About dian4261

Hi! Welcome to my blog. This blog, as it is intended here and now, will focus on around the house projects and fixes, some of which, I think, might be interesting to some of you. I love making things out of wood. I love the way it smells, and I love the limitless possibilities it bestows. Since I depend A LOT on the internet for help and ideas (people out there do really amazing things!), I hope that any of you who choose to follow my blog, or check in every once in awhile, will find some of my projects and ideas helpful to your own pursuits. I’m learning new things as I blunder along and I invite you to follow and assist me in my journey to improving my skills and my home. Off we go!

Outdoor Dining Table and Bench


Here’s the set!

After the staining success of the bench I was encouraged. I rubbed the table down with mineral oil, then scrubbed it with steel wool-000. It’s darker than the bench, still, but the surface is really smooth and not as mottled with smeared stain. I can live with it now but I will most likely sand the top and sides down first chance I get and do it right.

I’ll need to make cushions for the bench and chairs. That’s after we get the garage cleaned out and take care of a few other winterizing-type things. It will be a nice winter project.

This was a really interesting project and I learned a LOT! I’m looking forward to dinner for 6 on the deck next summer!

Project cost with tools: ~$150.00.

Critical tools: Kreg Mini Jig set, finish sander, belt sander (at least for me), 2 drills, chop saw, jig saw, Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide, circular saw, brad nailer, tack hammer, nail set.

Hardware and other: Kreg pocket hole screws, pocket hole plugs, wood glue, stain (if you wish), random incidentals (pliers, sandpaper, etc…).



After installing the cross-pieces, filling the holes, and sanding and sanding and sanding, the bench is ready for stain. (Click to enlarge)

For the cross-pieces I used scrap that was ripped for the table and bench legs. It’s thinner but with the smaller dimensions of the bench, relative to the table, it looks good, and quicker than buying more wood and ripping new pieces.

I now realize where I went wrong with the table stain. What a dumbass I am. Instead of staining the table like a piece of furniture (wiping off the excess stain), I stained it like a deck and left the excess to dry. In a damp garage, just before a rain, the stain didn’t dry quickly enough and it left the streaks. Grrr, still kicking myself for this!

The finished outdoor cedar bench! (click to enlarge)

I got really lucky with a warm Saturday and was able to stain the bench outside–um, like a piece of furniture. I’m really, really happy with the bench!


The cedar bench with legs! (click to enlarge)

The bench is nearing completion! Again, three sets of legs and 2 crosspieces for more strength. It’s pretty solid right now but I’m not going to take any chances of future wobbling by forgoing the crosspieces. The leg design is slightly different for the bench. Here’s the deal:

This is the table leg design I got from the “inspiration” table’s instructions. http://www.westminsterteak.com/PID15900/Horizon-Teak-Extendable-Table (click to enlarge)

So, you see the table leg is stepped and there is a crosspiece that goes across, under the tabletop. Well, it didn’t fit perfectly–had to be shimmed and that was a weak spot to begin with soooo…. There were other weak spots too that had to be dealt with. I’m sure the Horizon-Teak-Extendable-Table provides many construction details that I have yet to learn.

For the bench legs I decided make cut-outs on the length-wise, edge under piece so as to be able to attach the legs at more spots for more strength.

Adding the cut-outs as described in the picture worked, sort of. The bench legs were sturdier right away but I had to shim and glue around the legs. After that it was pretty tight. The bench legs are shorter and there are three of them instead of the longer, two on the table; certainly this adds to the strength as well.


October already! The weather is getting colder and the daylight is diminishing quickly. I need to wrap this project up and get some maintenance and clean-up done around here before the snow starts falling. Frankly, this project is starting to wear on me. If I never have to cut another Kreg plug it will be too soon. And, another thing…

The outdoor cedar dining table is finished! (click to enlarge)

This is the table; lightweight, sturdy, and kinda pretty. But! I totally screwed up the stain and I am kicking myself over and over about it. After reading up on the options for treating cedar furniture (or not), and considering the other furniture (the new chairs) in the space; I decided to use the same semi-transparent, cedar color deck stain as I used for the deck floor. This is Woodscapes from Sherwin Williams. I considered leaving the cedar untreated and letting it go gray but I wanted the table to match the chairs and, although the table will be in a covered area, it will be left outside all year long.

Notice the streaks? Well, they did not dry and go away! Apparently, I back-brushed too much for the cool, damp weather and the streaks stayed! Short of sanding the top down and staining it again, I’m trying to work out a way to get rid of the streaks and make the top an even finish. Any suggestions?

I used these little plastic feet from Rockler on the four corners of the legs and the center of the crosspiece.(click to enlarge)

Wrapping this up, These little plastic, nail-in feet I found at Rockler are just the ticket for keeping the table legs up off the deck floor. They should help to prevent moisture from seeping in and prematurely aging the piece.



in this picture you can see the little slot, now encrusted with glue, that fits the Kreg plugs. (click to enlarge)

I searched online about how to use the plug slot on the underside of the Kreg Mini Jig and couldn’t find anything quickly.

Fit the Kreg plug into the slot on the underside of the Kreg Mini Jig and tap the plug into place with a tack hammer. (click to enlarge)

Here’s what made sense and worked. You slide the plug into the slot the only way it fits. Using a tack hammer or small rubber mallet, just pap the plug into the hole. The round end of the plug is cut at an angle so it covers the screw heads nicely.

