Scrap Wood Drill Rack

13 09 2015

I recently undertook one of the more simpler projects I’ve done.  But simple in concept doesn’t mean simple in helpfulness.  The workbench in my garage doesn’t have a nearby power outlet, so charging up power tools didn’t work in the area where it made the most sense to store them.  So what is a guy to do?

I saw a similar idea in a handyman magazine and it seemed simple enough.  The concept is a place to hang the drill and my variation from other concepts includes a place to set the battery charger.  It also includes room if I felt like adding other attachments, like perhaps a hook to hang drill bits, or something else that I need to keep handy.

Having completed a number of projects in my day, I have plenty of scrap wood lying around.  I actually didn’t have to cut anything to assemble this.  I had 2 2x4s that were the exact same lenth (about 6 inches or so).  I also had various lengths of 1x4s from a recent project.  After drilling in a few screws, I had a very simple, very ingenious, and very handy place to hang my drill and store the charger.

Made from scrap wood I had lying around.

Made from scrap wood I had lying around.

In a little bonus project, I also mounted a cut PVC pipe to store my electric screw driver.  Just a little ingenuity for a Summer morning.


Toy Box

4 09 2015

I’m back!  After nearly 3 years since my last post, I finally found some time around changing diapers, putting kids to bed, sleeping (or not sleeping), and living life to get around to posting about a project I completed.  It’s not that I haven’t done anything since late 2012, but my wife and I had a son shortly after my last post (something about a toilet), and a daughter a couple years later.  So here I am.  After some heavy duty landscaping, hanging blinds,  finishing a basement, building a bar, and installing a toilet, what is my first long awaited post as a dad?

Building a toy box!

I don’t know where I got the inspiration for this.  We needed to do something about the sorry cloth Mickey Mouse toy bin that has seen the blunt treatment of a 2 year old for far too long.  We decided that we either needed to buy a new, more sturdy toy box, or I could try and save a bit of money by building it myself.  I’ve never built anything that requires such precision, craftsmanship, and imagination before, and I had no idea where to even begin.  So of course, what the heck, right?

My basic design was a box (real creative, I know).  After an initial trial that failed miserably, I landed on a plan that I conjured up all in my head (with maybe some picture concepts to spark the imagination).  I would make it very simple.  I would build a rectangular frame out of 1x4s and then create the sides with 1x4s positioned vertically.  Then I would fashion a lid similarly.

After finishing the box (including screwing in all the 1×4 side pieces) and dry fitting the lid pieces in place, I realized that the box itself wasn’t square.  The lid was supposed to line up along the back with about a 1/2 inch overhang along the sides and the front.  When I realized the problem (the lid was square, the box was not), I attempted to “remedy” the situation by just shaving off a little bit of an angle on the back of the lid, thus maintaining the illusion that the box was made by a professional.  So I lined everything up and drew a line along the back of the lid where I was going to cut off a small piece with my new jigsaw.  What resulted was 2 wasted lengths of 1x8s and somehow one of those sections ended up in 2 somewhat jagged pieces (it slipped, I swear).  Eventually I just went with the “big deal” option (you know, the “it’s not square? Big deal” option) and decided that if my kids want a professionally made toy box, they should have hired a professional.  It’ll be a lesson to them down the road: you get what you pay for.

Anyways, I stained it and applied a few coats of polyurethane, and attached a couple of hinges.  The last thing I need to do is find an appropriate support hinge to prevent the lid from slamming down on little fingers.  The ones I bought from Menards this morning didn’t work like I had hoped.

So goes my first official project (posted on the blog anyway) as a dad.  I hope someday my kids will have fond memories of this toy box and realize that sometimes what you don’t realize you can’t do is the secret to all of life’s success.  Either that or they just remember the toys.

PS. If you are interested in my plan, I can provide you with the dimensions and pieces that I used.

Workbench Redux

7 05 2012

Back in September of 2010, my dad showed off his carpentry prowess by building me a workbench in my garage. I noted this in a blog post titled Built Dad Tough. The skill is starting to rub off.

I took a somewhat spontaneous break from my bar to build a workbench in our utility room. It started for two reasons. One, I had a miter saw in my basement that I was borrowing from a friend for the bar, and I figured I’d at least cut the lumber I would need for the workbench. The other reason was that Melissa wanted to clean out and organize the utility room once and for all. That room has been an unmitigated disaster that has essentially resulted from dumping anything in there to get it out of the way as we built the basement. It was very dusty and very cluttered in that room. I knew I wanted a workbench in there, and the shelf shelf will be a help as well.

