Etched Glasses – Happy Birthday Pam

I owe this week’s project to KariAnne of Thistlewood Farm.  Her tutorial is very cute and quirky.  I totally dig quirky!  However, she is way too zealous about Kentucky, especially since we all know Texas is the best state!  Just kidding KariAnne.  (Ok, not really…Texas is better, but I’m sure Kentucky is nice too.)  That said, my tutorial is just an extension of hers.  Although the end result is the same, the process varies slightly.  I found her methods to be a little costly.  Instead of buying an entire pack of alphabet stickers just to use one letter, I decided to cut out stickers using my cricut.

Materials
• glasses
• adhesive sheets or vinyl
• cricut (or another die cut machine)
• etching cream
• small paint brush
• newspapers or dropcloth
• gloves

Step 1 – Open the cricut craft room.  Insert a letter in your font of choice.  I used housewife font from the suburbia cartridge.  (If you’ve already read my BRC T-shirt post, you can see this is one of my favorite fonts.)  Layer the letter with an oval, or square, or triangle, or whatever shape tickles your fancy.  Now surround your oval with another object.  The actual shape of this second object is completely irrelevant; just ensure there is about 1/2 inch on all sides to protect against potential drips.  Group all 3 images.  Set the auto fill size to 8.5×11 inches and click apply.  This will repeat your image enough times to fill the page.

etch_ccr

Your image should look like this when the objects are welded (merged) correctly.

Step 2 – These double-sided adhesive sheets are intended for making stickers.  I bought these when I first decided to do this project, not yet knowing how I was going to use the sheets.  Looking back, vinyl would have worked too.  Whatever you use, it only needs to be adhesive on one side.

This step is super labour intensive.  Place your sheet on a cutting mat, click cut, and sit back while your cricut does all the work.  And don’t worry about putting the machine on a “kiss cut” setting. You want it to cut through all of the layers.  Pretty intense, huh?!

etch_adhesive

Double sided mounting adhesive sheets by Recollections – found at Michaels

Step 3 - Pop your stickers out of the sheet and flip them over.  Remove the backing from just the letter and outer border.  Leave the oval alone.  (This will make sense in the next step.)  Keep an utility knife nearby in case the cricut didn’t cut through all of the sticker layers.

etch_sticker_1

Weed the stickers just like you would vinyl.

Step 4 – Ensure your glasses are clean and dry.  When applying stickers start from the inside and work towards the edges, pushing out any bubbles.  Use a bone folder or the back of a spoon if needed.  Firm pressure equals good adhesion and ultimately crisp edges.  Then remove the entire oval shape, leaving behind just your letter and the border.  PS. I kept the oval cut-outs for some future project yet to be imagined.

etch_sticker_2

Place stickers on every glass

Step 5 – Let’s start with the admin stuff.  Armour Etch is basically a mild acid that eats through the glass to etch it.  You don’t want that on your skin or counters.  Wear an apron and gloves. Throw down some newspaper or a dropcloth for your workspace.

According to the Armour Etch website, you shouldn’t leave it on the glass for more than one minute. However, that was not nearly enough time for a crisp effect.  So, I started to research similar project tutorials. Most of the ones I read let the cream sit for 10-30 minutes.

Finally, I’m done explaining and we can get to work.  (Yay!)  Use a paint brush to apply an even layer inside of your stencil.  As I finished a glass, I’d write the time down next to it.  After about 15 minutes, wipe your paint brush through the cream again.  This moves the crystals around to prevent spots in your etching.  It will also help you keep an eye out for drips.  Give it another 15 minutes to sit, then move to the next step.

etch_cream

Writing a time stamp will help you keep track when you have so many going at once.

Step 6 – After 30 minutes, it’s time to clean up.  I used a paper towel to wipe off most of the excess cream first. Then rinse under warm water to reveal your awesome work! Once most of the cream is gone, remove the stickers. Rinse once more to remove any remaining cream and then clean with dish soap or glass cleaner.

etch_done

What better way to personalize your drinking glasses?!

Since these glasses are a birthday gift for my mother-in-law, Pam, I thought I’d also show y’all the card I made for her!  I used Tim Holtz distress stains to create the molted effect for the background.  The die cuts, clock stamp, and metal arrow embellishment are all also from Holtz. (Can you tell who my favorite designer is?)

etch_card

An autumn color scheme to match the season!

I hope you enjoyed yet another super fun, easy, and pretty (if I do say so myself) project.  And come back again…I should have an Etsy page & card shop up soon!

