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Genius! Hack This Old Appliance Part for the Perfect Fire Pit

Break out the marshmallows! See how one DIY blogger transformed an old washing machine part into a high-end summer staple, and you'll surely want to make one of these for yourself.

Washing Machine Fire Pit

Photo: houseandfig.com

This story starts out like many other tales of DIY savvy. While browsing the a trendy retailer store, Sarah of House and Fig fell in love with a particular product—a geometric steel fire pit, to be exact. The problem? Its four-figure price tag. Rather than break the bank, Sarah and her husband, Joe, instead set out to create their own version. In doing so, they would revisit a peculiar concept they’d discovered on a camping trip years before: lighting a fire in a washing machine drum.

Why a washing machine drum? Well, its stainless steel holds up against high heat, and the slotted housing allows for the free flow of the oxygen that a fire needs to burn efficiently. Also—and unexpectedly—the humble washing machine drum somehow manages to look quite stylish when lit up against the a dark night sky.

To follow Sarah’s lead, head out to a used appliance store—she snagged her washing machine drum, used, for $10. Besides an angle grinder, you’re going to need several grinder attachments, including a cup wire brush, cut-off wheel, and flap wheel sanding disc. Also a must is the proper protective gear—don’t forget glasses!

First, remove the drum’s plastic rim and base. Next, use the grinder and cut-off wheel to take out the center spindle, thus carving out space for firewood. From there, it’s largely a matter of shaping the drum to your liking. Sarah and Joe ground down their drum’s metal lip and smoothed its rough edges with the flap wheel attachment. Lastly, with the wire brush, they cleaned the drum walls to completely eliminate any soap scum still lingering from the drum’s previous incarnation.

You could stop there, but if Sarah’s uncompromising sense of style has inspired you, then finish things off by giving the drum a coat of black high-heat spray paint. Also, importantly, consider welding on a quartet of legs at the base. Perhaps sooner than you think, you can be be roasting s’mores over your finished project!

FOR MORE: House and Fig

Washing Machine Fire Pit - Grinding

Photo: houseandfig.com


Bob Vila Radio: Patching Large Holes in Drywall

It's easy to damage drywall. Fixing it: Well, that can be more difficult. But far from requiring a call to your contractor, patching drywall is a DIY-friendly job you can complete in a single morning or afternoon.

Need to patch a hole in drywall? While you can resolve smaller problems with spackling paste, larger jobs call for a commensurately larger commitment of time and materials.

How to Patch a Hole in Drywall

Photo: fotosearch.com

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First, cut a patch of scrap drywall that’s larger than the hole you plan to fill. Regardless of the shape of the hole, it’s best to work with a square or rectangular patch piece. Place that patch over the hole and trace around its edges with a pencil. Next, using a utility knife or saw, cut the drywall along the outline you traced.

Now cut a piece of one-by-two that’s a few inches longer than the width of the hole. Holding it in the middle, pass it through the hole and, from the outside, screw it into place on each end with a screw gun. Make sure the screws pull the one-by-two tightly up against the hidden, rear side of the drywall.

Once you have that anchor board installed, insert a screw into the middle of the patch piece. Then, using that screw as a handle, position the patch into the cutout, against the anchor board. At this point, finish driving the screw all the way through the drywall patch and into the wood anchor board. Add a couple more screws to fully secure the patch against the anchor.

Now you’re ready to complete the job by concealing your repair with drywall tape and joint compound!

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.


Pro Tips: 6 Ways to Live with Less Waste

On Earth Day—and every day—follow these simple strategies from the author of Zero Waste Home to limit your household's trash production.

How to Reduce Waste - Trash Day

Photo: fotosearch.com

Americans generate a whopping 251 million tons of waste each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and only about 35 percent of this astounding pile of rubbish is recycled or composted. Shrinking that staggering stat on a national level starts right where you have the most control—in the home. For a little guidance on where exactly to begin, we turned to Green Awards grand prize winner Bea Johnson, author of the blog and best-selling book Zero Waste Home. Johnson challenges us to rethink the “three R’s” we learned growing up. According to Johnson, there are actually five principles to uphold: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot (i.e., compost). Even just committing to one of these will help improve the planet. Read on to see how easy she makes it to get started!

