Welcome to Bob Vila
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- DIY Wood Slice Plant Stand
DIY Wood Slice Plant Stand
A wood slice and suede strips are all it takes to build this showstopping hanging planter that is sure to add a rustic touch to any room of the home.
Trying to find a creative way to craft with wood slices left blogger Bre of Brepurposed in a funk. But then inspiration hit, and she came up with this inventive (and so easy!) hanging plant stand that adds a classic natural touch to any space. Keep reading to learn how to fashion your own version.
MATERIALS & TOOLS
-Suede strip (2)
-Curved hanging plant bracket
Loop your suede strips through the holes and tie the knots. It takes a little trial and error to make sure they are both the same length so it hangs evenly. Slightly thicker strips of suede work best.
Thanks, Bre! For more great repurposed projects, visit Brepurposed.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Top-Secret Log Box
Top-Secret Log Box
This adorable log box has a secret: It slides open to reveal a drawer that's ideal for hiding your little items in plain sight.
Jumping at any chance she gets to work with wood, blogger Stefanie of Brooklyn Limestone was obviously enthused when she had the opportunity to build this log box, perfect for hiding away favorite collectibles. Learn how to craft your own with her easy instructions below.
MATERIALS & TOOLS
Find a log and cut it to the desired finished size. Slice off three sides of the log, leaving one rounded edge. Mark and set aside slices. Draw a conversation box on the log to mark the drawer, cut. Cut out a slice to make the back of the drawer, set aside. Mark a rectangle on the cut out to hollow out the drawer. Cut and discard.
Glue the back of the drawer to the hollowed out drawer base, clamp, and allow to dry. Glue the sliced back to the center of the log, clamp, and allow to dry. Once clamped pieces have dried, glue and clamp the drawer to the drawer front.
Glue and clamp the sliced base, allow to dry.
Slide the completed drawer into the open space and sand any rough spots if necessary. You now have a secret hidey hole for any of your tiny treasures! Thanks, Stefanie! For more great DIY ideas, visit brooklynlimestone.com.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Modern Wood Slice Shelves
Modern Wood Slice Shelves
Learn how one blogger transformed a few inexpensive materials into wall shelves that boast the look of an upscale home store find.
After searching with no avail for modern accent shelves, Girl Loves Glam blogger, McKenzie, decided to take matters into her own hands. From there she crafted these rustic shelves that come together with only a handful of materials and a little DIY know-how. Continue to see how she built these natural beauties.
MATERIALS & TOOLS
-14 inch wood slice from the craft store
-4 inch L brackets
-Saw, drill, and screws
Screw the shelves into the wall and you’re done!
Thanks, McKenzie! Check out Girl Loves Glam for more inspiring DIY projects.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Genius! The Soda Bottle Sprinkler
Genius! The Soda Bottle Sprinkler
How can you keep the kids entertained and water the garden at the same time? Reinvent a recycled plastic bottle as a better-than-store-bought sprinkler just in time for Labor Day weekend.
For most parents, the week of Labor Day is jam-packed with barbecues, parades, or back-to-school shopping. But for kids, the holiday is a bleak reminder that summer vacation is really over. Before sending the little ones back to school, give them one last summer treat—some backyard fun with this (practically free!) DIY sprinkler from Jenn at Clever Crafty Cookin’ Mama. You’ll only need three supplies to make their day: a push pin, an empty 2-liter soda bottle, and a 3/4″ swivel hose adapter from your local hardware store.
After rummaging through your recycling bin, rinse out your bottle of choice to remove any drink residue. Then take the washer that came with your hose adapter, twist it onto the bottle’s neck, and screw on the swivel hose adapter. Now grab a push pin and poke about eight holes along one side of the bottle. You’ll want to make them large enough to let out thin streams of water, so wiggle the pin around in each of your starter holes to widen them. Attach the adapter to your garden hose and turn on the spigot, keeping the water pressure low to start. Once the bottle fills with water, the excess will start to spurt out just like a sprinkler.
The best part? This hose attachment is totally customizable to your needs. For a higher stream, increase the water pressure; for a lighter mist, Jenn recommends keeping the pricked holes tiny. Expect hours of enjoyment on the last of the hot summer days, and when—rather, if—the kids tire of it, just move this simple DIY into your garden as a hands-off way to water plants.
