Category: How To’s & Quick Tips


Rustic Craft Room Island

This bright island adds a fun pop of color and much-needed extra storage space in this blogger's craft room.

Rustic Craft Room Island

Addicted 2 DIY mastermind, Katie, reimagined DIY island plans to create a focal-point storage spot for her craft room, ideal for stashing unwieldy items like her sewing machine. Discover how she put her personal stamp on this bright-colored beauty. 

MATERIALS & TOOLS
(Gathered from Ana White’s plans here):

-1 – 3/4″ thick top 24″ x 52″ (recommend a premade project panel)
-5 – 2×4 @ 8 feet long
-3 – 2×2 @ 8 feet long
-1 – 1×12 @ 8 feet long (cut the 31 1/2″ long pieces from this board)
-1 – 1×12 @ 4 feet long (cut the shelves from this board)
-3 – 1×3 @ 8 feet long
-3 – 1×2 @ 8 feet long
-1 – 1×6 @ 10 feet long
-1 – 1×8 @ 4 feet long
-4′ 1×10 board for the drawer stops
-2 – 10″x18″ 1/2″ plywood pieces for drawer bottoms (can be scraps or purchase a 1/4″ sheet)
-4 caster wheels that can be mounted on bottom of 2×4
-2 inch screws
-1 1/4 inch finish nails
-2 inch finish nails
-1-1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws
-2-1/2″ Pocket Hole Screws
-Elmer’s Wood Glue
-Measuring tape
-Square
-Pencil
-Safety glasses
-Hearing protection
-Kreg Jig
-Drill
-Circular Saw
-Miter Saw
-Brad Nailer
-Random Orbital Sander
-Sandpaper

STEP 1

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 1
I pre-cut all of my wood before beginning the project and used my orbital sander to sand all of my pieces with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper before attaching them together. There are a lot of nooks and crannies on this project and pre-sanding makes life a lot easier.

The plans don’t show exactly where to drill your pocket holes with the Kreg Jig, so I wanted to show where I placed mine. In the plans, it was recommended to also drill 3/4″ pocket holes in the top brace to attach the table top. I found later that after drilling the holes, only one ended up being exposed because of the 1×12 drawer/shelf sides.

STEP 2

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 2
I wanted to have the middle of the tabletop secured to the base, so I drilled 3/4″ pocket holes into the center divider. I drilled these same holes into the drawer/shelf sides on each end of the base.

STEP 3

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 3
I attached the drawer/shelf sides with 2″ screws and the drawer stops with 1 1/4″ pocket screws. I also used wood glue on all of my pieces prior to screwing them together. I’ve found with projects like this that you can never have too many clamps.

STEP 4

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 4
It was a little tough trying to find that perfect gap between the slats that would make them even all of the way across. I tried different pieces of scrap wood, measuring the distance between, etc. I finally grabbed one of my younger son’s old board books and it happened to be the perfect width! I set my gap on one end, glued and nailed it, then moved the book to the other end of the slat and did the same thing.

STEP 5

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 5
The drawers were really easy to assemble. I bought a 2’x4′ sheet of 1/4″ plywood for the bottoms of the drawers and ripped those down to size after making the box. I glued and nailed the plywood to the drawer bottoms and sanded any edges that weren’t perfectly flush.

STEP 6

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 6
The original plans call for 2×2 pieces to use as a brace to hold the drawers in. I added a second 2×2 above each brace to give the drawers some extra support, so that the drawers don’t fall out when you open them. Since the slides on the sides of the drawers are 1x2s, I cut a small piece of scrap wood an 1/8″ longer than the thickness of the drawer slides and used that as my guide when screwing in the top support.

STEP 7

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 7
I glued, clamped, and nailed the 1×2 trim to the top of the base and let that set up for a bit.

STEP 8

Rustic Craft Room Island Step 8
Since the bookcases in my craft room are a very dark color, it took me a while to decide how to finish the island. I finally decided to step way outside of my comfort zone and paint it a turquoise color. I chose Valspar Rushing Stream as the paint color in a satin finish. I knew I wanted to give the island a rustic patina, and this color was exactly what I envisioned.

