Folding Laptop / Writing Table Tutorial #DremelMaker

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

My favorite place to write my tutorials is outside on our screen porch when the weather is pleasant. I love listening to the birds and feeling the breeze blow through the screens. Up until this weekend, I was using an old card table as a desk. But, it was heavy, large and awkward. I wanted a table that was the perfect height and that I could fold and store away when I wasn’t using it.

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

As a brand ambassador for Dremel, I enjoyed the challenge of designing plans for this simple farmhouse style folding laptop/writing table. The materials are simple 2 x 4′s and 3/4 inch plywood. The majority of the steps can be done using simple handheld tools like a drill, Dremel Multi-Max and the Dremel Ultra-Saw. (Feel free to use other tools or alter the plans to fit your size preferences.)

Be sure to read to the end of this tutorial to enter to win a Dremel Multi-Max MM30! It’s one of my favorite tools!

Materials:
(contains some affiliate links)

Cut list:

Folding Laptop Writing Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

Top:

  • 3/4″ finish grade plywood cut to 18″ x 36″

Apron (use 1×3 boards or you can rip excess plywood):

  • 2 – 1″ x 3″ cut to 14 1/2″
  • 2 – 1″ x 3″ cut to 34″

Legs:

  • 2 – 2″ x 4″ cut to 28 1/4″
  • 2 – 2″ x 4″ cut to 26 3/4″
  • 1 – 2″ x 2″ cut to 14 1/2″ (if ripping a 2″ x 2″ yourself, remember actual size is 1.5″ x 1.5″)
  • 2 – 1″ x 4″ cut to 14 3/8″

Hardware:

Tools:

Additional materials:

Instructions:

Cut your lumber to the size specified above in the cut list. [Read more...]

DIY Industrial USB Charging Station

Handy-Box-Knockouts

DIY Industrial Charging Station

Have you ever been in need of an electrical outlet only to find that they’re hidden by furniture or in a hard to reach place?  How about that elusive time of day when you’re cell phone’s down to 1% and you have a handful of charging cables, but nothing to plug it into?  This seems to be a regular occurrence at The DIY Village, so we’ve finally solved these problems!  We created a DIY industrial USB charging station that has an accessible outlet; 2 usb ports capable of charging all of your devices; and even has a built-in accent light!  We think it would be the perfect addition to an office, your teenagers room, or even a college dorm room!  

Materials List:
(Contains some affiliate links)

Tool List

Instructions:

In order to make room for connectors and fittings that you’ll be using to build your Industrial Charging Station, you’ll need to remove (2) 1/2-inch and (1) 3/4-inch knockouts from the handy box.  (Set the handy box aside)

Handy-Box-Knockouts

The hardwired emergency light has screw-out plugs that give you installation options.

Emergency-Light-Base

Remove one of the side plugs from the light base and re-route the wiring through the opening. [Read more...]

Painted Vanity Nightstand

Painted Bedside Vanity | Pretty Handy Girl

Painted Bedside Vanity | Pretty Handy Girl

In the quest to makeover our master bedroom and save money, I’ve been painting several pieces of furniture to coordinate with the new bed I built.

One of the pieces I painted was this small desk that doubles as a nightstand. Our bedroom isn’t very large and our master bathroom is even smaller than what can be described as a “master” anything! Doing my hair and makeup in our bathroom isn’t a viable option, especially when both Pretty Handsome Guy and I wake up at the same time. When I saw this little desk at a local thrift store, I grabbed it. Especially because she was only $20!

Painted Bedside Vanity | Pretty Handy Girl

She had lots of age, but not much character.

top-of-wood-vanity

However, she was the perfect size and had just enough storage for a makeup vanity.

With a light sanding, primer and a coat of Benjamin Moore Advance paint, she is now showing her more glamorous side. [Read more...]

Red, White & Blue Themed Boy’s Room Reveal

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

Boy's Red, White & Blue Themed Room | Pretty Handy Girl

Happy Friday!!! I finally finished my son’s room makeover. Poor kid has been asking for over two years when I was going to work on his room.

Boy's Room Before | Pretty Handy Girl

It feels so good to be done and be able to share the final reveal with you. The theme started four years ago when I converted his extra closet into a reading nook. The blue, white and red work beautifully together.  [Read more...]

