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Summer Rewind

Posted by on September 17th, 2013

It was a good summer.  I only got sun burned once.  Or twice.  Got to the beach a few times.  Good stuff.  As far as home improvement projects go, this summer wasn’t too bad either.  Let’s take a look back and see what we got done and what we postponed.

We started off the summer with a post on our Spring and Summer Goals where we listed around 9 projects.  We got a whopping 2 done.  It’s just like that Meatloaf song, “Two out of Nine Ain’t Bad.”  Not one of his better hits.

DIY concrete planter

The first outdoor project we attempted was the DIY Concrete Planter.  We had mixed results with the monogram, but overall we still really like the planter.  I am still planning on retrying this soon.  We’re going to double down and make two at the same time and try to make them darker.

mailbox-flowerbed

Next up was our Mailbox Flowerbed face lift.  We spray painted our mailbox, added some perennial flowers and mulched the bed.  It’s still going strong and we’re really happy with it.

wordpress theme photoshop

After the mailbox work, we shifted gears and finished redesigning and coding our own WordPress Theme.  This upgrade had been hanging over my head for months.  I really like the feel of the new theme, but there are still a number of changes I want to incorporate.

installing uv window filters

Before heading back into the garage, we installed some UV window film to prevent further sun damage in our entryway.  It was tricky to install, but it will probably end up saving us hundreds of dollars worth of damage to our stained wood.

organized garage

Finally, we finished work on our garage improvement.  That alone was around 9 or 10 posts.

side-flower-bed-

So what did we skip? For the most part, landscaping.  We still need to clean up our side flowerbeds (see the hot mess above).  One is heavily overgrown and the other needs a tall shrub or tree to anchor the layout.  In order to get it done now though, we would have to rush through it.  So, we’re punting it until the spring.  Womp Womp.

We have a lot of exciting Fall work lined up and we’ll be building some new furniture shortly.  So stick around!

How much summer work did you get done?  What did you skip?

 

Posted in Garage and Tools,Outdoors and Landscaping. Tagged in ,,

Garage Improvement Wrap-Up

Posted by on September 15th, 2013

It’s finally starting to get a little chilly around here.  I’m not calling it Fall yet though.  I’ll wait until the official start of Fall before I give up on summer.  I have one week left.  I’m going to enjoy it.  In the meantime, we finally finished up our garage improvement series that we started way back in the spring.  Here’s a complete recap.

We attempted this less than glamorous effort because we’re in and out of this space a few times a day and we couldn’t stand the clutter, the bugs and the general grime.  I’ll openly admit that all of the junk in the garage was mine.  All of the car stains on the floor were from my Jeep and all of the crap on the workbench was left over from finished or unfinished projects that I started.  This was my problem.

It was pretty ugly.

garage unorganized

unorganized garage

Yes, that IS my high school letterman jacket.  I lettered in Cross Country, thank you.  No, I don’t wear it.  Not sure how it ended up on my workbench.

Here’s where we are today.

organized garage

clean garage

Let’s go down the list of all the projects we knocked out to get us to this point.

1.  Garage Shoe Rack:  Completed last Fall, but instrumental in adding some organization to the space.

2. Workbench Pegboard:  Helped add some visual interest to the wall above the workbench.  Gave me spot to hang my air hose and extension cables.

3.  Bug Proofed the Windows:  Probably my favorite garage project next to the epoxy floors.  Our windows are STILL bug free today.

4.  Compressed Air Pipe:  Allowed me to relocate our large air compressor to the basement without giving up access to the air source.

5.  Workbench Outlet:  Provided some much needed juice for our power tools.

6.  Charging Station:  Organized my power tool chargers.

7.  Epoxy Floor Paint:  Biggest impact to the space.  Garage looks worlds better with it.

8.  Wall Hooks:  Got a lot of my gear off the floor and onto the wall.  Feels a lot less cluttered.

I’m getting tired just looking at that list.  That’s a lot of projects for a garage.  We’re not completely done yet either.  Lisa still wants to paint the door and the steps black.  Not sure if we’re going to paint the trim black as well.  I may try to wiggle my way out of this one until the spring.  TBD.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up our summer outdoor projects.  Also, look for a reader survey shortly.

 

Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,,

Workbench Charging Station

Posted by on September 2nd, 2013

We hope all of our American friends had a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!  Our weekend was filled with family visits and some much needed down time.  Today we’re going to show you how we finished up our new garage outlet and how we added a workbench charging station.

Let’s start with the garage outlet.

Last week we had our rough-in inspection from the township electrical inspector.  It went well.  He passed us so we can “device out” the work, which means add the new outlet.

To power the new outlet, we tapped into the power from an existing GFCI outlet in our basement.  I had to remove this basement outlet as part of the rough-in work and show the inspector I ran the cable properly to the box and tied it in appropriately.

gfci outlet box

After inspecting this box, he recommended I increase its size to accommodate the additional cable.  The box already had three cables going to it and this new circuit added a fourth.  Thus, he wanted to see a slightly bigger box.  So, I had to untwist all my cables, pull them out of the box, take the box off the lumber and then add a bigger box.