Categories: Crafts, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

My Best Friends’ Wedding…Invitations

Two of my best friends from college are getting married this October on the Texas beach. So of course, I offered to make their wedding invitations. When I asked for the theme and colors, this is what I was given to work with.

“There isn’t a theme because it’s on the beach. I don’t want to be cheesy and do a ‘beach’ theme necessarily. Right? I could settle for a palm tree or wavy graphics, but mostly pretty, crisp, and clean. And our colors are blue ombré so anything from royal blue to turquoise.”

I love being given free range to be creative! So I made 3 samples so they could choose their favorite.

beachwed_sample_elegant_edit

Elegant

beachwed_sample_fun_edit

Fun

beachwed_sample_simple

Simple

They ultimately choose the “FUN” design. So now I’m going to walk you through how I made it. Unlike normal tutorials, I will not be starting with a list of my materials/supplies as it will be a very long list. However, I will describe everything I used as I go along. Also, all of the paper came from Paper and More. I love them! For bulk paper orders, they are the place to shop.

beachwed_complete_invite

The 1st picture was just a sample. This is the “Final Draft.”

beachwed_complete_all

All bundled up and ready to stuff in an envelope.

Invitation Cards
Paper and More sells pre-cut 5″x7″ cards in packs of 100. Perfect, because I’m making 100 invitations! I ordered them in tiffany blue. I also ordered 8.5″x11″ card stock packs in gold parchment, white, tiffany blue, and teal.

Step 1 – I used the Cricut Craft Room (CCR) to design and cut out all of the paper for this project. You can download the layout from my cricut project page. If you want to do it yourself, the label shape came from the “Cricut Essentials” free cartridge. You’ll have to hide the inner line on the label. The white label is cut at 4.25″ and the teal is 4.75″ wide in order to fit the 5″ card. Then, I used powerpoint to type the text for the labels. You can download the layout here:  Powerpoint Printable. Once you have updated the text to include your information, move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Place a piece of white cardstock into your printer. (I found cardstock works better than paper for this.) Draw a star in the bottom-left corner of the cardstock’s side facing up. Go ahead and print the 1st powerpoint slide. Using double-sided tape, adhere your labels to the cardstock using the boxes for alignment. Now, when you place the cardstock back into the printer, make sure that star is in the bottom-left corner and facing up again. (The star ensures you print on the correct side.) Return to the powerpoint to delete the alignment boxes and print. Remove the completed labels, add new labels, and print as many times as necessary.

NOTE: Some of that may have been confusing if you haven’t downloaded the powerpoint. On the powerpoint slide, I typed each invitation’s information inside of a 3″x3″ box for alignment. Before you print on the actual labels, make sure you delete those boxes.

Step 3 – I found the sea shell stamp in a $1 bin that craft stores put at their cash resisters. (Those bins are not scams, always check them out! You can get some real gems.) Initially, I started to cut them out by hand. But I realized very quickly that this would take forever. So instead, I welded (combined) random shapes in CCR to create a cut-out that would fit my stamp.  While the cut-outs were still on the cutting mat, I stamped and colored them with various Stampin’ Up! markers. I liked the picture of the shells on the stamp itself, so I did my best to mimic it. NOTE: Use scrap paper to cover open parts of the cutting mat to prevent it from sticking to your arm.

beachwed_shells_stamp

1″x3″ shells stamp from ME-E-Inc. – no name

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Color in the details for each shells stamp.

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You can overlap different shapes to match almost any stamp. Warning: this does take patience, trial, and errors.

Step 4 – The starfish cut-out is from the “Ultimate Creative Series” cricut sampler cartridge onto the gold parchment cardstock at 1.5″. It makes a little slit, but I widened it with my razor knife. Use “tea dye” colored Tim Holtz Distress ink and the “Weathered” stamp to give texture to the starfish. Then, use the “vintage photo” distress marker to ink the edges of the starfish.

beachwed_stamp_weathered

4.5″x6″ “Weathered” stamp from Stampin’ Up!

beachwed_starfish

Here’s a close-up of the starfish.

Step 5 – After scouring eBay for a week, I found a large palm tree stamp. It is made out of foam and is about 8″ tall. (I don’t have a brand for it, sorry.) Coat the stamp with “Broken China” distress stain and stamp back of every card. I really LOVE the watercolor effect it gives!

beachwed_back

This is all you need for a gorgeous effect! *The stamp on the bottom is my “trademark.”