Wall Mounted Desk Tutorial

Wall-Mounted Desk Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

Wall-Mounted Desk Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

Hey, I hope you had a fabulous weekend! Was it productive? Full of DIY activities? Well, I’m back with a tutorial for building a wall-mounted desk. The great thing about a desk that is wall mounted is it can be small or large and it won’t take up any floor space! This gives a nice clean look and makes the room feel larger. Plus, the materials will almost certainly cost less than buying a desk.

My son is starting to have more homework in school. (I didn’t realize that first grade was the new 3rd grade!) I figured soon enough he’s going to need a spot to sit and work on homework. Plus, he’s an avid Lego builder and this makes a great surface for him to build on.

Materials:

  • Finish grade plywood (my desktop is 16″ x 40″)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • 1 – 2″ x 4″ x 93″
  • 2 – 9.5″ x 9.5″ bird’s mouth brackets
  • 4 – 3″ cabinet mounting screws
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Level
  • Pencil

Instructions: 

Begin by assessing where you want to mount your desk. For better perspective, you can outline the desk area with painter’s tape on the floor.

Wall-Mounted Desk Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut your finish grade plywood to size. Using the Kreg Rip Saw with my miter saw is much easier than hauling out the table saw and getting as assistant to help lift the plywood. If you put a piece of rigid foam insulation underneath, you can cut almost anywhere! Just set your saw blade depth slightly below the plywood.

Wall-Mounted Desk Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut your 2″x4″ stud 4″ narrower than the length of your desk top surface. (My desktop is 40″ long, therefore my mounting stud is 36″ long.)  Locate the studs in your wall. Mark their location.

Wall-Mounted Desk Tutorial | Pretty Handy Girl

Pre-drill holes in the mounting board at the stud locations. Use a small bit slightly narrower than your screws. Then use a larger bit the width of your screw head to create a countersink hole. Drive the cabinet mounting screws into one end of the mounting board and into the stud. Use a level to make sure your mounting board is level, then drive the additional mounting screws into the other studs. [Read more...]

How to Make a Chalkboard Surface Desk

How to Make a Chalkboard Surface Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Make a Chalkboard Surface Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

As part of the makeover of my son’s bedroom, I wanted to create a fun chalkboard desk surface for him to write and build legos on. The idea of a chalkboard coated surface came to me when I remembered how much he liked the mini-chalkboard decals that used to be on his room wall.

Creating a chalkboard surface on any desk or flat surface couldn’t be easier with the right tools. Here’s how you can create your own chalkboard desk!

Materials:

  • 3M fine grit sanding block
  • Valspar High-Hiding Primer tinted gray
  • Rustoleum chalkboard paint
  • 2″ paint brush
  • Foam brush
  • Small craft paintbrush
  • Desk surface (I used pre-cut finish grade plywood)
  • ScotchBlue painter’s Tape
  • General Finishes Water-based sealer (or satin Minwax Polycrylic)

Instructions:

Begin by lightly sanding your desktop with the sanding block. Wipe any dust off with a damp rag.

Paint one coat of primer on your desktop surface. (A little note about my primer: I asked the Lowe’s paint department to tint it as dark as they could with black colorant. This helps when you are painting over the primer with a dark color.)

How to Make a Chalkboard Surface Desk | Pretty Handy Girl

After the primer has dried, create a border on your desktop with painter’s tape. Press the edges down firmly with your fingers. Paint one coat of chalkboard paint with the paint brush. Brush the paint in one direction. Let that layer dry. Repeat with a second coat brushing across the original strokes (i.e. vertical then horizontal.) [Read more...]

Desk Makeover {Paint Stripping with Citristrip & Painting with Latex Enamel}

desk painted with Latex enamel

desk makeover sitristrip latex enamel

One of the unique features of our home’s floor plan is a “tech room” with built in desks just off of our mud room.  When we first built our house I thought they would make the perfect place for our older boys to do their homework.

PicMonkey Collage

The builders painted the desks with latex paint and unfortunately it showed evey little mark and scratch almost immediately after we moved in.  Within a few months I had already given the tops of the desks a coat of black chalk paint in the hopes of giving it a more durable surface.  I was again disappointed within a couple of weeks.

chalk paint on desk

In a last ditch effort to make the space look nice I did a total overhall last summer and redecorated the entire room.

TechRoom-Makeover2

It looked fantastic at first but again, it held up horribly.  I knew I needed to come up with a solution that would make the desks both functional and durable.

