Master Bedroom Walk in Closet – Framing 8/29/13

Framing the walls for the closet was fun and much easier than I anticipated. I drilled pilot holes and used 3″ and 2 1/2″ screws instead of nails. Hammering so many nails would have done in my shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Plus, I think the screws will make the walls stronger than nails would, especially nails driven by me. This was my first attempt at the first wall.

This was the first pass on the first wall.  The corner is built backwards and the header for the door would need to be added after the fact.  What appears to be a threshold is a 26" spacer for the 24" inch door that's going in,

This was the first pass on the first wall. The corner is built backwards and the header for the door would need to be added after the fact. What appears to be a threshold is a 26″ spacer for the 24″ inch door that’s going in,

Our neighbors did a very clever renovation in their downstairs bathroom, replacing a tub/shower unit with a laundry closet and shower. They bumped out a wall (into the living room) to accommodate the shower and laundry closet. They replaced the sink, toilet, and bought a shower surround, put in a high wainscot, closet doors, and painted. They bought the new fixtures from Lowe’s and hired the construction. They did all this for around $5000. Awesome. It looks really, really pretty.

I tried to imitate the way their carpenter made the wall corners but I realized I had it backwards, so the wall came down and was replaced by this.

Here the first closet wall door header and corner are correct.

Here the first closet wall door header and corner are correct.

Although I’ve had a bit of experience with framing walls, first in the basement when we built the family room (15 years ago! And, I really only assisted), and again when I converted a nook in our bedroom to a cedar closet (about 6 years ago); I am not at all confident, at this time, that the walls are plumb or straight, even after using a level and carpenter’s square. I think they are off by about an eight of an inch. Trouble is, this trend will continue to each of the adjacent walls. I guess we’ll know the truth when it comes time to install the closet door. All I can do is the best I can do, right?

There was just enough space in the room to construct the walls on the floor first.

Here’s a picture of the second wall ready to go up.

Closet wall #2

Closet wall #2

The second wall is up!

Isn't this a pretty picture?  Second wall of the closet up!

Isn’t this a pretty picture? Second wall of the closet up!

It’s starting to take shape! You can understand why the framing was my favorite part, right? Almost instant gratification.

As you may have noticed, I’m putting the walls up under the drywall ceiling. Everything I’ve read says it’s OK. The carpenter who did our neighbor’s house did their bathroom renovation that way. I also did the cedar closet this way and after 6 years there has been no movement in the wall–even after a noticeable earthquake last fall!

The only problem with framing over drywall is I couldn’t find a connecting ceiling joist for the second wall. It’s only screwed into the drywall and adjacent walls at this point. All of the other walls are connected but the second wall is a concern. So, what I’m hoping to do is connect the wall in at least two places from the attic when I do the bathroom part of this project. The drywall will need to be replaced with green board (that resists mildew), ceiling included, which will give me the chance to add spacers above and connect the second wall.

Below is a picture of walls three and four from the inside of the closet. The closet will be roughly 5′x7′ with a cutout that allows for the baseboard heat register and bathroom sink.

Walls three and four are up!

Walls three and four are up!

In the picture below, you can see how important it was to save the board(s) with the angle for the back dormer. You just mimic the angle with the chop saw.

Here is where the framing had to be angle-cut for the back dormer.  Using a piece from the original closet framing, I copied the angle on several boards with the chop saw to get the right fit.  This wall was built in place instead of on the floor.

Here is where the framing had to be angle-cut for the back dormer. Using a piece from the original closet framing, I copied the angle on several boards with the chop saw to get the right fit. This wall was built in place instead of on the floor.

Here is the wall partially framed for a medicine cabinet. I’ll need to add a lower board for the cabinet frame when I decide where it should go.

I left a space in the wall framing for a medicine cabinet.  Hope this is right!

I left a space in the wall framing for a medicine cabinet. Hope this is right!

This is the final picture of the framing event. Joe the electrician has returned to install the light switch and I have built a slide-out hamper. More on the hamper later.

All of the closet walls are up and the light switch is installed.

All of the closet walls are up and the light switch is installed.

Ready for Sheetrock!

Master Bedroom Walk In Closet: Demo 8/3/13

I am really, really excited about how well things are going with this project. The details go through my head at every free minute. This project is on the verge of taking over my life!

