Category Archives: Uncategorized

Baseboards: Finishing Touches

No matter how meticulously you measure your baseboard joints, there are bound to be gaps in the joints.  If left like this, your DIY baseboard job is bound to look like a home job.

baseboard (2)

Above is a rounded 45 degree corner joint.  It’s a tough one.  Caulk is the obvious answer to filling the joints, but before you jump to the caulk, sanding down the transition edges will give you a finished product with an almost invisible joint.

Might I suggest using a set of hand files, instead of regular sand paper.
#1 – It’s easier, and
#2 – It comes out looking much more professional.

After using the files we a have nice smooth transition, no wavy bumps, and very minimal gaps:

Now go ahead and caulk your baseboards!

Bathroom Remodel – Transformation

before_after_1 It took a few months!  Not going to pretend this was a weekend project.  We demolished the bathroom to the studs.  We moved the toilet across the room.  We removed a pocket door and added a hinged door.   Scott built all the wainscoting custom for this room.  I laid the tile.  We also revamped a dresser into a vanity and buit a wood countertop.  (Post on that here) Doing all the work yourself takes time.  No question.  But, in total, the entire project and all supplies cost us $1,750.  And, I even got the toilet that can flush a bucket of golf balls.  Ha! We are so pleased with the end product.  A bathroom we aren’t embarrassed to send guests into. Here is a layout of the bathroom before / after:before_after_layout Such a nice change to have a vanity worth being a focal point!before_after_2 Removing the tub gave us a lot more room, and allowed the toilet to be in the room, not the doorway.  It’s a powder room, we had other bathrooms, this one didn’t need a tub. before_after_1 Removing the pocket door and adding a hinged door was such a good change.  So worth the effort.  There are now cabinets where the toilet once was. before_after_3 The wall covering is much improved. before_after_4 Tile was disgusting.  It had blue and pink veins running through it, and permanent stains from who knows what.  We opted for an 18″  travertine, laid in a diamond pattern.  I love it. before_after_5 Another view of the previous tub area turned toilet area. before_after_tub



Paint color - Restoration Hardware “Silver Sage”
Wainscoting color – Behr Semi-Gloss Enamel “White”
Tile – Travertine from Home Depot (it only came in bulk, so I bought an entire pallet.  We have other bathrooms to redo…)
Vanity – Custom, garage sale find, turned vanity.
Light – Craig’s list find.
Toilet – American Standard “Champion 4″
Sink & Faucet – Kohler, purchased at Lowes.



Removing Nails


How to remove a nail the easy way or remove a nail that’s missing it’s nail head!

The way I learned to pull out a nail as a child is much harder than the way Scott taught me.  Let the hammer do the work!  I used to use all my body weight and strength against a nail, with little result for all my effort.  Often resulting in my falling on my rear end when the nail gave way.  :)

Simple steps:

1.  Secure the nail




2.  Rock the hammer from side to side.




3.  Regrip the nail, and repeat step 2.




4.  Done!




You’ll have that nail out in no time!
And, you won’t even break a sweat or fall over when the nail head gives way.  :)

Below is a video clip to demonstrate.  You’ll get the hang of it after one or two nails.  It’s kind of fun to take on those challenging nails you thought you’d have to hammer out the other way, or clip off…


Research First

Being a woman, and smaller in stature, I am often approached by strangers.  Maybe it has nothing to do with being a woman or being small.  I don’t know.  Regardless, people often give me their unsolicited opinion.

I do frequent the big home improvement stores.  I love when I find the old retired plumber that works there.  He is very helpful.  Unfortunately, not all those that work there are a wealth of knowledge.

Yesterday as I was there, I overheard a couple deliberating which stain they ought to use.  Their dog had scratched the surface off their exterior, wooden front door.  They had no knowledge of stains or topcoats – which is fine!  But, to hear the sales lady give her advice made me shudder.  The sales lady told them to put a WAX on their exterior wooden door.  ???  How this would restain it, topcoat it and protect it from not only the dogs claws but the sun I cannot imagine…  They didn’t even question her or question why she would suggest a wax.  They simply took it from her and happily walked to the cash register.  Their happiness won’t last long as they’ll be back next week for try #2.