FOR MORE: Clever Crafty Cookin’ Mama
- Lawn & Garden >
- DIY Kids: Build a Backyard Tire Swing
DIY Kids: Build a Backyard Tire Swing
Up your backyard's game with an outdoor classic: the DIY tire swing. Follow these easy instructions to create seasons' worth of family fun, all in less than an hour.
There’s something so incredibly appealing about a simple tire swing. Whether it’s the freeing feeling of soaring through the air or the satisfaction of transforming an old, utilitarian hunk of rubber into backyard fun, kids and adults alike can’t help but be drawn to it. So then why not involve your little ones when setting up your own version? Materials for this project total somewhere between $60 to $100, depending on the length of chain you need and the type of hardware you buy, but rest assured: The many seasons of enjoyment to come will be well worth the cost.
SKILL LEVEL: EASY
This tire swing is a simple assembly project, so kids of all ages can help! The hardest part is ensuring all the hardware fits together properly: that the quick connector links you choose can accommodate the chains and swivel hardware that you want, and so on. If you buy pieces at more than one store, take whatever you can with you to test out how it connects with other supplies before purchasing—or be prepared to possibly exchange parts later for different sizes.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Sturdy tree branch
- Drill with a bit that matches your eye bolt size (we used 5/16ths)
- Tape measure
- 3 eye bolts
- 6 nuts
- 6 lock washers
- 6 fender washers
- Adjustable wrench
- 3 4-foot lengths of swing set chain, vinyl coated to keep little fingers safe
- 4 quick connector links
- 1 swivel hook
- 1 steel snap
- 26-inch bicycle inner tube
- 12-foot steel-hardened chain (or less, depending on your tree height)
A note about hardware: Make sure all of your steel hardware is grade 5 or higher and has an appropriate working load limit (WLL). The hardware and chain we used were rated for between 260 and 1,700 pounds. To determine the load your hanging chain and hardware need to bear, add the total weight of the entire swing assembly (tire, eyebolts, swing set chain, and connectors) and the estimated weight of the children who will be using it.
Plan to hang your swing on a sturdy tree branch that is, ideally, 8 to 12 feet off of the ground. The higher the branch, the higher the swing can go—and the further it will travel. Walk the space to make sure the swing, at its highest arc, has at least a 30-inch clearance from both the tree trunk and any other obstructions.
Drill several drainage holes in one of the tire’s sidewalls (this will be the swing’s bottom) in order to allow rainwater to escape—you don’t want to create a breeding ground for mosquitoes after a storm or shower. Then flip the tire over to work with the swing’s top. Measure and mark with chalk three equidistant points in the sidewall where you will attach the eye bolts. Drill a hole in each of those chalk marks.
In each of the three holes, insert an eye bolt with a nut, lock washer, and fender washer through the top of the tire sidewall. Thread a fender washer, lock washer, and nut onto the bottom half of the bolt (where it comes out inside the tire), and tighten it all up using pliers and an adjustable wrench.
Now, attach each of the three swing set chains to an eye bolt using a quick connector link.
Connect the top of those three chains together with another quick connector link, and then attach the swivel hook. By including a hook here, this swing assembly can be easily taken down and hung up for use only when there is adult supervision.
My connector links did not open up far enough to accommodate the swivel hook I chose, and the swivel hook was too large to accommodate the links of the hanging chain on its own, so I needed to add a snap hook to the top of the assembly—you may or may not need this. This part of the assembly is a bit of a puzzle that will be informed by the size of your chains and steel hardware (which further depend on the weight you want them to carry).
Cut open the bicycle inner tube at the valve (which can be chopped off completely) so that it is one long piece. Then, thread the chain through the inner tube. This sheathing will serve to protect the tree branch once you hang it.
Hang the chain over the tree branch, utilizing any knots in the branch to help it stay in place. You may also want to wrap the chain around the branch once, as we did. Be sure the chain hangs down exactly the same length on each side.
Finally, attach the swing assembly to two ends of the hanging chain. In under an hour, it’s ready for a test drive! As they swing off into the sunset, your kids will love it all the more knowing that they had a hand in making it.
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Get Rid of Slugs
How To: Get Rid of Slugs
Slugs can do major damage to your favorite flowers and plants overnight. To keep those creepy crawlers from devastating your garden, try any of these 5 easy solutions.
