Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


DIY Industrial Shelves

Discover how this blogger achieved industrial-style shelves that boost storage and style in a shared boys' room.

DIY Industrial Shelves

Traci of Beneath My Heart was on a hunt for a shelf solution that met her two boys’ storage needs, but still added a touch of style. After finding some inspiration online, she discovered an industrial pipe unit she loved, and decided to tackle the project head on. Continue reading to learn how she transformed a stretch of wall into a large-scale storage center. 

DIY Industrial Shelves - Materials

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- 3/4-inch black iron pipes
- Floor flanges
- Tee fitting
- 90-degree elbow
- Wood (I bought 2-inch thick pieces for my shelves)
- Sander
- Screws
- Drill
- Wood Stain
- Wood Seal

STEP 1

DIY Industrial Shelves - Step 1

First, sand the wood pieces. Next, put the bottom row of pipes together and line them up on the floor. If desired, use some tape to help keep them straight and a tape measure to make sure they are the same distance apart. Then screw the flanges to the floor.

STEP 2

DIY Industrial Shelves - Step 2
Use a 1¼-inch drill bit to drill holes in the wood. You can use a tape measure to figure out where to drill the holes, and/or place the wood on top of the pipes and use a marker to draw around the pipe.

STEP 3

DIY Industrial Shelves - Step 3

Attach the first shelf as shown above, and continue doing so for each following shelf.

STEP 4

DIY Industrial Shelves - Step 4

Create the open space by using 18-inch pipes. You can see how we still used the 6-inch pipes and the elbows underneath the shelf. Because the final pipe on top needs to reach the wall, use an 8-inch pipe instead of a 6-inch pipe. Attach a flange to that pipe and then screw it into the wall. If it’s not a perfect fit, add an extra piece of wood to the back of the flange to close the gap between the flange and the wall.

STEP 5

DIY Industrial Shelves - Step 5

Stain and seal the shelves, lightly sanding in-between each coat of poly. Lastly, customize your self with various storage add-ons, like the guitar clips and storage crates shown here.

DIY Industrial Shelves - End

 Thanks, Traci! For more great DIY projects, visit Beneath My Heart.


DIY Coffee Table with Toy Storage

Look no further for double duty furniture that serves both kids and grown ups with style.

DIY Coffee table with toy storage

This unassuming coffee table has a hidden secret: underneath the top it stores a toy train set and a lego building station. When Kim from The Kim Six Fix spotted this fantastic furniture plan on the internet, she set out to make her own—with a few modifications, of course. Read on to see how she made a multi-purpose table that works for her young family.

DIY train table

MATERIALS & TOOLS

- Plywood
- 1 x 6 boards
- 1 x 3 board
- Screws
- Finish nails
- 1 x 2 boards
- Cabinet pulls
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Paint
- Stain
- Gorilla Glue epoxy
- Lego plates
- Caulk
- Drill
- Nail gun
- Orbital sander
- Foam roller
- Paintbrush

STEP 1 – 8

DIY Lego Table Step 1

Visit Ana White for the original tutorial and furniture plans.

STEP 9

I didn’t split the plywood down the center as the original tutorial suggests because I wanted to use one side as a LEGO table. I just drilled 1-inch holes in each end to make it easier to remove. (You would NEVER get it out without the holes.)

STEP 10

To finish it, I filled in all the holes with stainable wood filler. Then I caulked all the seams with my favorite color changing caulk. Seriously, this stuff is awesome! It changes from pink to white when it is dry so you can tell where you freshly caulked and what areas are cured.

STEP 11

DIY Coffee Table - priming

I stained the outer edge of the table first (so I could cover any drips with paint) and then I primed the bottom using a foam roller and an angled brush to reduce brush strokes. I stained the table top with some stain I found on clearance. By using a polyurethane/stain mix, I saved a step. I also used a wood conditioner on this plywood to get a more even stain.

STEP 12

DIY Train Table - wood trim

Then I divided the long sides into 6 equal sections by adding a short 1×2 to give it that trendy “apothecary drawer” look. Then added inexpensive black cabinet knobs. They were the cheapest ones I could find ($1.35 each) although if I wasn’t doing this on a budget I may have picked something fancier. I do think they make the table look great, especially considering that all 12 knobs only set me back about $17!