I have scoured HOUZZ walk-in closet pages for hours. There are 425,000+ images of walk-in closets on

Here’s what I’m thinking at this point in time, 7/29/13. Except on a MUCH smaller scale, I like the color and design of this closet above all others I’ve seen. You really have to see it microscopically for my project because this is a grand closet and ours will be barely adequate, sizewise. It’s the way the hanging spaces and shelves appear to be built, and the color that interest me. It’s just looks clean looking and doable, I think. After our stuff goes into the closet the clean-looking part will be a distant memory. Ha!

It took several weekends to get the old closet torn out without getting hurt (a big concern!). After confessing to John that I had been using a couple of pry bars and hammers for the demo, he advised me to get a “real” crowbar. So, I did and it made things much easier. Duh. TK helped me with the really scary stuff.

This tool, The Sonicrafter was extremely valuable in the demo. I bought the older model on for $40. I don’t think the Sonicrafter is meant for this but it cut through 2x4s like a champ. It also cuts sheetrock beautifully, though dusty compared to a knife cut. Here are some demo pics.

This is after taking the doors off, obviously.  Sadly, the bookshelf had to go.

This is after taking the doors off, obviously. Sadly, the bookshelf had to go.

The semi-built-in bookshelf was one of my first projects, so it was kind of sad to see it go. We considered making the bookshelf into the closet door, and after tossing that idea, I tried to convince our neighbors to use it for something close to what they were looking to do in their living room. Maybe I’ll take it to my daughter’s new house and install it somewhere. It holds a lot of books. We used the opportunity to donate a lot of books from this shelf and one in the living room. Why is it so hard to part with books?

This is where I got to on day one.

This is where I got to on day one.

So, baseboard, door frame, carpet, bookshelf — gonzo. The flooring from the bedroom side was pulled back too.

In this picture you can see the wire for the closet light that needed to be moved and part of an upper wall that I originally wanted to keep to avoid additional framing and sheetrocking at the back dormer.

In this picture you can see the wire for the closet light that needed to be moved and part of an upper wall that I originally wanted to keep to avoid additional framing and sheetrocking at the back dormer.

I ran into a minor electrical issue when I took down the closet light and switch. After turning off the power to the room, I undid the wiring and took the light fixture down from inside the closet; no big deal, right? The demo was not at the point where I was ready to call my friend Joe the electrician, however, I managed to knock out the power to half the upstairs when I took apart the switch at the wall.

This is where I ended up after removing the light fixture. Don't worry the power is off.

This is where I ended up after removing the light fixture. Don’t worry the power is off.

Well, I was in quite a pickle so I, of course, called John, who was not available at the moment. I asked another friend and ended up with the situation in the picture above. John, our ex-nextdoorneighbor has good home wiring knowledge. He called me back and helped me through this one, as usual. Thank you John.

This is the rewire after removing the wiring from the light switch which cut off the power to the bedroom and bathroom. The electrician put in an outlet to remedy that and pulled out the light fixture wire.  Later he put in a new switch and left a wire hanging from the ceiling where the 2' florescent light will be.

This is the rewire after removing the wiring from the light switch which cut off the power to the bedroom and bathroom. The electrician put in an outlet to remedy that and pulled out the light fixture wire. Later he put in a new switch and left a wire hanging from the ceiling where the 2′ florescent light will be.

I’ve wired several light fixtures but that is it. Frankly, I would rather leave the electrical and plumbing stuff to the pros and not have to deal with it at all. Too much can go wrong with disastrous results. Luckily, Joe the electrician was able to come over the next day. He left me with a long curled-up wire that hung from the ceiling and a new outlet to conduct the electricity to the house.

As I mentioned in a photo (above), I was trying to save myself sheetrock mudding headaches by retaining the curved part of the ceiling that accommodates the back dormer. There was no hope of this. It took some time for my reasonable self to convince my idiot self to let go of the idea. It was not going to work in a number of ways, the last straw being Joe the electrician saying, “You can’t have a wall in front of a window”. It was going to be 24″ out and house a recessed cabinet, but it would have been an awkward space. Joe the electrician is a smart guy and knows much more about renovations than I do. He made several other suggestions; make the window smaller, shorten the heat register, use a florescent fixture instead of recessed lighting, because of code, and a couple of other things that I can’t remember now. I took all of his advice except making the window smaller. A friend who is experienced at this sort of thing came over and shortened the heat register and I reconfigured the space so it makes more sense.

I took this picture to show how the back dormer wall was framed.  The angle in the ceiling board (inside the ceiling) needs to be copied when I do the framing.  So, I had to take it down without damaging the angled ends too much.  These are the 2x4s that I cut away with the Sonicrafter.

