work with a professional to ensure you get things exactly right. And always make sure the power is off before working on any electrical project.
We have been really pleased with the LED bulbs we purchased for the other kitchen can lights so we went to Home Depot to grab one more of those for this light as well.
All in all, a very simple project considering all the things we’ve had to work on for this remodel. It helps that nothing about this project really fought back, so we could finish it in one night. Very encouraging considering all the struggles we’ve had with fitting trim in our un-square house lately.
And now, there’s no more dark corner in the nook. Melissa has found this to be a big improvement. It helped a lot to have this step done when working on the trim for this area, too.
We took a little break over the weekend to celebrate Easter with our families but we’re planning to try and finish the kitchen this week if possible. (That’s Melissa’s goal, anyway) so we’ll be back with more updates, soon.
The kitchen is moving along nicely. We are getting so close we can both finally see the finish line. Last weekend, I tackled the last building project we have to do. If you remember, we needed to build two different shapes of shelves for the nook project, outside corner shelves and shelves between two cabinets. Here is the corner…empty and weird:
And the middle area. Even emptier and weirder:
We could have bought shelves with the cabinets, but we figured up the cost and we saved about $1000 this way, so we figure that’s worth drawing the project out a little longer even if we’re both tired of the kitchen project. I started out with my measurements. The upper cabinets in the nook were a standard 12 inches deep, that makes things a little simpler. Careful planning and perfectly straight cuts was a big part of this project.
I decided to make these shelves out of MDF with a pine face. To accommodate the pine face, I needed cut the MDF 3/4 of an inch short than the 12 inches. I also wanted to stick with the same look as the other shelves we made, so I planned on stacking 2 pieces of MDF together to get that inch and a half thickness. (For the open shelving we used 2 x 12 boards, but the MDF was going to work fine for these because they are smaller and won’t hold as much weight.
The concept is a little difficult to explain and a little unique in itself, but I think the photos will help explain as we go along. Here’s the concept from the side so you can see the plan:
The corner shelf needed to be 11.25 inches on either side of the cabinets. So I cut out a 12 inch square and marked my 11.25 inch sides.
Then, I rotated the crosscut fence on my table saw to a 45 degree angle.
And cut along those lines.
Because I was able to use the table saw and cross cut fence, there wasn’t much straightening up needed on the side.
I did this for the three shelves we’re putting on the corner, cutting a total of six triangle pieces.
I sanded off the saw marks with a sanding block I made out of two scrap 2″x4″s and a piece of 60 grit sand paper from a belt sander. The piece in the middle is scrap since we were using the pine face boards.
Then, I sat my triangle MDF pieces on my pine face board and marked the 45 degree cut lines. I made those cuts on my miter saw. Time to attach everything together.
To attach the face boards, I used glue and pocket hole screws. I also went ahead and drilled pocket holes for where we’ll be attaching them to the cabinets.
I wanted to attach the pine face to the bottom triangle shelf. Then, we’ll attach that piece to the cabinets and set the second triangle shelf board on top to hide the pocket holes. Stay with me, the photos will help explain what I’m talking about.
As a side note, always label the parts that go together when building something like this so your fit is perfect for each shelf.
This is the bottom shelf piece with the face frame attached:
The second triangle shelf board fits right on top like a puzzle.
And makes it look like one cohesive shelf.
I followed this exact process for the middle shelves except these don’t need to be triangle shaped, so it was a little simpler. I used one long piece of MDF and cut it down into the sizes I needed for my two-part shelves.
I needed eight total boards that size, four for the tops and four for the bottoms. These are the tops.
I attached the pine face to one of the shelf boards (the bottom one) just as I described in the steps above for the triangle shelves.
Another important step was making sure the two boards fit together perfectly to avoid a ledge or bump. The glue could cause the boards to not fit exactly.
So, I used my hand planer to remove a tiny lip from the bottom inside corner of the top board to make room for the glue so it would fit perfectly.
After the glue was dry, I sanded the joint smooth by hand with my 60 grit sanding block, followed by grits 150 and 220. Once this joint was smooth, I was ready to fit the second side. I clamped the second MDF board the MDF piece that was joined to the face and began to sand it to get a perfect fit. Remember, these aren’t attached yet. We’ll install the bottom boards in the cabinets (with the face frame attached) and then set the top board on top to hide all the pocket holes.
Then we were ready for paint. Two coats of primer and two coats of cabinet paint later and we have some nearly finished shelves.
I lightly sanded with the 220 grit sand paper between coats to knock down any bumps in the paint. This was most important in the primer coats, when the wood reacted to the wetness of the paint and raised up into bumps.
We’re working on a clear spray coat right now and then we’ll be ready to hang them. Melissa is really, really excited for that part in the process because the weird holes in the cabinets have been bothering her a lot. And, she has a bunch of stuff all ready to fill the shelves.
I know this post was super long and a little hard to follow so please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and I can explain more, if anyone is even still reading this. I know it’s a little technical…
What do you think of our plan to make these “floating” shelves in such a unique way? Worth saving the $1000 for a weekend of work or would you have preferred to just buy the ones that came with the cabinets?
I DIwYatt-ed this Antique Mall map using a mapping website called BatchGeo.com and data from Google Maps. I post about some of this stuff on my tech blog BizIntelSolutions, but thought this would be a good place to share this on since we know a lot of you all enjoy thrifting and finding bargain or vintage treasures.
What are some of your favorite places to get antiques? Any places we missed on the map?
Before getting started on the drywall, I wanted to get started on the nook area. This would allow us to know how far down the wall to drywall.
I started by building the sides of the nook area that would be the structure for the drawer cabinet. This will also be what the counter top sits on. Based on my design, the order of putting in pieces was back, bottom, and then sides. I bought a sheet of 1/2 inch MDF for this part of the project. It is just a platform and sides for the inside of the drawer cavity.
I started by cutting the back and bottom sides to fit using my circular saw. Once the back was attached, I had to clean tools and dirt/dust out the bottom.
Measured twice, cut once. Perfect fit.
My grandpa gave me a finishing nail gun a while back. You have probably seen it or heard about it already. But that is what I used to attached the MDF to the studs.
Melissa thought this picture made my hair look gray…
Before working on this any more, I wanted to get the drywall up and counter tops ordered so that they could get here.
We got the drywall finished before the delivery and the lower cabinet installed, but not much else on the nook.
Next was time to finish the inside of the drawer cavity. I cut the side walls to side and nailed them in place.