STEP 13

DIY Lego Table

I took advantage of the reversible inset by installing LEGO plates on one side. To attach the LEGO plates, I did my research into different adhesives and I settled on Gorilla Glue Epoxy. There is going to be a LOT of torque on the plates as the kids pull the blocks on and off and I needed something that was super strong.

Thanks, Kim! For more family friendly DIY, visit The Kim Six Fix.


How To: Get Rid of Grass Stains

When you're enjoying the outdoors, stains of all kinds—especially grassy ones—just come with the territory. But they don’t have to ruin your clothes or your mood on laundry day! With quick action and the right tools, those clothes will be clean enough to wear (and stain again) next weekend.

How to Get Rid of Grass Stains

Photo: fotosearch.com

Grass stains are souvenirs of outdoor sports and other messy fun—as well as battle scars from labor-intensive rounds of yard work. Above all, they’re the bane of your summer laundry chores. But why exactly are they so stubborn to remove come laundry day? Well, those blotchy green stains consist of chlorophyll and other natural pigments, dirt, and additional organic material. Classified as protein stains (putting them in a category that includes offenders like blood, chocolate, and sweat), these stains will actually bond on a chemical level with natural fibers, making them incredibly difficult to remove. Follow these steps, though, and you’ll see fresh green stains disappear from your gardening clothes or kids’ sports uniforms.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Rubbing alcohol
- Absorbent towel or cloth
- Sponge
- Enzyme detergent
- Scrub brush (or an old toothbrush)
- Lukewarm water
- Washing machine

How To Get Rid Of Grass Stains - Laundry Day

Photo: fotosearch.com

STEP 1
It’s best to attack a grass stain right away. Don’t let it set in, if you can help it! Start by scraping off any excess dirt or material from the stained area. Next, having laid the grass stain face down on an absorbent towel or cloth, sponge a bit of rubbing alcohol onto the stain. The alcohol, a solvent, should help dissolve the dirt. Blot as much of the stain as possible onto the towel beneath.

STEP 2
Sponge the area with lukewarm water and allow it to dry. Be aware: Heat can permanently set a protein into the fibers it’s bonded to, so do not use hot water. (Similarly, you won’t want to run the article through the dryer until you’ve inspected it first to be sure the stain has come out.)

STEP 3
Next, select a detergent containing protease, an enzyme that combats proteins by breaking down the large molecules, so they can be washed away. Pour a bit of this detergent, at full strength, onto the grass stain, letting it sit for 15 to 30 minutes. A stain pretreater that contains enzymes (most do) would be an appropriate substitute.

STEP 4
After pretreating, loosen the stain from the fabric by gently scrubbing it from the back with a scrub brush or old toothbrush. If the stain is old and isn’t budging, soak it for several hours in a mixture of lukewarm water and a capful of enzyme detergent.

STEP 5
Finally, put the stained article in a load of wash on a cool or lukewarm water cycle. Check the affected area before transferring the article from the washer to the dryer. If you notice that the stain isn’t completely gone, repeat the process before drying.


DIY Entryway Box Storage

This custom landing strip for the entryway stores keys and outdoor essentials without taking up an inch of precious floor space.

DIY Box Storage - finished

Getting out the door is not without its difficulties. Misplaced keys, sunglasses, or phones can leave the best of us scrambling for our belongings on our way out of the house. That’s why Jenni at I Spy DIY set out to make a custom storage solution that could check essentials at the door and help streamline her life. Read on for her stunning yet simple DIY.

DIY Box Storage - materials

MATERIALS

- Gorilla wood glue
- Wood boxes
- White paint
- Paintbrush
- Screw-in hooks

STEP 1

Arrange your boxes in place.

STEP 2

DIY storage box - glue

Glue together with gorilla wood glue, let dry for 24 hours.

STEP 3

Paint the inside of your boxes white, let dry.

STEP 4

DIY Storage Box - paint

Screw hooks into the bottom.

STEP 5

 

Hang with nails on your wall. Add accessories. Done!

Thanks, Jenni! For more stylish DIY ideas visit I Spy DIY.


