Posted by John on June 16th, 2014
Happy Monday folks.
Today I have just uploaded our latest set of free woodworking plans. The plans are for the sliding kitchen cabinet drawers.
The plans are free to our newsletter subscribers.
The plans feature a calculator that lets you enter two simple measurements to generate custom dimensions for each cabinet in your kitchen.
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects. Tagged in ,carpentry, drawers, Kitchen, plans, woodworking
Posted by Lisa on October 18th, 2012
Hey guys! I hope you all had a great week so far. It’s almost Friday, so I thought I would share some of my favorite cleaning items!
Cleaning for the most part is a chore for John and I – I do like organizing so that counts as cleaning, right? I have tried keeping up with a daily cleaning list but after a first few days I get so proud that I cleaned for three days straight that I reward myself with some days off… haha! Two places that are always clean are my kitchen and bathrooms. Most of the cleaning products help me with those daily chores.
My favorite cleaning product by far is Dr. Bronners. There is about 29,763 uses for this cleaner. I love it for making my own counter top spray, foaming hand soap, and to remove stains from fabrics. It’s extremely safe – you can even brush your teeth with it! – and that’s why I love using it, especially around the little one. Dr. Bronner’s also comes in different scents. I currently have the scent-free (labeled as Baby Mild), Tea Tree (good for disinfecting), and peppermint. Seriously, you can make anything with this stuff – laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps, sprays, and disinfectants.
Another product I like is anything from the Method line, which is sold in a variety of stores, but I buy mine at Target. I really like their Grapefruit counter top spray. I usually make my own, but when the Method grapefruit is on sale, I usually pick up a bottle or two. The smell is a great grapefruit scent and I love everything citrus, especially in the kitchen! If you have granite counter tops, Method has a great daily granite cleaner as well. It makes our faux granite/laminate super shiny and smells great too!
Nature’s Miracle is the product I use when there are stains from either animals or humans on the carpet. If you have pets, you know they sometimes have accidents and they’re just too cute to be mad at. Nature’s miracle helps kill the odor and removes the stains of whatever you pet has left on the carpet.
Dusting and polishing is super easy with Murphy’s Oil Soap wipes. I like the wipes since they let me dust and polish in one step, which makes this dreaded chore done a lot quicker. When I have the time, I also use the original Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed with water to clean my cabinets – I love the way they look after they’ve been washed.
My favorite two items to clean the floors in our home are the Haan and my Dirt Devils (yes that is plural, I will explain). I use the Haan floor steamer and sweeper on the hardwood floors and tiles. I love using the Haan because it sanitizes the floors without any harsh chemicals. Also, you reuse the cleaning pads and they can be washed in the washing machine. In the kitchen I use the super lightweight Dirt Devil to clean under the cabinets and under the table every couple of days to pick up crumbs. I also use it on our area rug in the living room. On the stairs, I use a small handheld Dirt Devil to vacuum the carpets. Upstairs, I use the traditional Dirt Devil vacuum for the bedrooms and closets.
So that’s it – just a few of my favorite cleaning products that help me get cleaning done quicker. I do want to mention that I am not being compensated for any of these products, they’re really just my favorites!
Have any cleaning products you love and want to share!?
Posted by John on August 24th, 2012
So things have slowed down a little bit around here since we
knocked dragged out our dining room wainscoting and gussied up our front door. It’s going to pick up again soon though. Plus, in the fall I’ll be taking another grad school course. Before we know it, we’ll be busy like crazy. We do have a couple more projects that we already finished and we’ll probably post about those next week. Since it’s Friday, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a quick post on a kitchen cabinet repair we did a few days ago. You’d think owning a new home would negate the need for annoying repairs. Nope. Apparently the cabinet door on our lazy susan decided it had enough and busted out from the hinge.
It looks bad, but in reality, this is an easy fix. Now, if you think you can just re-screw in the old screws and it will hold you’d be wrong. You need to step it up.
