Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hand made outdoor ornaments tutorial

Check it ... I came up with an idea to make outdoor ornaments and they came out fairly cute.

Ok ok I know the decorating isn't put up very well but I just wanted to get it up to see how it looks ... so just look at it slightly out of focus and it looks great!

They were constructed from Great Stuff foam insulation and balloons.

First blow up a balloon to about 3/4 it's max ... just pinch the end, don't seal it.

Then insert the spray foam nozzle into the opening (make sure your can of foam is already shaken up) ... you will lose a little air while doing this but that's ok, that's why you blew it up fairly large in the first place.
Fill the balloon with foam to your desired size.  I would advise to never fill the ballon more than half it's max size.  Spray foam expands and even though you will be sealing off the air and basically cutting off it's ability to expand, it's best not to temp fate and push it to the max. 

After you fill with foam, let the air out down to where the balloon directly surrounds/touches the foam.  Tie off the balloon in a knot and hang it or set it where it won't roll... it will take 24 hours to firm up. 
Over those 24 hours almost all of the foam in the balloon is going to harden... but there is going to be one spot that will still be soft.  You then take a pin or a toothpick and poke a hole in the soft spot.  I'm no Great Stuff scientist but I imagine that maybe this is where an air bubble forms and the foam is not able to firm up ... so poking a hole or two in the spot allows the air to release.  You will have to wait another 24 hours to let all of the air release on it's own ... some foam will escape through the hole, that's ok, most of the pressure is gone by now and this is a small amount.

After about 24 hours the foam should be completely hardened, with no more seepage.  Then come the hardest part ... it takes some patience and persistence but it can be done ... peeling the balloon off.

Pull on tie-off spot to release it from the foam... then cut it to let some air in.  After that it's just a matter of working your way around.  One thing that I noticed was that came off easier if I stretched the balloon rather than peeled it.  Note that not every balloon will come off easily and you can either use some Goof Off, or if it gives you a hard enough time, just toss it.

I tossed the one above... I don't know what happened with it, but it wasn't worth me trying to peel.

This one came out nicely.

I used an upholstery needle to thread 24 gauge floral wire through where I wanted it to hang from.

Then it's just a matter of clipping the wire and painting the foam to look like ornaments.  I used Plaid Outdoor paint and coated all ornaments with spray poly.
These that I have made are very roughly/poorly painted because I wasn't even sure if it was going to turn out well... so I just did them up half-heartedly ... but there is a lot of potential to tweek and craft these many different ways.

In the end, I'm very happy with how they turned out!

Now a couple of tips on what NOT to do:

Above is what the foam looks like if you don't let the air out of the balloon ... not good for ornaments... but they will make nice brains at halloween.

Do Not poke the balloon before the foam hardens.  The picture above shows 2 balloons that busted open on me.  The pink one on the right splattered as far as 10 feet away, the orange one second from the left was slightly kinder and left a splatter trail only about 3 feet wide.   I know, 'duhhhh!'

Anyone who has worked with Great Foam knows that it's not all that fun to scrape off of things.

BTW ... I originally came up with this idea at Halloween time and was going to use the balloon foam to make spiders and fat bats (you can see a spider in the making in the background of a picture to the 
mom-cave post .)  An added bonus though, you can keep the foam bits that seep out the air holes and turn them into creepy-crawlies for Halloween!

But at the moment ... it's Christmastime and these ornaments are holding my attention ;)

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Dog bed

I had this 8ft long kitchen cabinet spacer that I had purchased from ReStore but it didn't work out for the project that I had in mind... so I had this big spacer sitting around in my basement taking up ... space.
So I took it apart and decided to build a dog bed out of it.  I had told Reach Out Rescue that I would build and donate a bed for their fundraiser to help with some of the vet bills.... so this bed is being donated to them.

Hopefully it will sell well and raise some good money ; )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Built-in Bookcases part 4 ... new desk top & needed input

Who's a pretty little desk top ... who ... who's a pretty desk top?  

You're a pretty little desk top, yes you are, yes you are!!!!

I luurve the way this turned out.  My daughter isn't as taken with it as I am, but sometimes you just have to let the creative side flow.  Granted, staining a desktop can't be labeled as 'creative' but all this time I've been trying to follow her wishes and keep everything painted white ... I'm glad I followed my instincts on this one. 
First I used Minwax Pastels wood stain Winter White, I bought it about 3 years ago from ReStore for $1.  I have used it a few times on other projects but the result didn't fit the projects, this time it finally fit and it looks great.

I put 3 coats of the Minwax on, trying to get a more rich color ... and it did 'darken' a little more each time but then I ran out of the stain.  I looked around online and found out that Minwax doesn't make the Pastels anymore.  I switched to the Sherwin Williams Pickled White and added one coat of that on top.  
I can't tell if the last coat darkened the wood or not and I'm not sure if that is due to the fact that I went from using water based stain then put a coat of oil stain on top ... maybe the 2 can't be mixed on the same project ... ?
Even if the oil stain didn't penetrate much, I'm still glad that I used it ... the desktop is right in front of the window where the sun will be shining down on it ... so I'm hoping that the oil will help protect the color a little bit more than just the plain water base.
Next step is the poly on top and while that dries I will be working on two sets of drawers to finish off the project.
Hmmm ... I just realized... I wonder if I should be looking to topcoat it with a product that also fights UVs ... darn it, I probably should have used an exterior stain.    Why do I always think of these things AFTER I work on a project?!
Oh well ... what's the sun going to do ... bleach it?  
Maybe I should wait a day or two to put the poly on, to think this through and see if there is a better protector out there ... or even maybe if I should throw some exterior stain on top of this, to help protect it (I wonder if SW makes the Pickled White in exterior.)
See, this is why I blog and need help ... my little brain goes in too many directions and I just don't have enough experience ... anyone have any input?
Haha... I started this post out with 'WooHoo what a pretty desk top!' and now I'm finishing it with 'Wait, what?'

