Tag: Wood

Use that Hidden Wall Space for a Recessed Bookcase

During our many visits to the build of our new (and now previous) house, I took notice of the framing of an odd space. It seemed like an odd notch to leave, so I assumed it was intended to house ductwork or something of that nature. I kept it in the back of my mind for a future possible recessed bookcase project. As my oldest book-loving daughter crept into her teenage years, she was ready for a change in bedroom scenery. When I mentioned my idea, she wouldn’t stop asking when I was going to complete it. I was finally able to put it on the to do list to complete it over a weekend while my husband was away. That’s incidentally one of my favorite times to get things done because messes stress him out.  This project definitely generated some dust and mess.  

Before Book Shelf

The then existing bookshelf came from my sister when she moved across the country. It certainly served its purpose but wasn’t the nicest piece of furniture.

Blank Canvas for a Recessed Bookcase

I started off by drilling a hole at the bottom of the wall to check the depth of the space. It would have been terrible to start going crazy cutting away the drywall to find I wasn’t actually able to use it. The depth was about a foot, so I was safe.

My dad showed up to lend me some tools to make this job a little easier. One of those tools was a drywall saw. Using a square and tape measure, I penciled the line for sawing. It was essentially the edge of the wall’s 2 x 4’s. The top edge aligned with the door frame. My dad is not great at sitting idle, so he helped with sawing the drywall. I’ll rarely complain about free help. 

And of course, the kid crew sat and watched us work. The oldest monitored the progress to gauge how long until she’d get to load the shelves. 

Look at all that dead space behind the wall! I could have gone with a pull out bookcase with a hidden nook. 

 Can’t forget about the drywall behind the trim! I admittedly did at first but quickly realized it when fitting the shelf frame into the space. Certainly, the other option would be to cut out the trim as well, but I didn’t want to have to mess with cutting and all that extra stuff. 

Recessed Bookcase Shelf Build

Tools & Supplies

  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • 1/4″ Plywood
  • Wood Trim
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Square
  • Tape Measure
  • Nail Gun
  • Level
  • Clamps
  • Sand paper
  • Stain or Paint

Thankfully, this project didn’t stress the wallet (since it was pre-COVID wood price spike). The side pieces were cut to the height of the opening from floor to top. Then it was just a matter of cutting the top and shelves all the same size to fit in between the side panels.

As to be expected with any build, the level and square were necessary to ensure all the shelves would be level to the floor. The bottom shelf aligned with the height of the trim, so the trim would serve as the front space coverup. I stained all of my pieces with a white stain before putting them all together. With some glue and screws drilled into the shelf from the outside, the bookshelf was almost to the finish line.  

The 1/4″ board was cut to the full width of the shelf and nailed down with the nail gun. Let me tell you what; a decent nail gun makes a ton of difference when compared with a cheapy. It’s on my list of tools to geta better version. There are two types, a brad nailer and a finish nailer. A brad nailer would be best for the structural builds, while the finish nailer is best for baseboards or trim. The higher priced versions are both are likely to be battery operated as opposed to the less expensive, which require an air compressor. Just depends on what level of mobility is desired. 

Final Finishings of the Recessed Bookcase

With the constructed bookshelf in place, it was just a matter of affixing the sides to the existing studs with wood screws. I chose to cover the screw heads with wood filler that I then stained white to keep them from sight. 

Some inexpensive trim was last up. I cut the trim ends at the top at 45-degree angles with the miter saw to create the 90-degree angle. I used the finish nailer to secure it to the stud and bookcase edges. A bit of spackle and white paint was all that remained on the project to do list.

Later, when I wasn’t as happy with the floor ends of the trim being uneven with the floor trim, I decided to fill the space with wood filler. I used the dremel to sand it to a similar shape that melded with the floor. I was glad to have another project on which to practice my dremel skills. It definitely wasn’t excellent, but it did the job well enough.  I also covered the screw holes with wood filler as well. After a coating of stain on the screws and paint on the trim, it was good to go. 

After years of contemplation, it was super exciting to have finally pulled the trigger on the project. The outcome was visually more appealing than the previous bookshelf, a space saver, and my daughter absolutely loved it. Sometimes, I kick myself for waiting too long to try something new that is somewhat scary. I know the project may not always come out the best, but the win is in the free-fall plunge. Check out the rest of the room makeover here and revamp of the old bookcase into a Bakery and Lemonade Stand my 11-year-old used to make money for donation.

Go Ahead and Try Something New Today!

Studies suggest we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one.