The face of the nook is mostly 3/4″ MDF that we eventually painted with the matching paint. I could discuss the
Next we hung the upper cabinets. I had to remind myself where the studs in the wall were by referring to A Drywall Date from back in the early stages of the remodel.
I screwed a board to the wall to help hold the cabinets up and keep them level. We mounted the three upper cabinets, leaving space at the top for the trim. I used the jig for adding the door pulls.
Then we moved on to the back splash in the nook.
After finishing up the back splash, we were ready to move onto adding a face to the frame to the nook drawer. I nailed up the face, added some wood putty to smooth the joints, and Melissa used the cabinet-matched paint to paint it.
After this we were ready to build the drawer. I built the drawer just like the pantry drawers, which you can read about here. When it came time to glue it, I used extra clamps to give it a really tight seal.
One little trick to keep your clamps free of glue residue is to use a scrap of wood as a buffer.
And remember to sand down the drawer after it’s glued (and dried) to get rid of any excess.
Then, I applied a coat of poly and let that dry for 24 hours before we moved on to the next step—installation.
You can see the drawer glides on the counter in the picture above. We got them from Home Depot and they work pretty well. I followed the instructions when installing them.
I used some shims to make sure the glides were aligned perfectly.
The glides also came with some directions on how large the drawer should be. These say to make the drawer one half of an inch narrower than the walls of the drawer on each side, which is what I did. Once the drawer was built, we were ready to install the glides and the drawer face. These two steps rely on each other a bit.
Melissa insisted we do some test fitting. It’s a really large drawer.
So here is a quick drawer lesson. Your drawers will work best if your handle is almost level with the glides. This is because you want the effort of pulling the drawer to be in line with the slides. This is mostly to keep the face of the drawer from becoming weak or coming away from the rest of the drawer body.
If you put the handle higher than the glides, you put pressure on the drawer glide in the red “pressure point” in the diagram below due to upward and forward force.
Likewise, if you put the handle lower than the glides, you put pressure on the drawer glide in the red “pressure point” in the diagram below due to downward and forward force.
When you put the handle close to even with the drawer glide, you eliminate most of the cause of the pressure points outlined above.
We wanted the drawer handle bar to be a little higher than center on the nook drawer, so we mounted the glides accordingly.
It may not seem like the glides are centered, but you have to keep in mind the drawer front extends up above the the drawer box.
To install the drawer front, I had to use spacers since the drawer had an inset center where we needed to attach it.
We are very pleased with the overall finished look and additional space and functionality…but Melissa said I had to wait and let her post the final reveal tomorrow. She said 900 words was already too long for a blog post.
In the meantime, I’m just really happy this project is done. This blog post took several months to write, so we’re ready to move on to the next one. Or sit on the couch and rest for four and a half months until this baby gets here…? Who thinks that’s the best idea?
Melissa talked about the plan for the pantry, here. After sharing some pretty revealing photos of the mess we had been living with.
To build the pantry drawers, I first needed to come up for a design and plans. For starters, I worked out the plan for how I’d arrange my cuts to use only one sheet of plywood.
I watch a lot of woodworking shows on PBS on the weekends, and I that’s where I pick up a lot of tips. If you are interested in getting into woodworking, PBS has a few good shows that explains a lot of concepts.
All drawers will need 4 sides and a bottom. A lot of cabinet makers will use a dovetail joint to attach the four sides together, but I don’t have the materials, skill, or time to make those joints. So instead, I went with a box joint. To do this, I needed to set up my table saw with a new throat plate. My first YouTube video is up now with the second half of making it.
So after I had my table saw set up, I needed to make a jig for cutting all of my box joints. I think I got this tip from an episode of Rough Cut with Tommy Mac on PBS one Saturday Morning. The jig consists of attaching a board to extend the crosscut fence, and a specifically placed key. Here it is.
Here is the back view:
In order to keep my plans simple, I decided to make the sides an even number of inches, 4 inches for the top two and 6 inches for the bottom one.
This helped make designing the box joints simple and make them in 1/2 inch increments and 1/2 inch deep. You can see the test joint below, although since this test board wasn’t quite the right width, it didn’t work out perfectly.
Here’s a closer look:
Finally, I settled on the right arrangement. Once my jig and dado blades were set up, I was ready to start cutting my real joints.
I posted a couple of teaser photos to my Instagram, but here is the box joints cut without the bottom of the drawer and without being glued up.
After getting the box joints finished, I was ready to start on the joint for the drawer bottoms. The most common way to accomplish this is which a rabbet joint. I used the same 1/2 dado blade set up to cut my rabbet. I wanted my rabbet to be half of the thickness of my sides (1/4 inch). The important thing about this is to pay attention to your front drawer side. You want to make sure the rabbet runs behind one of the fingers. This helps the overall appearance, I’ll point it out later. Here is the rabbet.
With the drawer bottom, you want to keep in mind to include the extra 1/4″ on each side for the rabbets. So if my drawer was 23 inches wide measured from the outside, the inside measurement would be 22 inches, because I used 1/2 inch material. To account for my rabbets, I need to add 1/4 on each side to the inside measurement, so 22 inches + 1/4 inch + 1/4 inch = 22 and 1/2 inches wide for my drawer bottom.
After getting my drawer bottom cut, I did a dry fit to see how everything was working. I noticed that my dado blades have a slight point on the edges creating a shape like below when cutting my box joints.
You want it to look like this:
So I made a sanding stick. Never heard of that? Me either until I started following Brian (http://instagram.com/bjmacwoodwork/) on Instagram. He uses adhesive backed sand paper attached to a scrap piece of wood. I didn’t have any adhesive backed sand paper, but I did have used belt sander belts. So I cut a strip and glued it to a scrap piece of wood with Titebond. This quickly helped square up my cuts.
Then I was ready to glue everything up. I used a paint brush to apply glue. Then, I had to clamp everything together. I didn’t have a great way to do that, so I researched a little online and found these Pony Band Clamps at Home Depot. They worked like a charm!
Finally, it was time to get everything dry-fitted together one last time before gluing.
I think they worked great. I only bought 2 of them, and used them both for each drawer.
This made the glue up take three days, one day for each drawer. But the value and ease of use was well worth it in my book. The clamps tighten like ratchet straps to get a very secure hold. And, they go all the way around the drawer so nothing slips out of place.
It came with brackets to put on the corners to help save the straps from glue and protect the corners.