Rustic Craft Room Island Final

 Thanks, Katie! For more colorful projects, visit Addicted 2 DIY.


DIY Outdoor Chaise

Made from little more than a few 2x4s and a bit elbow grease, this multifunctional outdoor chaise is a stunning style statement on any porch or patio.

Thumbs Up 2 x 4

DIY Outdoor Chaise

Inspired by a DIY conference, Amy of Her Tool Belt decided to try her hand at custom outdoor seating. After shopping smart for budget cushions and building a bench using altered plans from Ana White, Amy decided to up the ante and fashion a stylish, customizable chaise from 2x4s. Keep reading to see how her project became the perfect complement to her outdoor bench and small-space deck.

MATERIALS & TOOLS
- Self-tapping screws (such as Kregg or Deck brand)
- Pocket screws
- Wood glue
- Sand paper
Cut the following lengths from 2×4’s:
- 2 – 25 1/2″
- 2 – 25″
- 2 – 23 1/2″
- 1 – 22″
- 1 – 18″
- 2 – 12 1/2″
Cut the following lengths from 1×4’s (furring strips)
- 4 – 25″

STEP 1

DIY Outdoor Chaise

Join the two 12 1/2″ legs with the 18″ piece using pocket holes,  2 1/2″ self-tapping screws, and wood glue.

STEP 2

DIY Outdoor Chaise
Next, assemble the back legs. With glue and 2 1/2″ pocket screws, join the 22″ piece to the two 25 1/2″ pieces at 12 1/2″ from the bottom. Attach a 25″ piece to the top of the 25 1/2″ legs.

STEP 3

DIY Outdoor Chaise
Attach the two 23 1/2″ pieces between the front and back legs. Secure with glue and 2 1/2″ pocket screws.

STEP 4

DIY Outdoor Chaise
Attach the 1 x 4’s to the top of the seat. The picture shows five 1 x 4’s but four are good enough. I used wood glue and 2″ brad nails. If you need extra back support add a 25″ board to the top with 2 1/2″ screws. After all of the glue dries, lightly sand and seal with Thompson’s WaterSeal. If you want to stain your project, Thompson’s also has all-in-one waterproofing stain in an either an aerosol can or by the gallon.

DIY Outdoor Chaise

 Thanks, Amy! To explore more DIY building projects, visit Her Tool Belt.


Pro Tips: A Tiny House Dweller Shares 7 Lessons Learned

Extra-small abodes—which can be had for a song—are becoming a big deal all across America. A builder and his wife who have embraced the movement offer advice on downsizing your load and designing your miniature dream house.

Tiny Home Living - Wind River Tiny Homes

Photo: windrivertinyhomes.com

The average American spends a third to half of his or her income just putting a roof overhead, so it’s no surprise that the tiny house movement has caught on in a big way. It sure did with Travis and Brittany Pyke of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Opposed to pouring thousands down the drain in rent, Travis—a carpenter and construction worker—built the couple a pint-size bungalow in 2013. “What other young newlyweds can own their own home without a mortgage?” wife Brittany enthuses. About a year later, Travis and two friends partnered up to launch Wind River Tiny Homes, creating downsized dwellings for others for prices starting at $40K. So exactly how tiny is tiny? Between 100 and 300 square feet for a trailer-ready home and 500 to 600 square feet for one with a permanent foundation. Because living large in a little space does require adjustment, we asked the Pykes to share their strategies for happily ever after in an itty-bitty abode.

Tiny Home Living - Travis & Brittany Pyke

Photo: windrivertinyhomes.com

Have Your Reasons
Tiny home living obviously demands dependence on a lot less stuff, but don’t think of it as giving things up. “Write a list of your life goals,” says Brittany. “Mine included being debt free by age 30 and having the freedom to travel. Knowing what your ‘big picture’ dreams are can help in the process of downsizing.”

