One Couple + Two Dogs = Our Waldo Bungie

A few weeks ago, our full length mirror was mysteriously knocked over and cracked. We’ve narrowed down the suspects, but our main lead has done a pretty good job of expressing her innocence.

The accident cracked a whole corner off of the mirror, so I cut the mirror and sanded the edge so it could still be used. Unfortunately, no one in our house is under 4 foot tall, so it looked a little silly propped against the wall. Emily was gone this weekend, so I figured it was the right time to do something about it. Besides, my tools have been feeling a little neglected in the garage.

My idea was to take a pallet, break it down, and build a frame for the mirror. I had two pallets on hand, a pretty new one and one that had some wear on it. I decided to break down the older one. Once I got it broken apart, I found the number 98 printed on it and decided that was just too cool to cover up.

So instead of trying to sand it down and make it look like new, I decided this pallet was going to stay in it’s weathered condition.

I did some quick measurements and cut 45 degree angles for each of the pieces.

As with most of my projects, I generally have an idea of what I want to do, but figure out the details as I go along. For this project, the “details” were how I would connect the pieces and how I would hold the mirror on the frame. The solution was pretty simple. I cut some “L’s” out of plywood and used them to both hold the corners of the mirror and help hold the frame together.

I glued the frame together then attached my “L” pieces to it, then clamped it up and let it dry.

Next I had to cut down the mirror to fit in the nook in our bedroom, where I thought it would look the best. An even 3 feet was just about perfect.

I cut the mirror, put it in the back of the frame, then used another piece of plywood to hold it in place. I added a simple hanger, and this project was ready to be displayed. Truly, until it was hung, I wasn’t sure if Emily would like it or think it was “a little too dirty to be in the house.” To my relief, she loved it when she got home.

Let me know what you think about this project. Would you have liked it better nicely sanded and stained, or is the weathered frame more your style?

Emily let you know yesterday that I’d be sharing my latest project, which interestingly enough, was finished on Earth Day. Long ago I had an idea… I thought, “why not try to make something cool out of a pallet?”  I’ve always wanted an Adirondack chair and it seemed like the pieces of wood it takes to make one could be easily made from pallet pieces.

There are a ton of pallet uses you can find online, but most of the stuff I’ve seen maintains their basic pallet structure. My goal was to make a chair that no one expects to be made from a pallet, yet doesn’t lose the unique qualities, that custom feel that you get from reclaimed wood.

I found some pallets that were being given away on Craigslist and picked them up. Pallets in hand, I started tried to figure out the easiest way to break them apart. The nails they use in pallets are extremely hard to remove without destroying the wood. I found a video online of a guy who dropped a heavy object on one part while propping the other side on a brick. Very cartoonish, but it seemed to work pretty well, so I gave it a shot. After a couple dozen throws with a cinder block (and Emily imagining me to be Peeta from the Hunger Games), I realized that I needed a sledge hammer. I found one at an estate sale for $6 and the pallets were broken down in no time.

After sorting the wood into piles, I started to plan out my chair. At first I thought I might just wing it and make it up as I went, but I figured there would be a lot more trial, and LOT more error if I did that, so I went online once again to find chair plans. Lowes had a decent set of plans, including a cut list, supply list and some tutorial videos that I used when I got stumped.

Finally, I got to work. I started by finding boards that were the closest match to what the plans called for. I had most of what I needed but was missing a few things. At that point I had two options: buy one board for the project or alter the plans and continue to make a 100% pallet chair. I decided “why stop now?” and went for the modification to keep it 100% pallet. I never been one to follow directions too closely anyway.

Nights after work, I’d try to squeeze in a hour or two of sanding on all the pieces. It was amazing how a little sanding brought out these great pieces of wood! I don’t know what kinds for sure, but I know I have some oak and maybe some birch boards in the mix. You typically wouldn’t do a project out of more than one type of wood, but I think that is what makes this chair cool. I also didn’t want to sand away all the markings of the woods’ old life, so I left some nail holes,  saw marks, staple tears, and dark stains. I feel, again, like these are the details that make this chair unique and cool.

Once I had all the pieces and sanded them down, I made a quick list and bought the few supplies I needed – just screws, bolts, and a finish. As I began to lay out the pieces, I decided to try and alternate the different types of wood to try and really emphasize what makes this chair different.

Really, the sanding is what took at least 60% of the time on this project. Once I had that done, it came together very fast. In fact, it worked out perfectly that I was ready to wrap the project up on Earth Day! My pallet chair seemed like a great example of up-cycling.

The last thing I needed to do was put a nice finish on it. I went back and forth forever between painting it to cover all it’s scars or staining it to let them show through.  My friend Nate finally talked me into going with a simple oil treatment that would actually show off all those things that make the chair different. I put two quick coats of Teak Oil on the chair and just like that, it was done! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out – maybe once my back is not so sore, I’ll dive into making it a sister so Emily and I can both lounge on them during the hot summer days, sipping on some ice tea (me) and lemonade (Emily).

What do you think? Have you made anything out of something else? How did you celebrate Earth Day? We’d love to hear from you.

Emily had the urge to get a raised garden box. So of course, I was put in charge of building one. I found a few 2×4’s on Craigslist and we had a pallet from our attic insulation project, so I set out to put something together.

I always get a little too impatient to fully plan out a project like this, so after some initial ideas I just dive in.

pallet getting cut up

By cutting the pallet into four segments I had my four sides. I put a 2×4 around the top to give it a little bit of a lip around the top.

four parts of the pallet screwed into place

I put a post up in each corner to wrap chicken wire around – we deemed that necessary to keep the dogs, squirrels and birds out of our plants (yes, it’s basically like a zoo in our yard).

starting to paint the wood

I stirred up some of our porch paint that unfortunately froze this winter. It’s not perfect, but we already had it and it was just a little lumpy, otherwise it looked fine. I painted several layers to help seal the wood.

I bought garden fabric to line the bottom and we got some soil from Sutherlands, which is right down the street. We combined the soil with the large quantity of compost we already had and we were ready to plant.

I put the chicken wire across the top after we got our initial planting done. I put a gate that opens on the front and the top wire flips over so that we can access it more easily.

So here’s the breakdown on the materials I used.

  • wood – free (pallet and craigslist)
  • paint – free (rescued)
  • screws – free (left from another project)
  • dirt – $20 (mixture of our compost and some garden soil)
  • fabric – $7
  • wire – $12

So the whole project wasn’t free, but the box itself was, and less than $50 for a raised bed is not too bad.

Our veggies - ready to be planted!

Our veggies – ready to be planted!

We’ll see how this looks in 6-10 weeks!

How about you guys? Have you planted any vegetables this spring?