When we were looking for a new house a few years back, we really hoped to find one with a good amount of space and a three car garage, so that we could park both cars in the garage and then have some room for me to do woodworking and my many projects. We ended up buying our current home, which we love for a hundred reasons, but it didn’t have a three car garage. Katrina, knowing that I really wanted a work space, allowed me to pour a concrete pad for a wood shop as a sort of down payment on a future shop. Well, now that we have put the yard in, finished the basement and we’re finally getting a rock wall to replace our massive, weed-infested hill, it’s time to start on the shop. I got started a couple of weeks ago and it’s going well so far.
To begin, I designed the shop in Google Sketchup, which allows me to get a feel for size, color, space in relation to the house, etc. After that, I mocked it up in Photoshop using our existing garage as a starting point and then bringing in some color and texture to make it fairly realistic. The second image below is my Photoshop job of what the shop may look like, though we’re definitely not 100% decided as of yet on colors, textures, etc. The size and shape are pretty accurate, though.
I decided to do 2×6 framing instead of 2×4 since I’ll be insulating it and adding a heating and A/C unit. The shop is 15′ x 15′, so it’s not a big shop, but I’m excited about it. I decided to do 9′ ceilings, with a loft for wood storage. I’m putting several windows in it, including a row of windows above the door, a 3’x5′ window on two of the walls and a smaller window on the fourth wall. Let there be light. The best part about that is that I bought all of the windows already, including several extra, for a grand total of $100 from a person in our area. Thanks, local online classifieds! They’re all used double pane, insulated windows and most of them are either sliders or crank-openers. I’m looking forward to putting those in. It’s amazing what you can get for cheap when someone is remodeling their home.
I bought a framing nailer (should have done that years ago) and have been building the walls one at a time and then getting some help from neighbors to stand them up and put them on the lag bolts in the concrete then tight them down. I have to say – 15′ x 10′ walls made out of 2x6s are extremely heavy. Definitely not a one-person job. My poor wife had her feet under one of the walls when it fell into place so she’s got quite a pair of bruises on her feet but luckily it looks worse than it is.
With the four walls up, I started on the ceiling / loft floor. I used 2x10s and mounting brackets and it’s quite sturdy. Those 15′ long 2x10s are some heavy suckers. I finished putting those up and then, with Katrina’s help, put the 3/4″ OSB up for flooring. That made it way easier to work on the roof trusses (stick framing) without having to use a ladder to do it all.
For the roof cuts, I used a great little truss calculator to get the angles, distances and other cuts, which was super helpful. Me no do math good, so that was kinda fantastic. It gives you the angles, the birdsmouth cuts, the distances where to cut them and everything.
One thing that helped a lot on cutting the rafters was to create a template to make the marks faster. I created these small templates to slide onto each end of the 2x6s to make it really easy to mark every board in a hurry. It took me about 11 minutes to mark 24 boards, which is great. The templates took about 20 minutes to make.
As of right now, the rafters are up and nailed to the ridge board, so now I’m ready to finish the framing of the gable faces and then I can put the OSB up on the roof. Yay!
No injuries or accidents (other than my poor wife’s foot bruises) so far, so knock on wood. That’s it for now! More pictures coming soon and, of course, I’m videoing the whole thing for a complete how-to series on it from start to finish. If you want to learn about framing walls, windows, soffits, doors and closets, I already have some videos on those!
This year for Mother’s Day, I told NilsyNils that I wanted a couple of planter boxes for our front walk area. I think they add a lot of charm and dimension to any area, and had pinned quite a few pictures of ones I liked. Nils and I looked at a lot of different tutorials, and naturally, he decided they were all crap and designed a new one. We spent a Saturday in the garage building these cute boxes and bonding via power tools. This is an inexpensive yet outdoor-ready planter box that can hold about 3 full bags of potting soil and has about 3 square feet of surface area.
Each box consists of 9 cedar fence pickets and one 2 x 4. You’ll also need 1 1/4″ screws, 3″ screws, an optional brad nailer, and 18 gauge brads.
Check out the full video at https://youtu.be/WUnFAgj_7ps
The projector screen we’re going to be building is made of PVC and will hold steady in windy areas like where we live. It provides a great picture and is perfect for outdoor movie nights with family and friends.
