Staircase from Iron and Salvaged Wood

The other day someone wrote in and asked about the staircase that is shown in one of our posts about re-using old doors in a remodel. I realized that we had never posted about the stairs – mostly because they were completed before we ever started blogging. I don’t have any pictures of the process, but for those of you interested, here are some photos/details of the final staircase: 

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair

The design came from our desire of wanting a mix of traditional Craftsman (like our downstairs) and a slightly contemporary look (like our upstairs).

The husband painstakingly built the staircase, using planed/salvaged Douglas Fir (when possible). We had a local metal fabricator, Atomic Fabricators, build the iron work, and provided them with plywood templates so the measurements and angles fit perfectly. We attached the iron to the wood with galvanized lag bolts.

The project took awhile and it was certainly challenging. In the middle of the process I would often catch the husband just gazing off into the distance in a trance-like state holding a tape measure.

One drawback: the fir treads are a little soft and we’ve learned the hard way that it isn’t a good idea to let your kids wear soccer cleats in the house.

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair

stair railing design, custom stair railing, metal and wood staircase, modern stair

 

 

 

Organize Your Spices: Make Labeled Tins

This post originally appeared last month on the blog Mod Podge Rocks. Check it out for great crafting ideas.

Do all of your spices in their random-sized containers drive you crazy? They have always bugged me – I could never find what I needed (so I would inadvertently buy duplicates) and no matter how neatly I placed them on a lazy susan, they never stayed organized.

Spices_beforeYou’ve seen spice organizers out there, and for good reason. But they can get a little expensive. Continue reading

Simple Organizing for Summer

A sure sign that summer has arrived in Seattle – wet suits and towels on the railing. It’s always this tidy (so not) –

Happy Fourth of July from Hammer Like A Girl!

Simple Organizing Project With Hooks

One of our favorite super simple organizing projects – recycled hooks on the stair railing :)

Have a great and relaxing Fourth!

 

Polka Dot DIY Wall Art from Paint Swatches

This post originally appeared last month on Mod Podge Rocks Blog. Check it out for lots of great craft ideas! Polka dot DIY wall art from paint swatches

We have always been inspired by the art you see nowadays in Pinterest-land where people use (free) paint swatches. (We’ve often wondered if the paint suppliers mind this upcycle trend.) We came up with an idea using paint swatches, paper, and large hole punches to create polka dot DIY wall art. It is a simple project that you can easily customize with your own color palette and favorite patterns. Continue reading

Functional Art

Lately I’ve been spending all my free time in our basement making functional art from recycled/salvaged materials. Sometimes I even come up and make my family dinner. (They would beg to differ – they’d at least question the quality.)

I dropped off the new work at Matter Gallery in Olympia. They feature artists who work with recycled/sustainable materials. Visit their website to see lots of cool art.

Olympia is not that far from Seattle – I love exploring all the galleries, shops and cafes. To make it easy, Matter has great recommendations on their site of interesting places to visit – check it out!

Caulking – Tips and Tricks

We’ve been meaning to write a post about how we caulk for a while now – ever since we watched the “how to caulk” YouTube featuring a girl in a deep V tee  – which oddly didn’t teach us much about caulking…? We eventually figured out a system that works for us, and thought we would pass on a few tips and tricks for getting it done (and others do it differently). Complete with turtlenecks :)

First we gather all our tools (everyone borrows my caulking gun – because it is truly awesome.):

  • Rags, multiples, because this is sticky business
  • Blue tape or other that won’t leave a residue
  • Something sharp and narrow to puncture the caulk tube seal with: BBQ skewer, long nail etc
  • Caulking gun, hopefully a good one
  • A small bowl of soapy water
  • Disposable glove
  • Newspaper
  • Headlamp
  • Box knife to cut an angled opening on the tube spout
  • A wide-mouthed and disposable trash receptacle
  • The correct caulk for your project!
Taping off because this is a nicely detailed bath

Taping off because this is a nicely detailed bath

First, the area you will be caulking needs to be relatively clean and dry. Caulk won’t work well if it’s not able to adhere to the surfaces. You don’t need to go overboard in cleaning the area as the caulk will hide what’s behind it, but be sure it has enough clean surface area to create a good seal. Note: remove all mold, it will grow through caulk (bummer!).

