#36 Carpentry | I Get Weak: Shoring Up a Slacking Leg

64 Arts

When you’ve been living with hand-me-down furniture and mismatched this and that, the first bits you buy yourself–even if they come from IKEA’s flat-pack heaven–can mean a lot. So it was that many years ago (at least 6–I don’t really feel like digging through my file boxes to find the receipts, so go with me on this one) I got my first glimpse at an IKEA and decided to snap up a table and chair set for my dining room at a really good price.

Jokkmokk table and chair set

image via IKEA.com

It survived the trip home from Atlanta, me putting it together all on my own (I also bought a spunky orange tool set on that trip–smart!), 2 moves and many parties. And after all of that it’s still going strong.

Well, all but one of the 4 chairs.

Broken chair leg


It was just before the holidays got into full swing when Todd leaned back in his chair to hear an unfortunate cracking sound. Thankfully he did not end up sprawled on the floor–the crack had formed along the back/leg right where it angled in to meet the seat. By the time the holidays were over the crack had gone clear through the wood and it was in need of some serious repair.

Now, with most chairs this one long piece would be separate bits and we could just replace the one board and be done with it. Not so much with this piece, so we did the next best thing:

Gorilla Wood Glue

Our glue of choice, hoping the super-tough hold does

Half of having furniture–wooden or otherwise–is taking care of it when (or before) it breaks. To heal busted wood you need two things.

  1. Something to knit the fibers back together.
  2. Pressure to hold the fibers in place until such time as they’re strong again.

Basically, we’re wood doctors healing a broken bone. Instead of a plaster cast, though, we opted to use something a little different.

First we thought regular clamps would do, but the split was in a more-than-awkward spot for such a fix. Then Todd was going to use something called a pipe vise but we were short the needed pipe. What we did have was a strap usually used for tying down stuff in a trunk or truck-bed, it’s got a ratchet on it so can get very tight which is perfect for our needs.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

First we put plenty of glue onto the break.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Then we secure it by tightening the strap as tight as possible to keep the glued pieces together.

Check the bottle of wood glue you’re using to see how long it’s supposed to take to dry and then leave it under pressure a little longer for safe keeping.

After that, if you want to reinforce the section with an extra screw into the wood above or below the break as insurance, it might not be a bad idea.

Ideally we would have caught it when it was just beginning to crack and fixed it then. Since we didn’t, we’ll take these steps and see what happens. Worst case scenario? I have a reason to go visit IKEA in Orlando.

At least it beats duck tape, right?

#36 Carpentry | Project | Stuck On You

64 Arts, Projects


I really do love it when a plan comes together!

We’ve been blathering on about woodworking for a while, now, and I’d been meaning to get some projects done but not succeeding very much. You’ll be happy to know that has changed, and I’m going to go ahead and throw the next art into the mix, since it’s so simple (I don’t know why I didn’t post ’em both together to begin with).

36 Carpentry

Sawing planks to make seats and beds.

In the mind of the list originators, woodworking was the fancy, artisan-level stuff and carpentry the more functional. It’s not a seat or a bed, but I do have a functional carpentry project to share with you today that solves a need as well as gave Todd and I a chance to work together on a project.

Of course, when I say work together I mean I dreamt it up, he did most of the carpentry work while I took pictures, and then I added a few details.

First, let’s start with the problem:

I often use liquid adhesives (as opposed to tapes, etc.) and once the bottle starts to approach the half-full point, it seems like it takes forever to get the glue to start to flow–especially when I’m mid project and impatient.

From time to time I’ve stuck the glue upside down in a cup to keep it ready-to-go, but that’s cumbersome and the cup (unless very heavy itself) would tip over if the glue wasn’t put in just right. Annoying.

Then I found that I could sort of wedge some glues more or less up in this tray I’d picked up years ago, probably at the Dollar Tree, but it was still a clumsy, klugy work around.

And then I found my inspiration:

Image via Amazon.com

We have a plastic test tube rack like the one above that I got from American Science and Surplus several years ago to use in our Halloween decorations (gotta have that mad scientists lab, doncha know). What if we made something like this to hold my glue bottles upside down and ready to roll, whenever I needed them?!

So we did:

wooden glue stand on a blue desk with cutting mat in front

All loaded and ready to glue!

Because I have a combination of tall and short glue bottles, we designed the stand to nave two levels. The base is a 6″ x 18″ piece of 1/2-inch solid wood from the hardware store (pine or some other solid wood would do), the legs are 4″ and 3″ cuts from a 3/4″ dowel rod. The top levels are 3″ strips cut from a 1/4″-thick piece of 6″ x 18″ plywood we picked up at Hobby Lobby, and the whole thing is held together with 8 wood screws.