Quick Tip: Fix Wood Scratches with This Favorite Snack

One out-of-the-shell nut is all it takes to fill in and erase light scratches on your wooden furniture or hardwood floors. Read on to learn how to try this easy trick at home!

How To Fix Scratches On Wood - Walnuts

Photo: fotosearch.com

An unsightly scratch in your new hardwood floors—or worse, the expensive mahogany table you splurged on in a recent dining room redesign—can be enough to turn your hair gray. But before you start to stress over normal wear and tear, rest assured that there is an easy and inexpensive trick that can minimize slight damage to your favorite wood surfaces. Moreover, that fix might just be hiding out in your pantry, camouflaged as a favorite afternoon snack.

How To Fix Scratches On Wood - Walnuts

Photo: fotosearch.com

Crack open the shell of a walnut and dig out the meaty portion—one nut should be enough for one scratch, so no need to sacrifice an entire handful. Run the nut back and forth over the scratch a few times in the same direction as the wood grain, then rub your finger over the scratch to warm the wood even further. Let the scratch sit for about five minutes, and finish by buffing it with a soft cloth. The oils from the nut will form a layer over the scratch, filling it in and darkening it so that your furniture will look as good as new. The best part of this simple solution? You get to reward yourself for a job well done with a tasty treat of leftover walnuts.


DIY Kids: Make an Easy A-Frame Tent

Whether it's for working on your summer reading or sharing spooky ghost stories, this simple—and cheap!—DIY A-frame tent will make hanging out much more fun, both indoors and out.

DIY Tent - Final Project

Photo: bobvila.com

Summer vacation is all about fun: swimming pools, later bedtimes, and epic blanket forts. With all the lively activity, it’s hard to sell the idea of settling down to read a little every day in an effort to keep those hard-earned schoolyear skills from slowly melting like the chocolate in a s’more. To drum up some excitement, I designed an A-frame reading tent from furring strips and dowels that the kids and I could assemble together—a project meant to combine their passion for building forts with my hope for a little extra time devoted to summer reading. Follow these instructions, and your kids, too, will have a hideaway that will make them want to spend more time curled up with library books than gaming on the couch!

 

SKILL LEVEL: EASY TO MODERATE
This project is appropriate for kids of all ages, but it does require some use of power tools. If your kids are young, cut the lumber prior to working on the project with them and do the drilling yourself; they can help with the measuring and sanding. Kids as old as 8 or 9, on the other hand, might be able to handle the drill with your supervision. Use your judgment, and have fun.

TOOLS & MATERIALS
- Three 8-foot-long 1″x2″ furring strips (cut into six 4-foot pieces)
- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Safety glasses
- Drill with 3/4” spade bit
- Sandpaper
- Three 4-foot-long 3/4” dowels
- Twin- or full-size bedsheet
- Scissors
- 1/4” eyelet tool
- 1/4” eyelets
- Hammer
- Parachute cord

 

STEP 1

DIY Tent - Furring

Photo: bobvila.com

Halve each 8-foot furring strip into two 4-foot lengths. (You can get this done at the big-box hardware store where you pick up your lumber, or make the cuts at home.) Then, on every 4-foot length of furring strip, mark placement for holes about 1 3/4 inches from each end of the board—a great task for the kids.

 

STEP 2

DIY Tent - Drilling Furring

Photo: bobvila.com

Next, drill through the marks to make 3/4-inch-diameter holes at the ends of each length of board; smooth over any rough edges on your furring strips using sandpaper.

 

STEP 3

DIY Tent - Grommets

Photo: bobvila.com

Ready the flat sheet (the tent’s cover) so it can attach to the bottom of each side of the tent frame. (A twin sheet works best here because it leaves the least amount of excess fabric, but any old bedsheet you have to spare will serve just fine.) To keep the sheet from fraying after a trip through the washing machine, we’re using some metal eyelets. A single eyelet tool is easy to use and fairly inexpensive to pick up at a big-box or craft store—beyond that, all you need are scissors and a hammer.

First, flip the sheet so that it’s right side up and you’re working with one of the shorter sides. Measure and mark for eyelets every 12 inches or so, about 3 to 4 inches in from the edge; cut a small hole at each spot with scissors. Place the base of the eyelet tool with the large half of the eyelet under the hole, and fit it through. Then, set the second half of the eyelet on top, and hammer the pieces together with the top of the eyelet tool.

