Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


How To: Mix Concrete

Even if your only experience with the stuff has been to walk upon it, you can mix concrete successfully on your first attempt by following these simple, fool-proof steps.

How to Mix Concrete

Photo: shutterstock.com

Everyone knows how concrete looks and that it lasts for years and years. What you may not have realized is that preparing a batch of the stuff is basically a “just add water” affair. Even if you’ve never done it before, you can mix concrete in under an hour. Of course, there’s more to working with concrete than simply mixing the material. But being able to do successfully is the first step towards building something to stand the test of time. Once you’re familiar with the technique, a bevy of DIY projects in and around the home fall squarely within your range of capabilities. These include creating a walkway, a durable countertop, or a stylish weather-resistant planter. To be on your way toward such rewarding home improvements, follow the simple steps to learn how to mix concrete like a pro.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Concrete mix
- Wheelbarrow
- Watering can
- Plastic cup
- Shovel (or garden hoe)

STEP 1
Concrete mix usually comes in a paper bag, on the front of which you’ll find the yield of the package listed in cubic feet. Know that for smaller DIY projects, you are going to need the entire bag. For larger projects (e.g., patios), you’ll need all that and then some. Several full bags are likely to be in order, though depending on the task at hand, you may choose not to mix all the concrete needed at one time. If you’re confused about how much concrete to buy, use a quantity calculator like this one from Quikrete. Whether you need the entire bag or only a portion of it, place the package into your wheelbarrow, cut it open, and by lifting the bag gently upwards, empty out as much of its contents as called for by the job. On a windy day, do this step indoors, perhaps in the garage, to avoid making a mess.

How to Mix Concrete - Texture

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Having filled up your watering can in preparation for the project, pour a little of the liquid into the center of the mounded concrete mix. Continue pouring in water little by little until you’ve added the amount specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. Be careful not to put in too much water; you can always add more, but you can’t take any out. And remember that if you only need a portion of the concrete mix—half, for instance, or a quarter—then you must adjust the “recipe” accordingly. Worried about using too much or too little? Allay your uncertainty by employing a kitchen measuring cup to fill the watering can with a carefully pre-measured volume of water.

STEP 3
Combine the concrete and water, working the material in a back-and-forth motion, using either a shovel or garden hoe. The goal here is to evenly distribute the water across the powder. If you’ve used water conservatively, you may find that as the mixture stiffens, it appears dry and crumbly. In that case, add more water until you’ve achieved a relatively smooth, moldable consistency, with no standing puddles.

STEP 4
Test your concrete with the “slump” test. Here’s an easy way to do it. First, cut the bottom off a plastic or paper cup. Next, shape the container into a cone. Scoop up enough concrete to fill the cone, then empty the cone onto a flat surface. If the concrete collapses to about half the height of the cone, perfect—you’re ready to go. If the concrete loses none of its height—that is, if it doesn’t slump at all—go back and add some more water. If the concrete collapses considerably farther than half the height of the cone, you’ve added too much water and must compensate with additional mix (or in a pinch, dry sand can be used).

STEP 5
Your wheelbarrow should now be filled with usable concrete. Move it to wherever you’re going to be working. Meanwhile, leave any tools that have touched concrete (e.g., your shovel) in a bucket of water. That way, the concrete won’t set on the tool, and you’ll have the opportunity to clean it properly later on. To keep your wheelbarrow spic and span, aim to empty empty and clean it as soon as possible. Once the concrete sets, it’s going to be mighty difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Of course, strength and durability are selling points for concrete, but now that you’re working with the stuff, you are likely to find that you see concrete and its characteristics from a fresh perspective.


How To: Tie Dye

Brighten any basic white T-shirt with one of three tie-dye techniques using our step-by-step guide.

How to Tie Dye

Photo: shutterstock.com

A staple of summer camp (and of America in the late ’60s), tie dye entertains and engages the young and young-at-heart. Whether you’re leading an activity for kids at a slumber party or making a batch of matching shirts for the family reunion, you’ll enjoy not only the kaleidoscopic colors of the final result, but also the process itself—this is fun stuff! And perhaps the best part is that in tie dyeing, you can’t really make a mistake. Anything goes (just about). Now how ’60s is that?