1. Buy Less, Live More
“Purchase only what you truly need,” Johnson says in regard to her number one rule, refuse. “By limiting consumption, you not only cut down on trash, you simplify your life and save money.” And when you do need to go out and buy the essentials, source stuff secondhand. For example, used electronics are available on Craigslist and eBay, and some manufacturers even sell reconditioned and refurbished items. When shopping online, check for a “pre-owned only” search option and then, when ordering, request that the seller ship with recycled paper and cardboard rather than plastic materials.

How to Reduce Waste - Farmers Market

Photo: fotosearch.com

2. Pick Less Packaging
“Shop at a farmers’ market—they’ll take the egg cartons and berry baskets back for reuse,” Johnson says. “At the grocery store, buy in bulk and shop the deli, fish, meat, and cheese counter using your own containers.” Johnson easily shops for her family of four this way, using separate glass receptacles for different food categories. “A quart-sized jar holds two pounds of ground meat or four filets of fish,” she says. If a counterperson balks, Johnson’s tip: “Tell him you don’t own a trash can.”

3. Get Canny About Trash Cans
“If the trash can is at your fingertips, you’ll be more inclined to use it,” Johnson says. “But if it’s in another room, you’ll be more mindful of what you toss,” she adds—food for thought for places like a bedroom or office.

Because that psychology won’t work in the kitchen, though, turn a standard-size garbage can into the designated spot for compost and use that small so-called compost bin for trash. “Just swap them, and put the larger receptacle in the under-sink cabinet, where it’s convenient for food preparation—out of sight but not out of mind.” And while you’re tossing table scraps in the compost bin, don’t stop there: Unpainted and unfinished wood, hair, nail clippings, dryer lint, and even dust bunnies can skip the trash.

4. Clean More Consciously
“You can make an all-purpose spray cleaner with white vinegar and water, apply straight vinegar on mildew, and use baking soda for most other scrubbing jobs, like scouring the tub or getting scuff marks off a hardwood floor,” Johnson says. Beyond these green cleaning formulas, she scrubs and wipes with minimal waste too. Tool-wise, she relies on a compostable cleaning brush for many tasks and eschews paper towels completely. “Worn-out clothing like soft cotton T-shirts makes great cleaning rags,” she says. “Just dampen lightly for dusting.”

5. Reboot Your Bathroom
When it comes to the room in the home with the most disposables (plastic bottles, cardboard packaging, and any number of toiletries), Johnson offers a trove of ideas to help trim its trash load. “For face and body, use baking soda to exfoliate and package-free solid soap to wash,” she says. She’s big on buying shampoo and conditioner in bulk, using an alum stone as deodorant, shaving with a reusable safety razor, and trading toss-away toothbrushes for compostable wooden ones to use with a homemade powder that brightens your smile. As for TP? Feel a little better about the number of squares you use by switching to a 100 percent recycled and unbleached brand, like Seventh Generation.

6. DIY Without Waste
Johnson advises sourcing supplies for home improvement projects on Craigslist and reuse marketplaces like Away Station and Build It Green; she also points out that paint stores often sell remnants. Bent nails and stripped screws should be recycled, and even sawdust can be repurposed to absorb spills or to spread as garden mulch. And if you find yourself with leftover materials from a project, consider donating them. “When you donate, you help perpetuate the zero waste concept and contribute to making it a reality.”


How To: Clean Patio Cushions

Now's the time to freshen up your outdoor seating before the season kicks into full swing. While most cushions can't be tossed directly into the washing machine, you can get the job done without even moving them from your porch or patio! Read on for the how-to.

How To Clean Patio Cushions

Photo: fotosearch.com

When it comes time to spiff up your porch or patio for spring, cleaning your furniture cushions ranks high on the to-do list—particularly if those cushions have been out in the elements all winter long. All that exposure to moisture doesn’t bode well for these comfy pieces when it comes to mildew potential. Fortunately, many cushions are designed with removable covers that can be slipped off and thrown into the washing machine on gentle cycle. (Thank goodness for zippered slipcovers!) But even if yours don’t have removable covers, you can still get your cushions clean in preparation for a summer of outdoor fun—just follow these simple steps.