At this point the desks had multiple coats of paint and my husband and I decided to strip them bare and start over.  We opted to use Citristrip to strip the paint after much research.  We have three small children and the lack of toxicity was a big plus for us.

how to use citristripMaterials:

  • Citristrip Stripping Gel
  • Paint brushes
  • Scraper/Joint knife
  • Sanding block
  • Latex Enamel Paint
  • Safety Gloves
  • Protective Eyewear

Instructions:

Clean your surface of dust and debris. (You can see how horribly my latex painted desk held up to three little boys!)

painted desk stained

Apply a generous coat of Citristrip to the painted surface using a paint brush, you’ll notice the Citristrip has a thick, gel-like consistency and does not have the strong odor of other paint strippers.  It is important to use a thick coat (if your Citristrip begins to dry out, it was not thick enough.)

You should wear gloves and protective eyewear when working with Citristrip. (I didn’t realize until later that my husband didn’t have his gloves on in many of these pictures.  He has been sufficiently reprimanded!)

stripping paint citristrip

Allow the Citristrip to sit on the project for 30 minutes and test a small area with your scraper.  You can leave the Citristrip on the project for up to 24 hours before scraping.

Scrape the Citristrip and paint off the surface, scraping in the direction of the wood grain. The paint should be removed easily.

scraping paint citristrip

Remove paint debris and thoroughly clean the bare surface.  Sand surface lightly to remove any residual paint if necessary.

desk after stripping citristrip

When our desk was stripped we were left with a large piece of MDF.  We originally thought it would be regular wood so I attempted to see how stain would look on the MDF but the results were not good so that plan was quickly abandoned.

stain on mdf

After much research into durability we decided to use a latex enamel paint to finish the desks.  We chose latex enamel because it is a harder, more durable finish than traditional latex paint.

latex enamel

Apply one layer of latex enamel paint with a paintbrush and allow to dry fully.  Do not place anything heavy or damp on the painted surface for 7 days to allow the paint to totally harden.

desk painted with Latex enamel

I’m happy to say it has been three months so far and the latex enamel is holding up perfectly! It’s durable enough to scrub and I love the deep, velvety appearance of the paint!

MelissaSignature

 -Learn more about Melissa-

The Kitchen Renovation of 2013 – 1 Leak. 1 Year. 1 Woman.

spacer-bottom

How I Re-Built My Own Kitchen (after a leak) | Pretty Handy Girl

2013 Could be called the year of the kitchen renovation in our house. Or the year that nearly killed me. Or the luckiest year of our lives. I’m still debating the title. What I do know is that, I decided to take on my biggest DIY project to date. I re-built my own kitchen from bare studs and subfloor.

It started one morning as I was confronted with a foul odor. It’s only describable as that odor that usually lives in the high school gym locker room. I thought my 9 year old son’s feet were starting to stink. Unfortunately a stinky pair of shoes wasn’t the culprit, it turned out to be a very minor leak that turned into a very big kitchen renovation. We persevered through 45 days without a washer and dryer and many months without a kitchen. But, it was like being a contestant in Survivor. I lasted the year of construction; the set backs and sore muscles; and in the end I was rewarded with a brand new kitchen!

Today, I walk into our beautiful kitchen and I know it was all worth it! It was worth all the sweat equity, the daily Advil doses, and the tree falling on the house. If you want to reminisce with me as I recap my kitchen renovation of 2013, here’s your ticket to all the tutorials and posts: [Read more...]

Scrap Wood iPad Tray by Infarrantly Creative

scrap-wood-ipad-tray

Today I have the honor of having the Queen of DIY here to show you how to build an iPad tray stand! Beckie from Infarrantly Creative is a triple threat DIYer (she manages three blogs.) I am so excited about this frugal gift idea, I can’t wait to make one!

PostBreakblue

Hello Pretty Handy Girl fans.  My name is Beckie and I blog at Infarrantly Creative, Knock off Decor and Roadkill Rescue.  Besides sharing a “B” name, Britt and I have a love of power tools, doing things on the cheap, and dancing…yep you should see us…we can BREAK IT DOWN! Today I wanted to show you DIY girls, or those with a DIY hubby, a most likely free gift. If you are accustomed to DIY projects, you have probably amassed quite the stockpile of leftover wood.  In August, I made some hanging beds for my son’s room and had leftover 2” x 12” wood that I used for this project.  Pssst…never throw out scraps, right Britt?

Supplies:

  • 2” x at least 6”
  • table saw
  • pre-wood conditioner
  • stain
  • sandpaper

Instructions: [Read more...]

