You Say Suspenseful I Say Fenceful

After this post, a lovely reader asked if we could write-up a quick post about our fence and how we made it.  Always happy to answer questions, here it is.

The fence is made up of 4 inch by 4 inch by 8 foot long posts and 2 inch by 6 inch by 16 foot long lumber from Home Depot.  Ben measured eight feet apart, used a post hole digger to make a 4 foot deep hole.  He did this for each post, 22 total on our property.  After setting each post, leaving it 4 feet above ground, we attached the 2 by 6 horizontals.  These are about 4 inches apart, for a total of five high.

We staggered the seams to keep the fence as strong as possible.  The gate took longer to finish because Ben couldn’t find strong hinges.  But, with the impending closing date looming, we knew it had to happen, sooner than later.  Ben bought a set of hinges and a latch at Home Depot.

To build the gate, Ben cut a 2 by 4 to the match the height of the horizontals.  Then, he screwed five 2 by 6 pieces, keeping the gate square as he went.

On either side of the gate we have a 4 inch square post and a 2 by 4, which is actually part of the gate.

Luckily, the hinges are perfect for the 2 by 6, so Ben installed one at the top and another on the bottom to hold the gate in place.

To protect the fence and keep it looking spiffy, we use Behr’s Solid Color Wood Stain, just like the rest of the fence.  So, that’s the simple fence we have and how to make one yourself.

Previously, we had a chain link fence, which Houdini, I mean Jack escaped from regularly.  We’re happy to report she hasn’t been able to get out of this one.  Also, this style fence can work for smaller dogs by adding 2 by 2 pieces between the 2 by 6s.

What style of fence do you have?  Why did you choose it?  To keep kids and pets in?  To keep neighbors out?

How To: Refinish a Bookshelf

We have this little bookshelf in the boys’ room.  My mom gave it to us, but it was originally her grandparent’s shelf.  It’s functional and cute, right? 

Well, it’s not so cute when the books have been removed; the finish has seen better days. 

The top was even worse, too!

We have had this bookshelf for three years (or more) and have never done a thing to it.  Until now, that is.  I finally got an itch to refinish this sad little guy. 

It all began with a random orbital sander.  I started by sanding the top with 220 grit paper to completely strip the stain finish.  Then, I worked my way down the sides, sanding with the grain of the wood. 

Once I had the top and outsides sanded, Ben removed the back and I worked on sanding the fixed shelves (both the top and under sides) as well as the inside walls. 

After completing all the smooth flat surface areas, I began the tedious, time-consuming task of hand sanding the detailed areas of fluted half round and the finials.  This involved 100 grit sandpaper, folded in half to get into the crevices of the fluting.  It took a good two hours to get the detailed areas sanded smooth, but I knew the end result would be worth it.

I wanted to keep the dark wood tone, so I bought a quart of Minwax Dark Walnut stain.   

Using a synthetic bristle brush, I began applying the stain in small areas to the shelves.  Working quickly, I wiped the area with an old, cut up T shirt to remove excess stain.  I kept a ‘wet edge’ of stain to prevent any overlapping that might make the color uneven.  I continued this process until the entire bookshelf had a coat of stain. 

I let the stain dry overnight.  Once Everett went down for his morning nap, Vincent and I went back to the garage to give the shelf one more coat of stain.  The second coat gave the rich, luxurious walnut tone I had in mind.

Now that I had the color I wanted, I needed to protect my hard work.  I applied two coats of Varathane Diamond Water Based Polyurathane satin finish to seal the wood and prevent scratches and future damage. 

Just a little note:  This was my first attempt to completely refinish a piece of furniture.  By no means am I an expert, but I think the bookshelf turned out pretty great.  It was time consuming, but not very difficult or expensive.  Speaking of expenses, I here’s a budget breakdown.

Sander and paper: $0.00 (already owned)

1 Quart Minwax Stain: $7.78

Varathane Polyurathane: $0.00 (already owned)

Total Spent:  $7.78


Sanding: 4 hours

Staining:  2 1/2 hours

Polyurathane Application:  2 hours

Total Time Spent:  8 1/2 hours

Not too shabby, huh?