Step 6 – This step used 3 different kinds of adhesives. The shells are placed first with 3D squares or dots. The labels are attached with regular adhesive squares and/or tape. Finally, the starfish is adhered with a clear adhesive roller or wrinkle-free glue. (My favorites are the Dotto from EK Success and Tombow MONO Aqua Liquid Glue.) It is important that it’s clear because of the starfish’s slit and thin arms.

Step 7 – Using your hot glue gun, create a rounded L shape in the bottom corners. Pour a handful of “Blue Crushed Shells” from Panacea on the glue. Allow a couple of seconds for the glue to cool from scorching hot to bearable heat. Then, press the pebbles down into the glue so they really stick. Knock off the excess and pull off the hot glue strings.

beachwed_glue_stones

A little bit of glue goes a long way. Don’t over do it!

RSVP Cards
I used 4 Bar cards (which are 3 3/8″ x 4 7/8″) for the RSVP cards. This should have been the easiest step. However, it turns out my printer can’t print on paper this small. So instead, I used the same instructions from Step 2 for the invitation card. The format for these is on slide 2 from the PowerPoint printable. That wasn’t too bad after all.

Burlap Band
This band serves as a holder to keep the RSVP card, RSVP envelope, hotel accommodations info, and any registry handouts ALL together with the actual invitation. Plus is adds a nice something extra!

Step 1 – Also included on my cricut project page are the oval shapes. They came from the “Cricut Craft Room Basics” free cartridge. I cut the small one on tiffany blue cardstock at 2.75″ and the larger oval from teal at 3.25″. These sizes were chosen based on the size of my stamp and width of burlap.

Step 2 – Stamp wedding bells onto the tiffany blue oval with embossing ink. I prefer “Frost White” from ColorBox. Try your best to keep it centered. Sprinkle “Sapphire” pearl embossing powder from Recollections over the ink and knock off any extra. I use a toothpick to scrape off small mistakes. Don’t skip that step, because once it sets, any mistakes are now permanent. Run a heat gun over the powder until it just starts to melt. So pretty!

beachwed_stamp_bells

2.25″x2.25″ “Bells of Love” stamp from Stampendous

Step 3 – Using adhesive squares, mount the piece you just embossed onto the teal oval, again doing your best to center them.

Step 4 – A while ago, my mother-in-law gave me this lovely burlap ribbon from Ballard Designs. I have used it on several projects before and love it so much I had to order more! Whatever brand you use, make sure it does NOT have wired edges. It may give it more form, but it gets too bent and ultimately looks sloppy. Cut out the burlap ribbon in approximately 10″ strips.

Step 5 – Find a scrap 5″x7″ card and place a piece of wax paper on top. This will serve as a guide to fit your burlap ribbon to the right size. Add hot glue at each end being careful to not put too much. Place a medallion on top. Press firmly, being careful you don’t burn yourself. (If you do get burned, no worries…you are in good company!) Remove the burlap band from your guide after about 10 seconds. This allows it time to solidify but not so much time that it sticks to the wax paper.

beachwed_glue_burlap

Wrap the burlap ribbon around your guide when hot gluing the medallions.

Now for the fun part, labeling and stuffing envelopes. Aaah!!! Good luck. And here is an extra picture just for fun!

beachwed_medallions

This is what 75 out of 100 accessory sets looks like. Yikes, so many!

By the way, I’d be happy to make you invitations for a wedding, baby shower, block party, etc. Just send me an e-mail and we’ll work out the details!

Categories: Crafts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aged Paper

The vintage look is becoming more and more popular, so I decided to premake some aged paper to layer on cards.  Recently, I removed the hardback from old book with the intent to make a e-reader cover. (That project is still waiting to be started.)  As any good hoarder crafter would, I kept the pages from the book for later use.  This is one of many fun ways to use said book pages.

Materials:
• book pages*
• teabag(s)
• small bowl with water
• wax paper
• cloth or paper towel
Optional Materials:
• scissors
• edge scrapper tool
• glitter glue
• small paint brush – just a cheapy with coarse hairs

*Any type of paper can be used, but I really liked these book pages because they are extra porous and absorbed the tea’s color quickly without having to soak the paper.  If the paper it too wet, it is very likely to tear.  (Yeah, I know you’re thinking, “Duh!”)

1)  Fill a small bowl halfway with water and place the teabag inside.  (The water doesn’t need to be hot since we don’t plan to drink it.)  Let it seep while you do step #2.