Trying New Things. Why new experiences are so important to have

Benefits of trying something new:

  • Trying something new often requires courage
  • Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new.
  • Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored
  • Trying something new forces you to grow

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Ikea Desk Hack for Added Storage and Organization

Last year, my youngest was saddened by the fact that she was the only sister in our house not to have her own desk. As a 6-year-old, it hadn’t been that big of a need in my mind. Regardless, she desperately wanted a place of her own to draw and craft. My sister ended up having an extra Ikea desk ready for the taking. It was thankfully small for her fairly crowded room. My little gal happily filled the one drawer to the max with pencils, crayons, papers, erasers, and all the things.

It didn’t take long for the contents of the drawer to start overflowing onto the desktop and the floor. With the start of virtual school, she needed for it to be clear enough to work off. She loved the idea of adding a little extra storage so away I went with creating a plan for this Ikea desk hack.  

Ikea Desk Type

This revamp is specific to the Micke Desk from Ikea available for the low price of $49. If your child is anything like mine, the drawer will simply not suffice for the amount of stuff desired to be shoved into a desk. 

MICKE Desk, white, 28 3/4x19 5/8 "

MICKE Desk, white, 28 3/4x19 5/8 "

Ikea Desk Hack Supplies

I took my oldest with me to purchase the supplies. While we were there, she accidentally kicked her croc onto the higher stack of wood. I had to ask for a worker to get it and she was mighty embarrassed! Just goes to show that not every Home Depot/Lowes trip is run of the mill! I was just glad the trip didn’t involve a string of complaints about the store and how long I was taking.

  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 1/4″ x 4″ X 6″ Pine board
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint
  • Metal Wire Basket
  • 4 small hinges
  • knob

Tools

  • Sand Paper
  • Clamps
  • Saw
  • Nail Gun

Measurements

  • 1/4″ x 15″ x 13 5/8″
  • 3- 1/4″ x 4″ x 18 3/4″
  • Lid – 1/4″ x 4″ x 19 1/2″
  • Long side – 1/4″ x 4″ x 29 1/4″
  • Short side – 1/4″ x 4″ x 13 11/16″
  • Bottom – 1/4″ x 4″ x 19 1/8″
  • 1/4″ x 4″ x 10″
  • 2- 1/4″ x 3″ x3 3/16″
  • 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ x 3 2/8″
  • 1/4″ x 4″ x 5 3/8″

I purposely chose the four-inch width wood, so I wouldn’t have to cut the depth. The project was a lot easier by primarily only needing to cut the length. After cutting all my boards, it was only a matter of gluing the boards together and clamping them while they dried. Once they were dry, I used the nailgun to secure them together. 

I had to do a bit of searching for a four inch basket that would fit an acceptable amount in it. I finally found a Metal Wire Hanging Basket from Hobby Lobby. Then, I based my measurements on the basket.

So a few cuts with the saw, some wood glue and fires of the nail gun and the build is complete. I affixed it to the desk using only wood glue. I was fully expecting to have to use nails or screws but didn’t want to mar the inside surface of the Ikea desk. I’ve been amazed at how well it’s stayed together with only that! It survived a move, but I’m still waiting for when I’ll have to use some hardware. 

The Disastrous Before…

Aye caramba! All the little pieces!

My youngest struggles more than any of them to keep her room in any semblance of order. As the youngest, she’s generally had a helper for most things and readily provides the excuse “she doesn’t know how”. Such disasters can wreak havoc on your mental wellness, especially when trying to navigate the mess just to say goodnight to them. Routine and set visual instructions (like pictures on bins) will be a great help for any children who struggle with this. It’s also going to be really important to start them with small and easy steps, “like pick up the dirty clothes first”. Anyway, Printable Parents has free printable visuals on the topic if you’re interested! 

The Glorious After

Polka dot paper sorter and rotating pen sorter curtesy of Home Goods! I can’t get enough of them.

A tall paper and book slot. She uses a lot of my 12×12 scrapbook paper so that was why I chose to make it the size I did.

Side Project

My little one picked out some fake flowers on a trip to Walmart and then wanted a vase for them. We had a bunch of fire limbs, so I cut one to size. Using a Dremel, I carved into the wood and used a large 1/2″ drill bit to create the hole for the flowers. It was a snap!

 

And that is a wrap on this easy Ikea Desk hack. A wallet-friendly desk and wood purchase that will give your self-esteem a little boost every time you see what you were able to do. If you’re looking for more ideas for kids’ rooms check out Successfully Controlling Stuffed Animal Clutter with a Craft, Imagination Closet for a Child’s In House GetawayBrilliantly Beautiful Kid’s Rainbow Room Idea, or Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Seriously Simple One Hour Wooden Blanket Ladder for $10

 

With the winter season, comes an abundance of throw blankets needing living room storage space. I know my family and I love to snuggle up on the couch with a good throw blanket. When the snuggling is over, the blankets get stacked up in a basket that is now too small for all of them. If this scenario rings a bell with you while you are trying to stick to a budget, then you can choose to buy one or make one.  A quick Google search will provide you with a great many options to purchase. The cheapest I saw was on Etsy for $40. If your life has to abide by a budget as mine does, then follow along to make your very own thrown blanket ladder for $10 (depending on what you already have on hand). 

