9.23.2016

DIY Tutorial for Building an 'X' Entryway Table

This was a rewarding project for me and I'm happy to share it with  you so you can make your own!  The lumber only cost $15 and it was finished in a day!

 In my search to find an entryway table that required minimal lumber (I didn't have much on hand and wanted a quick project) I came across this picture from someone selling tables on Etsy:
It was perfect!  I quickly gathered my 2x4's and began measuring the dimensions of our entryway to build my own!

I had a few hiccups along the way but I have sorted them through so I can show you how to build your own!

If it weren't for the 70-degree angles on the table legs this project would be done in a pinch... and very well suited for a beginner.  I must warn that the angles do make it awkward and hard to cut on a miter saw (mine only cut up to 50-degrees)... so please consider how you can cut safely by making a jig to keep your board steady and in place or use another means of cutting (bandsaw or handsaw, perhaps).




 
  
Something to consider: For this project I decided to join the horizontal-top boards together using biscuits and glue rather than making a bunch of pocketholes all over (even though they'd be on the underside I wanted to avoid the need I have to plug them).  If you go the biscuit+glue joining route you need to take extra care of cleaning the glue off your boards if you are staining (stain doesn't penetrate glue and you'll end up with very obvious splotches).

Supplies Needed:
(6) 2x4x8' - the best & straightest you can find!
(12) large biscuits for joining top (optional - otherwise you'll want more PH screws
(18) 2-1/2" pockethole screws
(28) 2-1/2" wood screws
Wood Glue and Brush
Wood Finish Products of Choosing
Template for Table Leg Angles (download HERE)

Tools:
Table Saw
Miter Saw
Bandsaw/handsaw if you can't cut safely on Miter
Sander & Various Grit Papers
Drill (+Bits)
Pockethole Jig
Biscuit Joiner (if using biscuits)
Wood Clamps

I wasn't planning on blogging about this project so I didn't take pictures of the assembly process - I hope my diagrams will suffice!

My 2x4's weren't very smooth/even on the edges so I decided to rip them down and square them up a bit on my table saw for a finished width of 3-1/4" (about 1/8" on each side).  This isn't necessary so if you prefer to forgo this step it doesn't affect the cut list or assembly other than for the 'top-side' boards which would be 17.5" rather than 16.5".



Cut List:
(5) @ 36" - Top
(2) @ 16.5" Top-Sides
(3) @ 27.5" - Leg Centers & Leg Brace
(12) @ 15" - Leg Stretchers & Leg-Angles

Arrange 'top' boards how you'd like them once joined - mark with a * or something so you know what is the upside.  On what will be the backside, drill pocketholes on the 5 'top' boards and the 'leg brace' as shown in diagram.  If using biscuit joinery, make grooves to accept biscuits (or do pocket holes instead).

If using biscuits, ensure you are using enough glue for a solid joint but not so much that it's dripping.  Butter both sides of wood/biscuits that are to be joined. Clamp 5 'top' pieces together with at least 4 clamps.  Allow to dry and attach 'top-sides' with pockethole screws.

If only using pocketholes you can joining your 'top' pieces together and then your 'top-sides'.

Now for the legs! 
 Start by cutting the corners of your 'leg-stretchers' with a 45-degree angle...

 ...you're only taking off part of the corner like this (rounding the edges later with a sander).

Print and cutout the template for the 'leg angles'.  Use this to mark on all 8 of your boards.  The diagram above shows how your 15" board will be cut down to fit against the 'leg-center' and 'leg-stretcher'.

Cut the blue angle first on all boards. TIP: save the cut-off pieces of these cuts to assist with clamping later on.

 Next, set your miter to cut the small orange angle - if you have an angle finder to transfer the angle from the template to the blade that would be best, otherwise do your best to line the blade up with the marking on your wood. 

Once you have the position of your first piece set, use a pencil to mark the corner/edges of your board on the base of your miter to easily line up the next 7 boards.

Leave your miter angle the same for cutting the other end of your boards... simply slide them across to the other side of your blade and cut along the last mark.

This picture should help you see how both ends have the same angled cut.

 Do a test fit to ensure all board for the legs fit together nicely. and make any necessary changes.  Sand all your boards and round edges/corners to your liking - I sanded from 100 to 180 grit. 

Glue the edges of your 'leg-angle' boards that will be touching and spread evenly with a brush.