Step 1: Gather the materials.
White T-shirts are best for beginners. For better dyeing quality, work with 100 percent cotton. You will also need a fabric dye kit, soda ash (if not included in the kit), rubber gloves, tubs, spoon, plastic table cloth, rubber bands and glass marbles. You’ll also need squeeze bottles with nozzles, if you plan to jump head first into multicolor dye projects—and we wholeheartedly recommend that you do!

Step 2: Set up your station.
Minimize mess by covering your work station in plastic—a disposable plastic tablecloth would work nicely. Meanwhile, gear up in clothes you wouldn’t mind getting splashed. Wearing rubber gloves, mix one cup of soda ash and one gallon of warm water in a bucket. (This should be enough to pre-treat up to 12 adult shirts.) In separate buckets, mix up each of the colors, according to the instructions on the dye packaging. Bear in mind that the dye can stain a plastic bucket, so you may wish to use an enamel or glass container. For a lighter, somewhat faded end result, add more water than the amount stipulated in the instructions.

Step 3: Pick your pattern.
Using rubber bands, you can experiment and achieve several designs on your shirt. Of course, there’s a degree of randomness and chance to these designs. For many, that’s the appeal of tie dyeing. But if you’d like more control over the look of your shirt, skip to Step 4. Otherwise, keep the following techniques in mind:

How to Tie Dye - Spiral

Photo: shutterstock.com

Circles
Lay your wet shirt on a smooth, flat surface. Pinch the cloth where you’d want the center of the circle to be, then slip a marble behind the shirt to that point. Tie a rubber band to secure the cloth around it. Add another marble behind the first, wrap a rubber band around it, and continue to do so until you have a string of marbles separated by rubber bands. When dyed, the bands will leave large white circles on the newly colored background. For smaller circles scattered on your T-shirt, tie marbles in clusters side-by-side rather than one beside the other.

Stripes
Roll a wet shirt tightly into a tube. If you want horizontal stripes, roll the shirt side to side; for vertical stripes, roll from bottom to top. Place rubber bands around the wrap, spacing the bands at equal intervals. Once the shirt has been dyed, these bands will produce white stripes.

Spirals
Place your finger in the center of the flat, wet T-shirt. Rotate the shirt clockwise, keeping your finger still so that the shirt twists around it like a pinwheel. When the whole shirt is tightly spiraled into a disc shape, remove your finger and carefully wrap three to four rubber bands over the shirt so that they cross like a starburst in the center.

Step 4: Soak your shirt.
Wearing gloves, stick your shirt into the solution of soda ash and warm water and let it soak for ten to 15 minutes. Doing so helps the dye cling to the fibers. After you remove the shirt, wring out any excess water, so it’s damp but not dripping.

Step 5: Get colorful.
If you are dyeing a shirt with a single color, the easiest method is to dip dye it. Fill a bucket with the dye you’ve mixed, then dunk the shirt in, making sure the fabric is completely submerged. Leave the shirt in the bucket for as long as the instructions specify, anywhere from ten to 30 minutes. The longer the shirt soaks, the deeper the color is going to be.

If you are creating a multicolored pattern, take the colors you’ve mixed and pour them into squeeze bottles. Place your white shirt on the plastic-covered work station, then squirt colors from the different bottles onto different parts of the shirt (flip the shirt over and add color to the back, too). When you’re finished, cover the garment in plastic wrap to keep it moist for as long as the instructions recommend.

Step 6: Rinse and roll out.
When soak time is up, rinse the cloth of excess dye, first in warm water, then gradually in cool water. Repeat until the water runs clear. Finally, unveil your masterpiece (if you used rubber bands, now is the time to take them off). The first time you wash the shirt, remember to put it in the machine on its own. That way, you can avoid any accidents. Dry the shirt on the dryer’s coolest setting. Or opt to air dry—somehow that seems most appropriate, no?


DIY Repurposed Window Headboard

These thrift store windows bring new life to a guest bedroom as a simple repurposed headboard.

