Posted by Eileen
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Years ago, I painted an old dresser white with turquoise knobs. It looked really cute, but it was apparent that it was painted - the surface wasn't anywhere near the quality of the furniture you would buy from the store. There are so many tutorials online about painting furniture, and so many say that you can skip sanding or priming. Here's my advice - don't skip sanding, don't skip priming, and use a high-quality paint.
Lately, I had been in the market for a new desk in my sitting room. I was currently using an old kitchen table. Ash was in the process of updating our sitting room with beautiful built-in bookshelves and a window seat, so it was time for my kitchen table-desk to get the boot, I didn't want to pay $200 for a new, modern-looking desk, so I scoured a few flea markets and thrift stores. Finally, at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store. I found a brown wooden desk that I could work with. It was originally $40, but with a 50% coupon - I paid $20. Being that my sitting room would have mostly white furniture, I decided to try my hand at painting furniture again.
Here is the before picture - it's not a great picture, but I think you get the idea. It had only been in the garage for about two hours, and Ash had it covered with tools and wood from another garage storage project. (I should have taken a better picture, but I am always so excited to start my projects that I forget.)
The first thing I did was remove the drawers and knobs, and then I cleaned the desk really well - wiping off dust and anything else that had collected on the surface. To sand, I used a random orbital sander with 80 grit paper. This worked well, as it got down to the bare wood quickly. Even though the desk was smooth to the touch, I probably should have gone over it with 220 grit paper afterward for a more fine finish. Here is the desk after the sanding.
After I was finished sanding, I started on the primer. I had a 2-gallon bucket of indoor/outdoor primer leftover from painting the shed last summer, so I was all ready to go. I used a regular, large roller brush for the top, a regular, small roller brush, and a 1-inch brush for corners and tight areas. In addition, I used an 1-inch foam brush for the rungs.
The most challenging part was painting the rungs because of their close proximity to each other. As soon as I would paint one side of the rung, paint would build-up on the bordering sides. I would then smooth this, and once again, the bordering sides would have some build-up, continuing the cycle. Thus, I had to very meticulously paint these, being careful not to use too much paint and being conscientious about going around and around to smooth everything. If your furniture has a design like this, be sure to leave lots of time (and have plenty of patience). Also, since the foam brush put on such a light coat of primer, I knew I would have to do at least two coats on the rungs.
After two coats of primer on most of the surfaces (I did 3 on the top of the desk as well as the rungs), I was happy with the results and continued on to painting.
For this, I used a high-quality enamel paint (urethane acrylic satin). This type of paint differs from regular paint in that the paint pigments are floating in a urethane solution so it dries to form a very hard, protective surface - much like how polyurethane dries. It is expensive (about $50 a gallon), but its recommended for furniture that gets a lot of use. (Also, I only used about 1/3 of the can on the desk, so I had a decent amount left for future projects.)
To apply this special paint, I used a foam roller brush. It is recommended to use a foam brush with this type of paint to give it a smooth finish. If you use a regular nap roller (like the ones you use when painting walls), it will soak up and waste a lot of the paint, and it leaves a textured finish. In addition to the foam roller brush, I also used a 1-inch foam brush for the rungs and tight areas.
I applied a thick topcoat on all of the surfaces of the desk, taking my time with the rungs. After it dried, I put a second coat on the top of the desk only - to provide extra protection on this surface since it would get a lot of wear and tear. Also, this probably goes without saying, but if it's a windy day, paint in the garage if you can, so particles don't blow and stick to your piece.
Here's how the desk turned out:
The surfaces had the nice protective enamel that made it easy to wipe, and it looked professional painted. However, it still looked like there were ridges in the wood; it wasn't a sleek, smooth finish like the brand-new furniture you buy directly from the store. Don't get me wrong, I was still very happy with the way it turned out; however, in hindsight, when I sanded it down to the bare wood (even though the wood felt smooth to the touch), I probably should have gone over it with 220 grit paper for a more fine surface. The 80 grit paper quickly got the old finish off, but the 220 would have given it a smoother seal. I still loved the way the desk turned out - it was a welcome addition to our bright, airy sitting room.
