11.10.2014 / A Girls and Her Tools

Alternate title: 7 Handy Tools for the Handy Gal (or Guy)

I like tools.  Tools are fun.  They help me wreck things, make things, and make things pretty.  Plus, I won’t lie, I kind of enjoy shattering people’s traditional gender roles “what do you mean my husband‘s tools?  MY tools.  He gets the kitchen.”  Boom.  Welcome to 2014 ladies and gents!

A full list of tools that I find helpful would be near endless, but I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite handy tools for DIY.

1.  Compressor

Harbor Freight Compressor

This one is necessary to accompany the next 2 of my favorite tools so I couldn’t leave it out.  My compressor collection has raised to 2, a small portable one and a larger one with more power and both have their jobs.  If you’re just starting into projects and tool collecting, I’d start with a small pancake compressor like this one from Harbor Freight.  They’re light, portable, and have the power to do most small jobs.  A big need for my tools is portability since I don’t have a workshop or garage where I can store them.  They’re either in my basement or at a work site, so something helpful that’s easy to move around gets 2 thumbs up from me.

2.  Brad nailer/nail gun


Speaking of tools to use with the compressor.  This guy is #1.  I’m not sure how I ever lived without my nail gun.  I think this may be my personal favorite: it’s so easy to use- press into surface, pull the trigger.  For such an easy tool to use, you can make some mighty projects.  My entire built-in corner bookcase was put together with my nail gun and wood glue- and it’s strong enough to climb on (although I’d rather you not).


AND even though it’s a rock star on large projects, no project is too small.  Use it to fix a loose piece of trim or like I did to beef up Millie’s house numbers.

3.  Critter spray gun

Compressor tool #2!  The Critter Sprayer is what I use my larger compressor for.  You can use a smaller one, but be prepared for it to run non-stop.  This little siphon paint gun does not get enough recognition in DIY land in my opinion.


Not only does it work like a champ when painting furniture, it uses mason jars to hold the paint.  Super duper handy for the DIYer.  When you’re done for the day, you simply put a lid on the mason jar and you have pre-mixed paint just ready for the next coat or next project.  The only downfall is that you need to thin the paint like you do with any sprayer.  I use a little water and Floetrol and the finish comes out like a dream.  Just be careful not to put too much paint on at one time or you might get drips!

4.  Locking grip pliers

locking pliers

These aren’t nearly as exciting as the previous tools, but I swear I find new uses for locking pliers daily.  The most useful task of this tool is removing stripped screws, headless nails, and rusted bolts.  I’ve also found myself using these as a vise to hold something steady, grip something too small for my fingers, and many more uses that I always forget.

5.  Foldable platform


Again, not a glamorous player in the land of DIY but it’s an unsung hero.  My sister gave me a foldable platform for Christmas a few years back and I couldn’t be happier!  It’s most obvious use is in lieu of a step ladder for painting and reaching.  It’s lesser obvious use is my favorite- portable work bench.  When I modified the built-in for Grover the Fliphouse, my platform was indispensable. I would clamp the plywood to it while I cut it and clamp the 2x4s to it while I drilled my pocket holes.


Aside from being a clamp-able surface, it also brings the work surface off of the ground.  You are welcome Back.

6.  Kreg Jig


I know I’ve mentioned the Kreg Jig before, but he’s pretty awesome and you can see him in action in tool #5’s pic above.  His skill set is rather limited- drill pocket holes for attaching 2 pieces of wood- but the things you can do with that limited skill set are in fact limitless.  He’s one of my buddies when I’m building things.  Things like my franken-table


and wine rack


7.  Miter Saw


Last but certainly not least, a miter saw aka chop saw.  This is one of my more recently added tools, but has made my life so much easier!  Cutting crown molding? done.  Base boards? done.  Building furniture or built-ins? done.  You need it cut? Miter saw’s your man. It’s almost embarrassing how long I made due with a hand saw and jig saw.  While not a cheap tool, the right miter saw is totally worth it.

So there you have it!  I’d love to hear what you’d add to the list and what your favorite tools are!


11.5.2014 / A Numbered Statement

After several weeks of being numberless and confusing a delivery guy or 2, Millie once again is identifiable.

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

After the painting finished up, I knew I needed to add a bit of a warmer touch to the house.  I debated putting shutters back, but ultimately decided that beefing up new house numbers would totally do the trick.  I love high impact projects for low wallet impact.

The font and the newly curb appealed terrace side both got numbers for less than $20 a piece.

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

It all started with $6 Home Depot numbers, a piece of 1/2″ poplar, and some stain.

DIY wood backed house number supplies via Year of Serendipity

I laid out the numbers to determine the size of the wood and cut 4 equal pieces- each house number backer would be 2 boards side by side.


The 2 boards on the left were bought new, the right were left over from a previous project.  Although they’re the same wood, I was surprised how differently they took the stain.  Luckily it didn’t matter since 2 boards were going on one side of the house and 2 on the other.