TOOLS & MATERIALS
- Vacuum
- Bucket
- Warm water
- Dishwashing liquid
- Borax
- Sponge
- Scrub brush
- Garden hose
- Towels
- Fabric protector spray

How to Clean Patio Cushions - Cafe Chairs

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
Pile up your outdoor pillows! Unzip cases wherever possible and run them through the wash following the instructions on the tags, then turn your attention to the cushions. Remove any loose dirt and dust from them using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. If your cushions are tufted, be sure to run the attachment carefully over the crevices, seams, and any buttons.

STEP 2
Next, mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in a bucket of warm water. If your cushions have mildew on them, add 1/4 cup of borax to the solution as well. Generously sponge the sudsy solution onto your cushions, and let them soak for 15 minutes.

STEP 3
Still see stubborn dirty spots after soaking? Apply more of the cleaning solution, then gently rub out the spots with a scrub brush.

STEP 4
Thoroughly rinse the cushions off with the garden hose. (Don’t use a pressure washer for the task, as it may damage the fabric.)

STEP 5
Wrap a towel around the cushion to blot up the majority of the water, and then stand the cushion up on end to air-dry completely. Make sure no moisture remains, otherwise you’ll find yourself facing a regrowth of mildew. Pull out the blow dryer, if you need to!

STEP 6
Once your cushions are dry, spray them with a fabric protector to help them resist dirt and stains from such summery things as spilled fruit punch and dripping popsicles. Taking this step now will make it much easier to keep those cushions clean the rest of the summer!

Getting your outdoor space ready for the season can be a lot of work, but it’s well worth the effort. Once you’re finished, you can sit back and relax with friends and family, enjoy a summer smoothie or some barbecue, and wait for the twinkling fireflies to appear.


Official Rules: Bob Vila’s $3,000 May Makeover Give-Away

Bob Vila’s “$3,000 May Makeover Give-Away” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Vila Media, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of one (2) separate, successive, random drawing (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on April 30th, 2015 and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on May 31st, 2015 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). There will be two (2) Winners, and each Winner will receive $1500 worth of prizes from Quikrete. The entry period for the Drawing shall begin at 12:00 p.m. EST on April 30th, 2015  and ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on May 31st, 2015 (the “Entry Period”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submitting your name and email address using the online Bob Vila’s “May Makeover Give-Away” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to the Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries within one day will be deemed void.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for the Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet Service Provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering the Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with Vila Media, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Entry Period, there will be two (2) drawings in which two (2) potential winners (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for the Drawing determines the odds of winning. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winner shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, Vila Media, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner must claim their prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winner during their entry to the Drawing.

Each prize for the Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall consist of Quikrete Concrete Mix for 200 square-foot patio slab (up to 112 80# bags; MSRP $425); concrete forms and tools (MSRP $425); Cement Colorant (MSRP $425); Concrete stain and Concrete sealer (MSRP $125); Pavestone Rumblestone Round Firepit Kit with insert and grill (MSRP $400) for a total value of $1500. Prize is not transferable. Limit one prize per entrant. Actual retail value may vary. Actual materials may vary based on patio design. Winner will not receive the difference between actual and approximate retail value.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winner agrees to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


Quick Tip: Rescue Scorched Cookware

Though you may doubt the scorched bottom of your cookware can even be cleaned, it's not only possible but can actually be done with a minimum of labor-instensive scouring. Here's what to do.

How to Clean a Burnt Pot

Photo: fotosearch.com

Fear not: Cleaning blackened, burned cookware doesn’t have to mean an arm-wearying afternoon of intensive scouring. It doesn’t have to mean the use of harsh, toxic chemicals, either. You probably already own everything you need to save a scorched pot or pan from the clutches of charred food. So if and when your usual let-it-soak-and-wait method ultimately meets with failure, try one of these tried-and-true strategies for restoring scorched cookware to its original, shiny state.

How to Clean a Burnt Pot - Scrub Detail

Photo: fotosearch.com

Light Duty
Fill the burned pot with enough water to cover the charred area completely. Bring the water to a boil on the stove and let it continue boiling for two or three minutes. Next, remove the pot from the stove and set it aside to cool down. Pour out the water only once the water has returned to room temperature.

Now that the char in the pot has softened considerably, sprinkle in a generous amount of baking soda and proceed to scrub. With luck, you should find that the black residue comes off much more easily, particularly with the potent abrasive combination of baking soda and a rough-textured scouring pad.

