Showing posts with label Building Projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Building Projects. Show all posts

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wooden "Give Thanks" banner...

Several years ago I made a "Be Grateful" banner out of wood. I loved it so much but there was one small problem - I made it out of pine and that thing was heavy. It tore many Command strips off the wall! This year I reprised the project and made it out of thin underlayment - plywood.

I had Home Depot cut the plywood into strips and I used the miter saw to cut the triangles. Working with plywood like this can be a bit tricky and it leaves plenty of splinters. One side has a much nicer finish after the cutting process - I stained that side.

The other side, which wasn't so nice, got a couple coats of chalkboard paint.
I debated how I should put the letters on: hand paint, vinyl letters, burning with a hand tool or a foam stamp. I went the easy route and what was readily available to me. I then carefully painted the edges with a metallic gold paint.
It hangs on the entertainment center with two small command strips and so far the weight hasn't been a problem. Not only that but the wood tones look much better than the painted white "be grateful" banner I previously did.
You can see more details and a full tutorial at

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

4 year anniversary...

It's hard to believe we're only celebrating our four year anniversary of living in this house. It was just days before Thanksgiving when we first unloaded the truck (of stuff we hadn't seen in 10 months) and the overwhelming part of unpacking started to set in.
 photo 20111118-DSC_2291_1.jpg

I still remember the first time we walked in and Steve didn't get as far as the living room when he made the statement, "There's no way."
Life with Fingerprints-2263 photo LifewithFingerprints-2263.jpg
I suppose the wall to wall mauve carpet (with sections of fake wood set in) was a little hard to look past. As well as the orange oak and 80's brass fixtures around every corner. It was due for some love and attention and I just knew I could give it the love it needed. Although Steve was skeptical and could not see my vision - he had faith that we could make it our home. And we have.
 photo 20140814-DSC_8728.jpg
It's home and it's comfortable and I love it. We've come a long ways in four years which is a little disheartening when I think of all we have left to update and fix. But there's no rush; we slowly chip away at our to-do list as money and time allows. My hope is by our 10 year anniversary of living here we might get it to where we both want it. Baby steps!

If I was handing out trophies to our home, they would be as follows:

Biggest visual improvement: Hardwood floors

Biggest stretch of my abilities: The entertainment Center

Most Prep Work: The staircase

Most admired by visitors: The green barn door

Most dreamed about project: A kitchen update

Most Maintenance: Our 13 orange trees (Which is why Steve is antsy to rip out half of them!)

Hardest place to keep clean and organized: The garage wins by a landslide!

It feels good to be home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Motherhood in realtime...

I've enjoyed recording my kids seemingly normal moments in realtime. I figured for kicks and giggles I'd photograph one of my own moments in real time:
 photo 20151117-DSC_2936.jpg
This is back patio right now. It wouldn't seem so bad if it hadn't looked like this for several weeks! I started one of those projects that I figured would be wrapped up much faster than was the case. Cannon's Christmas present has taken some time and then there was another little project that I managed to squeeze in.
 photo 20151117-DSC_2933.jpg
And because I only can find an hour here and an hour there - my patio has looked like this for too long. I'm grateful for a patient and understanding husband. And even more grateful that I still have all my fingers after spending hours on the scroll saw!
 photo 20151117-DSC_2939.jpg
Gone are the days of me finishing a project quickly without interruptions!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

DIY USA Wall art...

Here's a project that I completed back in April and I'm just now getting around to posting it. Its funny - I'll do a project, work hard to complete it and display it and then the newness wears off and I forget that I haven't posted any pictures.
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood
I may have an obsession with maps and globes. It’s my hope that it creates curiosity and a sense of exploration with my children. This wooden DIY USA wall art is my new favorite wall decor and it was easy. I’m not just saying that…really. In fact, I had a friend do this project with me. A friend who had never picked up a jig saw before and she will agree, this is much more manageable than it looks.