2)  We are going for “old looking” so a smooth edge doesn’t quite look right.  The quick method is to rip the paper edges is a jagged manner.  However, if you want a more groomed look, trim the edges with scissors and go back over with an edge scrapper.

agepaper_edge

An edge scraper was used to rough-up this paper’s sides.

3)  Place a sheet of wax paper over your work surface to protect it.  Layout the book pages on the wax paper.  Take the teabag and rub it gently over the paper.  Allow puddles to accumulate for added texture.  After the page has soaked for 5-10 minutes dap off the excess water with a cloth.  If you are not satisfied with the effect, feel free to repeat with more tea.  Once the color is to your liking, allow the paper to fully dry.

agepaper_wet_1

All set-up for mass production.

agepaper_wet_2

No, I don’t know what happened to my knuckle.  Ouch!

agepaper_wet_3

Strategically placed puddles leave spots of darker color.

4)  This step gives a special accent, but it definitely optional.  Run a bead of glitter glue along the edges of the dried paper.  Follow all the curves, rips, and corners to define all of your hard work to rough the edges.  If you want to thin out the glitter, spread it around with a paint brush.  I used a cheap brush because no matter how well you clean it, there is always seems to be some glitter left.

agepaper_glitter_1

Follow all of the contours of the edges.

agepaper_glitter_2

Spread out the glitter glue with a course brush.

And here is the finished project!

agepaper_done

Change it up with bold or neutral colored glitter.

These now vintage looking book pages can be used for layering on cards, in scrapbooks, wrapping candles, just about anything.  Please share how you used yours.

Categories: Crafts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Best Ranger Competition T-shirts

Recently my husband competed in the Best Ranger Competition (BRC).  This extremely grueling event assesses the best 2 man team of the elite Army Rangers.  The 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, NY (his current post) sent three teams to compete in BRC 2013.  In order to show our support, I made t-shirts for the wives and mothers of the competitors using iron-on transfer sheets and my Cricut Expression 2.

Materials
• blank t-shirts
• iron-on t-shirt transfer
• drywall tape
• iron

BRC_vinyl

Dark t-shirt transfer is white and doesn’t require a printer, although it is an option for other projects.

1)  Start off by designing your phrase/design in the Cricut Craft Room (CCR).  This is a free program that works with all cricut machines.  If are new to CCR, let me know and I’ll do a separate tutorial on it.  I used Housewife Font (from the Suburbia cartridge) and Cricut Alphabet (included with machine).  I  rotated the letters in the last phrase to create an arch.

2)  Once your design is complete, plug your computer into your cricut, and click the “CUT” button.  Set it to vinyl settings and lower the speed to 1.  Also, I highly recommend using a new blade.  These transfer sheets were not made to be cut in a cricut, so you have to go slow with a sharp blade.

Even with these precautions, sometimes a letter doesn’t cut properly.  Simply return to the CCR.  Copy the letters you need to redo and paste them into an open space.  Delete anything else on screen so it doesn’t attempt to cut the same thing twice.  Before cutting, ensure the mat is lined up the same direction.  If your letters are still having uses after all of that, try replacing the blade.

Once you are happy with your layout, remove the excess.  Keep a razor knife on hand in case something didn’t cut all the way through the vinyl & backing layers.  Now for the greatest trick ever:  place drywall tape over all of the letters to hold them together.  This lady from Clever Someday is the genius (and my hero) that came up with the drywall tape technique.

BRC_cricut

Observe the machine as it cuts.  If the material gets bunched up, you should stop it quickly.

BRC_tape

Apply drywall tape to entire phrase.  *The extra “Y”s on the side are to replace the bad ones.

3) When ironing transfer paper or vinyl, it works best on a hard & heat resistant surface versus your ironing board.  Also, read the instructions for your transfer paper.  Mine came with a waxy paper specifically for ironing the transfers.  Finally, don’t forget to remove the backing from each letter.  You can easily check if you missed any by looking for a glossy texture on the bottom side under a light.

Place your letters (tape and all) on the shirt and lay the wax paper over top.  Lightly iron over this “sandwich” once.  Test your letters by gently pulling back the tape.  If they are not sticking, replace tape & wax paper, and iron again.  Once they adhere, remove all of the tape and iron once more for good measure.  Something I noticed after washing my shirt, the letters had a bit of a grid pattern on them from the drywall tape.  It might be a necessary evil, but still try to minimize ironing over the tape & remove it as soon as the letters stick!

BRC_iron_1

Cover vinyl and tape with wax paper.

BRC_iron_2

Carefully remove the tape.

