Archive for the ‘construction and finishing TIPS’ Category

my 3 tiered blonde tableWhen I was emptying my storage unit this past April/May

and saw this 3 tiered table among my packed up belongings ~I’d genuinely forgotten about it.  Heck, I’d forgotten about several things…

which made all the work feel like a treasure hunt!

Thinking about some winter and holiday decorating in mom’s house, I decided to pull it out of the storage on this end for another look.

It looked a bit rough from being in storage so long?

The top looks so discolored too much harsh Arizona sun?

And I didn’t remember it being so blonde ??

Uh, yeah.  It definitely needs a makeover!

a makeover for the 3 tiered table--In the interest of time -and the fact that I was working on the mechanical room- I had my stripper-guys tackle this for me, I negotiated $25.  It would have cost me about that in product plus my time, & this way I could keep to my other project~very worthwhile!

At left you see it stripped clean, and I spent about an hour sanding it back to a smooth finish before staining.

Below, now stained—using both Golden Pecan and Aged Oak gel stains.

my 3-tiered table now stained

oxidizing the table with Behr's Pecan SandieThe piece was looking nice but, sort of FLAT. So I decided to grab some paint to ‘oxidize” it.

Not age it with a dark wax, or white or liming wax,

but with a favorite Behr-Pecan Sandie.

Like using an aging wax~you apply and wipe it away.

With paint, I apply it kind of sloppy into the grooves and crevices with a disposable chip brush and use a wet-damp rag to [loosely] wipe it away, then a dry rag to tidy it up.  ~Only wanting a subtle look of age, I was sparing with the paint.

This small alteration to the room should make a helpful change for winter.


the living room BEFORE

The Living room BEFORE with the ottoman

and AFTER with the 3-tiered table.

the living room AFTER

a change in the LR--

picture below on left While sorting through some of the boxes in the mechanical room—mom found a few snap shots from her parent’s wedding day in 1925!

picture below on right A whole area dedicated to family photos–really old ones, funny ones that are hard to put away and current!  It’s a fun way to display pictures in a HUGE family and they get looked over SO MUCH!

pictures just found of my grandparents wedding day in 1925

Family photos!

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working on the mechanical room--Every muscle in me aches–and I’m sure I must look like a very old woman moving around -BUT-

the floor is finished,

there’s one wall still in need of a little repair, otherwise, all has been freshly painted, and–

during all the work we discovered a few compromised areas around the windows and sill plate/foundation walls and made those repairs too…yep,

it’s a domino effect, right?

We added the 3rd wall of adjustable shelving -you can see above- so we’ll make better ORDER of all the chaos!


the mechanical room makeover--I also discovered a cheap deal on 12×12 press and stick tiles– the white were 49¢ and the blue-gray 29¢ each.

*Wish they had more of the blue-gray for the checkerboard effect…sigh

But since they really DON’T stick

-and I STILL had glue left from laying the Mannington floors in other parts of the house-

I decided to glue the tiles down so they would truly stick.  It’s all that crawling around and up&down to make cuts that’s got me aching so badly.  Seriously, oh my aching muscles & knees!

the mechanical room makeover---
*Commercial grade glue~ this was the smallest quantity I could buy, $150 for that bucket you see below.  It has laid more flooring than I can tell and there’s still 1/3 left.
So, I’m telling you this because– if I’d hired this job out, they would’ve charged me (probably $150) for “materials used,” like this glue.   How many times/jobs do you suppose they would’ve  -REcharged-  that same glue bucket before it was finally used up??  A little food for thought, huh?

DIY rocks!

laying a floor in the mechanical room--
-These were close out tiles so I bought all they had left of the “prettiest” pick. Choosing white gave me great pause but, next to the other selections

I discovered a few benefits in these cheapies–

Because they were “low end” and kind of thin I could cut them with a scissors and the cutting board!

The combination of white walls, white shelving, and the white tiles has seriously brightened up this dark, dungeon-y room!

This project took 158 tiles and only cost $69 + tax!  But no longer living directly on concrete—priceless!

We still have a little work to finish up as well as the dreaded

sorting~cleaning out~putting away,

but it’s truly BETTER, a 180° project!


You can forget about that call to “Burried Alive” now!

the mechanical room makeover--

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a recently given "gift"Old friends of my mother were moving— “Would [ I ] like this old dresser?”

Yes -and- Thank You.

