Monday, November 28, 2016

Wall Mantles

Recently I made this nice wall mantle for my living room.

It was fast, easy and cheap to make and has made a big difference in the look to my living room.

This was one of those projects that I felt didn't need to be photographed and put on my blog, as I initially thought it wouldn't be worthy of much views.  However now that the actual mantle is up in my house, I feel a lot of people might actually want to make one for themselves.  So here is how I made it.

1x6x8' pine board
1x4x8' pine board
1x3x8' pine board
Glue, nails, wall screws, pocket hole jig & screws, wood filler, stain (if desired) and polyurethane/clear coat.

The first step is to cut the 1x6 board into 2 pieces of equal length.  In my sketchup illustrations below I cut both boards to 36" (although the actual mantle I made is longer).  I then drilled pocket holes into one of the boards and then attached it to the other board with pocket screws.  These 2 boards shape a big "L" as seen below.

Next I took some of the scrap 1x6 and cut out a curved shelf brace.

I then traced this brace onto more of the scrap 1x6 to create 4 braces.

I glued up 2 sets of the braces to make the thickness of each 1.5".

Then I glued the braces approximately 2 inches from each end.

Next I cut a 1x4 board to 29 inches and glued/nailed it in between the 2 braces and against the top of the mantle.

Then I cut some more 1x4 pieces to be 1.5" long, and glued 2 to the other side of each brace, as pictured below.

Next I cut a 1x3 board, also to 29 inches and attached it with glue/nails underneath the 1x4 board.

I repeated the process for the 2 smaller boards at each end, this time cutting them to be only 1" long.

Next I used a second 29 inch long piece of 1x3 board, this time gluing and nailing it vertically under the first 1x3 board.

This space is great for placing hooks, should you want this mantle to hold things like cards or Christmas stockings, etc.  I also cut out small curves in each corner of the 1x6 in the back.

Lastly I cut a piece of 1x3 board to 29 inches and drilled some pocket holes.  I also cut round corners out of this board and attached it to the rest of the mantle with pocket screws.

And that's it!

Once all the glue was dry I sanded the whole thing, applied filler to the areas that needed it, sanded again, cleaned it up and applied some stain.  After the stain dried, it was onto polyurethane.

When completely dry I attached it to the wall with several screws, making sure it was level and attached to studs in the wall.

With Christmas only a few weeks away, I decided to put our Nativity on the mantle, and hung lighted garland from the hooks.

At the same time as I hung this mantle up, I also finished making a second Wall shelf for my girlfriend's Funko Pop figure collection and hung them up above my bookcases, and on both sides of the mantle. 

Together I now have a very complete looking entertainment center.

This mantle only took me 2 days to make, with a majority of time spent waiting for stain and polyurethane to dry.  The cost was in the range of about $30.

A couple weeks later I decided that the opposite wall in my Living Room could use a few smaller mantles.  So using the same methods (with different sized pieces) I made 3 smaller mantles and hung them up.

2 of these mantles are 2-feet in length, with the third being 3-feet in length.

One of the mantles (3ft) houses the urns of my first 2 dogs (Goliath and J.J. - may they rest in piece).

The other 2 smaller mantles has some assorted candles and other decor.

I'm sure my wonderful girlfriend will redecorate them better than I did.

So four mantles all together.  These turned out a lot nicer than I thought they would.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mason Jar Chandelier

Browsing on Pintrest can be dangerous.

I saw several Mason Jar Chandeliers like the ones pictured above and below, and I wanted to make my own.

So I went out and bought a 12-pack of Mason Jars.

I also picked up some lamp kits.

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures on this post.  Unfortunately the SD card on my phone became corrupted and I lost a lot of photos.  But I will try to explain everything as best as I can.

I started with the 2 kits - which came with directions.  I assembled the kits quickly and used 2 colored light bulbs to test it out.

That worked, so next I had to get a mason jar around it all.  To attach the mason jars to the lamp kits I simply cut a circle out of 1/8" thick hardboard and sandwiched it in between the lid and the jar.  Hardboard - for those who don't know what it is - is a thin sheet of material that they use to make peg board.  It's inexpensive and when the pegs aren't included, they call it hardboard.  So, after cutting out round pieces of hardboard that fit inside the lid of the mason jars, I then cut a hole into that piece of hardboard to fit the kit.

Unfortunately, normal sized light bulbs won't fit through the mouth of the jar, so I had to use smaller light bulbs.  Luckily the blue bulb I had was one of these smaller ones needed to fit inside the jar.

Next I worked on making the base of the chandelier.  This was simply done with some leftover 2x4's I had.  I drilled holes in the main board to fit each fixture.

Then I added other strips of wood to each side, and smaller round pieces around each opening.  I stained and polyurethaned the whole thing and let dry overnight.

The next day I reworked the 2 mason jar lights to fit inside.  This involved having to take everything apart so that the wires could pass through the small holes of the chandelier.

Since I'm kind of a newbie to electrical work, I would test the lights to see if they worked after each step.

When the first 2 were working I went out and bought 3 more kits and repeated the processes for a total of 5 mason jars/lights.