Even the smallest slugs play a big role in the ecosystem, feeding on decomposing matter and in turn providing protein for wild critters like raccoons and chipmunks. But however important these slimy creatures may be, that doesn’t make it any more pleasant when we find them noshing on the plants we worked so hard to grow in our gardens. If your outdoor spaces have been overrun, try one of these methods for deterring and eliminating slugs.
1. Distract with Shiny Objects
Copper creates an unpleasant electrical shock when slugs come into contact with it, which will deter them from passing. Create a barrier around your beloved garden by surrounding it with 4- to 6-inch copper flashing, or by wrapping susceptible plants with copper tape. Not only will the slugs stay away, but you can also reuse the copper flashing for several years to come. Keep in mind that this trick will only deter the slugs—not kill existing varieties.
2. Crack Open a Cold One
Slugs like beer as much as they like the leafy greens of your garden plants. Crack open a beer and pour it into a few margarine tubs, then distribute the containers in various places around the yard, burying them so that about an inch remains above ground. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the tubs, and drown overnight. Dispose of the containers the next morning in your trash or compost bin.
3. Build a Sharp Barrier
A slug’s Achilles ankle is its soft body, easily irritated by sharp or dry materials. Use this to your advantage by sprinkling wood ashes, diatomaceous earth, gravel, or lava rock in a wide band around individual plants—or the entire garden—to discourage slugs, as they won’t want to crawl across the bumpy barrier. Wood ashes have the bonus benefit of adding potassium to your soil and raising the pH, so consider choosing that method as your first line of defense.
4. Construct a Fruity Trap
Next time you snack on a citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange, unpeel the rind carefully so you can keep one bowl-shaped half in tact. Poke a hole that’s large enough for a slug to fit through, and then sit the fruit upside down like a dome in your garden. The sweet scent will lure slugs in, distracting them from their usual meal: your plants. If a predator doesn’t get to them first, collect the fruit scraps the next morning and kill any live slugs by dumping them into a container of soapy water.
5. Gather a Search Party
If you’re feeling particularly vengeful, gather your salt shaker and a flashlight, and venture out at night for some real slug hunting. Sprinkle a little salt on every slug you see; it will draw the water out of it’s watery body, causing the creature to dry up. It seems gruesome, but this solution is very effective. Just be cautious when dispensing salt, as an abundance of the seasoning can harm your plants and soil.
For the most part, slugs thrive in highly moist environments. One of the best preventative measures you can take is to make sure your garden does not stay overly wet. Keep plants spaced apart so that air can circulate between them, and water early in the day so extra moisture has time to evaporate before nightfall when the slugs come out to feast.
- Major Systems >
- When’s the Right Time to Install Radiant Heating?
When’s the Right Time to Install Radiant Heating?
There are a few key moments in the life of a house when it makes particularly good sense to consider radiant heating. Read on to find out if now might be the best time for you.
Energy efficiency and radiant heating are mentioned together so often that you might reasonably assume one had precipitated the other—that the drive for greater sustainability in home building gave rise to radiant heating as an innovative engineering solution. Actually, radiant heating has been around, in one form or another, for thousands of years. Its origins stretch all the way back into the mists of history. What’s new is that, after decades of continuous refinement, radiant technology has become viable—not as a supplemental luxury in, say, a chilly bathroom, but as an option for heating the entire home. Though Europe and Asia have already embraced radiant heating, it remains relatively rare in the United States. That’s all changing, however, as more and more people become aware of what sets radiant heating apart and how it surpasses the performance of traditional forced-air systems in myriad ways that really matter to the average homeowner.
Who doesn’t want lower energy bills? Certainly, energy efficiency factors into the growing popularity of radiant heating. But for many homeowners who are making the switch from baseboard, radiator, or forced-air heating, comfort trumps savings. So, even though radiant systems run at lower cost, that’s not their most compelling draw. Instead, it’s the caliber of the heating experience. With heat delivered from the floor, you get a qualitatively different experience than traditional systems provide. Take forced-air, for example. By cycling on and off, forced-air heating creates not only noise, but also uncomfortable swings in temperature. Radiant heat, by contrast, operates silently, delivering steady, all-encompassing, “everywhere” warmth. Plus, because radiant involves neither dust-collecting ductwork nor intermittent blasts of heated air, it does nothing to exacerbate indoor air quality. That makes it a breath of fresh air for those accustomed to dry, sometimes stifling home heating setups.