As much as I love the helpful staff at the big box places, they don’t know everything.  It’s important to research the product you need before you enter.

Don’t buy a water based stain simply because the sales guy notices you have children and says “water based is less toxic – you should use that.”

Hopefully you can find some useful information in our tabs above to that will help you select the product you need for the finish you want!

Thread & Bobbin Holder


I realize you can buy these at the big retail stores. But, I wanted to make one to fit a specific space by my sewing desk. I also didn’t want a nail to hold the bobbin like I’ve seen a lot of.  And, it’s fun to build stuff!

I will post my sizes, but obviously you could use the same techniques and make it custom for your specific space.
My finished size is 93/4” x 25 1/2″

Poplar Wood (3) 4′ lengths of 3/4″ x 1.5″ poplar.
*  (1) 4′ length 3/16″ (bobbin holders)
*  (1) 4′ length 1/2″ (to cover screws)
Screws (8) self tapping counter sink screws

band saw (optional, could use a hand saw, or Japanese saw)
chop saw
drill press
tape measurer / ruler square
wood glue
drill bits
* (3/16″ brad point precision bit)
* (1/2″ countersink bit)
inside squaring / clamping tool (free pattern here)

1. Cut your poplar
(2) at 9.75″
(4) at 24″

Click for our tips on MEASURING and CUTTING



2. Measure where bobbin pegs will be located.
Here I ran into problems.
A ruler is not my strongest area of expertise.
I get the 1/4″, 1/2″ markings,  but mention 5/16″ and I get overwhelmed.  My first idea was to simply start at 3/4″, and measure every 1.75″ from there. That did not turn out well, as the peg marks ended close to the edge of the wood, not centered.
(Ruler breakdown found here.)

Scott’s showed me his method once he saw my troubles.
(I realize it’s probably just me that didn’t know how to do this.)
I knew I wanted my first peg to begin 3/4″ from both ends.
So, mark the 3/4″ from both ends:

bobbin_placement_mancaveinvadedThen, take your ruler and find the middle of these 2 lines. (which ends up as 11 1/4″ from the end of the board)

Keep proceeding this way.
Measure from the 3/4″ and the 11.25″ and find the center of that. etc.measuring_thread_mancaveinvaded

View my tips for measuring for the middle between 2 lines HERE

Soon you will have a board with nice, evenly placed marks!
(FYI – the marks ended up being 1 & 14/16″ apart.  I am not a math whiz, and never could’ve figured that out with a calculator…)

3. Mark bobbin peg location for the drill.
I knew I wanted the bobbins in the middle of the 3/4″ height board.

Create a + using the tick mark’s you’ve measured, plus the center line of the board, thus making no guess work for where to drill.



4. Drill the peg holes.
I do have a drill press (or rather, the mancave has one) so I used that. If you only have a drill, it’s no problem. My suggestion is this though. Use a “brad point” precision drill bit. (What is that?! I will explain because I had no clue either) Notice the difference between these 2 drill bits?

drill_bits_mancaveinvaded_LThe little point on the brad point bit ensures it enters right where you want it to. It doesn’t ‘dance’ around on the wood, creating a hole wherever it catches first. (which is often my problem!)

If you don’t have a drill press and can’t set your ‘depth’ then simply measure on your drill bit to 1/4″.  Place a piece of tape around the bit here.  That way you’ll get consistent depth for your pegs later!

Holes drilled:


5. Cut 3/16″ bobbin pegs
I also have access to a band saw in the mancave.  This could just as easily been done with a hand saw.  Set up the ‘fence’ or guide at 3/4″ so all you have to do is cut the pieces. You will use the 3/16″ dowel, and cut 52 of them.

6. Glue pegs in place
Again, if Scott hadn’t shown me, I would’ve made a big gluey mess. I was about to dip the pegs in glue and mash them into the holes… They don’t need that much glue as it’s a snug fit. Use a toothpick or similar. Dip it in the glue and use this to get the glue into the hole. Then simply twist your peg in.

glue_mancaveinvadedPegs in!


