Faking Leaded Glass in Cabinets

Marge: My address?! It’s…umm…1-2-3…Fake Street!
Chief Wiggum: 123 Fake Street. Got it!

When we finished the built-ins, I intended to gussy up the glass cabinet fronts. One idea was making the glass look old, but I really wanted to emulate the leaded glass often used in 1920s cabinets.

This rendering of a Sears kit house from 1919 shows leaded glass doors in the cabinetry.

This Sears home included leaded glass cabinet doors.

The project required tempered (UK: toughened) glass, so I research ways to fake leaded glass. I bought Pebeo adhesive lead strip, doubted myself, and procrastinated for two, maybe three years.

vitrail

I was shaken from my torpor by reading a post by Kristen at Storefront Life about her installation of the same product on her front windows. Reassuringly, Kristen also procrastinated, but her results were terrific!

The storefront of Storefront Life

From Storefront Life: Kristen added Vitrail to the upper panes; the left side was completed earlier, showing how the lead ages nicely.

(Actually, all their results are terrific — definitely add Storefront Life to your feed.)

Thus encouraged, I decided to (a) wait another half-year, and then (b) follow an easier pattern: the prairie grill.

pella prairie grill

(Image: Pella)

I measured the proportions on several images, and found that the whole pattern depends on the width measurement.

prairie grill proportion

The central section measures 60 to 66 percent of the overall visible glass width. The sides split the remainder, then the top/bottom strips are the same height as the side width. Simply measure the width, mark the center line, and array the pattern evenly around the edges. See our Golden Ratio calculator for why this works — the ratio of the full width to the inside width is close to Φ (1:1.618).

The visible glass on our cabinet doors measures 13.5 x 19.5 inches. Sixty-six percent of the total visible width (9 inches) made the sides 2.25 inches each. To test how this proportion would look, I marked the pattern and drew in the lines.

sdf

This step allowed further procrastination.

The measurements looked right to us, so I kicked my butt in gear and finished the dang project!

1. Preliminaries

If possible, remove the glass to install the lead strips; it’s easier and the strips can be run under the door edge.

I fussed over my lines to ensure they were square and straight,

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Double-checking is advised.

Then, I flipped the glass over and cleaned it thoroughly before application. If your pattern is not reversible, tape a paper pattern to the back.

The strip was really stuck down, so I needed a razor blade to pry it up, but it unrolled easily after that. The adhesive is paper-backed, so I pre-cut all four pieces for each pane, making each piece a titch longer than needed.

2. Application

Longer pieces are applied over shorter ones, so I started with the horizontals. The lead is flexible, so it can be nudged into place to follow the pattern on the reverse side. If handled gently, the adhesive had a short open time for repositioning before smooshing it down.

The kit includes a pointed tool. Once a strip is pressed down by hand, run the pointed end along the groove on the top, then flip the tool over and use the flat edge to smooth down the whole strip. I repeated these steps at least twice per strip.

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Use a razor blade to trim the excess at the edges.

3. Intersections

Use the same technique for the longer strips, but press carefully on either side of intersections with the horizontal strips. Don’t drape the material; make sure there are no gaps between the glass and the lead. After pressing down a strip, use the tool again all around — and on top of — the intersection.

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Intersection after this step

4. Optional Fakery

To be extra-fake, I used a blend of acrylic paints to create solder marks at the overlaps.

fake lead solder

5. Clean-up

Lead is toxic, so I bagged the trimmings with some other detritus for the hazardous waste site. Do not eat or drink while working with Vitrail, and wash your hands thoroughly after clean-up. The stuff is safe enough once installed, unless someone starts licking it.

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Nail polish remover removes the marker, and then it’s time to re-install the panes.

6. Done!

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I love how it turned out, and it was not a tough project at all. I need to review my list of neglected projects and decide what else no longer merits procrastination!

Posted in American vs English, Before & After, Calculators, Decor, Furniture, Windows & Doors | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Window Films for the Look of Old Glass

Ice to see you.