You’ll need:
A sheet of plywood
Planks of wood; pallet wood or inexpensive fencing
Wood Glue
Projector of some type
Jig saw

Start by cutting a sheet of plywood roughly to the size of your desired map size. Home improvement stores will gladly cut this to size for you. Mine is almost 6 feet wide.

Lay out how your planks are going to sit on your plywood. I chose inexpensive cedar fencing with a horizontal pattern. Glue the planks to your plywood. I used heavy buckets of wheat to keep it flat while drying. You could just as easily throw some nails in the back to keep it in place as it dries.
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood

Once it’s completely dry, trace a backwards map on the plywood side using a sharpie marker. I used an LCD video projector, but an overhead projector would work with a transparency.
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood

Once the map was traced, I reinforced the entire perimeter of the map (on the inside of my tracing) with nails from my nail gun. I knew that the jig saw would be reciprocating and may cause some of the smaller pieces to come unglued – this helped keep everything together.
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood

With the plywood side up, using a jig saw, slowly cut along the marker line outlining the map. There are a lot of intricate pieces in the USA and I didn’t cut every little piece, a jig saw isn’t meant for fine cutting. Some cuts you’ll need to come at it from several angles in order for it to work, but be patient.
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood

At first you’ll want to try and follow every little curve and line, only to realize you really don’t need to. Depending on your size of map, the cutting out may take an hour or two. Go slowly. Take breaks – or else your hand may fall off from the vibration of the saw!

Flip it over and admire your work. You may see areas you want to clean up just a bit – or be more intricate on and if thats that case, flip it over and keep cutting.

I decided to keep this piece a little rustic. I sanded just a few of the edges to make them nice but I didn’t sand the entire piece. I liked the rough wood – it had character and charm. I also chose not to stain it, because I liked the variations of color in the wood. But you can choose what fits your house and style – sand and stain if desired!
DIY USA wall art made from cheap fencing or pallet wood

I originally posted this at

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The playhouse/shed...

I'm having a hard time turning my attention back to the shed. True to form I got the majority of the building portion done and then I needed to step away for a little breather before I start attacking the details. Which is funny, because I'm a very detailed oriented person, and I enjoy details. But hours and hours into the project, the details aren't sounding like fun!

Here's how it looked the day my dad left:
 photo Shed-5919.jpg
Proudest moment: When we installed the doors and they fit! Not only did they fit, but they opened. That my friends is a victory!

The bottom portion is a shed for our lawn equipment and the top portion that's open is a clubhouse. I originally wanted the clubhouse completely open with just a railing that went around. But we opted for the safer option of enclosing it - as Steve pointed out an advantage of enclosing it is not having to see the mess that will become the clubhouse!
 photo Shed-5920.jpg
The biggest hangup at this point: finding the safest way to get up and down, we've left an open spot for something...anything.

Ladders are great but they can be hard for little feet to get down. Fireman's pole was an option but once again, we were fearful of an accident. We figured our kids are going to be in there enough that whatever we do, they'll figure out and they'll get up and down no problem. But when the neighbor kids come over - how will they get down safely. The easiest option we're thinking is an enclosed slide. But we're limited on space and we don't want them sliding down into a concrete pad. A swirly slide will work. Neither of us are jumping for joy at that option but it's probably our safest bet.

We're thinking of putting a slide in and then figuring out what type of ladder will work with it. It's always a process. And processes are known to take time.

In the meanwhile, I've been trying to think of ways minimize the "shed" look. Trees, bushes, vines. Something that will withstand our delightful dry summers. And then of course I've got to have the kids decorate their space. Yea, this won't be finished for a while.
 photo Shed-.jpg

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Building partner...