Cut Back in Categories
You know you need to live with less, but where do you even begin? “Downsize in stages to prepare for a move into a tiny house,” says Travis, advising that you learn to live with less by cutting back on one type of item at a time. “For me, it was easiest to start with clothes; for you it may be kitchenware or office supplies,” he says. Starting with the easiest category will get you in a positive mindset when you succeed. “Take stock of each item, considering how important it truly is. If you haven’t used it in the past month, you don’t need it,” Travis says. “You will find living with less actually feels like more because you’ll actually use and love every item you own. No more junk. No more clutter.”

Tailor Your Home to Your Life
As with building any house—but particularly when you design a tiny home—every nook and corner, material, and design needs to work for you. The two most crucial considerations: lifestyle and location. “Where do you spend most of your time?” Travis asks. “Do you cook and entertain a lot? Do you want storage for a certain hobby or collection?” Knowing your needs and desires will let you allot appropriate space in your home. Location then dictates things like insulation, windows, utilities, and overall materials used. “For example, a tiny home in Vermont could have closed-cell spray foam insulation, strategically placed windows that allow heat from the sun to come in, durable siding, and fixtures like a wood stove,” Travis says. “A tiny home in Florida could have lighter-toned siding to reduce heat, solar panel installment, and more outdoor living space.”

Tiny Home Living - Lofted Bed

Photo: windrivertinyhomes.com

Stay Space-Smart
The key to designing a tiny house is to eliminate dead space. Almost every nook and cranny can squeeze in some sort of cubby storage or a shelf. “You can also get creative with functional shelving, such as a bookcase that also doubles as a ladder to the loft,” Travis explains, “or a shelf-table that hinges down against the wall to provide space for entertaining. And as long as you don’t compromise your insulation, you can even build things like a spice cabinet or a drop-down ironing board between wall studs.”

Understand Your Utilities
Most tiny house plumbing operates just like that of a typical home, minus how the water hooks up and goes out. “The hookup can be as simple as attaching an RV hose to an external spigot and screwing it into your tiny house,” Travis says. “A composting toilet eliminates ‘black water’ or, if your zoning allows, you could make your own gray and black water leach field.”

HVAC options vary and tend to depend on climate. “Propane and gas heaters are very efficient, and you can find aesthetically pleasing units, such as those made for sailboat cabins,” says Travis. “For cooling, you could have a typical window air conditioner, a mini-split system, or simply strategically placed screens and fans to keep a nice airflow going.”

And speaking of small stuff, the average utility bill for a tiny home ranges from $30 to $50—electric, water, sewage, just about everything but your cable and Internet.  “I wouldn’t have been able to start this company from its bootstraps if I didn’t have minimal financial obligation each month,” Travis says.

Find a Place to Call Home
One of the big hurdles in the tiny house movement is—literally—where to live. “Zoning in some places is completely against it, yet in some cities there are ways around the zoning to make it legal,” Travis says. “What’s exciting is that smaller towns and cities—including Spur, Texas, and Walsenburg, Colorado—are restructuring zoning codes and labeling themselves tiny-house friendly.” Wind River Tiny Homes is also working to establish tiny home communities in both urban settings and rural settings. “We are passionate about creating legal spaces where ‘tiny housers’ can park their dream homes and live in a like-minded community,” Travis says.

Enjoy the Closeness
Tiny home enthusiasts find privacy overrated: “I believe our marriage is richer because we can’t hide in another area or floor of our home,” Brittany says. “We face small disagreements as they come, and our communication is enhanced. And although we both value ‘me space,’ mine is simply a chair in a corner of our tiny home, where I can curl up under my favorite blanket with a good book.”

Tiny Home Living - Small Kitchen

Photo: windrivertinyhomes.com


How To: Build a Cinder Block Wall

A well-constructed cinder-block wall can bring privacy, security, and visual interest to your landscaping. Although building a wall is a challenging project, it's one a determined and conscientious DIYer can tackle—if armed with these detailed instructions.