Here's a side-by-side view of the before and after pictures:
The time span of the project was the course of a week - including dry time and airing out time. The paint fumes were not strong, but a little extra time never hurts.
The total cost came to $70. The desk was $20, and the paint was $50. We had previously purchased the primer and the painting materials, so that wasn't a cost for us.
And, there was primer and paint leftover for the next project :)
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Posted by Ash
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With summer approaching, Eileen was working hard on her flower garden. As I saw her walking all the way up to the house and back out to the yard to fill up her watering can several times in a row, inspiration struck.
Why not set up a type of water reservoir by her garden?
Not only would this eliminate her water laps to the house, but it would avoid the hassle of rolling/unrolling a hose.
Furthermore, I could use a rain barrel system which would fall right in line with our new organic way of life. We’ve made a lifestyle change this year, opting for organic, non-processed foods, and re-using rainwater was a perfect addendum.
So I did some research on rain barrel reservoirs and settled on a design pattern I liked.
A rain barrel reservoir is a very simple way to collect and store rainwater for future use. You first need a large container to store the water.
A typical container used is the blue 55-gallon water drums with bung hole caps on the top. In my research, I actually found out that a lot of cities offer water conservation programs and give out these drums for free.
You can probably even check with businesses or food processing factories to see if they are throwing any away.
I opted for a different route though. I did not need a large 55-gallon container. I shopped around at Home Depot and found a 20-gallon plastic garbage can for $13 that was perfect.
I really liked the lid too because when I flipped it over, it was deep and round. This meant it would serve as a nice water collection basin for the falling rain (as opposed to a flat surface that I would get with a water drum), allowing the water to pool in the center.
Here's a picture of the garbage can I purchased at Home Depot with the deep upside down lid:
The first step of construction was drilling five large drainage holes in the center of the lid. I used a hole saw bit for my drill to make these cuts.
Then I placed some mosquito screen on the part of the lid that would be facing the water, and secured it in place with some waterproof duct tape.
It was important to cover the drainage holes with insect screen to keep bugs out of the water. If the screen wasn't fine enough, mosquitoes especially would get in and lay larvae in the water.
I also had to drill an overflow hole in the top part of the garbage can. This was to allow water to drain out when the container was full to capacity. This hole also had to be protected with insect screen.
Here's a picture of the 5 drainage holes in the lid, as well as the overflow hole in the garbage can:
Below is a picture of what the lid looked like once the insect screen was applied with waterproof duct tape (the screen is a little hard to see, but its covering the holes).
This part of the lid would be facing downwards so would not be visible.
I needed a valve inserted at the bottom of the can to let water out when needed. I did some shopping online and found a really nice valve spigot with a bulkhead fitting that was perfect for my rain barrel design.
The bulkhead fitting was the piece that let me attach it to the wall of the garbage can without leaking.
To install it, I first drilled a hole at the bottom of the can. Then I inserted the inside part of the bulkhead fitting. This piece came with a rubber ring that would form a tight seal when pressed against the can wall.
Next, I attached the outside part of the fitting. It just screwed onto the inside piece from the outside, and then I used a wrench to make a tight connection.
Finally, I screwed on the actual spigot into the outside bulkhead fitting. I used some Teflon tape on the spigot grooves to ensure a watertight seal.
With the spigot tightly installed, I partially filled the can with water (just high enough to cover the spigot) and checked for leaks. No water came out, so it was good to go.
Here's a picture of the spigot (left) and bulkhead fitting (right), straight out of the box:
Here's a picture of the installed spigot from the outside (notice the white Teflon tape around the spigot groove to make a waterproof seal with the bulkhead fitting):
Here's what the bulkhead fitting looked like from the inside:
Next, I had to secure the upside down lid to the garbage can so that a gust of wind wouldn't send it soaring through the air. I came up with a simple technique of drilling 16 small holes around the perimeter of the lid penetrating the can below.
Then I inserted 6 inch U shaped strands of electrical wire into the holes, twist tying the bottoms. The wires held the lid tightly to the garbage can.