There’s one way in which radiant heating resembles the other options out there. Because HVAC components are so integral to the basic infrastructure of a home, they don’t usually lend themselves very easily to retrofit applications. With forced-air, the biggest hurdle lies in accommodating in the elaborate network of ducts needed to channel air from the furnace to the different spaces throughout the home. With radiant heat, the main impediment tends to be flooring. Often, owners of existing homes balk at the idea of removing their floors to make way for the radiant panels that slot in beneath. That said, there are at least three key transitional moments when homeowners enjoy a blank slate, when they are free to decide how their spaces ought to look and, more important, feel. Those are the times when it makes the most sense to put in a radiant heating system that can ensure comfort for years to come. Read on for details on these “hot” opportunities.
Perhaps the best time to install radiant heating comes when you are building a new home from scratch. In this scenario, the radiant system factors into the design plans, and the installation process can follow a logical order of operations. The radiant floor panels go in first, and the flooring material follows only after they are in place. Note that there are construction efficiencies designed into some radiant heating products on the market. For instance, industry leader Warmboard offers a series of radiant panels geared primarily toward new home construction. With 1-1/8-inch-thick plywood at their base, these panels do double duty, serving not only as the backbone of a successful whole-home radiant system, but also as the subfloor. Combining the two cleverly saves both labor and building material costs.
If you’re planning a major renovation, either of one section of your home or of the entire structure, it’s well worth considering a radiant system. In the end, though, the decision may depend on the scope of your project and whether or not you’re going to rip out the flooring. If you opt in favor of radiant, bear in mind that there may be a slight height variation between a regular floor and a floor with radiant panels. For that reason, Warmboard manufactures a series of radiant panels specifically intended for remodels. At only 13/16 inch thick, these panels minimize floor height variations and facilitate installation within the confines of any existing structure. Of course, no matter how unobtrusively the panels slot in, you’ll need to make certain your boiler can service the hydronic tubes needed to channel hot water throughout the installed system.
BUILDING AN ADDITION
Radiant heating isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. If you’re putting an addition onto your home, you can always continue to heat the older structure with your existing system while choosing radiant for the new space. Practically speaking, working a radiant system into a home addition combines the benefits of new construction with some of the concerns that accompany renovation projects. On the one hand, you’re building from scratch, so, to an extent, the circumstances are ideal. There’s no flooring in the way, and tying the panels back to the boiler will probably not pose a problem. On the other hand, depending on the nature of your existing HVAC system, you may not have a boiler—and purchasing one and paying for its installation would add considerably to the overall project cost.
Despite the cost of installation, radiant heating translates into real savings over the long haul. From the moment you begin relying on radiant heating, your monthly utility bills are going to go down and stay down. As those savings accumulate, you will slowly recoup what you paid to put the efficient system into place. Ultimately, the question may not be whether to install radiant heat. The only question is when.
- Green >
- Bob Vila Radio: Block Out Blazes with a Fire Door
Bob Vila Radio: Block Out Blazes with a Fire Door
In the event of a blaze, one or a suite of fire doors can make a real difference. In fact, in some applications, fire doors are now mandated by code. Read on to learn more about protecting your family in a worst-case scenario.
All too often, it seems tragic house fires lead the evening newscast. If you’re looking for better ways to protect your family in emergencies, you might want to check out fire doors.
Listen to BOB VILA ON FIRE DOORS or read the text below:
Installed in strategic locations around your home, fire doors give you crucial extra time, potentially even an escape route, in the event of a large and spreading house fire. Some fire doors are triggered by the smoke detector and automatically close to block smoke and flames. Others are built to expand and seal shut when heated, further blocking the spread of fire. The latter are a good idea if they lead to the garage or to the utility room that contains your furnace and water heater. But perhaps needless to say, it’s best not to locate a sealing door along any key passageways.
Fire doors are rated from 20 minutes to 180 minutes, based on how long they can withstand heat. Before installing fire doors, be sure to check your local building codes.
Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!
