Repurposing a Machinist’s Cabinet

Sometimes the easiest path to creative repurposing is to simply clean things up and use them. One day this machinist’s cabinet showed up at Second Use and I brought it home for a little TLC.

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

I don’t like matching furniture, what can I say? I also don’t like smelly furniture, which is what this was when we found it at Second Use and Mary Jean got so excited about it –

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage

Mary Jean, excited about stinky machinist cupboard.

But – there’s something about little drawers, little pulls and built in shelves that I do like. And square shapes plus imperfection. And I had a coupon. So, there you go – I bought it.

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage

I scrubbed for two days, but despite my best efforts I couldn’t remove all the previous owners labeling (you were thorough sir!) – so I left some – until the day when I don’t like them anymore and will probably have to sand them away, but for now let’s call them patina.

I removed the middle door so we could appreciate the shelves that don’t line up and the little drawers.

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

And that was that! Added a few bright red accents (see Plumbop) and driftwood colored knobs – stuffed the hidden shelves and drawers and now I feel so organized :)

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

Green design,  Re-purposed,  Second Use,  Salvage,  Repurposed furniture,  Repurposed storage,

See? Clean, organized, and doesn’t match a thing!





Mosaics Tile

I’m looking for backsplash ideas. After 7 years of living with an a-l-l-l-most finished kitchen, I think it’s time to finish it up…

I have an area in the kitchen that can stand alone and be different from the rest of the design, so my thoughts turned to mosaics – specifically those that re-use broken pottery or dishes (keeping up my Seattle eco cred). It’s a design idea that can easily turn tacky so I wanted to do a bit of research – see if I could find a few good examples. We found a great project at Bradner Gardens Park, Seattle, located inside the public restrooms!  Here are a few photos of these super creative mosaics in the women’s side – I think the boy’s side has spiders…

Kudos to the artists Joyce Moty, Liz Cross and Gyda Fossland!

tile for mosaics - bee tile for mosaics - butterfly tile for mosaics - cricket tile for mosaics - beetles

tile for mosaics - dragonfly

Installing Door Trim

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Finished Trim, 5 Years Later!

The moral of this story is that you are a lot more likely to do those pesky projects that you’ve put-off when you have the help of your friends – plus it is way more fun. You tackle things you wouldn’t normally dare to do, learn lots in the process and have extra sets of hands.

The scoop: I think everyone would agree that after you go through a major remodel, the last thing that gets attention is the trim work. You are just tired tired tired. So finally after 2 3 5 years of putting it off, with the help/nudge of Monica and Mary Jean, we finally got around to installing the trim around the doorways on our 2nd floor addition.

Design:  The house is a 1911 Craftsman style. The trim on the first floor is very traditional for Seattle, the top horizontal piece is slightly thicker than the vertical sides, extends beyond the sides, and ends in a slight taper.

Craftsman Trim Styles

1st Floor Traditional Craftsman Trim

Our 2nd floor addition is a little more modern than the rest of the house. For a cohesive look, we decided to keep the general style of the 1st floor trim, except leave off the tapered overhang due to the fact there were already a lot of angles with roof/ceilings. We decided on 1″x4″ verticals and 5/4″x6″ for the horizontal header piece, with the horizontal piece extending 1″ beyond the verticals. These dimensions are a little smaller than the trim on the first floor, but thought it was acceptable to scale down for the second floor – the spaces are smaller, plus we could go with standard size lumber, which is less expensive.

Materials: We used re-claimed fir trim for most of the natural wood trim upstairs. But for this project (door trim), we needed a lot, and we were going to be painting it, so we decided the best route was to go with a manufactured product. Normally I wouldn’t go there because MDF (medium density fiber-board) seems fake and plastic-y and not very environmentally sound, but did a little research and found some moulding by Spero© that is LEED certified, does not contain urea-formaldehyde, and uses recycled content and wood that is harvested from sustainable sources. It paints up really nicely too. Dunn Lumber is a lumber yard here in Seattle that carries it.

Green Building Materials

Prep: We measured all the openings (11 doorways) and made a big list of verticals and horizontals. (Mary Jean did this part, she is very good about writing things down in an organized manner. Her charts look like a computer generated spreadsheet.)

How To Install Trim

After picking up the Spero© trim at our local lumber yard, we set up a little assembly line where Mary Jean and Monica measured and marked the pieces and I cut them on the chop saw. It went really quickly. Then we laid all the pieces horizontally in the basement and painted them. We used Daly’s C2 – 430, Potato Leek, which is a really nice off-white. The boards were pre-primed so painting went quickly too. It was way easier to paint them before they were installed – we didn’t have to be careful and there wasn’t much of a chance for drips. There will be some touching up required later after we fill the nail holes and caulk the joints.

Installing: After waiting for the trim pieces to dry, we hauled them from the basement. Because there was so much trim to install we used a nail gun with an air compressor to attach it. It was very handy, one of us held a piece in position and another used the nail gun. If you don’t have a nail gun (or for smaller projects) just use a hammer, finish nails and a nail setting tool.

DIY Installing Craftsman Trim

It took us a couple workdays to get this project done, but considering we put it off for 5 years, it actually didn’t take any time at all! Next we will need to caulk the gaps between the trim and the wall, and fill/sand/prime/paint the nail holes. Hopefully it won’t be another 5 years before that happens! Will keep you posted.

The final results:

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Hallway Trim – Before and After

DIY Craftsman Closet Trim

Bedroom Trim – Before and After

Door Trims Meet

Bedroom Trim – After

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Hallway Trim – Before and After

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Funky Fix for Salvaged Bookcase

We got an old salvaged bookshelf from ReStore a couple years ago. It was missing (or never had) a finished end panel. Thinking that it would either a.) be a really long time before we would make a nice paneled trim piece for it, or b.) it didn’t deserve a nice paneled trim piece, I decided to clad it in an old sign (picked up for $1 at ReStore).

