Archive for Tutorials

Microwave Cabinet – Extreme Makeover!

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tutorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

This ingenious upcycle post is compliments of Tom’s newly wed brother, Jon, and wife Carrie. They did an amazing job transforming this cabinet inside and out using pallets and a creating a butcher block top. I am privileged to share their creation…

before after

“Carrie and I had been looking for a project to do together and we had access to some tools that some friends let us use. We knew that we didn’t want to spend much money on the project and Carrie wanted to try to refurbish a piece of furniture. We looked in the classifieds for a cheap piece of furniture that we thought that we could improve.

I found a microwave stand that someone was selling for just 10 dollars.

First order of business was to disassemble it and see what we were working with under all the paint. Carrie thought of a design that would look good with a butcher block top and rustic look. We needed some material so we spent $7 at the ReStore on some old 2×2’s sitting in a bucket, a drawer, 2×4 that I would cut down for the face, and a nice piece of wood for the face of the drawer. We found some old pallets to use for the inside (free).

After a lot of sanding and some paint stripper we reached a solid wood body that was in great shape to reuse.

Carrie planed the 2×2’s down to size to get a hard edge for the butcher block. Then one by one we glued-and-screwed them together. For the end pieces we counter sunk the screws and capped them with dowels. After assembling the top we clamped it together and let it sit for a few days.We sanded the top from 100 to 320 grit, then we treated it with butcher block oil from Lowe’s ($12).  We applied four coats, scuff sanding with 400 grit between each coat. I’ve heard mineral oil can also work for this.

Once the face frame was cut and assembled, I disassembled the pallets and cut the slats to length.  The slats were installed on the floor of the cabinet and across the back to give it the rustic look.  We added a shelf as well.  Carrie wanted some legs for the cabinet and thought that we could use the left over pallet pieces. So we glued, clamped, and cut them to size.

We eventually found the hardware at Lowe’s ($10), despite looking at the ReStore.

After assembling the cabinet and putting the drawer in it was time for the finish. Using white spray paint, we coated the wood, though it was a hassle and took many coats. We would suggest using a spray gun or a very nice brush as this would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Once dry, we sanded the edges of the cabinet down to bare wood and used some old wood stain to coat the entire piece. Without allowing the stain to dry we wiped it off with an old rag. This not only stained the wood but also stained the white paint and gave it more of a cream color.

When the finish was dry, we attached the door and hardware along with the butcher block top.I tried to reuse every part of the original piece possible, but since we used a different top and left one side open we had some left over material to use for the next project.”

– Jon – Salt Lake City, UT

 
Click on photos to view gallery

I hope you find their creativity as inspiring as I do!

UPDATE:

Jon and Carrie sold this item to a couple remodeling their kitchen, making $100 in profit. They are now on the lookout for their next project. Stay tuned…

money

Advertisements

Finished Nursery

Posted in Creative Reuse, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

The nursery is finished!

Well actually it was finished about 4 1/2 months ago, in time for Ansel’s arrival, but I am just now getting around to write about it. I am so pleased with how it turned out. There is a lot going on but that is how I tend to decorate. I get going and want every part of the room to be special. At least I know visual stimulation is NOT something Ansel will lack!

I also like that many elements in this room are appropriate for when he’s older as well. (Where the Wild Things Are, anyone?) This room also works for a child of either gender. Heck, I would put half of this stuff in my own bedroom.

Click picture to see the panorama full size.

Here I am, so glad to be finished with this room and so ready to have the baby. Four months later I have yet to look that well-rested!

Twisted Juniper Cat Tree – Part 1 – Base

Posted in All Things Trees, Tutorials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

So my wife has been wanting an indoor habitat for our two cats ever since we got Mr. Saki.  Every time she would bring it up or show me the hideous carpet explosions online, I’d cringe.  We put out heads together and thought, “what if the cat tree was made from a real…tree?”

And that was it. Every hike from there on out we were eyeing trees and debating on what would look the most artistic. Aspens were on the list, but they are hard to find in ample supply. Junipers, on the other hand, grow like weeds in the high desert.

This project took over a year to complete with large gaps in production. After all is said and done, the cats love it, and we love it.

It did not take too long to find a good specimen for the tree in Central Oregon. Junipers have begun to grow so much that some are concerned about the trees’ effects on the environment. I am personally allergic to the pollen, so there was a bit of joy in taking a limb off this tree.

There is a bit of back story about what happened on our way back to the pavement; forest service, flashing lights…we’ll tell you about it over a drink and good food…

When we got home, it was very clear we had over estimated the size of tree we needed. We trimmed off the useless twigs and branches and identified the main beams we would use for the tree.