 

Throw Blanket Materials & Tools

  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 6′ pine or desired wood type
  • 2 – 3/4″ x 4′ round dowels
  • Wood Glue
  • Clamps
  • Nails
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • 3/4″ Drill Bit
  • Stain or paint

Blanket Ladder Build

Using whatever saw you have available for a straight cut, cut the dowels at 15 7/8″. This will allow for three equal pieces within that 4′ dowel. I choose to do 5 rungs, which obviously leaves one extra segment for you to start on a ladder for a friend! 

 

For the 1″ x 2″ boards, cut one end of both boards at a 15-degree angle. This is most easily accomplished with a miter saw. The 15-degree end is the one that will rest on the floor. 

 

 

For the other end, I found it easiest to lean it against the wall at the correct angle and then draw a line parallel to the wall. You could certainly leave the corner as it, but I prefer the straight edge to lean against the wall to prevent scraping and sliding. 

 

 

Then, it’s just a matter of cutting it on the line!

 

Rung Holes

Measuring from the bottom, measure the first section at 16″, then 11″ for the four other rungs. The spacing was based on what I thought would work best with blanket size and keeping the bottom blanket off the ground. Then at each line, measure to 3/4″ to make a vertical line to create an x for where you need to drill.  

 

Use a 3/4″ drill bit or router bit to drill all the hole. I would have preferred to use a bit without a pointed tip on it but that was all I had. Anyway, drill down about a 1/4″ of an inch to 1/2″ depending on the bit you are using. I stuck to 1/4″ depth with this bit. 

 

From there, it’s just a matter of squeezing wood glue into each hole and clamping it together to dry. I also secured the rungs with a nail from the outside. 

 

Completed Blanket Ladder

 

After staining it, this blanket ladder was ready for to be put to use. Presto!

 

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

The Easiest Way to Even Out a Wood Slab with Basic Tools

I find it a bit amazing how as life happens, you can stumble onto the opportunities for projects you have wanted to do. This project was spurred by just such an event when I went to a Christmas party hosted by my husband’s coworker. She was much like me and as she gave me a tour of her outstanding house, she explained she had a huge log she was hoping to make into a variety of things. It was quite serendipitous to say the least. I had already had thoughts about things I would make if I could get my hands on a wood slab or stump.

The above photo was the slab her husband cut for me. It was enormous and heavy. They had a lot of other log sizes, so I thought I’d grab a few other wood slabs with a smaller circumference. I hadn’t ever used a chainsaw so cautiously went into trying to cut a piece. It was super difficult, so we came to the conclusion the blade needed to be sharpened. 

The two of us lifted this huge sucker into the back of my Honda Odyssey by bending from those knees. I felt pretty powerful after that. Definitely small but mighty. 

Wood Slab Struggles

The wood slab was just too tall for what I intended. I searched around to try to find a sawmill to cut it in half. I finally found one in Pennsylvania who said they could do it. When I got there, it was too wide for their machine, so they used a chainsaw to cut it in half. It looked quite difficult and took much longer than expected. $50 later, I had two wood slabs, one that was relatively even and another in a fairly rough uneven shape. The rest of this story is about the one in rough shape. 

One side was about 2 inches higher than the other. The best side still had chainsaw divets in it as well. Even trying to use a chain saw to even the height would be quite difficult. This is when the router came into play. A router can be used for a variety of projects and it seemed to be the only option for this one. 

Materials for Evening it Out

The first task is to create a square from the 2×4’s just larger than the size of the wood slab. Then cut the legs for the stand just a smidge taller than the tallest point of the wood slab. 

Next up, creating the router sled. Initially, I used some scrap wood. The boards were not quite long enough, which made it difficult to maneuver. I can verify for you, it’s much easier if you use boards that extend well beyond the frame perimeter. From there, it’s just a matter of setting the height of the straight router bit. I used a 1/2″ straight router bit but would’ve gone with a 5/8″ bit if I had it. Then, it’s just a matter of sliding the router back and forth on the sled, which is meant to keep it level. 