Use your cut-off pieces I mentioned saving previously to create a flat surface in the "valley" of the 'x' for clamping.  Wipe off excess glue and leave to dry. TIP: although you aren't gluing the 'leg stretchers' in this step, it is best to clamp them in place to ensure all the pieces will glue & set in the correct place (i.e straight across the top/bottom edges).

Pre-drill and screw in your 2-1/2" wood screws to attach the 4 stretchers to the top & bottom of the leg 'x' pieces.  I did 2 screws through the angled pieces and 1 through the center.

Center and clamp the 'leg brace' to each 'x'.  (I used a long pipe clamp).  Use 4 pockethole screws to attach.

Have the table top laying on the ground with the top-side against the floor.  Center your legs over the table top (lucky you, this should cover all the pocketholes that were drilled for attaching the top-sides)!

Pre-drill and drill 2-1/2" wood screws through the end of each 'leg stretcher' into the table top.  I realize this isn't a conventional way of attaching boards that will swell in opposing directions but I figured it was an inexpensive/fast build project and I would roll with it...

Do a final sanding if you wish and apply your wood finish of choice.  I personally had some Minwax Dark Walnut Stain on hand and used that, after using a wood conditioner.  Every time I use Minwax I'm surprised at how stinky it is... for DAYS!  As soon as I run out of my Minwax products I'm going to try and stay with General Finishes Stains - so much better in so many ways!

 I finished it off with some Paste Wax!

Our previous entryway table was a sewing cabinet I refinished but it felt too small and out of place!

I'm really happy with how it is now!

On a side note can I tell you how much I love thrifting?!?
Remember how ugly the lamp used to be?  It was only $15 (so exciting)!  The blue & white plate was a recent score at $1.50... and I just brought the mirror home a few days ago for $10 (the corners of the molding were all coming apart with 1/4" gaps but there's nothing a little glue won't fix)!

 Glue and clamping MAY have been strong enough but I decided to drill holes through the corners to accept some dowels.  Once dry I cut the dowels flush and sanded the frame...

 ... rubbed some stain on...

...and finished off with a little wax.

Oh, see these little wreathes?...

...yard waste! HAHA!!

Ok, I need to go to bed!  It's 2am and my little ones will need breakfast in 5 hours! :)

Hope this helped!

9.16.2016

DIY Easy & Inexpensive Chicken Brooder for Broody Hen

I should probably make a blog called "The Chicken Lady" because I've had so many posts about chickens lately!  I thought after the last post about our chicken run that we wouldn't have anymore chicken projects but they like to surprise us!

For the last week one of our chickens has been broody and wants to sit in the nest box all day, with or without eggs under her.  Because we don't have a rooster to have fertilized eggs for hatching we would pull her off the eggs hoping to break her broodiness.  She seems pretty determined and it felt like the perfect opportunity to have some little chicks around before it gets colder outside - plus I was feeling bad she was doing all that work for nothing!

I read up more on the subject and many people will actually make a little area for their broody hen where she won't be disturbed - with her own food and water available.  That felt necessary for this girl because she's actually on the bottom of the pecking order and gets pushed around a lot.  In fact, the morning I was installing her brooder 'fence' she was sitting up in the nesting boxes (without eggs under her) and another hen hopped right in with her trying to push her out.  I've also noticed our broody hen is on the sidelines when it comes to getting food - always timid and nervous trying to get something to eat.  Because broody hens only come off their nest once or twice a day to eat/drink/poop I wanted to make sure she could actually get the food she needs to sustain her throughout the day.

I didn't want to make a separate enclosure for her away from the coop like I was reading about - not just because of the supplies/time it would take to make but because if I separated her I worried she would be even more on the 'outs' with the others.  The area under our nesting boxes seemed like the perfect place to make a little brooding area - it was dark, the ground was clean and soft, protected from predators/elements and she would still be with the others.

Even better - when the chicks hatch they will be on ground level and safe from falling out of a high nesting box AND the chicken feeder was there that she could use (we haven't been using it because all the hens eat 2-3x as much when it is constantly available to them... so it's there for when we go camping or other small trips).

I came up with a little 'fence' that has a door for accessing the eggs, water, food and letting the little gal out if needed.

I used $4 worth of furring wood (2 1x2's), leftover plastic deer fencing we used for the outer enclosure and hinges/screws I had on hand.

It took an hour to put together and I can now breathe a sigh of relief that our hen will have some peace and tranquility... and when the chicks are here they'll have a place to stay with their mother and be protected from the other hens (if needed).