Heavy Duty
If the technique described above ended up helping but not enough, call in more firepower—that is, white vinegar. Pour enough of the stuff into the pot to cover the charred area completely (here, vinegar substitutes for the water used in the first method.) Once finished, add in about one cup of baking soda. Once the fizzing dies down, pour the liquid out of the pot and proceed to scrub the burned area clean.

In the most extreme cases, try this alternative method: Fill the pot with enough vinegar to cover the charred area, then bring the vinegar to a boil. Let it simmer on the stove. (As the vinegar simmers, you might even see blackened bits breaking away from the bottom and sides of the pot.) After a few minutes, set the pot aside and add baking soda. Once the fizzing has stopped, pour out the liquid and scrub.

Even gourmet chefs scorch cookware occasionally, so there’s no telling when you might face the problem again. But now you know not to dispose of a burned pot or pan. Though it may seem impossible at first, black and bristly char can indeed be removed, and often without a great deal of effort. You only need to know what staples to pull out of your pantry and precisely how to employ them to get results.


Big Box Furniture Has Nothing on This One-of-a-Kind Company

North Carolina-based Old Wood Co. builds quality furniture pieces from primarily reclaimed wood, proving that—once and for all—local, sustainable goods are no mere fad.

Photo: Travis Bell Photography

When Darren Green founded Old Wood Co., in 2007, he had social and environmental consciousness top of mind. After working in the furniture industry for years, he’d seen firsthand the effects that the Asian import industry had had on American furniture makers. In starting a new company, Darren wanted to create high-quality furniture that didn’t have to compete with low-cost imports.

Instead, his pieces—built primarily from reclaimed lumber—stand on their own and attract interest from homeowners who care about aesthetics and origin. The unique wood grain, knots, nail holes, and worm holes of each board mean that every table, chair, and desk is truly one-of-a-kind. Not only that, the Asheville, North Carolina-based team of woodworkers, wood finishers, blacksmiths, and metalworkers craft every aspect of the furniture for a finished product that is 100 percent American made. We checked in with Darren to talk shop and walked away with an understanding of the inspirational beginnings of his company and a whole lot of insight into the process of creating high-quality furniture.

 

The reason I started doing what I do is…
At age 22, I started working with my father in the furniture industry. After about two years, I was offered a sales position at Lee Industries, an upholstery manufacturer in Newton, North Carolina. It was there that I really gained a better appreciation of building and selling well-made custom furniture. After seven years, I decided I wanted to build my own company using the lessons I had learned from my father as well as my close friend and mentor Norman Coley, who was the president of Lee Industries at the time. It is that challenge of building things from scratch, whether a business or a piece of furniture, that keeps me engaged every day.

Old Wood Co - Remade in the USA

Photo: Old Wood Co.

What makes Old Wood Co. environmentally and socially conscious is…
First and foremost, we provide all our employees with a living wage, shared health insurance plan, paid vacations, yoga on Tuesdays, and a host of other great benefits.

Environmentally, we use locally sourced reclaimed hardwoods as well as sustainably harvested Appalachian hardwoods. We use only oils, waxes, and water-based stains and polyurethane top coats. We use these environmentally friendly finishes to protect our environment and all our employees in the shop.

Old Wood Co. - Distillers Table

Photo: Old Wood Co.

We source wood for our projects by…
We work with several local sawmills and reclamation experts to source the best material in our area. One of our main reclaimed wood suppliers is a full-time firefighter whose station is a mere two miles away.

The thing I love most about reclaimed wood is…
The uniqueness of the grain and reclaimed characteristics. Every board tells a different story. Some boards were milled into quarter-sawn, flat-sawn, or rift-sawn—all depending on how much yield the sawyer could get out of that log. When we bring those individual pieces together in a top, we’re telling our own one-of-a-kind story by placing them in a sequence that looks the best.

Old Wood Co - Tree Chairs

Photo: Old Wood Co.

My main sources of inspiration are…
Authenticity. Nature. Grain variation and patterns.

The most challenging thing about my work is…
Continuing to provide the same level of care as our company grows. As we increase production, it is vital to our success that we maintain our highest level of work.