After the glue was dry, I sanded all of the joints smooth with the palm sander. Be as thorough as you can in this step, because excess glue WILL show with any stain or seal coat. I know from experience…
I put on one coat of polyurethane to seal the drawers.
Then, I sanded each one a little to give them a nice smooth finish.
Eventually, it was time to get them installed. But, that was a whole different challenge I’ll pick up on next time.
In the meantime, check out this sneak peek a the finished result:
Ever wanted to build your own drawers? Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll try to help!
As part of the kitchen/floor/never-ending remodeling project, we wanted to replace the stair railing with something a little more sturdy and functional. Melissa had the idea to turn the area into built-in bookshelves with a railing on the back. I was a little skeptical at first, but she convinced me it would work, and I knew I could build it pretty easily.
After all, the current bookshelves were about to explode in her office.
If you remember, the railing area started out looking like this:
Here’s another angle:
After telling me what she wanted, I came up with this plan using a free program called SketchUp:
If you wanted to do this project at your house, I’d suggest just measuring the existing area and planning your bookshelves to be that size. We altered the size a bit to accommodate for the trim at the bottom on the shelves and to make each shelf spaced evenly. Feel free to ask if you have questions on how to do this.
To get started on the actual project, I took the railing all apart when we were demoing for the new flooring.
After removing the railing and post, we took a break from this project to put the flooring in. In the meantime, we bought the wood we were going to use and let it start acclimating to our house.
When it came time to start building, I started by cutting all the of the pieces to length and width according to my plans. I did some initial sanding at this point to clean up any major imperfections with my grandpa’s old belt sander.
I used a half lap on the center divider for both shelves.
This is a similar process as I used for the pantry, which I’ll discuss in more detail later, and the farmhouse table last year.
If you have more questions about this process, feel free to ask.
Then, I glued and screwed all joints, using clamps to hold everything in place.
The plan called for putting a face frame on the front and backing on the backside, so I took that opportunity to use my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig for joining everything together on the sides facing the front and back since the holes wouldn’t show in the finished product.
After the main pieces of the bookshelf were put together, I made the face frame. I cut and pocket-hole-screwed each piece to make sure it lined up exactly with the shelf. Then, I glued and nailed the face frame to the bookshelf and let it all dry overnight. Melissa didn’t get any pictures of this process but it was the same process I used for the pantry boxes, so a photo of building those faceframes will help illustrate the idea.
Basically, a frame made from 1 x2’s sits on the front of the bookshelves frame and hides the end grain from showing and provides a nice square edge instead of the slightly rounded, imperfect edges the boards have.
At this point, there were some gaps and joints that weren’t flush since we were using cheap framing lumber (2 x 12’s). We planned to paint it white, so to fill in the gaps and joints, we used wood filler.
After filling and letting it dry overnight, I sanded everything down and we were ready to paint.
We used 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of the paint that matches the trim. Finally we were ready to get these shelves installed.
To achieve the built-in look, we needed the bottom shelf of the bookcase to be just above the height of the trim, so my friend Jeremiah came over to help move the bookshelf around and attach some blocks to raise the bookshelf, as it was too heavy for Melissa to carry.
After adding the blocking, we carried it in and sat it in place. I attached it to the floor by pocket hole screwing the attached blocking to the floor and screwing into a stud in the wall the bookcase rested against. You can see we left the flooring unfinished where the built-ins would sit. This helped us avoid wasting the expensive flooring and prevented the shelves from being any higher than they needed to be.
I was already concerned about the shelves feeling too big in the space, even though Melissa said she didn’t care how high they ended up being.
I had to use shims to help level everything out and make it sit flush with the wall.
I intentionally waited until this point to attach the backing. It made it easier to carry and move around. Melissa had already painted the board that was pre-cut to fit in the basement.
I used my grandpa’s finish nailer to attache the backing, using clamps to hold everything firmly in place.
At this point, it was really taking shape and we got excited about the finished look.
I filled the holes, sanded them, and touch up painted them. Melissa was concerned about the backing looking cheap and thin so we made sure to caulk and paint the seam to help it blend in to the overall piece instead of looking like an afterthought just attached on the back.
The side view also lets you see a hint of the face frame, if you’re really looking for it.
The backside of the base had some weird trim issues presented by the existing trim that had been used by the builders on the original railing. We tried to work those pieces into the design and managed to make things look pretty good, even if it’s a little odd upon closer inspection. There is still a small gap we need to cut one more piece of trim for on the back, but it isn’t noticeable unless you bend down and look closely. We’ll tackle that after we finish our holiday break.
Once everything was attached, I cut and installed the same trim that is around the rest of the room. Melissa added wood putty to the nail holes and gave everything one final coat of paint. You can see how it makes it look built in the house, like it has always been there.
Then, Melissa rushed to fill the space with some leftover Christmas decorations and get everything ready for the party. She’ll move into these for real after we clean up all the holiday decor.
Again, it’s crazy how much the overall look of the room changed when we went from this:
Talk about a transformation, right? I was a little worried about it being too big and closing off the room. But now that it is finished, I think Melissa’s vision was right on. Ever added built in features to your house? I think Melissa is hooked on this now. What do you think?
We’re back sharing the rest of the flooring tips and tricks we learned along the way. For Part 1, see yesterday’s post. Again, remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific flooring. These are the tips and tricks we learned along the way.
6. The transitions between the new floor and the carpet or linoleum in the hall bathroom were a little tougher. Each one took about an hour, so I was lucky that there were only four doorways to manage.
The basic idea is that you cut a channel on the back of the board in order to overlap the other flooring material. It doesn’t sound that difficult, but once you get into it, it is challenging to get everything cut just perfectly.
For the linoleum, Melissa used a marker to color the edge of the wood that showed after I used a scraper to taper the edge down the thickness of the thinner linoleum so there wouldn’t be a lip. (You can see the shavings on the floor. They look kind of like hair, but trust me, it’s wood shavings, not a really gross bathroom floor.)
The carpet is harder. The thing that makes this especially difficult is fitting the existing carpet under the overlap when the overlap board is installed. You have to stretch the carpet, and tuck it under the overlap.
You also need to place the tack strip in just the right place in order to be able to secure the carpet in place without it being too thick (because the tap strip adds a slight thickness to the carpet) to tuck under the flooring board. You want to hold the tack strip back a fraction of the inch, but this will depend on how thick your carpet is so it might take a few tries to get it perfect.
After getting the carpet trimmed to the perfect size, which is best done in small increments, trust me, I used a sturdy scraper to tuck it securely under the edge of the wood flooring, which was already stapled into place.
