Build Something Giveaway

Who has a Pinterest project (or 20) they've been wanting to tackle forever? Or maybe a few honey-do's around the house you just haven't gotten to yet? I know my hand is raised enthusiastically. I think what we need this summer is a little motivation to get going and build something. How about a new RYOBI 18V ONE+ Lithium+ Compact Drill/Driver Kit

Starting right now through Sunday, July 6th at 11:59pm you can enter below to win one. If you're just the kind of person who does a few quick fixes around the house, or if you've been interested in expanding your power tool collection, the RYOBI 18V ONE+ Lithium+ Compact Drill/Driver Kit is a really great option. I know I use mine all the time as do my favorite DIY couple, Katie and Jon, over at Sew Woodsy.

So wait for the Rafflecopter widget below to load and enter to win your own. We've got our fingers crossed for you! It's time to build something.

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The Little Free Library

I'm taking a quick break today from the back porch makeover to update you on a little project I've been working on for my community. Remember this post from back in March? Back then I told you about Post Alpha-Bits and the Little Free Library program and how I was working to get one up in my neighborhood. Well it's done and I'm thrilled!

As a refresher, Post Alpha-Bits cereal worked with Little Free Library to make this project possible. They asked bloggers to install libraries in their communities to help spread the message of literacy and learning across America. The libraries are small, free-standing structures similar to large birdhouses... each one unique. The program took root in 2009 and has been growing ever since. Anyone can take a book or leave a book. Simple and effective.

My first task for the library was finding an ideal location for it. A place where people would pass often and be curious enough to take a peak inside. I decided the perfect spot would be the drop off circle at my kid's daycare. Lucky for me, they were SUPER excited to have the library for the kids (and parents) to enjoy.

We chatted a bit about how and where to install the library and ultimately decided on the "mailbox" approach as I like to call it.  I'd love to take credit for the awesome install job but Tim, the maintenance guy at the church/daycare, took this project and ran with it. 

I dropped off the library one morning and by the time I got back that afternoon it was up! He even made a little step stone path to it. Love it.

Almost every day since the library has been up there has been a kid or parent at it when I pull up. They even sent flyers home with all the kids letting the parents know how simple the concept is and not to feel shy about getting in there and seeing what books were available. 

AND, I was interviewed by the local paper about installing the library and the story ran front page :) (My parents may or may not have saved several copies) It's really neat to see so many people excited about something I helped make happen.
So I hope you'll visit the Little Free Library page, stock up on some Alpha-Bits, learn a little about the program, and maybe even become a steward in your community. I promise it's worth it.


How to Build an Outdoor Storage Box

I partnered up with RYOBI and was provided a few products to write this post but was not compensated otherwise. All opinions are my own and I love me some RYOBI power tools. ;)
This post should really be called, How to Build and Outdoor Storage Box When You Really Don't Know What You're Doing and You Just Kind of Wing It. Anyone still reading? Brave soul. I like you. So yep, that's the truth. When the porch makeover started, the need to hide our crap was at the top of the list. I never really built anything this big before and didn't use any plans but ended up with something I really love and it serves the function I needed (crap hiding). Win! And the best part? I learned a ton. There are a few things I would do differently if I built this again, but that's pretty much the definition of experience, isn't it? Learn by doing. So keep reading and I'll show you what I did and hopefully inspire you to jump in and just try it. You never know... it might work out.

So I started this project the way I do most, by searching Google and Pinterest for benches I liked. After I found a few gorgeously expensive teak ones, I took a few measurements on the porch in the spot I wanted it to go. Then I made a quick sketch and headed to Home Depot. The plan was a rectangular bench, 48 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and about 24 inches tall with small legs and a hinged top.

Here's a clearer one I drew up so you can see what's going on.

Hubs looks thrilled, doesn't he? ;)

I found the majority of my supplies in the decking section. While I would have loved teak like my inspiration benches, it's mucho dinero. Not gonna happen this time around.