 

STEP 4

DIY Tent - Sheet Ties

Photo: bobvila.com

Cut 12- to 18-inch lengths of the parachute cord—as many lengths as you have eyelets—and put large knots at the end of each. String each cord all the way through an eyelet from behind the sheet, and tie it again on the other side so the eyelet is secure between two big knots. You should have several inches of cord left hanging, which you’ll use later to tie around the tent frame.

 

STEP 5

DIY Tent - Square Base

Photo: bobvila.com

On the ground, lay out the square base for the tent: two parallel furring strips connected by two dowels. To “fasten” them together, thread each dowel through the holes at the ends of the furring strips. (This no-hardware assembly makes it even easier to collapse for storage!)

 

STEP 6

DIY Tent - A Frame Tent

Photo: bobvila.com

Divide the last four pieces of furring strips into two sets of two; each set connects to the base to form the A-frame entrances at the front and back of the tent. Start at one entrance, and attach a furring strip to both corners by fitting the drilled hole into the dowel at the base. Then, bring the furring strips together at point, match up the holes on the ends, and slide the last dowel into the hole to hold them together. Repeat on the other side, attaching the last two furring strips to the dowels at the base.

 

STEP 7

DIY Tent - Tie Downs

Photo: bobvila.com

Throw the sheet over the frame and tie it down on each side. Let the reading and other tent-worthy summertime shenanigans begin!

When you’re done for the day, you can take the pieces apart and roll them up into the sheet, then simply wrap the cords around the bundle and tie to keep it tidy. But, for the record, my kids don’t want to take it down. In fact, they want to make another one so they can each have one in their bedrooms! Luckily, with a project this easy and inexpensive, an extra A-frame is totally achievable.

DIY Tent - Easy to Store

Photo: bobvila.com


5 Things to Do with… Charcoal

We've got 5 more reasons to stock up on grilling fuel! Save a handful of charcoal briquettes from your next barbecue for any of these handy around-the-home uses.

It’s a safe bet that you consider your grill’s bag of fuel a summer essential. Come the weekend, when you set the dusty black cubes alight, they transform standard raw burgers or steaks into crusty, juicy, memorable backyard feasts. But charcoal doesn’t just work wonders in your barbecue grill—you can also put those briquettes to use all over the house and yard. Read on for five extremely useful and inspiring ways to use up a few leftover lumps.

 

1. SUPERCHARGE YOUR COMPOST

Uses of Charcoal - Composting

Photo: fotosearch.com

Charcoal consists of wood char, which is mostly carbon—and carbon is essential for making good compost. (And actually, if your compost gives off an ammonia-like odor, that’s most likely a sign of a carbon shortage!) Toss a few pieces of the natural lump-style coal into your bin of food scraps and yard clippings to fortify your mix.

 

2. FRESHEN UP

Uses of Charcoal - Deodorize

Photo: thecheesethief.com

In spaces that lack air circulation—think closet, attic, basement—put out several lumps of additive-free charcoal in a lidded plastic container pierced with a few holes. The black nuggets will absorb funky odors and moisture, leaving the area smelling clean. Bonus: This arrangement works well in a fridge or under a sink too! (Just be sure to keep the container out of reach of children and pets.)

 

3. KEEP TOOLS CLEAN

Uses of Charcoal - Prevent Rust

Photo: fotosearch.com

Stash a bit of charcoal wherever you store your hammers and nails. Thanks to its powers of moisture absorption, the coal will help keep your gear rust-free. Try a similar trick for your garden implements: Each time you finish a bag of charcoal, pour the the leftover bits from the bottom of the bag into the pot where you stow your garden spades and weeding tools—they’ll stay shinier and sharper.

 

4. PLANT A TERRARIUM

Uses of Charcoal - Grow a Terrarium

Photo: flickr.com via gergelyhideg

For an adorably miniature indoor gardening project, tuck some charcoal into the bottom of a large vase or fishbowl, then fill it with potting soil and small plants. The charcoal will work to purify this mini ecosphere, warding off root rot and keeping the plants in your tiny terrarium healthier.