- McBain

When we added the built-in cabinetry to the living room, we used glass doors for two reasons:

  1. It breaks up the expanse of wood.
  2. It allows remote access to the electronics.
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3. It allows the cats to see inside the cabinets.

The vintage cabinet unit we used had lost its original doors, so we ordered glass-ready doors. Since we often have other people’s kids running around here, I wanted to use tempered glass (UK: toughened glass). Tempered glass is stronger than regular window glass, and it breaks into rounded pieces rather than into jaggedy glass knives, like the one that killed the bad guy in Ghost. Do you remember the bad guy in that film? Or just the pottery-related snuggles?

Ghost_pottery_wheel

“I, too, enjoy clothing-optional crafts.”

It turns out that building codes mandate use of tempered glass in some situations. Codes vary, but you generally need safety glass for:

  • Any glass in a bathroom.
  • Glass within a yard of a door.
  • Huge tracts of glass (square yard and up).
  • Glass installed within 18 inches of the floor.

These all make perfect sense (except tempered glass would have spared the Ghost villain). Our cabinet doors fall firmly into the “floor” category. We ordered our surprisingly affordable glass from a local fabricator (the whole order was under $50), but there are also online places for ordering or for learning about corners and finishes you might want.

Ok, but new glass looks NEW, and I thought it might be nice for it to look a little wavy and antique for two reasons:

  1. This is an old house.
  2. Wavy-looking glass allows access to the electronics while slightly obscuring their electronic-iness.

I’ve used misting spray on some windows (the neighbors’ stair landing is not improved by views of us watching re-runs in PJs), but I wanted a real glass look here. I found numerous window film options, but most are patterned or opaque.

(via)

Nice, but it doesn’t look like old glass (via).

The internet eventually led me to Decorative Films. Or maybe it’s called Solyx, or Decorative Films sells Solyx films — the site is a little confusing. Anyway, “the company” makes patterned and colored glass films, but it also offers “SimGlas” — clear, textured window films. I ordered four samples (up to five free with $2.95 shipping) to try.

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SimGlas uses adhesive rather than static cling like some films, but the adhesive is water-activated instead of stick-to-everything-NOW. The trickiest bit was freeing a corner to peel the backing.

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VICTORY!!!

Application kits are available, but a spray bottle, some rags, and a credit card are plenty for the samples. Spray the film and the glass, stick the sample on, and use the edge of the credit card to smooth out bubbles. I put all four on the same door in a haphazard fashion.

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Clockwise from upper left: Ice Melt, Mottled, Chipzite, Antique Glass.

I photographed the individual samples, but poorly — they are not easy to capture. Happily, the shots I took featuring the cheerful toad were the best of a bad lot. I also included product shots off the Decorative Films site.

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Ice Melt

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Mottled

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Chipzite

sdf

Surprise: Chipzite

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Antique Glass

In my photos (and in real life), the diffusing effect is less pronounced than seen in the company’s images. That’s good if your goal is a glass-like look! Whatever you are looking for, though, definitely order samples first — the actual material is almost $30/foot (by four feet wide), which could get pricey if you have a large area to cover.

I left the samples on the door for a month. My favorite was the most subtle: Antique Glass. It did a good job of replicating the look of old glass. The depth of texture shown on the site was not as prominent in person — the film was virtually invisible, with the film lending a slight wavy effect.

The Antique Glass film was what I thought I wanted for the cabinets, and it would be a good possibility for that or for windows. Ultimately, though, I decided against glass film for two reasons:

  1. The best film for a believable look did not obscure electronic-iness at all.
  2. I came to terms with the fact that it’s 2015, and we own electronics.

Removal instructions recommend using water to loosen the film, but once I pried up a corner, the samples pulled away neatly and easily.

Although I didn’t choose films here, I was impressed by the effect and how easily they went on and off. If you want to achieve the old-glass look, try some samples and stop back to tell us what you think. If you know of another way to fake old glass, please comment!

