DIY Wooden Arrows

DIY Wooden Arrows

DIY Wooden Arrows

Although I don’t typically decorate for Valentine’s Day, this year I couldn’t resist a little craft project to celebrate the holiday. After all, it is about love and chocolate and who can resist love and chocolate? Instead of the usual craft creating something heart shaped, I decided to pay a little attention to Cupid and his arrows. I put together these easy DIY wooden arrows and now I’m going to show you how you can make one too!

This project is really easy, and totally customizable so you don’t have to be exact with your measurements. Feel free to be a little more free style. You can paint it {or not}, just about any color you’d like.

Materials

  • Wooden Shims
  • Wood Glue
  • Miter Saw (or a hand saw and miter box)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Spray paint, craft or wall paint or wood stain {optional if you will paint/stain it}
  • Frame for framing {optional}

Instructions

1. First select some nice wood shims to use. Make a rough representation of what you’d like your arrow to look like.

This was a rough image of what I came up with. Two shims for the point and a few more for the tail. Wooden Shims

2. Start cutting your arrow and tail parts. You can cut the pieces like the arrow on the right or left, shown below. Either way you’ll need some pieces with a 45 degree angle. That’s where your miter saw comes in. See Brittany’s post about how to use a miter saw here. It’s one of the first power tools I learned to use and is very easy to handle and work with.

Wooden Arrows3. To cut the 45 degree angles, first set your saw at the 45 degree mark. Then cut one end of the wooden shim to 45 degrees.

[Read more...]

Galvanized Tub Storage Bench with Furry Upholstered Lid {Lowe’s Creator Idea}

Galvanized Tub Storage Bench for Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Galvanized Tub Storage Bench for Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

Every month Lowe’s challenges me to create another unique project to share with you. This month’s challenge was creative storage ideas. Have kids? This is a unique storage solution using a galvanized tub and a furry upholstered lid. It’s the perfect place to store and corral all that kid clutter in your child’s bedroom. The storage tub doubles as a bench and a step stool. Don’t be deterred if you don’t have children, the storage bench could be used for magazine storage and much more!

Grab these materials and tools and follow along with me (and my 13 year old assistant.)

Creating the Galvanized Storage Bench and Lid

Materials for the Galvanized Storage Tub and Lid:

Galvanized Tub Storage Bench for Kids | Pretty Handy Girl

 

Instructions:

Turn the galvanized tub upside down on the plywood. Use the sharpie to mark approximately 1/2 – 1″ out from the edge of the tub. [Read more...]

Haven and the GMC Habitat House Makeover 2013

bellhop

GMC_Acadia_roadtrip

My goodness, it has been a whirlwind week for me. I left on Wednesday to head down to Atlanta, GA with my good friend Holly (of Storywood Designs). We rode in the lap of luxury in a swanky new 2014 GMC Acadia Denali! (My boys were in love with the new SUV. Especially the bluetooth headphones that let them listen to another radio station as Mama belted out the lyrics to “Blurred Lines.” I can’t blame them, singing is the one skill I don’t have.)

I was sponsored by GMC at Haven and they let me borrow the vehicle for the week. It’s a good thing we had the Acadia with loads of cargo space, because neither of us travel light. We even brought our own furniture:

bellhopOur bellhop barely skipped a beat as he loaded furniture onto the cart with our luggage.
(photo courtesy of Holly)

Holly and I didn’t waste a moment. We checked into the Grande Hyatt in Atlanta, spread out our ScothBlue Heavy Duty Non-Slip drop cloths and started transforming furniture: [Read more...]

How to Trim a Sticking Door with a Power Planer

How to Trim a Door with a Hand Planer

Trim a door with a power planer

Doors that rub the floor or jamb are flat out annoying. This problem is typically fixed by tightening or shimming hinges. But sometimes the door just needs to be shaved down a tiny bit and this can be accomplished by using a power planer. The Ryobi planer used in this tutorial is cheaper than pair of Nikes. You can find a factory reconditioned one on Amazon for $35 (buying factory reconditioned tools is a great way to save a ton of money :-)).