For this project I used a good quality screen material that I purchased from Amazon. This is Carl’s Blackout Cloth, which you can pick up for about $35. Links are in the description. While you can use a bed sheet or other material, this cloth is designed for projector screens. There is a finished side and a back – you can hear the difference. Lie the screen on your carpet, scratchy side up, and folder over each side about 3-4 inches (8-10cm). To make the pockets for the PVC you can either use StitchWitchery, which is an adhesive strip for fabric, or just sew it. I tried both and the Stitch Witchery stuff, while a great option if you don’t have access to a sewing machine, is kind of a pain. It requires you to lay it down between the fabric, put a towel under it so as not to melt your carpet, put a damp cloth over it and then iron each side for about ten seconds each, all the way along the length of it. I tried this for one side and it took a while so I headed over to the sewing machine and sewed the other three sides. Both held up equally well but the sewing machine was much faster. You don’t need to be an expert tailor or seamstress – this is what I call “functional sewing” – it just needs to get the job done.
When you’re done with each side, cut a square in each of the four corners so that you can push the PVC pipes through. When you’re done, you should have a screen that is approximately 16:9 ratio – it should look roughly like this.
Next I did a bit of man sweeping in the garage to keep my screen from getting too dirty, then laid it out and started getting my measurements. Be sure to take multiple measurements in case your sides aren’t perfectly straight.
For my screen, the measurements were 102” wide by 58” high. I’m using 1 ½” PVC for this bhild. Take your width measurement and start by subtracting 2” to accommodate for the 1” depth of the elbows. For the top and bottom rails, I’m going to break it into two sections so that the kit is more portable. You’ll lose about a ¼” because of the coupling, so you’ll need to subtract that as well. Lastly, divide the result by 2. You’ll need four pieces (two for the top and two for the bottom). The sides are much simpler – just subtract 2” from the height and you’re all set. You should end up with four identically sized pieces (for the top and bottom rails), and 2 slightly longer identical sized pieces for the sides.
You’ve got several options for cutting the PVC. The first is to use a PVC Pipe Cutter. These are pretty inexpensive (links are in the description) and super easy to use. They’re also the cleanest option. If you have a hacksaw, you can use that too, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of mess, plus you’ll have to sand every cut because it leaves them pretty rough. If you have access to a mitre saw, that’s definitely the easiest and quickest way to go. That’s what I chose to use for this project.
Once you’ve got your six pieces cut, lay them out for a quick test fit to make sure everything lines up and then try to fit them into the screen and see how it goes. If it’s too big, that’s ok. We want to cut the pipes down until they barely fit. That’s what keeps the tension on the screen and stretches it tight to get rid of the wrinkles and creases. Keep adjusting until you get it to fit nice and tight.
Once that’s squared away (see what I did there?) you can make the cuts for the legs and feet. The stand is just two feet and a leg for each side. I made my feet about 18” each and then the legs were 2 feet but feel free to adjust as needed. Put these together with one tee and two end caps each, then attach them to the screen to stand it up. Tadah! The screen is almost done!
Now if you want to add some tie downs for windy conditions, one way to do that is to drill a hole into each side of the vertical poles about half way up. Drill through the outside of the PVC and then slightly into the other side, but not through. You can then drive a 3” screw into each side. These act as the connector for the tie downs. Drive some stakes into the ground (or you can just use some heavy objects, like your kids) and then use paracord to tie the screen to the stakes (or the kids). Be sure to have a helper if you’re setting the screen up in very windy conditions, like you see here. You can then use a lighter to melt the ends of the paracord to prevent fraying.
With that, you’re all done. Exxxxcept for that you’re not. I thought I was finished but then I noticed the horizontal folds. I came up with a solution for this that works pretty well. I created a stretcher bar to fit between the top and bottom poles. I had to make a small cut in the sleeves and then I put a 3” screw in the top and bottom of a pole and spaced them just far enough apart that they stretched the two apart. With the stretcher bar in place, the wrinkles were mostly gone, and the one that was left didn’t show up when the screen was in use.
NOW, it’s done – and back yard movie night is on. Oh – and check out that tiny projector in the corner!
We all love our flat screen TV’s, don’t we? Such a nice, low profile up on the wall! What we don’t love, however, are those ugly wires that hang down and create an eye sore. Hiding those ugly wires is easy, so fear not.
This post is sponsored by DataComm Electronics. They provided me with a professional installation kit, all other equipment is my own.