At BobVila.com, we love an old window. No, really. And this repurposed window headboard from Liz Marie puts one of our favorite materials on full display. By letting their natural window-ness shine through (see what we did there?), she ended up with a headboard that elevates a potentially ordinary guest bedroom to cottage chic.  So if you have some spare windows left over from a remodel or are lucky enough to find some at the local thrift store, read on and get ready to be inspired.

DIY Repurposed Window Headboard

MATERIALS

- (4) antique windows
- painter’s tape
- picture hangers
- tape measure
- level
- screws
- nails
- drill/driver
- hammer
- polyurethane
- caulk and caulk gun

I found these windows at a local thrift store for a price that I could not pass up. I loved that they were all similar and knew right away what I wanted to do with them. I also loved all of the flaws in the windows & didn’t want to change them in any way.

This headboard was quite simple to hang & only required a few steps to make sure it was secure & ready for guests. I am not going to lie, having windows hanging above a bed wasn’t my safest idea ever so I wanted to make sure things were as secure as possible.

STEP 1

Tape off wall for diy window headboard

We taped off the wall in sections the size of the windows to see how we wanted the windows hung and how we wanted them to be spaced on the wall.

STEP 2

We then secured any loose parts on the windows, we wanted them to be shabby, but not fall apart on our guests. Different steps for each window. We polyurethaned the windows so that the paint would not chip off of the window. It would also be wise to caulk the glass in your windows if you find that any are loose.

STEP 3 

We attached picture hangers on the back of all of the windows that were appropriate for the weight of the windows. One picture frame holder for each window.

STEP 4

Screw in DIY Window Headboard

Using a tape measure, level, and screws we hung the windows as level and straight as possible. This is hard when you are working with rustic materials because there are flaws as you can see, but we tried to keep them as similar as possible.

STEP 5

We put nails in the wall behind the windows to secure them from being able to move back and forth if anyone were to bump them. Also this step straightens out your windows if they are hanging a little crooked.

DIY Window Headboard

We have actually had guests stay in this room already and I was so excited to ask them the morning after they slept in the room if the windows bothered them at all or if anything. They said they were perfect and didn’t effect them at all.

Thanks to Liz Marie Blog for sharing! To check out more of her DIY projects and get the home tour, visit her site.


Genius! DIY Citronella Candles

Mother and daughter team Vicki and Jennifer at 2 Bees in a Pod show off their inventive DIY candle.

You mean you can make your own citronella candles? Now, that’s genius! Mother and daughter team Vicki and Jennifer at 2 Bees in a Pod can show you how it’s done. Inspired by an upcoming lake vacation (and a free set of canning jars), they used their inventiveness to hack humble mason jars into useful, bug-repelling luminaries. 

These two have been blogging together for one year, but they’ve being DIYing together for decades. In fact, they’ve tackled projects of all sizes. When the pair teamed up with family to renovate Jennifer’s kitchen, they did everything from tiling the floor to creating custom drapes (and when it comes to furniture, they’re repurposing gurus). So when they spotted a mason jar lamp for sale—with a hefty price tag—they knew it’d be a cinch to make their own. With the addition of citronella oil, these are not only a source of illumination, but a serious bug-repellant as well.

“Our oil lamps are still burning,” they tell us. “We have used them all summer long and there is plenty of citronella oil left.” But that’s not the last from these home inventors. “We’ve been toying with the idea of creating outdoor solar lights on a pedestal to line the sidewalk. It may be fun to “stain” them orange for the fall,” says the mother-daughter duo.

Read on to see how Vicki and Jennifer created these affordable, wow-worthy DIY citronella candles.

DIY Citronella Candles - Flames

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

MATERIALS
- Mason jars
- 100% cotton rope
- Citronella oil
- Hammer
- Screwdriver

DIY Citronella Candle - Citronella

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 1
Hammer a hole in the center insert of the jar top. TipYou can hammer two lids at one time. 

DIY Citronella Candle - Lids

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

DIY Citronella Candle - Punctured Lid

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 2
Use three strand rope for your wick. TipUse 100% cotton rope. Nylon will melt, sizzle and quit burning.

