My Favorite

Once we finished building "the fort" I was eager to add up the scraps and see if if I could scrape together enough for this bench. All but one board was originally on a dock in Lake Lewisville then it was passed up for use in our elevated fort! These are truely used and discarded pieces.
This first picture is of the completed bench per directions on the site. A site that I can't seem to navigate away from ... EVER! A HUGE thanks to Ana White for her amazing plans and site that she so generously shares.This is with nail holes filled but not sanded yet. After this I sanded down the wood filler and also evened out some of the edges where the warped wood didn't line up correctly.
Here I've primed the bench with some kilz primer left over from who knows what. After taking this picture I noticed the leg that wasn't primed all the way and remedied that ;-)
This was the most surprising step... the black spray paint (rustoleum) covered easily with ONE coat! After letting it dry the next couple steps I forgot to take pictures of:

I took an old candle and rubbed it over the bench taking care to make sure to go over the "character marks" and all edges and corners. My bench was hot from being in the sun so the candle wax melted on a bit. On other projects I've done that weren't in the sun I needed to brush off the excess wax that was just sitting on the surface . The top paint color will only easily come off of the places that you put wax.

I then painted the bench with some blue (oops paint) and let it dry completely (not in the sun).

Next step was to sand. I chose to do it by hand with a sheet of sand paper for more control. I think I went back over a couple parts with a little hand sander but most of it was by hand. The wax makes the second paint color come off REALLY easily, no real elbow grease required.

Finally I finished it off with some spray clear coat. (I am also going to go back over it with a coat or two of poly but I haven't gotten there yet).

It seems poetic that my favorite project to date is made from used discarded wood and left over finishing materials. There is just something about making a beautiful and useful item out of materials that would have ended up as trash. Makes me think of how God uses people who are broken and beat up by life and does amazing things with them! Redemption.

Lessons learned:

1) As long as a board is pretty straight and solid the rest just adds character
2) When things don't line up the sander is your best friend
3) I love the black surprise color under the blue.
4) Using just materials you have on hand is oddly satisfying

The chairs I keep walking away from.

This pile of wood seems harmless enough right?

Then I turned it in to this using these plans from thought it turned out really cute... too small for my older boys and my little guy isn't quite big enough for it. And there it sat in the shop.

So after reading a post on the about how you shouldn't judge an unfinished project I got a little more engaged and built the chair a mate and primed them. Then I was stumped again on what color to paint them.

Then I painted them an oops paint green. (just ignore that little white part on the top... a little last minute adjustment never hurt anyone).

I wanted to distress them, so I did... now I'm back to not being happy with them. The white underneath just seems to stark with the sage-ish green. They are growing on me as I walk around them constantly but I may need to tweak something yet. Oh cute little Adirondack chairs... I'll figure you out yet. (also pictured is the pint size picnic table, it gets a coat of paint after vacation)

Lessons learned:

1) Finish a project before judging it
2) If you are going to modify a plan mid project either document it or make the pair together
3) Square. Square. Square.
4) Don't paint in the sun... you'll get bubbles
5) 1x2 seat slats don't need two screws and if you try you just might split a board ... or three.
6) When painting turn the project upside down and paint the bottom side first minus where the feet touch the ground then turn it right side up to finish painting without having to let it dry in the mean time. Come back to the "feet".
7) Unfinished projects don't go away.
8) Wipe away excess wax from the "wax" step of distressing.

The Inagural Project

My first project. The Big Kid Picnic Table courtesy of these plans I found on I have to say that Ana White over on that site has been such an inspiration. I'd be lost without all of the plans, tidbits, and ideas I find there. My to-do list is a mile long from her site!

While I think the table turned out great, I learned several valuable lessons on this table ...
Lesson one - simple... cut one leg then use the same leg to pattern the rest of them, same holds true for any multiple.
Lesson two - 2x4's really come in 8ft lengths... 2x6's are slightly longer
Lesson three - even if you measure twice and cut once... your angle still has to be the correct direction.
Lesson four - flip flops are not comfortable filled with sawdust.
Lesson five - This is not how you stain a table ;-)
Lesson six - If at first you don't love it... sell it on Craigslist and start again!
Lesson seven - If you are going to make the table and seat boards closer together than the plan calls for... pre-stain your boards.
Lesson eight - Collecting dust in the garage no longer has the same meaning.

Once upon a you're a shop!

One of my most valuable "tools" would have to be the excer-saucer! My 1 year old still loves playing in it and I am more than willing to milk that one for all it's worth.

This was once a desk in a previous home that didn't fit in this one so ... a workbench was born.

Second tool added just for me. My dad bought me this after watching me attempt to sand the stamp off my lumber with a little mouse sander. This makes quick work of my sanding jobs.

This fun dresser was going to be refinished for my baby's room. But after we cleaned it out and refinished it we realized we REALLY wanted to keep it in the SHOP! It was a fun refinish. Notice the clock. You know you have found your hobby when you completely lose track of time while you are doing it. Another problem I was having is while my face was DRIPPING with sweat I would forget a) how long I'd worked without breaking for water or to cool off b) to check the temperature... I've been out there working and not noticed that it had climbed up to 100 degrees!