Category Archives: Building Projects

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box

Our table works hard for us. We eat all our meals together here, Emma does her school work here and Brendan colours. We craft and we sew and we create here.

When I started gathering things for our fall table, I knew I didn’t want it to take up a lot of space so it would still work with our everyday activities. I also wanted to be able to remove it quickly in case we needed to clear the table for a big project.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box

I’ve had my eye on rustic wood boxes lately and decided that it would make the perfect base for our fall table. So I called Dan at work and asked him if he could bring a pallet home for me, the more worn the better (he’s always seeing pallets by the side of the road on his way home from work). Sweet guy that he is, he brought one home for me that night.

After assessing what boards we thought would work well for building we started pulling it apart. We decided the four main supports would be great for the sides of the box (the outside two even had a stamp on the sides) and some of the thinner pallet boards we thought would work well for the bottom of the box.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Cutting the boards

The hardest part of this project was trying to get the pallet apart without breaking all the boards in the process. After working with the crowbar and hammer for a while with very slow progress and lots of broken boards, Dan decided to take the circular saw to the rest of the boards on the back, cutting them between the cross boards and pulling out the nails and any remaining wood with the hammer.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Taking apart the pallet

That sped things up considerably and we were left with just the front boards to remove. We wanted to save a few of them for the bottom of the box, so we didn’t want to cut them any shorter, but now that the back pieces were off we were able to clamp the pallet to the work bench and use the sledge hammer to remove the rest of the boards. A few of them broke in the process but they came off pretty fast and we were able to save enough of them for the bottom of the box.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Taking off the boards

Using the pallet wood definitely made the project take a little longer at the beginning to get it apart (I think we spent about half an hour on it before we were able to start building) but if you can get some beautiful weathered wood from it and factor in the time you save from not having to stain or paint it, it’s not so bad.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Cutting the pieces

After we had all our wood ready we laid it out on the work bench to figure out what size we wanted to make it. We decided to keep the box as long as the boards themselves (which was 30 inches), so that we wouldn’t have any new cuts on the ends of the box that would show. Then we put a few thinner pallet boards in between them and decided that we wanted the box about 10 inches wide. So Dan cut two end boards 8 inches wide from one of the extra middle boards. He also cut two corner pieces from the same board to go inside the bottom of the box at the ends to give us something to attach the bottom boards to.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Screwing the box together

After we had cut all the wood and made sure it would fit together I put some fine grit sand paper in my sanding block and lightly sanded each side of the wood to take any rough edges and splinters off. Then Dan used our Kreg jig to drill two pocked holes in each corner of the end boards and screwed them together to make the sides of our box.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Putting the box together

To finish it off we nailed the small corner pieces of wood to the side boards, 1/2 inch up from the bottom of the box so the bottom boards could still fit underneath it. Then we turned the box over and screwed each of the bottom boards to the corner wood pieces to attach them.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Screwing the bottom boards in

After it was finished I filled it with white pumpkins, squash, pine cones and a few smaller gourds for our fall table. So easy and pretty.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Fall centerpiece

I love the weathered wood against our table and the rough waviness of the pallet boards. The stamped ends are such a beautiful little detail.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Stamp on pallet board

I’m thinking it will lend itself well to the change of seasons and could some in handy for parties and get togethers as a serving tray for plates, napkins and silverware or to corral a drink station.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Close up

We’ve had it set up on our table for a few days now and so far it has proved to be both pretty and practical for us. There’s still lots of room on each side of the table for place settings or colouring books. But now we get to look at this while we’re there.

Building A Rustic Wood Centerpiece Box - Decorated fall table

Linked to: Centsational Girl, The Inspired Room.


Building a Sandbox

Building a Sandbox - Emma in play zone

After seeing how much our kids loved playing in the sand at the beach this summer, we decided to take the plunge and build them a sandbox. At first I was worried that there would be sand everywhere because of it, but seeing how long they both played happily in it convinced me we should go for it anyway. We briefly considered making a rock box instead but went back to play sand because we thought the kids would enjoy being able to build with it as well as dig.

We looked at a few sandbox designs for inspiration (from here and here) and Dan combined our favourite elements and drew up a design of what we wanted.

Building a Sandbox - Design

We ended up with a simple box made of 2″ x 8″ with a barn doorish lid made of wood slats to keep the leaves and animals out and strong enough to stand up to the weather and the kids walking on it (because we knew that was the first thing Brendan was going to want to do.)

Building a Sandbox - Design with lid open

After playing around with the wood to get an idea of size we decided to make the sandbox 5′ x 5′. Big enough for both of them to have a good amount of room to play, without it being too big for our space.

Building a Sandbox - Deciding the size

Dan cut the 2″ x 8″ with a mitered edge at each corner and added 4″ x 4″ post in the corners for support. He screwed heavy duty lag bolts through the 2″ x 8″ into the posts to attached the corners together.

