Archive by Author | Pink Toes and Power Tools

Dining Room/ Home Office {How to make a Desktop or Countertop}

When I was thinking about the Dining Room turned Home Office project, I envisioned a dark, stained desktop that had a reclaimed wood feel to it.  I knew that reclaimed wood would probably be expensive to buy or time consuming to try to find.  I was inspired by ThriftyDecorChick’s dining room built-ins (I actually played around with the idea of buying pre-fabbed cabinets like she did as well, to try to speed up the build, but obviously nixed that idea).  Then I ran into CleverlyInspired‘s DIY countertop and later Sandra at SawdustGirl did a tutorial using 2x4s also, so I thought I was good to go for the desktop!

I bought the 2x4s and had them all set to go.  I even bought a table saw–did I mention that yet?  I am in love with it :)  I had been saving for awhile and got the Ridgid R4512.

After I read a few pages of the manual, where they talk about how if you don’t do everything right you will cut off a limb, or die–several times on each page–I was sufficiently spooked about using pine with knots in it.  So My Man and I tried to cut off the rounded edges of the 2x4s together, because someone had to catch the 2×4 coming off the saw.  We got 1 board done when he started questioning whether this was the best way to go.  He thought maybe there was an easier way (and ssshhh, he was right, but I didn’t quite see that at that point…).  I humored him, not in a good-natured way though, and did some searching at the box stores’ websites.

I found something called a laminated pine board that had the right dimensions.  I wasn’t sure it was going to have the look I wanted, and I think I was a little pouty when we were buying it, but boy was I happy once the first coat of stain went on!

DIY desktop grain detail

I used 3/4″ plywood as the base under the laminated pine.  I chose to use cabinet grade plywood because I could get it in PureBond, which doesn’t off-gas from formaldehyde.  I cut the base plywood and the laminated pine board to 16.5″ wide so that once I attached the 1×2 to the front, the desktop would extend 1″ wider than the cabinets.  I glued the plywood and pine boards together a day before attaching the face.  This is painters tape “clamps” to attach the 1×2 face with glue.  I didn’t nail or screw it in–just the tape for a good 24+ period of drying.

DIY Desk top assembly

The second side I attached needed more convincing that this was a good idea, hence the clamps.

DIY Desktop assemby 2

Desktop assemby 3

Mitered corners.  Make sure the tape makes these corners meet correctly when you are clamping it up.

Miter corner on desktop

I think I would like this better if I had faked a cut in the left side so that the corner looked more intentional.  Then where it meets would look more decorative.  Oh well.

Where the corners meet in the desktop

This desktop would be far cheaper going with the 2×4 option, but I think I prefer the look of this one–the pattern is more like a wood floor–and it couldn’t have gotten much easier.  My option ran around $100 for 11.5 feet of counter top 17.25″ wide.

The stain is a custom mix that I had since our house was built and the painter used it on one of our mantels.  I used it on the DIY Entryway Bench and on the frames for our Family Name Sign and the Geometric Wall Art in the kids’ bathroom.  I used a wood conditioner on the desktop before I stained it and I’m so glad I did.  I did a test run of the stain on a scrap that was really blotchy without the pre-conditioner.  I sanded between coats with 220 grit sandpaper, and then applied polycrylic with a brush.  Making sure to sand between coats of that with 320 grit sandpaper, I applied 5 coats of the topcoat in all.

And there you have it!  So happy Hubs decided that the 2x4s were not going to go through the saw evenly (I’ve since heard of a way to make that work better and will use it if I build with 2x4s in the future).  But don’t tell him…  ;)

Dining Room/Home Office {The Reveal}

I knew turning the dining room into a home office/dining room was going to be a big project, I just didn’t know it was going to be a big, BIG project.  Ignorance was bliss, until I was in it too far to turn back!  I don’t know that I will ever take on a project this big again (thankfully there aren’t that many this size on the to-do list!).  But here I am 2.5 months, 14 door and drawer fronts, 16 hinges, 1 gallon of primer, 1.75 quarts of polycrylic and 5 days where I thought “this is the day that I will finish” only to end the day “not finished” I am finally on the “done” side of the build.  And I’m happy.  REALLY happy!  All of the “what ifs” and unknowns are neatly tied up in a bow and all I have to do is fill up the cabinets and style the bookshelves.

Dining Room Home Office built ins full view

The biggest stress for me throughout the entire build was that inside corner where the two units meet.  I just couldn’t visualize what would look the best for that spot until I actually had most of it constructed.  And even then I wasn’t sure.  I’m really pleased with the end result.