 

5. MAKE YOUR MARK

Uses of Charcoal - Drawing

Photo: fotosearch.com

Charcoal sticks have served as artists’ tools for centuries, and these sketching instruments are little more than whittled-down charcoal briquettes! Even an ordinary charcoal nugget can make a handy outdoor marker should you be missing your bucket of sidewalk chalk. Grab one when you want to sketch a new furniture layout on the patio or leave a sidewalk welcome message for guests arriving at your barbecue, then forget about it—it’ll wash away with the next summer rain.


Genius! Never Lose Your Keys Again with This Simple DIY

No matter how hard you try to keep them in one place, house and car keys have a way of disappearing when you need them the most. Stop the search by making your light switch double as a magnetic key holder!

DIY Key Holder

Photo: instructables.com via instructablesar

Tired of the frenzied search for your keys before leaving for work? You’re not the only one. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average person misplaces up to nine items each day, and keys top the list of what we misplace the most. Fortunately, thanks to this at-the-door organizer on Instructables, you can now stop losing these tiny essentials.

The simple trick comes from avid DIYer instructablesar, whose problem wasn’t that he misplaced his keys, but rather that his initial wall-mounted key rack was so over-utilized that he was tired of having to battle his wife for a peg. To avoid starting World War III, he devised a cheap and clever solution to keep peace on the home front: a magnetized switch plate that will hold a key or key ring until you grab it on your way out the door. Now that’s convenient.

Make this useful amenity your own in just a few easy steps! All you’ll need for this DIY is a strong neodymium magnet (available online or at your local hardware store). To give it enough bulk to fit securely in place, first nest the magnet in an appropriately sized rubber cap or wrap it in duct tape. Then, put the magnet just behind the switch plate, wedged in a bottom corner of the electrical box between the switch and the inside of the box. Reattach the plate, and you’re done. Just remember: As with all electrical DIYs, be sure to cut power to the light switch before reaching for the screwdriver.

Just think of all the time you’ll save in the morning by not having to turn over couch cushions and ransack your nightstand to track down your keys! Who knows—you might even have enough time to pull together a continental breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee before leaving for the office.

FOR MORE: Instructables

DIY Key Holder - Magnetized Light Switch

Photo: instructables.com via instructablesar


How To: Make a Tabletop with 2x4s

Use up scrap wood—and your free afternoon—building a simple tabletop from 2x4 lumber. Want to make it memorable? Apply not one, but a trio of stains. Then protect the finished wood from weather and wear with a urethane sealer.

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s

Photo: JNoonan

This DIY has a bit of a backstory: In my basement workshop—as a byproduct of about a half dozen previous projects—I’d managed to accumulate a small mountain of scrap wood. Though the pieces varied in size, most were 2×4 boards. For weeks, I pondered the question of how to use them. There wasn’t enough material to build anything substantial, but at the same time, this was much more wood than I would feel comfortable chucking or committing to kindling. I suddenly seized on the idea of turning those leftover boards into a rustic tabletop, but then I let the project momentum slow to a creep, and in the blink of an eye another few weeks had gone zooming by. Things finally came to a head one day when I was scanning the local giveaway listings. There, I discovered that one of my neighbors was trying to get rid of an old metal garden table. Upon seeing the pictures, I knew immediately that this would be a great table to top with the scrap wood surface I’d been planning to make with all those 2x4s!

Now, the project starts to get really interesting. While I knew that I would use pocket-hole joinery (my latest obsession) to assemble the tabletop, I couldn’t decide how to finish the wood. There were three different cans of Minwax Gel Stain on my shelf, in three different colors—Hickory, Cherrywood, and Honey Maple. In my head, I could make a credible argument in favor of each one. And though it would have helped to know where the table would eventually go, that was another question I couldn’t answer. Then it hit me: Rather than choose one stain, why not use them all? After all, I was constructing the tabletop from scraps, so it was going to have a homemade, mosaic look no matter what. In the end, using multiple stains would emphasize the rustic effect the table was going to achieve. Perfect! From there, having fought my way to a project plan, the rest came easy. Read on to see how I built the tabletop, then stained and sealed it with Minwax.