The door is 3/4″ thick. The screws that were in there are 1/2″ long. That means I can use a longer screw.
Here’s the screw that popped out next to the screw I’m going to use. The screw on the left is the 1/2″ fastener. The screw on the right is 3/4″ long. I also decided to go with a beefier screw. The 1/2″ screw is a size 6. The 3/4″ screw is a size 8 (they only come in even sizes). So, I’m using a longer and a wider fastener to make the repair. There are a ton of “that’s what she said” jokes here, so I’m being careful with my word choice.
The larger screw went into the old holes like butter and seem to be holding very well.
That wasn’t too bad. Fastest. repair. ever.
Is there anything broken in your place that you need to fix? Have a great weekend!!
Posted by Lisa on July 23rd, 2012
Hope everyone had a great weekend! We sure did – we did some home projects, spent some much needed family time together, and enjoyed the not-too-hot weather!
I wanted to share a tiny project I did. While my mom and I were shopping for back to school sales at Staples, she stumbled across these amazing chalkboard labels from Martha Stewart!
Don’t they look amazing? We just couldn’t resist. Martha Stewart has an awesome line of office supplies at Staples. If you haven’t checked them out I suggest you do – that is if you like to organize and label everything. Her stuff looks great.
I love these canisters hanging out on the counter… but I love my clutter-less counters more, so back to the pantry the canisters went.
So, do you like? How was your weekend??
Posted in Crafts,Home Decor,Kitchen. Tagged in ,chalk, Kitchen, labels, Martha Stewart, organization
Posted by John on May 9th, 2012
For a while there, I didn’t think I’d ever be writing this post. Thankfully, this day has arrived and our kitchen cabinet pullout drawers have been successfully installed. If you recall, I built these drawers over a series of five posts (here, here, here, here aaaaannd here). In actuality, I think I spent maybe five hours altogether cutting, assembling and finishing them. I must have spent six weeks trying to get the right hardware for them!! Yikes is right. One of my goals for this project is to post some plans with variations for various joint configurations… maybe add a calculator so you can enter your cabinet dimensions and it will spit out dimensions for a sliding drawer. If you thought the joints looked daunting there are easy joint versions that I’ve got some ideas for. We’ll see!
The first piece of advice I can give you if you are thinking about building similar sliding drawers: GET YOUR SLIDE HARDWARE FIRST.
So, long, boring story short… I wanted to get the exact same slide hardware that are in our cabinets. I think it will look better if it weren’t a hodge podge of parts. I called a local vendor that carries our cabinet maker’s product line and they gave me a quote of $50 per drawer. No thanks. I then proceeded to try to make it work by trying to use what I could from Lowes, Home Depot and every other online slide retailer I could find. To hell with uniformity. Bottom line: no dice. Our cabinets have an interior depth of 23.” I could only find one set of slides that fit and had to buy the bracket for that separately only to find out that it didn’t play nice with our drawers. After losing a lot of hair I can’t afford to lose, I capitulated and called another vendor looking to grovel for a lower price. Luckily, this other vendor was able to get them for around $14 a set. Jackpot.
The best part of these slides is they install incredibly easy. The backs of the slides have clips that snap into pre-drilled holes the cabinet maker already has in my cabinets!! They must put them in there on every cabinet.
This hardware system makes this installation atypical compared to most slide hardware. If I didn’t have this clip and I had a regular slide and rear bracket like this…
I’d have to install the front of the slide into the front of the cabinet first, level off the rest of the slide by taping a small level to the center of it and then tape my bracket to the back wall, mark the holes for the screw, pre-drill and then fasten the bracket with screws. Got it?
All I had to do was worry about the front of the cabinets. A few of the cabinets had long screws that joined one cabinet to the next right in the area where the drawer would be. They were definitely getting in the way so I had to relocate them.
To relocate it, I just pre-drilled a small hole above the drawer hinge and then drove the screw into it. The holes for the front of the slides needed to be pre-drilled as well. Rule of thumb: If you need to screw into a hardwood (oak, maple, poplar, cherry, etc), you need to drill the hole first.