Beach Themed Succulent Garden

Beach-themed Succulent Garden | Pretty Handy Girl

Beach-themed Succulent Garden | Pretty Handy Girl

You like the beach right? Who doesn’t?! Come December I long for the feeling of burying my toes in the warm sand. Bring back those memories by having a Beach-Themed Desktop Succulent Garden nearby. The idea for this garden came as I sat looking at all the shells I’ve collected that were hidden away in the attic. I chose a big conch shell that had few holes and decided it would make a great little planter.

Material:

  • Succulents
  • Conch shell
  • Smaller shells, beach glass or colored glass filler
  • Play sand
  • Potting soil
  • Plant tray

Optional: Hot glue gun, hot glue sticks, felt pads

Instructions: [Read more...]

Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards

Easy Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards | Pretty Handy Girl

Easy Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards | Pretty Handy Girl

Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards are a great little DIY gift idea for the teachers in your life (or anyone who uses clipboards.) I plan to give these to my boys’ teachers with a gift card to an office supply store tucked under the clip.

Best of all, they are a project that the kids can help with. So gather the munchkins around and let’s get started.

Materials:

Easy Decorated Chalkboard Clipboards | Pretty Handy Girl

  • Clipboards
  • Chalkboard or Chalk-like Paint
  • Foam brush
  • Emory board or a scrap of sturdy cardboard
  • White chalk
  • Makeup pencil sharpener
  • Washi tape
  • Small ruler

Instructions: [Read more...]

The Painted Distressed Wood Panel Tutorial

add_antiquing_stain_to_panels

distressed_side_panel_tutorial

I can tell you are excited about this tutorial! I’ve had more comments and compliments on the side panel on my kitchen desk and on the range hood.

distressed_wood_range_hood

They are definitely the details in our kitchen that make it personal. I got the idea after seeing Sarah Richardson’s kitchen, where she actually used reclaimed lumber on the side of her cabinets.

Sarah_richardson_kitchen

But, I knew finding the right distressed wood would be tricky. Plus, I always worry about the presence of lead paint. Instead, I decided to make it and fake it. As promised, I’m sharing the tutorial with you. [Read more...]

How to Cut and Finish an Old Tabletop to Create a Wood Desk Top

kitchen_desk_top

turn_an_old_table_into_desk_top

Have you seen my command center in the kitchen? It’s a beauty to look at, don’t you think? Especially that gorgeous wood desk top.

kitchen_desk_top

Well, I have a secret! It’s actually an old kitchen table top that was given to me for FREE! Yup, zero dollars, no moolah, nothing! And this is what the table top looks like:

underside_desk

I actually flipped it upside down to refinish it. But, I’m jumping ahead of myself. Here are the details: [Read more...]

Desktop Terrarium {a Lowes Creator Idea}

add_crushed_glass_shells

DIY_succulent_garden

Hey all you black thumb peeps! I have a gardening tutorial for you. This desktop succulent terrarium is hard to kill. It requires very little water and loves to be neglected. Best of all, you can put it together in less than 20 minutes!

Succulent_garden_in_bell_terrarium

Ready, set, go…..

Materials:

materials_for_succulent_terrarium

 

[Read more...]

Building a Kitchen Counter Height Desk {Lowe’s Creator Idea}

pretty-handy-girl-kitchen-desk-tutorial

counter-height-kitchen-desk-tutorial

Where do you drop all your mail, papers, reminder notes, kid’s school notes, business cards, etcetera, etcetera…etcetera? If you answered the kitchen counter, I’m sure you are among many including myself who dropped everything on the counter. And then it piled up there until someone filed the papers and threw away the reminders of events past.

(As a Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogger I was tasked with creating a “drop zone” for my June project. And I was provided with a gift card to purchase the supplies.)

I was determined to keep our countertops clean in our new kitchen. Which meant I had to create a space that would hold it all and act as our drop zone! The idea of a kitchen desk seemed like the perfect spot. However, I didn’t want a regular height desk. I wanted a desk that was counter height so I could stand and write a note, file papers, put away the mail then dash off to complete my next DIY project. This handy girl really doesn’t have the time to sit still ;-).

When I stumbled across a desk marked down to $35 at our local Habitat ReStore, it seemed like it had potential. A quick check of the drawers proved that the desk was still in perfect working order.

desk_table_top_legs_materials

I was talking to my friend Holly about my idea of the countertop height desk and she pulled four table legs out of her garage and gifted them to me! And, I had a heavily loved craft table that a neighbor gave away. I thought it would make the perfect top for the desk.