I nailed the frame onto the coop in a few places and stapled the fencing in a few areas underneath the nesting box area.  I really like that this is easy to put up and take down as needed (it can be used as a 'hospital' in the future to separate wounded chickens from being pecked on as well).

I feel so content knowing the others won't bug her.  They sure are curious why one of them is getting special treatment, though!

I found someone selling hatching eggs for $1 each from their mixed-breed flock.  I came home and arranged the eggs on the ground in a nest and came back 20 minutes later to put up the fence I just finished. I was surprised and delighted to see that our broody had already hopped down from her empty nest above to sit on the eggs  (what a good girl)!  I hope (for her sake) that these will hatch and she can be a mom.  I'll update in TWENTY-ONE days with the news!  The kids are crossing their fingers!

Other Chicken Project Links:
CHICKEN WATERING SYSTEM
CHICKEN PVC FEEDER
CHICKEN RUN
FEED BIN

Have ducks?

DUCK HOUSE BUILD

9.07.2016

New Family Task + Chore System / Board - Make your own!


This post is to show you our new Task/Chore System Board. Hopefully I can give you a few ideas to implement in your own family because we all know different systems work for different families.  First I'll do my best to describe how it works and then I'll show you how I put it together (I love my Cricut machine!!)

I've had a love/hate relationship with chore charts and I've used a lot of different charts/systems/rewards over the last 5 years to help my kids with their chores and I've never been completely happy with any of them.

 Chores are a must in my house to teach the kids responsibility and share the load of the housework as a team effort (if you live here you're certainly making messes)!

I posted a few years ago about chores and a new chart system I was enjoying.  I've used a few other methods as well.  Last year I got into the routine of paying my kids for bigger jobs and before that I was giving out tickets as a form of payment so they could buy things from the 'family store'.  I've learned my lesson that I can't keep up with the chart systems that are time consuming to operate or require tally keeping and so forth.  I've never been a believer in paying kids for jobs and was getting frustrated that the kids were learning the idea that they did chores for money and not because it's a normal responsibility.

I started thinking how my 10-year-old should be able to perform larger step-by-step tasks rather than a simple 'clean the windows' chore.  After looking up what age appropriate jobs would be for my boys who are 10, 8 & 5-years-old I knew I needed to change!

MUST-HAVE'S FOR MY NEW SYSTEM:
-Something that was easy and straightforward for each of my kids to know what is asked of them for that day

-Picture cards for my 5-year-old who isn't able to read yet

-Step-by-step tasks for my oldest boys to follow (when you have 4 kids it can be nearly impossible to direct each child for every little thing they need to do (& remind them a few times)... then have them tell you it's done; you check and you have to tell them again what they need to do/fix and the process goes on...)

-Something that was easy for me to customize each day according to what needed to be done/cleaned

-No tally keeping, stickers or rewards.  Your reward is when you're done you have 'free time'!

-It needed to be aesthetically pleasing but not stand out too much because I wanted it close to the kitchen (where I usually am) and somewhere where the kids can see it easily

This is what I came up with!
I showed my husband when I finished and was trying to teach him about how it works and he gave me a blank stare and said, "wow, that's a lot". Hopefully I can explain it to you better than how I explained it to my husband.  It's very straightforward for my kids and that's the most important!

One thing I wanted to really push is that as a family we're a team and should work together and do our best work.  Rather than say "Chore Chart" at the top I put "Working as a Team" so they would see it often as a reminder.

I don't like calling everything "jobs or chores" because more than half of what my kids are doing are tasks or routine things.

I have large task cards for my 8 & 10-year-old.  One of my boys gets distracted easy and rather than asking "did you do this?.. did you do that?" I can just ask "did you finish your checklist?" and he can look it over.  Getting them out the door to the bus stop is madness and this helps ease the craziness. There's more craziness when they get home after school and this keeps them in order of what they need to do before they play with friends, toys or play games.

I got the idea for the checklists/chore cards, here.


The leather pouches clip onto their pants/shirt and they can look down easily to see what they need to do next.  During the week I keep the 3 checklist cards (above) inside and rotate throughout the day.

On the weekends, only the morning checklist stays and I add 2 Chore Cards for them:


 These are the large chore cards with step-by-step instructions for them to follow and check off with a dry erase marker.  The last step is "Double check your work" (we're still working on them following through with each step and making sure it's done correctly the first time).


This is what a typical weekend looks like.  I always have each of them do their bedroom (so I have one card for each; and only 1 of each of the other chore cards).