With the fronts attached, the drawer can slide right in. Btw, I also attached the slide hardware to the drawers too. Same deal, pre-drill, insert screw.
With both drawers in…
Glad that’s over. Sure beats rummaging through the bottom of a cabinet!
Overcoming any glitches on your end?
Posted by John on March 22nd, 2012
So here’s my kitchen cabinet sliding drawers update:
I think this project may become a saga. If it takes me another five posts to finish this cabinet drawer situation I wouldn’t be surprised at this point!! I’m trying not to get frustrated, but it happens. What’s the snag? Aren’t you basically done this? Yes, well, essentially. I wrapped up construction of the drawers in our last post. All I’ve got left to do is install them. This is actually the only part of this whole exercise that I’m a tad bit concerned about. If something goes terribly wrong, then I may be out of about $100 worth of nice maple.
Last week, I inquired into the availability of our cabinet manufacturer’s drawer hardware from a local distributor. In my opinion, if I could get a hold of those parts for a reasonable price, I’d be better off. After all, I am going for a near duplication of my existing setup. Using substitute hardware is probably acceptable, but it may give me some gray hairs!! Well, I got a response I really didn’t expect. Yes, the slides are available… for $50. Oh, okay! That’s not bad. $50 for six drawers worth of hardware. Excellent. Uh, no. $50 per drawer!! (pregnant pause followed by whaaaattt????) Needless to say, me and the saleswoman had a nice long laugh at that. I can literally get something similar for under $8 at Lowes and Timberlake wants $50? I think I’ll take the gray hairs.
So here’s my first attempt (foreshadowing) at installing these drawers. I would love to blog and build mistake free, but then we wouldn’t learn anything, right?
I brought up all six of my recently poly’d drawers and I picked one of the cabinets with the least amount of
junk necessary but never used kitchen gear in it. I took out all of the aforementioned stuff. I then selected the right sized drawer from my pile and I got to adding the hardware.
The hardware I purchased is 22″ long and is a very basic Euro style drawer slide. These run just under $8. These parts can be a little confusing to sort out, so I like to compare them to what’s on my existing drawers. Once I figured it out, I laid the hardware out on the counter so I knew what went where. The center sections as depicted above get fastened to the drawer and the other two outer units get screwed into the cabinet.
I think it’s easier to get the drawer hardware on first because it’s a little simpler than the cabinet hardware (more foreshadowing). In my case, since I already have identical drawers, I can actually see if my drawers work on the old cabinet hardware.
To attach the drawer hardware, I just mark the holes with a pen and then pre-drill them with a small sized drill bit. Anytime you drill into a hardwood like maple, you’ll need to pre-drill to prevent the wood from cracking. That’s the textbook reason. The real reason is the wood is so darn hard that it’ll take you forever to get the hole started and you’ll end up swearing a lot.
Whenever I’m working around kitchen cabinets, I prefer to use my small driver. I bought this thing back in 2008 when I was adding the doors to our homemade kitchen cabinets. My other drill is a regular 18 volt DeWalt, which has a lot of power, but can be heavy and hard to squeeze into some of the more narrow cabinets. You can pick one of these up for a lot less than a full sized version. They also make great gifts!! This drill is perfect for this part of the project.
Once I got the hardware onto my first drawer, I was able to give it a test run. Worked beautifully!! Success!! All I have to do at this point is attach my cabinet hardware and I’ll be off running!!
The cabinet hardware, in theory, mounts fairly simply. The front edge gets screwed into the side of the cabinet frame and the back slips into a bracket that gets screwed into the back of the cabinet. The bracket is sold separately and is around $4 for 2. The trick to this is picking your spot and keeping the front level with the back.
At least I think that’s the trick. I wouldn’t know because my cabinet hardware was an inch too short!! I bought 22″ long slides. Apparently, I need 23.” Didn’t I measure? Yep. I also forgot what it was by the time I got around to buy them, so instead, I remeasured the cabinets they sold at Lowes. Apparently, the cabinets at Lowes are an inch more shallow. The hardware in the photo above is for the existing drawer.