The holes were cut using a hole saw, which is actually just a special drill-bit that works on any power drill. We Todd used 2 different sizes, one for each level, though admits the one saw of his set that was missing would have been a better size for the lower level. The holes drilled are 2 1/8″ on the upper level and 2″ on the lower level. We could have gone much smaller on the lower level, but this way I can actually store more larger bottles on both level, should the need arise.

Cut and drilled pieces of wood, pre-assembly

Ready to assemble glue stand, courtesy of Todd

One of the great features of the test tube rack was that there was a little bowl or divot underneath that kept the tubes from slipping around. While I suppose we could have sanded out a similar feature using a Dremel, I decided to use bottle caps, adhered with a 2-part epoxy, to act as stops to keep the tips of the bottles from sliding around too much.

Now, you might wonder, as I did just before we finished this project, if something already existed that would have saved us the trouble of making our own. Surprisingly, not really. I found some bendable metal stands that would work well for super-glue and other small-nozzled bottles, but not for the types of glue I use. Then I found a couple of 2-bottle glue stands, meant for 2-part epoxy but they would have worked for me, if I only had a couple of glues to concern myself with.

And how many crafters do you know who only use 2 glues?

Glue stand, filled, slid into a narrow spot on a shelf

Tucked out of the way but still ready at a moment’s notice!

Finally, when we were deciding just how long to make the stand, we took into account that I won’t always need this stand out on my worktable all the time. Since the shelving units I have in The Abyss are 18″ deep, that became our maximum length so I could easily slip the stand onto the shelf when not needed.

It’s still bare wood right now because I haven’t decided how exactly I want to finish it. Right now I’m leaning towards decoupage–that seems somewhat fitting!

And some process pics for the curious (click on any of the thumbnails below to enlarge).

Have you made anything interesting lately?


And with that, we’re back to our regular blogging schedule. Thank you for your patience while I took January off to work on various behind-the-scenes projects (one of which was the look of this site). I’ll have a new post up on Thursday, too, so make sure to come back then to see something else I was up to in the off-season!

Halloween Pin-spiration

64 Arts, Everyday Adventures

If I haven’t mentioned before, Halloween is our favorite holiday and, each year, we like to add to the decorations and props we keep around. Obviously other blogs are great for inspiration, but Pinterest has increased that exponentially!

Thankfully, I have a willing accomplice in Halloween crafting, and this year I sent Todd a couple of fun ideas, just as a ‘look, isn’t this cool?’ kind of thing, and he actually built them!

We’ve been talking about adding a coffin to our set-up for years, but just never got around to it (and often wondered how we’d store it, if we made one). But when I sent him this link to an Ground-Breaking Coffin craft, that seemed so much more doable and now it’s done!

And, hey, it even counts for our woodworking art!

While the coffin craft was 100% Todd, I actually got to help on this next one: PVC Candles.

Super simple, Todd still did all the cutting and filing, but I added the hot-glue drips on the sides and helped with the spray-painting. Lit up in a dark room (or outside, lining a walkway) they look super spooky.

At our party this weekend someone even mentioned they could work for Christmas decorations, too–hadn’t thought of that!

And on the edible front, let me share one last Pinterest-found Halloween treat, this time of the edible variety: Pumpkin Spice Fudge.

One of many desserts at this year’s pumpkin party, this super-rich fudge is super-simple to make and everyone really loved it.

Hope you have a Happy Halloween!

Wheel of XP

#35 Woodworking | Step Right Up and Spin the Wheel!

64 Arts, Projects

You know you want to!

When my cookbook was finished and ready for its official launch party, I decided I wanted to offer something extra to folks purchasing the book at one of our upcoming events. Since each recipe carries with it a certain number of XP (eXperience Points), I figured it’d be nice to give them some bonus XP to get them started. (And, since it could only be redeemed online, by creating an account on the book’s website, it was also incentive for them to log in and stay connected.)

So was born the Wheel of XP.

Those prize wheels you see at conventions, casinos, trade shows, and other events are really irresistible–you hand just itches to spin the wheel! So first I looked at buying one, figuring I had just enough time to have it shipped before the launch party.

Do you know they want $250 (or more!) for a flimsy plastic version?! Definitely not in my book launch budget, but it can’t be that difficult to DIY one, right? And ours would be better!

Wheel of XP

About 2 weeks before the launch I proposed my plan to Todd, who I’ve already explained is the handyman in this family, and we proceeded to spend that Friday night’s date night traipsing through Lowe’s, looking for all the pieces we’d need.