Here's a picture showing the wire strands holding down the lid:
The rain barrel was now finished, but the project would not be complete without a proper stand for the barrel. The barrel needed to be elevated about a foot off the ground to allow buckets and watering cans to be placed under the spigot.
I came up with a simple but very sturdy design for a stand using wood left over from my shed project.
It was important to use pressure-treated wood for the stand as it would be in direct contact with the ground and be exposed to bugs. I constructed the stand as outlined in the pictures below.
I cut 2’ lengths of 2 x 4s, 2 x 6s (pictured below) and 1’ length of 4 x 4s (not pictured):
Then, I attached 4 of the 2 x 6s to 4 vertical 4 x 4s:
Next, I attached 2 of the 2 x 4s to the top of the 4 x 4s (these were to serve as the supports for the stands platform):
Finally, I attached 4 of the 2 x 6s to the top, completing the stand:
With the stand and rain barrel now complete, I found a good location near to Eileen's garden and set it up.
I also made sure there were no tree branches above to block the rainfall. At this point, I realized I forgot to properly secure the rain barrel to the stand.
A strong gust of wind would knock over an empty barrel. So I screwed in 2 metal hooks into the stand and tied the garbage can handles to them with some carabiner style bungee cords.
Here is a picture of the final setup:
Here's a close up of the hook for the bungee cord:
I was excited for Eileen to start using the rain barrel. Now I just had to wait for rain to test it out.
Luckily it rained the next day and I ran out after the skies cleared up to check out the rain barrel.
My simple design worked pretty well. I opened the spigot and water came pouring out. Though, it wasn't that much water for the amount of rain that fell.
The garbage can lid only has so much surface area to collect water and yielded a small amount of water. It would take several large rain falls to collect a usable amount of water.
So although the basic design for the rain barrel was complete, I was already envisioning upgrades to improve the water collection efficiency.
Updates to come in future blog posts!
As for time and cost, the materials for the rainwater barrel cost $35, and it took about an hour to make.
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Posted by Ash
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Everyone has been asking for the nail-biting conclusion to the Shed Project Part 1 post, so here it is! The shed has come a long way from some sketches on Post-It notes. I started on the foundation with concrete blocks, worked my way up through the floor and got the wall frame standing firm. After a short break to work on some side projects around the house, it was time to continue construction so I could move the riding mower out of the garage.
With the wall frame in place, it was time to install the exterior siding. I used T1-11 plywood siding for my shed. It’s a very popular wood paneling siding for sheds, and its thick enough to be used as the actual wall itself (versus using a thinner plywood sheathing and separate siding). T1-11 siding (similar to the T&G plywood used for the floor) also has special grooved endings to help the sheets overlap and make a tighter seal at the seams.
Installing the siding for your framed structure does more than just enclose it. At this stage, the framed walls were still wobbly and were not square with each other. The siding corrects all of this for you. When you install the first piece of siding onto each wall panel, you use that first piece to align the edge of the wall panel. Once the wall panel is aligned with the siding, you nail them together and that wall panel is squared and locked in place.
Remember earlier when I said I used L brackets to tightly secure the 4 wall panels together, and it backfired? Well, prior to installing the siding, my shed wall panels were not wobbly. They were held very firmly in place because of the L brackets at the corners. It took me a few minutes to figure out why the walls were not budging when I tried to line up the edges with the siding. So I had to undo a lot of the L brackets from the corners to get the siding to install correctly. Once the siding was up, I re-installed the L brackets. As for the window openings, I initially installed siding that covered them up completely. Once the siding was securely in place, I used a mini circular saw to cut out the opening (btw I highly recommend a compact circular saw for your tool collection - it's much more convenient than a full sized circular saw and also very precise).