So next time, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll have at least one whole cabinet done!! Back to Lowes!! Anyone else pulling their hair out?
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,carpentry, Kitchen
Posted by John on March 19th, 2012
I would love to have a post today that showed off my finished sliding cabinet drawers installed, but unfortunately, my local hardware stores didn’t have the right drawers slide hardware in stock at the moment. I’m going to grab some early this week when I go into the city, so I’ll have a wrap up post for you later. The good news is the drawers are DONE! Before I show you the finished pieces though, I’ll show you what steps I took to get there since our last post (or you can just scroll to the bottom).
Last time we left off, we had finished all of the machining of our hardwood pieces and used dado blades to add some grooves for the bottom. Now we’re ready to cut our bottom pieces. To get the dimensions for the bottom sections, I did a mock assembly of each drawer and measured the opening. I added about 3/8″ to the length and width so the bottom can slide into the groove. I’m also trying to be mindful of the wood grain. I want the grain to run front to back on the drawer.
Once all the bottoms are cut, I get to the best part, assembling them!! I’ll check them again first before adding glue by putting them together dry to see if they are okay.
They were good! To assemble them, I’m using wood glue on the joints and then I’ll follow that up with a couple brad nails at each joint. The brad nails I used for this are 3/4″ long. I normally use 1 1/4″ long nails for most projects. You can see the difference in the length below. Anything longer than 3/4″ is probably overkill and it may pop out from the side.
I shot the nails from the side pieces into the front and back, that way they stay relatively hidden. The tracks will cover the bottom nail holes once they’re on.
I had some issues holding the drawers together during this process, so I used clamps. It’s like an extra set of hands. Once I got my nails in, I took off the clamps. The nails basically hold the drawers together until the glue dries and the clamp just holds them until I get the nails in.
After letting the glue set up over night, it was time to sand them. I used a random orbital sander for this job. I started with a 100 grit paper and then switched to a 220 grit to wrap it up. I tried to round over most of the corners slightly to make it more comfortable to hold. I didn’t sand the plywood at all. I’m always afraid of tearing through the laminations. It was also the perfect time to actually buy a new sander!! My old one died after I accidentally sanded over an exposed nail. Apparently, that’s not good for it!
So after three coats of polyurethane. They’re all done. To show you how they look compared to the ones in the cabinet, I’ve done some side by side photos. My drawer is on the right. One thing I notice is the builder grade unit is actually mostly particle board except for the front board. That particle board has a perfect laminate cover that makes the entire piece one even color. My drawer is mostly hard maple and has a lot of natural color variation. Because we’re using that hardwood, it should hold up better over time compared to the particle board.
In this photo, you can see my joint compared to the builder joint. Actually, my joint looks a little tighter!! Woot woot!! BUT, my poly job could use some improvement. If I had to do this again, I might have sprayed the poly on, like I did in the bedside table post.
Here’s a shot of the back…
So, hopefully in a couple days, we’ll be putting these drawers in!! Stick around and we’ll show you how we do that! How was your weekend? Wrap up any projects??
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,carpentry, Kitchen
Posted by John on March 15th, 2012
Well this project sure feels like it’s dragging on a bit!! It really shouldn’t take this long to finish, but between work trips, booked up weekends and normal parent-life activities it’s hanging around a little longer than I’d like. But that’s okay! I would like to stress that if you have a free weekend, you could easily knock this entire project out in a few hours. I think in total I’ve invested nearly three hours worth of work with about another hour or so to go.
In my last post on sliding drawers, I machined the rabbits in the end of the side and front pieces. I did those using my normal 10″ table saw blade. This time around, I’ve switched to a dado blade set. If you’re not familiar with dado blades, they’re nothing but multiple blades sold together than you put on the saw to make the cut wider. I decent set from Freud will run you under $100. Here’s my set..