4)  To show unity for their unit, I added the 10th Mountain Division patch and a Ranger tab to the front of each shirt.  This was a tedious step as each patch required a different thread color.  I simply attached the large patches to each shirt with straight pins and sewed them in place.  Then, I switched out my bobbin and thread, attached the next set of patches, and sewed them on.  Repeat one last time for the third (and final) patch.

brc_complete_front

A local uniform store carried these patches.

brc_complete_back

The moms’ shirts said “son” instead of “husband.”

You can print on this transfer paper to create colored pictures.  A cool idea I might try on a later project is to print a full page background pattern on the transfer paper before cutting out my letters.  But now it’s your turn to post your projects!  You can make shirts for your child’s boy/girl scout troop, an office softball team, to promote a church function, or just for fun.  The possibilities are endless!

Categories: Crafts | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Greeting Cards Display

I recently started selling my crafts and was so excited.  But that excitement faded as weeks went by and I hadn’t sold a thing.  It’s no surprise.  My display table was terrible.  I knew I needed to find a solution, but professional display racks for greeting cards are ridiculously expensive.

When taking my biweekly stroll through the antique store, I saw some lovely window shutters and literally had a stroke of genius!  I discovered the cure to cancer, a solution to end world hunger, and the answer to stop global warming.  Unfortunately, I suffered memory loss in the stroke* and can only remember my great idea for a card display.

shutter_begin

The source of my epiphany.

Materials
• old window shutter
• plaster of paris
• newspaper
• small chain & 2 short screws (optional)
Tools
• circular saw
• power drill & basic bit set
• rafter angle square
• small clamp
• sandpaper
• a bowl and something to mix with

1) Remove all the hinges, screws, and any other hardware.  Keep them safe because you will use them later.

2) These shutters are really tall, so I decided to cut them in half and make 2 displays.  I only have a circular saw because I’m too cheap to buy a table saw.  Unless you have impeccable hand control, this technique to cut straight lines with a circular saw is very handy.

Using a rafter angle square, draw a straight line where you want to cut the wood.  (This particular square is shaped like a triangle and has a lip on one side allowing for better alignment.)  Measure the distance from your blade to the edge of the base plate.  Measure out the same distance from your cut line and make a small mark at that spot.  Align the square’s edge with the small mark you just made, and clamp in place.  Use the square as a guide for your saw’s base plate and cut away!  Repeat this on your second piece, ensuring you cut it the same size as the first.  Always remember to measure twice and cut once.

saw_trick_1

Measure the distance from blade to edge.

saw_trick_2

Place square the same distance away from cut line.  Clamp square in place to create a sturdy guide.

3) Lightly sand the newly cut edges by hand to remove the rough edges and smooth the bottom.  Wipe away the saw dust with a dry cloth.

4) Rip the newspaper into strips approximently 1-1.5 inches wide and 5-7 inches long.  Don’t worry about straight lines or symmetrical strips; that would be a grevious waste of your time.  Just rip the suckers up!  However, it is very important that you do this before mixing the plaster.

5) Mix plaster of paris according to the directions on the bag.

6) Now the messy part.  You will probably want do this over a drop cloth or something you don’t mind getting dirty.  I’m serious, this gets really messy, or at least it does when I do it…I’m messy.  While looking at the front of your window shutter, position the slats so they angle up.  A good way to check they are where you want is to insert a card and see how it stands up.  Lay your window shutter face down on your work space while also keeping the slats in place.  Dip the newspaper strips into your plaster and “ring it out” by running it between 2 fingers.  Start covering the back of the slats alternating between horizontal and vertical layers.  I used 3 layers and did not wait for one layer to dry before adding another.

shutter_plaster

First layer of newspaper strips are all horizontal.

7) Allow plenty of time for the plaster to properly dry.  It will depend on how thick/runny your plaster was and how many layers you made, but 24 hours should be more than enough.  Lay your shutter and backing face down and position so the tops of each piece are facing eachother.  Place the hinges on this juntion, loop side up.  Leave a small gap between the two pieces about the same size as the loops. Using a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the shaft of your screws, pre-drill a hole directly through the hinge’s holes on one side only.  **While reattaching the hinges, you will want to work one side at a time to ensure proper alignment.**  Insert the screws in these holes.  Repeat on second side.

shutter_hinge_1

Create a small gap the same size as hinge loops.

shutter_hinge_2

Pre-drill guide holes and then insert screws.