I took the overall design pretty much directly from my dad’s design. I built the two frames for the top and the shelf, and assembled them into the wall. The key, according to my dad, is having the top frame sit directly on top of the legs, as opposed to having the legs come up the side. This gives the bench the greatest strength; when doing something like pounding a nail or putting a load of weight on, the stress will be directly over a straight 2×4 which would be much stronger than a if the top was screwed to the legs from the side.

Now I just need to get a plywood sheet to rip and screw into place. That could be an adventure all it’s own.

The student has become…well, still not the teacher, but maybe a B student instead of a C student.

Raising the Bar: Part 2

29 04 2012

With our basement officially finished, I continue on some of the other basement projects that help make the space that much more enjoyable.  Case in point…the bar!  We framed out the bar before putting in the carpet, and now that the carpet is in, it’s time to move on.

The bar is going to have stained oak plywood sides and an oak hardwood floor top.  With a help from Jon, a friend of mine who is doing most of the thinking on this project, we got the sides cut, stained, and in place.  An interesting point I learned that “shop rags” that they sell at Menards are nothing more than t-shirts cut into pieces.  So I took a bunch of t-shirts that I just happened to set aside just recently to go to Goodwill and made a small truckload of shop rags.  Which was good because staining requires a lot of rags.

So on to the bar.  Melissa and I had gone back and forth on color.  We had painted the walls a fairly neutral color, and we picked out a fairly neutral carpet color.  We initially were looking at stain colors that were somewhat neutral as well.  After thinking about it, I decided that eventually we needed to do something bold in the basement.  So we went with a pretty dark stain color called Dark Walnut.  I am very happy with how the color turned out, much more satisfied than if I did another fairly neutral color.

Also, while I came up with the overall concept of design as far as how big I wanted it, Melissa had an idea for sprucing up the sides.  She thought of framing the sides with a series of picture frames.  After putting it all up, it looks darn good.  I have some touch ups to do still, but all in all, it’s looking pretty good.

The next step will be the bar top.  The top is going be hardwood flooring, stained a more natural color to contrast the dark sides and trim.  Then, we’ll use a bar top epoxy to create a thick, glass-like film to completely seal the hardwood flooring and create a nearly impenetrable surface.  That’s my next process.


The top is trimmed with a lip to account for the hardwood flooring and a 3/16 inch layer of epoxy

You can see the picture frame trim that gives the face some character

We laid the tile behind the bar. There will eventually be a counter top over the fridge as well as a regular cabinet with a sink to the right. The shelves seen here will be stained the same as the rest of the bar.

With a little creativity, anything awesome can be made more awesome!

We’ve already had our first successful basement party, making use of the bar in a state slightly earlier than the pictures above.  And because I can, I watch Brewer games from my bar, just because I can!

Raising the Bar

5 04 2012

The basement is nearing a conclusion of sorts.  We have ordered the carpeting and are simply waiting to schedule the installation.  The trim work along the baseboards and doors is finished, and the doors are all hung.  With a few odds and ends here and there we will soon be ready for when the carpeting is installed, and the entire demeanor of the basement changes from “work space” to “living space”.  I am giddy with excitement at the prospect of seeing over 18 months worth of work finally show something of a conclusion.

One of those last odds and ends is putting in a bar.  I have always wanted to put in a bar in the basement.  Something to sit at and play games, serve food on, or just sit and pretend that my basement has a pub feel to it.  Last night, a friend of Melissa’s and mine, Jon, came over and lent his carpentry expertise to my idea.  After we were done, we had the skeleton framework constructed of what will eventually become probably my favorite part of the basement.

Way back prior to putting in the drywall, I had plumbers rough in water pipes for a sink back by the bar area.  I even took the liberty of running TV cable up high in the bar area, in the event that I really want to enhance the sports bar feel and put a TV up behind the bar.  I’m really stretching my visionary prowess here!

The design we are going with will sort of be U-shaped, with the high countertop in front, and the other two sides being normal counter height, with room for a small fridge underneath one counter and cabinets under the other.  The high counter will extend just over six feet long, with the entire bar area taking up about a 6’x6′ footprint.  We are planning to tile the floor behind the bar.

As far as the construction went, it was nice (and strange) having someone do all the thinking for me.  Jon has built bars before, so for me it was simply a matter of “how far to you want this to extend” or “do you want the shelves to be adjustable” or something along that nature.  Some of the piecemeal things I’ve put together so far wouldn’t have held much muster to “this should look good when you are finished” had I applied those principals to the bar.  So it was quite nice to have an expert at the helms for a change.