You just add or subtract blade sections to get the desired thickness you’re looking for. They make cutting grooves really easy. In order to cut grooves with a normal blade, you’d have to repeat the cut multiple times each time adjusting the piece. For narrow grooves, it’s not a big deal, but for wider cuts it’s a pain. The dado makes short work of it.
We need to add a thin groove all along each drawer section so the drawer bottom has something to slide into. The drawer bottom will end up being a little larger than the opening so as to fit into that groove. Since three sides of my drawer are 1/2″ thick, I’m going to put a groove half way into them and so I’ll set my blade height to 1/4.” Here’s how the blades look on the saw.
I’ve stacked two blades together also for a total thickness of 1/4,” which is about the same thickness as the plywood I purchased. I’ll set my fence distance to correspond to how low the bottom piece sits in the drawer. Then it’s just a matter of running each section through the saw. The nice part about this step is it’s the same for all four sides. The finished side sections appear below.
See those grooves? Now you know what a dado blade does! You don’t use them to cut off or go all the way through a board. You only use them for grooves or rabbits. Remember, not all table saws can use dado blades!
With the grooves made in all four sides, I can start seeing what the finished project will look like. I’ll setup each drawer as if it were assembled and take measurements for the bottom section.
Next post I’ll discuss cutting the bottoms, assembly and finishing! Still working on getting some hardware from the OEM of my cabinets. Hopefully they’ll have some good news for me!! Any questions?
Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,carpentry, Kitchen
Posted by John on March 7th, 2012
So our sliding drawer project is coming along slowly, but nicely. We’ve measured and purchased our wood and we’ve cut it to its width and length. Now comes the tricky part, we’re going to start making the joints and other cut features of the drawers. This can be an intimidating part of the project, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with a table saw. However, if you take your time and practice on some scrap wood, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
There are two primary ways to cut the rabbits (or rabbets?). The first involves the normal table saw blade and multiple passes. The other uses a dado blade that’s set to a wider thickness and therefore, fewer passes. A dado blade set is nothing more than a few saw blades stacked together to create a wider cut. They’re only used to make grooves and rabbits and never to cut off a piece of wood. You can buy a stack of dado blades from a hardware store and a decent set will run you around $100. If you ever want to get into making shelves, built-ins or cabinets, they are indispensable. It’s also worth noting that most hobby grade table saws are not capable of using dado blades. It’s something to think about if you’re considering a table saw purchase.
First, I’ll go over the method with a normal table saw blade and then I’ll use the dado blades in the following post. Here’s the joint we’re trying to make on the front drawer piece. The sides will need this cut as well, just with different dimensions.
I used a tape measure to determine how much material is removed from this front piece. Then I transferred that measurement to a scrap piece of wood that’s the same dimensions as my front boards
Then I set the scrap board on the table saw and raise the height of the blade just up to the horizontal pen mark. You can only do this at the highest point of the blade and on a blade tip. Simple enough so far right?
Next I need to adjust my fence to allow only the vertical line and over to be removed.
Now that the fence distance is set, I turn on the table saw and run both sides through. I’ll use my miter slide to guide the piece through. I also have to keep the board flush to the fence.
After the first try, I compare my freshly cut scrap board to another scrap that I also marked up…
You can see that the pen line doesn’t exactly match the cut line, so I need to adjust my fence and try again!
Much better! Remember, I want to be on the right side of the pen mark and not thru it.
To take off the rest of the material, I’ll just run the board through multiple times and each time pull it further away from the fence. Each pass nibbles away a little bit of wood.
If you were thinking about maybe cutting it like this to remove the rest of the material instead…
That’s a clever idea, but unfortunately, it’s not safe nor is it stable. The piece is too narrow and would wobble too much. There are special jigs for the table saw that you can buy or make that will allow you to cut it like that, but it’s just easier to do the nibble method!
Once you’re happy with the results of the scrap piece, you can run all the front boards thru this step without having to adjust the table saw. The process is exactly the same for the side boards!