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It’s a Wonder We Didn’t Fix This Sooner

250px-WonderfulLifeKillingSpreeWhenever I watch It’s a Wonderful Life (under protest*), I cringe over the recurring problem with the loose newel post finial. You know, the little annoyance that drives Jimmy Stewart’s character completely bonkers until he sees the light and realizes it–and everything else–is completely endearing.

My reaction, every time: JUST GLUE IT ALREADY! It would take FIVE MINUTES. They probably have glue at the store right down the street from the building and loan. Problem solved!

wonderfullifestairs

Ever notice that rich people make movies about how you should be satisfied with what you have? Not that I’m dissatisfied, it’s just an intriguing source for that particular oft-repeated message.

We have an ongoing problem with our front door, and that issue is never going to be Capra-esque. It’s crapra-esque at best. You know how a door is supposed to keep the outside out? Well, the cats have other ideas…

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THIS IS OUR NEWEL FINIAL. IT IS NOT ENDEARING.

The world’s most spoiled cats have a TUNNEL from inside the house onto the porch, through which they can sashay at will in either direction. Despite this, they believe that they can enter through the door if they just chew through the weatherstripping. The sad result is that there’s a draft-ready gap that the weatherstripping no long plugs. You may recall we (sort of) dealt with this before: we temporarily closed the gap with extra nail-on weather-stripping, but the cats also chewed that up, for some daft cat reason.

I had a bunch of ideas about how to fix the problem, most of which involved rebuilding the door frame and incorporating rubberized insulation with integrated cat deterrent gel. Then Kev said, “Why don’t we just add trim that covers up the weatherstripping so they can’t get to it?”

Ok, that sounds like a better plan. First, we trimmed up the chewed weatherstripping so we could replace that piece. Hard to cut, even with a new blade; must have been a bitch to chew through. JUST USE THE TUNNEL, YOU DWEEBS.

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Then we cut a new piece to replace it and stapled it into place.

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We picked up some 1/4-inch-thick trim for the job.

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Kev cut three lengths. The cats are not yet chewing around the top of the doorframe, but the trim will look better if it goes all the way around. We used a metal measuring stick as a spacer from the closed door so the trim didn’t hit the door every time it closed.

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Butt up the trim against one side, use the spacer, then pop a nail near that end to start, then use the spacer again along the length of the piece.

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Finish nails are plenty for this trim weight.

The trim forms a channel for the weatherstripping so it’s protected, but not compressed until the door closes against it.

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Door frame from the inside.

The trim is only primed for now, pending a porch repainting in the spring.

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At long last, no hole in the house!

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*The reason I watch under protest [spoilers follow]: As I said to my dad, “The moral of the story is that you should give up your dreams and settle. The only thing he ever achieves is marrying a good woman.” My dad snorted and said, “Well, a good woman makes up for a LOT.” Which is a much better takeaway; probably, I should be less critical of predictable messages in holiday movies!

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Hey, We Still Blog!

Anything to get me out of that house, away from all that nagging and noise…of a family of love. Tra-la-la-la!

- Homer Simpson

“I’m doing a post,” I just told the Kev. “About WHAT?” he asked, stunned. “About us still…existing,” I replied. He suggested the title “We Do Being.” Appropriate, since we certainly haven’t been doing much DOING. But there are Reasons for the lack of post-able DIY:

  • The Kev started a new job.
  • I kept doing my old job, only it became much jobbier in recent months.
  • I injured a tendon in my right arm (my hammerin’ arm), and then did something painful to my left knee (my standin’-upright knee).
  • Winter came early, and we lost the will to live.

Right when we might have pulled ourselves together, we just up and left the house (and its associated DIY and its winter) in favor of my parents’ house in Arizona.* It’s a lovely place, and everything is finished already! That leaves much more time for fun.

Arizona Christmas!

FUN! And silliness.

We had a very merry Arizona Christmas!

Despite picking up some sort of airplane bug on the way back, we should return to some sort of regular posting schedule in the new year. Here are a few things in the hopper:

  • Making your own stereoscope cards (with template!).
  • Protecting weather-stripping from cats.
  • Changing the finish on metal furniture.
  • Replacing knob and tube wiring.