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Minwax Products

Photo: minwax.com

- 2×4 lumber
- Circular saw
- Palm sander
- Tack cloth or rags
- Mineral spirits
- Minwax® Gel Stain
- Rubber gloves
- Foam brushes
- Pocket-hole jig and screws
- Quick clamps
- Band clamp
- Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane aerosol

 

STEP 1

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Sanding Step

Photo: JNoonan

Before doing anything else, I measured the metal garden table to figure out what size the tabletop would need to be. With those dimensions in mind, I went hunting for scraps. Somewhere in my collection, I was able to find the right combination of 2×4 boards to cover the measured surface area. (Note: If you’ve got a large, motley assortment of wood, you might find it painstaking to cull the pile and piece together suitable boards. To make quicker work of the process, I suggest cutting a template out of cardboard and using it to test different arrangements.) For my part, starting with five 2×4 boards, all roughly the same length, I had to make just a handful of cuts with the circular saw to end up with exactly the right amount of material. In the above photo, those dozen smaller pieces may seem haphazardly strewn about, but when combined, they fit together perfectly to form a tabletop of the desired shape and size.

 

STEP 2

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Sanding Step 2

Photo: JNoonan

If you don’t intend to finish the wood, you can probably safely skip this step. But for me, it was crucial to sand each board, not only to ensure a level tabletop, but also to give the stain a surface to which it could easily adhere. Of course, no matter how much sanding you do, some woods (2x4s included) are not milled for finish work and may never get totally smooth. But that was fine with me, as I figured that any imperfections that remained in the end would work to underline the rustic quality of the piece. It was in that same spirit that, in the process of sanding the boards (with fine-grit paper, always in the same direction), I opted not to sand down a few of the chatter marks left by the sawmill. I knew the stain would take to the wood a bit differently in those spots than elsewhere, lending the tabletop a further layer of charm—or so I hoped. Once I was done sanding, after thoroughly cleaning each board with a moist tack cloth, I let enough time pass for the wood to dry out completely.

 

STEP 3

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Staining Step

Photo: JNoonan

I had been looking forward to this part—applying the Minwax Gel Stain. First, I tested the stains on a leftover board to confirm my suspicion that, used together, the three stains would complement one another perfectly. When the test confirmed my suspicions, I proceeded to stir each stain until it developed a creamy, smooth consistency—nothing like the watery liquid you might be used to. With its thicker formulation, Minwax Gel Stain has been specially designed to be user-friendly and easy to apply. With either a foam brush or a rag, the Gel Stain goes on in a controlled way, and you don’t have to worry about drips; just let it sit on the wood for about three minutes and wipe away the excess with a rag. Once I had finished staining all the wood pieces in alternating colors—Hickory, Cherrywood, and Honey Maple—I let about eight hours of dry time elapse. Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, I decided to darken the stain colors a bit by applying a second coat, using the same technique I’d used with the first.

 

STEP 4

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Pocket Holes

Photo: JNoonan

With the stain dry, I began to build the tabletop. Others might have chosen to build first and stain second. But I felt that, given the combination of colors being used, I was most likely to achieve satisfying results—or less likely to mess up—if I stained the boards before I joined them together. The picture above shows the unfinished undersides of the boards after I had almost finished fastening each one to its neighbors. First, I marked off where the pocket holes would be located. For each regular board, I planned to put in at least two pocket holes. I needed to put additional holes in the boards at the two long edges, because those boards would need to be secured not only to those in the adjoining row, but also to each other. Finally, after creating the pocket holes, I assembled the tabletop one row at a time, driving in the screws that magically brought the disparate pieces together into a cohesive surface.

 

STEP 5

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Sealing Step

Photo: JNoonan

Turning over the sturdy tabletop, I felt a thrill of vindication. Clearly, it wasn’t a mistake in the end to use all three stains for the same project. Before I could consider the job done, though, I would need to apply sealer—Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane—to protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and the wear and tear of day-to-day life. This was my first time experimenting with a spray-application sealer, and I loved it. Obviously, it’s important to have proper ventilation in your work area, and you’ve got to shake the can vigorously before spraying, but so long as you remember the basics, spraying couldn’t be more straightforward. Holding the Helmsman Spar Urethane can about a foot from the surface, spray in a series of even strokes, always in the same direction, until you’ve completed the first coat. Let the sealer dry for about four hours before applying any additional coats, and for best results, sand the entire surface before each application of a new layer.