You have to be careful not to tap too hard or the edge of the plug curls up. You can also just press the plug into place with your finger or thumb. This and just a little bit of glue in the hole and you’ve got an installed plug…or 64.

All the plugs are glued and sanded. So pretty! (click to enlarge)

Look Ma; no metal! (click to enlarge)

The decision to cover the holes on the underside really came down to wanting to make a nice piece of furniture. You never know how a project will turn out and along the way you have to gauge the importance of each step, relative to the effort. Conversely, it’s worth it, sometimes, to take the extra step if only for the experience of doing it. That’s my zen DIY statement for the day.

Braces for the Table

Corner braces for the last bit of stabilization. (Click to enlarge)

After a neighborhood assessment of the stability of the table I decided to, once again, take John’s advice and add the corner braces. He originally suggested this after the first pass of four. It downright swayed before I added the shims. Then, it got a little better after the crosspiece, and almost acceptable after the side pocket holes. Now, after the corner braces it’s good to go!



Yes, a matching bench was planned from the start. While waiting for the cedar Kreg plugs to arrive I started the bench. The top is finished and most of the leg pieces are ripped. Once again I ran out of wood and had to buy another piece of cedar from Home Depot. The bench will be the length of the table and 18″ wide.

Here’s the layout of the bench from underneath. (click to enlarge)

For the bench I’m going to make three sets of legs since it will be bearing weight. Also in the plans are a cushion and lumbar pillows for the bench, and cushions for the chairs.

Meanwhile, the cedar plugs, a package of 50, has arrived so, back to the table. I am determined to finish the underside of the table, even though my neighbors think I’m crazy, because the underside will be seen from the yard below and the screws are not stainless. Stainless screws are more than 3X more expensive but they won’t rust. It’s a trade-off: more work and less money or less work and more money.

The Kreg plugs are made to fit holes cut for 2 1/2″ screws and are too long for the, mostly 1 1/4″ holes in this project. How to cut these tiny plugs without taking off any fingers….?

At Rockler I found this little honey. (click to enlarge)

This tiny aluminum miter box and sharp little saw, bought at Rockler, are tactilely pleasing, perfect for cutting Kreg plugs, and cute as hell in a dollhouse sort of way — if ya know what I mean.

I used this tiny miter box and saw set to cut the Kreg plugs so they would fit into the pocket holes and hide the screws. (click to enlarge)

I can’t tell you how happy I was to find this set. It allowed me to cut 60+ wood plugs without noticeable, resulting pain in my shoulder, elbow, or wrist. I really need to save any strength my joints for the belt sander. The long awaited Kreg cedar plugs ran out and I had to buy a pack of “paint grade” plugs at Lowe’s which actually fit the holes a little better but were harder to cut.

At this point I have decided to use semi-transparent deck stain to finish the table so the plugs will be protected to some extent.



Just put glue in the hole and insert the end of the dowel. Then, using a flush-cut saw simply saw off the dowel where it meets the surface of the table. (click to enlarge)

This process took several hours. I became so obsessed with the task that I ended up re-drilling the holes that weren’t quite deep enough to fill. Several of these are evident in this picture. I am getting kind of excited about this project now that it is well underway. After a few swipes with the belt sander the plugs are flush and nicely finished. See picture below.

Use a belt sander to make the plugs flush with the surface. (click to enlarge)

The cedar plugs for the pocketholes will be here on Tuesday.

At this point I spend some time filling in the tiny holes (from the brad nailer) and some small gaps the leg pieces and tabletop edges using Elmer’s Wood Filler.

Elmer’s Wood Filler is Easily Sanded and Stained for a Lasting Finish.

John told me about this weather-resistant filler. Such a relief because the plastic wood is hard to use and the Elmer’s is water based and much more user friendly. I mixed two colors, natural and golden oak and had to use a little water to make it work. Filling holes and gaps with filler is not my favorite thing but the result makes it worthwhile. Enough about that.

Almost there! Now I need to wait for a family member or neighbor to come home to help me flip it right-side up.

Here’s a picture of the stringer attached and the legs fortified by more pocketholes. I’m really anxious to see if it’s sturdy enough. Alas, no one is around to help me flip it over.

The table is really lightweight but I don’t have the wingspan to move it by myself without the risk of damaging it. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. Voila!

All that’s left on the table is plugging the pocket holes underneath and applying a protective finish. I am a tired but happy girl! (click to enlarge)

Have I mentioned the bench?


Although I love this table and chair set, it is too wide for the area. (click to enlarge)

The plan is to build an outside table for the screened area of the deck. Here is a picture of the current table. It’s a lovely, glass table with four matching chairs we’ve had for, hmm, 15 years. I really like the set. The issue is that it is too wide for the area in that, although six people can fit around it for a meal, it is too tight on the sides and when we have five or more people for an outside meal it’s a tight squeeze. This has been an issue lately when our new son-in-law has been visiting. The diameter of the table is 48″. The thought of replacing the table has been on my mind for some time and has made it onto the list for this summer. In July I spotted a good alternative at The Mill Store. See link below. The sale price was $139.00. I also looked at it last year and finally, this year, decided to take the plunge. The plunge being buying it when it isn’t the perfect size and it’s $139.00 to replace something that is serviceable, although difficult at times. Unfortunately, when we went to buy the table it was out of stock and the sale was ending before they expected to be restocked.

59” Patio Table.