- How To's & Quick Tips >
- Quick Tip: Create Instant Heirloom Furniture with Vaseline
Quick Tip: Create Instant Heirloom Furniture with Vaseline
The key to distressing any painted furniture may be hiding in your medicine cabinet. Read on for how a little petroleum jelly could help you achieve time-worn style without the thrift store hunt.
If you find yourself scouring the flea markets for that perfectly imperfect piece of painted furniture that’s distressed in all the right spots, it’s no surprise. The time-worn elegance of shabby chic style is just as popular as ever. Fortunately for you, it’s no longer limited to the secondhand scene. You can add age to any piece of painted wood, be it inherited or built in your home workshop last week. So stop searching and start creating the look you love with one unexpected (and affordable) product: Vaseline.
This technique works on everything from frames to dressers, and tables to doors, so don’t stress about the type of furniture to distress. Start by sanding the piece’s surface, clearing the sawdust, and applying a base color. That first coat will be the contrasting color that peaks through from under the top coat. Allow the paint to dry completely. Then spread Vaseline over the corners, beveled edges, and any other area you want to look worn using your finger and a dry cloth—wherever you apply it, the next coat of color should wipe away easily for a weathered, chippy-paint look. Vary the Vaseline thicker in some places and thinner in others for extra authenticity. When you brush a second coat of paint over the whole piece, use a towel to rub through the top layer before it dries completely, concentrating on the areas covered in Vaseline. Wipe until you’re satisfied with how much bottom layer is revealed, and let the furniture finish drying for an instantly vintage look without decades’ worth of wait.
- Lawn & Garden >
- Weekend Projects: 5 Simple Designs for a DIY Plant Stand
Weekend Projects: 5 Simple Designs for a DIY Plant Stand
Windowsill gardens are so last season. Build any of these handmade plant stand designs, and you'll show off both your green thumb and your craftsmanship.
‘Tis the season to celebrate your green thumb! If you enjoy afternoons tending colorful blooms, then you understand how limiting it can be to find indoor spots to display your floral favorites. Oftentimes they end up stashed in an unseen area or hiding on a windowsill behind a cafe curtain. But this weekend you can make all of that change with a simple-to-build DIY plant stand that puts your gardening goods front and center. With any of these five easy designs, you can devote a step, a corner, or a whole vignette to your potted greenery and take delight in it week after week.
1. LEGS TO STAND ON
For throwback style that you can make in a day, try this midcentury modern-inspired stand from A Beautiful Mess. It’s seriously simple to assemble: First, find or cut a wood round sized 4 to 5 inches larger in diameter than the base of the pot you’re looking to support. Stain, seal, and screw on a few tapered furniture legs picked up from any home improvement store, and your perch is ready to welcome its plant.
2. GROW A GRAND ENTRANCE
One foolproof way to bolster curb appeal in any home—whether it’s soon to be on the market or simply preparing to greet guests—is to highlight cheerful hues. And nothing brightens like fresh flowers! Take a cue from the blogger at Shanty 2 Chic and introduce colorful buds on either side of your entrance with two 30-inch-tall stands constructed from the already-popular landscaping materials, cedar fence rail posts.
3. ALL THE MARBLES
While a single slice of marble as a kitchen countertop or bathroom vanity can cost a pretty penny, securing a single square of porcelain floor tile for a luxe-looking living room DIY leans much more wallet-friendly. Here, the crafters at Foxtail and Moss affixed this opulent material to three legs of copper pipe and caps to create an industrial-chic stand.
4. OUT ON A LIMB
Not restricted to available floor space, this natural beauty from Brepurposed fits just about anywhere throughout the home! Simply affix a curved bracket meant for hanging flowering baskets to any wall; this time, instead of stringing up a standard woven planter, thread a couple of suede strips through the holes in a raw wood slice and hang the project to serve as your in-air plant stand.
5. NO CUT CORNERS
We all have those awkward, empty corners. Fortunately, a skinny stand design from the Crafty Sisters can fill blank spaces with a fresh crop of foliage. And while ornamental around the edges, its simple construction consists of only medium-density fiberboard, chair molding, and planks of 2×2 and 1×2 lumber. Just remember that where you place the project after completion will determine which plants thrive; shade-loving plants will do fine along interior walls, while sun-loving sprouts should sit closer to the windows.