And new for 2015: no resolutions OR “priorities”!

* For Mom and Dad: Our trip was magnificent (and crepuscular). Thanks!

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A Farm Sink in Butcher Block for an English Country Kitchen

If you’re dissatisfied for any reason, I’ll repay you in acorns.

- Cletus

Coming up on a year ago, Helen and Geoff redid their kitchen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the classic white-and-wood look, the wall of windows, and all the SPACE. It’s a huge kitchen, but still cozy.

Plus, it’s in Yorkshire, so it’s got that going for it.

gothrones

As if they ever weren’t!

Helen picked oak butcher block for her worktops. We thought seriously about using wood before we decided on quartz, so Helen has our alternative-reality counters. I was concerned about my personal ability to maintain them in my own kitchen, so I’ve been really interested to see how they would hold up for her — and especially how they would fare around her undermount farm sink.

The conventional wisdom says it can’t be done, but Helen’s undermount installation looks pretty dang good to me.

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All they use on the wood is boiled linseed oil (referred to as “BLO” on GardenWeb and other kitchen discussion boards) on the top and edges. I asked Helen how often they apply it, and she replied, “I would like to say every eight weeks, but in reality it’s closer to twelve.”

After some debate, Helen and Geoff had the installer cut a drainboard area on one side of the sink, and it’s not just decorative.

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They also have a dishwasher, so the drainboard handles small jobs.

The linseed oil just gets rubbed into the drainboard grooves at the same time as the rest of the wood. I love the look of the oiled wood against the white ceramic.

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Lookin’ good, Helen’s kitchen! If I didn’t love our quartz, I’d have some serious thinking to do.

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Plug With a Wood Hat

After this procedure, you’ll have total closure.

- “Moving On” Tech

Our built-in cabinets in the living room have three ports for cords and cables. We tried to make these as unobtrusive as possible near the back of the unit.

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The two outside ports are dedicated to specific uses (the one behind the TV is certainly pulling its weight). We ran an extension cord down to the middle outlet and left the plug end above the top to power random items. I found this mildly unsightly, and stuck a clock in front of it, but it wasn’t really where the clock belonged.

sadf

Plug with silly frog clock

The other issue is that it was easy for the end to slip through the hole, requiring a fishing expedition whenever we wanted to use the cord.

I was reorganizing the electronics the other day and I hit upon a solution to both problems. First, I measured across the hole corner-to-corner to find the longest part of the gap. Next, I cut a piece of thin matching (Douglas Fir) plywood into a square, so that each side was a bit longer than the corner-to-corner measurement to stop it from falling through the hole. I hit the top and sides with gel stain to match the built-in’s finish.

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White dots of unknown origin

Safety tangent on this point: I used the miter saw to cut the plywood square. On my first go, I didn’t properly clamp down the piece to be cut. When that miter saw blade hits a loose piece of wood, the wood basically explodes (not with FIRE, but it comes apart in a dramatic and shrapnel-like fashion). Thing one: YAY, safety googles. Thing two: Make sure you clamp or otherwise secure the wood you are cutting with a miter saw (or any other sort of saw, for that matter).

Back on topic: I stapled a length of ribbon to the underside.

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Then, I tied the ribbon below the extension cord plug (already threaded through the hole in the top).

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Don’t tie too tightly — you don’t want to kink the cord.

We saw Tim’s Vermeer recently (highly recommended — very entertaining), and this photo (of an extension cord plug) reminded me of Girl in a Red Hat. So I pranced around using the plug as a puppet, singing in faux Dutch.

vermeer red hat

Ik ben een stopcontact! Een vrij stopcontact!

Look, it’s winter. I have to keep myself amused.

ANYWAY, the little wood hat drops down on top of the hole and blends in visually. You can pull up the cord by just pulling up on the cover.

plug collage

From a distance, it blends into the background, no silly frog clock required.

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Easy and gratifying! Don’t forget to respect your power tools out there.

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Installing a Dishwasher (Confusing a Cat)

I’m alive! And I owe it all to this feisty feline.

