Tag Archives: diy

Fridays at Home: Tree Branch Coat Rack

3rd January 2014

So my brother and his fiance both came in for Christmas, and I wanted to give them a different sort of present. Even though they are both dapper dressers, there are only so many scarves a guy can wear. I remembered that a couple of years ago, my brother posted this image on his Pinterest page:


At the time, the rack was available on Etsy, but the price was well over $200, and I just couldn’t swing it. This year, when I went to have a look, the product was no longer available, and a quick search of Cantilever and Press didn’t leave me much hope for finding this product in my price range. There were a couple of mimics on Etsy, but unfortunately, they were just nowhere near the original. Now I’m not advocating ripping off someone’s ideas, and I certainly wouldn’t do this to profit from it, but I was dead set on making this as Matt and Christopher’s Christmas present. When my neighbor put out a really clean pallet the week after Thanksgiving, I decided I was all in. The boyfriend helped pry off the boards I would need, but the rest of the project was all me.

First, I knocked out the stubborn wood nails and sanded down the pieces I planned to use. Then I eyeballed the original image and the space next to my front door to get an idea for size – 2 feet by 6 inches, if you’re curious. I measured (Measure twice! Cut once!), made my marks and began sawing. Yes, with a hand saw. Not that tough once you get into it.


When I finished, I made sure my edges weren’t too warped to work with and sanded some more before putting a very light coat of Minwax Special Walnut on, then sanding again. I didn’t want a super dark stain, but I did want the frame to look aged.


Putting the frame together was the toughest part. If I ever do this again, I’d likely use wood glue first, but after a lot of stop and starts and a few obscenities thrown in, I went to the expert, aka my neighbor across the street. He has every tool known to man, so I brought my project over and asked for help. He handed over a Riyobi impact drill, one I definitely want. That sucker has some power. I drilled starter holes, two at each joint, then drilled my screws in. Some people build frames with nails, but since this is intended to bear weight, I used screws.

You can see below that I already cut my branches. Big mistake. Even though I measured twice, once the box was actually together, there was a slight deviation in the measurement. More on that in a minute.


I had collected branches for a few weeks, attempting to dry them out and make sure they were bug free. Then I just used my large clippers to make a clean cut along my measurements, though this sounds easier than it is, as they are not straight. Therefore, you have to measure carefully to get the angles right. Sometimes it worked beautifully, sometimes not. The trick for the “rack” part of this is finding branches that have additional branches sturdy enough to bear weight as well. Plus, placing the branches inside the box is tricky. You want the “hook” to stick out enough to be useful, but you also want to make sure it’s inside the box enough to, again, be sturdy. Here, I’m just playing with placement:


I drilled starter holes and screwed these branches in for durability and strength. It’s tricky, but you can eyeball pretty easily. For the additional “filler” branches, I just used nails.


Unfortunately, as you can see below, some of the nails were visible once I’d started. Cue Angry Jenn. If I’m going to make something, I want it to look professional, especially if it’s a gift. And those nails were glaring at me. So I went back to Home Depot to look at trim. But the beauty of this project is its raw nature. Box it up too much, and it’s just not the same. So I called my aunt who is a true artist when it comes to woodworking, and we brainstormed. But when I got home, I remembered…I had moss. Lots of it. So I pulled out some moss and my glue gun and went to town covering the places where the nails showed.


And bingo. No nails show. It still looks natural, and to be honest, the moss is barely noticeable. Win, win.


Once I finished, I sprayed four coats of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurathane to seal the wood. I really doused the branches themselves as I had sanded the “hooks” and wanted to make sure they were as sturdy as possible.


Last, I added two hangers on the back and wiped everything down before hunting for a box big enough to house my gift.


In the end, I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and it was so worth it to see the shock on my brother’s face when he realized I had made this myself. I absolutely love giving gifts, but giving someone a gift you’ve made that they’ve wanted is just a fantastic feeling. I hope they enjoy it for years to come.

Did you make any gifts for Christmas this year? This was so fun, I’m already trying to figure out what other gifts I can make.

P.S. Minwax in no way asked or paid for me to mention their products, I was just really pleased with the cost and quality of both the stain and poly.

Fridays at Home: Fixing a Leaky Toilet

12th April 2013

Yes, I put “toilet” in the title of a post. Yes, I am ashamed. But let’s face it, the porcelain throne is (hopefully) part of your everyday life. And if you don’t have a John in your life to fix your john, well, your options are limited.