I took this picture to show how the back dormer wall was framed. The angle in the ceiling board (inside the ceiling) needs to be copied when I do the framing. So, I had to take it down without damaging the angled ends too much. These are the 2x4s that I cut away with the Sonicrafter.

This is the last demo pic.

This is the last demo pic.

Framing is next!

Master Bedroom Walk In Closet 7/17/13

I need to start talking about this project. It started in mid-April. You may remember this photo from my facebook page.

This space needs to be a walk-in closet and bathroom for our Master bedroom

This space needs to be a walk-in closet and bathroom for our Master bedroom

It is time. We currently have 1 full bathroom upstairs and 1/2 downstairs. It is a freakish marvel that a family of five made it through the 3-kid, high school, wonder years with one shower and still love each other dearly. So, you ask, why now that they are gone? Well, they keep coming back! Seriously though, the full bath has seen better days and needs to be gutted, as you might expect. Because we cannot seem to catch the DIY or HGTV channels at our local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores the renovation of the bathroom could take some time, therefore, we need to make another bathroom. Plus, it will add value to our house and I want my own bathroom. The latter being the most important reason. :) BUT! I am willing to work for it, so, here goes.

This is where I am.

Master Bedroom Walk-in.  The taping is finished.  Now a tedious week or two of applying the joint compound.

Master Bedroom Walk-in. The taping is finished. Now a tedious week or two of applying the joint compound.

The bathroom will be to the right of the closet. This is the most involved project I’ve ever done and I am both terrified and confident. There are so many details and so many things affect other things and that makes it terrifying because I don’t know if I’ve thought of everything. I’ve measured the hell out of the space and the measurements are not matching exactly in the building part. I’ve also thought it to death. Here’s the approximate drawing which I have altered 1000+ times.

This is the drawing for the master bedroom, walk in closed and bathroom, edited over and over again.

This is the drawing for the master bedroom, walk in closed and bathroom, edited over and over again.

Sorry for the worst photography ever. You get the idea though, right?

The Deck-Outdoor Cushions

You may recall a previous post concerning an outdoor cedar table and bench. Check the September archives for details about making the table and bench.

Seating for six!

Seating for six!

I found some super-on-sale chair and bench cushions at Crate& last winter in Sunbrella Cilantro (Cilantro is the color). I was going to make the cushions from scratch but considering the price (and time savings), I went this route instead. The bench cushion had to be shortened about 20 inches, and the plan was to make the chair cushions smaller as well, so they fit the seat of the chair exactly. I decided in the end that the chair cushions were fine the way they are.

This had to be shortened about 20 inches. It looks bunched up because I've already taken out the seam at one end.

This had to be shortened about 20 inches. It looks bunched up because I’ve already taken out the seam at one end.

This is the opened end of the cushion. It's 1" foam.

This is the opened end of the cushion. It’s 1″ foam.

Carpenter Square for a straight line, measuring tape, and a pencil to mark the cutting line

Carpenter Square for a straight line, measuring tape, and a pencil to mark the cutting line

Measuring Detail. Foam is cut to 54".

Measuring Detail. Foam is cut to 54″.

The manufacturer thread I took out was nylon–almost invisible. Luckily, I had some slightly lighter weight Coats & Clark nylon thread from some long-forgotten, previous project. I keep laughing at the thought of sewing with invisible thread. It was kind of ridiculous. Threading the needle was a major issue. I mean, really? The stuff was practically invisible. But, I diligently plugged along with reading glasses and the required glare from the lamp because in my mind I could see, vividly, the inevitable, over time mildew trailing from the seam if it were sewn with the usual cotton and poly thread. I cut the 1″ foam with sewing scissors.

This project involved a lot of hand sewing with freaking invisible thread! I read somewhere online that to successfully use this type of thread in a machine, you need to reduce the tension on the machine. I took the tension down a couple of notches (numbers) on my ancient Singer and got good results. The bobbin wound on fine too.

Chair and Bench Cushions in Sunbrella Cilantro. Bought from Crate &

Chair and Bench Cushions in Sunbrella Cilantro. Bought from Crate &

To resew the bench cushion I mimicked the factory needle marks that were left after ripping out the seam. This Sunbrella fabric is very easy to work with. The invisible thread…? …not so much. You can see in the picture above how water beads up instead of soaking into the fabric. I like the color and fabric so much that I bought more online to make cushions for two other deck chairs that our friends left with us when they moved. More about that project later.