Building a Sandbox - Cutting the boards

Then we were ready to put together the lid. Dan picked up some cedar 2″ x 4″s for the cross pieces and 5′ cedar fence boards for the slats. He cut the 2″ x 4″ top and bottom pieces and mitered the top edges so the outside edge wouldn’t get in the way of the sandbox lid opening fully.

Building a Sandbox - Screwing the lid together

Then we attached the deck boards to the top and bottom pieces, spacing and screwing them in from the back. Dan ripped down two of the deck boards to fit the smaller space left in the middle of both of the doors. The sandbox was really starting to come together!

Building a Sandbox - Attached lid

We measured where we wanted the hinges and chiseled out a little pocket for them in the top of the 2″ x 8″ before screwing them in place, so the lid would sit flush on top of the box when closed.

Building a Sandbox - Putting on the hinges

Then Dan measured and attached the diagonal pieces between the top and bottom 2″ x 4″s to add more support and create more of a barn door look.

Building a Sandbox - Finished building

All that was left to do was finish it off with some weather protecting stain and attach the handles. So we brought a few test pots home and tried them out on a few different wood scraps and settled on a brown-gray semi-transparent stain from Behr called Boot Hill Grey (we’d love to also stain the play set the same colour down the road). I brushed the stain on one evening after supper and got it finished just before dark.

Building a Sandbox - Stain colour

A couple days later, Dan and the kids picked up a load of play sand from our local Home Hardware and filled up the sandbox with the wheel barrow.

Building a Sandbox - Sandbox beside playset

The kids love it just as much as we hoped! I still can’t get over how long they will play together in there.

Building a Sandbox - Kids building in the sand

The sand also seems to keep enough moisture in it that it’s great for building. It makes bucket sandcastles beautifully. And the lid holds up well to our little climber.

Building a Sandbox - Brendan walking on the lid

So far my worry about having sand in the house all the time has been kept at bay by keeping a small hand broom by the back door of the garage and brushing them off before they come in.

Building a Sandbox - Kids playing in the sand

We fit this project in between family vacations and a few other home projects but the actual time to put this together wasn’t all that much. We spent one evening building the box, another evening putting together the lid and a third evening to stain it before we were ready for sand. So its definitely a doable project and so much fun for the kids. I love that it’s one of those things that can grow with them.

Building a Sandbox - The play zone

A Playset For The Kids

I love spending a good portion of our summer days outside. Now that we have this, even more so.

Building a Playset

Last fall, my brother-in-law had a neighbour who was passing on their old playset so he picked it up and brought it up for us, soon after we moved. With unpacking and getting settled in we didn’t have a chance to assemble it before the snow came. So this spring, the kids were so excited to get their playset put together and I was so excited to turn the pile of wood by our backdoor into something useful and fun.

We decided to place it in the back corner of our lot as it can be seen from anywhere in the back yard there, as well as from our big side yard and back french doors where we hope to have a deck someday. It was a bit of a puzzle at first as Dan spread it all out and figured out what went where and what wood we might still need. He ended up buying four pressure treated 4 x 4 posts for the supports and then we were ready to start assembling.

Building a Playset - Deck and railing

We worked on it off and on in the evenings, first digging the holes for the posts and getting them in the ground. The platform was all in one piece so we just had to attach it to the posts using spare wood as cross pieces and some heavy duty lag bolts to anchor them. Next we added the railing, which was already in three sections so we played around with them a bit and cut them to size so we could attach them between the posts.

Building a Playset - Adding the slide and ladder

Then we were ready to put the ladder and slide on the front. I freshened up the slide by spray painting it with Krylon’s Fusion for Plastic in a bright yellow. It took three bottles to do two good coats and although it didn’t have perfect coverage, it did really help brighten it up so it doesn’t look so faded anymore.

The kids were so happy about this step because it meant that they could finally start playing on it! That slide got a lot of use and Brendan loved being able to look out and wave from the top. Emma loved it so much she asked if she could sleep out there at night (which is really saying something coming from the girl who doesn’t like to sleep alone at night).

Building a Playset - Brendan climbing down ladder

When we had a free Saturday morning, Dan added the monkey bars and swing set under them, which came together pretty fast compared to the first part. The pieces were all there and we didn’t have to do much fiddling around to get it to fit together, which was nice.

At this point we debated between leaving it as it was as more of a fort, or adding a roof for more of a house look and a little shade from the sun. We were both leaning more towards adding a roof so we decided to go for it. Dan built the frame with leftover wood and I held it up as he attached it to the posts.

Building a Playset - Adding the roof

This proved a whole lot harder then it sounds as that thing was heavy and a little awkward. It also got a little cockeyed during the first installation so we had to take it down, secure it better and then get it back up there again. Our wood clamps ended up saving the day for us as they helped me hold it in place as Dan secured it and we finally got it up there and looking good. Dan bought fence boards for the roof and nailed them on the frame the next evening, overlapping the ends.

