Freeze Frame!

Near the beginning of the year, I ordered a lovely 18 by 24 inch leaf print from Minted, with intentions of immediately hanging it in our living room.  After coming up short on the perfect frame, I planned to make a 24 by 30 inch frame to protect and display the print.  At that time, we were just beginning our kitchen remodel (which is still nearly finished, with one more cabinet to build and hang-hence the lack of reveal) and time was limited to pertinent projects only.  Until recently, the frames were on the back burner, but after seeing the art sitting in my closet, begging to be seen by others, I jumped in and got it done.

Before building, I bought two pieces of plexiglass from Ace Hardware because these frames are in the living room and could get bumped or hit with a ball.  Shattered glass is always a concern with two boys in the house, so this seemed like a safer choice.  You certainly don’t need to buy glass first, but if you’re making a big frame, make sure your size is available before building.

For my project, I wanted a square edge thin frame, so I bought four 1 by 2 sticks and had the store cut each one into 3 and 5 foot lengths.  To create the channel for the glass, mat, and backing to rest in, I had to router out a groove.  Pine is a soft wood, so I found it easiest to clamp a few boards down to create a guide to run the router against.


I set the router depth to 7/8 inches deep and slowly let it cut the channel, slowing at knots or weak points to prevent splitting.  Then I smoothed everything out with a thorough sanding.  Below, the top board shows the wide side, and the bottom the narrow face after cutting.


After grooved, I cut my pieces to length, mitering the corners but leaving an extra 1/8 for a little wiggle room.  Cutting after left perfectly square inside corners that a router can’t create after assembly, and with such a small face, I didn’t have much space to lose.


With tight corners, I pulled the glass out and held the pieces tight before nailing.


I found it easiest to set the two sides on a flat surface, letting just the corner over hang the counter while nailing.  This way, I didn’t angle the nailer funny to shoot it out somewhere and with narrow margins, it was important.  Two little nails are visible on each side, but not noticeable after staining.


To darken the pine, I applied a quick coat of Special Walnut stain.  I love the richness it adds to the cheap wood, and it brings out the character of each board.  Normally, I’d staple the glass, mat, and backing in place, but I didn’t want to weaken the thin sides.  Instead, I tapped small nails in.


And there’s the King now, matted in grass-green to bring a little splash of the curtain color across the room.



To balance out that print, I dried a maple leaf, photographed it, edited it, and printed a black and white engineer print.


Finally, we have art flanking the entertainment center, even more importantly, out of my closet!  Another to do list project is just staring at me in that last photo-move or create a cover for the ugly subwoofer.  With a cover, I could make it look kind of like a plant stand, right?  Let’s be honest though, who knows when that’ll happen; we’ve waited on entertainment center doors for years.  Perhaps that should happen next.  It wouldn’t be much different from making picture frames, but these would hide the ugly junk.

Butt of the Square

As our outside comes together, I’ve been furiously planting.  Almost 60 assorted plants over our property in the last few weeks.  Which spurred me to add a dose of life next to the front door.


With an 8 foot tall door, I wanted something taller, to not look dwarfed by the oversized door.  A small tree would have been gorgeous, but I didn’t want to block the doorbell.  After thinking about it, I might try a dwarf fruit tree.  We’ll see.  Before building this planter box, I looked at local nurseries, hardware, and home improvement stores but didn’t see any taller planters I liked.  DIY to the rescue.  Using four 8 foot long 2 by 4s and scrap 2 by 2 strips, I built a modern square planter box.


Before building, I decided I wanted a 17 inch square box six boards (21 inches) tall.  To start, I cut twelve boards into 17 inch lengths.  With the butt end design, opposite sides are the same length, but the adjacent pieces are shorter to fit between.  For the design to be square, I cut twelve more sections at 14 inches long (the overall size minus two 2 by 4 widths).


Based on my finished height of 21 inches, I cut four 20 inch tall 2 by 2 pieces to secure the corners to.  I didn’t want see the nails or the corners once filled.  Working on a flat surface with a square, I set my pieces together and nailed 16 gauge 2 inch long finish nails from the inside, through the 2 by 2, into the 2 by 4.  Much like hardwood flooring, getting the first row straight or in this case, square, makes subsequent rows go smoothly.

From there, adding boards, rotating the exposed ends is the name of the game.


I love the simple interest the staggered exposed ends add.


Once finished, the corner posts are tucked an in below the rim and are easily covered.


Before staining, I smoothed out the rough lumber with 80 grit sandpaper, slightly rounding the corners at the same time.