Today you’ll learn how to trim the bottom or top of your door. It’s simple, straight forward, and will save you at least $50-$75 (the cost a carpenter or handyman would probably charge).

Here are the supplies you’ll need to trim any wood door (hollow or solid core): [Read more...]

How to Salvage Wood from Shipping Pallets

scrap_pallet_wood

Pallet upcycling is all the rage today. But, if you’ve ever tried to actually remove wood planks from a pallet, you know that it is not an easy task. The nails that are used are typically spiral nails and are designed to really grip that wood. And if that’s not enough, they usually shoot 4-5 nails per joint. Sheesh, you’d think they were building a foundation for a 10 ton elephant. Okay, actually it is the foundation that has to hold tons of product as it is lifted by a fork lift. Which explains why harvesting pallet wood can be a labor intensive task.

I figured you’d appreciate it if I shared with you the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to salvage this beautifully rustic pallet wood. [Read more...]

White-washed Window Box from a Wine Crate

corner_view_after_window_box

The other day I was wandering aimlessly shopping at Costco and spied an empty wooden wine crate. The angel stamped on the side was beaconing me to take her home. Actually, I read Funky Junk Interiors’s post about making tool boxes last year and have been looking for just the right wood to make one. The angel may not have beaconed me, but I wasn’t about to leave the store without her.

I thought about tucking it under my coat and making a break for the front door, as I was sure there were other crafty ladies eyeing up the lonely wine crate. But, I resisted the urge and asked the manager if I could have it, and he graciously let me take it home. I was exuberant because I’ve been missing my rustic wine crate that Cherie won. [Read more...]

Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2011

It’s the end of the year and I know y’all have been busy. So, I thought I’d give you the cliff notes version of Pretty Handy Girl in 2011.

Gift Bucket Liner from Goodwill Pants

How to Paint a Dandelion Wall Mural

Fork Photo and Note Holder

Spring Paper and Button Flowers

How to Paint Doors the Professional Way

 

How to Paint Like a Pro Series:

 

Build Your Own Ladder Display Shelves

Photography Secrets for Shooting Indoors

 

Toilet Repairs Series:

 

Dream Big Butterfly Window

Backlit Cut Out Bookcase

Rustic Wine Crate

How to Replace an Ugly Hollywood Strip Light

Board and Batter Tutorial

How to Make a Branch Towel Bar

Light Bulb Comparison

How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Ombré Paint Chip Lampshade

 

Cabinet Door Revamped to Chalkboard Message Board

Kitchen Cabinet Turned into Shoe Storage Bench

 

Dollar Tree Placemat Garden Flag

 

Beveled Glass Light Fixture Ornaments

DIY Matchbox Car Race Track

 

And Finally, A Whole Slew of Power Tool Tutorials:

Compound Miter Saw

Jig Saw

Finish Nailer and Compressor

Cordless Drill

Circular Saw

Table Saw

Band Saw

I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited for 2012! I hope you’ll stick around for some more DIY tutorials and empowerment!

Did you have a favorite post of mine this year that I forgot to mention? Do tell! Chosing from almost 200 posts makes for some tough decisions.

Tool Tutorial Friday – Circular Saw Tutorial

4_cast_rainbow

Today is Friday! And you know what that means…it’s time for another Tool Tutorial Friday! Today I’ll be introducing you to the circular saw.

 

But first, how are you? I don’t know about your week, but I’ve had a busy one. If you follow me on Twitter (I’m not sure why anyone would), you would have been privy to the rainbow of color casts my son has been collecting. He received his 4th cast yesterday. But, who’s counting, right?! Anyway, I learned two things about casts in the process.

  1. Little boy arms will swell to adult proportions post surgery, but will eventually return to normal size…eventually. At that point, a new cast is desired to keep the arm from finding a way to wiggle out.
  2. If you put two brothers in the bathtub and leave the room for one nano-second they will find a way to water log a tightly plastic bagged and saran-wrapped cast that is merely 5 days old!

Mr. Green up there, he only lasted a mere 5 days! You could probably tell by the one signature on it. My mom is trying to convince us to paint white stripes around his current red cast to make it into a candy cane. Hee, hee.