DISCLAIMER: This installation process is for drywall only. If you have brick, concrete, or otherwise solid walls, this process will not work. I suggest using a piece of cable channeling instead to hide those wires.
The first thing you need to do is remove your TV from the wall, as well as any wires or plugs. Make sure you have a clean space to work with. Figure out where your studs are using a stud finder. Typically, studs are 16” apart, and you’ll want to work within the empty space (called a bay) between studs.
After you’ve marked where your studs are, mark with the template included in the kit where you want your top and bottom receptacles to go. The receptacles need to be in the open bay between studs, because the wings/tabs on them attach to the drywall, and the stud will get in the way of them. Also, the top and bottom receptacle should be in the same bay as one another. Use a level to make sure the template is straight.
In the middle of the piece you have marked to cut out, attach a screw and use it as a handle, so when you’ve cut all the way around the piece, it doesn’t fall into the wall. Use a jab saw to cut out the square. You can also use a utility knife; score around the square until you get all the way through. Make sure to hold onto the handle as you cut the last side of drywall!
Optional: Some people are concerned about critters getting in the walls and chewing through the wires, or you may want to just make it easier to pass new wires between the top and bottom receptacles later on. I used a 6 ft bilge and pump discharge hose for this. It’s sealed all the way around, and has sections to cut it to size with regular scissors. You can run the low voltage wires through the hose. Connect the hose to the top receptacle using white electrical tape if you’d like.
Make sure the tabs/wings are in first so the receptacle fits in the hold. Drop the electrical wire down as well as the AV tube.I would recommend feeding your A/V wires through the tube at this point. Put the bottom portion of the receptacle in first. It may be a little tight, but will swing in. Once it’s in, use a screwdriver to tighten the wings and attach to the drywall. Pull everything through the bottom hole.
Bottom receptacle: Coil the wires, and push them through the box to keep them contained; then push them with push in connectors, matching each wire with its counterpart (white/white, black/black, green/ground). Push the wires into the box, and use screws to fasten the box to the bottom receptacle. Attach pipe onto the bottom piece with tape.
To install into the wall, put the electrical side of the box into the wall first. Make sure the wings/tabs are in. Push the left side in first to make the right side fit nicely. Tighten with a screwdriver. Drop A/V cables down the tube (if you haven’t already), and plug power into outlet.
PRO TIP: The hose may get jammed when trying to fish the wires through. To help with this, just pop out the top receptacle. Even a flimsy wire will go through the tube.
When you’re done, you should end up with an outlet up top (behind the TV) and you A/V cables spanning between the top and bottom receptacles, ready to plug into the TV and you components!
It should be noted that you can perform this install in an insulated wall as well, just as easily. At a friend’s house, I used the single outlet installation kit from DataComm to do their install in an insulated wall.
The trick to pulling your wires through the insulated wall is to use a measuring tape and feed it from the bottom opening through to the top. Once it’s through, you can either tape your wires to the end of it and pull it back through or tape a hose/pipe to it and pull that through, which will make future wire pulling much easier.
When you’re done, you should have a sweet, clutter-free wall under your TV. W00t W00t!
I’ve done a similar install in another room in my house using simple open ended face plates and then manually installing an additional outlet. I have to say, using the kit was way easier and faster. The installation at my friend’s house took 30 minutes, including the time it took to shove one of those humungoid original XBOX A/V plugs through the receptacle (it barely fit).
Got any questions, comments or suggestions? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
Please note – you’ll find the links to the products from this article at the end of the text.
Putting up Christmas lights kinda sucks. It’s a pain that we have to deal with every year but I love Christmas and think it’s worth doing. After my wife and I spent about 8 hours putting up Christmas lights last year using hundreds of clips and moving the ladder around dozens of times and then not even being all that pleased with how it turned out, I decided there’s gotta be a better way.
I’m going to show you the method I use that, once you get it set up, allows you to put up Christmas Lights in about an hour each year – and the best part? Once it’s set up, areas that are less than 25’ high don’t even require a ladder.
Here’s what’s involved:
Now let’s take a look at how you get everything set up and some of the pointers that will save you a lot of time and frustration.
I started out by researching what others had done and I discovered the Crevier System on YouTube and wanted to try it out but I couldn’t help but think that I could be just a bit lazier and not use a ladder at all. I live in a one-story rambler and, using my new method, was able to put all of my lights up without using a ladder at all, once the initial setup was complete.