I made another mistake related to the siding too. The wall studs in the panels are spaced 16” apart (pretty common construction standard). The 16” spacing starts at one end of the wall panel, but depending on the length of the wall panel, could end abruptly, forcing you to place the ending stud at an arbitrary distance. When installing the siding, you always have to start on the end of the panel where the 16” spacing begins (not where it ended prematurely). Starting on the correct end of the wall panel ensures that every 4 ft wide siding sheet ends on a wall stud. I luckily did this for the 3 sides of the shed. However, the right side of the shed, I did not start siding on the correct end. Because of this error, I had several pieces of overlapping siding that did not have a wall stud behind it. Lack of a wall stud at the seams meant there was no way to tighten the overlap between the siding sheets and left a gap for rain and bugs to come in. So rather than re-siding that wall panel, I left it as is, and installed some additional wall studs to nail the seams into.
I also had an issue with heavy rain water causing parts of the siding to swell and bulge and pull away from parts of the foundation. After it had rained, I noticed that there were 2 slight dips in the flooring around the edges of the foundation that caused rain water to puddle and remain there. In that same area, some of the siding was bulging on the outside. I did some research and found out that unprotected T1-11 siding will start to warp if left exposed to standing water. So this puddling water was warping my siding. My solution was to drill a few tiny holes into the center of the floor dips to let the water drain. After the next rainfall, I checked the shed and there was no more water puddles. My siding has never warped since. As for the existing bulges in the siding, I could not leave them like that because it would let bugs in. So I used a bar clamp to force the siding back into place, and secured it with a few nails.
With the walls finally up, I could start working on the roof. This was a big milestone for my shed project as it meant the “drying out” period could start (when water stopped entering the interior, and it could soon become usable space). The roof required a number of trusses to be built. The trusses are the triangular supports mounted on top of the structure that the roof sheathing is nailed into. I had to build thirteen individual trusses to span the length of the shed. Here is what they look like up close:
I followed the directions in the shed plans to construct them. My miter saw really came in handy for building these, as there were lots of angles to cut. Where each segment of the truss met another segment, I sandwiched that part between two pieces of plywood and nailed it together securely. I had read a great tip online about constructing the shed trusses. Similar to the framed wall panels, I built them on the floor of the shed. However, this time I use the floor to make a jig for each truss. I needed each of the trusses to be identical to the next. So I built the first truss carefully on the floor. Once completed, I screwed scrap blocks of wood in the floor at strategic parts around the truss. I lifted the finished truss up and a perfect jig remained on the floor to construct the next one. I didn’t have to spend time measuring and aligning the truss segments. I just placed each segment into the jig and secured them with the sandwiching plywood. The blocks of wood screwed into the floor meant that the truss would be a perfect replica of the original one.
Attaching the trusses to the shed structure was not as simple as dropping them onto the top and nailing them. Because of how they rest on the framed walls, there was not much surface area to work with to nail them down securely. I did some research online, and a common technique was to just toe-nail the truss to the shed (drive some nails into the truss at an angle to penetrate both the truss and the shed structure). I tried this but was not comfortable with the connection it made. There was too much movement, and it did not feel safe to leave it like that. My solution was to use L brackets on the sides of the trusses and heavy duty 6-inch TimberLok screws driven in from underneath at an angle. The screws were what really did the job. The L brackets really just held the truss in place so it was easy to drive in the screws. I love the TimberLok screws. With all the extra left over from the shed, I use them in so many projects now (such as my folding workbench and sliding garage shelves) that require a really strong fastener. Here is a view of the trusses from outside:
Next came the roof sheathing. I used ½” 4x8 OSB (oriented strand board) plywood for the roof. The trickiest part of this step was actually getting the plywood sheets onto the trusses. I would recommend getting some help for this part. They are very heavy and large to do by yourself. I was very eager though to get the roof on, and unfortunately no one was around at the time to help. I went through several failed attempts to get the sheets up. Eventually the technique that worked for me was to lift each sheet up and in between the trusses. This required quite a bit of strength, and needless to say, I was very sore afterwards, but it was worth it. Prior to lifting up the sheets, I had screwed scrap siding into the overhanging part of the trusses, giving the lower trusses an edge. This ensured that when I dropped the sheets onto the trusses, they would not slide off the bottom and fall to the ground. One by one, I lifted and nailed each sheet down to the trusses in a staggered pattern provided in the plans. With the roof sheathing nailed down, I installed a drip edge on the overhang. A drip edge is specially shaped metal flashing that helps keep water on roof away from your structure, and not run down the side. Here’s the end result:
Here’s a close up of the drip edge:
After the sheathing came roofing felt paper. It came in a large roll that I cut into 16 ft segments. I started at the bottom corner of one side of the roof, and worked my way up. I nailed the paper into the trusses using roofing nails with large plastic caps in the heads. The caps really gripped the paper without tearing it. I also liked that the caps were bright orange. It helped me locate the trusses after the paper went on (it’s important to try and keep your weight above the trusses to avoid doing damage to the sheathing). I covered both sides of the roof with paper and left the apex for last. There was a little gap between the roofing sheathing at the apex where the two sides of the roof met. I was a little worried about leaks, so I thickened up the felt paper by applying two layers on the apex. Here’s a picture of the apex with the extra layer of paper (there are some shingles installed already, but I’m getting to that next):
Now that the felt paper was installed, I could move onto the shingles. I’ve always wanted to work with shingles, so I was really looking forward to this learning opportunity. After a lot of roofing research, I felt confident to proceed. Coincidentally, part of our home’s roof was being replaced at this time by a roofing contractor due to a leak, so I talked to the guy for a little bit and he gave me some useful tips and confirmed my plan for the shed’s roof sounded solid. I bought 25-year asphalt 3-tab charcoal colored shingles from Home Depot. I estimated I needed about 6 bundles of shingles (they are sold in packs called bundles, and each bundle covers about 33 sq). Now on to the shingling!
The individual shingles are rectangular in shape with 3 tabs (as seen in the picture below):
The black line running across the center of the shingle is a tar line. Shingles overlap one another, and when the sun heats up the roof, the tar line softens enough to adhere to the overlapping shingles. To begin with the installation on the roof, I first had to apply starter shingles. Some shingle bundles come with special shingle strips called starters that lack the 3 tabs and are just one continuous strip. Because shingles always need to overlap each other, the first row of shingles on a roof needs a special starting strip, or else the tabs would rest directly on the felt paper below and expose it to the elements.
My shingle bundles did not have any starters, so I just made my own. I used a utility knife and cut off the tabs from a few shingles. I cut just below the tar line. With the starter strips made, I nailed them to the bottom edge of the roof, making sure the tar line was on the bottom. I made sure to extend the shingles about an inch off the edge of the roof. This overhang is important to prevent water from running off the shingles and down the siding. I know that the drip edge was installed below to prevent this, but this was just an extra measure of protection.
After the starters were installed, I was ready to install the regular tabbed shingles. I overlapped the starter strip with the tabs from the other shingles and drove 4 nails per shingle just below the tar line (with two at the ends and two above each tab slit). I worked my way across the roof to complete the first row. The last shingle in the row needed to be cut, but I left it intact for now, with plans to cut all the excess later. To start the next row of shingles, I had to offset the first shingle so that the tab slits rested on the middle of a shingle tab below. If I did not offset the starting shingle, then the tab slits would line up with the slits in the row below and increase the potential of water seeping through the shingles unto the roofing felt. So using a utility knife, I cut off about 1/6th of the shingle. I continued this process row-by-row until I got as close as possible to the apex of the roof. Then I hopped over to the other side of the roof, and repeated the whole process (installed the starters at the bottom, and worked my way up). Here’s a picture of the shingles so far:
The last step to finish installing the shingles was to cover up the apex and form a solid ridge cap. Once again, I had to cut the shingles to make special pieces for the apex. Just like the starter strips, I cut off the tabs below the tar line. Then I nailed each strip across the apex, perpendicular to the rest of the shingles on the sides. As I worked my way across the apex, I overlapped each strip so each overlapping one covers the tar line on next one. Here’s a picture of what the apex looked like after installing the shingles:
Here’s a picture of the completed roof with the shingles (Eileen just put on a coat of primer on the siding too):
Speaking of primer, Eileen took care of all of the painting - from choosing the color to the last brush stroke. And, the paint job on the shed was a project by itself. It took a lot of paint which I greatly underestimated. Here I was thinking how far a gallon of paint went on drywall when repainting a bedroom. Needless to say, a gallon of primer barely touched the surface of the raw plywood siding because the wood soaked up so much of the paint. After buying just one gallon, we went back and purchased a 5-gallon bucket of Zinnser brand primer. After these primer coats were done, Eileen applied 2 coats of grey exterior paint. The grey made the shed really pop, but more importantly, served as a thick protective barrier for the siding against water. So in total, the shed required 5 coats of paint, taking about a week to complete. It was well worth the time and effort though, and since Eileen did the painting, I could keep working on other shed tasks.
