Friday, February 22, 2013

Ugh...the Flu Strikes

As of today, we are all down and out with the Flu.  My wonderful friend from our church homeschool group kindly brought over some herbal tea that she concocted and I am supposed to drink it every hour to help with flu symptoms.  So far, so good and I didn't even add the honey she suggested (can't taste anything right now anyway because of a stuffed up nose)

We have more hours than I would care to admit in front of the tv and I have eaten pancakes for 2 out of 3 meals today and ice cream for the other.  One of the three little ones has seemed to have made a full recovery as he got sick first.  This is the 5th day of sickness for baby K and I and my older daughter started off the day with a fever so she will be longest in recovery I think.  I hope we get over this in time for our upcoming lake trip.

What things do you do to comfort your sick ones?  Do you have any good home remedies to share?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How to Shorten a Table and Save Money

Several years ago, we purchased one of those trendy counter-top height tables.  I really like the table.  It has a butterfly leaf that hides in the center.  Unfortunately, now that we have small children, what seemed like a good idea at the time is all of a sudden become a safety hazard.  After one too many falls out of our uber-tall chairs, I decided to do something about it.  The only problem is that our table has tapered legs and if I was to saw through them with a miter saw as I had originally planned, we would end up with funky angles at the bottom of each leg, which would cause some major unevenness in the table.  That would be no good.  After much research, I decided the best way would be to tackle this project with a hand saw since I didn't really trust myself to be able to calculate the angles and the bevel on my saw.

I like to use the hand saw and ours is nothing special.  We got it at our local discount tool store and I have used it for quite a few of my projects.  I never thought it would be something I would use in order to modify a piece of furniture, but surprisingly it makes a pretty smooth, clean cut.

Step 1

Tape one of the legs all the way around.  (I know my table leg is pretty dirty huh?) Does this tape look familiar to you?  It is the tape from my recent painting project! - Note the line drawn level across 2 sides of the table leg.

Step 2
Keeping the table leg attached to the table, with the table flipped upside down, measure 29 -30 inches from the table top to the bottom of the leg you have taped and mark the edge of the taped leg.  Use a level to mark straight lines across 2 sides of the table leg.  This will allow you to align your saw up properly for a nice, level cut.

Step 3
Remove your table leg and take it over to the place where you will be doing your cutting.  I used my garage stairs because it is nice and low and I am better able to pull the saw smoothly since they are low to the ground.  Clamp your table leg to the stair in order to secure it.  I used C clamps (an 8 inch C clamp to fasten the leg to the stair.)

Don't forget to use some wood scraps as padding between the clamp and the work surface to prevent scratching of your table leg.

Step 4
Clamp a 2x4 along the edge of 1 line, leaving space for your saw blade to cut right next to the line.  Clamp either another 2x4 or (in my case I used my metal carpenter's square) across the top line, leaving the same amount of space for your saw blade.  The cut made by your saw blade is called the kerf and in woodworking, you always need to make allowances for the kerf.  In my case, I have my table leg clamped in such a way that the edge of the kerf will line right up next to my drawn lines and will be cutting through the end of my table leg that I am discarding.

Step 5

When you saw, go slowly!!! I say again: go slowly!  This is key to getting a nice clean cut.  If you have wrapped your tape all the way around the leg, this should also help to prevent splintering and give you a great cut with your handsaw.  Start by lining your saw blade up with your guide and pull back smoothly and gently to get a notch started for your saw blade.  Once the notch is started, grip your saw by making a U-shape between your thumb and first finger of your cutting hand.  Line your finger up while holding the saw and pointing your 1st finger toward the tip of the blade in the direction you are cutting in order to guide the saw.  Stabilize the saw with your Thumb on the other side of the grip (also pointing the tip of your thumb toward the end of the saw blade) and pull the entire length of the saw blade smoothly and at a steady speed as you cut.  I got my best results when I didn't try to push the saw blade or dig in too deep as I was sawing.  I just let the weight of the saw and a consistent sawing stroke help me cut.  It takes more time but believe me, it is worth it in the end.