SOOO MUCH SAWDUST

Sawdust is going to go everywhere with this project. Make sure to do it in a fairly clear space for easier cleanup.

https://youtu.be/DL6jSI6Po_w

Smoothing the Wood Slab

The router did a great job of leveling the whole wood slab out. It definitely kicked at times creating a few nicks. I decided to try using a handheld planer to smooth it out as a first step. It was just a matter of running the planer over the surface. I eventually paused on that to see how the sandpaper would work out instead.

The look of progress

Time to Sand

After the router, it was time to put the muscles to work to sand the wood slab with extra coarse sandpaper using the belt sander. That 36 grit coarse sandpaper was wonderful at smoothing it all out. Just be careful not to create a ton of sandpaper grooves while you are going. From there, it’s necessary to sand it with a higher grit to smooth out the coarse lines. 

Look How Smooth It Is!

Not a ton of steps but definitely a lot of effort goes into this method. That was the reason I procrastinated so long on starting it. My back was aching after being bent over the slab for so long. When you don’t have all the special tools, it becomes necessary to find affordable ways to complete tasks using tools you may already have or would be useful in a variety of projects. I rely on this toolset quite a lot, so you can’t go wrong with purchasing at least a router, saw, drill, and belt sander. I hope this quick rundown helps you with your own wood slab project!  Check out some other wood projects you could create with a router, like a Paddle Platter.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Faux Wood Plank Shoe Enclosure to Keep Shoes Out of the Way

We got a Greater Swiss Mountain puppy this past year, which ended up meaning our shoes were no longer safe. I decided to use some extra wood sitting in the garage to create a shoe box to keep them safe by the back door. It’s also served to keep the area cleaner and trip free. Rather than keeping the plywood as is, I opted to do a faux wood plank technique to the top.

Our puppy Skye, particularly enjoyed our flip flops.

My Materials

  • 3/4″ plywood
  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 2 hinges
  • Spray paint
  • Stain
  • Drawer knob
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Screws

Tools

  • Painter’s Tape
  • Nail gun and nails
  • Kreg jigs
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Saw horses

Using the circular saw, I cut the plywood to the width of the wall space and the depth of my husband’s shoe. If I had had enough 3/4″ plywood in my scrap pile, I would have done the bottom with it as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t, so I used 1/4″ plywood instead.

I decided to use this Rustoleum spray paint I had from an ombre project I completed for my niece. The pop of color was a nice surprise on the inside. Rustoleum has good coverage.

I used some inch long wood screws to attach the bottom to the sides. Since it was just a simple project to keep our shoes safe, I didn’t worry too much about having 1/4″ board on the bottom being attached with glue and screws.

Faux Wood Plank Time

I thought it’d be fun to give the top the look of panels. To achieve this, I taped it to allow for the stain to create lines. The darker stain was first with two coats to make sure it would be dark. I switched the painter’s tape to cover the dark stain and then did the lighter stain. After that, I did a second coat on a few of the spots to have a third variation.

I put on two hinges I had handy. It seemed better that we’d have to pull up on the door to open it and make it puppy proof, so that is what I went with doing. I drilled an easy hole in the middle of the front panel and screwed in a knob to finish it off.

Safe and sound

The finished product for family shoe organization and safe keeping! If your looking for more organization ideas, check out the Family Command Center above the shoe box here.

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Super Simple Succulent Decor Ideas for a Struggling Plant Mom

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy succulents! And that is pretty much the same thing.

-Unknown

This quote pretty accurately describes my feelings about succulents and other plants. In doing some research, I found this article on the 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health from Psychology Today. Take a look at #7; Higher levels of creativity! Who doesn’t love succulents and cacti? This article on the Top 8 House Plants to Help with Mental Health explains why those plants in particular help with your mental health. During these uncertain times, it’s definitely necessary to do what you can to keep stress and anxiety at bay. With that being said, who’s ready to put together some succulent decor?!

Time to Run through Three Ideas

Simplicity at it’s Best

Cacti Succulent Decor

This simple set up comes by the way of Lowe’s gardening center, Michaels’ rocks, pots from a failed potting present and Target. The rocks were my attempt at creating a more prosperous environment for hen and chicks after many deaths. It sadly failed just like those before it. At some point, I will figure out how to keep them alive, but for now, I decided I’d be best to stick with simpler cacti for a bit. This bluish-gray platter was on clearance at Target and a perfect fit for these pots. So far, I’ve been able to keep these cacti alive by spritzing them with water I spray these cacti with a spray bottle once a week. The flowers have stuck around for months, so I’m at last doing something right. 

Long Lasting Succulent Decor

When my daughter said she wanted to have succulent decor in her ‘new’ room, I pushed for the fake variety for her. I initially found some individual stems at Big Lots months before, but we needed more than what I’d gotten. We went on a little mother-daughter shopping trip to Michaels. My oldest is talented in a great many ways but doesn’t typically go the crafting route with me as my other two girls do. It was a nice time to get away and pick out some items for her to put together. She picked out the extra succulents, the glass container, and the sand color. 