At first my brain tried to over-complicate this installation.  I thought about using my kreg jig to attach the boards to one another and then attach the numbers before putting the assembly on the house, then about how to hang it on the house…..  Luckily I came to my senses and simplified.

First step was figuring out the placement on the porch posts.


I decided that I wanted them just over a foot above the railings.  Using my level (which also has a handy ruler on it as well) I also figured out where to place the first board for the finished product to be centered.

DIY wood backed house number placement via Year of Serendipity

Holding that one board in place, I picked up my finish nail gun and placed a nail in the center of the board.


This holds it in place while I adjust it.  Even though I used my level, it’s more important to have it parallel to the porch post…. which in a 100 year old house probably isn’t 100% level anymore.  Once piece one looked level, I nailed piece number 2 next to it also with just one center nail.

DIY wood backed house number placement via Year of Serendipity

After stepping back and being pleased with their placement, I put a couple more nails into each board for stability.  I have to say, if you’ve never used a nail gun, you have no idea what you’re missing.  I swear this is one of the most useful tools that I have!  Plus it’s fun and helps me build pretty things.

With the backer board in place, it was time to install the house numbers themselves.


All I did here was follow the directions that came with the house numbers.  Place template, drill holes, put spacers onto numbers, glue/caulk spacers into drilled holes.

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

I’m kind of in love with them.  It’s just what the outside of this house needed!

A big house needs house numbers that stand out.

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

Bonus if they make me smile.

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

The house is starting to coordinate with the fall decor delightfully.  I totally planned it that way…

Craftsman bungalow wood backed house number DIY via Year of Serendipity

Leave a comment

11.3.2014 / Pockets and Tacks

My tiny little office really needs an injection of usefulness.  If you remember, this is my pseudo-desk area on top of my IKEA expedit cubbies.

deco tray desk

It (along with the rest of our second floor) has BIG plans in store for this winter after my darling Millie is through with renovations.  I’ll give you a hint.  It involves a long awaited allergy-friendly flooring switch-up.  Until that catalyst starts a new slew of renos into my house, I need to make this tiny room work.  It serves as my office, our extra TV room, and our rarely used ellipticals home.  With the ball rolling on my interiors business, Copper Dot Interiors, I need a place for notes, lists, swatches, ideas and inspiration.  All this has been cluttering the little bit of desk that I do have and causing me to avoid using the desk all together.  Kind of defeats the purpose.

Luckily, a few errands and a few hours later, I put together exactly what this space currently needs to function: a fabric covered bulletin board, complete with pockets.


Not only was it a very gloomy weekend here and all of my photos were dark and gloomy, I still haven’t figured out a way to take quality photos in this itsy space.  There is one window, but with the homes orientation, not much natural light comes in.  One day I’ll figure it out and WOW you will my stunning office images.  Until that day, I’ll photoshop them until they don’t look weird.

So, bulletin board!


I’m impatiently eagerly awaiting finding the PERFECT frame for this… something like this bulletin board on The Everygirl:


but until I come across that gem, I decided to work with that was available- a $6 thrift store frame.


The poster got sacrificed to the DIY gods.  In addition to a large frame- mine is 2’x4′, I also used cork board tiles, a tube of rub n’ buff, and my chosen fabric.

The frame got disassembled and the foam core backing got reused.  I used the double-stick adhesive squares that came with the cork tiles and stuck them onto the foam core.


Once the surface was covered, I trimmed the cork on a few of the edges where it overhung the foam.  Next, I sprayed the whole area with spray adhesive.  This helps the fabric grip and not bubble or wrinkle, but it still allows for repositioning.  The fabric is much dreamier in person.  It’s the perfect texture with a slight natural fleck in the color.  I wish it showed more in the pics.


The pockets are created by folding the fabric- the deeper the folds, the deeper the pockets.  I knew these would be necessary for function and keeping clutter off of my desk top but not out of mind.  After the fabric was placed, the spray adhesive held well enough to allow me to flip the foam core/cork board over and staple the fabric around it.


Magically, while I created the bulletin board, the plastic faux wood frame suddenly turned to gold!  Ok, not so suddenly or magically.  After disassembling the frame back at step 1, I used rub n buff in antique gold to make the frame shinier and less fake-wood-looking.  Once my board was wrapped and my frame was goldified, I popped the board back into the frame and used high-tech duck tape to hold everything together on the back.  I used my favorite 3m picture mounting strips to hang it (not sponsored, just love them) and voila!


Since this is most likely a temporary frame until the right one pops into my life, I’ll most likely be reworking this along with the entire room in the near future.  I can see the room now, new desk chair, paint, window treatments, rug…. she’ll be a beaut!!


Until then though, I have a super functional and easy on the eyes DIY fabric covered bulletin board!


Leave a comment
Page 1 of 5612345...102030...Last »