Once you have successfully sawed off the end of one leg using the above steps, take the long part of the leg you sawed off and unfasten another leg in order to initially mark it for your next set of cutting lines.  I actually momentarily unfastened each leg in order to put my first pencil mark on  the corner between 2 sides where I was going to draw my cut lines.  In order to make sure that I drew level lines, I ended up re-fastening the leg back to the table and using my level to draw my two cutting lines before taking the leg off the table in order to cut it down to size.  I just wanted to make sure I was accurate to how the leg sits in the table so I didn't end up with a wobbly table and uneven legs. 

Use that same first cut leg as a pattern to measure every cutting line for each of the other 3 legs.  Mark it with a piece of tape or a sticker.  If you are not consistent in choosing to use that same leg as your pattern leg, you will gradually end up cutting your legs longer or shorter because of slight cutting inaccuracies that will end up compounding your error with each cut.

Here it is...the finished product.  I put my chairs that originally came with the table in the background so you can see how much I took off the height of the table.  Make sure you have some nail-in furniture sliders to put into the bottom of your table legs or try to salvage the buttons off your original legs by prying them out with pliers or a putty knife.  I was able to do this and it really helps finish it off nicely.  Congratulations, you have just saved several hundred dollars on the purchase of a newer and shorter table!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Get the Edge on Painting the Perfect Stripe

Painting stripes and other designs on walls that resemble wall paper is all the rage now and the effect can be quite dramatic if done correctly.  I learned this technique from my own Mom, who is quite the decorator.  She, in turn, learned it from talking to some of the professional painters who were painting the hospital where she worked.  After seeing her apply this technique in her own decorating endeavors, I could not wait to try it out on my own walls.

This brings us to the bathroom.  For quite some time, I have been wanting to do a little something more daring on my walls.  In my opinion, the bathroom is the perfect place to try things like bold colors or interesting paint techniques because they are usually small, easily painted, and if the chosen paint effect is a little overwhelming or bright, at you can close the door on your artwork!

I decided to paint horizontal stripes in a pearlized glaze (found at my local big blue hardware store).  After painting the base coat in my color of choice, I waited until it was completely cured (wait at least several days) and began to tape up my design.  Here is the step-by-step process that anyone can follow in order to get perfect painted stripes.  This technique works for any color or type of paint.  I just happened to use the pearlized glaze.

You will need:
masking tape (does not have to be the expensive blue stuff!)
level (preferably a longer one - 2ft) this makes it so much easier to get straight stripes
quality paint brush
paint in both colors (ie. base wall coat and stripe color)

Step 1
Tape your stripe onto the wall.  The size and position possibilities are endless.  This is the most boring part in my opinion and it takes the longest.  Please take extra care in taping because it will make or break the looks of your striping.  I did not draw my line on the wall with a pencil because my stripe paint is see through.  If you are using an opaque color for your stripe, you could probably get away with marking your stripe with a pencil. Seal the edge of your tape by running your finger along the edge to ensure it sticks and that there are no bubbles.  

Instead of using a pencil, I used the level and little pieces of tape to mark out where I wanted my line to go.

I then taped over those little bits, ensuring my long tape marking my stripe's edge was level.

Step 2
After you have taped your stripe, pull out that can of base wall color.  In this case, I used the blue because that is my base color.  I know it looks lighter here but it will dry to the same color as the wall.  We are sealing in the edges of the tape here.  By painting over the inside edges of the tape stripe, you are creating a barrier between the tape edge and your wall.  If you have textured walls, this is the key to preventing leak through of your stripe color.

Wait until your edge painting has dried completely (at least 2 hours)

Step 3
Paint your stripe color in between your tape lines, taking care not to paint over the outer edge of your tape...keep a wet rag on hand to wipe up all spills promptly.

Step 4

When your stripe is dry, peel off that tape and admire your perfectly sharp looking stripe.

I was able to reuse some of my tape for my other stripes by using this technique.  You don't need to buy the most expensive painters tape.  It would work with any masking tape.    Happy painting!