- Homer Simpson

Our dishwasher was a dozen years old, so it was time for a new one.

Taking out the old dishwasher was simple. Back when we remodeled the kitchen, I installed an isolation valve on the water line to facilitate dishwasher removal. I was surprised and pleased to find that the valve still worked. The waste pipe was removed, and then I turned off the electrical supply, which is on a dedicated circuit.

.,

Water and electrical supply lines from the cabinet to the left. The upper hole is for the waste pipe.

 

The new dishwasher arrived, and the people who brought it hauled the old one away.

New dishwasher undergoing inspection process.

New dishwasher undergoing inspection process.

So, now all I had to do was install the new one. An easy process, and just the reverse of removing the old one.

This new waste pipe is flimsier than the old one, but I'm sure it's fine.

This new waste pipe is flimsier than the old one, but I’m sure it’s fine.

First, I hooked up the water and waste pipes and taped them to the floor next to the electrical wires, so they would be in place after the dishwasher had been pushed into position.

The waste pipe from the dishwasher connects to the sink waste pipe. The electrical outlet at lower right is on a dedicated circuit.

The waste pipe from the dishwasher (the corrugated pipe crossing from the upper right) connects to the sink waste pipe. The electrical outlet at the lower right is on a dedicated circuit.

The connections are all done at the bottom of the dishwasher near the front. There’s a removable front panel that is only held on with a couple of screws. Once it’s off, all the connections are easy to get to.

The waste pipe connects to a short pipe, and is held in place with a spring clip, and the water supply pipe is connected to the input via a brass elbow.

The waste pipe is connected and held in place with the green spring clip. The water supply pipe is above the waste pipe, and connected to the dishwasher by a brass elbow.

The waste pipe is connected and held in place with the green spring clip. The water supply pipe is above the waste pipe, and connected to the dishwasher by a brass elbow.

The electrical supply wires are connected inside a box at the front right.

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Once it was all connected, I attached the dishwasher to the underside of the countertop with screws. The dishwasher has some loops attached for this purpose. I made sure the front of the dishwasher was flat with the cabinet fronts. Then, I turned on the water supply, restored power to the electrical outlet, and put the front panel back on.

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Time for the test run, and it was all fine…except Mayya believes that there is a monster living in our kitchen now, because of some small animal-like noises that come from beneath the very quiet dishwasher. She’s keeping an eye on the situation.

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Five Home Purchases We Never Regretted

Please pay for your purchases and get out. And come again!

- Apu

It’s still unseasonably cold here–just stupidly cold for November–and I’ve never been more thankful for our super-thick goose-down duvet. If this duvet is anything to go by, geese must feel pretty comfortable in the cold. Except for their feet.

What the hell is this stuff? (via)

Look at my chilly foot. Look at it! (via)

After a few years of living in an old house in Minnesota, we splurged on the biggest, coziest duvet I could find. I ordered from Old Europe Duvet (which, unexpectedly, is actually a Canadian company).

We bought a king-sized (for a queen bed), 12″ deep goose down duvet. Instead of stitched-through cold spots, this thing has internal baffles so the whole thing fluffs up like an angry cat at the least shake. Over a dozen or so years, it does not seem to have lost much of its filling, and is just as great to snuggle into as it was when we got it–despite having been hauled in suitcases for transatlantic moves and used as a fort by nephews.

I’ve been trying to get ahead on the holiday shopping, so while I was appreciatively cowering under the duvet, I started thinking about other things we’ve bought for this place that turned out to be completely worth the price. While it’s this cold…

1. Extremely Cozy Down-Filled Duvet

…tops my list! This duvet is maybe more of an investment than a gift (or a REALLY GREAT gift). But if you are looking for something more affordable and yet completely terrific, how about these?

2. Silicon Oven Mitts

We’ve always cooked a lot, but silicon oven gloves made cooking better.