Lucy says, "Yes, thank you."

Lucy says, “Yes, thank you.”

Creating Storage and Space in a Small Cape Cod Bedroom

The next step in the process was to build a window seat in the dormer. Two front dormers were added when we put the garage and breezeway addition on, Gaaa!, 17 years ago. I’d better look this up… Honestly, cold air came in around both dormer areas. The window seat took care of it though. This window seat was mostly build from scrap wood. I REALLY miss working next door to a shop that builds fine furniture. The guys who worked in the shop shared the wood scraps with us and there were some beautiful scraps. When I think of how many of those beautiful scraps we burned in the fire pit I cringe deeply and get very depressed. The window seat(s) came up before I realized I could easily build my own drawers. so for this project I bought pre-made Closet Maid drawers from Home Depot. I was not happy with the cost — close to $100 for the 4 drawers. Fortunately, they closed out this color two weeks later and Home Depot willingly refunded the difference, which was around $40!

Space saving drawers and a place to sit!

Space saving drawers and a place to sit!

I set to work sewing pillows for the room, a cushion for the seat, and a roman shade for the window. I bought a piece of foam online somewhere for around $30 and made the cover and blue pillows from leftover fabric. The fabric for the tan pillows and shade came from The Curtainshop. Hanging the drawers was no picnic but it was easier than I thought it would be. Here’s a picture of the dormer part of the project. I should add that I painted the room and refinished the window trim before building the window seat.

Here's the window seat with the cushion and pillows.

Here’s the window seat with the cushion and pillows.

Window dormer with roman shade, and window seat.

Window dormer with roman shade, and window seat.

Funny, I just noticed the Stieg Larsson books on the shelf which were not published yet when I did this project. Soooo, recent picture and nothing’s changed except the books on the shelves!

After the window seat came the floor. This is the crappiest laminate flooring I’ve ever worked with but the price was obscenely low — $0.69 a square foot from Home Depot. So, it was less than $100 for the flooring. Nice! I like it in the room for now. I need to be more patient in the future with floors because there is an obvious place near the door that had to be filled (I just could not get it right), and I cut the closet door trim too high. Not professional by anu means — last time, promise. Here’s the “showcase” floor picture.

Laminate floor in cape cod bedroom.

Laminate floor in cape cod bedroom.

As you can see, the baseboard trim has been removed. My architect, sister was on my case to update the “stock” baseboard so I replaced the “stock” baseboard with a two-piece system – costly but nicer, I think. The new baseboard is kind of a disaster in places though. One of the inside corners needed more than an 8th of an inch of putty. I kept measuring too short! It’s not really noticeable, except to a discerning eye, but it still sucks. And, I’ll need to maintain that corner because the space is so big that the fill will fall out over time. Again, last time, promise.

Onward and upward!

Storage and Space Saving Ideas in a Cape Cod Bedroom

This was a REALLY fun project. The front bedroom…. When the offspring were all out of the house and our nest was empty for the first time, I had the opportunity to redo this room from top to bottom. First of all, this is one of the best rooms in the house — very quiet and private with lots of interesting angles, and there is a view of the marsh at certain times of the year. It is, however, on the small side at 11′ x 14′. The room needed to be changed from a teen ravaged bedroom (for many years) to a guest bedroom that could sleep a couple, and still accommodate the ‘coming home for awhile’ of an offspring here and there. Because it is a small room. I wanted clean simple, and MOSTLY easy to clean fixtures and furniture that are still comfortable. I had the idea that some of the insulation had fallen down behind the knee wall because the room was always pretty cold. So, I started by cutting between the joists in the knee wall for the shelves you see here. The double shelf unit is on this wall and a single is on the other side of the dormer space.

These shelves are cut into the knee wall, framed inside the wall with 2'x 4's, insulated all around, and trimmed on the inside with 3/4' pine.

These shelves are cut into the knee wall, framed inside the wall with 2′x 4′s, insulated all around, and trimmed on the inside with 3/4′ pine.

Actually, I started by calling in the oil company rep and asked about extending the heat register in the room. Apparently, the door to the room needs to be left opened to allow the heat to circulate through the upstairs properly. Needless to say, during a decade of teenagers the door had been mostly closed. I discovered after cutting into the wall, however, that as suspected there was a piece of insulation behind the knee wall that had fallen down. There was also a hole from the outside, to accommodate a phone wire, that needed to be caulked. And! There were holes from a fallen down shelf in the closet that were blasting in the cold air.

