Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Two Cents

I thought I'd give a little advice for any weekend warriors out there, or anyone who doesn't frequent the home improvement stores as much as I do, but still builds things once in a while. Sometimes these big stores can be a little intimidating, especially to people like me who have social anxiety and shopping anywhere is a big ordeal. I do end up in Lowe's or Home Depot a lot though, do to the nature of what I do. I have a Lowe's, Home Depot, and OSH all within five minutes of my home. 

First off just let me start by saying, don't ask the employees for help finding something unless you're looking for a well known item and you don't want to search the whole store. Mostly, in my case though, they have no idea what the item is that I'm asking about. I then have to order it from Amazon, Rockler, or Woodcraft (I wish I had a Rockler or Woodcraft nearby).  But whatever you do, don't ask the employees for advice. Usually they won't have any knowledge in the first place and on a lot of occasions when they don't know what they are talking about they'll advise you anyway. This results in you buying something that you later find out won't work for your project. I've never actually bought the wrong thing from their advice because I knew it was wrong but I've heard more than once from somebody where they did end up at home to find they'd have to return the product. If they approach you, proceed as Ron Swanson would.

That being said, here's the good stuff. If you are buying dimensional lumber such as 2x4's or 1x6's go to Lowe's. They generally have a better selection and better price. At my Lowe's they also line up their big lumber carts in the lumber section so it's really easy to grab one without having to push the awkward things from outside and all through the store. I recently just got some nice and straight pine there with some pretty nice figuring on it, which is weird for pine in the first place.

If you need plywood or paint then Home Depot is your choice. For some reason they have a better selection of plywood .They also carry Purebond formaldehyde free plywood. At my Home Depot you have to hunt down a cart before you enter so keep that in mind. As far as paint goes I've used both Valspar from Lowe's and Behr from Home Depot. For walls I always get paint with primer added, it's a must in my opinion as it covers better, saving time and money. Behr paint however, is my paint of choice. It covers well and matches a lot of builder grade colors that may already be in your home. Valspar covers okay but the sheen of the paint is a bit off. Semi gloss is a bit too flat and it continues through the sheens so you have to buy the next sheen up to get your desired results if that makes sense.

For either store when you are buying lumber head to the checkout in the lumber section. It's wide open so you never have to worry about your lumber hitting anyone and makes it easy to maneuver the cart, especially with large loads. You can also move your car to the loading area and go out the big doors making your experience even easier. Although, I've never move to the loading section because I can usually find a parking spot right outside the lumber area doors. If you need your plywood cut down, it's a lot easier to have them do it in the store. They usually say they charge after 2 cuts. I've never had to pay for extra cuts but I haven't gone over 4 cuts either. The cuts are usually pretty accurate but cutting it a little oversized is always a good idea. Once the plywood is cut I can usually fit it in my Honda Element and don't have to worry about someone helping me tie it to the roof rack. And just for good measure I'll say cut one more time.

For the rest of the items at these stores, It all seems pretty comparable to me. I've saved money on different things at each store over the other so you just have to do your research on most everything else. I don't go to OSH much just because it's a bit small and the chances of getting what I want are better at a bigger store. That being said though I do check out OSH if I can't find what I want at the other two and I was able to get what I need a few times. My OSH is also right next to Harbor Freight and In N Out, two places I love, so I'll stop in if I'm there in the first place. I hope someone finds this useful and let me know if you have any info you would think I should hear.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


My husband brought home three paintings from his mission trip to Thailand. He brought them back in tubes so he asked me to frame them. One of the paintings was meant for his grandma and I chose to work on that one first as I haven't made anything for her yet that I can remember. I started by making a frame that the canvas could be stapled to. I just ripped a 2x2 in half then ripped each half again so I had four long pieces. After I had stapled the painting to this frame I realized it was off to the side just a tiny bit (which you can see in the picture) but figured the frame would cover it so it didn't matter. My husband saw it at this point and said that's all he wanted but I already had my mind set on making a frame because: a) I wanted to try my hand at making it and the process seemed interesting, b) I didn't think his grandma would like to hang the painting without a frame, and c) the size of the painting wasn't standard so if she did want to frame it she'd have to have it custom framed which can be expensive.

This went fairly well so I went about making the outside frame. I found one I wanted to try made by Steve Ramsey that used a router which you can see here: Steve Ramsey's picture frame video. I changed the process a little because I didn't have my router table built yet and so for some steps it was just easier to use the table saw. It came out okay but I had quite a bit of trouble with this frame. It would have gone much smoother if this were a smaller frame, but I used 2x4's as my rough stock and cut them to the final dimensions I needed for the picture. My struggle started when I couldn't get the bow out of one of the boards. I noticed it when I was cutting it but didn't even think about how that was going to make it so the frame wouldn't lie flat because I was cutting it up into the four sides of the frame anyway. I only realized I used that piece for one of the long sides after I glued it up. I tried to wet the offending board and clamp it flat over night but I didn't have high hopes for this because the piece down the middle is glued into the frame and so the bow was pretty much glued into place. I'll still give it to my husbands grandma but I don't know how nice it's going to look hanging on the wall. I also found that the white part showing on the painting was still showing a little inside the frame so I took all the staples out and re-stapled it. All in all I learned a lot from the process and also tried out a new to me wood putty by Minwax that matches the stain you are using and I really like the result of it, so the whole thing was a good learning experience.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday 4

This throwback is another high school wood shop project. If you've ever taken wood shop in high school and then graduated and had to go back to the small pile of tools that you actually own, you'll probably feel the tug of sadness that comes from thinking back to all the awesome machines and tools you used to have access to. That's how I feel when I write these throwback Thursday posts. I've got a lot more tools than I started with, but that shop, it was amazing. This was a project my grandma asked for. It's a vegetable bin or holder. Her kitchen was decorated in apples so I found some apple knobs for it. I learned a lot making this piece especially the top door because it had complex angles on it the result of which I wasn't too happy with. I also learned that I was barely strong enough to work a biscuit joiner, but I got it done. You can see on the bottom the finish that's been removed from my grandma mopping the floors. I also believe my grandpa put in the two lower drawer hinges and added the wire mesh fronts for me. It now lives at my mom's house who took over the apple theme so it seems to fit in nicely. And for all you OCD people out there avert your eyes now and don't look at that last little knob trying to stand out amongst all the other knobs.