Door Stop Prototype

I've been thinking for some time now about a bunch of products I'd like to make in limited runs to sell either on Etsy or on my own site. One of these is a sand filled door stop.

I made this prototype today. Mostly I was trying to get a sense for size, construction method, and how the sand will work as a filler. I  will most likely use hand dyed canvas for the real ones but used this heavy fabric today because its plaid pattern makes for easy templating.

Basically, I made a big cube. 

The construction method is just like a box cushion pillow. I found a great youtube tutorial here which explains very well how to handle and make sharp looking corners.

I know this sounds stupid, but I've grown to realize over time that having decent sewing tools (mostly good rulers, markers and scissors) makes a huge difference in how a project unfolds, and also thank goodness for youtube because almost any sewing dilemma can be answered there.

 I went with 5 inches square -which I now realize is a bit too big.

The whole thing gets sewn inside out so I needed to leave about a 2 inch gap for turning it right side out and for adding the sand.

It took all that sand -a half gallon, which I got at Ocean Beach. I hand sewed it shut after filling.

I like the idea of a soft but heavy door stop so that it can be moved as needed with one's foot without worrying about scraping the door or floor. This guy is pretty heavy but in a nice sort of way.

I'm kind of enamored with this big daddy but I'm going to try to go down one inch to four inches square and see how that looks and obvs check out how the canvas works.


Spray Painted Sidewalk Street Numbers

Remember way back when, when I didn't have any door numbers and was doing chalk house number mock-ups on my sidewalk for an eventual design in paint?

Well I finally got around to that. I did love the organic nature of the chalk and they were fun to make but keeping up with them was a hassle and then we'd have no number identifying the house.

This was a multi-step process that was made possible and exponentially easier by a laser-cut stencil that my sister helped me make. 

We designed the graphic in Adobe Illustrator and then she plugged it into her laser cutter at work -that's why this thing is so friggin pro-fesh-on-al...She did all the work! 

This is what a laser cutter actually looks like in action. My sister took this video when Ethan was visit NYC last summer (I told you I've been sitting on this project for a long time!!) Talk about aunty extraodinaire, btw. 

Choosing a good color combo was excruciating.  It took several samples to get it right. The trick was to find something that popped but didn't clash with the house trim. For paint, I used Montana Black instead of a hardware store brand for a couple of reasons. First, there are obviously many, many more colors to choose from and secondly, it comes in a very low luster sheen (it's flat but not chalky looking like a hardware store brand flat spray paint). I wanted this project to look really good and cohesive with the house -I mean, I'm spray painting the sidewalk in front of my house... that could go really wrong in a hurry. A glossy paint, in the wrong colors could look very kindergarten in a bad, bad sort of way.

Montana cans cost about 9$ a can at my local art store, btw. So, about 2 times as much as Rustoleum, for example, but well worth it.

Once I chose my color combo, I had to figure out how to get this 3-part stencil to logistically work. I found and marked (from edge to edge) the center lines of each stencil and made a corresponding mark on the sidewalk. This was the easiest way to take any guesswork out of laying the stencils, especially because the one with the numbers was a complete blind lay down. 

In a spot that I knew would be covered with the final design, I tested to see how clean the edge would be on the fairly rough sidewalk. I did this with BIN 1-2-3 primer, because I thought it would be prudent to do a base coat anyway.

The edges were fine. Had this not been the case, I was going to use a concrete patch kit to create a smooth area for the stencil and am SO glad I didn't need to do that.

This is the first stencil that creates the blue background.

I did a lot of covering up because it is still summer in San Francisco, which means lots of wind.

After the blue coat, a white boarder was added by placing a smaller ellipse inside this one. (sorry no pic). I did 3 coats of blue, over 2 days, to make sure I covered all the divots in the sidewalk.

The numbers. I used coke bottles to try to hold the stencil down in as many places as possible. In this picture I have the largest ellipse on top to make sure my alignment was correct. 

What do you think? Do tell.


Blog Chain Letter

Did you ever, as a child, get a chain letter? I remember receiving them from camp friends and they were always accompanied by appropriately crazy girly threats like, "if you don't send this on to seven friends you will die!" Well, guess what...I always broke the chain, because I was lazy and far preferred watching Brady Bunch reruns to writing chain letters.

But that was then. And this is now, so when I received a blog chain letter from Shannon that was making its way around, I bucked up and got busy. Shannon writes the always interesting (no fluff) blog 8FOOT6. I love her style and straight forward manner, and she also has the most amazing instagram feed (be prepared to be feel inspired and inadequate all at the same time) which often features incredible meals she churns out on the daily.   