DIY Citronella Candle - Rope

Tip Wrap the tip of the rope with tape. This will keep the rope from unraveling when you place it in the jar lid.

DIY Citronella Candle - Wick

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 3
Pour citronella oil into the jar, anywhere from a quarter- to a third-full.

DIY Citronella Candle - Oil

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 4
Screw the lid into place. Snip the taped end off of the rope.

DIY Citronella Candle - Snip

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 5
Let the rope soak up the citronella oil for about 10-15 minutes before lighting.

DIY Citronella Candle - Finished Pair

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

STEP 6
Stand back and light it up.

DIY Citronella Candle - Lit

Photo: 2beesinapod.com

When the rope wicks are first lit, they will burn high. After a few minutes the flame will be more like a candle burning. Take them outdoors and let them work their magic on keeping the mosquitos away.

Thanks to our genius DIY bloggers Vicki and Jennifer from 2 Bees in a Pod for sharing their tutorial for the perfect DIY citronella candles! To catch up with their latest hacks and projects, check out their blog.


5 Things to Do with… Old Window Screens

Turn a torn screen into a window of opportunity with these practical projects involving repurposed mesh.

If that window screen is torn beyond repair, don’t take the entire panel out to the trash. Rather, look for ways to reuse the screen in and around your house. That meshy material can do much more than simply block out bugs. Scroll down to see five of our favorite ways to give screens a second life.

 

1. UNGUNK OLD PAINT

Sift old paint

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Before you embark on a touch-up project that involves leftover paint, take the time to filter out debris (for example, dust or brush bristles) or any film that has formed. Cut out a patch of window screen large enough to fit over the can, then hold it in place as you pour the liquid into the paint tray you plan to use in your day’s work.

 

2. KEEP AWAY CRITTERS

Stop Sidewalk Infestations

Photo: Shutterstock.com

To keep cracks in driveways or walkways from becoming prime real estate for critters, use crumpled window screening to fill any gaps you encounter in surfaces meant to be continuously paved. The mesh works to discourage small animals from making themselves a permanent home on your property.

 

3. SHIELD YOUR GUTTERS

Shield Gutters

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Improper storm drainage can lead to serious damage, so get your game plan together. Cleaning gutters annually or twice per year is a no-brainer, but with gutter guards you can keep leaves and other debris from reaching your gutters in the first place. But as gutter guards don’t come cheap, repurposed window screens work almost as well, and at a fraction of the cost.

 

4. KEEP DRAINS CLEAR

Preventing Clogged Drains

Photo: Shutterstock.com

A long, hot shower should be nothing but relaxing. You certainly don’t want the stress and mess of a slow drain ruining your bathing ritual. Drain grates go only so far to trap hair and other pipe-clogging debris from entering your plumbing system. Add a further layer of protection by placing a small square of window screen under the grid.

 

5. SAVE SPROUTS

Protect New Grass

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Whether you’re planting a new lawn or reseeding a failed patch, anchor a swath of screening over the area. That way, the grass seed won’t become dinner for the neighborhood birds. Once the grass has sprouted, pull the screen back, roll it up, and store it in the garage or basement until next time you need it.


Genius! World’s Most Amazing DIY Slip ‘N Slide

Create your own end-of-summer water party with this incredible DIY slip 'n slide.

In the DIY world, there are great projects, and then there are the truly genius projects that make life a little more exciting. Jennifer at Hope Studios is not just a cool mom, she also creates genius projects worth celebrating.

Some of Jennifer’s kid-friendly work includes a small hockey court made with a sheet of plywood and 2x4s. Yes, please! Or how about the time she hacked curtain sheers for an epic game of glow-in-the-dark flag football. Incredible!

But it’s her DIY slip ‘n slide that’s caught our eye. With a little ingenuity and a lot of plastic sheeting she created the ultimate end-of-summer water slide. And the best part is it that it only takes about 20 minutes to set up, so just about anyone can recreate it.

So where does Jennifer get her inspiration? “I love to browse Pinterest and other blogs,” she says. Even a trip to the hardware store can inspire her next great idea.

Read on to inspire your next epic project—and learn how to create a DIY slip ‘n slide in your own backyard.