All that was needed was to throw the sand into the glass and arrange the succulents as she liked. I enjoy the look of this angled bowl combined with the varying heights of the succulents. In order to achieve that, we had to cut the thick stems with wire cutters to make it all work together. You can see it in her renewed room here…

Easy Square Plant Hanger

A little woodworking never hurt anybody…. Just kidding, it definitely could if you’re not careful. This square hanger is super simple and involves a wee bit of woodworking.

Materials:

  • 1″ x 3″ x 6″ pine
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint or stain
  • Hook
  • Small planter hanger
  • A Plant
  • Nail Gun
  • Saw (I used this arm saw, but any variety of saws could cut the 4 pieces of wood.)

There are only a few steps for this project.

#1 Cut the wood to size. Two 10 inch long pieces and two 8 1/2 inch pieces.

#2 Put wood glue on the ends of the top and bottom pieces.

#3 Use a nail gun to nail the top and bottom in place.

#4 Stain/paint it

15 minutes and you could be finished with all four steps

I found this wood tint and plant holder (seen below) at an A.C. Moore going out of business sale. Those items inspired me to make this rustic wood holder. I hadn’t used ‘wood tint’ before this, so figured I’d give it a go. Even after using it, I’m wasn’t quite sure what the difference was between it and stain, because they seemed mostly the same to me. Given that, I did a quick internet search. I found a post from Repurpose and Upcycle that provides an awesome explanation of the two and when to use one over the other. The wood tint seemed to provide good initial coverage based on this first experience. It also dried quickly, which keeps for the quick and easy strategy here.

I found these river rocks at Lowe’s as well. Simple is the name of the game. Put the plant in and spoon the rocks in around it. Then, it’s ready to put the hook into the ceiling of the square. It’s best to pre-drill a hole for the hook but it can also just be screwed in without it. The rope that came with the glass globe was too long, so I used some twine I had on hand. I also preferred the look of the twine, so it was a win-win.

Final Succulent Decor

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the simplicity of these ideas. Two of them can be found in my daughter’s newly made-over bedroom. To read more, click here…

Don’t forget that plants help with stress reduction, so go ahead and place them in areas where you tend to feel a little more stressed. I guess that’s why I love keeping them in my office.

Super Simple to make DIY Hexagon Shelf for Personalized Decor

Hexagons are in and squares are out! It’s time to jump on the new trend wave with this DIY Hexagon Shelf. After updating my oldest daughter’s room, I knew this shelf would be the perfect compliment to her freshly painted wall. Don’t you think?!  You could certainly buy one for $30 plus, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this easy $10 project is the way to go.

Super Simple Supplies

These pre-sanded boards were ready for cutting. Doesn’t get much better than not having to stand.

If you’ve read some of my other woodworking posts, you’ve likely seen that I tend to use some older tools or am making do with what is available. This project is no exception. I’d love to get a new miter saw with all the bells and whistles but just can’t bring myself to spend money on it yet. This used radial arm saw was cheap and available, so that is how I came to have it. Anyway, it does the job. If you are new to woodworking and/or the whole tool game, you can be reassured you don’t have to have all the newest fancy gadgets to make neat functional projects.

Time to cut some wood!

First up, was figuring out how to utilize the size of the board. In order to maximize the boards at their current length, I decided to make each side 12 inches long. That meant I was cutting 3 of the boards in half and the other two would be cut for the shelves. 

The sides need to be cut at a 30-degree angle on each end of the boards. I’ll be totally honest here when I admit I couldn’t bring forth enough of my geometry memory to figure out the angle. Google was my friend in this instance. It makes me feel like I need to brush up along with my children as they learn it! While making the angled cuts, just make sure you’re not cutting off any length by cutting only the squared edge off.

I made the shelves 17 1/2 inches long to give more space to the middle shelf. The shelf boards also need to be cut at a 30 degree angle on both ends. It’s an option to save the hassle of angled cuts and nailing at an angle by cutting the shelves at a straight edge to attach to have hexagon with straight sides.

Testing out my angles. Looks good!

Hexagon Shelf Trick

Here’s a fun little trick to keep it all together. It’s not as strong a method as using something like ratchet straps, but I think more people have painter’s tape at the ready. Stretch out the painter’s tape, then line up the boards in a row. Put some wood glue into the crack and pull up the end. It’ll pull together as you go.