We think the finished result is much better than if we had used an official flooring transition piece that sticks up like a threshold in the doorway. Who needs one more place to stub their toes at night in the dark, right? And, those trim pieces are expensive, as in it would have cost us around $300 extra to use them. Seriously.
7. For the boards along the edge of the room, we had to face nail them (nail down the boards from the top with a regular nail gun instead of using the floor nailer that hides the staples in the tongue). It was a slightly disturbing process at first because it leaves pretty noticeable nail holes in the surface of your brand new floor.
Luckily, there’s a pretty easy solution by using a wax fill stick. We picked on up and started filling the face-nail holes and wiped away the excess with a rag. This process is frustrating and a little hard on your fingers. It’s hard to pick them out now that they are filled.
8. When we got to the fireplace, I looked online for possible solutions. The best one was to undercut the fireplace grout. The hard part of this is that you need a special saw to cut through the cement. We used a grout-cutting attachment for the SoniCrafter.
I laid a scrap of the flooring down and let the grout blade ride on top of it as a guide for how much I needed to cut out. I needed to cut out about 1/2 inch to allow the wood to slide under far enough to hide the edge from view. We didn’t get any photos of this because Melissa was working on sucking up all the dust and debris while I was sawing away the grout.
Then, I used a hammer and flat pry bar to clear out the waste material.
After vacuuming the dust up, we were ready to slide the flooring under and secure it. I still had to cut the boards to the perfect size, similar to how I cut the boards to fit around the openings for the fridge and dishwasher.
9. For the boards that were against the wall and also under trim, I found it easier to insert them from the side and push them into place. Otherwise, you’ll end up struggling to fit the board under the trim, or cutting the board too small in order to get it to fit. That didn’t happen or anything, just offering it for advice.
10. For tight-fitting boards, it’s helpful to pry them into place with a crow bar. Otherwise, it’s really difficult to get the tongues and grooves pushed all the way together. Just be sure to not pry so hard you damage the board.
One bonus tip: make sure to know how wide your baseboard trim is so you don’t have any gaps after that is installed. You want to leave some room for the flooring to expand, but not so much that the trim won’t cover the edge.
All in all, we certainly don’t consider ourselves to be flooring experts, but we figured we might as well share a few things we learned along the way. The process was long and frustrating, but really worth it because we saved a ton of money by doing it ourselves and it looks great.
What flooring tips have you learned? Feel free to share them below!
It’s been a long journey to this point in the remodeling process. Melissa already shared some preview photos of the new floor, here. But we also wanted to share some of the tips for laying flooring that we picked up along the way.
First of all, we want to say it’s important to fully research and completely follow the manufacturers instructions for installing your flooring. That was the most important step we took in preparing to tackle this project ourselves. We talked more about that, here. The lessons we’re sharing here are simply some installation tips and tricks we figured out along the way using trial and error.
1. When you are starting to open the boxes of flooring, it is a good idea to sort out the boards by length and quality. We held back any boards that had bad spots in a separate pile. Melissa was in charge of this part of the process and would be sure to check through those boards first when we had boards that needed to be cut to fit around walls or under appliances. That helped us reduce our waste.
It’s also great to lay out several rows of boards to keep things “perfectly random.” You want to mix and match boards from a few boxes at once and be sure to not place any edges too close together.
This was especially important for the areas where two rooms were going to meet up so we didn’t have any weird seams.
2. Using the scraps, we were able to greatly reduce our total waste. Since we laid the floor parallel to the hallway, we had to cut each piece on the left side of the living room and kitchen. We were careful to select boards for those ends that would allow us to use the other side (the “would-be-wasted” side) to begin the next row on the other side of the room. That way, the cut edges, which didn’t have a tongue or groove and would otherwise have to be wasted, could be turned towards the wall. You’ll need to select boards that are long enough to give you at least 6 inches of “waste” in order to be able to use the entire board, so keep that in mind.
It seems simple, but we saved so much waste this way, and Melissa was able to make most of the cuts herself using the chop saw, which saved time and left me on the floor to do all the nailing.
3. Putting down flooring around the vents is tricky. To make it easier, try to line up a break in the boards over the vent hole so there is a seam. If you can do this, you can make two cuts perpendicular to each other in order to cut off the corner of the board. If not, You’ll do this with four boards to make the entire rectangular cut out. Otherwise, you have to use a jigsaw or oscillating tool to cut out a section from the middle of the board, which is a lot harder.
4. Laying the flooring for the fridge, dishwasher and the oven took a little more planning. For the majority of the rows, we continued to lay the flooring like normal, but for the ones that butted up against the wall panels on either side of the appliance, we had to rip them down to make them fit.
You’re basically doing a tiny room when you’re working on a small hole like that.
Anywhere we needed to cut a piece thinner, I set up the table saw and ripped the board to the needed width. I also undercut the edges to make it easier to slide into place. This process can be frustrating if your house isn’t perfectly square, so I’d suggest using a marking tool to make sure your cuts are exactly right.
5. When you have boards that are less than an inch in thickness, nailing them down isn’t a great option because they could split. So I covered the back with glue and put them in place.
We’ll keep an eye on these board to make sure they stay firmly in place, but we’re not expecting to have any problems as these boards are mostly hidden right next to walls or under cabinets or appliances.
We’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of our flooring lessons learned. Sorry these are delayed, but with the holidays and all this rushing to get flooring, trim, other kitchen projects, and life in general, we’ve been crazy around here.
What have learned about installing flooring? Share them in a comment below!
We’d never done carpet, hardwood, linoleum, or a bunch of other types although I had done a floating floor and some tile in the past. Melissa was pretty scared about tackling this big project, but I knew we could handle it.
***Psst! There’s a giveaway going on at the bottom of this post! Don’t miss your chance for some free glasses!
*******Also, don’t miss the giveaway going on here until Nov. 16, for $40 in giftcards in honor of our blogiversary!
This post is sponsored by Firmoo Eyewear. I received a free pair of glasses in exchange for my review. All words and opinions are my own.
Most of you probably don’t know that I have glasses, because I really don’t ever wear them. I actually don’t even know where they are.
It’s the same pair I’ve had for years, and I probably only wear them once a year, if my eyes are feeling especially tired or if I’m starting at a TV screen playing video games for a long time. I really don’t need them to see on a daily basis. But since we’ve gotten married, I’ve been going to get an eye exam every year. Basically, my eyesight is borderline bad enough for glasses. Our doctor said he probably only prescribes glasses 50% of the time for someone who sees with my quality of vision.