The first step is to go around and measure all of the sections where you want to put lights up. Keep in mind that you need to measure the areas of open line, where you don’t want lights but where the line needs to extend from one section to the next, like from a horizontal roof line to an eve.
With our dimensions listed out, it’s time to cut 1/2” PVC pipe to match each section. You can cut it with any type of saw, or you can use a $12 pair of PVC pipe cutters. You can buy 1/2” PVC pipe in 10’ sections for about $2, and don’t forget to pick up a few 1/2” couplings in case you have sections that are longer than 10’. As you cut each piece, I recommend labeling them with their length and their order to make it easy to line them up later.
Once the pipes are cut into sections, it’s time to strap the Christmas lights to them. For this project, I highly recommend getting separate lines and bulbs. By doing so you can replace the bulbs any time and you can even reconfigure the colors. It’s also to customize the lines – like if you need to split off to go up to an eve while the main line continues on, for example. You can also easily remove a light socket or two as needed. I shopped around and found a pretty decent deal on Amazon for 100ft sections of 12” spaced C9 stringers as well as Red and White C9 LED bulbs. That said, standard lights will work just fine with this method as well – including icicle lights or any other kind that lays out in a line.
To attach the lights, start at the end with the plug and work your way down the line, making sure to keep your pipe sections in order, and remembering to leave spaces of line where you need to. I tried using 4” zip ties at first but found that 6” ties work way better. I also really appreciated being able to use a zip tie gun as it saved my fingers from having to tighten and clip the hundreds of zip ties involved in this kind of project. It was well worth $15. At the end of the line, just cut the cord and apply a waterproof wire nut to seal it off.
If you do end up with section where you just want the power line and don’t want the sockets, you actually remove the sockets pretty easily with these types of stringers. Just squeeze the back of the socket off and they should pop off, leaving the power line in tact.
With our sections of pipe cut and all lit up, it’s time make clips. As it turns out, 3/4” PVC makes an excellent clip for 1/2” PVC to snap into. To make the clips, we first need to remove a section of the pipe. I played around with cutting out different amounts and found that removing about 1/3 was perfect. I used my sliding mitre saw to cut two parallel lines in the pipe but you can also do this with a hand saw, hack saw, table saw, skil saw, dremel or a router – whatever you have handy. If you know someone who has a sliding mitre saw, however, it does make this job pretty easy. Once you’ve removed the section from the 3/4” pipe, you’re ready to cut it into 1” sections to turn it into clips using either a mitre saw or the PVC pipe cutters.
The last thing we need to do before our clips are done is to predrill them a countersink screw, so that the screws don’t jut out into the clip. I recommend drilling the holes close to the open side, rather than in the middle. That way, when you attach them to the house, the opening can point downward, which makes it easier to clip the pipe sections in from the ground.
Now it’s time to prep our eves. Get the ladder out and predrill and insert some 3-4” hooks at the peaks of the eves and on corners to hold the various sections in place. Think about how the sections will hang and place them on corners and areas that make the most sense. While you’re up there, attach the clips every 3 feet or so. Remember to point the opening downward and try to keep them nice and straight. Also, be sure to give yourself enough room around obstacles, like gutter drains and light fixtures.
The last step in our preparation is getting a pole ready with three types of endings. I used a 3/4” PVC section duct taped together for grabbing and pushing the pipes into their clips. I used another 3/4” PVC section shaped with a small opening to grab the zip ties between lines and hook them into the mounted hooks. Lastly, I fashioned a small hook out of some angle brackets to use to take the PVC sections down. For the pole, I just used a 10’ metal electrical conduit and used a second one with a coupling for the really tall areas.
With the sections wired up and the clips and hooks in place, it’s time for the fun part – putting the lights up. I find it’s easiest to have someone helping out by holding the bulk of the sections of pipe while you hook one joint at a time onto the corresponding hook on the house. You can even reach some pretty tall areas with the two poles together. I mostly focus on getting them all in place first, them I go back and use the first attachment to push the pipes into the clips. From there, I push the lights that need it into position, and we’re done!
I recommend storing these in the garage or attic on some hangers. Keeping your sections no longer than about 15ft is ideal for storage.
That’s it! These lights take a little while to set up the first time but after that, putting up the Christmas lights each year will be way easier than it used to be.
If you have a way to make this process even better or easier, leave a comment! I don’t claim to have all the answers and would love to hear what you think.