And now let’s plug in some power and start this tutorial!

A circular saw is essentially a portable power saw that can make easy cross cuts like a miter saw. But, it can also rip long boards like a table saw. This little hand held bad boy is a necessity if you are working on an exterior project like a deck or a fence, or anything that is too big to put on the miter saw or table saw work surface. Trimming the varied lengths off newly laid deck boards would be near impossible without a circular saw.

Before I owned either a table or miter saw, this was my power saw. And this baby has cut a lot of wood in its life.

If you are familiar with circular saws, this particular model may look a little bit backwards to you. That is because this is a left-sighted circular saw. I think Porter Cable is one of the few companies (if not the only one) to make one. I am right handed, but for some reason, this saw seemed more comfortable to me. When I was shopping for my circular saw, I spent about an hour or so picking up, holding and imagining using the saw. What I liked about the Porter-Cable is that it had a smaller grip and I was able to span my hand width between the hand hole and the guard lever while cutting.

If you go shopping for a circular saw, spend some time holding them and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Circular saws range in price from as low as $30 up to $300 or more. They come in a variety of  sizes (5 3/4″ – 9″) which refers to the blade size. The most common size people buy is a 7 1/4″.

Before you make any cuts with a circular saw, you must set your depth of cut. If cutting through a board, set the blade about 1/8″ – 1/4″ lower than your lumber. Support your lumber on saw horses or a raised surface (4″ x 4″ posts on the ground work well.) It is imperative that you think through your cut before you actually saw a board. Make sure that your waste end will fall away from the saw after it is cut. Otherwise, the blade will get pinched between the boards and can kickback (see the example in the video.)

You can also change the bevel angle of your cut by adjusting the base of the saw after loosening the bevel adjustment knob.

As with any other power tool. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your power tool. Read the manual and only use a power tool when you are alert and not distracted.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic circular saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a circular saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

 

Tool Tutorial Friday – How to Use a Band Saw

table_adjustment

Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday! I hope you enjoyed some time off last week. Today I want to share with you a power tool that can cut long straight lines and it can cut curved lines with ease. This tool is also my “go to” tool when I need to cut plexiglass. I’m introducing you to a band saw.

Although the band saw is big and may seem intimidating, it actually isn’t very scary. The blade is usually a mere 1/4″ wide and the cutting action is not super loud and it doesn’t usually throw wood back at you. So, cutting with this power saw really gives you a lot of control and can help eliminate the intimidation factor.

The band saw I have it old, but it still gets the job done. If you were to buy a new band saw, the mechanics are basically the same and not much has changed over the years. The size of the band saw (usually 9″, 10″, 12″ or 14″) refers to the distance between the blade and the neck or side column of the saw. Prices for a new band saw vary from about $125 – $600. I would definitely recommend buying a band saw used unless you are running a business that puts out tons of wood projects. Also, make sure that your band saw comes with a detachable rip fence or you will need to purchase one to fit your saw. This is important for making straight cuts.

A band saw has a circular one piece band shaped blade. The blade rotates around the two wheels at a high speed and allows for precise cuts.

There are several blades available for a bandsaw. In addition you could buy a sanding band for sanding intricate cuts. Band saw blades have a TPI (teeth per inch) number. In general, the more teeth per inch the tighter the cuts and more intricate details it can handle. However, that blade will flex more and cannot cut harder stock wood as efficiently. For straight cuts and thicker stock, a lower TPI number is desired. For a more detailed explanation of band saw parts and blades, check out WoodworkingHistory.com’s bandsaw syllabus.

The ONLY saw that I know of that will make more precise cuts than a band saw is a scroll saw. And when I talk precise, I mean making doll furniture type precise. A band saw is used for ripping, cross cutting, curved cuts, circles, you name it! So, why would you need anything else if this saw does it all? Well, sometimes speed is a factor, the band saw is not super fast when ripping a piece of plywood. Plus, you are limited by the width of your bandsaw. You have to work with a board that will fit in between the blade and the neck of the saw (this is specific inch size of your saw.)