But, I’ve noticed my eyes feel tired at the end of long days, and they can feel especially tired if I’m driving a long distance and staring into the sun. So, when Firmoo* asked if I’d like to try a pair of glasses, specifically sunglasses, I said sure.
Here’s the pair I chose: (They’ve since discontinued them apparently.)
I picked out this pair because I liked the wood look. I’ve spent some time looking into making a pair of actual wooden glasses, but Melissa would have a fit if I started a project like that before the kitchen is done so I figured this was a good back-up option.
They didn’t actually offer any sunglasses with the wooden look frame, but the great part about the online ordering is that you can customize your lenses to be however you’d like. I simply chose a standard prescription frame and manually selected to have them tinted. There’s even color choices as to what color tint you’d like, although I’m not sure mine look all that “gray” instead of “brown.” But it’s an option, either way.
I chose between the few options for wood-look frames by measuring a pair of sunglasses I have and picking the one that was closest to that size.
Earlier this week, they came in the mail. I think they look pretty cool with the wooden design.
I will admit they feel a little weird to wear, I imagine because I’m not used to wearing prescription glasses. But I think they’ll be great for wearing in the car.
Also, we talked to our local eye doctor about the online ordering and he confirmed what we thought. If you want a pair of glasses to wear all day every day, or if you have a complicated prescription, it’s a good idea to order from a professional service that will be able to customize the fit especially for your eyes. But something like Firmoo is GREAT for back-up glasses, like for Melissa, casual glasses wearers, like me, and those of you who just want a little variety in your glasses to switch up your look. And always get a professional eye exam before ordering any prescription glasses, of course.
Now the cool part, Firmoo has agree to give 5 (YES, 5!) of our readers a voucher for $15 off one pair of frames from their classic collection. There’s a lot of choices in that line, and some of them are $16, even $8 so you could get one for free! (Most are in the $30-40 range, so half off is still good.)
PLUS, the grand prize winner will also receive a free pair if they order before December 1! (It has to be one from this collection, but again, there are lots of choices.) That means you will get a free pair (if you order right away) and $15 off another pair, so you could get sunglasses and regular glasses, or just some “fashion” glasses if you want to switch up your look.
That means 5 of you will be getting some sweet new glasses just in time for the new year. Also, you don’t have to have a prescription to wear glasses, you can also order clear lenses and just wear them as an accessory. (Not that I’d know anything about that, but Melissa says it’s a thing.)
And if you don’t win, they are having a 20% of Thanksgiving sale with code THANKS. Check it out here.*
To enter, leave a comment below saying how bad your eyes are and how often you wear glasses. (Melissa can’t hardly tell the eye chart has writing on it without her glasses or contacts in!)
We’ll choose 5 winners at random and will notify you by email. Giveaway ends Monday at midnight, so don’t miss out!
Again, This post is sponsored by Firmoo Eyewear. I received a free pair of glasses in exchange for my review. All words and opinions are my own.
Melissa wrote about putting up the Range Hood and the vent into the attic here.
What was remaining on this project was to continue the vent out of the roof. We were using a long extension piece of 6-inch pipe to get out to the roof that we found at Home Depot.
Then, on the roof, we used a special cap designed for this type of use.
I started work in the attic. First, I assembled the pipe that came through the ceiling.
It was screwed together.
And taped using duct tape.
The head lamp is very helpful to have for projects like this.
Then, I leveled the pipe coming out of the kitchen to make sure the pipe going outside would be straight.
I then took a pencil and marked on the inside of the roof where the new pipe would be going. This wasn’t easy because the pipe was further than a pencil length away from the roof. So I taped my pencil to a stir stick, and used that to get the extra length I needed.
Once I had my hole outlined, I found the center and drilled a hole. I wanted to cut the hole from outside so I would use that as my starting point on the roof.
After the hole was drilled, I went to the roof with my flat pry bar, utility knife, and jigsaw. I used the flat pry bar to loosen the shingle there the hold was drilled, and the shingle above it.
I used the utility knife to remove some excess shingle material prior to using the jigsaw.
Once I had removed the shingles, I was ready to cut my hole.
Melissa was in the attic for a couple of reasons. First, she covered the pipe with a towel so that no debris fell into the open vent.
Second, she was relaying how close I was cutting to the lines on the inside of the roof.
I used my jigsaw to cut out an initial hole that was smaller than needed. She was also apparently there to take photos of me through the hole.
This worked pretty well, but the hole ended up a little lop-sided at first. We thought that would happen, though, so we had planned to make it a little smaller to allow for adjustments.
After the initial cutting, I was able to trim up the hole by eye to get the hole to the right size. Once the hole was the right size, we test fit the oversize pipe in the hole and marked it on the roof line (where the pipe came out of the roof).
From that line, we added the height of the flashing and a couple more inches for the cap.
We marked that line and cut the pipe to length with the tin snips.
I went back to the roof to pass the pipe down the hole, while Melissa went back to the attic to hold the installed pipe. I slide the flashing under the shingle above the hole and started to push the pipe into the attic. Once we had them dry fit, I was ready to start sealing everything up.
I started by laying a thick bead of caulk all of the way around the flashing and sticking that down to the roof.
Then, using roofing nails, I nailed it down. Next, I laid thick beads of caulk down under the shingles that overlapped the flashing to protect from any water leaking. I re-laid the shingles and caulked around the rest of the flashing.
I secured the cap to the pipe with screws and tightened it up to finish the outside work.
Finally, I went back up into the attic to screw the remaining pipes together and tape them with the duct tape.
Ever vented a range hood to the roof? So far, we’re really happy with how the project turned out!
We’ve been discussing our tips and lessons learned while tiling our kitchen but I also wanted to take a few minutes to share some specific details about how to use a tile saw. So we thought we would capture them all in one place for anyone that is interested in the future.
For a refresher, this is the tile saw we bought. It was around $80 from Harbor Freight, including buying the blade. That’s not an affiliate link or anything, just sharing the info in case you’re curious.
1. Wear gloves. The very first cut, I wasn’t wearing any, and the chips from the tile got on my hand. As I was wiping the off, one wedged into my thumb, and I had to pull it out and get a band-aid to avoid getting bright red blood all over our nice white tiles.
2. Wear long sleeves. If tile shards and slivers can get embedded in your hands, they can also get embedded in your arms.