I tell everyone in the shop that we need to be our biggest critics. If we don’t love the piece, then it is not ready to ship.

Old Wood Co - Harvest Dining Table

Photo: Old Wood Co.

My favorite part of the process is…
Seeing a piece prior to finishing that already looks great. If a piece looks good in sanding, it is going to look awesome after finishing.

Old Wood Co - Kids Play Furniture

Photo: Old Wood Co.

My all-time favorite tools are…
Our newest addition: a CNC router with a rotary axis. The tool will allow us to render a turning or a carving in a design program and quickly produce the part. It is the closest thing we will ever get to having a robot in our wood shop.

Old Wood Co - Writing Table

Photo: Old Wood Co.

Old Wood Co. is based out of Darren’s 10,000-square-foot space in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina. Visit the website to request more information or schedule an appointment.


Get Instant Alerts Whenever Leaks Threaten Your Home

Even a relatively small leak can result in extensive, expensive repairs. The key to damage control has always been to catch moisture problems early, but only now is there an affordable and effective, truly homeowner-friendly means of doing so.

WallyHome Leak Detection System

Photo: wallyhome.com

With the exception of fire, water poses the greatest threat to our homes, whether it’s a slow-and-steady leak or a sudden flood. In fact, it’s estimated that every year, moisture plays a role in property loss claims to the tune of $11 billion. To help homeowners fend off expensive damage, dozens of manufacturers have brought water leak alarms to the market. But until now, those products were often too cheap to be effective or too expensive for many to adopt. Thankfully, that’s no longer true.

The WallyHome Water Sensing System has made leak detection not only more affordable, but potentially more effective. Whereas some competing leak detectors simply make noise, albeit a piercingly loud alarm, when triggered, Wally recognizes that you might not always be at home when a problem arises. So, when one of its sensors registers a red flag—moisture, or a worrying change in humidity or temperature—you immediately get a text message or email notification about the issue.

Operating on 10-year batteries, Wally sensors are small enough to fit beneath or adjacent to all the most common sources of leaks, including kitchen appliances, toilets, sump pumps, and water heaters. Those sensors communicate readings back to the system hub, which in turn updates your Internet monitoring account. No matter where you are, you can log on to the Wally site or its companion smartphone apps to check on things. Here, you can also configure your own custom alerts.

WallyHome Leak Detection System - Product Image

Photo: wallyhome.com

Once bitten, twice shy: For those who have shelled out thousands for extensive water damage repair in the past, it’s probably easy to justify the purchase price for Wally, because the system promises to catch problems while they’re still small and manageable. The kit comes with six sensors; if necessary, you can always buy more, either individually or in packages of six. There are no monthly charges, and because it’s easy enough to set up yourself, there’s no hefty pro installation fee to cough up.

Of course, for all its virtues, Wally can sense only those leaks that occur within the radius of its sensors, and some of the most devastating water damage stems not from known problem areas, but from areas within walls or under flooring. These are spots where you either are unable to place, or wouldn’t anticipate the need for, a leak detector. That said, the company behind Wally plans to develop additional sensors that should allow homeowners to better handle problems, expected and not.

 

Purchase WallyHome Leak Detection System, $299.


Repurposed Door Toddler Bed

There comes a time in every kids life when they graduate from a crib to a—door? Here's how to make your own whimsical kid's bed.

Repurposed Door Toddle Bed

Gail from My Repurposed Life is no stranger to fantastic repurposing projects. But don’t let her skills intimidate you: This is one furniture project you can recreate all by yourself. So, if you can find an old door and a crib spindle, follow this step-by-step guide to bring this funky bed to life.

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- Old door
- Primer
- Paint
- Clamps
- Board
- Jigsaw
- Crib spindles
- Drill
- Gorilla glue
- Side rails
- Extra-wide planks
- Brackets

STEP 1

When I started created my toddler bed, I had already applied primer and paint to one side. The other side only had primer.

STEP 2

I needed to cut the door into two sections. Generally I would do this type of task on my table saw but I was unable to do that with this door due to it’s size and weight.

I measured how large I wanted the headboard and foot board to be. In order to get a straight line, I clamped a board to the door to serve as a “guide” for my saw and I used a jigsaw to cut. (Make allowances for the width of the shoe plate in your measurements.)

