09 Oct

Pet Steps with Storage

pet stepsA friend asked me to build some steps for her aging dog to use to get up into the bed more easily. I did some research and modified a plan to suit her needs.

Construction is really simple and could be done with a hammer, Phillips screwdriver and handsaw, if that is all you have. I used ¾” plywood for the stair supports and back so using a power saw was beneficial. If you wanted to use a handsaw, I recommend adjusting the measurements for standard 8″ x 1″ pine boards. If you want to make something really nice for Fido, use birch plywood or oak lumber available at most home improvement stores.

You will need some wood glue (preference for polyurethane), 1 ½” finishing nails, wood putty, sandpaper (medium to fine), 12″ piano hinge, and a couple 6″ pieces of scrap and short nails to hold up the interior shelf. The piano hinge is used to attach the top stair so that you can store treats or toys under the top shelf.

For finishing, you can stain before or just seal with paint or polyurethane. I used a walnut stain and a satin polyurethane.

Because dogs prefer carpeted stairs for sure-footed-ness, I recommended getting one self-stick stair tread runner that could be cut in half, one for each of the stairs.

You could knock this out over a weekend and give your pet a leg up on getting into bed.

19 Apr

Cabinet in Progress

Cabinet with interior finishWith the deadline looming, I have been working like crazy on the cabinet for the Birmingham Symphony Decorator Showhouse. This weekend I got everything assembled except the door. I even started to put on the finish before I remembered to take more pictures. I had already applied stain (Olde Maple) to the interior of the cabinet in this picture.

At first I wasn’t too sure about the final result, but after covering the entire piece with one coat, I am very pleased. The finish looks very natural but has an aged feeling to it that compliments the origin (barn timbers) and rustic character of the raw wood. I have not decided about a second coat. I am leaning toward a coat of paste wax.

What remains is to mount the door and, if possible, apply some fall peeled wood accents to the door. I had originally thought I would trim out the top with  the peeled wood, but it is very difficult to get straight cuts on naturally curved wood without a band saw. That may be my next purchase. Applying some accents may or may not work out. More on that later.
Cabinet with finish

The compound miter saw came in handy on this project and I finally laid to rest my Porter Cable orbital sander. It died after a very useful and productive life. I replaced it with a Black and Decker Palm Grip Sander after trying out the newer model of the Porter Cable  sander. Did not care for it and returned it the same day. The B&D is very nice and feels great in the hands due some gel inserts in the multiple handles. Bonus: It was also on sale for only $34. The PC model I returned was $59. Gotta love that.

12 Apr

Cabinet: First look

Symphony Cabinet: First LookThe cabinet for the Birmingham Symphony Decorator Showhouse is beginnning to take shape. This first picture is of the frame made of red oak barn timbers from northern Alabama. There are some really cool knots, nail holes, worm-wood, and rough sawn places that make this wood very interesting and rustic. The majority of the cabinet is going to be crafted from this stock. I plan to use fall peeled maple for accents.

10 Mar

Shell Robe Hanger

Shell HangerThis was a quick project that I finally finished. I had the oyster shell sitting around for a couple of years and had planned making this since I found it in my travels. The wood was a leftover from a king-size bed I built for a friend out of Indiana poplar.

I love that wood! It has so much character and interest, in its coloring,  the grain and from the insects that had a party there during storage.

Anyone could make this with limited tools. You would need a handsaw or scrap wood already the size you wanted  for the mounting plate, a drill, a shell, sandpaper, three screws, some epoxy, and wood finish.

The limiting steps in this are drilling the whole in the shell—I used a Dremel tool—but an electric drill and some patience will do the trick. The drill bit will get hot—pause periodically to let it cool.

Try to find a shell of sufficient length with a flattened edge that will sit flush against the mounting plate. You can sand this flat edge to make it more even. Depending on the shell, you may want to sand the edges a bit to take some of the sharpness down or get rid of barnacles. The shell is calcium carbonate—the smell may remind you of the dentist.

Shell HangerShaping the mounting plate took some patience too, but that is the beauty of woodworking.  Once it is shaped just like you like it, place the shell, measure and mark the spots for the two mounting screws and the through the shell screw. Drill pilot holes for the mounting and through screws and  countersinks for the mounting screws.

You can finish the mounting plate with about anything you want. Paint it if the wood is not all that interesting or use a stain or  a natural finish. I used some left over teak oil to penetrate the wood and then followed it up with a coat of paste wax applied with a steel wool pad. I think this is a supremely natural, but protective finish.

Make sure you choose a screw to mount the shell that is not so long it will stick out the other side of the mounting plate. Secure the shell with a small amount of epoxy, like JB Weld, and a wood screw.  Be careful not to over tighten and crack the shell. Let this dry overnight.

That is it. It is ready to mount wherever you choose. I used some self-drilling dry wall anchors . If you would like some measurements, let me know and I will post them. But really it is up to you. If you have more than one shell, you could mount them in a series on a wider piece of wood.

09 Feb

Bargain Days

I should have known better than to walk the aisles of the tool department at Lowe’s. But I did it to check prices on miter saws in anticipation of getting one, someday. Naturally, I bought one today, but not the one I had thought I would.

Hitachi C10FCE2You see Hitachi is apparently coming out with new models and Lowe’s is closing out the old versions. I bought the Hitachi C10FCE2 10-Inch compound miter saw for less than $100! Seriously.

The next model up, the  Hitachi C10FCH2 10-inch Miter Saw, comes with a laser and now is priced at about $140. Other, snazzier models are also reduced to move.

I could not resist such a bargain and the reviews on the Hitachi saws were comparable to the DeWalt. So, if you are in the mood to buy an entry level compound miter saw or any miter saw, check out the Hitachi’s at Lowe’s. I can’t wait to assemble it and make a few cuts.