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall

Photo: quikrete.com

Privacy, safety, security—these are only a few of the reasons that homeowners build solid, durable garden walls. Although it’s immensely satisfying to construct one, it’s certainly no easy feat. If the average do-it-yourself project takes only part of a day and minimal heavy lifting, then, well, this isn’t your average job. That said, with careful planning the process can be straightforward, and the project is certainly within reach—provided you have the strength to lift and place 30-pound cinder blocks. Of all the skills involved, working with mortar may be the most challenging, as doing so calls for some technique and finesse. But no matter your skill level or experience, these step-by-step instructions from QUIKRETE® can help you transform a pile of cinder blocks into an attractive, lasting element of your hardscape. Before reading any further, however, it’s critical to note that every block wall, structural or not, requires a solid footing. As there are varying definitions of what constitutes a building code-compliant footing, the following instructions assume that an inspection-ready foundation already exists. If you need help understanding the relevant building codes in your municipality, be sure to contact a contractor, inspector, or code enforcement specialist.

 

MATERIALS AND TOOLS

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall - Mortar Mix

Photo: quikrete.com

- QUIKRETE® Mason Mix Type S
- Cinder blocks
- Line chalk
- Plastic mixing tub or wheelbarrow
- Mixing hoe (or electric drill with paddle mixer)
- Masonry brick trowel
- Mason’s line
- 4′ level
- Measuring tape
- Jointing tool

 

STEP 1

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall - Prep Layout

Photo: quikrete.com

Start by simply laying out the cinder blocks for the first course of your wall. The goal here is simple: You’re determining the number of blocks necessary for the desired wall size. As you place the blocks, remember to leave a 3/8-inch gap between each one. These gaps are stand-ins for the 3/8-inch mortar joints that will appear in the finished wall (not only between each block, but also between each course). You may already know that cinder blocks are sold in nominal dimensions that assume the presence of, and take into account, a 3/8-inch mortar joint. So, though the standard block may be billed as 8″ x 8″ x 16″, it actually measures 7-5/8″ x 7-5/8″ x 15-5/8″. As a result, as you’re figuring out the number of blocks you’ll need for the base course, it’s essential to accommodate for the space to be filled in with mortar. A 3/8-inch-thick plywood scrap can help you make each gap precise and uniform. Once you are satisfied with the dry fit of your base run, snap a chalk line on either side of the blocks to serve as a reference. Then, once you have removed the blocks from the footing, you are ready to begin in earnest.

 

STEP 2

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall - Mortaring

Photo: quikrete.com

It’s time to prepare the mortar. For cinder-block walls (and brick walls too), choose QUIKRETE® Mason Mix Type S. Forgiving to those who are not experts in masonry projects, the QUIKRETE® preblended mix remains workable for a long period of time, with no sacrifice of the high-bond strength that yields a successful project. In preparing the mortar, pay close attention to the instructions printed on the package. There are only two ingredients—mortar mix and water; the trick is to strike the appropriate ratio between the two. After adding both ingredients to a wheelbarrow or mixing bin, mix them using either a mixing hoe or an electric drill with a paddle-type mixing attachment. Continue mixing until you obtain a consistency that can be easily troweled. Once the mortar is ready—and once you’ve dampened the surface of the footing—lay down a 1-inch bed of mortar along the chalk lines you snapped in Step 1. Finally, use your trowel to run a V-shaped furrow down the center of the bed of mortar; when you set the blocks onto the mortar, this furrow helps distribute the mortar evenly, forcing it to the edges of the blocks.

 

STEP 3

How to Make a Cinder Block Wall - Initial Corner

Photo: quikrete.com

Now that you’ve applied the mortar bed to the footing, move on to laying down the first course of cinder blocks. Start at one end of the chalk outline you snapped in Step 1. Press the first block, a corner block, into the mortar. Be careful to create a 3/8-inch mortar joint on its underside. Don’t let the block slide out of place, as that could displace the mortar and upset the joint. Generally speaking, though, there’s no need to be gentle or painstaking when handling cinder blocks. Simply grab each by the sides and, looking down through the hollow cores, set the block in position. Because the corner block defines the vertical and horizontal level for succeeding blocks in the course, do take the time to double-check that the first block is both level and properly aligned. Once you’re satisfied, trim and remove excess mortar. Next, walk on over to the opposite end of the planned wall and, using the same technique as before, set down another corner block. Check its level and alignment, then trim away the excess mortar. Now, run a mason’s string between the two blocks to help you maintain uniform alignment as you add the rest of the course.

