Read more about the article Upgrading a Builder grade railing
Finished Hand Rail

Upgrading a Builder grade railing

The problem

Some of our want list had to be delayed to replace a poor quality handrail installed by the builder. Needless to say the railing failed due to poor preparation and material selection. Upgrading a builder grade railing can add value to any home.

When learning how to remodel and build homes, my father always spent the time to hand select every 2×4, 2×6 etc. etc. I hated it. But as I got older I excepted the process and I just do it naturally. The reason I mention this is due to the material that was used to construct the railing we are replacing for this project.

As a force of habit I automatically go to the best quality material I can locate and scrutinize every piece. So this brings us to the choice the builder used. In the vast number of years I’ve been remodeling I have never stumbled across a finger jointed 2×4. This is the wrong choice for an outdoor wood project.

I know the builder chose this material because it is cheap and with a fresh coat of paint who would know. The choice of material is not the only mistake. During installation proper preparation did not occur. The exposed end grain was not sealed and I could not find any signs of a primer being used. Poorly prepped and a low quality paint job and the railing is destined to fail. The failure is the railing had rotted when exposed to the elements.

Rotted railing.

I did paint them after the first year and again a year later, however I could see that replacement was in the future. The picture above shows the paint blistering at the base trim. The lower rail is basically just paint. When removing the post the extent of damage was remarkable.

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Read more about the article High Bar Renovation. An easy upgrade using MDF and Paint.
High Bar Renovation

High Bar Renovation. An easy upgrade using MDF and Paint.

Before we can start.

Finished High Bar
High Bar Renovation

This project was not on the to-do list. The contractor who built the house used very cheap paint and after a few years, it showed. We decided to paint the family room and kitchen in the future but with all the rain this past year we moved forward and repainted. The original color was called Greige and is somewhere between brown and gray. Cleaning the paint without it showing was impossible and literally would wipe off as you tried. We opted to change the color to one that was slightly brighter and of better quality. We also applied primer over the original paint to ensure the new paint would last. For our High bar Renovation, we added to our painting project to tie the whole space together.

This post is not about painting the living space. We chose a neutral Grey which ties in better with the trim. However, when it came to the kitchen island we knew it needed something more. Also, the Grey did not contrast with the Granite countertop which is grey’s whites and blacks.

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Read more about the article Oak Side Table. What’s is your Tree?

Oak Side Table. What’s is your Tree?

A client came to me and asked if I could make him an Oak side table as a Christmas gift. This was Mid December. Not one to say no I asked him what he was looking for. He asked for a simple table to sit beside his mother’s chair so she could enjoy the view of the property from the window. Sounds simple enough so I asked what type of wood he wanted and size and so on. “Well,” he says “Not to make it more difficult I have this tree I cut down a while back” Remember this is mid-December. Not deterred I pressed on and asked if I could see the wood and asked how long it had been cut down into slabs. He figured about a year or so.

I just happened to be between projects at the time and had wanted to work from slab to finished project for an upcoming project and thought the Oak side table would be a chance to see how it goes. Making no promises I agreed to take on the project. He provided several slabs and I began work.

Small Red Oak Slab

The slabs had some concerns but he provided enough slabs to make more than one table.

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Read more about the article Potting and Garden Shed How we built it

Potting and Garden Shed How we built it

Framing the Potting and Garden Shed

The Potting and Garden shed was built out of necessity and I didn’t think it would be post-worthy at the time of construction. This was June of 2016. The shed is just one of those things people build or purchase for its utility and nothing more. It houses all the things needed to tend to the yard and garden and some additional storage for those things you only need at certain times of the year.

The building is more than a basic Potting and Garden shed. We stick-built the shed rather than purchasing. We used 2″x4″ instead of 2″x3″ lumber at 16″ on center. The shed is made more like a house than a shed. We used a high pitch for the roof and a ridge beam to keep the interior space open.

With the shed roughed in, we added 2 access points. A standard walk-thru door for easy access when only needing to grab a rake or whatever and, a larger door for the mower.

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Read more about the article Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting

Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting

The Handcrafted Craftsman Style Trim and Wainscoting for our bath remodel are complete. The update has added to the craftsman theme of this home. This update was to continue the theme from our bathroom makeover. One of the key decisions for this makeover is to replace the contractor-grade door trim. The trim was not only generic it was of poor quality material and horrible installation. The finger-jointed trim showed through every 4 to 5 inches. Sanding would have been very labor-intensive. None of the doors closed properly leaving gaps you could see through.

Trim

During the removal of the trim from the doors, we found the door jambs were not correctly installed. We corrected all of the door jambs during this upgrade and now they all operate properly.

In keeping with the Craftsman theme, I needed an economical way to obtain the trim. Since we are painting the trim white we opted for using MDF. Fortunately, I have a local supplier that carries it in several thicknesses. 1/4, 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4″ in 4×8 sheets. All the trim was produced in my shop for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase. I could also adust the dimensions to ensure it appears correct in this home.