8) This step is optional, but does make your display sturdier.  Stand up your display and find a chain about the length of the bottom’s opening.  Mine was about 8 inches long.  The screws you use here need to be shorter than your wood is deep.  Drill the screw on the inside bottom edge.  Back it out slightly and slip the last chain link over the screw’s head.  Ensure this link’s seam stays under the screw head as you drill it back into place.  Don’t over torch the screw as it may weaken the chain link.  Repeat on other side.

shutter_chain_1

Ensure screw’s head is over link’s seam.

shutter_chain_2

Chain prevents display from falliing open.

Now my handmade cards can be displayed on a handmade rack!  As always, post questions if you have any.

shutter_end

Does this make me a creative mastermind or mad scientist?

*If you or someone you love has suffered from stroke, please know I mean no malice by this joke.  It is simply that…a silly joke.  Sometimes we have to laugh at life’s obstacles, and not let them drag us down!

Categories: Organization | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Crafter’s Perfect Storage Shelf

As crafters, we have a lot of stuff.  There are websites, magazines, even entire stores devoted to storage solutions.  So why is it still so hard to find shelves that fit our needs and our wallets?  Martha Stewart has some very nice products made specifically for crafters, but boy oh boy is it pricy!  So, I decided to make my own shelf.

PLAN IT OUT
I started off by listing what items I wanted to store on my shelf and their dimensions.  Then, based on these sizes, I did a quick sketch of the shelf design.  For now, don’t worry about drawing to scale.  This is just to get a rough visual of what you’re working towards.

shelf draft

This is my original sketch, so please don’t be too harsh on the very crooked lines.

My dad is an engineer and does woodworking as a hobby.  So I sent him this design and received suggestions for improvement.  Good thing I did, because I made a big mistake.  As it turns out, 1″ wood is actually 3/4″ thick.  WHAT?  I know, right!  So in the lumber yard, the wood starts out 1″.  But then it is planed smooth effectively loosing 1/4″.  Side bar: why don’t they make it 1 1/4″ prior to planing so afterwards it’s actually 1″?  That’s what I would do it if I owned a saw mill.

Anyways, let’s get back on topic.  As I said, my dad is an engineer.  So he used a fancy program at his office to draw my design to scale.  Thanks Dad!  However, you can just as easily use grid paper, a ruler, a pencil, and a good eraser to draw your design to scale.  That is, if you weren’t already planning to copy mine. ;-)  This storage unit is actually two large pieces:  a narrow section stacked on top of the deeper bottom section.  Also not pictured here, is the backing piece that will keep items from falling between the wall and shelf.

shelf design comp

Here is the final design of my shelf drawn to scale with the proper dimensions.

GATHER MATERIALS
The better quality your wood, the sturdier your shelf.  But one of our goals is also to be fiscally wise, I recommend using cabinet grade particle board.  It’s hardy, but not pretty wood so you will definitely want to paint it.  For the backing, use thin hardboard.  Use your design to list the size of every wood piece you will need to cut.  Don’t forget to account for the 3/4″ thick wood.  For example, the side of the bottom section is 27″ tall.  However, the actual wood will be cut to 25 1/2″ after you take away 3/4″ for both overlapping pieces on top and bottom.  Make the backing a tad smaller (about 1/8″ on each side) just to make sure it doesn’t end up sticking out.  Being too small is ok; being too big is a bummer.  There is one exception to this rule.  The height of the top backing piece should be the same as the section’s height.  I’ll explain why later.

If you don’t have a garage full of tools and don’t want to shell out $200-$700 for a table saw, do not despair!  Home Depot will cut the wood for you almost free of charge.  My first four cuts were free and after that they charged me $0.25 each.  (An entire piece is counted as one cut, not each side that they saw.)  While they cut your wood, you can pick up the rest of your supplies.  Here is your complete Home Depot shopping list:

• Particle Board cut to the following pieces
- 3 of 14″ x 25 1/2″
- 2 of 14″ x 35″
- 4 of 14″ x 14″
- 2 of 7″ x 27″
- 3 of 7′ x 33 1/2″
• Hardboard cut to the following pieces
- 1 of 34 3/4″ x 26 3/4″
- 1 of 34 3/4″ x 27″
• 2″ screws
• 1″ wire nails
• paint or stain of your choice
• a good power drill and basic bit set – If you don’t have one, buy one!  It’s worth the money.  You’d be surprised how much you use it around the house.

Minus the paint and drill, the grand total is $65.  For that same price, I would only be able to buy a shelf for scrapbook paper.  It goes to show that hard work does pay off!

