Saturday, August 22, 2009

Log Bench

Overview: I spent a little time in the mountains with my in-laws and got a lot of inspiration from the cabin that we were staying at. We stayed in a cabin at the Sundance Resort in Utah and it was awesome. The decorator of this cabin did a fantastic job and was extremely detail oriented. I do have to give some credit to my brother-in-law for helping me with this. It was really fun getting to work with him. Also this log bench was FREE because I re-used pieces from the tree that we recently cut down. It is the same tree that I used branches from to make our eco-friendly fence.

First we got three piece of wood and made sure that two of them were the same size that would be used as the legs.

We then cut the long piece lengthwise with a chain saw creating a flat surface to sit on.

We then used a bow saw to cut notches into the two leg pieces for the main piece to lay on.

We then cut two pieces of a branch that were the same size lengthwise and in diameter.

We used a drill bit that was close to the same diameter as the pieces of branch and drilled a few inches down into the legs and into the main bench to add for stability and secureness.

Here is the finished project. We then sanded down the top because there were a lot of little cuts from the chainsaw. We then spread some Tompson's wood sealer on it to make it more water and mold resistant.

I am going to make another one with a thicker diameter log which will be more stable and strong because although great as this one may be, it can still be improved upon. It will be the same concept but with thicker legs and a wider area to sit on.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Skirt for My Wife

Overview: Alright all you seamstress's, textile workers, quilters, and lumberjacks. Lay down your trade weapons and feast your eyes on this. This was a gift to my wife for her birthday. Once again I was a few days late giving it to her but it was worth it. Please don't ask me where this idea came from because I have no idea. I was thinking for a few days about what I wanted to make my wife and some inspiration came to my rescue. I had no idea what kind of skirt I was going to make her so I went to the sewing shop in faith that I would find what I sought after.

I arrived at the shop and the first worker I saw looked like she could stitch me up into a 1000 pieces and make a mosaic out of me faster than I could thread my needle. I then asked her for help. I told her I wanted to sew my wife a skirt for her birthday and asked her where I would even start. With her mouth wide open, nostrils flared, eyebrows raised, leaning with arms extended over the counter, looking over her fallen glasses that hung on her nose asked me "Do you even know how to sew because many guys come in here saying what you just said, expecting us to do it for them." I told her that I did know how to sew. I also replied that I have my very own sewing machine and I have sewed pillows before. She still seemed skeptical and I persisted thinking to myself "lookey here, now I know that I am not your 'typical' customer but I'm from Tennessee and my mother was a 'clothing and textiles major.' This stuff runs in my veins." I did not say this aloud for fear of the previously mentioned coming true.

She first had to show me how to even pick out a pattern. I looked in their books for about 30 minutes and according to the sizes on the pattern, my wife was enormous where in real life she is a size 6. I realized that I needed to call in the big guns so I called my Mother-in-Law for a quick interpretation of what the words on the patterns even mean. She explained everything to me and I decided on this pattern specifically the one on the far left side.

I then had the fiasco of deciding what material to pick out. The white skirt on the package looked great but I knew it would get dirty. I looked around for another ten minutes until I experienced love at first site on a floral pattern. I knew it would be great. I saw that it was $10 a yard and thought "Oh, I will only need a yard or so. How much fabric would I really need?" I took it to another worker that looked about the same as the first only younger and asked her how much I would need and she responded "3 1/2 yards." Holy cow that was a lot, but it was my wife's birthday and she deserved it. I then had to ask where to find thread, a zipper, and a hook/eye. I walked out of there spending $45 and was seriously questioning my abilities to perform such a task. I was overspent because my wife said I had a limit of $30 but once again my wife was worth it. We are poor college students remember?

I then got one of my wife's friends to take her to a movie so that I would be able to make the skirt in secret. I told my wife that the reason she didn't have her gift yet was due to the fact that it was on back order. She left and I had this project all to myself. I took the waxy paper out of the envelope and darned near ripped it. They don't make this stuff for men to use apparently. I laid out my fabric and cut the paper so that I could cut the shapes. I did break a sweat while cutting the pattern wondering how in the world I was going to do this.

Two hours later, all the pieces were cut and....wait....I just got a text. My wife is on her way home.......oh no! ....she just pulled in the parking lot. I frantically tried to hide everything by putting it in a bag and stuffing it in the back of our closet.

That was a close call! Oh wait, the sewing machine is on the kitchen counter! She then walked in and saw me trying to hide my smile I was making her something. She saw the sewing machine and I told her that I was going to try and hem my pants. Luckily she believed me.

A few days later I was able to get my wife out of the house again because of her friends. Bless all of them! I was able to sew four of the five pieces together but then ran into another dilemma. I didn't know how to follow the last part. I stood up and tried to wrap it around my own body but nothing looked correct. I ran to the neighbors home to ask their wife. She looked at the pattern and my sewing job and we ended up going to the next neighbor to ask their wife. By talking with them I was actually able to figure it out and said thank you as I sprinted back in the house to try and finish. I was then working on the very last piece before the zipper when I saw my wife pull up again. I frantically packed everything and no one was the wiser.