With the painting done, now was a good time to start working on the steps and ramp. The steps for the small door were pretty easy to build. I bought 3 pre-cut stringers from Home Depot. These are the support pieces at the sides of the structure that hold up the steps you walk on. I did have to measure the maximum height from the shed floor to the ground to buy the right length stringer though. It turned out that 3 step stringers were adequate. As for the actual steps, I trimmed some 2 x 4s lengthwise with my table saw, and assembled them like a boardwalk. I used 3 pieces of wood per step, with a little spacing in between.
To connect the stringers to the shed, I used a joist hanger. It’s just a U-shaped metal bracket that’s screwed into the floor joists on the shed, and each stringer rests inside. As for where the stringers met the ground, there needed to be a solid foundation. To achieve this, I buried some concrete blocks slightly below ground level and rested the stringers on them. I also attached some 2 x 4 spacers in between the stringers and fastened them to the concrete using special Tapcon screws. After I covered up the concrete blocks with dirt, you couldn’t tell they were there. The concrete blocks gave the steps a really solid feel when you walked on them. Here’s a picture of the completed steps:
The boardwalk style steps added a nice touch. Later on, I covered up the fronts of the steps with a thin piece of plywood, and then applied a good deck stain to protect the wood.
The ramp construction was similar to the steps in that it used stringers and hidden concrete block supports. For the ramp, I first had to determine the angle of the slope. If I made the ramp length too short, the slope would be too steep and cause me problems when driving the mower up (either the bottom of the mower would hit the top of the ramp, or the mower would not have enough power to climb the slope). Too long of a ramp would not look that great, and it would take up valuable yard space.
After some research, I decided to go with a 4-foot ramp. It was going to make a slightly steeper than normal ramp, but I was okay with this. Five foot ramps seemed to be the most common length for a shed ramp, but I wanted to compromise between functionality and aesthetics. Once my ramp length and angle were determined, I cut 5 stringers out of 2 x 6 wood.
The next step was to set and level the concrete blocks for the lower foundation. The leveling took a little bit of time because I had to get each stringer to sit perfectly flat on the blocks while maintaining an even ramp surface. Once leveled, I worked on attaching the stringers to the shed. Instead of using joist hangers like I did with the steps, I needed something much stronger to hold the weight of the riding mower. Based on my research on shed ramp design, I went with a ledger mount. This was just a piece of wood attached to the shed that the stringers rested on for primary support.
To make the ledger, I just bolted a giant 2 x 10 piece of wood to the floor joists. Near the bottom of the 2 x 10, I bolted on a 2 x 4 for the ramp stringers to rest on. While the ledger handled the vertical load on the ramp, I didn’t want any lateral movement, so I used two types of fasteners to secure the stringers to the ledger. The first were some L brackets to keep the stringers in place (just one L bracket per stringer). The second fasteners used were the 6-inch TimberLok screws I had secured the roof joists with. Before I used them on the stringers, I wanted to secure the lower portion of the stringers to the concrete blocks first. The TimberLok screws would really lock the stringers in place, preventing me from adjusting them on concrete blocks.
