DIY Halloween Tombstones!

IMG_3014

Here’s what my son ( and his amazing assistants, mom and dad ) have been up to most of the month of October. Tombstones. Realistic, detailed and creepy Halloween decorations. Check it out:

DIY Halloween decoration, DIY Halloween gravestone, Halloween cemetery

My initial plan was to write a “how to” post with these – but it’s so complicated and detailed that I think a simple slide show is far more fun, so here you go:

Add a little moss from Home Depot and a couple crows from Display and Costume   and you are all done!

DIY Halloween decorations, Halloween decor, How to make Halloween  tombstones

Happy Halloween from all of us at Hammer Like A Girl :)

Our List of Tools for Painting Projects

We paint a lot over here at Hammer Like A Girl – cabinets, kid’s rooms, tile, floors. We thought we would share a few good tools that make our lives a little easier, the job a tiny bit better – plus might eliminate a few trips to the basement for just one more thing ;)

So.

First.  No injuries.

Please Direct Your Attention to the Safety Talk:

  • Be sure the ladder is stable and don’t reach beyond a comfortable distance ( this means you, Heidi! )
  • If working outside –grab the sunscreen and a water bottle
  • Wear shoes that won’t slip or catch on things
  • Protect areas with drop cloths or newspaper
  • We love our 3rd Hand Paint Pail. Holds the paintbrush and is far easier to use than a paint can. ( And made in the USA )
  • Buy a good pair of groovy protection goggles if you need them (when scraping and sanding)

Safety Glasses

Now onto –

Our Favorite Tools For Painting:

Painting Tools Unpacked

Here’s a List of Miscellaneous Things we Find Useful:

  • Reading glasses
  • Headlamp
  • Sandpaper of 180 and 220 grit ( usually smallish pieces )
  • Sanding block for larger flat areas
  • Gloves
  • A 1″/25mm and a 2″/50mm paint brush, nylon/polyester blend, angled
  • 2-3 small art brushes for hard to reach areas ( not fancy )
  • Pencils for drawing on the walls ( so you can see where to paint )
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Blue tape
  • Paint can opener
  • Stir sticks
  • Smallish paint containers: yogurt tubs or a 3rd Hand Paint Pail
  • A canvas work apron or small tool belt (so helpful!)
  • Putty knife for scraping
  • Needle nose pliers for pulling out cracked/worn caulk
  • A narrow screwdriver for loose screws and digging out yuck
  • A nail punch for popped nails
  • A small hammer for the same and sealing paint lids closed
  • Toothbrush for brushing debris from corners
  • A razor blade for cleaning up past mistakes etc
  • Wet cloths for cleaning dirt off paint
  • Wet cloths for wiping off spills and mistakes
  • More drop cloths & rags
  • This list, so we can double-check that nothing has been pilfered or lost –

That’s a lot of stuff! We finally decided to start storing them together in a caddy. When we are painting we carry them in our small tool belts.

Painting Tools in Caddy

Oh – and one more thing. Because Chocolate.

Theo Chocolate

Do you have any favorite painting tools? We would love to hear your tips!

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!

 

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!

 

 

 

 

How to Make Recycled Paper Flowers

Recycled paper flowers

Recycled paper flowers

If you still have snow on the ground and it’s 20 dang degrees, here’s a project that may lift your thoughts to spring. It reminds me of one of my favorite paintings: “Bird Singing Flowers While Awaiting Spring” by Richard Kirsten Daiensai.

Continue reading

Up-cycled Bookends from Salvaged Brackets

Bookends cleaned

We were cruising the aisles of Second Use the other day and came across some really cool, heavy industrial brackets – cast iron we think? More truth about us: we can never resist interesting metal stuff – so for $5 it was added to our stash. We stopped by Daly’s Paint and quizzed them about primer and paint – the goal was to get a heavy coat on the bracket as if it had been dipped in a super thick, semi-glossy, paint which would then contrast with the rough and industrial nature of the iron. Alas, no great way to make our paint thicker – but we did have some older water based paint that had thickened on its own due to poor storage technique (what can we say) and the color was nice, so – Bob’s your uncle. Continue reading

Dryer Maintenance Fun!

Here’s a quick tutorial on caring for your dryer from my favorite appliance repairman (jot down this number) Mark Wiseman Appliance Service, 206-948-1060.

We needed a dryer repair the other day (at a rental), so while he was there I quizzed him with “If you could pass along tips to your customers, what would they be?” and, ta da!, here is what Mark wants you to know:

  1. Clean your lint filter every load!
  2. Once a year go outside and make sure the exterior vent flap moves freely. Remove any built up lint. If you have a “grate/guard” over your exterior vent and it is full of lint, remove it and don’t put it back! These are notorious for collecting lint and blocking airflow which leads to repair calls to Mark…
  3. Dryer repairs and fires are primarily caused by poor venting. A good vent solution is a metal vent, flexible or straight, a short run to the exterior, and an exterior vent with a flap but no grate. A poor vent example might be a plastic vent, with low spots or kinks, or a long run to the exterior, and an exterior vent with a soon-to-be-clogged bird/animal guard.

Seems straightforward, right? So with these tips in mind I came home and examined my dryer. We’re pretty type A when it comes to cleaning our lint filter every load, but I happened to reach a little further into the dryer I discovered this – Continue reading