Friday, February 2, 2018

Wood, Steel, and Tears

I wanted a shelving unit in my office really bad. Like really, really, really, really, really bad. So Pinterested about a bazillion ideas and ignored most of them and came up with what I hoped would work.

First of all, I had to order the pipes. Sure, I could’ve gotten them all at the local hardware store if I wanted to go completely bankrupt, but decided instead to go with an online hardware store and have the pipes delivered. I used Midland Hardware, and will most definitely use them again. Savings, even with shipping, practically halved the cost. Plus I needed a lot of pipe fittings and nipples.

Breakdown of ¾-inch pipes:
60) 12-inch nipples
40) Ts
12) flanges
4) 90-degree elbows
4) 3-inch nipples
4) 15-inch nipples (These I had to get cut down to size at Home Depot from one larger pipe. Lowes also does this. Both cut to size for free.)

5) 2x12x10-foot lumber
1) can of stain
1) can of polyurethane (optional)
40) 1-inch copper clips
80) ¾-inch wood screws
8) 2-inch wood screws
8) 1-inch drywall screws

Total Cost:

I knew I wanted the shelves to be 12-inches deep, so I went to [Insert Local Lumber Store Here] and loaded up five of these 2x12x10s into my 2002 Hyundai Elantra, stapled a flag on a couple boards, secured the truck to keep it from flapping up and down during the drive home, then proceeded to move them into the garage, putting the last onto a pair of folding chairs for sanding. I am sad I have no pictures of this, as I’m sure the manly men who watched me load up my tiny compact sedan with giant boards must’ve been a sight to see. Still, I’m a pro and shoving big things into tight spots. After sanding, I loaded all the boards onto a pair of ladders and stained them, starting with the bottom and flipping to the top. Because I didn’t notice a difference in color between a quick wipe on and a ten-minute penetration, I opted for the easier wipe on method. Since it’s cold here in the Pacific Northwest, I had a heater going in the garage to help with the curing process.

Now the optional part is polyurethane. This can be quite time consuming and finicky. Since this was only going to be a book and Lego shelf, I opted not to poly the shelves. However, if we had decided to integrate our aquarium into the unit, I would’ve done a full three coats. Again, I chose the lazy option.

After the pipes arrived, I was giddy as all get out until I realized I had to pry the stickers off of each of those nipples. Let me tell you, stickers and galvanized steel are extremely close, like damn near impossible to detach from one another. If you are planning on doing something similar, get a hair dryer and heat those puppies up and the stickers will pry off with one swipe of a box cutter and your thumb.

I cleaned off any remaining residue with acetone on a rag. Key is to work fast since acetone evaporates really quickly.

After clearing the site in the office, a ten-foot wall, I scanned the wall for studs, marking each of them from one end to the other.

Also found another stud.

With the studs located, I had to decide where to place the pipe “ladders” that would be going up. For this I had my husband come in and we worked it out together. Yay! Teamwork! Then he left for a few minutes and came back eight hours later after I finished the project. No joke. Anyway, I used blue tape to mark stud lines for the lowest rung of pipes, as well as temporarily anchoring them down to keep them from moving during assembly.

The trickiest part was getting the boards onto the pipes without knocking them over. Thankfully the tape helped keep them in place, and the ten-foot boards left little wiggle room once settled.

I screwed two 1-inch copper clips from the bottom of each of the pipe the board rested on using ¾-inch wood screws. This may seem overkill, but I wanted this to be as sturdy as possible, and also didn’t want the shelves moving about since ten-foot boards are not really ten feet long.

Next step was creating another rung on the “ladders” that support the whole thing. This can be tricky since screwing in opposite directions doesn’t really work well. Here’s the trick: make the vertical pipes tight with the Ts, and tighten the horizontal pipe into one T as tight as can be, then loosen that one while tightening it into the opposite T. Totally confusing, yes, and this means the support pipes are not tight, but they are secure. The clips screwed into the board after this also help. Trust me. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

Repeat until finished.

The last step is attaching it to the wall. I knew I was going to have large Star Wars Legos on the top shelf, so I decided to only go with a 3-inch nipple for the final vertical length, but had to get four 15-inch nipples cut to size at Home Depot (Thanks Jeff!) since that is a nonstandard size. This I waited until I had the piece assembled since I wanted to make sure I had the exact length I needed to attach it to the wall. Once in place, I loosened and tightened with the remaining flanges, lining up two of the four holes with the studs, and screwed the 2-inch wood screws into the studs and the 1-inch drywall screws into the other two holes. Yes, I pole danced to make sure it was safely secured. No, I did not get photographical evidence of this. Yes, I too am disappointed in myself.

Since the shelves were in a cold garage for a week and brought into a nice and warm room, I decided to wait a couple days before loading them up to let the stain settle. I also wiped off the excess with an old rag, but there really wasn’t much that came off.

Finally I couldn’t wait any longer*, so instead of doing homework like a good college boy getting his master’s in teaching, I started putting books up. By color. Like they should be.

This project made me sore in places I didn’t realize muscles existed, what with all the tightening of those pipes. Please note, a good quality pair of gloves with rubber grips will be your best friend during this time of strife. However, once everything was in place, I wish I had done this earlier. Now the rest of the office needs to be rearranged, but that will have to wait for another day.

* Yeah, I really should've waited. Despite "drying" for ten days in the garage and two days in the house, the shelves still had not absorbed all of the stain and a little has leached into a few books. I blame the humidity over the last few weeks.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Reupholstering Dining Chairs

When your father is getting rid of his power tools, always take him up on his offer to give them to you. ALWAYS. I mean, even if you don't think you'll use it, more than likely you will need it someday.

Okay, so that sounds hoarderish, and admittedly, even I was skeptical when we started loading the Outback with far more tools than I ever thought we'd fit in that car, one thing I didn't think would come in handy but has saved my wrists from arthritic-carpal-tunnel-like excruciating pain is a pneumatic stapler. Basic, right? I mean, I have two staple guns that work great, but then upon inspecting how many staples are beneath our dining chairs made me realize those two standard guns just weren't going to cut it. Enter the hero of the party, my father's old pneumatic staple gun. Of course, this tool totally would've been useless without the accompanying air compressor he also gave me.

So after a quick run to Starbucks because it's #PSL season, I got to work.

First things first, I had to unscrew the chair pad from the frame. Lazy ass that I am, I used a drill.

Cutting the fabric I bought, which, side-note, normally $25 per yard but I totally abused a JoAnn's 25% off home décor coupon and a 50% off sale to get three yards of this beautiful Caspian blue fabric for the bargain price of $28!

Now, this is where that handy dandy staple gun comes in, because those staples need to be in there pretty good. My manual stapler usually needs me to hammer down the staples further, which totally sucks. This bad boy just powers through like a champ. LOVE!!!

After screwing the pad back onto the frame, I have to say that I LOVE the results! So much better than the previous owner’s choice of fabric that totally reminds me of 1998, which, granted, is great for 1998, but they were showing their age.

Thanks again, Dad! This pneumatic staple gun made reupholstering six dining chairs a breeze! My Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte may have helped me get through that hour of work as well.