These are two of three patio chairs I found a HomeGoods last month. (click to enlarge)

Meantime, I bought three really nice chairs on super closeout at HomeGoods. They are made from some kind of all-weather composite and aluminum. And, they are comfortable!

I did an exhaustive internet search for a matching table. All were either not right or too expensive for the budget. I did find one I thought I could build-ish.

Horizon Teak Extendable Table – Westminster Teak Furniture.

The extension aspect, although it would be fun to try to build, was not part of my plan. Upon searching the usual haunts, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Rockler, I was not able to find composite or even teak lumber. Of course the table needs to be built from something that will not wither and die in the ever changing outdoor climate. The other lumber yard’s hours and relative locations to my work and home don’t suit me at this time. Home Depot does have cedar which is what I decided on for the table. I bought 1 x 4 cedar for the table, in 6 and 8 foot lengths, for a total of $65.00. It has been humid this summer and the wood seemed wet so I let it dry in the breezeway for a some time while I did more deck painting.

This cedar has been drying in the breezeway for about 5 days. That should do it. (click to enlarge)

The table was to be 56″x36″. Mistake #1: Somehow I managed to cut the lengths for the sides 2″ short! What an idiot! Seriously, “measure twice, cut once”. I must have measured only once. :( It would have been easy enough to cut new boards and do it over but the shorter length fits the area better and I decided not to redo the sides.

I’m connecting the parts with pocket hole joinery using the Kreg Mini Jig

Kreg Jig® Mini.

Here’s the table top in its early stages of construction. (click to enlarge)

After the outside frame was constructed I laid the cross boards inside the frame. Since the frame was shorter than planned I needed to figure out a way to get the boards to fit across with around 1/4″ish of space in between them. At 56″ the boards would have fit perfectly, however, with the new, shorter length they were either too close together or too far apart. Grrr. Here’s a picture of the outside edges all put together.

As Mike Mulligan said, “Four corners, neat and square. Four sides, straight up and down”. Or something like that. (click to enlarge)

Once the cross boards were in position I realized that I wasn’t going to like this table as planned. It looked too rustic. And rustic? I’m not really a fan. The next morning, about a mile into my run I decided, definitively, to put a cross piece down the middle, width-wise, and justify the boards perpendicular on either side of it, instead of cross-wise the whole length. So, more like the table from The Mill Store. There would still be spacing issues but that problem was for another run. I’m keeping the U shaped legs for now and am hoping to eliminate the cross piece between the legs that goes along the floor on the Horizon model (see above).

Tabletop frame with cross piece. (click to enlarge)

Mistake #2. When I was really too tired to keep going with the project, mentally, I decided to install the middle cross pieces–just to get things moving on it since the boards for this area were already cut, re-cut (for the new configuration), and planed by about 1/8″. Looks great, right? About an hour later I started kicking myself when I realized that there are eight boards, which means there is no center piece! I took a day off work the following week for the time and peace to install the boards correctly. It took a lot of time and patience to get it right. I used a large paint stirrer to set the space between the boards. There was more planing to do and installing the boards ended up taking most of the day. Here are a couple of pictures of the process.

The boards are laid in place with a large paint stirrer’s width between them. It’s a space somewhere between 1/8th and 1/4 inch. (click to enlarge)

Featuring my new 9″ Kreg clamp! (click to enlarge)

At this point I’ve marked the spaces on the outside frame for the boards and numbered the boards and frame so as not to forget which boards go where. I also marked the boards, one side on the inner edge and the boards on the other side on the outer edge. Wood is wood and I am still a beginner. I wasn’t taking any chances once the best fit was determined.

One thing I needed to buy for this project was a larger Kreg clamp,

Kreg Extra Large Face Clamp – Rockler Woodworking Tools.

A coupon from Rockler softened the blow of the $39.99 price tag. The Kreg face clamps are my best chance of getting a flat surface at the joints. Getting all the boards clamped and screwed in was a bit of a trick. I had to take the board at the end off to get the next board in because of the limited clamp reach.

Tabletop underside just after fitting the boards. This was a long, hard day. (click to enlarge)

This was a happy moment.

The underside of the table top with boards around the perimeter. (click to enlarge)

To add rigidity and thickness to the edges, I added boards to the underside of the tabletop around the perimeter. I punched holes with the Kreg drill bit which created nice spaces to countersink 1″ screws. The legs should fit between the boards on the ends if I’m lucky. Actually, the legs will fit. The question is whether or not they’ll hold up the table and look good…

Tabletop (click to enlarge)

Here’s the tabletop from the front. I guess I’ll have to consider the results here mistake #3. Although, it is only out of ignorance that I didn’t anticipate the problem. Man, I am learning from mistakes big time with this project. The boards are not all flat! Some are so warped that a misplaced glass of wine could topple. We’ll have none of that!

Belt sander? Why, yes, thank you very much! After talking with some friends who confirmed the belt sander as a viable solution, I found this very effective belt sander at Home Depot on my lunch hour. The price was certainly right, although, you can get it cheaper if you can wait for it to be delivered, which I didn’t want to do. Here’s the sander.

3 in.x 18 in.Portable Belt Sander-BE318-2 at The Home Depot.