Dining Room Home Office built ins desk view

The middle part of the desk that looks like a face frame is actually a pencil drawer.  I hadn’t decided whether I was including that until the very last part of the project, but I’m glad I did.  I’ll show you how I made the drawer in another post.

Dining Room Home Office built ins shelf view

The right cabinet under the shelves has a charging station in it that I am loving also.  I’ll show more details in a later post.  Couldn’t wait to get the reveal up, so the detail shots will have to wait!

Dining Room Home Office Built Ins left side

I’m a file-drawer junkie, so the two bottom drawers are both hanging file drawers.  Lot of room for organizing, gotta love that!

Dining Room Home Office right side

Dining Room Home Office built ins full view

If you recall, we don’t have much time to sit back and enjoy the fact that this is finished this year–I’ve got one graduating this spring, eek!  I’ve already moved on to trying to pick out a table, chairs, and rug for this room to really finish it up…and move on to the next project ;)

More posts on this build will be churned out!

***

As always, I only use PureBond plywood in my builds because the air quality in my home matters to me.  I have used this plywood since the very beginning of my woodworking adventure and I love it.

PureBond_Pledge(2)

Look what I found!

image

I’m finally done with the dining room built-ins and I was moving stuff to the new location last night when I ran into these papers. They are the original mock ups I drew about 8 years ago to take to the cabinet people (long before I started building)! I ended up pretty close to these drawings and I can’t wait to show you the reveal.

Give me a few days to get my life back in order–this was a huge project for me and took every free minute I’ve had for the last two and a half months (and then some). But it has been so worth every second!

I’m really happy with it… AND really happy to be on the “done” side of it :)

Dining Room/Home Office {Drawer Glides}

Ahhh, installing drawer glides.  I’ve done my fair share by this point, and each time I’ve went about if a little differently.  I started out measuring, using a level to draw a guide line, and attaching.  And then there was a LOT of fiddling around to try to get the inset drawer to fit just right in the drawer front space.  After that, I came across a pointer on Pinterest that I used for Pip’s closet organizer.  That worked really well until I tried adding an additional drawer to the top.  Oops.

Last June I made good on a promise to myself to buy a drawer glide jig since I knew I was going to be installing quite a few drawers for upcoming projects.  Well I haven’t had a reason to use it yet until now…and it was pretty disappointing.  Kreg hasn’t let me down yet and I’ve invested in quite a few of their products–love them!  But when I tried to use the jig and had the glide set so that the glide left room for the inset drawer face, it lifted the glide slightly in the front.  The picture I took of the problem doesn’t show it like seeing it in person.  Here’s a photo of how far in front the glide goes when the glide is flat on the jig:

Kreg drawer glide jig

Maybe that isn’t a problem?  Anybody use this jig?  Maybe it is the drawer glides that I bought that don’t fit correctly?   I wasn’t going to take the time to test that out though–I had 6 drawers to install!  I’m also pretty sure I would have had to use a clamp style for this that I don’t own.  My Kreg face frame clamp is the littlest one and didn’t have the reach I needed (if you are wavering between the smallest and the bigger one, just spent the extra $5!)  This is basically a frameless build (there is a face frame to cover the plywood, but it is even with decorative boards I put on the outside of the project).  This jig works more easily with what I’ve got if the project has a face frame.

I still used the jig to get the glide set so that it drawer front would lay flat in line with the face frame.  I had it like it is in the to photo and drew a line.Drawer glide line placement

I then used duct tape to keep them in the right spot.  Fancy, I know.  But it worked!

Drawer glides duct taped in

I drilled a pilot hole and then used a screw driver to get the screws in.  The only thing that was making me swear on these glides was trying to keep the drill bit on the screw!  The screws are so little–they want to wobble and strip–it is frustrating.  I ended up just using a screw driver and my muscles in the end.  Only some minor adjustments after they were in this time.  I also did (or tried to do) what Sandra over at SawdustGirl.com suggests when installing drawer glides (how to attach the screws).  However, these glides that I bought at Home Depot did not have horizontal adjustment options on the cabinet part.  I will be more organized next build, and order the glides from Rockler that I have used in the past to compare.Drawer glides completedThe bottom drawers are hanging file drawers, so I needed to use full-extension glides that were heavier duty.  I’ve never used anything but the european glides like the top drawers have, so I once again turned to Sandra’s blog to install those.  She covers that in the link also.  I think I had to double the 1/4″ plywood bottom when I had them in the cabinet though, in order to get the clearance I needed on the bottom.

Compared to other drawer glide installations, this one was rather smooth!