DIY Slip n Slide

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS:
- Heavy-duty plastic sheeting
- Landscape anchor pins
- Hammer
- Garden hose
- Baby soap (optional)

STEP 1
Is it possible to do this in a flat yard? Jennifer says yes, but she was lucky enough to be able to run her 65 feet of plastic sheeting downhill for the ultimate DIY slip ‘n slide.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 1

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

STEP 2
Jennifer folded her sheeting in half lengthwise to provide an extra layer between the kids and the ground for a sliding surface of 4 x 65 feet.

STEP 3
She anchored the sides of sheeting—making sure they didn’t stick out so little arms and legs were safe on the way down.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 3

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

STEP 4
Now the fun part. Turn on the hose to wet the slide. Or use Jennifer’s extra fun idea: add some baby soap to make the plastic extra slippery.

She says, “You can leave the hose at the top of the slide for lubrication, or you can attach a sprinkler head like I did so the kids slide through a nice, cooling shower on the way down.”

STEP 5
Admire your hard work. You’ll know it’s paid off by how many times the kids use the slide.

“My kids (and all the kids in the neighborhood) played on it for hours for days,” said Jennifer. “We finally had to pull it up so we didn’t kill the grass.” She recommends moving it around the yard to avoid dead patches on your lawn.

DIY Slip n Slide - Step 5

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

DIY Slip n Slide - Playing

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

Jennifer says, “The baby soap/inner tube combo is SUPER FAST!”

DIY Slip n Slide - Inner Tube

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

DIY Slip n Slide - Racing

Photo: hopestudios.blogspot.com

Thanks to our Genius! DIYer Jennifer at Hope Studios for sharing with us! For more on this project and to learn how she safely anchored her plastic sheeting to the lawn, check out her blog.


How To: Remove Water Stains from Wood

Those white, cloudy rings on your wood furniture don't have to stay there forever. Try one of these methods for removing—or at least minimizing—water stains on wood.

How to Remove Water Stains from Wood - White Ring

Photo: carriegreenedesign.ca

Wood furniture is beautiful, but it’s not impervious to the wear and tear of everyday life. To retain their looks, new and antique wood tables and chairs must be properly maintained. It’s for good reason that your parents sternly insisted that you use coasters: Water and wood are indeed natural enemies.

If the damage has already been done, and you now have to figure how to remove water stains from wood, don’t be discouraged—many have been there before you and successfully eliminated—or at least made significantly less visible—the unsightly marks that moisture can leave in its wake. In fact, for anyone researching the issue, it can be difficult to know where to start, not because there isn’t enough advice available, but because there’s so much. How do you know which of the many repair methods are most reliable? What follows are details on the three approaches that we and others have found to be the most effective. You may need to work through a bit of trial and error before discovering the trick that works in your case. Be patient, and good luck!

Water stains show up as white or light-colored rings or clouds. The light color is a sign that the moisture hasn’t reached the actual wood; rather, it’s trapped within the finish. (It’s when the stain is black or dark-colored that you have a real problem and should either refinish the piece yourself or consult a pro.)

How to Remove Water Stains from Wood - Coaster

Photo: shutterstock.com

Method 1: Ironing
As with most stains, it helps to act quickly. If the stain has been there for only a few days, try this: Empty your clothes iron of all the water inside, then bring it into the room with the affected piece of furniture. Plug in the iron, then lay a cotton napkin, towel, or T-shirt over the stain. With the iron set on low, apply it briefly to the fabric before lifting the cloth to see if the ring has diminished. Repeat until (we hope) the white stain has disappeared. Alternatively, you can try using a hair dryer to achieve the same effect. Move the dryer back and forth over the area for about 10 minutes until the moisture evaporates.

Method 2: Mayonnaise 
Assuming Method 1 gets no results, it’s worthwhile to experiment with what may at first sound like an odd thing to put on furniture: mayonnaise. Dab a bit onto a rag, then gently apply the mayonnaise directly to the stained area. Let it sit for at least an hour or as long as overnight, reapplying the mayonnaise if the initial coating dries out. If there’s no mayonnaise in your fridge, petroleum jelly may be used as an alternative. Either way, the idea is for the oil in these substances to seep into the finish, displacing the lodged moisture. Note that if you’re seeing some results but wish the remedy packed a little extra punch, consider bringing cigarette ashes into the equation. Many have reported that the penetrating power of oil works best when combined with the abrasiveness of cigarette ashes.