An associate at Home Depot talked me through the pros and cons of the less expensive models. This Ryobi 3 in.x 18 in. Portable Belt Sander was recommended over the 2 closest models and it was the cheapest, yay. So, I went to work on the table top and the sander really did the job. It also did a job on my back for a few days but it was just a little muscle pain. I’m sure it will only hurt for a year, if you know what I mean as a fellow approaching-a-certain age empathizer (apparently that is not a word but I’m staying with it). Here’s the top after sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding, first with the belt sander, then with the palm sander and back and forth a few more times. As a belt sander novice, although I tried to be careful about gouging. There were areas of gouging, not terrible, but more work. Honestly, this tool is going to take some practice because I’m not really strong enough to be good at using it right off the bat.

Here’s the tabletop all sanded down to an even surface. (click to enlarge)

The legs are next. In the inspiration table,

Horizon Teak Extendable Table – Westminster Teak Furniture.

there is a cross piece, or stringer, that runs along the floor between the legs. I am trying to avoid having to use it for a more minimalist look. I would like u-shaped legs that are around 2″ thick. This is the part that is very difficult for me because the pieces for the legs will need to be ripped, and, confession…I am very afraid of the table saw. I really need lessons and confidence. There is a brand new work-site table saw in my garage. It has been there for more than 3 years and it is still in the box. I did consider getting it out for this but what I had in mind was another Kreg jig that I saw on a fellow blogger’s site, http://pinktoesandpowertools.com/ It’s called the Kreg Rip Cut. Here’s a link to Rockler which is where I bought it.

Kreg® Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide – Rockler Woodworking Tools.

I want to commend Pinktoesandpowertools.com for her great diy blog and incredibly clever name. Thanks also to Kristen, for introducing me to this tool. Here’s a link to Kristen’s site where a Kreg rep tells all about it.

Kreg Rip-Cut {continued} « Pink Toes and Power Tools.

This is certainly a revelation for me. That is, being able to rip wood without risking the evil table saw. The boards are 3 1/2 inches wide and I took them down to 2″ for the legs. There were 14 boards that needed to be trimmed down. The reason for this wonderful invention is to be able to rip plywood and mdf. I really don’t think it was intended for the type of application for which I am using it. I am looking forward to using this tool for cutting drawer parts out of plywood.

If this looks precarious that’s because it is. More clamping would have been better. (click to enlarge)

Table saw anxiety aside, I’d never been very confident with a circular saw either until this one arrived from Amazon.com,

Amazon.com: SKIL HD5510 6.5 Amp 5-1/2-Inch Circular Saw: Home Improvement.

This is super easy to use, especially for us lightweights.

So, the Kreg Rip-Cut? It mostly did the trick in spite of some crookedness due to my lack of strength and experience…not necessarily in that order. The problem was the clamping. Since the jig is so long I could only clamp the boards from one end. Therefore, it was difficult to hold the saw and jig firmly enough to the board to ensure a good cut. I ended up marking the crosswise cut, cutting just past the mark (to accommodate the saw blade), then cutting the board with the chop saw. Another problem, sort of, was the blade in the saw is meant for crosscuts and ripping would have come out better with a finer blade. I have no excuse except not realizing it until I was out of time. There is really so little time….

Ya, this was probably not the best solution for clamping but it worked pretty well. This is one of the table leg parts. (click to enlarge)

Pretty sure there’s a Kreg jig that solves this clamping dilemma but enough spending for now. This worked fine as long as the clamps were tight and I coaxed the boards together slightly, by hand. The legs are now cut down to 2″ and I’ve cut and attached the pieces, one to fit inside the other. This pictures below illustrate this better.

U-shaped table legs, cut and spaced out. (click to enlarge)

Table leg ready for gluing and clamping (click to enlarge)

The instructions on the wood glue bottle say to clamp for 1/2 hour and then leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Since I don’t have enough clamps I had to glue one leg at a time. Below, you can see what I was left with after gluing the leg pieces together.

Rough, uneven edges with dried glue. (click to enlarge)

After using the belt sander, first 80 grit, then 120 grit on this table leg the edges are smooth and the glue residue is gone. I did a once-over with 150 grit by hand. (click to enlarge)

I wanted to get a flat edge on the table with the belt sander but it had to be clamped. I had to stand on a chair to sand the width-wise edges. For this I used 80 grit paper; then, again just lightly, by hand with 150 grit. (click to enlarge)

It is time to install the legs. Dreading this because I’m doubting the strength of my design. The underside of the the tabletop has some cross pieces and more pocketholes and screws. The legs fit as previously cut and that was a relief. There is a weak spot in the legs and I am going to need to use the stringer that goes across the floor. It should look fine after all, I’ve decided out of having no choice and after some convincing from John. :) I shimmed the weak spot (sadly, am going to have to drill holes and connect from the top of the legs as well). The shim in this case will act as a support where there is a gap between the top of the legs and the underside of the tabletop. Here’s shim the process.

First test and make sure the shim is the right size. Paint the end to be used with glue. Use a non-marking rubber mallet to jam it gently into place. (click to enlarge)

Gently fold the shim up to break it off at the edge of the leg. It should be clamped for 30 minutes but I have no way of doing this so I turned the table rightside up to hopefully set the glue to the correct angle for the legs. It was the lesser evil.(click to enlarge)

I’ve taken some time off from the project to do other things, meanwhile of course, to do some mental planning for the dilemmas in the project. Two issues:

#1: The table is still wobbly even after the shims. The end result of my pondering this issue is screws from the inside of the legs, into the shimmed area and above. And, the crosspiece, or stringer(?) is necessary. Here’s the table as it stands.