 

STEP 4

How to Make a Cinder Block Wall - Fill Blocks

Photo: quikrete.com

With a block set at each corner, your next step is to fill in the middle. While for the corner blocks you applied mortar only to the footing, you’ll need to “butter” one end of each of the middle blocks to adhere it to the adjacent block. Do this by adding mortar to the flanges—the edges that jut out from the block’s body. Here’s how to do the buttering: Stand the block upright on one end. Then, with a loaded-up trowel, swipe down to leave a bead of mortar along each flange. (The mortar may not stick every time. If it falls off, start over with fresh mortar and try to push the material down on the inside flange edge.) You need to mortar only one end of the block, and you can ignore the web—the partitions between the hollow cores. But don’t forget to slice a V into the applied mortar with the tip of your trowel. Once you’ve done that, press the block into the mortar bed on the footing. As you do so, angle the block’s buttered end up against the flanges of the previously laid block. Check to make sure the block is level and flush with its neighbor. If so, proceed. Continue adding blocks in this way to complete the remainder of the course.

 

STEP 5

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall - Second Course

Photo: quikrete.com

To begin the second course, apply a 1-inch-thick mortar bed along the top edges of the first. At each end of the wall, set an 8″ x 8″ x 8″ cinder block, smooth side facing out. Known as half blocks, these smaller blocks are used to create a running bond pattern that lends strength to the wall. (To continue the pattern, begin alternate courses with half blocks.) Once both corners are in place, run a mason’s line between them to serve as a height guide for the blocks to be added in the middle. As in the first course, butter the flanges on one end of each block you add to the middle. As you make progress and the wall begins to take shape, don’t forget to turn the mortar occasionally. This will help keep it workable for a longer period of time. Also, remember that all the mortar joints—beneath the blocks and between the blocks—must be 3/8-inch thick. When you reach the final course, rather than using standard or half blocks, consider using smooth-topped cap blocks for a finished look. Cap blocks are laid like any other block. Apply mortar along the top edges of the last course and then, after setting the corners, lay in all the side-buttered middle blocks.

 

STEP 6

How to Make a Cinder Block Wall - Jointing

Photo: quikrete.com

At this point, even though the wall may appear complete, there’s still some work left to do. Inspect the mortar joints; once they have set up to the point at which you can leave a slight thumbprint in the material, proceed to “strike” them. To do so, run a concave jointing tool along each joint, compressing and smoothing the mortar, while removing the excess. Address the horizontal joints first, followed by the vertical joints. Working in that order allows any residual water to run freely down the wall. For best results, strike all the joints twice and keep the jointer wet as you work, dampening the tool if and when necessary.

 

Watch a video demonstration of block-wall building, courtesy of QUIKRETE®!

For more even more details on building a block wall, visit QUIKRETE® now!

How to Build a Cinder Block Wall

Photo: quikrete.com

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


Quick Tip: Put Chalk in Your Toolbox to Prevent Rust

This classroom classic can be the solution you never knew you needed to keep all sorts of household metals from tarnishing.

Prevent Toolbox Rust

Photo: fotosearch.com

It’s a great feeling to have all of your tried-and-true tools in one handy toolbox, but that feeling can quickly be eclipsed if you go to grab something only to discover that its shiny metal exterior is now covered in rust. There’s an easy solution, though: Once you’ve finished cleaning and shining them, simply drop a few pieces of chalk in your toolbox to help keep moisture to a minimum. Less moisture will mean less worry over rust.