What we did:

I wanted to mock up the design so we measured the panel and made a cropping template with paper. Positioned the paper template on top of the sign to get an idea of best cropping.

Marked and cut the sign with a circular saw, with straight edge, clamped to a table. I don’t have a picture of this, but it is the same idea as what we did in a previous project.

Sanded the edges with fine sandpaper to finish off the edges.

Pre-drilled the nail holes in the plywood sign, because it was thin and we were nailing so close to the edge. Nailed it into place. Could have used screws, but liked the look of the nails better.

All done, good enough for now – maybe someday I’ll get around to putting something more refined on there, but then again, probably not!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Bathtub Trim Panel

The project: Designing, building and installing a trim panel on a bathtub.


Materials: Salvaged wood from our demo/remodel. Dave, my patient and salvage-obsessed husband, saved the old wood (house built in 1911) and ran it through a planer to clean it up, so we could re-use it for the trim.

Design: I wanted wide horizontal planks (with small gaps in between each) for the face panel but didn’t know how the corner transition would work where the bathtub trim met the baseboard trim. Mary, Monica and I mocked up a couple of rough options to see what would look best.

hmmm, better 1 or 2?

In Version 1 the bottom board of the tub panel aligns with the baseboard trim, the middle board is the same height as the bottom and the top board is the leftover height. Version 2 has all three boards of equal height so the bottom board doesn’t align with the baseboard trim. After all that…we decided to align the bottom board with the baseboard. I have an alignment fetish. The top two boards are equal height, but slightly shorter than the bottom one. Better 1 or 2? I say neither. I like 3. ; )

Prepping: Next was getting the wood ready. After cutting each board to the correct widths/height (Dave helped us cut it, table saws are scary), we sanded, applied wood conditioner, sanded, applied wood finish, sanded, applied second coat of wood finish, sanded, applied third coat of wood finish, then buffed with steel wool. All this wood finishing talk may leave you either a) bored to death, or b) wanting more detailed information. For those of you in the “b” group, we’ll post some detailed info in the next couple days.

Building: We laid the three boards face down on the floor, putting ¼” strips of wood between each to create equal spaces between each board. We attached (by pre-drilling and screwing) 2 small vertical strips of wood to the back side to connect and hold the boards together (below left).

We made the entire 3 board panel longer than necessary so that we could make a single cut through all three boards after it was assembled. We clamped a straight edge to the panel and cut (carefully) a straight line with a skill saw (above right). After a couple rounds of fitting, trimming, fitting, trimming again… it fit!

Installing: First we painted the existing concrete board face panel black in case you’d be able to see through the gaps in the boards.

The 3 board panel needed to be removable for future access to bathtub plumbing. After considering some attaching options, we thought it would easiest to have a “french cleat”, which we made from some leftover scrap trim wood (did I mention Dave likes to save wood?).

I really wanted to make certain the wood panel fit firmly in place on the wall, aligning with the floor and would not wiggle. That required very precise positioning of the bottom/wall and the top/wood panel cleats. There are probably more professional ways to figure this out, but what worked was to mount the bottom cleat to the wall first. Then, we slid the top cleat in position onto the attached wall cleat (above right). We then ran a line of hot glue on the top cleat and then (quickly) positioned the wood panel, pressing firmly. The top cleat was then stuck to the wood panel in the perfect position and we just lifted the panel up and off the wall. Next we pre-drilled holes and used screws to permanently attach the top cleat to the wood panel. We then installed it by simply hanging it in place. All done!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Canvas Work Apron

For Christmas, my 13 year old daughter made me my very own Hammer Like a Girl work apron with our logo! It is great – made from really heavy canvas, includes pockets, a hammer loop, and most unique of all, a sewn-in magnet to hold random nails. Genius! We are thinking that we should make these and sell them through our blog (giving the creator a cut of the profits of course). What do you think – would you buy one?

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Do It Yourself Kitchen Island

Our kitchen is pretty small, lacking counter/storage space. I looked around for a portable “island” “peninsula” or even an “archipelago”, but couldn’t find one affordable/unique. So of course I went to Hardwick’s, our local funky hardware store swap shop. It is an amazing place, filled with anything you might need – old & new tools, hardware, kitchen ware, plumbing supplies and old furniture. You (I) could spend hours there. I found an old stand from a drill press. It was perfect – small footprint, storage (drawers and doors), and best of all, it was hand-made by some old guy once upon a time, complete with his measurement/pencil markings on the inside. It was mine mine mine for $20.

I took it home and everyone said, “what?”. I was a little discouraged. But I cleaned it up, and went searching for a more substantial top.  At my other favorite store, Second Use Building Materials, I found an amazing, thick limestone countertop remnant that just fit. Lucky lucky lucky. I think it was about $20 or so. It was very very heavy. I’ve never attached it to the base, but probably should with “Liquid Nails.”

I wanted casters on this thing, because if I could, I would put casters on everything I own.  I was looking for big chunky ones. It is hard to find a matching set of 4 at a salvage yard, so I got them at Home Depot. They were silver metal with rubber wheels, I painted them gray with metal paint. I installed the casters, painted the cabinet a dark charcoal grey and took some sandpaper to it (another thing I like to do to everything I own).

One thing I’ve always obsessed about is organized spice containers. The little drawers are a perfect size for little tins. I made some labels and stuck them on. Now I am very organized, or at least my spices are.

I am very happy with the additional counter space/storage my little island/peninsula provides (although “some people” in my family think it gets in the way, but I don’t listen to him).

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.