Luckily I had no problems getting all of them to work.

All of the lamp kits come with at least 5-feet of electrical cord.  All these cords are going to become messy, so Next I had to figure out how to cut all the wires and redo the wiring so that they all become one circuit.

Again, I am sorry for the lack of photos.  I eventually cut the wire lengths to work for me and set all the heights of the masons using a staple gun to hold all the spliced wires in place against the chandelier.

My friend Nate (who works with electronics) sketched me a simple plan to cutting the wires and splicing them together to work.

After quite a while of cutting, stripping and binding the wires together I finally got it working.

Next I stapled the wires again to the wood to make sure they stay at the height I wanted them.  Then I added hooks to the wood chandelier and my workshop ceiling.  Then I attached the chandelier to the ceiling with some chain.

This chandelier is super bright.  It illuminated my workshop like never before.

I was going to move it into the house, but my girlfriend noticed how much I liked the extra lighting in my workshop and insisted that I keep it inside.

The last task I was going to accomplish was putting a switch on the extension cord that powers the lights, however it's not really needed.  The extension cord ends near the power plug and it's easy enough to plug it in as needed.

The cost for making this rig I believe was around $60 with a majority spent on the 5 lamp kits, bulbs, extension cord and jars.  All the wood, hooks and chains I already had.  I think I'll have to build another one soon to better illuminate the other side of my workshop!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Coffee Bar / Dog Feeding Station

For quite some time I've wanted a coffee bar in my house, similar to what is pictured above and below.

Unfortunately, the only space I have left in my kitchen for such a thing would mean getting rid of my dog's feeding station.

But I can't do that.  So I went on with life without my coffee bar, until I spotted this gem on Pintrest.

I don't know why I didn't think of making this before, but using the image above as reference I quickly designed a coffee bar with a dog feeder underneath.

Such a build would not take too long, nor much material.

First I bought the material I needed, and then I began cutting the 2x4s to length on my miter saw.

Using a stop block is extremely helpful for multiple pieces of the same length.

Before long I had all the dimensional lumber cut.

I gave everything a decent sanding with some coarse sandpaper on my mouse sander.

Then I began drilling pocket holes using my Kreg Jig.

Next I assembled the short sides with pocket screws.

The sides were too short for me to easily pocket-hole both sides, so I also used some deck screws to hold pieces together.

Before long I had both short sides done.

Then the long sides were attached with more pocket screws.

I then added supports in the middle.  At this point the carcass is mostly done.

So next I moved onto cutting plywood at the table saw.

The top uses half a sheet of 2'x4' plywood.

The bottom shelf will use the other half of plywood, but needs to be trimmed a little first with my cross-cut sled.

Next I used a spare piece of 2x4 to trace out spaces for the legs.

I cut out these spaces with a jigsaw and then sanded.

And the bottom shelf fits perfectly!

Next I removed the bottom shelf and began drawing guides for cutting out the holes for my dog's food and water bowls.

I then drilled a big enough hole inside each circle and cut out the shape with the jig saw.

Then I sanded again.

When I put the shelf back in place I realized I had a problem.

The 2x4's underneath the holes won't let the bowls sit flush.

So before I removed the shelf, I used a marker to show the areas that were blocking the bowl from sitting normally.

My jigsaw blade was too short to cut away this material, so I opted to try using my reciprocating saw.

This wasn't working too well, so instead I removed the 2x4s...

...and instead cut out the material with my table saw/cross-cut sled.

Then I reattached the 2x4s.

Now when I put the shelf back on the bowls sit flush.

Next I cut a 1x4 to be a splash guard or sorts for the bottom shelf.  My dog is a messy eater, so this piece of wood should block little bits of food from falling all over the floor.

I simply screwed this piece to the back, above the bottom shelf.

Next I centered and attached the top to the frame.

Then I gave everything one more sanding with fine sandpaper on my orbital sander.

Once sanding was done I cleaned it all up and removed the shelves.

These I added a dark Jacobean stain to.

For the frame I decided to cook it a bit with my blow torch.

The dark stain shelves and cooked frame is meant to match what was done with my kitchen island.

Once the stain dried and the cooked wood cooled, I coated everything with a few layers of polycrylic.

After each coat dried I gave everything a light sanding followed by some clean up.

Once everything was done I reassembled it all.

Next I used some hooks that I bought at the store...

...and evenly attached them to the front.

And I'm all done!

I let it dry overnight.

The next morning I moved it into the kitchen.

Then I filled it up!

On the top is my Keurig, my many flavored and non-flavored coffee...

...sugar, sweeteners, tea...

The hooks hang 4 coffee mugs...

This is a great looking table which both matches my kitchen island and bar.

..., and the height of the bottom shelf is perfect for my dog (Although at first he was not overly fond of the dangling mugs above his head).

I added the chalk board above the bar for fun.

I'm very happy I finally made this.  It was fast to make and relatively inexpensive.

A few months later someone got us some nice coffee mugs for my girlfriend and my engagement.

  So I built a small shelf to go above the coffee bar.

My fiancee and I are so very happy with this bar.

Thanks for reading!