Method 3: Toothpaste
If the above methods have gotten you nowhere, walk to your bathroom, reach into the medicine cabinet, and pull out a tube of toothpaste—but not just any toothpaste. You’ll need the white, non-gel variety. Squeeze some onto a rag, then massage it onto the stain. You shouldn’t need to scrub hard or for very long to see results. To avoid causing any further damage to the furniture in question, it’s best to concentrate your efforts only on the affected portions, because the toothpaste can wear away the finish.

If the water stain isn’t gone completely, then it may at least have lightened enough to be less noticeable. The ace up your sleeve is that, if all else fails, you can always sand the furniture down to bare wood and refinish it. (If you’re dealing with a prized piece, you may want to consult a pro.) To prevent similar damage in the future, heed your parents’ advice and use a coaster!


Bob Vila Thumbs Up: Announcing the Concrete Projects Competition!

Vote for your favorite among the six DIY concrete projects competing to win this month's Bob Vila Thumbs Up! competition!

Bob Vila Thumbs Up Concrete

DIY Concrete Projects

Every day, we see tons of incredible DIY projects. Some are done by seasoned veterans of the do-it-yourself world. Others are the result of hard work by total beginners. Indeed, no matter your skill level, there’s virtually zero cap on the creativity you can introduce to home projects.

By the same token, it seems like there’s no material that clever people out there haven’t found a way to make beautiful. For instance, concrete—that humble, utilitarian staple of the construction yard—is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of furniture and decor. But around the Web, we’ve noticed DIY bloggers—a select few, in particular—using concrete to create highly functional or super eye-catching pieces for the home. And that—no doubt about it—deserves a thumbs up.

VIEW ALL PROJECTS NOW!

So this month, we’re shining the spotlight on some of our favorite instances of DIY brilliance with concrete. Vote for your favorite, and help us choose this month’s winner of Bob Vila Thumbs Up.

Each of these six special projects represents something extraordinary being made from perhaps the most quotidian building material. So they’re all winners, in our book. But only one competitor can win this month’s prize, a $250 gift card to The Home Depot, so we need you to vote for the one you think is most deserving. Thank you for helping us recognize the incredible work of DIYers like yourselves!

Congrats to last month’s winning blogger, Johnnie of Saved by Love Creations. Read more about her winning Bob Vila Thumbs Up project right here.

Would you like to recommend a blogger for the next Bob Vila Thumbs Up? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!


How To: Polish Silver

With these simple, totally DIY-friendly tips, you can keep your silver clean, shiny, and tarnish-free with a minimum of elbow grease.

How to Polish Silver

Photo: shutterstock.com

Gleaming silver exudes refined charm, yet over time that lustrous beauty gradually fades with the accumulation of tarnish, the product of a naturally occurring chemical reaction between the metal and the air. To look their best, silver candlesticks and vases, table knives and serving spoons all need regular upkeep. You can choose from several effective ways of polishing silver. While each method differs somewhat, they do share a common starting point: The first step in polishing silver properly is to deal with any tarnish that’s been allowed to build up. It’s only when the tarnish is gone that you can really get down to the business of polishing silver. Fortunately, you more than likely already have on hand the ingredients needed for tarnish removal.

1. Line a saucepan with aluminum foil, fill up the pan with water, then switch on a burner on your range.
2. With the water simmering, add in a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir until both have dissolved.
3. Place the tarnished silver in the water, leaving it there for about three minutes.
4. In that time, the tarnish should disappear, leaving the silver looking much brighter.

Note that if your silver has a dark patina you would like retain, skip this step and go straight to the act of polishing. The process outlined above tends to work well—too well, in some people’s opinions. Yes, there are those who’ve tried this technique and been unpleasantly surprised by how silver their silver turned out!