Here’s how I put them all together to make a cottage-style counter-height kitchen desk: [Read more...]

Visit to Habitat for Humanity ReStore – A Peek Inside My Head

On Wednesday, I had the morning to myself since the kids were in summer camp.  I decided not to work since it was my birthday. Most people would probably take the free morning to get a massage, or a pedicure, or go shopping. I chose the later. But, the shopping mall wasn’t calling me. My destination was far from the marble floors and glittering displays. I was headed to the industrial part of town where warehouses and construction equipment rental stores reside. I visited my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

I am always amazed by the things that are donated to the ReStore. When I enter those doors, my mind begins to whirr. Before me are shelves and aisles of discarded items. Each one calling to me to transform him or her from an ugly frog into a beautiful prince or princess. I happen to possess the magical powers to do just that! It starts with the ability to see into the future (well, maybe just a vision of what could be.) Then it takes some concentration and before you know it…bippity boppity boo! There before me stands a beautiful object and no one can guess at its humble beginnings.

I’d like to give you a look at some of the visions I had.  Won’t you join me on my tour?

First I headed down the furniture aisle. This little knotty pine night stand whispered to me, “Psst, look at my beautiful handles!” She had only been at the ReStore for a few days, so her price was a little steep. But, her drawers were solid and on gliders. Structurally she was solid.

I closed my eyes and when I opened them, I saw this beautiful off white dresser. Freshly painted a crisp white and her handles had a satin black finish. Beautiful!

Then I heard the sounds of water splashing on a classic marble sink. I turned the corner and saw this builder’s special white vanity with brand new brushed nickel faucet.

It didn’t take much to invision this gentleman with a black tuxedo coating of paint and brushed nickle knobs and handles. At $75, he is a diamond in the rough. The sink set alone would cost that!

But, the best is yet to come. Continuing down the cabinet aisle, I see this poor late 70′s kitchen cabinet set. Her handles are charming and exotic. She has some nice curves and pretty lines.

I squint my eyes and begin to see a miraculous transformation! Antique gold handles pop out. Legs grow at her base and a table top sprouts on her head. Oh she will be the belle of the ball as a sideboard in anyone’s dining room.

The next cabinet can not be ignored with a $5 price tag. He begs for someone to take him home.

Imagine a built in cabinet and window seat in a dormer window. Fresh white paint and slate blue trim with black handles.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see these old newel posts cut down and fitted onto a plain jane desk to add more curvaceous legs:

Now it’s your turn. Imagine these items transforming before you very eyes:

I have a friend who has an old set of lockers by her door. It is her upright family organization center. Each child has a locker and he/she can store shoes, book bag, etc. inside.

I can just see this set of red lacquer cabinets in a retro modern dining room or living room:

A little black paint on the shelves and some feet. Maybe a black marble or granite top?

The ReStore has a large selection of donated lights. Chandeliers twinkle in the light above your head. Envision the shiny gold fading to a beautiful oil rubbed bronze. Another friend shared this link with me detailing such a transformation with Krylon spray paint.

The ReStore staff actually has a display model that someone has transformed into a shiny black chandelier with crystals dripping off her arms. 

With an $8 price tag, it is hard to walk away from these beauties. But, I’m seeking something in particular. A new hanging fixture for our foyer.

I find these two potential hanging lights.

At $5 a piece I should bring them both home. But, I decided I prefer the one on the right with his open base and seedy glass. Check out the transformation here!

This glass globe used to be a large exterior hanging light fixture!

Can’t you just see it as a cloche in your garden? At $35, her price was a bit steep for me, but maybe she will still be there in a few weeks with a lower price tag. (Update: I went back to buy this exterior light and the second lantern above, but they were both gone. My loss, but hopefully someone else’s gain.)

As I gather my treasures (the hanging light, an old rickety ladder, some decorative moulding and a copper wall sconce) I am nearly bowled over by the detail on this solid armoire. At $450, it would be a nice addition in someone’s bedroom, but alas our rooms are too small for this towering king.

I hope you enjoyed the tour and check back soon to see the magic I am going to perform on the treasures I bought: copper sconce, decorative moulding, ladder, and hanging lantern.

In the meantime, I have a busy weekend ahead building a built in reading bench with storage in my youngest son’s extra closet.