Anybody out there have advice or opinions on the Kreg drawer glide jig?

 

Quick Tip {Inexpensive, Collapsible Workbench}

Since I do not have a workshop for my woodworking adventures, all of my tools need to tuck away when I’m not using them.  Up until now I have been working on the garage floor–which appears pretty flat until you are up close and personal on it–and trying to make your project square.  My garage floor is NOT flat and I can feel pretty confident telling you that yours isn’t either.  Before I began the Dining Room/Home Office project, I promised myself I would invest in a workbench, but obviously it needs to disassemble and tuck away, just like my tools.  Here she is:

Inexpensive collapsible workbench

Nothing earth-shattering about it–just 2 sawhorses and a hollow-core door on top, but I tell you it has made a HUGE difference for me in terms of how square the cabinets and drawers are once they are together.  In fact, I didn’t want to put this particular post up yet, but everything I go to write in the other posts seems to talk about this new workbench so I needed to be able to reference it in those posts!

 

I was warned (thanks Bill!) that the hollow core door may not hold up to some clamping applications, but my laziness won out because I already had the door at home and I didn’t want to spend the time taking it back.  I will warn you that the door will sag a bit in the middle if the sawhorses are as far apart as they are in the picture.  This was taken before I had really started building yet and discovered that.  Moving them closer together helped, but when I really wanted a guaranteed flat surface, I put a piece of scrap plywood on top also and built on that.  The bench still saves my back that way!

 

I got the sawhorses on sale at Lowes for around $28 and the door was about $21.  I put off spending the money on something like this for 2 years figuring that the garage floor was good enough, but I really wish I had invested in this right away.  Well worth the money.

Woodworking In The Heat

It has been extremely hot here in Ohio. Extremely. Hot. So when you are out in the garage plugging in power tools in weather like this, you must stay hydrated or you are not going to feel good! Here’s a drink I’ve kept on hand that tastes way better than plain water and makes it easier for me to drink enough to compensate for sweating. I hate plain water,  but I like this.

image

Squeeze a lemon slice into your container.  Mine is 20 ounces. Add 5 or 6 drops of stevia (mine are plain,  no flavor). Add 1/32 if a teaspoon (not a typo!). I’m not a huge fan of stevia as a sweetener on its own,  but it does a great job of enhancing the sweetening power of just a little sugar. And I have a huge sweet tooth!  Add water and shake.

I drink a ton more water since I started making this. Hope this helps you beat the heat and keep working in the garage while the weather is warm steaming hot!

It has been a little slow going on the dining room project for a sad reason. I’ve spent the last few days helping when I can on funeral arrangements. If you could say a prayer for Grandma June I’d be grateful. She was a warm, loving woman with a great sense of humor, and will be missed…

Dining Room/Home Office {The Plans}

I know I over think my projects before I even buy the first board.  I know I do it and I can’t help it.  Every time I tell myself to not be so uptight about the plans.  And every time I spend hours and hours drawing up every aspect of it.

Oh well!  Here’s evidence of my problem.  I didn’t scale down the size of the photos so you could click on them to get a larger size if you want to look closer.

Once again a disclaimer–I can’t guarantee that these dimensions or plans will work since I modify and discover mistakes as I go along.  Although you’d think with the time I spend on these they would be perfect…most often they end up not perfect.

Dining Room Plans Desk Drawing

I spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out the way I can cut for least waste.  That means my shelves generally end up being 12.5″ deep–11.75 board width with a .75 face front.  That way I can get 4 equal rips down a sheet of plywood.  Remember that you have to allow for the kerf when making accurate cuts. Read More…

Dining Room Built Ins {The Before Pictures}

I’ve had plans to change our dining room into an office/den/project area for a long time now.  We actually went out to a kitchen cabinet place with the intention of them pricing out unfinished wood cabinets for the room year ago–long before I ever picked up a circular saw.  I was going to paint them myself to try to save some money, but it was still going to be several thousand dollars for what we wanted.  I’m glad we held off on it, because I think what I’ve come up with is way more usable for our family.  All of that was before I was blogging and way before I was woodworking.  So it sat like this.  For 13 years.

Dining Room Before Picture Full Room

It is embarrassing.   Thirteen years this room has been sitting waiting to be finished.

Dining Room Before Picture Stair Wall

Nothing on the walls but paint.

Dining Room Before Picture Window Wall

And windows.  I do love the windows.  Until I have to wash them all.