I ended up buying 2" x 2", 8 feet long, "weathershield" sticks (I'd call them "boards" but really they were more like really long sticks) for the frame of my bench. They weren't expensive and made for outdoor use. However, they bowed like crazy and finding a number of straight pieces was a challenge. Be prepared to dig.

We also had to buy a sheet of plywood (plus a little extra) which isn't the easiest thing to maneuver. I highly suggest getting the Home Depot guys to cut it down for you for easier transport. Seriously, it took the guy like 20 seconds. I just made sure they cut it in a way that I could still get all the usable pieces I needed to out of it. Way easier to fit in a truck when it's not 8 feet long. And the kids are starting to loose their marbles at this point. Thank goodness for the hot dog guy. You can see the large pieces of plywood on our cart. That's just one large sheet cut in half. (and another smaller piece in front)

So now that I've shopped a bit, let's get started.

My supply list:
Use my measurements as approximates when buying supplies. Once you get going you might find you need to adjust the sizes to fix exactly... measure, measure, measure! My 2" x 2" sticks turned out to be not quite 2" so things got a little off. And of course... you can always use your own measurements and make the box whatever size you want. Make a little sketch and plan it out.)
  • 2" x 2" Weathershield "sticks"
    • 4 - 24" pieces (legs)
    • 2 - 20 1/2" pieces (for the lid with mitered corners)
    • 2 - 48" pieces (for the lid with mitered corners)
    • 1 - 18" piece (lid brace)
    • 4 - 17 1/2" pieces (short sides)
    • 4 - 45" pieces (long sides)
  • 1/4" plywood
    • 2 - 20" x 48" (lid and bottom)
    • 2 - 21" x 45" (long sides)
    • 2 - 21" x 17 1/2" (short sides)
  • Beadboard (measure the inside panels once the box is constructed to get exact measurements)
    • 2 - 18 1/2" x 45" (front and back)
    • 2 - 18 1/2" x 17 1/2" (sides)
  • Quarter Round Moulding
    • 4 - 45" pieces
    • 8 -18 1/2" pieces
    • 4 - 17" pieces
  • Fence Boards or Pallets or Scrap Wood, etc.
    • enough to cover the lid in whatever pattern you like (if this is not going to be under some sort of cover, use a wood suitable for outdoors)
  • 2 hinges
  • screws and nails
  • wood glue
  • Some kind of water sealant
Power Tools:
Before I get to the steps, I want to address the big and scary elephant in my driveway... power tools. Dun dun dah!!!!! I get comments often about people scared or unsure of using power tools. Here's my 2 cents on that. Do you drive a car? Do you cook on a stove? Both of those everyday things have the potential to injure you as much as or more than a power tool. But you're comfortable operating a car or a stove or whatever, because you've taken the time to learn how to operate those things (and let's be honest, you can rock a stove like nobody's business). Same goes for power tools.

Take your time to learn how they work. Read the manual, watch some tutorials, ask the guys at Home Depot for help. Also, take simple safety precautions and use some common sense. I always put my hair up, never wear hanging jewelry or loose clothing, and wear eye protection and closed-toe shoes to name a few. When you're ready, take your time, measure twice :), and practice a little. You'll be headed for carpentry mastery in no time, I know it. You can do it. Now on with the show.

Step 1:

Build your frame.
First I cut all of the frame pieces (the 2" x 2" sticks as I lovingly call them) for the box, not the lid. Just measure and cut straight 90º cuts. No angles on this part. I'm using a RYOBI  Miter Saw to do this.

Then I assembled my box on the floor upside down. This way the top (which is touching the ground) stays nice and level while the legs stick up in the air. The kids ran by and knocked those legs down about 14 times while I was arranging this. Good times. The hardest part will be keeping everything square.

You might also notice the holes drilled at each end of the sticks. This was a bit of a construction fail. I tried to use my Kreg Jig which allows you to drill perfect diagonal holes to join the corners.
However, I didn't really read the directions very well and didn't have a piece of wood wide enough to drill the 2 holes you are supposed to drill and well, long story short, ignore this part. I had a Kreg Jig fail (totally user error). This is something I will be fixing should I build this again. Officially on To Do List: Learn how to use the Kreg Jig correctly! So instead, glue the corners and add screws from the outsides.