How to Polish Silver - Detail Work

Photo: shutterstock.com

Commercial Polish
When you’re shopping for silver polish in your local hardware store or home center, remember that silver is quite different from copper and brass and other metals. That being the case, it’s important to use a polish formulated for use specifically with silver. Apply the polish by means of a soft sponge or cotton ball, rubbing the silver (not the applicator) repeatedly back and forth (not in circles). Don’t rub too hard, and use a toothbrush if the object you are polishing has any hard-to-reach areas. When you have finished polishing, rinse the silver under running water before drying it with a soft, clean cloth.

Homemade Polish
Tempted to experiment with homemade silver polish? Many homeowners swear by one or another ingredient (or mixture of ingredients), and these techniques often filter down through multiple generations of a family. If you’re looking to establish a new tradition with an easy, fail-safe homemade silver polish, look no further than your bathroom cabinet. It turns out that toothpaste—yes, toothpaste—works wonders. There’s only one catch: Make sure to use nonwhitening toothpaste, as whitening formulations typically include abrasives that can leave scratches on silver, a soft metal.

Preventing Tarnish
Polishing your silver as often as once a week is one way to prevent a deep layer of tarnish from setting in, but without a butler at your service, sticking to that sort of regimen is virtually impossible, no? The next best thing is to store your silver with care. After each use, place the silver in tissue paper and then inside an airtight container (for example, a Ziploc storage bag). This may seem like overkill, but such precautions drastically slow down the rate at which silver tarnishes—and don’t you just love it when your silver gleams?


Weekend Projects: 5 Easy-to-Make Pet Beds

Let these DIY dog bed projects be your inspiration and within a single weekend, you can construct something that really makes Rex feel like a king.

Is there a Rufus or Rover in your clan? Even if your pet is allowed on all the soft spots enjoyed by the two-legged members of your household, chances are that your canine craves a haven all his own. No matter your skill level as a maker of things, you should find—as the below ideas demonstrate—that it’s easy to create a DIY dog bed. Because there are so many different ways to go about the project, you can choose the DIY dog bed you feel the most capable of completing and whose style most closely matches your taste. Scroll down now to see five designs you can mimic. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to devise a doggy divan of your very own!

 

1. MAKE A MAISON MODERNE

DIY Dog Bed - Modern

Photo: ournerdhome.com

From Our Nerd Home comes a DIY dog bed project fit for anyone with intermediate woodworking experience. To start, build a simple plywood box. Next, attach the legs (buy these premade at your local home center), then finish by applying a coat of paint in your favorite bold hue. Add a pillow, and that’s it—Fido’s home.

 

2. SEW A PATCHWORK PILLOW

DIY Dog Bed - Patchwork

Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

If your pooch seems to like wearing a sweater on winter walks, then imagine how cozy he would be on a patchwork DIY dog bed sewn from fuzzy old sweaters. This bed is a great way to save retired clothing from the landfill, and it’s great practice for those who are new to threads and needles. For instructions, head to Sew Darn Cute.

 

3. UPDATE A VINTAGE SUITCASE

DIY Dog Bed - Suitcase

Photo: moxandfodder.com

When you’re roaming through thrift stores, you often encounter the odd vintage suitcase. You love how the luggage looks but can’t see yourself actually traveling with it. Well, here’s a reason to finally get one of those very tempting valises: With little hassle, you can transform it into a DIY dog bed. The clever couple at Mox & Fodder explain how.

 

4. CREATE A CRATE

DIY Dog Bed - Crate

Photo: home-frosting.blogspot.com

Scrap wood offers something like a blank canvas for creative do-it-yourselfers. A DIY dog bed is just one of the many useful objects that can be made with a pile of leftover 1x4s. Particularly when the bed is decoratively painted, as Home Frosting has done here, the result is a stylishly rustic-looking crate, handily portable, thanks to casters.

 

5. WORK WITH A WINE BARREL

DIY Dog Bed - Barrel

Photo: thegildedhorn.blogspot.com

The Gilded Horn demonstrates how to convert a half- or full-size wine barrel (available online and often at home improvement retail stores) into a remarkable DIY dog bed that looks like fine furniture. To maximize the effect, choose a stain that closely matches the color of wood already in your home.