I could, of course, hire a plumber, but after looking at this great home repair calculator, I decided I’d prefer to keep that chunk of change in my bank account and attempt to fix the leak myself. The loo was leaking from the base and from one of the tank bolts. The below cartoon should give you an idea of how this went…


                                                                                                                                        By jennigens | View this Toon at ToonDoo | Create your own Toon

Yeah. So fixing a toilet isn’t difficult. It’s all the associated problems that can be tricky. I began by following these handy dandy instructions from Home Depot:

Easy peasy, right?
My house is on pretty high pier and beams, so ceramic tile is a no go. I had put down nice vinyl tile (I know it sounds bad, but it wasn’t!), and the leaky toilet had saturated the tiles around it, and I had to pull them up. No problem, except Lowe’s no longer carries that tile. And I couldn’t reseat the toilet without having flooring because a. I’d have to reseat it again to get the tile beneath the base and b. the height would have been off. So after buying all new vinyl tile, I was able to lay four strips before I had to make cuts. With a box cutter. I cut approximately two (2!) six-inch pieces of tile over about an hour before the angry tears came. It was not pretty.

I reseated the toilet, and the base didn’t leak, but now both tank bolts leaked, AND the water source coming up from the floor began to leak. Excellent. I called it a night and fell into bed.

Sunday I asked for help. And no, not divine assistance. I went to the pros of the privy and lay myself on their mercy. Another set of tank bolts, some silicone, a new valve and hose later, I was ready! Replaced everything, reseated the toilet again, and….drip, drip, drip drip

Confession time: I gave in, bought a bottle of wine, and called the plumber. But the plumber had to reschedule, so I got online and started Googling the heck out of toilet repair. Here’s what I learned, and here’s how I fixed it, start to finish:

  • Buy HydroCap Sure Seat Wax Ring cover, reinforced wax ring, tank bolts, silicone, valve and hose if necessary, adjustable wrench
  • Turn off the water valve at the wall or floor (all the way to the right)
  • Flush the toilet, holding the handle to allow as much water as possible to leave the tank
  • Use some old towels or sponges to get the rest of the water out of the tank
  • Remove the tank bolts
  • Remove the water hose from the tank
  • Put the tank somewhere safe
  • Mop up water in bowl
  • Remove base bolts
  • Remove the base and wipe the bottom of it clean
  • Remove old wax ring and wipe up old wax
  • Put plastic cap provided with HydroCap in hole to avoid fumes gathering
  • Put new wax seal down
  • Put HydroCap on tops, pressing firmly to get minimal gaps; make level
  • Remove plastic cap from pipe
  • Reseat base
  • Put nuts and caps back on base bolts
  • Place tank back on base
  • Add a ring of silicone to rubber gasket; put gasket closest to porcelain and insert bolt
  • Tighten metal washer and nut on base of toilet (be careful but don’t overly worry that you will crack the tank – I was paranoid!)
  • Allow silicone to cure for three hours
  • Reattach hose to tank
  • Turn water back on and check for leaks

If you must replace anything on the fittings coming from the water source:

  • Turn off water at street
  • Remove fittings and hose
  • Replace and hand tighten, then use wrench for good seal
  • Make sure valve is in the “off” position
  • Turn water on at street
  • Turn water on and test for leaks

Honestly, even with all the hassle, it was worth doing myself. I spent money, but it was nowhere near what I would have spent on a plumber. Plus, if you have a ceramic tile bathroom, you shouldn’t run into the issues I had. And that’s how it’s done, folks. My floor isn’t finished yet…but another day, another project.

Happy Friday!

Fridays at Home

30th September 2011

This weekend I am helping to throw my friend Amy a shower for her first baby. I am so excited and have been working on decor for the last couple of weeks. It’s been a mash of tissue paper, hot glue, ribbon, wire, and different colors of blue around here. After teaching today, I will run out to pick up some pre-made chicken salad to make sandwiches and use my super special recipe for some awesome punch. So here’s what I’ve been burning fingers and trailing cold strings of hot glue around for…

supplies...Martha Stewart, Hobby Lobby, Joann's

Ahh wire cutters. So helpful.

I’ve been using the image below for inspiration:

From the beautiful blog Style Me Gorgeous

Blue and white striped paper straws

Tissue paper flowers. Love these.

Then this was my inspiration for the corsages for the mom-to-be and grandmothers-to-be:

Found on Pinterest

And here are mine, using buttons, paper flowers hot glued onto floral wire and paper leaves:

I kind of can't stop looking at them... Hope Amy likes them!

So. There we are. I’ll try to take better pics and post this weekend. Wish me luck! Are you guys up to anything creative and/or homey today?