Make sure to pre drill the screw holes so your wood doesn't split. I used the RYOBI One+ drill for this and it went really fast (Pssst... I'm giving one away Monday!). And, bonus, the battery for this drill is also interchangeable with my nailer and sander which we'll be getting to in a minute. The top of the frame is flush with the top of the legs, and the bottom of the frame sits 3" from the bottom of the leg... creating the little leg on the bottom. The picture in Step 2 should clear that up a bit.

Step 2:
Glue and nail the bottom and sides to the frame.
Here's another place where I would change something. I only used 1/4" plywood for the bottom. I chose that at the store because I didn't want this thing to weigh 5 million pounds. It's great for the sides which are getting an extra layer of beadboard anyway, but the bottom is a bit flimsy. I'm going to need to brace that if I put anything heavy in here. So learn from me and get some thicker wood for the bottom.

For the bottom, I ran a bead of glue all the way around.

I also had to notch out the corners around the legs like this so the bottom would sit flat.

Then I nailed it in place with the RYOBI AirStrike Cordless Brad Nailer. Out of all my tools, this is probably my favorite. No cords or noisy air compressors to mess with and I can swap the battery from my drill into the nailer and back again.

After the bottom was secure, I flipped the whole thing over and attached the sides in the same way.

I even made a tiny movie to show you how quickly you can get something nailed together using the AirStrike.

Easy, right?

The sides just butt up against each other in the corners. Don't sweat it if you have small gaps. The beadboard and moulding will cover that.
At this point the neighbors might think you're building a coffin. It's cool. Just smile and wave.

Step 3:
Attach the beadboard. 
I measured each panel (the space in between the frame), cut a piece of beadboard to fit, and glued it in place.

Then I weighted it down until it dried.

Step 4:
Build the lid. 
I waited until the box was constructed to make the lid so I could make it exactly the right size. Measure the length and width of the box. Cut the frame pieces for the top to those dimensions (the "sticks"). Only this time I made mitered corners. Instead of cutting your pieces at 90 degrees, turn the saw to 45 degrees.
The measurement that you are cutting to should be the longest part of the angle. That probably made no sense. I'll draw you a picture...
Get it?  After the four pieces for the lid's frame are cut, I wood glued and nailed them together. Remember to keep everything as square as possible. Then I cut a thin piece of plywood and attached that to the underside of the top with nails and glue. After this step the top should look like a large tray. 

Then I realized the top was a bit flimsy (learn as you go, right?) and my kids would for sure be sitting or jumping on it. That's when I added the cross piece in the middle (the thing the pink arrows are pointing at).  It's screwed in from the ends and wood glued and nailed from the underside.

Step 5:
Add quarter round moulding. 
I added quarter round to all 4 sides of the box, on each panel. To do this I measured each panel and cut the moulding at 45º angles to that size. It's important to keep the flat sides of the moulding up against the saw every time you make a cut. This way the angle of the cuts will be correct each time. I learned this the hard way. 

Applied moulding will cover up any gaps on the edges and more importantly for me... keep the box frog and lizard proof. :) No one likes pooped-on towels. I glued it in place.

Then added a couple nails with the AirStrike.

Step 6: 
Get fancy with the top.  
Once everything was constructed, I decided to do something a bit decorative to the top. I drew a line lengthwise in the center of the top. Then cut 1"x 4" boards at 45 degree angles to line up with that.

I just kept working my way across and trimmed pieces as I got closer to each side. I did that by holding a board in place and marking the cut with a pencil. I was sure to cut a little larger than I needed and slowly trim away excess until it fit in its spot. Kind of like a big chevron-esqe puzzle.

Once they were all fitted in place, I picked each one up and glued it down with wood glue.

Once they were all dry, I screwed/glued a brace to the underside of the lid for a little extra kid-jumping support and attached the whole thing with two hinges.

Step 7: 
Last step! 
Sand the whole thing to knock off rough or sharp edges, fill screw holes with wood filler if you don't want to see them, and seal it with some sort of water/deck sealer. My porch is covered on 3 sides and doesn't get wet really at all... but you never know.