Prevent Toolbox Rust - Chalk

Photo: fotosearch.com

No need to stock up on anything fancy; a bundle of the typical blackboard stuff will do the trick. Then all you need to do is remember to switch in a new handful of chalk every few months. (The same pieces won’t keep your metal tools fresh for years.) But once you get into the habit of switching them out with the changing of the seasons, it’s a simple task to follow through on—and one with big time-saving results in the long run. The genius of this trick can be applied in other moisture-loving areas of your home, too! Chalk works wonders tucked into a drawer with your good silverware or wrapped in a small sachet in your jewelry box to help prevent tarnish. Why can’t all household maintenance be this easy?


Weekend Projects: 5 Stunning Stained Glass DIYs

Design and DIY your own stained glass for a charming accent that gives a nod to the intricate detailing of older architecture. Any of these five projects will bring a little timeless beauty to your home over the weekend.

Far from the old-fashioned colored glass familiar to church windows or your great-grandmother’s living room, today’s stained glass crafts for the home blend the charm and character of old architecture with modern-day style—and at a fraction of the cost it would be to buy the real thing. Just think of it as Stained Glass 2.0, and remember that you make the rules. Whatever the project, combine your favorite colors for a fresh and unique creation. You’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish with a steady hand, some glass paint, and an eye-catching pattern.

 

COLOR INSIDE THE LINES

DIY Stained Glass - Mason Jars

Photo: masonjarcraftslove.com

Sure, you’ve seen a million ways to decorate and repurpose a humble mason jar, but leave it to the gurus at Mason Jar Crafts Love to take it to the next level. For the design, think about working in blocks, a lá Tetris, using the standard glass paint and instant lead. Just be careful: The rounded shape of the jar will make the paint more susceptible to run if you’re too liberal. Perfect for a vase or translucent storage of knickknacks, the colors will add visual interest to any table or shelf.

 

EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED

DIY Stained Glass - Luminary

Photo: craftsbyamanda.com

Pull together all the patience you can muster when designing this rectangular luminary from Crafts by Amanda. More time consuming than the painting is the drying—24 hours per side, not including the time upfront to lay down the leading. But the finished project is well worth the wait! Created from collectible containers for the ’90s Beanie Baby toys, this project just proves that you can dress up many surfaces with stained glass techniques—even plastic storage cases.

 

FULL COVERAGE

DIY Stained Glass - Window

Photo: abeautifulmess.com

For a design as close to Tiffany windows as you can get, start with a glass insert the size of a window in need of a little privacy—or one along a wall in need of more color! Apply metal strips in place of the craftier paint-on leading, using a ruler to ensure the straightest lines and angles possible. And don’t skimp on the glass stain; it creates a more realistic texture, say the ladies at A Beautiful Mess. Once it dries, it’s ready to prop up or mount in the window for a stunning view.

 

GLOBAL INFLUENCE

DIY Stained Glass - Garden Globe

Photo: club.chicacircle.com

No need to spend big bucks on garden decor when you can craft a glass globe that catches the sunlight, like this one seen on Club Chica Circle. Copy this simply genius structure by flipping a rounded-bottom glass vase upside down and sitting it in the top of a weighted terracotta pot. Then outline your pattern of choice in 3-D opaque enamel paint and fill in with glass paint, keeping Q-tips at the ready to catch any drips. Whether you color the terracotta pot to match or leave it’s natural clay, this garden accent is sure to brighten your front lawn.

 

GET THE HANG OF IT

DIY Stained Glass - Wall Art

Photo: thepinkpeonyoflejardin.blogspot.com

Add unique architectural details to your home regardless of its style using a basic picture frame and this tutorial from The Pink Peony of Le Jardin. Pick a pattern print-out that mimics a basic window design, then trace the lines through the glass with instant lead stickers and fill in the colors. Finally, a coat of crystal clear paint adds texture and lends a look of authenticity to the DIY—guests will think you’ve picked this one-of-a-kind “vintage” piece up at an estate sale.