3. Wear eye and face protection. It’s always a must to wear eye protection, especially with the tile saw kicking up tile chips while you are cutting with the guard partially up. The face protection follows the same reasoning as the gloves. No one wants tile splinters in their eyes and face.
4. The tile saw tends to spray a stream of water at you. If you have a rubber apron, that would be a nice addition to keep your clothes from getting wet or tile chips on it. I didn’t have one, so I had a wet stripe from my neck to my crotch.
5. When figuring out how to use a tile saw, you need to make sure to create a “drip loop” in your power cord. This is very important to keep water out of the plug and the extension cord. Basically you need to have a low spot between the saw and the end of the power cord. Any water that accidentally runs down the power cord will stop at the drip loop and not get into your plug-in.
We used our retractable extension cord for this, which worked perfectly, but you could also just drape the cord over a ladder or something else to create a loop.
1. If you don’t buy a grease pencil to mark your lines, masking tape works better than a graphite pencil. The water washes the graphite right away, but the tape holds up long enough to make the cuts.
2. If you are cutting multiple thin pieces out of one tile, you can use this trick:
Using the fence of the tile saw, make your cut while leaving a short amount uncut. Then flip the tile over and make the second cut. Your tile will be in a fat “S” shape, but this gives you something extra to hold on to on either side of the blade. after the second cut, go back and free-hand the small remaining cut. It will give you smoother, safer, straight lines.
(P.S. This photo shows how wet my shirt got without an apron.)
3. To take this a step further, for finishing the tile cuts, instead of cutting through all of the way on the first pass, go most of the way and then flip the tile 180 degrees and finish the cut from the other side. This will help minimize tear out.
Tear out is when you get to the end of the tile, and the remaining uncut portion becomes weak and breaks off under the pressure of cutting, giving you a bad edge, like this:
4. Refill the water basin of the tile saw regularly. Tile saws lose water as they cut, so it is good to replace what is lost and keep the blade cool.
5. Remove any debris that rest against the blade. This will do a couple of things. One, it will keep the saw from having any unnecessary friction (causing it to heat up). Plus, if there are tile shards resting against the cutting edge, it could dull your blade.
6. If you are using the fence, cut all similar pieces at the same time. This will cut down the tile saw setup time as you work on all of the special cuts.
Let us know if any of these save you, or if there were any tips we missed that could have saved us when we were figuring out how to use a tile saw for the first time.
We spent the weekend tiling our backsplash but we’re not quite ready to reveal it yet, so I’m backing up to talk about the microwave cabinet Melissa gushed about in this post.
Just as a recap, this is actually the second microwave cabinet that we purchased from Lowes. The first microwave cabinet that we ordered looked cheap and poorly made. It was a microwave shelf cabinet, similar to this one (but not as nice!):
and we decided to go with the better, nicer-looking built-in microwave cabinet, like this:
The tip here is that if anything is damaged or doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t hesitate to return and re-order items. They happily exchanged it for a more-expensive model. Of course.
Microwave cabinets for built-in microwaves come with a pre-finished opening. After plenty of online shopping, we could not find a microwave that would fit the opening, nor would we want to. It was very small and left a lot of unused space.
When searching for a microwave, the depth was the biggest limiting factor. We had to find one that would fit in within the 18 inch depth with at least 1 inch for ventilation space in the back.
It was also the largest one that would fit in the cabinet. So we needed to make the original hole bigger in the cabinet. The microwave came with instructions on the total size the hole needed to be. So I measured and marked the hole, centered in the cabinet and got out my jigsaw
A little closer.
After cutting out the excess, I used an old belt sander belt to smooth the edges.
Next we were ready to test fit the microwave.
Then we attached the trim piece to the microwave and test fit it again, to make sure everything was working like we thought.
Now that we know everything was going to fit how we expected, we were ready to mount the cabinet to the wall. You can see the board mounted to the wall to help hold the cabinet up and level.
Melissa plugged it in while I held it up and then carefully slid it into the hole.
The trim had four screws that held it in place. I used a drill bit to pre-drill the holes and then screwed the trim into place with a screw driver.
And here it is, finished and installed with the doors back on.
This next one is me holding up the refrigerator panel before installation. We lumped the progress of this entire corner into one post because it really all came together at the same time.
And then mounting the cabinet over the refrigerator to the panel and pantry. We screwed it into the ceiling and the two side cabinets. To do this, I made a T-shape out of 2″ x 4″ boards that was the right height to hold up this cabinet without having to attach it to the panel. This is because we wanted the cabinet to be close to flush with the fridge and it was actually too shallow to do that (fridge cabinets only come 27 inches deep, even though our fridge is bigger than that).
So, it doesn’t actually sit against the back wall, but floats about 6 inches in front of it.
This is what I meant by close to flush with the fridge.
We will also be putting doors on the pantry soon. We had to order them online from Home Depot.
You’ll also notice the steps for this process of customizing a cabinet were similar to the ones we followed for our apron front sink, here.
Ever had a built-in microwave before? Melissa says it makes her feel fancy. And I was worried about it being too small (compared to our old one) but really, it seems to suit our needs just fine.
One of the first important lessons I’ve learned in DIY work is that when you have a task that is repeatable, take the time to make a jig. It will be well worth it for the effort saved.
I had one of these repeatable tasks in adding drawer handles and door pulls. We had 4 drawers, 2 holes each, and 16 doors, 1 hole each, to drill holes for. THAT’S 24 HOLES! (And counting because we still have a few more cabinets to install.)
For the drawer pulls, I used a scrap piece of 2″ x 4″.
I measured the width between the center of the bolt holes for the new handles and marked them centered on my 2″ x 4″. Then I measured the vertical center of the drawer and put that measurement on my 2″ x 4″. I used a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the bolt so they would slide through, and drilled holes where the lines met.
You can see how it compares to the handles below, although it looks a little off in the photo:
Then I took some scrap wood and nailed it to the top of the 2″ x 4″. This will let the jig rest against the top of the drawer and hang in the right place.
Melissa had concerns that my jig wasn’t smooth enough, so she added felt padding to the side that faces the drawer.
Here’s how it looked in action. You’ll notice I used a clamp to hold the jig secure while I was drilling each hole.
The bolts that come with the new handles weren’t long enough, so instead of going to buy longer bolts, I used a larger drill bit to counter-sink the hole on the inside of the drawer.
Then, Melissa was off to the races mounting the handles!