STEP 3

I didn’t want the door to set directly on the floor, so I had to figure out what I could use for feet. I chose one of my spare crib spindles. I used the parts in between the holes.

STEP 4

DIY toddler bed - legs

After I got them cut, I needed to drill a hole so that I could screw them onto the bottom of the door. I use a washer to help find the center of a circle.

STEP 5

DIY toddler bed - screw legs

I clamped the foot to drill the hole.  I also used Gorilla Wood Glue on the feet.

TIP: Coating your screw with soap will help the screw go into the hard wood faster and smoother.

STEP 6

DIY toddler bed - cleat

I used regular side rails I had in my stash. I cut them down to fit a crib mattress. To help give the side rails extra strength, I made a cleat for both the headboard and the foot board. I glued them with Gorilla Wood Glue and then I screwed them into place.

STEP 7

DIY Toddler Bed - paint

Then I painted the side rails and the top rail of the headboard and the foot board.

STEP 8

DIY Toddler Bed - planks

I cut some extra wide planks to help support the crib mattress since I wasn’t using the springs that a crib would have.

STEP 9

DIY Toddler Bed - bracket

To attach the side rails to the headboard and foot board I used some brackets I got from the deck department at the hardware store. I put all the screws in the side rail but only used two screws for the headboard/foot board. That way when someone buys this bed and takes it to their house, they can add the additional screws fro strength, and they will be secure.

DIY Toddler Bed - finishedVoila! Here is the finished bed!

Thanks, Gail! For even more clever DIY ideas, visit My Repurposed Life.


Repurposed Door Beverage Bar

Dive into the exciting world of architectural salvage to surface the materials for this summer DIY—the perfect complement to a backyard BBQ.

Vintage Door Outdoor Bar Serving Station

If you’re like us, spring and summer can mean long, thirsty hours spent DIYing (or even relaxing!) in the sun. But this vintage door-turned-patio-bar is the perfect remedy to serve parched family and friends. Laura, from Finding Home Online was tired of dusting off an old card table to serve her guests so she used a little ingenuity and an old yard sale door to bring this imaginative piece of furniture to life. Read on to see how she did it.

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- Vintage door (and top and bottom cuts of a second door)
- Porch spindles (6)
- Shelf
- Hand sander
- Power drill
- Screws
- Right-angle braces
- Level
- Paint
- Dark wax
- Spray poly
- Anchor

STEP 1

DIY Beverage Station Materials

Especially since our items were all vintage, we power washed everything first. We used a large piece of plastic underneath to collect any particles that fell off that could be dangerous to our sweet puppy. We then sanded everything down with a hand sander.

STEP 2

Begin assembling your parts. We laid the door down on two saw horses and then used right angle braces to line up the bottom shelf first. We came from underneath, drilled pilot holes and added screws from the back side of the door.

STEP 3

We added the spindles next by measuring out the spacing, drilling pilot holes and attaching screws from underneath. Since the back spindles touched the door we also drilled some screws from the back to strengthen them.

STEP 4

Using the right angle braces again, we attached the top shelf with screws from the back and straight down into each spindle.

STEP 5

DIY Outdoor Bar Tutorial

We then added a new wood shelf underneath. We cut sections of additional spindles at a 45 degree angle, but any scrap wood would work. We drilled from the underside of the shelf to attach the bracket to the wood. We drilled in again from the back directly into the shelf and into the bracket as well.

STEP 6

Painted and stained DIY Beverage Station

Once it was all assembled, I did some dry brushing of paint on the spindles (they looked too new), the plain wood shelf and the bottom shelf (it was a little too high in contrast). I layered a few colors of chalk paint to best blend with the rustic finish of the door. Then I covered the spindles and all of the shelves in Annie Sloan’s dark wax. This gave an aged looked to the newer pieces, sealed the surfaces and unified all the pieces together. Because this piece is designed to be outside I was concerned that the wax finish might take a beating in the heat. To combat that and to seal the old finish of the door, I finished the whole piece in two coats of a spray poly.

STEP 7

DIY Outdoor Beverage Station - finished

And now you just need to move her in where you want her to go. I would suggest using some sort of anchor to ensure it doesn’t tip over.

Thans, Laura! For more great DIY ideas, head on over to Finding Home Online.