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
1) Mark Wood – Accuracy is the most important part of this crucial step.  Regardless if you plan to paint your wood or not, use a pencil to mark everything.  Everyone makes mistakes and ink can’t be erased.  And too many lines on your wood will lead to even more errors.  For the sake of this blog, I used a sharpie so the lines would show up in the picture.  But that was only after I checked and re-checked my marks made in pencil.  To start, arrange all of your wood pieces on your work surface.  This allows you to identify the wood pieces you will actually drill into.  These are also the pieces you will be marking.

There are two types of marks you will make.  The first is guides for shelf placement.  On both sides of the wood, mark where each shelf edge will go.  Make sure you leave a 3/4″ gap between each edge line.  Also, it helps to mark similar pieces side-by-side to make sure they are the same and ultimately your shelf is level.  Second, you need to mark where you will place each screw.  I used an “X”, with the center my point to drill into.  For the narrow section, you will use 2 screws for each junction.  Place them 2″ from either side.  The wide section will have 3 screws: one in the center and the others 3″ from either side.  Ensure each “X” is dead center between the edge lines.

mark wood

Mark your wood first.  This is what the top section sides will look like.  Remember, measure twice and cut once!

2) Pre-drill Holes – In order to keep everything square, I highly recommend pre-drilling holes.  Pick a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the shaft of your screws.  Center it over every “X” and drill a hole all the way through the wood.  Then, get a drill bit the same size as the screw heads.  Place the bit on every hole and drill again, but no more than 1/8″ deep.  Do this on only one side of the wood.  You can wrap tape around the bit to mark how far to go, but it’s not necessary if you can maintain control.  This technique is called a counter-sink.  It allows the screws to lay flat.

3) Assemble – On the opposite side from the counter-sink, align each shelf on the lines you marked in step 1.  Then, simply drill in your screw.  For the bottom section, do the small shelves first and the top/bottom pieces last.  Have a level and framing square on hand to check your work as you go.  It would be a shame to be almost done and realize everything is crooked.

screw shelf

Aim for the center of each shelf.

4) Paint – Because the particle board can be a little flaky when drilling, I recommend painting after everything is assembled.  This is also preferable because it will cover the screws.  However, the bottom shelves are very close and hard to reach between without covering your hand in paint.  It wouldn’t hurt to paint just these shelves first.  You have been warned!  My paint was water-based so I didn’t suffer too much.  Hardboard has a smooth and a rough side.  It may go without saying, but paint the smooth side.  I painted mine a darker color to make it pop, but feel free to stick with one color.

5) Nail Backing – Remember how you made the backing piece for the top bigger?  This is where that comes into play.  Lay everything facedown on the ground.  Align the backing pieces evenly on their respective section.  The top section will have a slight overhang on the bottom to prevent a gap from forming between the sections when they are stacked.  With a tape measure and pencil, draw a line to mark the center of each shelf.  Use the screws as guides.  The bottom shelves are so close together, you only need to mark the center one.  Hammer a nail every 6-8 inches along the lines and edges.  Don’t worry if you can’t completely erase the pencil or your nails aren’t perfectly even.  It’s just the back so no one will see.

shelf backing

The backing from the top section will slightly overhang to close the gap.  Please excuse the cat hair here; it seems to get everywhere.

shelf nails

Position nails between 6-8 inches apart.

6) Done – Stand up your shelves.  Stack the top section on the bottom.  Step back and admire!

shelf paint

Completed shelf ! ! !

shelf stock

Everything fits perfectly!

This was a very fun and easy project.  Even if you have never done any woodworking before, don’t be intimidated.  With the exception of the fine folks at Home Depot that cut my wood, I did this entire project by myself.  It’s just like any other craft project, just bigger.  Good luck and if my instructions aren’t clear at any point, please feel free to ask questions.

“People love chopping wood.  In this activity one immediately sees results.” – Albert Einstein

Categories: Organization | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tidbits of Texas Icon


Let’s see a show of hands…how many people picture Texas as an endless prairie with cacti, cattle, and cowboys.  That is understandable since Texas is the nation’s leader in farm real estate and production of cattle, wool, mohair, cotton, and hay.  But there is so much more to our wonderful state.  I designed my blog’s icon, and subsequently header bar, specifically to showcase some of my favorite fun facts about Texas.  I hope you enjoy reading these explanations on why I choose the pictures I did.

6 Flags
The six flags probably perplex people the most.  Even my own mom didn’t know what they were.  (She is not originally from Texas, so we can forgive her.) Texas truly has a rich history and is much more multicultural than mentioned in public opinion.  These are the proud colors of each nation that has governed Texas.