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Read more about the article Small Upcycled Garden Bridge for a runoff
Small Upcycled Garden Bridge

Small Upcycled Garden Bridge for a runoff

Small Upcycled Garden Bridge

If you live in North Carolina you know we have had a bit more rain than usual. We have three fields that are separated by runoff and tree lines. The fields are cut off during these rainy periods. We always said we will just build a bridge but it seemed to always dry out enough and the bridge can wait. Well, it is finally time to start the Upcycled Garden Bridge

Upcycled parts

I had been saving scrap metal for various projects around the property and came across two pieces of extruded aluminum that are the same. They are both arched perfectly for a small footbridge but also strong enough to drive over with the lawnmower.

Extruded aluminum
Extruded aluminum
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Read more about the article Craftsman Bathroom Vanity for a second bath

Craftsman Bathroom Vanity for a second bath

Craftsman Bathroom Vanity for a second bath remodel. The contractor grade vanity will be replaced with a counter height vanity we are in the process of building for this post. Our material for this came from a large T.V. entertainment center. We kept this cabinet in storage thinking there has to be some other way to use it. The problem with those centers is they are too big for most rooms. We considered a pantry or wardrobe conversion, but it did not meet the look we are trying to create.

disassembly

I was tired of looking at it in my shop soI decided it was time just to cut it up and take it to the landfill. As I was disassembling it, I realized that the panels are solid and flat, so I stacked it up and tried to think of other uses for the material. I am working on another project in the shop at this time, beehives. I was going to make a few, and this material would be an excellent choice for this project. There will be a separate post for the hives coming soon. That evening we were discussing the upcoming bathroom renovation. So the plan changed, and I will use this material for the Vanity. We want to have a counter height Vanity. If you look at the cost of new material, this is a good use of the old entertainment center.

I like to look at furniture at places like Craigslist, Letgo or consignment stores for sources of material for repurposing. You can pick up one of these entertainment centers for 40 to 50 bucks or even free. Most are wood but, be sure not to waste your time on pressboard or particleboard.

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Craftsman Style Bath a simple Update

For our Craftsman Style Bath project, we are removing the contractor-grade cabinetry and making a craftsman style transition to continue the theme for this home. Our Craftsman Vanity has been crafted for this renovation and is ready for installation.

Demolition

The first step was removing the cabinet, toilet, and flooring. The shower The shower is a good condition and we will keep this in place. We will add trim to blend with our new style

Craftsman Style Bath

With the room cleared, we have a clean slate to work with. The flooring came out quickly. Once removed we found a lot of staples to remove from the subfloor. We will be using a large format tile. To reduce the possibility of cracking, we need to ensure we have a flat smooth surface. A staple can create a place for cracking to occur.

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Spring Landscape Project part 2

2021 Update!

It has been two years since we added our landscaping. in our Spring landscape project part 2. Our plants have filled in as well as the lawn. Maintenance has been relatively easy with the occasional weed whacking along the stone but it’s mostly mow and go. We changed the wood edging on the inner flower bed to stone to match the main flower bed. The ground cover has been filling in and we hope that we will not have to mulch that area soon. We may be changing out some of the flowers that are getting crowded out.

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Spring Landscape Project part 1

It’s that time of year. Our spring landscape project has been on hold since we moved here in 2016. The weather has been very wet last year and so far this year. So we don’t lose any more time we are going to move forward and hope for some dry weather.

This is not a woodworking related post. The weather here has kept me focused on projects like the farm table, laundry remodels and a few other projects, but sometimes you need to take a break and get some work done around the house.

Landscape project

Our first flower bed was done in 2017 to add some color and make mowing easier. A Japanese Maple is our focal point in the main flower bed. We added a few taller ornamental conifers to add height and some daylilies and Back eyed Susans for a splash of color. Finished up with some black mulch and called it a season.

The walkway is the same stone as the driveway. We have not been a fan of this. We had no choice. The ground was very muddy when we moved into our new house. because it was so wet that year we needed something so we could move our furniture in with. During the next part of this project, we will be changing this to flagstone.

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The Woodworking Shows

The Woodworking Shows are a traveling trade show that moves from city to city showcasing new woodworking tools and equipment. The Woodworking Shows offer live demo’s and classes available to participate in during the show from many master craftsman. The first show I attended was in Tampa Florida about eight years ago. I liked going to the woodworking shows for several years. If you go to a show, you can learn about new tools and technics. I also benefited from the excellent discounts at the shows on the latest gadgets. One of the things I learned is that a little extra investment in better tools made for better results and also kept my interest in woodworking. If you attend one of the many live demonstrations, you can ask specific questions about the product or the steps used and why. The vendors and craftsman have extensive knowledge and enjoy helping old and new woodworkers alike.

It has been a few years since I could attend a show. I left Florida for North Carolina and spent the last few years setting up shop here. Now that I am in North Carolina I was able to go to this year’s show in Charlotte with the bonus of taking my now adult son with me. I had dragged him to so many in Florida, but he never showed much interest then. Now with his own family, he has an interest. We have worked on several projects together, and I can see he paid attention even if not interested at the time.

Table full of old Bench Planes
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