Next, I needed a jig to drill the holes for the door pulls. The hole for the pull needed to be 1.25 ” from the top and from the outside.
(We determined this by eye-balling where we liked the knob to be on each door.)
So I picked up another scrap of 2″ x 4″ and marked and drilled the hole. To allow this jig to be useful for both left-side facing and right-side facing doors, I nailed the piece to the top with an overhang on both sides and then, I nailed a piece on the side that overhangs both sides.
It works like this:
(The second hole was a mistake the first time around. A good reason to always test your jig before you start drilling!)
Another 16 holes and Melissa was off to the races again mounting the door pulls.
We know that we still have a ways to go before we actually hit the finish line, but ll in all, this little task felt like a major step towards having a finished kitchen. Not only does it make a difference visually, but it also really makes the cabinets more functional.
I even added the hardware to the most recent cabinet additions, the uppers in the nook area.
Ever created a jig for a repetitive job like this? It makes a big difference in how much effort and measuring is needed for the final product. And don’t forget, if you have questions about how to do something I discuss here, feel free to ask!
I recently started following Offerman Woodshop on Instagram and Facebook. If you are into woodworking, they are a good one to follow. It is lead by Nick Offerman (of Parks and Rec) in case you were wondering. I recently saw their post on making a yard game called Kubb, or Viking Chess and I knew immediately that was going to be my summer bucket list “fun only” project.
In case you’re wondering, this is how to play. (Trust me, watch this first, the game will make more sense.)
I ended up pseudo-following some plans from This Old House. I used only wood that was on hand leftover from other projects, so I had to make some plan changes. You’ll see how as I talk more about my set below.
The game has 17 pieces (21 if you want to make stakes to mark the playing field). The pieces consist of 10 skulls, 1 king, and 6 femurs. (The king isn’t pictured below yet.)
The skulls are trimmed down 4″ x 4″. I cut them to length (about 6″) first.
You could leave them just like that if you wanted, but I ran them through the table saw to trim down the width (about 3.25″). Just enough to differentiate from a full 4″ x 4″.
I used a router to round the edges, then used my belt sander (unconventionally) to smooth the edges and sides.
After the skulls were smoothed out, I decided I would cut a groove around the top for decorative detail.
For the femurs, I took a 2″ x 4″ and cut it into three 12″ pieces.
After that, I ripped it down the middle a couple of times to get 2 pieces that were 1.5″ squares and 12″ long.
I used the belt sander to smooth the corners of the femurs also. Mainly because these were the pieces you throw, and the smoothed edges are a little more comfortable in your hands (and a little less dangerous for splinters and such.)
They don’t have to be perfect since they’re supposed to resemble bones and since when they are used, they’ll get a little dented and scratched up anyway.
The last piece for the set was the king. I ran out of the 4″ x 4″ in my stash so I made one out of two 2″ x 4″ and a piece of 1/2″ mdf between them. This made kind of a cool look with a stripe down the middle even though you can see the screws on two sides where I attached the pieces together.
As you can see, I added some decorative details to the king since it is the “center piece” of the game. I cut 2 grooves out of the top to give a “crown” look. Then I cut 3 grooves around the middle, similar to the skulls, for added detail.
This was an easy project, and it turned out really well. I can’t wait until I get a chance to play. This is a project that anyone could make with a six foot 4″ x 4″ and six foot of 1″ dowel (or split a 2″ x 4″ in half like I did or just cut a 1″ x 2″ into 12 inch lengths). So go out and get your materials and make a set!
Have you ever heard of kubb? I hadn’t until recently, but it may turn out to be my new favorite tailgating game!
Even though we’re in what Melissa describes as the never-ending kitchen project, we finally got the flooring removed and the walls painted, so we were ready to move on. The next step was to start installing the base cabinets that had been sitting in our living room for a month now.
To get ready, we pushed everything over out of the way in the kitchen. We also cleaned up all our various tools and supplies.
We also spread the boxes out where we thought they’d go. This step wasn’t necessary, but it gave us a headstart on installing them the next day since we had to work in small chunks of time.
Then, we started by un-boxing all of the cabinets.
We had to check over them all really well, because we have a 90-day post-delivery window to report anything wrong with each one to the manufacturer.
After un-boxing, Melissa removed all of the doors to make the cabinets lighter and easier to move around.
Then we were ready to start setting the cabinets in place, starting with the corner cabinet. Whatever cabinet you start with will be the “anchor” to the rest of the cabinets, meaning all of the other measurements rely on it. For example, in order to be able to install the cabinet that will go on the other side of the stove from the corner, it needs to be 30 inches away to all for the stove. Without the corner in the right place, I wouldn’t be able to install that one.
Once we had them in place, we started to level them out. It’s important to simultaneously level the individual cabinet as well as making sure the cabinets were level across each other.
Plus, you want to make sure the cabinets are level front to back.
We used cedar shims to level the cabinets that needed adjustments. Don’t worry, we cut off all the excess.
Once the base cabinets were level and double checked for correct place, we anchored them to the wall with the screws that were provided.
For the cabinets that were side by side, I connected them per the instructions of Tom Silva and This Old House Installing Cabinets.
That included shimming the gap between the cabinets and securing them together with screws.
Once they were connected, I stood them up and leveled them with the other cabinets before anchoring them to the wall.
I talked about modifying the sink base here. So when I was leveling the sink base, I leveled the corner cabinet to the top of the sink that was sitting on the sink base. The sink will be “under-mounted”, so it needed to be the same height as the top of the corner cabinet. That way the counter-top will sit level across the corner cabinet and the sink.
After getting them all anchored down, Melissa began to put the doors back on. During this process we also moved the range into it’s space, and she realized there would be a tight fit between the corner cabinet hinge and the door of the oven.
So to avoid damaging either, we came up with the idea to cover the hinge with felt.
This gave plenty of cushion to the hinge, so I don’t think we will have to worry about banging into the door of the oven and causing serious damage.
We were rushing a bit to get these base cabinets installed because we had to wait until they were finalized before we could order the counters. Over last weekend, we went and paid for those, and we’re hoping they will come out and measure them in the next few days, but I know we may have to be a bit more patient.
Then, it’s only a 3-4 week wait until they’ll be ready to install them!
So, we will be able to install the upper cabinets and the pantry area (still to be built) while we’re waiting. And then, we’ll be ready to backsplash, the open shelves, and then, finally do the floors, which ironically was the first thing we purchased for this giant, seemingly never-ending project.