Here we are-upright. I love the legs but there is more to be done.(click to enlarge)

I was hoping not to have to gouge the legs with pocket holes but sobeit. It needs the support.

It’s a total experiment and a minimal financial investment. Still, I really want it to work.

#2: The underside looks like this. I really should plug the holes because the screws are not stainless and they will rust and bleed, and the underside will be seen from the deck and yard below.

Lots of pock marks in this. I would be less concerned if the screws were stainless but there is also the matter of pride in workmanship. (click to enlarge)

You can see where I was trying out a plug here. The Kreg plugs will fit perfectly in pocket holes drilled for 1 1/2″ pieces. For thinner pieces they have to be shaved. I had some plugs hanging around but they are maple and pine. I went into Rockler to find some more pine plugs because they would be easier to cut. There– low and behold were cedar plugs; at least a spot for them among the other Kreg plugs. They were out of stock so I ordered them online. This made my day because I never expected to find cedar plugs and they will be really easy to cut with a hand saw. For the round holes I bought a dowel. I went to Home Depot and was told that they no longer carried wood plugs. Hmmmm, kinda weird me thinks. The dowel is a pain in the ass because it has to be cut for each hole but store-bought plugs would need to be shaved anyway and this is probably just as easy.

I’m going to start blogging from the top now because this post is getting long.

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The Deck 2012

Deck Revival

So, I had no intention of blogging about refinishing the rails and floors of the deck, however, after seeing the difference in the floor after applying this product on just a few of the boards I had to share,

DeckScapes® Exterior Oil Semi-Transparent Stain.

What a difference! I like the darker color. It hides lots of old wood warts. If Mother Nature decides to cooperate just a little bit, I can get it done this weekend and set up the deck for the summer. We’ve been putting off a lot of summer living niceness to get this project done, like flowers and furniture!

Dear Mother Nature, Please don’t rain today.

Please remind me never to do the floor and rails/trim in the same summer again. It is taking FOREVER. Actually, it’s going to take three summers; one for the floor, one for half the rails/trim, and another for the other half. Luckily, this year Mother Nature has decided to grant us a perfect summer. It’s been hot but only by Maine standards.

Back to the deck….

We had to remove this board due to rot on the far end. The inside piece was fine…alas.

We had to replace a long board and one on a step. For the one in this picture TK went under the deck and pounded upward with a sledge hammer to loosen the nails. I did not want to dismantle the front part of the screen porch part because the sides were already disconnected from the house in order to paint the inside of the railings. The threshold, I had initially thought, posed a problem, which is the reason for all of this consternation. It turned out not to matter.

The screen surround is a POS, supposed to go on permanent camp ground sites piece of respite we bought at BJ’s, hmmm, 9 years ago. We have to take the roof off, replace it with a plastic tarp (very attractive) and brace it with 2x4s in the winter. In spite of the disrespectful description it has worked very well for us over the years. And, let’s face it, there are far more pressing matters.

The plan of action with the board was to slide it under the rail of the lower landing and bend it enough to make it go under the threshold and slid to the house. Pipe dream, I assure you. Luckily our friend and neighbor, Nils, suggested we pop off a vertical piece of trim on the landing to put the new board through easily. Have I mentioned how much I love my neighbors?

Note the missing pillar. That’s how we got the new deck board into place.

It was really easy to pop the rail off. Just a wood block and hammer did the trick. It took all of 10 minutes to take it off and put it back on. I know, that’s what she said….:)

There was no way the board was bending under the railing, over the floor, and under the threshold. Pipe dream.

But! Without the rail it was an easy installation.

OK, I realize the picture does not depict the eventual, correct installation method. Stubbornly, I tried to do it the other way and when it was time to do it correctly my helpers had gone to watch soccer.

Here’s the new board, installed. This replaces the old board that had 12″ of rot on the end.

I used shims when nailing the new board to get it as straight as possible in the space. And, predrilled holes for the nails.

So, the new board didn’t take the stain the same way as the old boards but it will be aged, and look the same soon enough.

This picture shows the new deck board installed and stained with, believe it or not, the same cedar color as the rest of the deck floor. The new board isn’t aged like the rest of the deck so the color came out lighter. I’m living with it, no problem.

We noticed another board, three over to the left of this board, that is rotting from underneath. I give it three years, tops, before it will also need to be replaced. Eventually, we will end up with a striped deck floor, the way things are going. :)

Using DAP Plastic Wood, I filled an area of this board that had rotted away.

There were two additional areas of concern. This picture shows a long board on the lower deck that had some rot at the end. Instead of replacing the entire 18′ long board I decided to fill the holes with

DAP Products – Repair Products – DAP® Plastic Wood® Solvent Wood Filler (RTU).

It hasn’t rotted through entirely and this makes more sense than replacing the 18′ board – for the time being.

For this step I used an non-rotted part of the board that was replaced on the upper deck and filled in the old nail holes with DAP Plastic Wood. I couldn’t let the perfectly fine piece go to waste.

The contractors who build our deck, while they did an amazing job overall, for some reason built this step using three, instead of two, pieces of wood. I replaced two boards, one of which was rotted, with just a single board across and filled in the nail holes. The filled holes are noticeable if you look closely. Still, much better than it was!

Here’s a small portion of the deck railing and lattice. You can see where the side of the screen porch is disconnected from the house so I could paint the inside of the railing.