The roof is my favourite part. It makes we want to play house and make some mud pies (am I the only one who did that?). The kids have spent hours out here. They love it! Emma has learned how to pump all by herself on the swing and Brendan loves climbing all over it.

Building a Playset - Emma on the swing

Emma and I have great plans for adding some kind of flag and I’d love to stain it someday to unify the old and new wood, but I’ll have to wait until at least the fall so the new pressure treated wood can weather first. We’re also looking forward to adding a sandbox to the mix!

Do you have a play area in your yard for your kids? Where was your favourite place to play as a child?

Picture Book Shelves

If you peek down the hall to the kids room, this is what you will see. Floor to ceiling shelves full of picture books.

Picture Book Shelves1

I had been wanting some shelves in the kids room from all the way back in their old room in our previous rental. We had looked at these plans from Ana White for her picture ledges and thought they would be perfect. We found some wood that would work for them from our stash and cut it to length but hadn’t gotten around to actually assembling them, as we ended up moving soon after.

After seeing this wall by the door in the kids new room, we thought it would be the perfect place for them. It is narrower than the wall we had originally planned to put them on though, so we had to make them shorter to fit. We ended up cutting the wood in half to make six smaller shelves instead of the original three bigger ones, which worked out quite well.ana-white-ten-dollar-ledges-1

This was our first project using the Kreg Jig and it worked great to join the boards. We filled the screw holes with wood filler and sanded them smooth. I decided to go with a whitewash finish as I love the look and wanted to try it out. I put it on a little thick so I didn’t get as much wood grain showing through as I would have liked, but they were still pretty and we hung them up and filled them with the kids books. I love how they filled up that wall.

We took them down before painting the kids room and decided to take the sander to them while they were down to get a little more of the wood showing through. Dan went over them with the belt sander and now they have a beautiful worn look to them which made me completely fall in love with them again.

Picture Books Shelves - Paint finish

And here they are all filled up with books. They fit perfectly between the door and the wall and I love how they make the awkward end of the closet wall look more purposeful.

Picture Book Shelves2

The kids love having so many of their books in here. They use them during quiet time in the afternoon and for a close by bedtime story. I love all the colour they add to their room.

Picture Book Shelves Close Up

We keep board books on the lower two shelves so Brendan can reach them and the older storybooks higher up for Emma. I rotate the books with others from the living room every once in a while to give them a little variety.

Picture Book Shelves - Brendan playing

I love a wall full of bookshelves. These ones are especially fun because we have an ever changing art display with all those illustrations. Seeing them all right there makes them so inviting and the kids use them almost every day. They are the perfect addition to their room.

Linked to: Miss Mustard Seed

Our Grown Up Bed

Building a bed

Back in February, we were looking around for a project and remembered that my father-in-law had given us some beautiful maple boards that he had processed from his bush.

We had wanted to use them for a project that would really show off the wood, and as we were looking to upgrade our headboard, it seemed like the perfect project to tackle.

I was inspired by this hand built bed by Suzie from The Accent Piece and we used Ana White’s Fancy Arch Bed Building Plans for planning the build. We mostly changed the arch design on the headboard and legs. I was having a hard time deciding on how much arch I wanted for the headboard so Dan drew up the design in CAD software so we could tweak the shape until we liked it.

Headboard building plans

Dan printed out the headboard shape full scale at work so we could transfer the design, which worked really well. We used the maple boards for the headboard and legs and bought pine boards for the frame to keep the cost down.

Bed frame building plans

I love when we are able to work on things together but it was cold in the garage (remember February?) so the kids and I hung out in the house and Dan worked on most of this build by himself, with me only helping after the kids went to bed when he needed a second pair of hands. So he really did an amazing job putting it together.

He finished building it right before going away on a business trip, so I got to play around with the finish. I loved the idea of using a grey stain as I thought it might give it a little bit of a worn look and be dark enough to unify the different woods.  I ended up using Minwax’s Classic Grey stain. It turned out to be a pretty toned blue/grey depending on the undertones of the wood it was going over.

Building a bed - grey stain colour

For the protective coat I decided to try out a wax, as I’d read such good things about it from Marion of Miss Mustard Seed. I picked up Minwax Paste Finishing Wax and absolutely loved the finish. It took some muscle to apply but its not hard to do and it looks and feels amazing. So very smooth with just a subtle sheen.

Building a bed - wax topcoat

We love how it turned out. I especially like how the curvy headboard shape contrasts with the more rustic look of the wood. It’s our bit of pretty in our otherwise almost untouched room.

Building a bed - after in portrait

It’s so much more substantial then our previous bed.

Master Bedroom Before

Now we get to look at this everyday! So much better then a pile of wood in the garage.

Building a Bed - after

Linked to: Miss Mustard Seed