It's done! Longest post ever. Seriously, you deserve a snack and a pee break if you made it this far. I'll wait. Dummm dee deeee dummmm.
Okay, feel better? Now check out the finished product. I need a nap.
I sewed up those pillows, made from fabric I got from onlinefabricstore.net.

So are you inspired to try something maybe a little out of your comfort zone? If so, come back Monday when I'll be giving away one RYOBI 18V ONE+ Lithium+ Compact Drill/Driver Kit to get you started on your next project. It's awesomesauce and I'll have my fingers crossed for you!
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Outdoor Herringbone Shim Art

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Glidden® paint through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Glidden paint, all opinions are my own.
I’m starting to see the teeniest bit of light at the end of the tunnel for the back porch makeover. I’ve worked on some seating and a new grill but I still needed something for those bland walls. Paint is the easiest way to remedy blandness but since we are renting, painting the actual walls was out of the question. However, I knew I could add some color there in a temporary way with paint, creativity, and some DIY craftiness. 

Since budget is always a concern and I didn’t want to spend a bunch on art, I looked at materials I could either get really cheaply or free. Pallets are a good option but I thought they would be too heavy to hang on the wall. The next best option for me was shims. Shims are strips of slightly wedge-shaped wood used in building. They are really cheap and readily available at home improvement stores.

For the paint, I purchased 2 quarts of Glidden paint in a flat exterior finish. I love their simplified color palette. It really makes choosing colors easy and quick when you don’t have to sort through 50 different shades of almost the same blue. For the worn ocean ombre look I was going for, I chose Glidden paint Peacock Blue and Glidden paint True Turquoise. I think it took less than 10 minutes to pick out the colors and have them mixed. Super easy.

Love this combo! I’m already thinking of other things I can paint.

So lets get started.

· Paint – 2 quarts of Glidden paint (I used exterior flat finish)
· Shims – you’ll need a couple packs (I used about 80 total)
· Scrap wood for the back
· Wood Glue
· Various tools/hardware

Step 1:
Paint your shims. Line up the shims side by side to make them easier to paint. You’re going to want to paint on a drop cloth or plastic… it’s a little messy. Then, to get the gradient or ombre look, I started with the darker color and gradually transitioned to the lighter color as I went. There’s no right way to do this. Just go at it, blend as you go, and have fun. 

I worked in batches and it went really fast. To get the beachy weathered look I was going for, I kept my brush pretty dry for the most part so you could still see the wood coming through.

Lay them out to dry.

Step 2:
Build a base. For the base to glue all my shims to, I used 3 pieces of scrap wood I had in my garage, and fastened them together. This is ¼” plywood and it’s really light. Of course using one large piece of wood would have been easier but I didn’t have one so I improvised.  :) They are glued and nailed together using, you guessed it, more scrap wood.

The 1” x 1” pieces on the back will also hold the whole thing out from the wall a bit giving it more dimension.

Step 3: Attach your shims. I drew one line from top to bottom near the left side of my base and followed that to attach the 1st row. Once you get the 1st row straight, the rest will line up with that.

I just used wood glue and worked from left to right, darkest to lightest.

Keep going!

Step 4: Trim your shims. Once your base is covered wait for the glue to dry and flip the whole thing over.

Then trim everything into a neat rectangle. I used a circular saw to do this.
Once everything is neat and rectangular, I glued some leftover shims around the edges as a boarder.

Step 5 (optional):
You could be done at this point but I chose to add a few “candle holders”. These small metal round things are actually part of the plant chandelier I took apart a few weeks ago. I just drilled small holes in the side and attached with screws. Not really sure I’ll be lighting these larger candles (tea lights might work better), they are more for decoration. Small succulents or air plants might work too. I just love the little pops of color they provide.

Now hang it up and admire the rustic beachy cheeriness.
So give it a try! Paint is such an easy and inexpensive way to add some punch where you need it. Even if blues aren’t your thing, check out the Glidden simplified color palette and see what inspires you.