It’s very solid, simply styled, and sadly, not without issues needing attention–but nothing I can’t handle.

The drawer tracks and guides are the biggest issue, and one of the wooden wheels is broken~ c’est la vie.

a "plain Jane" gets a makeover!Sure, I could just  do some repair and a paint job,

but where would the fun be in   just that?


So I pried out the rails for the 2 larger drawers and ripped them down at the table saw, and then re-installed them at a shallower depth.

In the original style, the face frame and drawers were all flush—but I thought it would be fun to create Full Overlay Drawers and something more architectural !!!

I grabbed a 2×4 sheet of birch veneered plywood and the jig saw…

a facelift for a "plain Jane"

…and applied a new face to each of the drawer fronts!

a facelift for a "plain Jane"

But wait, there’s more. . . !


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Plans change.

What I always wanted was open storage so I could SEE ALL my pretty china!

So when I -just for kicks- propped the doors back in place I was pretty surprised at how much I liked them.  Oh. Poo. Now what…?

the plan and the change--?

…even you guys like it with doors. . .hmmm.  Sooo. . .

Another change of plans became stripping it.  Professionally.  I had a full plate of projects and this little addition was going to take a good bit of time.

*I negotiated a good price + Blizzards for an immediate strip-job.  ; D

My hope was that all the woods would strip down light enough and be REstained in one united light-medium, soft-medium color.  Fingers crossed.

getting my project professionally stripped--

getting out the tools for the next phaseSo the guys hustled to strip my project and I promptly jumped on sanding.

I pulled out 3 different sanders and coarse-med-fine paper to get the look I was wanting. Unfortunately, even after a bleach-job, the header and feet were still darker.

Plan B.  After focusing on all that sanding -just to the outside- I got out the Liming wax.  Which did give me more of a “natural~bleached wood finish” but the feet and header were still a miss-match.

This was all last Friday.

I finished the outside -which looked nice- but I wasn’t 100% sold.

And -I decided to wrap it up for the night—with good timing because two of my princess-nieces came to spend the night and go to Oktoberfest the next day!  Where I made the mistake of having a chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick.  SUPER GOOD but TOO RICH and left me feeling “off” on such a FAB-78° day!

keep-calm-and-go-to-flea-marketSunday was to be an even better day!  It was the very last Elkhorn Flea Market ~and the only one I would make it to for the whole season!

But somewhere between the cheesecake-on-a-stick and the alarm going off at 3:10 am. . .

I got the flu.

As much as I was trying to fake being WELL and go anyway–it just wasn’t gonna happen, and I’ve had a miserable week.  My biggest project was changing the bed sheets Wednesday to psych myself into feeling better—or write this post. . .

sickBe back soon,


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revamping the bottom of the cabinet--The bottom.

Since deciding to “work with” the cabinet, adjustments had to be made.  It was a deeper cabinet, had a face-frame, and a solid deck/base with only a decorative front molding.

~I pried off that decorative front molding to discover about a 2″ rail underneath, which was just enough to work with, so I cut off the sides to match.

~I beveled the bottom edge using a chamfer bit in the router, which made a clean and simple “eased” design to meet the new feet.

~I used some scrap 2×8’s to make 4 corner blocks. The over-sized, thick cuts more than filled the corners and let my salvaged ball and claw feet sit flush and well secured.  The blocks were glued and nailed in place.

my chamfered edge blocks for feet--

Above, you see the feet I decided to use. (Salvaged off a thrift store desk, THIS is the 1st project I used them in–8 total, I only have 2 left now.)

To get them placed right and accurately, I used an old template trick.

Using what was on hand, I grabbed some worn out sandpaper,

I took advantage of its holes and cut the size and shape of the foot,

then positioned my template on the blocks one at a time

marking where I needed to drill!  So easy–no guess work!

templates to get the feet placed accurately--

one of my STEP DRILL BITSNext, I used a step drill bit to create the pilot holes to screw in my feet.  Since this is SO much easier explained “in person-live,” I’ll do my best here. . .

I wanted the feet to screw in tight.  Using a standard drill bit just a little smaller than the threading of the feet would have been fine, but would become loose in time.

Using my step drill bit from the right size down, 5/16ths, created 3 sizes to screw into

my biggest and proper size where I began to screw the threading of the foot in, working progressively smaller -and tighter- as it met the smaller drilled area/hole.