Until then, Melissa is debating going ahead and moving things into these base cabinets in an attempt to get rid of the clutter that has taken over the rest of the house.
Anyway, there’s the current kitchen update. Be honest, have you been surprised by how long this is taking us? Ever installed cabinets? What did you learn in the process?
If you’ve looked at popular kitchens online or in stores, or in Melissa’s language, on Pinterest, you may have seen some apron sinks. This is one of her favorite inspiration pins:
We showed you our new stainless steel apron sink a few weeks ago, but since we just started working on cabinet installation this weekend, we hadn’t done much with it since then.
These types of sinks do look awesome, but they aren’t the easiest to install, and you should know that the cabinets don’t come ready to install the sink. In fact, even if you order a cabinet specifically for deep, apron front sinks, you’ll have to cut it to make it fit.
Because the sink base that we ordered is the full size of the sink base ( 36 inches ), we needed to modify the sink base a little more drastically than you might have to if you had chosen a smaller sink. It comes with a cutout that will fit a small sink and it is designed to fit up to a 36 inch sink, depending on how much you’ll have to cut off. That’s a part of buying stock cabinets from a dealer instead of having a carpenter make them custom for you.
You can see the types of sink bases Kraftmaid offers in the sheet below:
This is the one we went with. You can see it fits a range of sink sizes.
We also needed to lower the top of the sink base so that the top of the sink will sit under the counter-top because our sink was on the larger end of the range of sink depths this particular cabinet could accommodate.
So I started laying out my cut lines.
Melissa asked me about 10 times if I had double-checked my measurements. She’s a little protective of the new cabinets.
Once I had my lines, I used a straight edge and a box knife to score my cuts several times. This tip helps prevent tear out of the wood while cutting. It’s necessary if you want a really nice clean cut, as I’m sure you do considering you’re working with new cabinets, right? (Or old cabinets you want to look nice. Either way.) You can sort of see the scored line below:
(It looks lighter than the pencil line on the front since the mark had been partially cut away.)
After scoring the lines, I was ready to make the cut. I used the same straight edge as a fence for cutting, clamped on to the cabinet to give me a perfectly straight cut.
I used my circular saw.
I repeated this process one side at a time. Rotating the cabinet, and then clamping the straight edge down and made my cut.
Because the sink isn’t as deep as the cabinet, I didn’t need to cut the base cabinet all around. Based on the sink installation instructions, the back of the sink should sit four and a half inches from the back of the cabinet. So that is where I stopped my horizontal cuts and made two vertical cuts to remove the piece.
I finished my cuts with a hand saw to prevent over-cutting.
Then, I carefully used the belt sander to get rid of any rough edges. You could, of course, use all hand tools for the cutting and sanding for this installation, but why not go for the power if you have them?
The sink fits in there perfectly, or rather pretty perfectly. Our sink is actually closer to 35 3/4 inches instead of 36, so we have a tiny cap on each side. We’re still deciding if caulk will be enough to fill that our if we’ll need another solution. But for now, this was a pretty good fit, and as close as it could be.
(Yes, we see the fingerprints. It’s the least of our worries right now.)
You can see the back edge of the cabinet where the plumbing will come up through the counter. I added a board on the wall to support the counter-top since it wouldn’t have anything to sit on back there.
I also had to cut out the back of the cabinet to make room for the plumbing.
It ended up needing to be a decent sized hole to fit everything in, but it won’t show.
I did, however, add a 2×4 to help brace the bottom of the cabinet where I made the cut.
We’ll be back with more details on installing cabinets later, but this was our first step because we wanted to make sure we had all the customizations ready to go before we screwed anything into the wall. It took us a few hours to get this one ready to go, but the others were a lot faster.
Ever had to tackle a harder-than-average installation job because you your wife liked the look of something special? Ever had to modify a sink base cabinet? This is our first time installing cabinets, so it’s been a learning process…
To take a step backward from the last kitchen update, here, we need to give you on update on a few more “behind the scenes walls” tasks we had to tackle before we could move forward.
For starters, we needed to re-route HVAC vent that is coming up through the wall. You can see it below with the round opening facing out. This required a little simultaneous planning between how the vent for the range hood would run and how to re-route the vent. For clarity and ease of reading/explaining, I will refer to the range hood vent as a the hood vent and the HVAC as the AC vent.
First, we spent a long time at Home Depot trying to decide exactly what parts and pieces we needed to buy. It was frustrating because they didn’t have everything we needed, so we had to buy the materials to make a few parts ourselves.
Then,I had to determine how to route the hood vent into the attic (eventually out of the roof). This involved finding out how far out of the way it would need to be to be able to re-route the AC vent. We decided to run the AC vent in the attic and come back out of the ceiling. I figured out the length for the pipe between the straight pipe and the first bend and began to cut it.
My dad may not have known it at the time (or maybe he did), but he sent me home with a spare pair of tin snips that would come in remarkably handy. Thanks, Dad!
Melissa helped me mark the length and hold the pipe. She just isn’t in the picture because she wanted to show you what we were up to. After finishing cutting, I straightened out the edges with a pair of pliers to clean up any sharp edges.
Melissa wanting to document again… Me and the final piece…
This process happened a few more times, but below you will see the final pieces for the hood vent. The are dry fit together right now to get an idea of how it will look when permanently attached. We’ll have two 45 degree turns to move the pipe out of the way so the AC vent could be rerouted into the attic. (We had to move it because it was in the way of the hood vent and because we removed the soffit.
We didn’t get many pictures of the vent pieces and assembly. but you can see the finished product in the picture below.
Because the duct for the AC vent ran through the wall, we needed a special size and shape of pipe to extend it up into the ceiling. I had to buy the oval shaped pipe from a wholesale sheet metal warehouse because that shape isn’t something that is carried in the ventilation section in your normal home improvement store, in case you ever need to know that. The only size they carried was 100″, so I bought that for $15 and cut it down to size the same way we mentioned above.
For the AC vent that was already finished, I used sheet metal screws to attach all of the pieces together and rapped all of the joints with foil tape. You may think that duct tape is what you should be using to seal the joints, but duct tape is not for taping ducts (weird right?).
Below is one of the left over pieces. I also had about 6 feet of the oval pipe leftover. We’ll take them to the Re-Store right down the road, which is Habitat for Humanity’s version of a thrift store. You should look for one near you!
Well, ever done any similar duct work? Ever visited a Re-Store? Got any spare materials sitting around that you want out of the way, but don’t want to throw away? Donate them today!