Personally, I prefer using the band saw for smaller projects and cutting plexiglass, thin metal, or intricate shapes. It is a staple for anyone who wants to cut letters out of wood! When making intricate cuts, you will need to plan your cutting paths. In other words, you can’t put your wood in and cut around like you would scissors in a piece of paper. Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

To cut the letter “T” out of a piece of wood, you’ll likely have to make several cuts into the wood, making your cuts meet at tight angles or corners.

Before making any cut using a band saw, you need to make sure that your guide is set for the proper depth. You want the guide to ride just above your board. There should be approximately a 1/16″ space between the wood and the guide so the board doesn’t get pinched between the guide and the work table. On my band saw the adjustment is made by loosening a screw at the back of the machine, raising the guide, and re-tightening the screw.

My band saw also has a work table tilt lever for making bevel cuts. Honestly I’ve only used this feature once, but it is nice to have. Simply turn the lever to loosen the bolt holding the table in place. Then tilt the table to the desired angle and re-tighten the bolt.


That’s basically it for setting up the band saw. Before cutting be sure to wear safety glasses. Ear protection is a good idea, but I’ve been known to skip it since this saw doesn’t bust my ear drums as much as some of my other power tools.

As I’ve said before, keep in mind your safety is in your own hands:

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic band saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a band saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

And here is the video tutorial:

Okay, time once again to let me know what you think about this tutorial; ask any questions; or simply beg to win. When you do so, you will be entered to win this cutie!

Don’t let her pink attire fool you. This lovely lady packs a punch that will knock out any “boy’s” hammer! So limber up those fingers and leave me a note. Your comment will automatically enter you into the 13 oz. Tomboy Tools magnetic hammer giveaway. Good luck!

Sharing with these link parties:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Tool Tutorial Friday – Table Saw Tutorial

cross_cut_rip_cut

Welcome back to another Tool Tutorial Friday. I have a secret to tell you, this is one of the two power tools I own that I fear the most (the other is my router.) However, everytime I use my table saw I get a little more comfortable. Regardless, I will always keep that “healthy fear” so I won’t forget to use caution when using this power tool.

If you are just getting used to power tools, I would use a jigsaw or miter saw before tackling this big bad boy! That being said, I believe in all of you and know you can use a table saw, so let’s get to it!

A table saw is a great tool for ripping long pieces of wood. Unlike the miter saw which is limited to a certain width stock, the table saw can handle long sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood.

Explanation of a cross cut vs. a rip cut:

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw.)

We bought our table saw when we laid the wood floors in our living room. I knew that we’d probably have to rip a board or two once we reached the end. Well, wouldn’t you know that our living room ended up being the perfect size for all full width boards. I kept the table saw anyway knowing that I’d use it (and I have used it a fair amount.)

Table saws come in either a stationary or a portable style. I prefer the portability of my table saw. I can roll it out into the driveway (to keep the sawdust outside.) And, because the stand is built-in, I can fold it up on its side, roll it back into the garage and store it away when not in use.

Table saws cost anywhere from $120 up to $1,000 or more. The Ryobi 10 inch table saw with transportable stand that I use costs $300 at Home Depot.

I highly recommend wearing ear protection, safety googles and a dust mask when using a table saw. Hooking your table saw up to shop vac will greatly reduce the amount of saw dust that is discharged (and it spits out a lot of sawdust!)

Two common dangers of using a table saw are kickback (the board being thrown back toward the user) and hand injuries from forcing material through or feeding the wood with the hand too close to the saw. Kickback will happen if the wood is pinched too tight between the rip fence and the blade. When making a cross cut with a table saw, DO NOT use the rip fence! This can cause kickback to occur.

Table Saw Features:

Safety features are super important on a table saw. A blade cover is essential to keep hands away from the blade. And for that reason a table saw should never be used without the guard in place. For even more protection from hand injuries, there is a table saw that is manufactured under the name Stop Saw, that retracts in a split second if it detects flesh against the blade.

Behind the blade on my table saw are anti-kickback pawls. This is a close up view of this safety mechanism. They are basically teeth that will dig into the wood should the blade start to “kick back” the material toward the user.