Using a wire brush and chisel, we stripped the outer layer of flaking bark to expose a nice red layer of bark.  on the more dead portions,  there was build up of dead bark and dirt.

Working in custom home building affords one with beam cut-offs (or “drops”) of sizable proportions.  One such drop was selected for the base of our tree.  This was a 5-1/8″ x 18″ glulam beam that I cut into an 18″ x 18′ square.

After staining the base, I used a piece of steel plate (about 3/16″ thick) to run two 1/2″ x 8″ lag bolts and a long piece of all-thread through.  To counter sink the plate and soon to be inserted lags, I made a number of cuts with a Skil Saw and then knocked and chiseled  out the wood.  A router would work good for something like this, but I’m a framer.

Using the lags to hold the tree in position, I drilled through the base and into the tree with a 1/2″ x 16″ long drill bit.  I disassembled the tree from the base and drilled and additional 4 inches. This hole would receive the 5/8″ all-tread and tie the base to the tree.

We injected construction adhesive into the hole we drilled, re-positioned and tightened down the lags, then drove the 5/8″ x 24″ all-thread into the tree.  The drilled hole is only 15″ deep, so the all-thread needed some extra love with the hammer to take it the full 23″.

After driving the all-thread into the glue, hole, and tree, we let is sit for a few days to allow the glue to bond.  Then, we torqued down the nut and re-tightened the lag bolts.  Care must be had with the all-thread bolt.  Too much tightening and the all-thread could be pulled out of the tree.

In the following posts you’ll notice cross over between the stage of construction and what is being described. In reality, we set out to accomplish one thing, but would work on everything effected by that single item. Staining is one of those items.

Arian found a number of stains at the local Re-Store and mixed up a color she liked for the dead sections of wood. Using a dark stain and multiple coats of polyurethane, the color of the bark really stood out against the dark stained grain.  The three coats of polyurethane also served to protect the bark from further peeling and sap dripping on floors.

To be continued…

Boho bird mobile

Posted in Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

Next to the tree wall, I would have to say this bird mobile is my favorite part of the nursery. I first spotted this mobile in the DIY section of this blog and fell in love with it. I don’t have the patience to be much of a seamstress, however, and even though the pattern online looked fairly simple, it also looked very time consuming. I sent pictures of the mobile to my mother-in-law, who also made my fabulous crib bedding, in hopes that she would be inspired. Thankfully she took the bait and about a month before Ansel was born I got a package with these lovelies inside.

Putting the rest of the mobile together turned out to be more of a process than I had expected. Tom scored some laurel branches from a landscaper. We bought some wire to attach the birds to the branches with and used some jute twine that we had on hand to hang the branches.

I cut the wire cuts into short pieces and threaded them through the cloth to serve as “feet”. We attached the wire feet loosely to the branches so we could easily adjust the birds.

Next came the balancing act. Thankfully my husband took the lead in this because I sure wouldn’t have had the patience to make it happen on my own! Tom tied the branches together to find the center balance point. He then drilled holes through the branches.

We ended up using masking tape around the birds in addition to the wire as a more effective temporary hold. (Here I am nine months pregnant and SO ready to meet Ansel.)

Little Ansel loves watching his mobile almost as much as he loves staring up into real tree branches.

DIY Fabric Storage Boxes

Posted in Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

I made these cute fabric covered storage boxes to go in my baby’s nursery. He is due any day now!

As a first time mother, I am slightly overwhelmed by the amount of “things” babies seem to need. I am also not the most organized person. My goal is to make it easier on myself by having boxes to grab some things out of instead of having to dig around in a drawer. I think I will end up using one for diaper covers, one for inserts and the other one for… something else.

I used three matching boxes that I had on hand.   (These happen to be from Swanson Vitamins where I regularly order my supplements from.) I cut out the handles, cut off the top flaps, and cut three pieces of cardboard from a separate box to glue on the bottom (inside).

I then cut three long strips of the printed fabric to wrap around the outside. I cut the brown fabric for the inside and bottom into individual pieces to fit each side.

I used regular white glue diluted with a bit of water instead of Modge Podge. It is so much cheaper and works just as well. I don’t have a specific formula for glue and water, I just mix until the consistency is right for painting. For the printed fabric the ratio seemed to be about 60-70% glue. I used the glue straight for the brown fabric which was a lot thicker.

I did not paint a layer of glue on top of the fabric as I wanted to keep as much of the soft fabric look and feel as possible.

I cut the cardboard pieces to insert in the bottom so the bottom is even and uninterrupted by the flaps of the box. I used these pieces as the template for the brown fabric pieces for the bottom (outside).