Within a week, we’ll probably have carpeting installed and the feel of the room will change completely.  But for now, there’s this.

We framed out the bar. If you think it looks good now, just wait.

A Lawnmower Home

28 03 2012

So I took some time away from the basement for a day to work out in the garage. Other than the workbench we built, there isn’t much for shelf space. I corrected that problem.

My garage has a two stall door, and then it is indented about two feet for a second, one stall sized garage door. This creates the perfect little nook for which to put a shelf. Enter the handiless homeowner!

The design sort of took form as I went. When I built the soffit in the basement, I used wooden I-beam joists, and I had two left over. I had used one of these joists to make a bench for mudding, and I figured turning it into a shelf was a proper way to allow it to forever make its mark as a part of the house.

I took these two joists and cut them each to 5 foot lengths. I then screwed them together and then fastened them to the exterior wall of the garage to act as the vertical support for the shelf. I needed room to store the lawn mower underneath, so I put in two shelves starting about two feet above the ground.

Now I really had no design plan, and I assumed I was going to have to buy some plywood for the shelf top. It just so happened that I had two squarish pieces of plywood leftover from the workbench that fit my two shelf sizes almost perfectly! It’s as if I planned it that way! So it turns out that I have indeed learned a thing or two in the last year or two of working on my house. I built a shelf from scratch that is probably stronger than anything I could buy in a store, and it was essentially free. Go me!

My Lawnmower has a little home now

I built this with no plan in mind, other than "hey, a little cabinet would be fun to build."

Built Dad Tough

7 09 2010

So anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly the most handy guy in the world.  What might surprise you is that my dad is indeed quite handy, and it’s what I aspire to become like over time.  From what I understand, my dad wasn’t much different than I am when he was my age, but through interest and will forced himself to learn what he needed to know in order to save money and get jobs done.

That’s where this latest installment picks up.  One of the things my garage still lacked was an adequate work space, specifically a counter top surface from which to work.  Some might call this a workbench, as do I.  Among the things my dad has taken on in the past, he built himself a workbench in his current house, and he built a workbench for my sister and brother-in-law several weeks ago.  Not that I was necessarily waiting my turn, but knowing that he had this ability, I figured I’d have him come and help me achieve this structure.

My garage has a nice bump out that almost seems like it was intended as a spot for a work area, and this was the canvas for my workbench.  Essentially, I have three walls independent from my main garage with which to work.  I had in mind about a 6 foot long workbench with a metal cabinet I had to sort of book end it in an L shape.  Well, my dad had the idea of just making an L shaped workbench to take advantage of the space there, and in turn would give me twice the counter space.  So we began.  We headed to Lowes to raid the lumber yard, and returned ready to build something.

On top of all this, my parents and brother and sister all chipped in to buy me a new circular saw, which we put to good use.  My dad did the designing, and most of the measuring, and let’s face it, most of the thinking.  But we basically screwed together a bunch of 2x4s to form two shelf frames, screwed the first shelf into the wall, attached the legs, and then screwed the top shelf into place.

We used plywood then to top each shelf, and this caused one moment that showed how much I have to learn about DIY projects and carpentry.  The plywood sheets we bought were 8×4, meaning the width was 48 inches.  After the top shelf frame was up, I measured the width and it came to 24 3/4 inches.  I scratched my head and then measured the plywood again; still only 48 inches — two sheets of 24 3/4 inches would mean that 48 inches would be too narrow.  More head scratching.  I told my dad that I thought we had a problem, and he said we were fine.  More head scratching.  I measured the bottom shelf frame; 23 1/4 inches.  “Well that’s strange”, I thought as I did the math.  “That equals 48 inches.  Dad, did you plan that?”  “Of course I did.  Do you think that was just pure chance?” my dad responded, realizing that the final quarter had just fallen on my busy working thinking machine.  Wow, how did I let that one fly past me so badly.

So anyway, we fit the plywood sheets in place and I had fun drilling holes and screwing in the last screws on what I can (sort of ) say is something a built from scratch with my own two hands.

Phase one

Phase two

...and phase three

As a side note, that last picture shows off my newest toy, the circular saw, as well as a tool box I made in shop class during my freshmen year of high school.  Maybe it was a sign of things to come.

So that’s how this chapter goes.  I solved two problems, I needed a counter top workspace, and I needed some shelving.  This takes care of both.  One of the exciting things about this is that while my dad has built a couple of workbenches before, this is his first L shaped workbench.  So I truly have a one of a kind, limited edition workbench in the Dad brand, the first of it’s kind in the L series.  Here’s to all the projects that will take place on this piece over the years!

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