I always have these grand building ideas - then I convince my dad to help me implement my ideas (Barn door, dining table and entertainment center). I shoot for one big project a year and this year was nothing short of big: a shed/playhouse. We just spent the last 10 days (9 working days) pulling out every tool I seem to own to build this thing. As most of our projects go, we started out on time and ahead of schedule. By the time we got to the end it was crunch time (it's how we/roll). The finishing details seem to take forever! I'm always so optimistic that we can finish up with plenty of time to spare. And yet, I sent him on his way today just minutes after finishing...semi-finishing. There's still a few details I've got to collect some materials to finish, but we're getting closer.

I dropped him off at the airport and came home to a patio that looked like this:
Life with Fingerprings: Shed Building photo ShedBuilding-5916.jpg
Life with Fingerprings: Shed Building photo ShedBuilding-5915.jpg

It might be hard to see in the picture but there is a miter saw, compressor, nail gun, circular saw, reciprocating saw, drill, angle grinder, level, socket set, palm nailer and what seems to be every nail and screw that Home Depot sells. There was a lot of stuff on that patio and tonight we cleaned it all off. Tools went back to their respective homes. Nails were put back in their boxes. Blades were put away. It looks just the way it did 10 short days ago.

I like finishing projects, but I hate losing my building partner. I wish he lived closer. He's probably glad he lives far away. He knows very well if he lived closer my annual building projects with him would turn into a monthly gig!

My kids are sad they lost their "Old Maid" partner. I'm not sure how many times he ended up playing that game with them! We're missing him already.

Life with Fingerprings: Shed Building photo ShedBuilding-5843.jpg

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shed building...

I've been in shed building mode with my dad for a week now. It's all consuming as my house clearly is evidence of. Our patio looks like Home Depot threw up all over it with tools and wood here and there and everywhere. The last two days have been anything but productive. Why is it that it takes a day or two to build and then 5 hours to build a door?!? How is that even possible? And then the minute I get tired, mistakes start to happen and suddenly two hours turns into much more.

Fortunately the first half of last week was much more productive. It's framed. It has a roof. It has siding. And in case you were wondering it's not easy to put on siding next to a block wall. 11 inches. That's the space I was working in. I never thought I was claustrophobic but it turns out I kind of am!

Life with Fingerprints: Shed building

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shed preparation...

It's been a year since my dad was here helping me build the entertainment center. There's been a million and one projects since then that I've envisioned and most of them were large enough tasks that I wanted to fly my dad down to help. He doesn't do extreme heat so that leaves the fall and spring. Fall is hunting season. Sooo...spring is finally here and my dad shows up on Sunday to help me build a shed/playhouse. Our current shed has seen better days and we'd like an area for the kids to have a playhouse so I'm combining the two into one area. I've drawn and redrawn plans in illustrator. I've debated every material. I've met with contractors to make sure I don't screw this up. I think I'm ready.

We've been getting the area ready before my dad arrives by having concrete poured for the foundation.

A year ago we had these enormous overgrown bushes.
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
Which we ripped out.
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
And for over a year it's looked like this. It's become a weed magnet and we've spent too much time spraying and pulling weeds in this area. It was the perfect spot to build.
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
We also have this random area on the side of our house that was ridiculously filled with weeds. It wasn't visible to many and it's embarrassing to admit that this is mild compared to the three foot weeds that have been known to grow here!
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
We had a great company come in and pour our foundation. Because we were already paying to have them at our house, it was cost efficient to have them pour a couple areas - an area on our driveway as well as weed alley.
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
We had two very curious boys and it took everything in me to keep them out of the patch right outside this door. I thought for sure I would find Cannon's footprints all over it!
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
And now we're ready. Ready to see if I ordered enough product. Ready to see if we can finish it before my dad has to go home. Ready to see if we really know how to build. I've got a couple contractors on speed dial to answer my questions!
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
Life with Fingerprints: Shed preparation
Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

DIY Walnut Chalkboard...

I've worked with pine, poplar and maple and each served its purpose for a specific project but I have a new love; walnut. It has the most beautiful grain and color and I wish I could afford to build every project using it.