For those with little experience with glue and staining, I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you plan on staining the wood, you’d better take a wet cloth to the wood to clean off any trace of wood glue. If you don’t, it won’t stain properly. So, after you wipe the glue off, you’re best to leave the octag to dry. I will tell you that I didn’t wait for it to dry, so it was a tad difficult to nail it firm because of the shifting angles.

Time to bring out the nail gun

After the limited sawing and gluing, it’s time to nail it all together. My nail gun was jammed, so I borrowed my neighbor’s. His was better than mine because it had an arrow pointing at where the nail would come out. Mine doesn’t have that lovely little feature…because…mine is cheap. I’m very near buying a better one. I seem to use a nail gun a lot more than I’d ever anticipated so seems like a worthwhile purchase to me.

The hardest part was nailing the shelves in the right spot. Honestly, I didn’t want to wait for the glue to dry at the time. It would have been easier to have waited to nail it after it was set with glue.

Final Stretch for the Hexagon Shelf

All that’s left to do is paint it. My daughter picked a pink out of my spray paints. It ended up not matching well with the pink on her wall, so we ended up spray painting it gray.

Shelf brackets nailed into the back were the finishing touch. I have found the easiest way to hold the tiny nails is with needle nose pliers. You just hold them there while you hammer.

A Straightforward DIY Living Room Table Set just for You

While trying to decide on the direction for our new living room that wouldn’t break the bank, I was inspired by pins on Ikea furniture hacks. One, in particular, struck my fancy because of its simplicity and look. I ended up finding a discounted Hemnes white coffee table which was the start of this living room table set project. If you’re looking for a simple project that will impress your friends, then follow along with me.

Living room table set coffee table
Ikea Hemnes Coffee Table

Personalizing Ikea

Supplies for Ikea top: 

  • 3- 1x6x8
  • 1- 1x3x6
  • 1″ Wood Screws

Supplies for Side Table:

  • 1- 1x2x6
  • 1- 2x2x8
  • 3- 1x6x8
  • Stain
  • 1 1/2″ Wood Screws 
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood Glue

I assume you know how wood measurements work, but just in case, here’s a nice breakdown at Arch Toolbox. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the name matched the actual size?! I was given some poplar boards from our builder that were perfect for the coffee table and as the main part of a coordinating side table. I used pine for the store-bought wood for it’s affordability. In general, pine is a softer wood, so choosing this option could mean finding nicks and scraps in the wood at some point. Poplar is a harder wood that will take more of a beating.  

Getting started on this Living Room Table Set

This portion of the project involved ripping the boards into 6 equal pieces at 4 3/4″ x 41 1/4″. You have two options on how to connect them side by side; doweling and pocket holes. Pocket holes are easier to do but can be tricky to ensure the boards stay completely flush. Doweling needs to be pretty precise, so it can be tedious and slightly difficult to do by yourself. I chose to go with the pocket holes route for both tables here. I also decided to sand down the corners of each board to ensure there was a distinction between the boards after they were secured together.

living room table set: ikea update

After the long middle boards were screwed together, I cut the end boards to size at 2 3/8″ and 29 1/4″. I used the Kreg jig to create the pocket holes to attach the ends. With the top together, I stained it and the sides with a white stain followed by three coats of clear polyacrylic. I wanted to keep the top white to match the table and go with the white, gray, yellow, and teal color scheme of the room.

living room table set: new top

To finish this easy table upgrade, I just needed to screw the wood top to the coffee table. This was simply done by turning the coffee table over to expose the bottom. It was best to clamp the top to the table to avoid a gap between the boards. I chose not to use glue and stick with just the screws. To make sure the wood wouldn’t splinter with the wood screws, I pre-drilled the holes.

Side Table

Cuts

  • 8 – 1″ x 4″ x 19″
  • 4 – 1″ x 4 1/2″ x 24″
  • 6 – 1″ x 2″ x 13 1/4″
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 19″
  • 4 – 2″ x 2″ x 24″

The width of the legs and shelves is 14 3/4″ and the height of the side table is 24 3/4″.

The side table consisted of cutting the wood to size and using the kreg jig. I didn’t care to have to do more cuts than necessary, so my schematic limited the need for notched cuts by utilizing the 1×2’s.

living room table set: boards for side table

The poplar boards I used also needed to be ripped to size for the two shelves. I used a circular saw with a guide to cut the four boards, which works well enough. I would actually much rather have a table saw to use that would ensure an absolutely straight cut. My woodworking projects would be so much easier with a few extra tools, that’s for sure, but it just goes to show you don’t need all the special tools to complete a project. After cutting all the boards, sanding them smooth and making the pocket holes with the kreg jig was up next. 