I then spent the next five hours cutting down a tree that was in front of our apartment using a chain saw with the neighbors. How polar opposite is that. One minute a tailor, the next minute a lumberjack. I guess Tennessee does produce weird offspring.

I then had to buy the zipper somehow without my wife knowing. I didn't buy it at first because I wasn't sure if, due to the layout of the pattern, if it would need to be brown or turquoise. On our way home that night from a friend reception, we stopped by WalMart to pick up some odds n' ends. I don't know how but I was able to convince my wife that I would be in and out and that she didn't need to come in. I bought the zipper and put it in my pocket so that she wouldn't see it.

The next morning I woke up bright and early before Church to finish it. I was sewing so fast I almost set off the fire alarm. I installed the zipper and was then finishing everything up by sewing a hem on the bottom of the skirt when the thread pulled out of the needle. I checked the bobbin to make sure it wasn't empty but upon putting it back in the machine, I put it in wrong by accident. When I started it up again, it would go for four seconds and then become tangled. I tried to fix the machine not knowing what was wrong for 15 minutes but it was then time to wake my wife up for Church. I really wanted to have it done so that she could wear it to Church. I decided to give the unfinished product and woke her up.

She woke up with me on the bed and a bag in her face. She asked what it was and I told her it was her birthday present. She opened it up and was silent. I examined it and asked me if I made it. I said "yes" and she jumped up and while giggling with joy, ran to the mirror to try it on.

She put it on and it almost fit perfectly. I did have to put another hook/eye in more around the waste but it worked. I told her it wasn't done and that I only needed to sew 20 more inches that I refused to do by hand. The song "The Eye of the Tiger" jumped in my head and I tried one more time to fix that sewing machine. With five more minutes of fiddling with the machine I was able to put the bobbin in correctly that finished the hem!

She then wore the skirt to Church and kept exclaiming that it was her favorite present that I had ever given to her. That made me feel great! Below is a side view to show the cool zipper going diagonally.

Above is the front view.

Overall, I still need practice and my Mother is going to give me some serious lessons and tips when I go to visit her in a few weeks. I don't know how many skirts await for completion in my future, but this much I can say.....I sure did show that lady at the sewing shop!

Eco-Friendly Fence for $8

Overview: This fence was inspired by this huge pile of brush that has been sitting in front of our house for a few weeks now screaming to be cleaned up. We cut down part of a tree because it was growing into our 4-plex apartment and are waiting to cut another one down. Meanwhile in front of our apartment there used to be two metal posts with rope running the length between them (28 feet) to keep students from crossing into our yard on the way to their apartments. I thought that the roped fence was not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as one with a pattern (no offense to the previous tenants) and I had a lot of brush that I could use so why not? It only cost me a few hours and $6 worth of rope. Plus when it snows all of the surrounding area will be covered in white with a few brown sticks sticking straight up. How Cool!

Here are all of the branches that I cut into different sizes to make a fence that had a wave pattern. This was the easy part. I laid out all of the sticks in their appropriate places according to size and then spaced them out eight inches. I then wrapped the rope around each branch four times and tied the very ends.

Once we hung the fence up between the two posts, I pounded two 5 ft long pieces of rebar as additional supports.

Here it is in all its glory! I do have to thank my friend Scott and my wife for helping me put this up because it was definitely not a one person job. Plus, if I hadn't done this then I all of those branches would've ended up in a compost or as mulch for gardener Jane.

To see what else I was able to build with parts of that tree click here: Log Bench

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Refinishing our Front Door

Overview: This was definitely one of those "Needs to get done" projects that I have undertaken this year. The sun is such a wonderful thing but for wood, it is the worst! This is our front door and as you can see by the first picture, it is badly injured and needs help! It is a good thing that it called dajacreations to come to the rescue.

It has had many years of sun damage. Over all this was only a day project and was pretty simple. Once the back breaking work of sanding was done, the staining was EASY!

Notice the huge gray spot caused by sun damage. Also notice that you can't even see any of the wood grain. How sad!

This is after I had sanded the bottom 1/3 of the door. Such an amazing difference. I started out using a 60 Grit sandpaper on the whole door. I then went to a 100 Grit sandpaper and repeated the process. Lastly was the 150 Grit sandpaper which I once again sanded the whole door. It is important to do little circles when you sand so that everything is sanded uniformly.

This is the whole door sanded and ready for stain. Before staining I got an old towel and wiped down the door a few times to get all of the dust off.

I first used a pre-conditioner stain that was oil based because I used an oil based stain as well. I then brushed on the first coat of Pecan colored stain using a foam brush and let it dry for six hours. I repeated the process once more and.....

Tah dah! Look at how it turned out! The door is happier now! You can now see the grain patterns and there are some remnants of the dreaded sun damaged spot but the door is now more protected to do battle for years to come. The lesson to learn here is to not let your door or other outdoor furniture become deeply damaged by the sun as it may permanently scar it!

I hope you enjoyed this and it has given you some motivation to fix up that "old" piece of furniture to make it look brand new again. It is an easy process and will enhance any type of wood furniture you have.