Because the big boys have their checklists they don't need small task cards with pictures like my 5-year-old but I still use the small cards for my big boys so they have 2 small jobs each day during the week (on top of their daily checklists to keep them on task).

The vinyl pocket on the board is for storing the large cards... they only do the ones that are in their leather pouch.

My 5-year-old has his daily tasks on the smaller cards with pictures and will have 2 chores mixed in as well.

His typical day will look something like this:
Say your prayers, let out & feed the chickens, get dressed, make your bed, brush your teeth, comb your hair, put your backpack and lunchbox away, do your homework, put chickens away and gather eggs & read (be read to) for 20 minutes.

When the boys are done with their tasks/job cards they will see a star and they will be done for the day and have free time.

I put Velcro on the back of the star cards so they stay in place.

I have about 50 different job/task cards to choose from and I keep them on rings so I can flip through them easily and keep them together in a drawer.

The first ring is for the cards I use most often...

... I also typed on the back of each one (for my bigger boys).

The second ring has jobs I don't use very often as well as the jobs I typed up without a picture to go with.

The third ring has assignments for when we do our family night where we do a spiritual lesson, scripture, treat, etc and then I have blank cards for when I need to write a new job/task.

I used 3M Command Strips for the first time and I am hooked!  These things are awesome!

I put the board up in our hall so the kids can see it as soon as they walk inside from the garage and it's also right around the corner from the kitchen.

_________________________

Now we're on to how to make this thing!!

Can I tell you something?  I found out a few years ago Cricut had a cartridge for a Chore Chart and I loved the little images so much that I wanted a machine ever since!  I finally got a machine a few months ago for a good deal and bought the cartridge too!

*If you don't have a Cricut machine I bet someone you know does!  Also, I realized AFTER I cut out all the little chore cards that I could have 'flattened' the image and simply printed them out.

I'll give you links & access to the chore cards and checklists - don't worry!...


 First off I picked the images I wanted from the cartridge and changed the colors - I didn't like the bright colors of the originals (I love that you can drag and drop layers into color groups - see the right-side of the screenshot).


Click HERE to have access to the cards in Design Space* (if you want to use them they'll prompt you to pay).

*This is a large file - once you open it don't click on anything for a few minutes so it can load - if you try clicking around it will usually crash and you'll need to restart your browser.


Next I created my own custom chore cards and the vinyl words to stick on my board! ...(I can't share this file because they're not original Cricut images.. sorry)!

I cut and glued all the itty bitty pieces together.  THAT was a lot of work!  Even though I now know I could have flattened the images to print, I think I prefer the depth the cutout pieces give.

I designed the actual cards for attaching the images to.  You can download the PDF file here (if you want to edit the document you can try opening it in Ai).

To line up the images on the back of the cards just right I put the pages against a window (so types words are facing out) to tape the images over.

This double-sided sticky tape worked wonders for this!

Can you see the crosshairs on the other side? Those beautiful marks indicate the size of the card to center images over (and where to cut later).


Oh, they're looking awesome!

If you're interested in the large Chore Cards & Checklists you can download them here.


Ok, now I have all my pages ready for laminating!

I used 7.5 MIL pouches to ensure they'd be durable and won't bend easily.  TIP: A carrier is ideal when sending things through your laminator - it prevents wrinkles/waves in your finished product.

Cut along crosshairs - I make this too easy for you!


I used a paper punch to punch out the circle for hanging.

This is my first time doing vinyl from my own machine!  I used clear contact paper for transferring.

Stick the contact paper over your vinyl and scrap hard with something flat to make sure your vinyl will stick.  I cut the words apart after this for transferring to the board.

Pull backing paper off gently.

I used my job cards & checklists to layout over my board (did I mention it's a salvaged cupboard door!?) and used a ruler to make sure everything was straight before deciding where to put my vinyl.

Scrap over the top again to make sure vinyl sticks to the bottom surface and carefully peel off contact paper.

Mark placement for nails. TIP: mark at the top of the punched hole since the cards will hang from that point.

I outlined 2 corners on the large cards so I could make vinyl pockets while trying to keep the cards in that position.

I used 1-1/4" long nails for hanging the cards. TIP: put the nails in at an upward angle to keep cards from falling off.

I first nailed (with carpet tacks) the edge of vinyl for the bottom/back of the pocket, flipped it up and nailed the sides in place.

Finished!  I feel like I gave a lot of information - hopefully I wasn't confusing and hopefully this will help you in finding a system that works for your family!