You’ve probably tried caulking before and know that it can be pretty tough to get good results. Caulking is messy, it sticks to your fingers and your clothes and it’s easy to make things look pretty bad. After years of having to caulk everything from tubs to sinks to trim, I’ve finally come across a handful of tips that make all the difference. Let’s dig in.
The first thing we need to take a look at is choosing the right caulk or sealant for the job that you’re doing. When you’re at the hardware store, you’ll see dozens and dozens of different types of caulks and sealants. It really comes down to two main categories. The first is latex-based sealants like Big Stretch. Now like it shows here, you can use this to caulk and seal your windows, your doors, or your siding, internal or external; but I love to use it on trim.
When you’re working around areas that have excessive moisture, you’re going to want to use a silicone or silicone alternative like Lexel. This will keep the mildew and moisture away.
The next tip to get professional results is to get a dripless gun. Here’s why. When you’re using standard gun and you release the handle, the pressure stays on, it continues to squeeze the caulking out of the tube. This doesn’t put you in control, whereas with a dripless gun, when you release the trigger, it backs off just a little bit making it so that material only comes out when you want it to.
Our next tip is making the right cut for the gap. The size of the cut that you make in the opening of the tube should depend on the width of the gap that you’re trying to seal. I recommend using a utility knife or a sharp blade to get a nice, sharp and smooth tip. If the opening is too small, cut it again. Just about every caulking gun I’ve seen comes with a tip cutter or spout cutter in the handle. You just squeeze the trigger and you can use it to cut off the tip of the caulking tube.
This is convenient, but you’re not going to get as clean or sharp of an edge as you would using a utility knife. One method for cutting the tip that I prefer is to cut the tip at an angle. The reason I like this method because every time you’re doing some caulking, you’re holding the gun at an angle.
This prevents it from stuttering and helps you get a nice smooth bead. Take a sharpie and mark the top of the angle. You can always see which direction you’re traveling in.
The final tip is to always use your finger to do the smoothing of the bead when you’re caulking. There are lots of different tools available. The problem is they get nicks and cracks in them, and that transfers directly to the work that you’re doing.
I’ve got a sample that I’ve set up and I run the tool along it, and there’s too much stuff left over, it’s pulling the caulking off, and leaves a jagged edge. If I dip my finger in warm water, and smooth it over the bead, it’s going to leave a nice, smooth result.
You can really see the difference between using a tool, and using your finger that’s been dipped in water. The goal is to smooth out what’s there- not to remove any excess.
Knowing how much material to use can be difficult. If you use too little, there won’t be enough to fill the gap, and it might pull to one side or the other as things settle. If you use too much, you’re going to ruin the contour of the trim or the two pieces that you’re joining together. Ideally, you want to end up somewhere in the middle, like you see in this diagram.
A bonus tip, when you’re using silicone based caulks or sealants, you can use painters tape to get a nice clean line. On this sink application, I’m applying painter’s tape about a quarter inch on the sink and on the counter itself.
For this particular application, I’m using a pretty thick bead of white Lexel. When using silicone or rubberized caulking, be sure to wet your finger in SOAPY water and run it across while the tape is still on. Silicones and silicone alternatives like Lexel are more tacky than latex-based caulks so the soap in the water helps to get a smooth finish when you drag your finger across it. As soon as I’m done with that, I can remove the tape and run my finger across one more time to smooth it all out.
Now that we’ve run through all the steps, let’s put them all together. Start by making the cut on the tip of the tube, then use the needle that’s on the side of the gun to perforate the seal inside. Load the tube into the dripless gun, then turn the notch rod right side up. Give it a few squeezes, until you see some of the material coming out of the tip. I’d recommend trying to not caulk too large of a section at a time – probably about 3 or 4 feet. If we try to do too large of a section at a time, the material can get tacky, making it hard to smooth out. Dip your finger in warm water, and smooth it right out.
That’s it! Hopefully you find these tips helpful and feel a bit less suicidal next time you have to do some caulking. It’s really not too bad and can be super gratifying when you see it come out nicely. I highly encourage you to check out my video on YouTube that shows the entire process. Do you have any tips for caulking? Leave a comment and share so we can all learn a thing or two.
Ready to start framing? Check out these three videos to see the entire process. As time permits, I’ll expand this article with plans and downloadables for reference.