From what I can tell (this chain letter thing is a little like the game telephone in that the original statement gets garbled along the way), the intent if the letter is for the receiving blogger to share a real-time home tour and answer four questions and then pass it on to someone else. Well, the tour ain't happening, because I'd rather be watching Brady Bunch (kidding, my house is a total mess) but I have compiled a series of photos that I do think illustrate what the gist is of my blog and home. OK here it goes.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Because it's fun! My blog helps me prioritize making stuff and doing projects. That's what I want to be doing anyway, so it's a great external excuse to let the laundry pile up because I have to "create content" for my blog. I also blog to be part of a community of like-minded people. I guess I'm a voyeur...I like to see what satisfying stuff other people are doing and I like to get feedback on the projects I'm working on.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?
So there are many, many of us who write DIY/ Design blogs. I'd like to think that the projects that I work on and blog about are unique, visually interesting, honest and full of relevant information. Perhaps my blog is a bit different because I have strong technical skills that I draw on heavily. On my blog you'll see homemade items, dumpster dives and wavy glass harvesting.

You'll also see not so pretty scenes that I hope inspire readers to take on repairs themselves.

How does your writing creative process work?
It is really quite simple. My objective is always to write a narrative of what I've been doing/working on. That, in turn, is based on a story that I've laid out with photos. I try to write as clearly as possible and give pertinent detail without droning on.

What am I working on now?

That's top secret! But let me put it this way, too many things at once! Stay tuned, projects involve: pigmented epoxy, spray paint and sidewalks, and gaffers tape.

I am passing this on to a great blog across the pond, Little House on the Corner written by Christine and Jan. They are super bold in the projects they tackle in their cool edwardian home outside Manchester, UK. We're talking demo-ed walls, stacks of bricks, ancient garage roof rebuild, floor rehabs, painting, stripping, etc!!! All great stuff.


Work Area Impovements

On the sly, I've been making our workspace in the garage a whole lot better over the past several weeks. It was a bit of a domino effect upgrade.

I added a second pegboard wall and installed an upper shelf and even did a little paneling to make it look good. You can see how I build the workbench here and here and the first pegboard install here.

It all started with this pile of scraps from my former picnic table (R.I.P.). I couldn't let this beautifully patinaed wood go to waste.

The wall above the concrete here was just plain ugly so that seemed like a perfect place for it. There is a shear wall behind the drywall here in the garage so I was able to nail into that as well as the studs to try to get these warped boards as flat as possible.

As you can see, I still haven't repaired the ceiling from the rat escapades. I left a small gap where the gypsum can slide in when we repair it. Repairing the ceiling has been on the list for a year now and really needs to be done, I'm just not sure I'm up for the job and need to figure out if I can get smaller cut sheets of the fire rated stuff at DBS, my favorite local place. Ideally I'd repair the ceiling and paint the whole thing but ooof, that's a big job. 

I made the shelf from the 1" ply off cut from the picnic table top. I rolled out both sides in leftover black high glass Rustoleum but left the edge unfinished. This piece of ply is pretty warped, I'm hoping it flattens over time.

I got these no nonsense steal brackets from my local Ace. I installed them upside-down to avoid having to drill into the concrete wall. Having the bracket cross the shelf was a worthwhile design compromise to avoid the much dreaded drilling into concrete. Obviously the wall screws had to go into the studs -they had to be super long to go through the paneling, drywall, shear wall and then to the stud.

I attached the shelf by drilling completely through the ply and using a bolt, nut and washer.

I'm using this shelf to store random hardware, of which I have jars and jars...

Next up was installing the pegboard. I had a piece cut down and bought some 1/4" shims to back it. (ICYDK, You've got to have clearance behind the board for the hardware to poke though). 

I've seen some people use double stick tape (that turbo 3M bonding stuff) to affix their pegboard and shims to the wall. That would be a whole lot easier in this case, but I am still a sceptic about the long-term hold of that stuff (I just don't have any experience with it). So I drilled. into concret. which is a. pain. in. the. ass.
When drilling into concrete or doing any major house DIY, adhere to the woodworkers mantra which is "use the right tools for the right job and things will go great". In this case, "great" is relative term because it's still loud and unpleasant. However, want to experience utter misery? Try drilling into concrete with a regular drill. (I know, I have, in a moment of complete, desperate, weakness).  The hammer drill is the only way to go and also only use a hammer drill bit for masonry so the thing doesn't snap on you. I know, I know, no one wants to lay out cash for these completely unsexy items, but it is so, so worth it. Also as a technical tip, always vacuum out the concrete dust prior to putting in screws, the dust really builds up in there.

I painted the pegboard the same matte black as the other.

My son Ethan installed this very cool fluorescent light fixture he made to the bottom of the shelf. I like to have my workspace lit like the sun. 

I'm storing all the woodworking tools on this side, whereas the other side holds all the bike tools.

 Looking good, right?