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Built-In Bookcases pt. 3 ... Oh, what to do?

For a couple of days I found myself struggling with deciding on a work-around for the desk and it pretty much had me stopped in my tracks.
My original plan for the desk ( Dry fitted bookcases and desk ) just wasn't going to fly.  It wasn't deep enough and I didn't like that the center needed to be supported by brackets ... no matter how much I pretty up the brackets they still look like brackets.

I ran to ReStore and purchased this 1.5" thick solid wooden door:

 The door is dingy, but nothing that a little sanding wouldn't fix
But if I decided to use the door for the desk I had to figure out 2 problems:
#1) It's 4" too short.  I knew that when I purchased it ... but I knew that I would come up with a work-around.

#2) 6 routed panel/recesses in the door ... how do I work around that so it has a smooth top for writing?  Do I cover the door with a thin piece of plywood?  Do I buy some bar-top epoxy and fill in the routed panel recesses?  Since I was planning on painting it anyway, doo I do as Dad suggested and go with Bondo or wood filler?

I got caught up with the price of the door and really wanted to make it work.  The original piece of wood that I was going to use for the desk was only 16" deep, 3/4" thick and cost $17... the door is 24" deep, 1.5" thick, didn't need center support and was cheaper. 

The thing is though, if I did decide to use the door and cover it with a thin sheet of plywood, or fill in the recesses with Bondo, woodfiller or even the bar top epoxy... I'm still looking at spending at least $10 more, possibly up to $40 more for the epoxy.

So why put in the extra work with trying to figure out a work around when for the same price, I could just go and pick up a decent sheet of plywood... rip it in half, glue it & screw it and I get the nice thick single piece of desk top that I was looking for?

Sheesh, sometimes I just make things way more complicated than they need to be!

I did get the plywood ... it's ripped, glued, screwed, stained and in the process of drying.  I'll post a picture of it soon ... I'm pretty stoked about how nicely it turned out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Table Saw roller stand replacement

Yesterday I cut the piece of wood that I will be using as the desktop for the built-in Bookcases and set up a knock off roller stand to help me out.
This idea came to me out of necessity one day when I was trying to trim down a pair of french doors that I got an AMAZING deal on from the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  The doors were raw and still needed to be trimmed down to size so I got the scarey circular saw out and started to go to work ... but the saw was not powerful enough to cut through 2" thick hardwood.  I've never experienced that before (I wonder if they make a pill for that, hehehehe!) I got about 4 inches in and the saw would mire down. 
My only choice then was to put the door through the table saw.  The size of the door made it necessary to have someone help me and support the other end but it's almost impossible to have two people push a large piece of wood through a table saw in unison without kinking the cut.  So I grabbed a plant platform with casters that was sitting close by and put it under the door, and the platform worked like a charm. 

I used that same set-up yesterday and it workout out great again ... you can even see the french doors leaning up against the wall in the background of the picture (poor lonely doors, waiting so patiently for me to get back to working on them.)

 yeahhhh... I had the platform sitting outside all summer and I didn't bother to wipe it down before using it or taking the picture ... just pretend it's all clean.

Maybe some day I will purchase a table saw roller stand ... for the convenience ... but at the moment, I'm happy with this substitute ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Built-in Bookcases part 2

I spent the whole weekend working on the bookcases & desk that will span between them ... the weekend went by so quickly, why does the time fly when I'm playing with power tools?

I built two cabinets that will support the desk and went ahead and primed everything (along with some parts of another project.) The desk cabinets are constructed out of leftover pieces of mdf on all sides except for the one side that will show.

Here is where I finally got to dry fit all the sections together to find out what needed fixin:

Right away I found the first thing that needed to be fixed.  Because this house is just like every single other house out there the corners, ceiling and walls are not perfectly level, so I had rip 1/4" off of the 2x4's that I'm using as feet to lower the entire project so that it won't get caught up in the low spots of the ceiling.  That meant then that the bottoms of the bookcases and cabinets now were not going to clear the base molding:

I spent a couple of hours pondering my options for a work around.  I could trim the top sections so that only they will lower, but I didn't want to take those large pieces and try to keep them level while ripping.  I could take the base molding completely off, but I tell you wuuut ... under that new, pretty, final coat of light yellow paint, is a coat of bright yellow paint that didn't make the cut, and under that is a different light yellow paint that ended up taking on a slight green tint so that didn't make the cut either, and then under that is 2 coats of primer to cover up the summer sky blue walls.  Sooo ... those walls there have 6 coats of paint on them and I wasn't too keen on ripping out the base molding which would at the very least mean recaulking, and touching up the paint. 
Instead, I decided to use the circular saw and ripped a notch in the baseboard.  It was a very nerve wracking job for me because the circular saw is my least favorite power tool ... it scares me.  Hey, I am a female and while I won't let myself be intimidated by the saw, I don't have a bunch of upper body strength and this job required me to hold the saw sideways against the baseboard.  Whew, the weight of the saw plus the control that was needed to keep it level, that was bit of work ... but I did it!  The depth was set pretty much just right and didn't rip the drywall apart ... double yay!

Once that was done, I put the sections together and check it out ... I put the levels on and I didn't need to do any tweeking!

Here's the left side dry fitted in:

 And there be the whole project dry-fitted, including the desktop which is a little hard to make out in the picture.
Now I need to secure everything to each other and the walls.  Then on to the doors for the cupboards below the desk, and then the trim, and then the curtains .... and on and on and on  :)