Next time we’ll use some dado blades to cut a groove in all the hardwood for the drawer bottom and we’ll start assembling them. Looking forward to getting this done.
Posted by John on March 5th, 2012
Now that the weekend is over, it’s back to work on our sliding drawers! I hope I’m not dragging this out too much for you. Ideally, it would be nice to have one post that showed how to make a sliding drawer from start to finish, but I feel that there is a lot to mention in terms of general construction methodology that I’ve never discussed to date. So, in my next carpentry based project, I’ll try not to repeat myself and maybe things will go faster! But, for now, it’s gonna have to be War and Peace. I AM planning on doing a summary post and including some neat calculators that automatically give you dimensions of your cuts so if you try to recreate this project the planning will be easier.
Last time, we got our dimensions and bought our maple hardwood and the thin plywood. So now we’re ready to measure and cut. Since the drawers we’re making are all 1 13/16″ wide, we’ll start with that cut. Remember, we’re only sticking with this weird dimension because we’re trying to match what we already have. If you attempt this project yourself, you could use whatever width you want (within reason).
The lumber we bought (1x3s) comes 2 1/2″ wide, so to trim it down to size, we’re going to use the table saw. Table saws always come with a tape measure mounted in the front for accurate cuts. The problem with this device though is mine isn’t really calibrated well so I just end up using my tape measure instead (table saw is unplugged). You want to make sure you’re measuring from the fence to the right edge of the blade, not the middle of the blade. We’re keeping the part that’s in between the fence and the blade. Everything from the blade over gets removed. If we were keeping the other side, which you also can do, we’d have to measure from the left side of the blade away from the fence.
Once the fence is set for a 1 13/16″ cut, I turn on the saw and rip my boards. When using a table saw, you want to follow certain general safety practices that I’m not getting into, but you can watch some great animations here that get into the basics. While the board is being cut, you want to make sure it is tight up against the fence and that it stays that way as you push it through. If the board moves around a little bit, that’s okay. That kind of movement will result in an imperfect cut or some burning that can either be sanded away or removed with something more heavy duty like a hand plane or a thickness planer. Plus, we can always face the rougher cut side down when we build the drawers anyway.
Now that all the boards we bought are the correct width, we can cut them to their appropriate lengths. We’re going to make those cuts on the miter saw. Whenever I’m making cuts on the miter saw (or any tool for that matter) that require some degree of precision, I try to use a thin a line as possible to mark my length. Pens and pencils are fine, just make the mark lightly so as not to leave a big fat line. Giant sharpies are out! When I built my kitchen cabinets way back when, I used a box cutter to mark the length. I’ll also use a speed square to make sure the line is straight and true.
Before you make the cut, you need to line up the saw with the length you marked down. You don’t want to cut right through the middle of the line. Ideally, you want to just clear it with the blade so you leave the tiniest bit of the pen or pencil mark on the wood. You don’t want to leave the entire line either though. This is where patience really pays off. I’ll take maybe 30 seconds before each cut and make sure I’m lined up exactly where I want to be.
For the side pieces, I stacked two boards and cut them at the same time. I made sure the ends of both pieces were dead flush first though. You only need to mark the length on the top piece if your ends are flush. By doing the sides this way, we can ensure that they’ll be exactly the same length for each drawer. If the side lengths are off from the left side to the right side by too much, the drawer can get crooked when we assemble it.
After you cut the lengths for each individual piece (or the sides that were cut together), make sure you mark the boards somehow to identify which cabinet they go to and what part it is (back, front, side). You can use a piece of masking tape or just write right on the board! We are going to sand these so, it should come off if you write lightly.
Once all the lengths have been cut, it’s time to machine the grooves and rabbits so they can fit together. We’ll save that exercise for another post since it involves me flapping my gums for another 800 words or so!!
How was your weekend? Lisa and I took the baby to the Camden Aquarium with some friends! We had a great time.