 

The rip fence is used to setting the width of a cut and keeping the board straight when making a rip cut. Never use the rip fence when making a cross cut. My saw has a miter fence for making angled miter cuts. I honestly haven’t used that feature yet.

The blade depth adjustment and bevel adjustment knob are one and the same on the Ryobi. To adjust the bevel, push the knob in and then turn it.

The material support and the sawdust chute are located on the back of my table saw.


When using a table saw, be sure to have a clear work area. Set up supports or have someone help you to support large pieces of wood after they exit the saw. Use a push stick to assist when making a narrow cut. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry that could catch on the machine. Always use a table saw when you are well fed, alert, and are not in a hurry. This is a serious power tool and requires all your focus to use it.

DISCLAIMER

The viewer assumes all responsibility and liability associated with the hazards of woodworking. Pretty Handy Girl is not responsible for any errors or omissions that may be present in this tutorial. She also assumes no liability for any action or inaction of a viewer.

Please use extreme caution when using power tools. Read your tool manual thoroughly and wear protective safety gear. Take your time familiarizing yourself with a tool before using it. (If you are missing the manual, you can easily find it online by going to the manufacturer’s website or google your saw’s make and model + manual.)

Please recognize that I have tried to put together a basic table saw usage tutorial to get you started. I have tried my best to show the safest way to use a table saw. That being said, I am not a professional (I only play one on this blog ;-) .)

If I haven’t scared the sawdust out of you, here is the video tutorial for using a table saw:

I hope I have empowered you to use a table saw at some point. It is a good saw to have in your shop. Especially if you need to lay wood flooring, install beadboard wainscoting and many other projects that require you to rip a board.

And now the moment y’all have been waiting for: The winner of last weeks Tomboy Tools Magnetic hammer is Seansmom! Congratulations. I clicked over to her profile link and am determined to stay in their Carolan guest house if I’m ever in the Northwest Iowa area. What a view from their guest house:

Check your email and get back to me to claim your hammer!

I can’t believe how few comments I had last week. If the same happens this week you have a great chance of winning! So, once again leave me a comment below and let me know if you are willing to try a table saw after watching my video tutorial. I hope the answer is yes! Your comment automatically enters you into the 13 oz. Tomboy Tools magnetic hammer giveaway. Good luck!

 

 

 

Linking this tutorial to Serenity Now’s Weekend Bloggy Read

Sanding Tutorial and Prepping a Branch Towel Bar

close_up_branch_towel_bar



We’ve moved several times and each time I’ve packed one special tree branch with us. I have had this branch so long that I can’t remember where I found it. I do know that I picked it up on one of our camping trips. Whether it was Yellowstone, Acadia, Nova Scotia or somewhere else I’ll never know. What I do know is that I kept it because I thought I could do something really special with it someday. Well, that day has arrived. I decided to turn the branch into a towel bar for my sons’ bathroom.

Materials:


  • Tree branch stripped of bark and branches
  • Coping saw or other hand saw
  • Sandpaper (80, 120, & 180 grits)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Power sander
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses

 

Tutorial:

Start by sawing off any nubs, knots and sticks using a coping saw.

Pull out the sandpaper and power sander. 3M just sent me these color coded sandpaper sheets. I think the idea of color coding them is brilliant! It really helps you grab the right grit quickly. I give them two gloved thumbs up.

Stack your sandpaper sheets. Lay the sander along one edge of the papers and trace a line along the edge of the sander with a pencil. Be sure to leave excess on both ends to attach under the clips of your sander.

Cut the papers along the pencil line.

Load all three pieces of sandpaper into the sander (if possible). The coarsest grit (80 grit) should be on the outside, followed by the 120 grit and finally the 180 grit sandpaper.

Now you are ready to start sanding!

Here is a video tutorial on sanding the branch down. I’ve upped my level of professionalism, so I hope you enjoy my efforts.

Coming up next. Installing and finishing the branch towel bar.



Just a teeny little reminder: Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a brand name sofa slipcover (think of the initials PB & J, minus the J) from UglySofa.com. Three winners will be chosen at the end of the day, Wednesday, August 31st. I just love that I get to choose three winners instead of just one. Good luck y’all!