Dining Room Before Picture Kitchen Wall

This table was an antique when I sat at it at age 5, went to a relative’s house when we moved when I was 8, and back to me when I was 29 since we had a dining room with nothing in it at that point.  Besides the windows and paint, it is the only thing that has been in the room.  For 13 years!!!  Incidentally, my cousin wants it when we move it out of here–she lived in the house with the table for the 21 years it wasn’t with me :)

Dining Room Before Picture

This is where the magic is hopefully going to happen.  I’m planning built-ins for this corner.  I don’t have a desk and I have been using this room for several years now–first with a fold up table in the corner while I completed my online degree, and then this table when I started blogging.  The problem is that there are no drawers, only a flat surface that I have problems not covering with anything and everything that comes and goes from the house.  What is on it right now is pretty tame.  In fact, I would call that neat and tidy compared to other times in our home’s history.  The Hubs would not.

So it is time for a desk and some built-ins in the Dining Room!

Making sawdust again

I finally got my rear in gear and I’m making sawdust again.  I mentioned that I had a big project in the works, and I’ve had a really hard time pulling the trigger on this one and getting started.  I’ve went back and forth on the design MANY times and every time I had a ping of doubt, it set me back a week or two.

But there is now sawdust in the garage again!

Sawdust on gargage floor

I cut up the plywood into boards the other day with my Kreg Rip Cut.  Love that thing, but I will remind you once again to make sure your blade guard swings freely once you have the Rip Cut attached.  I’m aware of it and thought I had it on good and it was still catching.  Please double check this on yours!!!  I also had a glitch in the middle of the cutting when I needed a new blade for the circular saw and had to run out and get one, but now that I am actually started, I am really excited about getting this project done and seeing the results.

I’ve been hard at work with designs for this room, but also I’ve been working hard on other aspects of my life–like getting the house in some semblance of clean after starting back to work this year, and fighting 40+ years of gravity and jelly beans in our home “gym”.  I’ve also been trying to drink more water.  I’ve got a special plastic bottle I carry around with me with a lemon slice that has helped, but one day I could not find it anywhere.  I probably wasted a good 30 minutes wandering around all the places I had been that day so far and then stomping around all those same places when it didn’t appear and I was frustrated!  I finally gave up, thinking it would certainly turn up soon.  I mean how many places could it be hiding???!!!!

The following is a good example of why it is bad to be multi-tasking and getting too little sleep.  Here’s where I finally found it:

Hidden water bottle

I was in and out of this drawer many times over the time it was missing.  All I could do was laugh once I found it!

I know I have had a couple of false starts on this project, but now that there are actual cuts made, I will be posting the before pictures and plans very soon!

Board & Batten {post 6} Angle cut at the baseboard

Hi all!  I had a recent question in the comments from Kelly asking for close up photos of how the batten meets the baseboard when I posted my Laundry Room board and batten project.  Since it was awhile ago, I had to go back and review the five posts on that project.  But I was confident that I would find the info, in order to link to the post in my reply to her comment…but I actually discovered that I never provided a picture of that particular part.  Huh!  Thanks for asking for that, Kelly, because that would be helpful!

So now I am correcting that oversight :)

If you read Post 1, you will see that I decided to go with 1/2″ thick batten because I didn’t like that the 3/4″ boards created more of an obvious cut-back where it meets the existing baseboard molding.

In Post 3, I show how I decided to slice off some of the batten so it met the baseboard–but I didn’t go the more popular route that other bloggers have gone, with a 45 degree cut.  I showed that 45 degree cut on the 3/4″ batten in post 1, but the 1/2″ board is not cut back at all in that post.  I only took off enough of the board, so that the cut sat on top of the baseboard already on the wall.

Here’s how it looks in close-ups on the wall and complete:

Batten angle close up

And also how it looks at standing height:

Batten meets baseboard

I remember being a little worried that the 1/2″ option would be thick enough, since many bloggers were using the 3/4″ option.  I have no regrets going with the 1/2″, and I prefer that the batten doesn’t stick out any farther than it does in this room.  I also like that everything is slightly smaller than the door moulding and the built-in cabinet face frame boards.

So there you go–thanks for asking for this info Kelly!

You may not look too closely at anything other than the batten in these pictures.  I need to freshen up the ding marks on the doorway with new paint.  And maybe eliminate a dust bunny…or two…or seven.  Truly, after showing some other messy areas in our house over the years, you’d think I’d be over any embarrassment, but it turns out that I’m not, lol!

Posts in this series:

Board & Batten {Post 1}

Board & Batten {Post 2}

Board & Batten {Post 3}

Board & Batten {Post 4}

Board & Batten {Post 5} The Reveal

Board & Batten {Post 6} Angle Cut at the Baseboard

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