So, I built a sort of frame system out of 2x4s for each of the shelving units that could be fitted into the holes in the wall, and built the shelf units separately from pine. The 2×4 frames were specifically built so they could be screwed into the existing framing of the house – the rafters, flooring board, and wall studs. I put insulation all around the inside of the frame and taped all the outside joints of the shelf units with Frost King tape. I regret not having taken pictures during many parts of this project.

More soon!

Back to it

Hi all! OK, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I worked on this blog. Where am I spending my time? Wellllllllll: My job is the major culprit. It’s a busy season and if I’m not working I’m worrying about it. And, there were two additional, new business trips that took time and energy. Second and really more important is a good friend of mine is going to die of cancer soon and I have been depressed and anxious about it for some time. Third, this winter has been a total bitch as far as cold and snow. The last thing I’ve wanted to do is play with wood and tools in the garage. Brrrr Around here it’s been more like TV and a fire every night. But! The weather is getting warmer and the projects are looming so I’ve started a new project which I will share with you soon. Thanks for checking in!

Garage Storage Solutions

To this bare wall, we added a 10″ shelf and pegboard to neatly store items that were strewn around our garage.

TK and I have been working together the past few weekends trying to get the garage cleared out and organized enough to actually use for our cars this winter. We sold a couple of items on Craigslist, donated some things to Goodwill and are trying to organize the rest. The garage is 24′long x 22′wide. The goal is to accommodate 2 cars, a snowblower, a lawn mower, power tools, lumber, 3 bikes, firewood, two large town-owned trash/recycling bins, and gardening tool and supplies…AND two cars. It’s hard to believe but we are almost there!

The woodworking tools and supplies use up a lot of space, and that’s where we started. You may remember last winter’s basement-workshop project. This is where I got to with that:×768.jpg You can see the post in its entirety under March 2012 archives, if you’re interested.

We started with a shelf that extends across most of this wall.

A 10′ x 12″ piece of pine + shelf brackets = a sturdy and useful storage shelf for the garage.

We attached the braces to the board with 3/4′ wood screws, marking the screw holes first. Then, using a level, simply attached the shelf with brackets to the wall. The shelf is high and I can barely reach it, but I’m short, so no big surprise there. We needed ample room under the shelf for the pegboard. The wood and braces for this shelf were two of only three things we had to buy for this project! The wood was around $23 at Home Depot and the braces were $5.99 each from Ace Hardware. Coupons made the expense of the latter easier to swallow.

I was thrilled to find enough pieces of leftover 2×3 board to hang the pegboard.

The wall is sheetrocked due to fire code so we couldn’t just attach the pegboard to any exposed wall joists. You need a space behind the pegboard for the hooks. I was prepared to chop up leftover lengths of 8′ 2×3 boards to use for the hangers, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a box with leftover, already-chopped pieces of 2x3s, hoarded from another project! This saved us a lot of time and mess.

Frame out the space where you want to hang the pegboard with pieces of 2×3, then, using 1″ screws, attach the pegboard.

The 2×3 pieces are attached with 2 1/2″ screws to the wall joists. We would have done better to use 3″ screws but we didn’t have any. You could also frame the perimeter of the pegboard pieces with 2x3s, or even 1x3s, and attach it to the wall directly. I would do this if I were attaching an 8×12 sheet to a wall. With the smaller pieces of pegboard it would be overkill, in my opinion. Plus, the additional supports would plug up operative pegboard holes.

The lovely and talented, Hilary, a friend at work, donated the pegboard for our garage project-and brought it to me at work and helped me load it into my car. Thank you Hilary! I owe you a major haul of perennials These are used sheets of pegboard that Hilary’s parents rescued from a store that went out of business. It’s really good, heavy-duty stuff–and colorful, as you will see.

The last thing we bought was a variety pack of pegboard hooks from Ace Hardware for around $10.

Filling the shelf and pegboard was a great reward!

We’re going to need a few more hooks. They make some really cool pegboard stuff. Check out the shelves on the pegboard made from brackets that came with the kit, also, the hanging bin (bought from Amazon), at the lower left–a great place for random nails, screws, and small pieces. I scraped the rest of the obnoxious label off today. This is the organizing bin: There is plenty of other pegboard exotica available, as I’m sure Amazon will remind you…

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. (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, 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 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, 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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