Up to now, I had been completely focused on the upward-facing portion of the tabletop, the side that would be most visible. But as I drew nearer to the finish line, I started to doubt my earlier decision not to finish the bottom side too. So I went back and did the extra work, and though this additional step might have been unnecessary, I like to think it helped make the table fit better into its home for the summer, my front porch. All that was left now was to attach the top to the metal table. As easy as it was to finish the tabletop with Minwax, it was no mean feat to devise a way of securing the top to the base. Ultimately, the answer to my problem came in an unlikely form. On a typical day, electrical cable hardware would never have entered my mind, but as the result of a funny twist of fate—the same sort of coincidence that led me to undertake this project in the first place—these simple snap-and-click fasteners enabled me to attach the top to the base and call it day. Now, with this project under my belt, I’m starting to eye those 2x6s still lingering in my scrap pile!

How to Make a Tabletop with 2x4s - Three Color

Photo: JNoonan

This post has been brought to you by Minwax. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How To: Make a DIY Wasp Trap

Save yourself and your family from stings this season by crafting this homemade wasp trap from your kitchen recyclables.

Homemade Wasp Trap

Photo: fotosearch.com

Nothing can ruin a summer barbecue or evening by the pool like the threat of a wasp’s sting. Mind you, wasps aren’t all bad—the adults are nectar-eating pollinators, and they kill other insects (often those harmful to crops) to feed their carnivorous larvae. Still, a nearby nest can be dangerous, especially to those who are allergic to their sting. Should you find an infestation around your own home, you have a few options: call a pest-control company, kill them yourself with sprays, or trap them. While wasp traps are available for purchase, save yourself some money and get rid of your buzzy problem by crafting this hands-off solution using items you most likely already have sitting in your house.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- 2-liter soda bottle
- Scissors
- Packing or duct tape
- String
- Water
- Dish soap
- Bait (either meat grease, or a mixture of vinegar with jam or sugary, fermenting fruit)

Homemade Wasp Trap - Soda Bottle

Photo: flickr.com via noricum

STEP 1
Dig through your recycling to get the materials you need to make this trap, and get crafting. First, remove the bottle cap and cut the 2-liter soda bottle just under the neck, where the bottle becomes a straight cylinder. Invert the top portion of the bottle to serve as a funnel, and fit it inside the bottom half of the bottle. Tape the two pieces together around the cut edge so the funnel stays in place. Finally, poke two holes on opposite sides of the rim and attach some string to make a handle for hanging.

STEP 2
You’ll never catch any wasps without the right kind of bait—and the perfect lure is wholly dependent on the season. In early spring, when wasps are reproducing, they are looking for protein; later in summer, they want sugar.

Start with a base of water and a few drops of dish soap. (The dish soap will break up the surface tension of the water and aid in drowning the wasps.) In spring, add grease from cooked meat to the soapy solution; in summer, try vinegar and something sugary like jam. Pour the bait solution into the bottle, leaving an inch or so underneath the funnel so wasps can enter.

Note: Do not add honey to your trap. That particular sweet will attract honeybees, and you don’t want to kill these very important, nonaggressive pollinators.

STEP 3
You can set your traps out on the ground, but hanging them about four feet high will probably attract and catch more wasps. Find a good tree limb or fence post on your property—one that is at least 10 yards away from your family’s play, work, and gathering spaces—and hang up the homemade trap by its string handle.

STEP 4
Check back often to dispose of the drowned wasps and refill the bait. Be sure the wasps are dead before you open the trap to remove them—an escapee will go back to the nest and warn the colony, which may then swarm.

Bury the wasps you’ve caught, or shut them tightly in a plastic bag to dispose of in the garbage. Be sure not to crush the wasps while disposing of them, as the bodies would release a scent that alerts other wasps of danger and could potentially attract a swarm. Even easier, just dispose of the whole trap altogether and make a new one from that week’s recycling. There’s no need to wait for a colony to become well established before making your traps. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”