For the railing I am using two coats of Sherwin Williams SuperPaint in Birdbath Tan, the same color as the house trim.

SuperPaint® Interior Acrylic Latex Paint.

I’m using a 3″ roller for as much of it as I can. It is taking FOREVER! There is a lot of rail, trim, and lattice on this deck. It’s all been pressure washed to remove the algae and mildew and I’m anxious to finish the painting this summer. It may have to wait until the rains of August are over though…

On to some summer deck niceness!

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Danish Chairs

Lovely Danish style chairs are in really good shape. They just need a little tlc which I am psyched to instill upon them!

These chairs are from my best friends who are downsizing and, apparently, not fans of Danish furniture. I can’t wait to get started on them with a new finish and…something with the cushions.

DIY TV Stand

We decided to get a very large TV for the basement family room. The idea had been discussed, agreed upon, and sealed by the fact that we would have all three offspring home for the summer. We have a nice TV in the living room but in the family room at the time was a 21″, old school, Sony, something or other that would not die. The thought of having all of the offspring and all of their friends in the middle of the house (living room) until all hours of the night so they could watch HDTV was more than we could prospectively tolerate. Sleep is very important thing, after all.

What we had for a TV stand at the time was a table we made (long ago) from basement project scrap. It is approximately 30″x20″. The TV is 46″. Can’t last forever in that situation, right? The components were stacked up here and there and the dvds and other TV things were in boxes all around.

Research began for TV (media) stands. Of course, everything I liked cost $900 and more. The budget allowed $100 for lumber plus a Kreg jig and other supplies-clamps and angle pieces,

Mini Kreg Jig and Kit – Rockler Woodworking Tools.

Universal Fence Clamps with Clamp-It™, – Rockler Woodworking Tools.

I found this media stand/bookshelf on the Crate & Barrel site. I might have just bought this from Crate & Barrel (temporarily ignoring the budget), if it were made of thicker plywood instead of thinner “engirneered wood”

Crate & Barrel Media Console

This piece from Crate & Barrel looked like something I could build. Modified slightly, it could be stained to match the other furniture in the room, it could fit the space, there is ample room for wires (four components), and I really like the symmetry of it.

The C&B piece is 27.25″Hx15″Dx73.75″L. To fit the room and our components, I made it 21″Hx16″Dx76″L. I used 3/4″ plywood, maple on one side and birch on the other. Lowe’s cut the plywood for me. The bill for the lumber and cuts was $96.74–under my $100.00 budget! Also, on that trip I bought a light wood edge banding tape to cover the edges of the plywood in front.

I’d often read that pocket hole joinery creates strong joints in furniture, and I can now attest that it is indeed true. Using the Kreg mini jig and the right angle clamp system noted above you simply clamp, drill, and screw. Here’s a picture of how the pocket holes look. This was a practice piece. (click on image to enlarge)

As I mentioned previously the rough edges of the plywood were finished with edge banding tape. I bought it at Lowe’s but you can get it in the usual other places. This tape is made of very thin wood with an adhesive back that is ironed onto the edges of the plywood and trimmed with a knife. There is a special tool for the trimming but I used a utility knife with a new blade. You have to trim off the ends and edges of the trim because it doesn’t fit perfectly. Just try to get the edges right on one side so you don’t have to trim both. The ironing-on went pretty well except for a little bit of buckling here and there, probably from a too hot iron. I don’t notice it now.

It seemed like a good idea to finish the individual pieces of the unit before putting it together.

With the help of sandpaper and the three products in this picture, I managed to get a finish that is pretty darn close to the existing furniture in the room.

Here’s a picture of the finished project. (click image to enlarge)

Good, right? The feet were a quandary. What I had in mind were little metal post feet but what I could find of those were all too tall. What I ended up using are cabinet pulls attached to the unit with plates that are made for attaching furniture legs. You can see the feet in the picture. There are actually six but the two in the middle are inset. Solid as a rock. I can easily stand on it.

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Painting is a Gateway Drug to Bigger and Better Improvements.

I always get into trouble when I’m repainting a room. It is such a mundane and repetitive task that my mind starts to wander and I notice other things about the room that absolutely NEED to be changed. It was this way with the kitchen. As I was repainting the ceiling and walls I started pondering things like, the cabinets could use a good scrubbing and a new finish, I need to move the cookbooks out from their cabinet storage and into a more accessible place, the possibilities of hanging a microwave over the range instead of having it on the counter are what(?), wouldn’t it be nice to have an incorporated wine rack, how can I bring more light into the kitchen, and so on. It was from here that the “update the kitchen as far as you can go without spending huge dollars” project was born.

Of course there are other improvements that also came to mind, like a new countertop, new flooring, an updated ceiling fan with a light, and a garden window. Unfortunately the budget excludes these things – for now.

Counting down from least to most impact….

#10 Clean, Paint, and Purge

And I mean clean and/or paint everything! Paint the beat-to-heck toe kick, heat register(s), and walls. Patch the holes in the walls. Take down any old, out-of-date wallpaper. Clean the cabinets inside and out; cabinet doors, frames, drawers and drawer fronts, flip the cabinet shelves (where you can), give away or throw away all unneeded items, and put new shelf paper in the drawers and cabinets. Clean out the fridge/freezer and toss anything that has expired or looks, even remotely, like a science experiment, then scrub out the entire fridge. Clean under, over, and behind the fridge and range. Clean the electrical plates. Be a cleaning, painting, purging fiend! This is long and hard work but it will set a very nice stage for the bigger and better improvements to come.