I then glued the bottom cardboard pieces in place.

Cat trap! Pixie has an idea of what I could use the third box for…

 

I glued each of the pre-cut brown pieces.

 

A metal ruler really helps tuck the fabric in at the corners.

Overall this is a very simple project that anyone can do. The measuring and cutting can be a bit time consuming but, thankfully, you can make beautiful fabric boxes no sewing required!

This adorable fabric is from the Wee Woodland collection by Keiki for Moda. I bought mine from Etsy.

Old Door + Fallen Branches = Shelves!

Posted in All Things Trees, Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

To go with our forest theme, as well as to be consistent with our habit of upcycling materials for our nursery, we decided we needed shelves that made creative use of something old and also had something woodsy. We kicked around several options and I poured through pinterest photos looking for the perfect idea. I saw several shelves held up with rope that I really liked, rustic looking but a bit too beachy. Tom had the idea to use branches as braces.

Tom also thought it would be cool to make use of an old door for the shelves instead of buying regular shelving. We found this one at The ReBuilding Center here in Portland.  Old is in many ways synonymous with quality and craftsmanship in the world of construction. This door is solid wood through and through.

Tom cut the door in two pieces.

Safety Tip: Materials painted before 1978 are likely to have lead paint so be sure to read up on it and take the necessary safety precautions!

He then cut each piece of half lengthwise.

We painted the shelves with several coats of polyurethane to seal the paint and provide a wear resistant finish.

For the supports I found fallen pine branches on my walk home from the bus stop.

Tip: Use a portion of the branch to rub and knock off all the loose bark.  This will save the mess inside and reduce the flaking of the bark after the shelves are in use.

We mounted the backs of the shelves to the wall using long screws anchored into the studs.  The shelves are leveled and temporarily held in place using a piece of lath.

The most challenging part of this project was getting the branches cut. Living in a condo with no work shop makes projects like these challenging, but not impossible.  A piece of ply wood can be used to layout the shelving location and a keen eye and patience can be used to trim and cut the branches until they meet the wall and shelves in just the right way.

The branches with less “character” can be cut much quicker using the plywood as a guide to keep your cuts perpendicular and straight.

If you have access to a proper shop, a set of clamps, and a deep enough saw, these cuts can be made in a very clean manner. For the rest of us, we’ll use the “rustic” excuse.

After the cuts are made and the branches all meet the walls and shelves in an acceptable layout, we pre-drilled holes in everything and began screwing it all together.  We used multiple screws for redundancy where the branches were thick enough.  These pine branches were soft enough that the screws could be counter sunk and hidden in the bark.

This branch was the most challenging.  It meets the lower shelf half way up and then connects to the upper shelf in two locations.  We live on the second story and Tom was  up and down the stairs for 30 minutes trimming and adjusting.

After getting everything together, we applied another coat of polyurethane to everything.  Applying the final coat to the branches first allowed any residual bark to flake off onto the dry shelf surface instead of onto a fresh coat of wet polyurethane making for an easy clean up and smooth finish on the shelves.  The polyurethane did a great job and securing the bark to the branches.

Feature Wall – Trees on Burlap

Posted in All Things Trees, Creative Reuse, Tutorials, Upcycled Forest Nursery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by Lax Cat Creations

My favorite part of the nursery so far is the forest wall. In the apartment we rent our second bedroom has one wall with a very funky angle making it pretty much useless for putting anything against. I knew before we got pregnant that I wanted a wall with trees on it somewhere in the house. When we started planning the nursery this idea seemed like the perfect way to utilize this otherwise awkward space.

Of course, since we are renting we didn’t want to paint directly on the walls. Who wants to put their heart and soul into a mural just to paint over it later? We covered the walls with plastic, and then hung our “canvas” made of old burlap coffee bags.

Sewing the burlap bags together…

Lath screwed to the wall provided the frame for our canvas.

Tom folding and stapling the burlap to the lath. He had to do this before and after painting as the burlap stretched differently with the paint.

Finished canvas. We used white bar soap to draw our trees before painting. It is easy to erase with a spray bottle of water.

These guys love to hang out wherever we are working; Can you tell?

Great horned owl and a pair of birds. We took the easy route with these and just found silhouettes online and printed them off to make stencils.

For the leaves, we painted a large sheet of burlap with our green color and cut leaves out. I love that these leaves make our forest look brighter and happier. The silhouettes alone tended to look a bit morbid for a nursery.

Finished product! Now to teach the cats that this is NOT a new scratching post for them…

(This project was also featured in my friend’s blog that is a great resource for news and research on building material waste prevention and reuse. Check her blog out here http://reclamationadministration.com/ )