Onto the foundation now - just like the steps, I used some wooden 2 x 4 spacers between the stringers. I attached them to the stringers with L brackets and used some more Tapcon screws to secure the spacers to the concrete blocks. With the ramp foundation set, I ran one TimberLok screw per stringer at an angle through the top middle of the stringer, straight through the 2 x 10 into the shed floor joists. This made a very tight connection between the stringers and the shed. There was going to be no lateral movement here. The whole ramp was extremely solid at this point. Here’s a picture of what it looked like so far:
Here’s a close-up of the stringer foundation where I used a Tapcon screw to secure the spacers to the concrete blocks:
Here’s a close-up of the stringer/ledger connection where I used an L bracket and a 6-inch TimberLok screw:
To complete the ramp, I screwed on some sheets of ¾” thick pressure treated plywood, as seen in the picture below (I would also later apply a coat of deck paint to protect it from the weather):
At this point, I was very excited. I could finally drive the mower into the shed. So I wasted no time and retrieved the mower from the garage. I positioned it carefully at the bottom of the ramp, put it into gear and slowly drove up. Everything was looking great….until I made it halfway up the ramp. The mower did not have the power to drive up the ramp at my current speed. I should have gone with the 5-foot ramp design with a more gentle slope. So I tried a different approach to getting up the ramp. I reversed down the ramp, put the throttle on max, and let go of the brake. The mower shot up the ramp and successfully made its way into the shed. This is how I park my mower today. It took a little bit to get used to, but I have to drive up the ramp at near full speed, with care not to drive into the shed wall at the back.
The shed was almost done at this point. I just had to attach some more trim to the exterior, and install the windows and doors. The windows went on easily. I first used window flashing tape to seal the window frame and the siding. Then I ran caulk along the window perimeter (on the flashing) and placed the window in the opening. The caulk held the window in place long enough for me to drive some nails through the window nailing strips. Then I covered the flashing and nailing strips with trim. Here’s a picture of one of the completed windows:
For the door, I custom built the doors following the steps in the shed design plans. I needed 3 doors for the shed - a single door by the steps, and 2 doors by the ramp. They were constructed with a rectangular frame of 2 x 4s sandwiched between two sheets of T1-11 siding. For the trim design, I did some research online and found several patterns to show Eileen. She has an eye when it comes to design and picked a pattern she liked. It looked fancy but was very easy to cut with my miter saw. Eileen primed and painted the doors for me to match the shed. To install the doors, I put them in place and spaced them properly in the door frame with some wooden shims. These were some seriously heavy doors, and as such, needed some heavy duty hinges (3 per door). I screwed the hinges onto the door frame and door (making sure to hit the wooden frame inside the door). Once all the hinges were installed, I removed the shims, and voila - the doors swung open nicely. To wrap up, I screwed on a door handle and a bolt lock. Here’s a picture of the double doors installed with my fancy trim work:
Almost done with the shed now! Time for some final touches. Since the shed foundation rested on concrete blocks, there were large gaps under the shed where animals could enter and reside. Since I did not have any future plans to open my shed up for tenants, I wanted to seal up the underneath area. I came up with the cheap and easy solution of using plastic lattice fence. These came in 2’ x 8’ strips which I cut to fit using my table saw. They were already white and blended in well with the shed trim. I also wanted some lighting for the shed when it was dark. I opted to use a solar panel motion LED light. So I mounted the lights in between the door entrances, and positioned the solar panel on the right side of the shed where the most sunlight was available. Here is a picture of the completed shed (you can see both doors and windows, with the solar panel on the side):
Finally the shed was completed. It took about 2 months for me to singlehandedly build the shed, and it cost about $3000. I did my research online and estimated that a pre-built shed this size and quality would have been more than $7000, so building it myself netted huge savings. The shed freed up a lot of space in the garage too. The riding mower, push mower, wheelbarrow, gardening tools, and other large items fit in there with lots of room to spare. We even put all of our summer patio furniture in there during the winter, and there was still space left over. It was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. With no construction background, and never having built anything close in capacity to a shed, I impressed my wife, my neighbors, and myself.
My work on the shed isn’t over yet though. I still have some interior plans for it. Down the road, I plan to install shelves and other organizational units. I want to install another solar motion light inside the shed too. I also envision a partial interior wall to provide more wall space for hanging tools (in case the four shed walls weren’t enough), and possibly utilizing the roof rafters for some storage. The sky's the limit, and you can bet there will be a blog post to tell you all about it!