I’m sure that some of you keep up with this sort of regular cleaning thing I’ve heard so much about, however, I do not. Here are some images of the painted toe kick and heat register. (click images to enlarge) These small improvements really do make a big difference!

For the toe kick I used a glossy, Red Devil, black paint. One coat was fine.

For the heat registers, cleaning, sanding, and a wipe down, I used a spray on primer and an eggshell/satin off-white color spray paint.

Please make sure you have adequate ventilation when using spray paints. Open doors and windows, and maybe run a fan, blowing the chemical air away from the project so as not to affect the direction of the spray, of course. A mask is probably a good idea too! Be sure to use tape and newspaper to protect walls and floors from the flying paint.

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#9 Refinish Cabinet Fronts, Sides, and Doors

After scrubbing old fingerprints and gunk off the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with Simple Green, I think, I bought a can of Briwax often recommended by my friend, Caroline, and went to work shining them up. Luckily, the cabinets were not in bad enough shape to warrant a complete refinishing job involving sanding, stain, and polyurethane. Briwax does a terrific job of revitalizing old furniture and cabinet finishes. You just apply it to the wood with a cloth and rub it on with some elbow grease to make sure it shines. Adequate ventilation is advised when using this product.

The other part to refinishing the cabinets is the side panels. For some reason the people who built our house only covered the cabinet sides at about half of the cabinet ends. I don’t know if they only received boards for half, or they forgot to do the rest. Cabinet side boards? This was the best I could find in the family photo archives for a “before” picture. (click image to enlarge)

Maybe your kitchen cabinets came complete with side boards. These are thin pieces of plywood, somewhere around 1/8″ that cover the paper laminated ends of cabinets both above and below. You cannot get these thin pieces of plywood as a shelf item in stores that I know of. Home Depot, however, (and possibly other(s)) sells a cabinet resurfacing program from which you can buy these precious pieces of odd-size plywood. They are cut to size, from the measurements you provide, and sent to your house. The unfinished pieces are less expensive so I bought 3 pieces to cover the sides of the cabinets that needed to be covered. Then put on a clear stain and couple of coats of glossy poly. www.minwax.com I don’t remember how much the new side pieces cost but it was probably around $50 for all three, and well worth it.

Here’s a recent shot of a covered side panel and a lovely Briwax shine on the adjacent cabinet door. (click image to enlarge)

Just glue and clamp the pieces to cabinets. I also put a few 1/2″ nails in to be sure.

I’m really glad to have done this because one of the paper covered sides had partially peeled off. The memory of what it looked like is horrifying.

Stay tuned. Remember, we’re counting down and the best are yet to come!

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#8 Update Your Appliances

Admittedly, I hemmed and hawed about including this point in the post, because although buying new appliances is quick and easy, new appliances are expensive. Our original Kenmore appliances served us well, and lasted for at least as long as they should have, but it was time, AND it made a huge difference to our kitchen life. The energy savings and updated features were well worth the expense. Besides, as I said, it was time. The old appliances were an almond color with black trim, very stylish in the 1980s and early ’90s. The range is shown in the nest segment. Here are the new range and fridge. (click images to enlarge)

We love them.

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#7 Move the Microwave Off the Counter

Duh, right? In modern kitchens you’ll find the Microwave oven situated in a wall or in an integrated cabinet space. These preferable, choices were not an option in our 12×12 kitchen. Our Microwave was situated on precious counter square footage! Soooo, I had the cabinet above the range hood re-sized to allow enough space above to hang a Microwave oven with an exhaust. We chose a Bosch model that matches the range.

I hired a carpenter who makes high-end furniture for a local designer to shorten the cabinet by, I think 6 inches. We did lose cabinet space, and I have trouble reaching the cabinet now, but it’s the junk food cabinet so it’s all good. Below are before and after pictures. (click images to enlarge)

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#6 Let the Light In!

The wood valence over the sink had to go, along with its companion florescent light-so conveniently tucked in behind it. Bye bye also to the cloth window valence. Over Done Gone. I left the mini blind because it is unobtrusive and useful in the summer. Here’s a before picture. (click image to enlarge)

After unscrewing the wood valence over the sink from the inside of the adjacent cabinets, and taking down the spring rod that held the fabric valence we hired our best in the world electrician, Joe, to install 2 small recessed lights to replace the florescent fixture.

It’s funny, really not so much in a way, that the lights could not be centered to the cabinets because of the location of the beams overhead, but since the window is not centered between the cabinets, they end up perfectly spaced to the window. We had dimmers installed here and at the other overhead lights. Since the dining room is so open to the kitchen it’s nice to be able to block out the kitchen during a meal. Here’s the update. (click image to enlarge)

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#5 Add New Hinges and Pulls to your Cabinets

Before this little project our kitchen cabinets did not have knobs or pulls. I kind of liked the plain look back then. Nowadays I like a little more bling. I was tempted to get contemporary looking pulls but since the cabinet style is more traditional, I settled for all pulls in a transitional style (bought at Home Depot), hoping that all pulls (no knobs) would make the cabinets look more a little more modern. To mount the pulls I used a template that you can buy at Home Depot (and other places). Here’s a link for the templates- Cabinet Hardware Templates You use one piece for the cabinets and the other for the drawers. Since the cabinets and drawers had never had hardware before I had to drill new holes. It was terrifying to be truthful. I only had about 1/8″ of play so getting it right the first time was pretty much imperative. With the help of the template I was able to line them up acceptably well, although you wouldn’t want to hire me for this job. Here are picture of the new cabinet pulls and hinges.