Norpro Oven Mitt

Norpro Oven Mitt (ours are red, though)

If you are a messy cook like me (not like Kevin — he’s more pro than I am), it’s easy for a fabric oven pad to get wet and a wet oven mitt lets the heat straight through. Plus fabric is bulky to store and wears thin. Silicon is a better insulator, and getting wet is no problem (although you might want a seamless molded pair for canning if you are into that). Plus, they just seem indestructible. I like our Norpro mitts because the raised pattern gives extra grip. You can find silicon oven gloves online, in kitchen shops, and in big box stores. They are cheap — $10-20 range — but awesome. Plus, you regain a lot of kitchen drawer space.

3. Shower Wall Bar

I’m not sure how gift-y this is. You’d have to know the recipient well. Probably, you’d have to be living with him or her. If you are doing so, and if the would-be recipient likes showers, consider this:

We have a similar Delta model in our main bathroom. A builder friend suggested it, saying it would make us “feel rich.” I was skeptical that spending $90 was going to make me feel anything other than that much poorer, but I looove it. The detachable shower head is nice, but the bar is the cool thing. The sturdy mount for the shower head can be repositioned all along the bar by simply sliding it. And the angle can be changed at any level. Kev’s tall and I am not, so he wants the shower much higher than I do. With this thing, that’s no problem. We got ours at Lowe’s, but any of the likely suspects should have something similar.

4. Decorative Rain Gauge

If you garden, you know it’s important to have a clue about precipitation. A few years ago, the Kev gave me the World’s Coolest Rain Gauge. That’s the actual product name. While I haven’t seen ALL the rain gauges, this one is pretty dang cool.

World's Coolest Rain Gauge

World’s Coolest Rain Gauge

It’s really well made, which is not something I knew I wanted in a rain gauge, but life is full of surprises! The basin is solid copper, and the stand is heavy-duty. The gauge itself is a float inside the copper tube; as the rain collects, the float moves up. It’s pretty accurate, and when it hasn’t rained, it’s a nice garden ornament. The website now has a freestanding version, and the company is going to be bringing out resin gauges next year. These can be found on Amazon, Uncommon Goods, and garden sites online (look around, because I’ve seen them from $30 to $50).

5. Marble Cheese Board

Ok, I started to make this one “miter saw” because that’s one power tool that really makes me feel like I know what I’m doing! A high-quality miter saw is a fine thing, but it’s probably something you buy for yourself. A marble cheese board, on the other hand, is an affordable (and less injury-related) gift.

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This cheese board and knife set is currently on mega-sale at Macy’s: $27.99 down from $70

We have a white marble cheese board we received as a gift sometime last century. Even if we’re just having some nibbles, it lends a sense of occasion. And marble is great for cheese at parties — it stays cool so soft cheeses keep their shapes better. Durable, classic, functional, and a great gift. Marble cheese boards look expensive, but you can pick them up for around $20 without looking too hard (try Amazon and Overstock).

By the way, this is not a sponsored post; if we ever do a sponsored post, we’ll give you a big tap-dancing, spoon-playing, bells-and-whistles notice! We just like these things, and if you are looking for gift ideas, these are good ones that stand the test of time.

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Roman Shade Roulette

All these questions! Is a little blind faith too much to ask?

- Sunday School Teacher

Time to revisit the DIY roman shade I made earlier this year (I’m also updating that post in detail to make sure the whole story is available there as well).

Executive Summary: As executed, it’s a d’oh!

homer-doh

After I finished the first blog-documented one, I became busy on other projects, and it took a while to get back to the other shade for that room. As time went on, I realized that I was stalling because I was not entirely happy with how the first shade operated. Basically, the model for the shade is a good one…if the shade is only one or two thin layers of fabric (the Little Green Notebook instructions used two thin layers). I also like the changes I made to the design (untying the cords rather than cutting, sewing rather than gluing important connections, and leaving an allowance to cover the mounting hardware). I believe the changes will make the unit more durable when implemented with a lightweight shade.

So I’m not trash-talking the overall project idea at all! What I AM saying is that, in my experience this project does not lend itself to a thicker shade including a black-out liner. When I first retracted the shade, I reported that it was bunchy because of the extra fabric.