7. Assemble the pieces
This is always the hardest part for me. I always feel like I am not strong enough, or I need another hand. Scott made me an inside ‘clamping square’ that really made my job easier. You can make one too! Template HERE

First, measure where you will be drilling the 2 holes.
Second, set your countersink bit to the right depth:


Get your first corner ready for drilling:

Drill out your holes. Learn from my hesitancy. I was nervous to pull the drill trigger all the way. If you go too slowly, the wood will chip out, as shown.

Add your wood glue, and put the countersink screws in.

Pieces attached together!
Continue this with all your corners.

8. Assemble the shelves
I then simply used the nail gun (and glue) to attach the shelves. Thread hardly weighs anything, I felt the corners needed strength to hold it’s shape, but the shelves were fine with a nail…

You COULD be done at this point.
OR, you could go one more fun step further and really finish off your new thread holder. Make it something to be proud of.
This is where the 1/2″ dowel comes into play.
We are going to cover up the screw heads.

Squeeze some glue into the hole.
Twist the 1/2″ dowel into hole, spreading around the glue.
Cut off the peg.



No exposed screw heads.
It looks like you really know what you’re doing now!


Now finish it off any way you want!

I added some wood filler to fill in my chips that were due to my hesitancy. I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper.
I ended up painting it white to match my room.





Deck Refinishing

Our house has a great deck off the kitchen.
And…the peeling paint/stain from the previous owners made it an eyesore.

Every time I’d walk on it, I would end up with peeling paint strips stuck to my feet.  It made it through one summer, but we knew we wanted to ENJOY the deck this summer, which required it to be refinished.

Step 1  The boys and I scraped with putty knives real fast and got up the pieces that were ready to flake off on their own.

Step 2  We rented a drum sander from Home Depot.  It took about 2 hours to drum sand the entire floor surface.  Tip – if you have a deck that needs refinishing like ours, don’t get a simple floor sander.  I made that mistake.  It would’ve taken many painful hours to get the deck sanded with the floor sander vs. the drum sander.  Granted, ours was in pretty bad shape to begin with.  The drum sander takes off more material than the floor sander.  I would say the floor sander is more for the finish sanding.

Step 3  After drum sanding, use the floor sander for a finer finish.

Step 4  Sand everything else - the real pain.  The railings weren’t too bad.  The balusters were a huge pain.  I never want to sand and refinish balusters again.  At one point we considered just unscrewing them to sand them, or buy new balusters and put them on.  It was that tedious.  To sand these areas we used a belt sander, a hand sander, and a grinder (with a wood sanding pad).

Step 5  We got out the air compressor and air hosed off all the sawdust.  Our neighbors were loving us by this point.  Inside our house was super dusty, as I’m sure my neighbors got our dust too!

Step 6  Stain.  This was fairly fun as it’s cool to see the transformation.  We opted for an oil based semi transparent stain.  We love it.  We love being able to see the grain in the wood after all our work to make it new again.  We used:

Brand:  PreservaWood (It’s an oil stain and sealer in one.)
Color:  Pacific Redwood


We desperately needed a mudroom space with storage.


We were on a tight budget (as in there was no money to spend on a mudroom).  Therefore we opted for inexpensive pine.  It worked for our needs.  Pine is a softer wood, but if top coated with a lacquer, it’s finish becomes more durable.  And, being that pine is a soft wood it’s fast and easy to work with.  Scott was able to whip this out in a weekend.

The other great thing about this project was the bench top.  Normally you’d need to butt end join wood together (like with a ) to get this width.  We were able to buy a 21/32” x 18″ laminated pine panel from Home Depot.  Scott just cut it to length, and added trim and legs.  Simple solution.

Backing – Pine bead board
Cabinets & Bench – Pine
Stain – Minwax “Dark Walnut”
Top-coat – Lacquer
Hooks – Home Depot