    • 1519-1685 & 1690-1821 Spain
    • 1685-1690 France
    • 1821-1836 Mexico
    • 1836-1845 Texas – Please take notice that Texans governed themselves almost two times longer than the French could
    • 1845-1861 & 1865-Today United States of America
    • 1861-1865 Confederate States of America

Ever heard of the 6 Flags theme park?  Ever wonder why it’s named that?  Well, the original park in Arlington, TX is called “6 Flags over Texas” referring to this very fact.  All the other parks are spin-offs.

Dr Pepper
Dr Pepper is a true Texan beverage, and is the only good thing to come out of Waco.  (Boo-yah Baylor!)  It is bottled in Dublin and distributed from Plano.  (The latter being my hometown.)  This soda is more of a native Texan than I am!

Texas Mountains
Very few people know there are actually mountains in Texas.  Granted the highest one, Guadalupe Peak, is only 8,751 ft in elevation.  (For a frame of reference, Mt McKinley is 20,320 ft.)  I spent one of my spring break vacations backpacking through Big Bend National Park.  My buddies and I climbed Emory Peak (7,824 ft) and went about 32 miles through the desert in 3 days.  On our last night, we watched the sunset through The Window, pictured in this photograph, preserving a paramount performance of God’s handiwork.

Tuscany in Texas
The Texas Hill Country is also titled Tuscany in Texas.  If you are ever in the little German town of Fredericksburg, drive East down US Route 290, aka Wine Road 290!  There are 11 wineries nestled right near this road.  My husband and I have visited three…so far…and our favorite was Becker Vineyards, so I had to include a picture of their Cabernet.  Visit www.wineroad290.com to check out the other vineyards. Our wines may not be as well known as Napa Valley’s, but they are amazing! Besides, who wants fame? That only leaves less wine for us, and we can’t have that!

Bat Caves
Before I begin to breakdown the basis for bats, let me blab a brief backstory.  I majored in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and my senior year I went on a study abroad to the rainforests of Dominca.  (It’s a tiny, tiny island in the Caribbean.)  There I worked on a study of bat flight speeds.  My group’s project was eventually published in an IUCN journal.  So yes, I think bats are cool.  And Texas bats are amazing.  There are 45 bat species in the US, and 32 of them can be found in Texas.  However, the Mexican Free-tailed Bat is by far the most abundant with about 100 million roosting in Texan caverns during the summer months.  Not far from San Antonio, Bracken Cave is home to the world’s largest bat colony of over 20 million!  Imagine all 20,000,000 bats emerging from those caves at nightfall.  That is an experience not soon forgotten!
*PS* If you ever find a bat in your house, don’t freak out!  You’ll only make him angry…and you won’t like him when he’s angry…just kidding.  Call animal control if possible.  If not, open your windows/doors, move the pets/children to another room, put on thick gloves/sleeves, and use a large blanket to both shield yourself and corral it outside.  Please don’t attempt to catch, poison, or otherwise kill it.  You wouldn’t kill a stray dog just because it could possibly be a carrier of rabies.

Gig ‘em Aggies
Mama always said, save the best for last.  And Texas A&M is just that!  My years attending the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas were amazing years that shaped who I am today. Aggieland boasts the friendliest student body, largest uniformed student organization (after the service academies), and greatest traditions.  I bleed maroon and say “HOWDY!” when I return a Soldier’s salute. The only jewelry I wear on a regular basis are my wedding ring and Aggie ring.  I hope to someday see my children or younger brother walk across the stage in Reed Arena to receive their diploma from the single greatest school in the world!

And in case anyone was wondering or worried, I intentionally included innumerable illustrations of alliteration just for fun.


Bibliography
“Texas Ag Stats.”  Texas Department of Agriculture.  Date of access: 21 January 2013.  <http://texasagriculture.gov/About/TexasAgStats.aspx>.
“Six Flags of Texas.”  Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  29 March 2012.  Date of access: 28 January 2013.  <https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ref/abouttx/sixflags.html>.
“Mountains of Texas”.  Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  29 August 2011.  Date of access: 4 February 2013.  <https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ref/abouttx/mountains.html>.
Acker, Elaine.  “¡Hasta la Vista, Murceélagos!”  Texas Parks and Wildlife.  October 2003.  Date of access: 28 January 2013.  <http://www.tpwmagazine.com/archive/2003/oct/scout1/>.

Categories: Doodle with Words | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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