Wanting to accent the exposed end detail, I stained the box light gray.  It darken the end grain just enough to really make it pop.  To create the base support, I nailed scrap wood flush with the top of the third board down.  Then used another scrap of 3/4 inch material for the base, notching around the corner posts.  Sadly, I couldn’t find a square plastic hole-less liner to fit inside.  I improvised with four layers of thick plastic.  I really don’t want this leaking out and rotting the wood.



With the hard parts done, I got to fill it up with pretty plants my little helpers picked out.


Aromatic lavender, fuzzy lamb’s ear, a purple sweet potato vine, and a small basil plant.


With such a versatile design, I’d like to build a longer box to create a mini herb garden for our back deck.  The basil may get swapped to that one later on.  And at the end of the season, I can plant both the lavender and lamb’s ear in the ground.

Green Squares

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been splitting time between painting various rooms, adding plants to the exterior, and giving the guest room an update.  None of which are completely finished, and all waiting for other elements before I’m done.  Between the bigger guest room tasks, I decided to rearrange the bookshelves for a less cluttered look.  For a bright spot on the shelves, a simple shadow box art was in order.  I started with a piece of white mat board, glue, and a bag of moss.


Before starting, I lightly marked a square 1 1/2 inches from the edges.  Working in sections, I spread glue and started placing moss along the edges.


After filling in the entire square, I let the glue dry and shook the excess moss off.


Twenty minutes after starting, I had a finished art piece, ready to frame.  Both the color and texture are lovely.


I had an Ikea shadow box that fits perfectly on the shelf.  Boom, instant nature art with depth and character.  Any nature finds you’ve turned into art recently?


Now time for me to get more plants in the ground.

Produce Cart

In addition to the new knife block, I’ve been working on organizing the rest of the kitchen.  It’s a great way to keep busy, while indulging my crazy.  Initially, I planned to have an under shelf mounted basket in the pantry, to store potatoes and extra fruit.  Because, well, Costco quantities.  Something similar to the baskets in the pantry below.

The problem with that is two-fold.  Finding the right mounting system is tricky.  Secondly, a secured basket would block the inside corner, making it useless.  Due to stubbornness, I didn’t let the issue go and searched for a better solution.  One night, as I couldn’t fall asleep, the perfect idea came to me.  Lightbulb-a wooden crate on casters!  I dug around our scrap bin, but didn’t see enough of any one thing.  Michael’s carries wooden crates, and the measurements were perfect.  Even easier than building a custom box.  For easier moving, I bought four fixed casters at Home Depot to attach to the base.

The base material is about 3/8 inch thick, so I used a combo of screws.  On the outer edge, along the 3/4 inch front piece, I used 1 inch screws.  Along the inside, shorter 1/2 inch screws to avoid going through the base.  Adding a quarter-inch thick block would also fix the problem, but I didn’t want to add height.


Swivel casters could work just as well, but fixed wheels made it easier to pull out and push in without hitting the sides.  Instead, the box smoothly slides straight in and out.


Inside, we store potatoes, oranges, and other room temperature produce.  Having gaps between strips allows adequate ventilation, keeping the contents fresh longer.


This system would work well for other heavy items, keeping contained, but easily accessible.  Not only in a pantry, but think of closets for shoes, toys, or sports gear.  Endless options, but super easy to get done.

Ladder Rack

With recent fluctuating temps, light layers are the key to staying comfortable.  Outdoors and well as in.  To neatly store extra blankets, I built a leaning ladder for our bedroom.


To get started, I used two 3/4 by 2 3/4 inch by six-foot long poplar boards and two 4 foot long 1 inch dowels.  Before cutting, I measured and marked the boards for four rungs.  Mine are spaced 15 inches apart, starting from the bottom.


Using a Forstner bit, drilling the holes was quick and easy.



After drilling all holes and cutting the dowels, I used 220 grit paper to sand each piece before assembly.


Honestly, sanding almost took more time than all the other steps combined.  Attaching everything was simple.  Working on the garage floor, I squeezed a liberal amount of Gorilla wood glue in the four holes of one board as well as the dowel ends.


That was easy, but inserting the second side was a bit trickier.  Another set of hands would have been really helpful, to line the glued dowels up with the other board.  To keep everything tight while the glue dried, I placed a clamp at each rung.


Twenty-four hours later, I pulled the clamps off and lightly sanded the extra glue off.


The two foot wide rungs are perfect for king sized blankets.


I might make a second for the basement to store guest bedding.  Much easier and cuter way to store blankets than a stack on a chair.