I was a bag blogger (not really intending on making our own how-to post out of it) and didn’t take copious amounts of photos of the process, but here’s the general idea:

  • 3/4″ plywood, 2 ft square, trimmed down to 18″ x 24″, the back of the wheel
  • 15″ round wooden disk, the wheel of the wheel
  • 1″x4″ cut down into 2-18″ lengths, the legs–though this could also work flat
  • 4 brackets, to hold the legs on and make them removable for easy storage and packing
  • 1 lazy susan mechanism, to make the wheel spin
  • 24 wooden pegs, attached around the outside edge of the wheel, for the flag to thwack through
  • Screws, washers, and nuts for all bits (wing nuts on for the 4 assembly screws make it easier to tighten and loosen without tools)
  • Long carriage bolt, for the flag
  • wood glue for wooden pegs
  • varnish for wood pieces
  • duct tape and a mini playing card for the flag (inelegant, but effective)
  • Paper and markers to make prize signs
  • Hook & Loop tape to make the signs removable (aka Velcro)
  • WD-40 (the wheel needs lubing up for each event)

And do you know what all of that cost us? A whopping $50. (Not including the duct tape, playing card, paper, Velcro, and WD-40 that we already had.)

In the picture above you can see a 1″ hole drilled through the center of the front disk, that’s so we could eventually add another carriage bolt with a round sign (decorated CD) that would stand out enough from the moving parts but not move itself. That part’s still not done yet, but it will be in time for our next show at the end of September. At the one convention we’ve taken it to, so far, though, we had plenty of people come up and ask us what the wheel was for and if they could spin it.

Mission accomplished? I think so.

The tools required for this were a drill and various bits and a table saw or circular saw for the straight cuts. Of course, if all you’ve got is a drill (or it’s all you’re willing to invest in at the moment), most hardware stores will do straight cuts for you at a nominal cost (.25 a cut) or sometimes even free.

Now, we use our wheel the give extra presents to our customers, you may not have such a need, so why is knowing how to build your own prize wheel a useful bit of trivia? Oh, I don’t know, how about for use at a school carnival or carnival-themed birthday party, a prize wheel for your next work fundraiser, or incentives for your kids accomplishing goals. Along that line, you could make one into a chore wheel or a rainy-day fun wheel.

#35 Woodwork | Fairies, and Toadstools, and Witches–Oh My!

64 Arts, Projects

Since I haven’t picked out my new woodworking project yet, I thought I’d show you some projects that Todd and I worked on together in the past.

Our first year living together we threw a Midsummer-themed housewarming party, but it wasn’t exactly what I’d envisioned. So when we moved again and took another shot at our Midsummer Fairy Fest ( not a housewarming party, this time), I shamelessly took advantage of Todd’s willingness to help, and cooked up these little guys.

We made 3 fairies and 5 toadstools from 4, 4’x8′ sheets of plywood and still had some leftover. Of course, lacking a truck, we had the hardware store cut the boards into 4’x4′ squares with the thought that they’d fit in the backseat. Lengthwise, sure, but they were still too tall to fit through the door. Oops! This is yet another reason Todd keeps a bundle of bungee cords in his trunk.

Fairy and toadstool under a lit arch

To keep the shapes workable in our 4’x4′ wood, I drew out my designs on a square of cardstock and then measured out a grid over top. Remember those pages in the coloring books where you’d have to transfer a picture by drawing each square, one at a time? Yup, same thing works here. I laid out a grid over my picture, with each square equal to 6 inches, and then Todd could measure out a grid on the plywood and transfer the picture there. I cleaned up some of the details before he cut the first one out with the jigsaw, and then he used that first one to trace out the other 2.

(If I can ever track down my original pattern, I’ll update this post with it, so you can better see what I mean.)

The toadstools worked pretty much the same, only we could fit 2-3 pieces on each square of plywood and it took 2 pieces for each toadstool–1 with a notch from the bottom, 1/2 of the way up, and 1 with a notch from the top, 1/2 of the way down. The great thing about this was that we could combine 2 pieces to get a 3-D toadstool but take them apart to stack in the off-season.

The fairies were painted white and then sprayed with a bit of silver glitter. The toadstools got a coat of white, a couple coats of orange for the caps, and then white spots painted on. We scattered them around the back yard, nestling some in the camellia bushes on our patio. A white, gauzy butterfly on her hand and it was done.

Fairy and toadstool nestled in our camellia bushes

When Halloween rolled around we really wanted to dress up the yard more and I thought back to the fairies. With some rip-stop nylon stretched over them and stapled in place, a witches hat & wig combo, and a broomstick made of a branch from the yard and some grass table skirt left over from a beach-themed wedding shower we threw ages ago.

I left the wings loose as if it were a cape fluttering in the breeze, and dagged the skirt at the legs. I didn’t plan it this way, but the leg and hand pose fit the idea of sitting across a broom perfectly.

All lined up you can see how we cut the conduit to different heights. On the back of each are two metal conduit straps for each conduit leg and a small cup hook to act as a stop for the conduit so they won’t slide down the pipes or flop around in the breeze.