Almost finished

Pocket holes galore. I used pocket holes to connect all the pieces together as you can see below, making sure to screw the shelf into all four legs and the 1×2’s. With all the hard work done, it was finally time to stain it. Rust-o-leum Antique White stain applied with a white rag gave it the finish I was trying to achieve. It needed three coats of stain to give it a consistent white. You generally shouldn’t need to do that many coats, but I felt it was warranted with this one. The most important point when staining is to go with the grain and not to allow it to pool in any one spot. 

And that’s all that is involved with creating a simple side table and giving an Ikea table an upgrade. If you’re looking for another easy project, check out Revamp a Composite Bookcase. It uses 1×2 pine boards just like some of this one.

living room table set top
living room table set bottom shelf

Completed Living Room Table Set Project

living room table set finished side table
living room table set: finished idea table

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Fantastically Colorful DIY Rainbow Shelves

Rainbow Shelves

Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.
― Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow

In 2015, we moved our family of five from a three-bedroom house to a five-bedroom house with loads of extra space. It was glorious for all of us, especially for the 7 and 4-year-old sisters who were previously sharing a room. The oldest liked sleeping with the door open, with music and lights on while the younger one preferred sleeping with the door closed in the quiet and with the lights off. Besides being able to control their own space, they also got to choose their room themes. The then 4-year-old unwaveringly went for

R A I N B O W

as her theme of choice. Curtains and sheets were easy to find. Shelves, on the other hand, weren’t something I could find in any nearby stores. The obvious choice was a mommy/daughter project to craft our own.

Supplies: 

  • Wood Cubes
  • Small Wood Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint Brush

I came across a nine square set of nesting cubes and decided to make them into a fun shelving unit for my rainbow lover’s room.

Each cube had a bracket to hang each individually. I thought it’d be easier to have them connected to each other. This would mean I’d have fewer nail holes in the wall. I used tiny wood screws to secure the cubes to each other in the fashioning of our design. Something to keep in mind when screwing into any wood is the likelihood of splintering or cracking when drilling the screw without predrilled holes. If there’s a chance it’ll crack or you’re unsure, it’s best to drill a hole prior to screwing in the screw. Be sure to use a drill bit no bigger than the width of the screw core to prevent the hole from being bigger than the screw.

After the cubes were secured to each other, my middle child and I started with the painting. Her motto is ‘you can never have too much rainbow in your life’. I love when I can infuse mommy-daughter time with crafting (so long as it’s more fun than frustrating). Generally, it’s a double bonus for me to have girls who enjoy doing some of the same things as me. As an adult, I have come to realize as a child I learned so much by simply watching and helping. I hope my girls learn as much from me on how to be handy and self-sufficient as I learned from my parents.

A fun Rainbow Pop with Patterns

We could have kept it simple by painting all the surfaces, but I thought it’d be fun to give it a pop of pattern to the cubes, in addition to the pops of color. It was more likely to see the ceiling of each cube when hung on the wall. This pushed my decision to use scrapbook paper to spruce up the ceiling of each cube. (Scrapbook paper really has so many uses.)

I cut colored and patterned paper to the size of the corresponding cube. Using my favorite Mod Podge, I glued them to the wood surface. I’m sure you can read the Mod podge instructions for yourself, but I’ll explain it here for you as well. Use a paintbrush to paint it onto the surface first. Then paint the back of the paper and smooth the paper onto the surface to remove any bubbles. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. Those pesky bubbles and wrinkles can be a pain to get smoothed out. Finish it up by painting the final top coating to protect the surface.

I have had the same bottle of mod podge for years. It’s lasted me through many projects. Check out some other projects you can use with mod podge.

Once the paint and glue were dry, hanging and filling the shelves were the only tasks left. My little Lily was excited to get her things in there.

Rainbow Shelf #2

We already had a shelf on hand for the next rainbow incorporation. I decided to do a fun bottom since that would be the only part to really show. I used scrapbook paper and Mod Podge again to adhere the paper to the surface. While cutting the paper to size to fill the length, the chevron pattern matched perfectly. In looking at the photo below, I obviously failed to put the two pieces in the right spots. It’s very likely I was slightly distracted by my chattering girls. It doesn’t take long for Mod Podge to work, so I was stuck (literally) with my mess up. My OCD self still gets annoyed with this mistake, but luckily my middle child was okay with it.

Rainbow scrapbook paper
Rainbow scrapbook paper shelf

Simple and easy is the best way to be when the task list is long. One project down in a night’s time and a daughter over the moon with her finished rainbow project.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
― Maya Angelou

Wood Paddle Platter for your Next Gathering

If you’re anything like me, you likely see creative possibilities all around you. Sometimes in comes in the form of more random options. For this easy woodworking project, I was inspired by an oar shape. After some brainstorming, I came up with this oar server idea. 