Next we tape off if needed. Projects we would tape: high visibility areas where things need to look neat and tidy, rough surfaces so we could press the tape into the crevices, areas where caulk might cling like super glue in the wrong places or mar the surface somehow.

Now – set up to caulk:

  • Read the directions on the tube!
  • Create a space where you can set the gun down and it can ooze caulk (because it will) onto something you will throw away – layers of newspaper work well for this.
  • Get a largish rag ready to wipe off excess caulk from your gloved finger. Or two. Even three. (use a disposable glove, these chemicals are not good for you) Ignore your thrifty side and throw these rags away.
  • Arrange (and line) the trash can so you can easily dispose of long, gooey pieces of tape that take on a life of their own as you try to wrangle them into the garbage.
  • Cut the spout of the tube with the box knife at about a 45′ angle. A 1/4″ to 3/8″ opening works well for most jobs. Puncture the seal (see photo below). Insert the tube into the gun. (The metal bar with the ladder-hook will need to be all the way out of the barrel for the tube to fit…)
  • If you’re us, find your reading glasses and don your headlamp. Lookin’ good, (girl)friends!

 

A few notes:

  • The more expensive caulking gun has a handy release feature that takes the pressure off the tube so it won’t ooze (as much) caulk. It also has a built-in puncturing tool and a rotating barrel that make the job easier and neater. You may be able to borrow one from a tool library.
  • This may be too obvious, but don’t get soapy water in joints before they are caulked. It will keep the caulk from adhering.
  • We think it’s best to push the caulking gun and the caulk into the joint, versus pulling it. This will depend on your application of course, but pushing will force the caulk deeper into the joint. We use both techniques however.
  • Buy decent caulk and the correct one for the job. 100% Silicone is great for wet areas, but keep in mind that you cannot paint it. We use Latisil by Laticrete for the tub to tile joint – it has been phenomenal. I asked a window installer (who does a lot of warranty work) what he recommended, and boy, he had strong opinions! He uses Alex Plus Acrylic Latex plus Silicone, 35 yr durability for indoor work, and Polyurethane Sealant, Chem-Calk 915, Commercial grade, by Bostik for exterior applications. Both are low VOC.
  • Caulk seems to attract dirt and dust, so keep this in mind. You may want to choose a product that you can paint over to help with this characteristic. Verify that it won’t shrink over time so that your paint will stay looking nice. **My remodel was framed and caulked for air leaks with the ubiquitous and inexpensive brand of caulk. In one year it had shrunk and pulled away from the wood, rendering it far less effective. This is work – buy decent caulk!
  • If you make a mistake, sometimes it’s easier to let the caulk dry and then remove it, rather than trying to wipe off a sticky, smearing mess.
  • Caulk doesn’t store well. You can try pushing nails, screws etc into the end for short-term storage, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work for long.

Phew! Is that enough caulk-talk for now?? When I find other great caulking solutions, I will post them. Good luck with your projects!

If you have any other caulking tips or recommendations for us, we would love to hear them.

bath sink caulk finished

Stonecraft, http://www.stonecraftseattle.com/, did a fantastic job fabricating the top. Thanks guys!

 

 

 

 

Our Class at Second Use Building Materials

We had our class a couple of weeks ago at Second Use Building Materials and it was so much fun to meet other people who are excited about using salvaged materials. There was a good turn-out and we only saw one person in the back row drifting off to sleep. So, we consider our first class a success.

At the end of the class, we had a little “participatory exercise” where we invited folks to go out into the store and pick out cool things that were priced under $30. The idea was that we would review, examine, and select one item that we’d take home and use for a salvaged project of some sort.

This is what people brought back:

We had to make a choice and pick ONE THING. What would you have chosen? We deliberated and debated – the blow torch was super cool, but we felt it was already art and tough to improve on. The light fixture was very affordable at $1.00, but the 1970’s vibe was a little challenging. The old drill was awesome, it sort of fell into the same category as the blow torch – don’t need to do much to it, it’s already cool. The porcelain knobs and the little lock plate were very nice, those were very strong contenders.

But in the end, we went for…

(wait for it)

…the big “e”.

So now our job is to use the “e” in some sort of project. Stay tuned and check back to see what we come up with. Hopefully it will be soon, although sometimes we have been known to mull over things for months. Hey, beauty and quality can take time! :)