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Posted by Eileen
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It's been a couple of weeks since we posted - with the warm weather, we have been working on so many projects - a built-in bookshelf in our sitting room, a planter box for our garden, painting an old thrift store desk, transforming a kitchen desk area to a cabinet, and refinishing an old telephone table. Get ready for an influx of posts ;)
Today I'm sharing how Ash and I redid my old telephone table. I found it for $20 at my favorite flea market years ago and feel in love with its charm. I'd been wanting to stain it dark for years, but it fit in pretty nicely at our old house. However, in our new house, our family room is much more modern looking, and this old telephone table stood out like a sore thumb!
The first thing I did was wipe it down really well, getting rid of any dust. Then I started to sand down table.
Here's where I made my mistake. I didn't sand it down to bare wood - I just did a light sanding, enough to give the stain something to stick too. I then moved onto staining the piece, and it was turning out horribly. Since I didn't sand this old, weathered piece down to bare, there were lots of little knicks and grooves in the surfaces. The stain was filling these in, turning them almost black - so the surfaces were looking spotty and uneven. I figured that I now had three choices: I could switch gears and use gel stain like I did on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, I could paint the table, or I could start over again and sand it down to bare wood.
I decided to sand it down to bare wood and start again. Here's where Ash helped me. We decided to leave the rungs as is - they looked fine with the first coat of stain, and we were hoping they would blend in well with the second application of stain.
To begin the sanding, Ash started with the random orbital sander and 80 grit paper. However, the existing finish on the table proved to be very challenging to remove. The sander was doing its job but very slowly and burning through lots of paper. After some experimentation with different tools, Ash found the best one to be the oscillating multi-tool, using a flush-cut saw blade, Running the blade against the surface at the right angle scraped off the thick, difficult finish. It did leave behind a very ragged surface due to the oscillating action of the blade, but he sanded it down smoothly after with the orbital sander.
One caution about using the oscillating multi-tool is that Ash had to be careful to pull the blade versus pushing it through. When he pushed the tool, it would sometimes snag a groove and start cutting deeply into the wood. The pulling action worked out best.
I made sure to wipe off all of the sawdust - using a combination of a cheese cloth and Ash's Shop Vac. Next, I re-gathered my materials for staining - two rags (per coat of stain - so four total), a foam brush, gloves, my favorite wood stain - dark walnut, and polyurethane. I prefer to stain using rags because the stain rubs into the wood better. You have less excess and build-up; however, I keep the foam brush around for hard to get to places. I also grabbed our can of pre-stain since the wood was now bare. I used the pre-stain first, brushing it on with a foam brush and waiting about 20 minutes before starting to stain.
I used the first rag to rub on a nice coat of stain. I started with the seat and worked my way around. I was working in the hot sun and the wood was absorbing the stain faster than usual, so I needed to wipe off the excess before I finished the whole piece. I used the second rag for this, lightly brushing it along the surface. Don't skip this step - or you will end up with globs. Also, make sure to do a good job removing the excess around tight areas, for example, where the rungs meet the table, or you will end up with ugly, globby lumps.
Even though I used the rag for most of the staining, I took out the foam brush to get the really tight corners or spaces. Be careful with the foam brush because it holds a lot of stain and drips easily and messily. After I was done staining and removing the excess, I did a quick scan to make sure I didn't miss any drips. I let it dry until it wasn't tacky anymore. Then, I put on another coat.
After I was done with the two coats, I was pleased with the results, so Ash put on a coat of polyurethane. He used a foam brush, going along with the grain of the wood, and carefully making sure there were no lingering air bubbles on the table's surfaces. He let that dry overnight and then did another coat.
I chose a new knob at Home Depot and screwed this in into the drawer. We let it air out for a few days, and then moved it back into our family room.
Here's a before and after picture of my charming new-old telephone table.
The cost of this project was $2 - the cost of the knob. We had all of the materials and tools in our garage from other projects. The time of project spanned about a week or so, due to the dry time between coats and the couple of days we let it air out.
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Hi! We're Ash and Eileen, and we are sharing our home project stories with you. From crafty projects to home maintenance to more ambitious DIY endeavors, we hope our stories inspire you to check a few things off your project list! :)