And in this corner we have an Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw…

Handsaws

While sanding down my garden bench, I decided to make a design change. I chose to saw off the ball finial posts that are at the end of the armrests. I felt they were too tall and since I’m moving my bench onto our screen porch I didn’t want them obstructing the view if I was sitting with friends and chatting. So, I decided “Off with their heads!”

It was also the perfect opportunity to try out a new handsaw that Irwin sent me to test. They claimed that it is up to 3x faster than a traditional handsaw. Honestly I didn’t believe the claim. I mean – come on – a handsaw is a handsaw.

So, I decided to put their claim to the test with a good old fashioned match up.

The competition:
In this corner we have the challenger: the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw.

And the reining champion in this corner is my trusty handsaw.

Let me back up and tell you that I have a like/hate relationship with that traditional handsaw. I bought it a long time ago before I could afford a compound miter saw (power tool). So, I bought an el cheapo plastic miter box to use with it when I wanted to cut perfect angles. It took me about a dozen times before I learned how to properly use the hand saw. The key is to let the saw do the sawing (well, duh, right?!) Trust me, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is so tempting to press into the wood. But, if you put any force or pressure on the saw, it will skip and bind. Instead you have to gently push and pull the saw back and forth a gazillion times until the saw works its way through the wood. It can be  a brutally slow process.

So, back to the match up. I started with my traditional handsaw and started the timer.

About halfway through I had to take a break (and a picture). I gulped down some more coffee and continued sawing. (I stopped the clock at 1:15:20 when I took a break and restarted it when I began sawing again.)

Finally at 2 minutes and 32 seconds the ball finial met it’s demise and toppled to the ground. I wanted to topple down with it, exhausted.

I resisted the urge to go grab one of my power tools for the other side, but instead picked up the Irwin Universal Handsaw.

The angled handle felt a little strange in my hand (not bad, just different from the traditional one I was used to.)

I set the blade against the base of the post and began to saw. It cut through the wood easily and within 32 seconds it had lopped of the head of the other post. I was amazed. I double checked my timer, but it was working. Only 32 seconds and I was barely breathing heavy!

AND THE WINNER IS:

The Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw by a longshot!

Here are a few details about the saw: It has a triple-ground tooth design, I’m guessing this has something to do with its speed. And the unique angled handle combined with the tooth design is supposed to eliminate binding. I had no binding, so it appears to work.

There are 45º and 90º angle markers built into the blade. I’m not sure that I would use them instead of my carpenter’s square, but I suppose they are convenient to have in a pinch. With a retail price of $18.99, the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw is a great and economic addition to your toolbox. (Especially if you can’t afford a power miter saw).

I’ve decided to send my traditional handsaw packing to make room for the Irwin Universal handsaw in my toolbox. Anyone want a gently used traditional handsaw for cheap?

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I was sent the Irwin Handsaw at no charge, but the opinions and testing were my own and were not influenced by Irwin or anyone else. For more information you can view my disclosure statement HERE.

Miss Safe-T DIY 2011

RunwayQueen

This weekend I’m competing in the Ms. Safe-T DIY Pageant for 2011. What? You never heard of it? Well, let me tell you the competition is fierce. I’m up against 7 other beautifully safe women for the title.

The final 8 contestants are (click on their photos to view their Safe-T profiles):

Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps

Michelle from Dream Home DIY

Katy from Mom and Her Drill

Erin from Erin's Creative Energy

Tanja from Postmodern Hostess

Jaime from That's My Letter

Pink Toes and Power Tools

And of course, there is me! Don’t you think I nailed the runway walk? I’m a muddy shoe-in to win! (Snort, snort, I crack myself up.)

Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl

In all seriousness, Sandra is hosting the Strut Your Safety Gear Link Party to get the word out about wearing the appropriate safety gear when working on your DIY project. And if you hop to it and comment by Sunday night (tonight) you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Whoo-weee.

Today, I geared up to scrape and sand my garden bench. Sadly the paint didn’t weather the year in the rain, sleet and snow. The bench is still structurally sound, so I’m going to repaint it (the right way) and and share with you the details at a later date.

I needed to use my power sander, so I pulled my hair back and put in my ear plugs.