You can't buy walnut at home depot which meant I found myself at a local hardwood store where the man working was anything but helpful. Evidently a woman with a small child in tow isn't his typical customer. He was so helpful (sarcasm), at one point he asked another customer (who obviously buys a lot of wood there) to help me while he stood at the desk. Awesome. I think I had steam coming out of my ears. No, I wasn't on an errand from my husband. Yes, I have purchased hardwood before and I know how it works. I was so mad I didn't purchase wood that day and I was bound and determined to find another place to give my business to. Wouldn't you know it, it's the only one in the area close. Two days later, I swallowed my pride, took my baby back to the store and made my purchase without making eye contact. That'll show him!

I had him square one side (which he ended up squaring the wrong side - go figure), so I could run it through the table saw for my finished size.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
I also used the table saw to rout out the back side so the chalkboard would fit in it. This was yet another reminder that I need to buy a router because it took forever, especially since I wasn't cutting through the entire piece. Painful process.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
As usual, my Kreg jig made it's appearance and I joined the corners with glue and some screws.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
I've found I'm always happier with my joints if I pipe clamp them while inserting the screws. Much tighter fit.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
My favorite part about working with walnut - because the wood is so beautiful in its raw form - there's no need for stain. I did four coats of wipe-on poly to seal it and that's it.

I wanted a smooth chalkboard surface. I used birch plywood and I sprayed Rustoleum Chalkboard paint with my Graco TruCoat. This is one of those times that I almost convinced myself to paint it by hand because I didn't want to worry about clean-up on such a small project but that sprayer is so much nicer and even with cleanup it's way faster. The only disadvantage: You use a lot more paint.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Following the instructions on the chalkboard paint, after you've painted the surface you need to rub chalk over the whole chalkboard. It makes it so when you write on it the first time, you're able to erase it.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Walnut chalkboard using Kreg Jig, Graco TruCoat, Rustoleum Chalkboard paint

And now it sits in our kitchen lovely and full of little fingerprints!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

DIY Construction Paper Organizer...

I'm a sucker for just about anything at Costco. 5lb bag of chips. Of course. 30 pairs of can never have too many. And who can't use a sharpie in every color of the rainbow? Like I said, I'm a sucker. At the beginning of the school year I was perusing the isles when I came across the largest pack of construction paper I had ever seen. My kids love crafts and we go through card stock like there's no tomorrow so this was right up our alley.

Immediately after my purchase I had buyers remorse. We didn't really need that much paper and I came to the realization that it was going to be scattered through the house. It sat on my laundry room counter for months while I went back and forth. Ultimately, Hunter had a school project that required several sheets of paper and we busted the package open and he chose his colors. I was trying to keep it neat and tidy, so it stayed on the counter. Then Hallie needed some paper and pulled out a few and before long the nice tidy stack found its way to the game/crafts closet. It didn't take long for my nice stack to turn on it's side and start to create chaos. See it there:
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
And no matter how many times I straightened it I couldn't get it to stay clean. In my annual beginning of the year purging and cleaning of the house I resolved to find a solution. I bought several bins and boxes and nothing worked like I needed it to. So I turned to the garage and my never ending piles of scrap wood and pulled out the table saw.

I cut two sides and a back piece of wood and cut 9 sets of grooves in each (using the table saw) and cut a top and bottom
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
I glued, clamped and nailed the sides to the back and attached the tops and bottoms as well.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
Once dry, I was able to slide in each shelf - which is adjustable, shelves can be removed for larger stacks of paper.
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
I returned the stack of beautifully organized paper back to the closet. Yes, it looks like it belongs in a 1st grade classroom. But what home couldn't benefit from a little paper organization? It makes me happy. It makes me even happier to know that my kids have pulled out papers every day and it still looks like this!
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
The best part is I didn't even paint or stain it. I like the natural wood and it wasn't worth pulling a paintbrush out!
Life with Fingerprints: DIY Construction Paper Organizer
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