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That was easy to deal with by briefly fiddling with the folds so they fell better. This turned out to be a bit of a hassle, but no huge deal.

Not quite so bunchy.

But there was a fundamental issue I had not considered: the cords and mechanism are not really strong enough to deal with the lining’s extra weight. Miniblind slats are very lightweight, and so is a single-ply fabric blind. Every time I raise this shade, I think something is going to break. The whole thing just feels like it’s under too much physical stress. I’m loathe to raise the thing, and even less willing to de-bunch the folds because of my concern that I’m going to yank out one of the cords.

Jenny at LGN says that black-out lining could be included, so she has perhaps made a shade with a lining that worked well (I’ll check with her, but she’s a Real Blogger and Actual Designer, ergo very busy). If I hear back from Jenny and she has any tips, I will update this post — meanwhile, if anyone out there has ideas, please advise!

I have the base and the lift bar for the second shade, and I can probably reuse the base for the original unit with a lighter shade. I may do a lighter-weight shade and install them in Ben’s room, which is blind-deficient and has windows of the same size.

I have a replacement plan for the windows in our room — more on that soon. BECAUSE I KNOW YOU CAN’T WAIT!!! IT’S VERY EXCITING STUFF!!!

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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Lady DIYer

Homer: You really thought I’d forgot, didn’t you?
Bart: Oh, right. What did you get her, Dad?
Lisa: Yeah, whatcha get?
Homer: A very thoughtful gift. But it’s a surprise! You know it’s such a beautiful morning, I think I’ll take a little stroll around the block.

It snowed. Even though this is the tundra, it’s early for snow. We haven’t even cleaned the gutters yet.

The only ok thing about early snow is that it makes early holiday shopping music feel less ridiculous. And after all, the holidays are coming. If you are buying for your DIY-loving wife, girlfriend, mom, or sister, here’s a list of gift ideas that goes beyond the pink-handled tool set. (Seriously. Don’t buy that.)

1. Coveralls or Overalls That Fit

I ran across Rosies Workwear (the lack of apostrophe is intentional) while prepping this article. How did I never find this place before?

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The founder of the company took a welding class and discovered that the coveralls available bunched up, causing a safety issue. The company offers coveralls (like the cool denim version above) and overalls made for women. They are rugged and have sewn-in knee pads. (If you stop over, check out the gallery of customers wearing Rosie gear.) The site also offers that iconic polka-dot bandana the model is wearing!

2. Phillips-Head Earrings

Kevin gave me a pair of these lovely silver earrings from Uncommon Goods for my birthday this year.

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I looooove them! They are petite and comfortable, and the design is understated — they are a great way to wear what I love to do. (The same artist also makes pieces including level bubbles and rulers — definitely check it out.)

3. Boogie Board

The Boogie Board is handy to have around during a project for quick sketches and notes. You can write on it with a stylus, or just your finger. We got one of these for Mary the landscaper a couple of years ago, and she keeps it in her truck for quick notes, lists, and calculations.

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What it doesn’t do is save or export your scribbles, so be sure to take a picture if you want to refer back later. Tablets will certainly let you do this, but not for under $30!

4. Good Safety Googles

I usually end up looking like a droopy owl when I wear safety googles. I would love a pair like these from DeWalt — according to the reviews, they actually adjust to fit and stay in place. And they don’t fog up. Plus, everyone can use another pair of safety googles.

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5.  Heavy-Duty (but Pretty) Hand Soap

First thing, be CERTAIN that your recipient is not going to be offended by receiving SOAP as a gift. Got that? All righty, then. Pumice-based soaps (like Lava and Orange Goop) are an important part of the shop, but they can dry out hands and cuticles. So what about a gift set like this?

 

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These fancy French gardeners’ soaps have essential oils and include corn meal instead of lava. It’s still exfoliating, but not quite so rough-and-tumble. I doubt that these would replace Lava for those times your lady friend rebuilds an engine, but it will do it most other times.

Need other gift ideas? Check out:

Or, for a personalized gift you can make yourself, try DIY Instagram Coasters from Little House on the Corner.

Happy shopping!

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