99% of the time, when I’m working on a DIY project, I put on my paint spattered shirt and ripped blue jeans. The 1% of the time that I don’t do that I end up ruining those clothes. Safety goggles are a must when working with any power tool. (I just ordered some new molded goggles that seal on your face to help keep the dust out next time. Sandra turned me on to them HERE!)

Sanding is a messy job. It is a good idea to tarp anything you don’t want covered in sawdust. The particles go EVERYWHERE. That is why it is important to wear a dust mask and gloves.

The gloves also keep my hands from getting rough.

And finally, I wear closed toe shoes to protect my piggy wigglies from a dropped power sander. OUCH!

Be sure to wear appropriate safety gear next time you take on your own DIY project. Check out Sandra’s post for more information on safety gear HERE! She even gives you the links to purchase your own. Now that is my kind of shopping!

Making a Decorative Barn Door

When Miss Mustard Seed and I were junkin’ on Black Friday, she asked what I was looking for. I immediately answered rustic, rusty, and anything that looks aged and has a story to tell. I am so wacky like that, I could care less how well something is made or if it is an expensive antique. When I die, my kids are going to be sadly disappointed that all these antiques I’ve collected over the years aren’t worth a dime. C’est la vie, right?

So, this year for our Christmas décor, I decided to create a natural rustic country inspired theme. What better way to invoke that spirit than with an old barn door. The only problem was that I didn’t own one. No problem, I’d just make one!

Materials:
Plywood board – painted or stained red
3 – 1″ x 4″ boards – painted or stained red
Nails or screws
Wood glue
D-ring picture hangers
Picture Wire
optional: Rusty door parts

In my “I can’t throw anything away scrap pile” I took some old plywood scraps that had been stained with red stain.

You will need to measured the space above your mantle, subtract a few inches from the top and bottom, then cut the plywood down to size (using a circular saw or table saw.)

Lay two 1″ x 4″ strips of plywood as cross pieces.

And one 1″ x 4″ piece at an angle. Draw a line where the horizontal pieces intersected with the diagonal piece.

Use a miter saw, circular saw or jig saw* to cut the angled cuts.

Liberally appy glue to the back of the 1″x4″ strips to secure them to the plywood base and then nail some finish nails into the strips to secure them. You can use a pneumatic nailer* if you have one, but screws or regular nails hammered in will work just as well! No need to buy any new tools for this project.

Hopefully you have a nail or hook already installed on your fireplace. Luckily I did, but in the past I have also just leaned artwork against the brick. So, if you choose to lean, ignore the next few steps.

Measure the location of the hook on your mantle. For example, if the hook is 20 inches from the ceiling, and you want your barn door’s top to hang 12 inches from the ceiling, then you will need to install the hooks 9 inches down from the top of the barn door. This will allow an inch for the wire to slack. Get out your D shaped picture hooks and screw them to the back of your barn door using a cordless drill* or just a screw driver and some muscles. Repeat on the opposite side.

Feed some metal picture wire through one D ring. Twist once…

…then feed the wire back through the D ring and twist the rest of the wire tightly against itself.

Pull the wire taught and repeat on the opposite side.

This is the best way to attach picture wire so it doesn’t slip. If you are hanging something super heavy, you might need to loop the wire back through the D rings a few more times.

If you have some old gate handles, hinges, or latches, attach them to your door. I screwed this old RUSTY gate lock to the top of my barn door. It makes a convenient hanger for…

…my Christmas wreath!
That’s all I’m going to show you of our mantle today.

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What’s In Your Toolbox? – What Every DIYer (or Homeowner) Should Own

When I was 18, and bought my first car, and thought I was the coolest girl in town with a little zippy sportscar – sorry, just a little trip down memory lane.  My parents gave me my first tool kit. That tool kit is still with me today and I do use it a lot. The set has a series of sockets, crescent wrenches, interchangeable screwdriver bits, allen (hex) wrenches, needle nose pliers, and locking pliers.