Genius! Turn a Matchbook into a Mini Notepad

Matchbooks aren't just for lighting up anymore. Make this quick, portable, and free notepad to keep all the little things in one place—your back pocket!

DIY Matchbook Notepad - Now and Then

Photo: etsy.com

Known as phillumenists, or “lovers of light,” matchbook collectors number about 7,000 worldwide—the population of a small Midwestern town. And really, it’s hard not to appreciate the handiness and beauty of the tiny packaging. Part of what turns matchbook users into collectors are the creative designs that grace the covers, from those of advertisers who produced pocket-size promotions to works by budding artists. Whether you have a single memento matchbook or an entire lot, you can continue to enjoy that packaging long beyond the last light by converting it into a staple-bound notebook. Measuring just 1.5″ x 1.75″ when folded, they’re the perfect size for some scribbles—large enough to write on, but small enough to slip in your wallet.

Any matchbook will work for this DIY, but choose a vintage one for a more colorful look. First things first: Remove all those matches! Measure the area where the matches were, and cut paper to size. Stack the pages neatly, place them inside the book, and fold the bottom lip over them. A single staple should hold all papers in place. Use your tiny notebook for anything: Rip out a page with your contact info for a new friend, jot down a grocery list, or finally map out that secret middle school invention.

Vintage lovers, MacGyvers-in-training, notebook addicts, and traditionalists will all love having a one-of-a-kind travel-size notebook. So, if you do decide to make one for a friend, remember that it’s best to make two at a time—just in case you’re tempted to pocket one for yourself!

FOR MORE: Design*Sponge

DIY Matchbook Notebook - Don't Forget

Photo: designsponge.com


How To: Cut Cement Board

The strength and durability of cement board make it a great choice for home improvement projects—but they also make it a little more difficult to manipulate. Learn the right tools and methods to make cutting through the rock-hard material a snap.

How to Cut Cement Board - Used in Tile Projects

Photo: fotosearch.com

Do-it-yourself types depend on cement backer board for numerous projects, including tiled walls, flooring, and even countertops. Stronger than plywood and less susceptible to damage from rot, cement backer board makes for a reliable, more durable building material than wood. Its strength and cement construction, however, present more challenges than wood-based materials do when it comes time to do the cutting. Fortunately, equipped with the right tools, techniques, and a little patience, you can slice through this sturdy material.

How to Cut Cement Board - Stacks of Cement Board

Photo: fotosearch.com

Score and Snap Thinner Sheets
One of the easiest techniques used to cut cement backer board is to score the sheet and then snap it along the cut line. Lay your cement board flat, and draw a line with a carpenter’s pencil where you intend to cut. Then, place a straightedge along the line and drag either a drywall utility knife or a scoring tool against it. Repeat your cuts two to three times to make them deeper, which will make snapping the board easier. Once you’ve finished your cuts, stand the board up and press your knee behind the line you’ve scored; a little pressure will cause the section of the board to split, leaving the fiberglass mesh intact. Cut the connecting mesh apart using a utility knife.

Cut Straight Lines with a Circular Saw
For cuts that are a little more smooth and efficient, turn to power tools. Circular saws, while more often used to cut wood, can also make quick and clean cuts in cement board—and are often conveniently on hand in the workshops of DIY-savvy homeowners. Fit your circular saw with a carbide-tipped wood-cutting blade, choosing one with as few teeth as possible in order to minimize the amount of dust given off as you saw. Operate your circular saw as you typically would, pushing it slowly and evenly through your cement backer board.

Punch Out Circles with Power Tools
For DIYers in need of small circular holes for wiring or piping, there are a couple of tool options. One method involves a drill and masonry bit. Since masonry bits come in a variety of sizes, it is easy to pick one up in the exact size needed. Simply attach the bit to the drill, mark with a carpenter’s pencil the area that needs to be cut, and drill the bit into the cement board. With a little pressure, the bit will cut its way through the backer board.