I only drilled up to the 5/16ths measure (the 3rd smallest diameter) for my threaded feet.  I added a link above, and again HERE to a page that sells these bits so you could see the wide variety of step bits out there for just as many tasks!  I have and use about 5–

*The big box stores and hardware stores all sell these, but probably in the most commonly used styles and sizes.  I’ll try to share some other projects, ways, and reasons you’ll want to use these things down the road!

The EASED/chamfered edge and the new feet attached!Above, you can see how the small detail of

the doors and new hardware--beveling/chamfering the bottom edge of the cabinet EASED the contour of the design to the feet!

The devil’s in the details~right?

I started to play with hardware (since the doors are going back on)—I was excited to finally get to use this FABulous pair of handles I found flea marketing so looooong ago!  I know you can’t see them fully, but they’re incroyable!♥


~promise, next post will be more about the finishes!

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Once again, THIS is what I started with.

the thrift store 90cent cabinet


the sketch and idea of what I wanted--An incredible deal at 90¢ …I truly figured I would take it apart for its wood to build the cabinet in my sketch.

Then I realized my design could potentially be found  -in the core of- this cabinet.  Obviously, I’ll have to make adjustments -but it could be done!

~See, cut-cut-cut!

1st– I needed to lop off the ugly, boxy, valanced top to shorten it, which you can see in the upper picture.

2nd– I had to re-figure the 3 sectional depths.  My original design plan descended from 14″ to 11″ to 8″ –this cabinet 16½” deep, reduced to 12½” to 8½”.

I used painter’s tape to give a better visual while I was trying to re-plan the sections, and then make the cuts~and I traced the painter’s TAPE ROLL to make those soft curves!

cutting the 3-sectional depths

the new header--
This is the header I bought looong ago at  A Classy Flea on a trip to Atlanta.  It was wAy too long/wide for my project and had to be cut down–but isn’t it just perfect!?!

I used some of the scrap wood cut off’s to create the rail the header will sit on/attach to. (picture collage below)  The easiest thing was to use a section of the original front face-frame, or, stile.

*STILES are the vertical pieces and  RAILS are the horizontal pieces you see in the frame work of doors and cabinetry.

In the collage below, you can see my very sophisticated re-configuration process to keep the decorative ends of the header.  ; D

I’ll leave things here for this post with these “upper” alterations.

Hope you’re finding this interesting and will come back for the 2nd part of this transformation…..


Oh!  The doors have it!

working on the new header--

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This is for you Kathy Nielsen!

Thanks for asking–guess I should explain better when I talk about these things!  Sure hope this helps and I haven’t added more confusion….

I know pretty pictures of cool projects are more fun and interesting, but maybe THIS could be too!


explaining a "rabbet"rabbet

also re·bate


  1. A cut or groove along or near the edge of a piece of wood that allows another piece to fit into it to form a joint.

  2. A joint so made.

Okay, so that’s the technical definition, now let’s talk turkey.

 explaining a "rabbet"

explaining a rabbet cut


 THIS is the primary bit used in a router that makes the cut~

although it is my preference, it’s not the only bit or way to accomplish this cut….

a RABBETing bit
You can also make this cut at the table saw.
cutting a rabbet on the table saw

This type of joint/joinery is very stable and once you start to really look at the joints in/of your furniture, you’ll see it a lot!  And thanks to Kreg jigs, you’ll see a lot of pocket screw joinery now too, which makes another very strong joint.

why a rabbet joint--

But you’ve probably also heard me talk about dado‘s.

dado vs rabbet

These are BOTH commonly used ways to join two sides together  -AND they’re also something you see all the time and probably never realized!

For instance, and some quick examples

using a RABBET to sink the chicken wire--A DADO cut is that little channel that holds the screen and spline in your door and window frames, and sometimes shelves are “buried” into the sides/walls this way for more stability.  Pull a drawer out and see which parts of the box are built this way too–like the bottoms.
A RABBET cut -is what glass sets into to sit flush or deeper/counter sunk from the inside/back of a cabinet door  -it’s that part of a frame you set your pictures, mirrors, and chalk boards into  -and what I set/fixed the chicken wire into for my china cabinet project (pictured at right).  And once again–look at your drawer boxes!

You’ll probably be surprised at how many things you’ll find throughout your house built with these joints.

Once you see it, you’ll notice it even more and start to understand how a lot of things are made.  Just start looking!


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