That set got me through several repairs (both auto and home). Now, as a homeowner, I have found that there are a few more tools to have on hand.
You will likely want to look for a multi-piece set like this one:
This will give you a wide variety of tools for a low cost. If you want a deal, try shopping for these sets around Father’s Day or Christmas. The set above was listed on Amazon.com for approximately $50 – $60.
Regardless if you are buying these items in a set or separate, these are the tools I recommend:
Homeowner essentials:
  1. Hammer
  2. Screwdrivers – Phillips head and a flat (straight or slotted) head. Try to buy a small and medium size of each.
  3. Allen (Hex) Wrenches in several sizes
  4. Adjustable Crescent Wrenches – I suggest buying at least two. One 6″ and one 10″
  5. Slip Joint Pliers (handy for overall gripping)
  6. Needle-nosed pliers
  7. Vice grips (Locking pliers)
  8. Tape Measure
  9. Level – 24″ is preferrable
  10. Utility knife (mat knife)
  11. Safety glasses
  12. 12″ Handsaw
  13. Stud Finder
  14. Flashlight
  15. Pry bar (must have a flat sharp side and the other side a notch for pulling nails.)
  16. Tool box or case to keep all of the above in 
  17. My favorite DIY guide to my home: Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3 – the best $15 I ever spent!
 Screwdriver bits:
 

Last but not least, the most indispensable tool I’ve ever owned:
Cordless Drill with screwdriver bits and a small set of drill bits 

For Electrical DIY:
  1. Wiring instruction book or guide
  2. Wire Cutters/Strippers
  3. Electrical Current tester 
    • You only need the simple tester with two probes and an indicator light to test if the power is on. 
For the committed DIYer:
  1. Palm sander
  2. Carpenter’s square
  3. Staple gun
  4. Power Circular Saw 
    • Be sure to hold one in the store and feel how the grip feels in your hand. This is especially important as a woman with a smaller hand size. (more on power tool shopping in another blog post – coming soon!)
  5. Jig Saw
  6. Saw Horses or Folding Work Bench
  7. Clamps – A Variety of Adjustable Clamps and Clips

I hope this list gives you some good information so you won’t feel overwhelmed when buying tools. Definitely ask a sales person for help or opinions. Don’t tell them you are new at this. Ask them for the tool they would purchase if they were buying one for their shop. You should aim to buy a quality tool (especially power tools) that will last your lifetime. A cheap tool will either break or not have the power to do the job you need it to do. However, you don’t need to buy top of the line or break the bank to get a good tool.
Savings Tip: Many of the big box home improvement stores will usually price match tools that are priced cheaper at a competitor if it is the same make and model, plus take 10% off the price. Be sure to bring the ad with you or they will need to call or look up the price online.

Home Depots price guarantee:  
NOBODY BEATS OUR PRICES
If any competitor tries, we’ll beat their price by 10%. Guaranteed.*
*If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, we will match the price and beat it by 10%. Excludes special orders, bid pricing, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, labor and installation, sales tax, rebate and free offers, typographical errors and online purchases. 
Lowe’s price guarantee: 
Everyday Low Prices, Guaranteed
We guarantee our everyday competitive prices. If you find a verifiable lower everyday or advertised price on an identical stock item at any local retail competitor that has the item in stock, we’ll beat their price by 10% when you buy from us. Just bring us the competitor’s current ad or we’ll call to verify the item’s price that you have found. Cash (charge card) and carry purchases only. Competitor’s closeout, special order, discontinued, clearance, liquidation and damaged items are excluded from this offer. On percent-off sales, Lowe’s will match the competitor’s percent-off offer. Limited to reasonable quantities for homeowner and one-house order quantities for cash and carry contractors. Current in-store price, if lower, overrides Lowe’s advertised price. Price guarantee honored at all Lowe’s retail locations. Labor charges for product installation are excluded from our price guarantee offer in our stores with an Installed Sales Program. Visit store for complete details.
Sear’s price guarantee:
If you find a lower price on an identical branded item with the same features (in Home Electronics identical brand and model number) currently available for sale at another local competitor retail store, Sears will match that price plus, give you 10% of the difference. Just bring in the original advertisement to a sales associate at the time of, or within 14 days after, your purchase. More fine print…

Happy Shopping!