“She believed she could so she did”

My parents both grew up in the great state of Kansas before moving to Maryland, where I was raised. During my younger years, we would make the long drive once or twice a year to visit our many relatives. I now try to get out there every few years to spend a week visiting with as many in the area as we can. We made the trek to join in the family reunion with the family from these two fabulous people below, my paternal grandparents. They are a crafter and carpenter extraordinaire among a great many other things. The line of DIYers is obviously pretty long. In 2017 when this photo was taken, they were 91 and 94 years old. I can only hope to live as long and fruitful a life as these two.

Grandparents

During this particular reunion, the family was making carpenter stools to match my grandfather’s well-used one. My grandmother was also providing instruction on how to cut a chicken down to make her fried chicken. It was quite a unique and memorable affair. My family knows how to do it right.

grandfathers carpenter stool
Family woodworking at it’s finest. Look at the line of constructed stools. I certainly use mine plenty now.

It wouldn’t be a trip to my aunt and uncle’s house in Missouri without an exotic animal sighting. Missouri seems to have laxer animal rules, so there’s quite a bit of animal variety in the area.

Now on to the Project

Part of this particular Kansas trip included cleaning out my parents’ old shed, which happened to have a couple of boxes of ready-made wood forms. That wood was calling my name, so I had my pick of the stock along with my younger sister. I dragged my selection back to Maryland with me and piled them up to wait for creativity to strike. Some ideas came more easily but those oar shapes nagged at me to figure out what to do. Then it hit me all of a sudden; I’d practice my raw routering skills by making a food platter. I took a trip to Goodwill, found three perfect glass cups and to my garage I went.

Pile of projects
Pay no attention to the foot by the stack of raw wood forms.

I traced the bottom of the glass cups on the long portion of the oar and measured around the base to ensure I had an even border there. Then I used an older router to start cutting out the inside of my markings. It’s important to lock it tight when using a router. If you don’t, the blade will move deeper than you plan on it going. Unfortunately, the router I was using did not stay put and started digging in a little deeper than I’d planned. I can’t begin to describe the disgust I felt with this, so I ended up quitting it for quite a while and picking it back up when I got a handle on my frustration.

Routered oar server

Quick Fixes

Wood filler and a scraper solved the problem to even out the spots that happened by accident. After the wood filler was dry, I sanded it down as best I could using a medium grit (80 grit) sandpaper. Medium grit (60-100) helps with smoothing the rougher areas. For more significant marks, you’d go for coarse grit (40-50). It’s typically best to sand with a fine grit paper (120-220) to create a really smooth even surface before staining.

I’ve since starting using a much better router thanks to my parents, which makes completing projects soooo much easier. This Ryobi router serves me well now. I can’t say enough about having the right tools. Many of the ones I have are hand me downs or are older because I can’t spend the money on better versions of everything. If I had my druthers, I’d get a bunch of new tools to speed up my projects and save my sanity. You get the benefit of seeing you can still accomplish things without all the best tools.

Oar Server with router errors fixed
The bane of this project.

Staining

After the routering was complete, I did two layers of stain with a dark stain I had on hand. I keep old cotton white shirt strips handy for staining just like my mom used to do. My parents were avid woodworkers and often building cabinets, tables or trailers, among the list. My siblings and I helped complete many of the projects when extra hands were necessary. I’ve said it many times as an adult now that although I wasn’t so keen on it as a kid, I’m thankful for the skills gained by having had to help.

Oar server with final stain
There’s a light spot on the end here where I failed to get the stickiness off from some masking tape. Before staining, it’s always important to ensure the wood is completely clean of residue or glue. Sanding is important.
Oar server before polyurethane

The stain ended up being inconsistent in the wood filler spots. I decided the oar server would look better to do chalkboard paint on the inside. If you are looking for other simple projects with chalk paint, check out this easy frame project. Then I painted “Bon Appetit” with white acrylic paint and finished it off with two coats of polyurethane to seal it for food and washing. The clear coating really gives it the finished look as well.

Oar server ready to use

I put a twine hoop on the oar server for hanging to make it a multipurpose server and decor item.

Oar Server hanging as decor

Oar Server: Putting it to Use

Around the time I was working on this, I was attending monthly moms’ dinner nights. If you haven’t participated in these, it’s best described as one mom hosting and choosing a theme to create the main dish around. The rest of the attending moms/friends bring a dish to match the theme. This particular night was Mexican themed, so I went with homemade churros and three different dipping sauces. It all worked perfectly together as you can see below! It just goes to show that random finds can be made into something completely fun and useful. Here’s to inspiration finding you soon!

Oar server put to use at party
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