The new box is considered “new work” whereas our garage outlet is “old work.”  The difference is the basement outlet box is being directly attached to a wall stud.  The garage outlet was placed into a finished drywalled space.  The new box is also plastic and has a couple 1/2″ tabs that help me position the box onto the studs.  The box shouldn’t be installed flush with the studs, but 1/2″ further out for future drywall.

outlet box on framing

This new box wasn’t that much bigger than the first, only by a couple cubic inches.  Here’s a side by side comparison of the old grey box next to the new blue one.  I believe the grey box is 18 cu. inches and the blue one is 20 or 21 cu. inches.

outlet box sizes

The box was then rewired as before and since I had the go ahead to device out the project, I reinstalled the GFCI outlet.

gfci outlet

With the basement outlet wired, I installed my garage outlet, turned the power back on at the breaker and checked to make sure the circuit worked okay.  That’s it for the electrical portion.  In a few weeks, I’ll call the inspector back for the final inspection.

Now let’s take a look at the workbench charging station.

The only other outlet we have in our garage is on the far wall so any battery chargers for cordless tools had to sit on the floor, which wasn’t terribly convenient.  Getting them off the floor and onto the workbench was the goal.

I started by picking a spot on the workbench where my chargers would be located then drilling a hole in the workbench top with a hole saw.

workbench hole

I ran the charger power cables through the hole so the top will be less cluttered.

charging station

Next, I mounted a $5 power strip I bought at Lowes to one of the legs of the workbench.  Then I just zip tied all the cables together and plugged them in.

workbench charging station

So now all I have to do is flip the red switch on the power strip whenever I want to charge my tools.  I also looked into buying one of those 10-12 outlet benchtop power strips instead.  That’s a great option too, but it was $30 and I thought this option would be more a little more practical.   $25 cheaper isn’t a bad thing either.

We are fast approaching the end of our summer long garage improvement series.  We only have a couple projects left: adding another application of epoxy to the garage floor and painting the interior door and steps.  There are a few yard projects I also want to knock out before we get into October, but we’ll go more into those in another post.

How are you wrapping up your summer?  Are you looking forward to Fall or are you desperately hanging on to every last summer day like me?  Bought any pumpkins yet?

Posted in Electrical,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,,

Using Hooks for Organization

Posted by on August 8th, 2013

Back to home improvement projects.  One of the big goals we had in our Spring and Summer Plans post was to really straighten out our garage situation.  When we started, it was cluttered, loaded with spiders and insects and needed to be cleaned as well as repainted.  So far this summer, we managed only a few minor garage related projects: relocating our baby strollersbug proofing the garage windows and adding a pegboard above the workbench.  We’re aiming to get as much stuff off the floor as possible and to that end we’ve been heavily using hooks for organization.  We’re hoping that if we DO get all of our junk off the floor, there’s a good chance there will be less places for insects to hide.

I wanted to show you one of the ways we’re using inexpensive hooks from the hardware store to de-clutter.  Normally, we’d hang stuff from them, but they can also be used to restrain objects against the wall.

Like this ladder for example:

ladder organization

Instead of putting the entire weight of the ladder onto the bracket, the ladder rests on the concrete foundation below it and the bracket just keeps it from falling over.

ladder on hook

ladder in garage

Bye bye spider eggs.

We also used this wall anchor approach with our last baby stroller. This baby stroller is a double seat model, it’s a bit heavier than the other two and there’s no simple place to hang it on the wall. So I decided to anchor it to the wall by one of its wheels.

stroller storage

stroller hook

The other thing we mounted this week was the saw horses. Since I mostly use these guys for spray painting, they can stay in the garage.

sawhorses

With most of the clean up completed, we’re waiting for a good day to get some painting done in here. Lisa wants the door to the house painted black and we’d love to apply a fresh coat of epoxy paint to the floor.

Posted in DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Stroller Storage

Posted by on July 30th, 2013

Lately, we’ve been posting quite a bit on web design and development.  If it’s not something you’re really into, I apologize.  We’ll be switching back to home projects full time very shortly.  If you have been enjoying them, or at least putting them on your “must read at some point” list, we won’t be abandoning them completely.  In today’s post, we wanted to share with you a super quick project that’s already cleared up some much needed garage floor space: stroller storage.

One of the goals of our garage spruce up effort is to remove as much junk off the floor as possible.  We’re doing this primarily for two reasons: 1) we want the garage to be a tidy space and 2) everything that stays in the garage eventually gets covered with spiderwebs and bugs.  To that end, Lisa suggested we relocate the strollers that have been hanging out on the garage floor or leaned up against the cabinet.

After thinking about it for a while, there is really no ideal location for these things, at least in the long term.  Then again though, we’re probably not going to need baby strollers hanging around for the next decade.

Our interim fix?  Hanging them up in the basement stairwell.  It’s not perfect, but the space is unfinished, so dirty strollers fit in well.  Plus, it’s pretty close to the garage, so Lisa doesn’t need to carry it clear across the house.

I bought a couple of these Blue Hawk hooks available from Lowes.  They’re only a couple bucks each.

hook for wall

After locating a stud, I pre-drilled using a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the hook threads and screwed it in by hand.

wall hook

The strollers hang neatly from their hooks.

stroller storage

hang stroller

Eventually, when we finish the basement, we’re going to need to come up with a better solution.  For now though, this works great.

Posted in Baby Stuff,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, ,