A jigsaw fitted with a metal-cutting blade or carbide-grit blade can produce larger rounded cuts in addition to standard straight cuts. Start by drilling a hole with a masonry bit, and then use the jigsaw to expand it and continue the work. When utilizing a jigsaw for the job, it’s important to first mark the board with a carpenter’s pencil for guidance. While cutting round holes with a jigsaw is more challenging than using a masonry bit, the process allows for a more custom hole size.

 

A word of caution before you begin: As with any home maintenance project, proper protection should be used when cutting cement backer board. Before you get started, be sure to don both eye goggles and a respirator mask. Cutting through the cement will produce dust that can be hazardous if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes.


Quick Tip: Remove a Tree Stump with Epsom Salt

Sick of stumps? Try our surprising solution—featuring a common bath product—to rid your yard of troublesome tree remains.

How to Kill Tree Stumps - Tree Stump

Photo: fotosearch.com

Removing a tree from your yard can be a tricky and expensive process, but it’s especially frustrating when you still wind up stuck with a stubborn stump. Sometimes, when its vast root system continues to send up leafy shoots, the stump will continue to grow rather than decompose long after the tree is cut down. Fortunately, there’s a favorite bath-time essential that moonlights as an easy stump solution: Epsom salt. With a few supplies and a little patience, you can easily—and naturally—remove this leftover eyesore from your yard.

How to Kill Tree Stumps - Epsom Salt

Photo: fotosearch.com

Start by using a power drill to drill holes that are at least a quarter of an inch wide, about 3 inches from the outside of the stump. Drill into the stump as far as you can, placing the holes at least an inch apart. When you have drilled as many holes into the stump as possible, fill them with Epsom salt and then add enough water to saturate the minerals without spillage. Finally, sprinkle Epsom salt around the entire base, and finish by covering the stump with a tarp to prevent rainwater from washing any of your secret ingredient out of the holes. Although it could take up to a month or more, the solution should eventually cut off the moisture supply to the roots, allowing you to pry up the tree stump and get rid of its intrusive presence for good.


This 1 Clever Product Turns Anything into a Table

Crafting your own furniture has never been so simple! Check out the sleek, modern, and easy-to-add clamp legs that are revolutionizing the idea of custom pieces.

Floyd Leg - Kitchen Table

Photo: thefloydleg.com

Got an old wood plank, used door, or slab of countertop sitting around? Well, then you’re halfway to a truly one-of-a-kind custom table! If you had a set of four clamp-on legs, you could set up (and later break down) an extra work surface in minutes. That’s the idea co-founders Kyle Hoff and Alex O’Dell dreamed up, which resulted in The Floyd Leg, a new line of reusable table legs that instantly transform flat surfaces into tabletops.

“I was moving frequently between cities and constantly disposing of furniture,” Hoff says, noting that nothing was terribly convenient to pack up and transport. “The legs were born out of these circumstances, and the idea resonated with our friends.” It was an immediate hit with consumers around the world, too. Launched as a Kickstarter project two years ago, The Floyd Leg had a successful initial run in which more than 1,500 sets were supplied and shipped from the Detroit warehouse to 33 countries.

Floyd Leg - Coffee Table

Photo: thefloydleg.com

Today, the company that started with simple, sleek clamp legs now sells four different products—including one that lets you craft custom floating shelves from flat scrap materials. The company’s online shop lists two sizes of the original leg, one 16 inches and the other 29.5 inches tall (the height of a standard table). Each set of legs supports up to 75 pounds, making them suitable for light-duty use holding a side table, foyer catchall, plant seat, or coffee table. A heavier-duty Floyd Utility Set meets more substantial needs, holding up to 125 pounds—perfect for a dining table, work desk, or even a Ping-Pong table! Constructed of powder-coated steel, The Floyd Leg is available in classic black and white as well as bold hues that include Vermillion Red, Saffron Yellow, and Pastel Blue, while the Utility Set comes in black or white, with a cross-bracing strap of black, green, or gray. No matter how you customize, all options pack plenty of personality into the sleek modern design.

Purchase The Floyd Leg, starting at $179 for a set of four.