The original hinges were an antique brass and encrusted with rust and grime. It was really easy to replace the hinges. All I had to do was choose new hinges that were the same type, except this time nickle instead of brass. The holes in the new hinges were placed differently, so I did have to drill new holes for these as well, except nobody can see them!

It was shocking to see how much of a difference the new hardware made. The effect was sort of the same as adding some nice pieces of jewelry to an otherwise plain outfit. Bling! Fine jewelry for your kitchen cabinets!

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#4 Make Your Trash Can a Pull-out

It probably sounds crazy but the minor addition of a pull-out trash can rocks our kitchen world! Again, no room in the 12×12 kitchen for a stand alone trash can, ergo, under the sink. Before the trash can slider it was a comparative headache to open the cabinet door in the traditional way and then have to pretty much lift the can out to throw anything significant into it, like vacuum cleaner bags, old shoes, massive amounts of cooking debris…you name it, it was a pain. Here is our lovely new(ish) sliding trash can cabinet.

I bought the slider at our local Lowe’s but I can’t find it online, sorry. There are several different models available. I vaguely remember measuring the inside width and height of the cabinet, and gauging the location of the pipes from the dishwasher and sink to make sure it was going to fit. The can came with the slider. You screw the frame for the slides into the bottom of the cabinet and then screw the front into the inside of the cabinet front. It cost around $40-$50. I also carefully considered installing sliding options in other cabinets but in the end they take up too much space inside the cabinet for our needs. Anyhow, awesome kitchen convenience addition! Moving on….

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#3 An Integrated Wine Rack

While this project was going on I scoured the kitchen brochures from Home Depot and Lowe’s looking for ideas. One thing most “perfect” kitchens have is a wine rack that is integrated into the cabinets. Many of these are located, horizontally above the refrigerator or vertically along the side of a lower cabinet in kitchen islands. I’ve never seen one placed like this one but it works for our configuration.

The wine rack is made of oak, like the cabinets. The boards were cut by my friends at Home Depot because of my lack of skill, (working on it). I tried to be really organized about building it and get the center boards in order by numbering the them in sequence across the rack. Tough too was getting the vertical boards to line up equidistant across the rack. I think I had to call for math genius husband help for the measurements. In the end it’s fine and serves its purpose with aplomb.

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#2 Convert Your Cabinet Door Panels to Glass

This is not the easiest thing I’ve ever done but it was easily doable in retrospect. That is, after having done it. It wasn’t until I was part way through this project that I remembered where I saw the idea. It was in an episode of “This Old House” that I slept most of the way through. Luckily I was awake during this part when they used a jig saw to remove the panels from the cabinet fronts.

Out came the center panels of six cabinet fronts. I was left with a lovely L-shaped area along the inside edge for a piece of glass and an unfortunate ridge on the inside of the frame that had to be carefully removed. Carefully, lest we accidentally shave off some of the front trim. The center panels were encased in the oak frame, in a dado, if you will. The back edge of the dado had to be taken off and not in a sloppy way. Since using a router for this sort of thing was out of the question for me at this point in time (due to lack of skill), I ended up painstakingly removing the inside edge with a Dremel and its circular saw bit. I was so obsessed with this that I came home from work at lunchtime as often as I could just to saw off an inside edge or two. Six AM, I was out in the garage removing that annoying inside edge. It really seemed to take forever!

I spent some time while this was going on trying to find clips to hold the glass in place. Finally, I ended up taking them to my glass guy, Lucas, at a local glass shop. Lucas skillfully applied silicone to the inside of the cabinets to hold the glass in place. We have not had even a hint of a problem in the 4-5 years since. I believe the cost was $5-$10 per door, depending upon Lucas’s mood that day. I took them in as they were ready so it was several trips to the glass shop.

My oh my! What a difference the glass panels make! Being able to see the depth of the cabinets and the reflection of the glass opens up the room is a huge way. I am really pleased with this outcome. (click to enlarge image)

Here’s a pic of the silicone job.

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#1 Build an In-the-wall Shelf for Your Cookbooks and Much More

At the beginning of this post I mentioned the need to create a handy space for our cookbooks. At the time the cookbooks were living in a lower cabinet. We tried lining they up on the counter but quickly put them back because they started to get food splattered on them and we really couldn’t sacrifice the counter space.

My daughter, home visiting, walked in the door and said, “Dad is going to kill you”. Using a drywall saw I was removing the front layer of drywall in a wall between the kitchen and dining room. The idea was to create shelves that recessed into the wall between the wall studs. They would stick out into the room only as far as the adjacent doorway. My building buddy, John, very kindly ripped the oak stock with his table saw so it would fit into the wall. He also cut dadoes in the side pieces for the shelves to slide into. I painted the inside drywall and used a jig saw to make cuts in the shelves that allowed them to extend beyond the frame on the left side, thus, centering the shelf on the wall. I could not be more pleased with this creation. (click image to enlarge)

My husband was unhappy about the cut-outs in the wall. In fact, he was irritated with the entire project because it was disruptive, as any kitchen project is. After everything was finished though he could not have been happier with each of the updates. Seemingly, after this project TK became a gourmet chef!

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Basement Workshop