Converting a Sunroom into an Outdoor Gym Area

I had a sunroom that was over 20 years old, leaked, and it’s foundation had been shifting for several years. I never used it, so it was time to go. This project started in April and though we’ve been using the area for weeks, we finished up last night by moving rocks back in place.

The first step was removing the sliding glass door and putting in a big window.

I hired a company to come in with a Bobcat and hydraulic breaker to remove the 7+ inch concrete slab and posts.

After that was out, I was able to fix up the roof line and put siding on the house.

They did do some damage to my gutter drains, so I made a repair there.

Still had to remove a bunch of sand from the area, so I rented a small dumpster and we hauled a lot of buckets.

My inspiration for the project was this setup I saw online. I mapped out my own layout.

I did a rough sloping job and then we dug three holes four feet deep.

Ordered some materials from Menards, and ended up having to get another 10 bags of cement.

My buddy Kevin was a huge help, getting the two 16 foot 6×6 posts installed. Each one weighed about 190 pounds!

Then Brandi and I were able to install the 12 footer on our own. Between the 3 posts we used 1,500 pounds of concrete!

I painted the posts and leveled the ground as best I could.

Put up the bars, top caps, and painted wall ball targets.

Some of the early plans were to get thick rubber playground flooring tiles, but we eventually decided it wasn’t worth the cost. Used pavers instead.

Turned out great and we’ve been using the outdoor space for one or two workouts a week. It looks good and is a much better use of the space, which wasn’t getting used at all before and had become an eyesore. Now I can finish the inside wall of the house!

Hand Truck

Last winter I picked up this hand truck for $5 on Facebook Marketplace.

This weekend I cleaned it up, painted it, and replaced some parts. Looks and works great now! Just in time to move a couple sets of washers and dryers.

DIY PVC Cap

After taking down the sunroom (still a work in progress, which I’ll eventually post about), this pipe for a downspout was no longer needed. I temporarily covered it with a bucket to keep the critters out.

I needed a PVC cap to fit either the inside diameter of 4.5″ or the outside 5″. None of the local hardware stores carried the right size though; their inventory jumped from 4″ to 6″. I took a scrap piece of treated lumber and made my own cap.

Pallet Wood Bedroom Art: It Was All a Dream

For years I’ve wanted something to hang above my bed. I always thought a large black and white photo would be cool, but never looked for something. A couple of weeks ago I got an idea to make an art piece, so I went through my wood rack and picked out some pallet wood.

I swapped out some pieces and then sanded off most of the dirt and rough edges.

Testing whitewash during the bathroom shelf project paid off on this one. I knew I wanted a backing of gray primer before applying white paint with the scraping method. I went real light with the gray.

Below are the pieces after the first coat of white.

I think I applied three coats to get the look I wanted. I used wood glue and pin nails to attach the horizontal pieces to the verticals.

My original plan was to have my 10-year-old niece write lowercase cursive letters that I’d paint on, but she couldn’t get the proportions right with big letters. I found this cool stencil at Michael’s for $8.

I did a bunch of measuring and used blue tape to map out the word placement.

Then I did a quick test with pencil on kraft paper to get a feel for the letter spacing.

I painted 3 different letter widths (A, I, and M) on a piece of cardboard and cut them out. This was the mask I used over the top of the stencil to prevent overspray.

Finally it was time for the nerve-wracking part of actually painting on the words. In order to limit the possibility of smearingn I did one letter, hit it with a blow dryer, and moved to a letter on the next row.

All that was left was to drive some screws in to the back, wrap wire between the screws, and hang it on the wall.

I love it.

Easter Basket Crates

After Mom saw the mini crate I made, she asked me to make a few larger ones as Easter baskets. She still likes to make up baskets and hide them for anyone who is visiting for the holiday. Here’s my basket from many years ago, which still gets used.

Since my nieces were spending the night with me a few days after her ask, I thought I’d surprise her by also having some pieces for the front of the baskets. I grabbed some patterns online, cut them out with my band saw, sanded the edges, and gave them a base of white spray paint.

Then I let my nieces paint them.

I had some old trim and other scrap wood I cut to width.

Then I cut everything to size.

Mom brought some felt for the bottoms, so I attached that to two outside pieces for every bottom with spray adhesive.

The assembly of the crates was quick with some glue and pin nails. Then I quickly sanded all of the edges to soften them.

I gave the painted pieces a couple of coats of clear matte to protect the acrylic paint. Then attached them to the crates with more glue and pin nails.

Bathroom Shelves with Towel Hooks

Several weeks ago Brandi repainted her bathroom. When we were searching online for new towel racks these shelves caught her eye.

I offered to make a version of those and we had the idea to do a whitewash to match some of the other new decor around the house. We both thought the white would look really good with the deep blue color she had painted. On a shopping trip at Menards we saw this toiler paper holder, which I said could be sanded down and whitewashed to go with the shelves.

Since it was a smaller piece it would be a good test for the whitewashing techniques. I helped her out, but Brandi did most of the work and we both liked the result, especially for our first attempt. It was done by scuffing up the wood with a wire brush and then applying thinned out paint with a small chip brush. We took it back to her house and hung it up.

In the mean time, I had started on the shelves. Since we were going for a weathered whitewash look, I milled some reclaimed lumber to 1″ thick, cut everything to size, did a rough sanding, glued, and screwed.

Some of the pieces had cool characteristics to them that would look good with the whitewash. I did some testing of paint and stain to roughly apply to the wood before whitewashing. I wanted to be able to create more of a dirty/weathered look than what we ended up with for the toilet paper holder.

Going in, I thought a gray or one of the blackish stains would be the winner. We both preferred this dark walnut.

Next, we tested with a different whitewash technique, which involved pouring thinned out paint on the wood and spreading it with a scraper. The results looked really cool.

You can see the scraper at the top of the picture below. I gave the shelves a quick coat stain, since it was going to be painted over.

When Brandi saw the stained shelves in person, she loved how the grain and imperfections of the wood were highlighted, thinking it would be a nice contrast to have some wood grain in the bathroom. So she redid the toilet paper holder and we gave it two coats of spray lacquer.

We also finished the shelves with two coats of spray lacquer. Since the plan was a weathered and whitewashed look I had only done a sanding with 40 grit and you could feel the roughness of the wood. So I did 6 coats of a wipe-on poly as well, which gave things a much better feel. Then I attached the hooks for towels and we hung them up.

Notice the mini crate I posted about the other day? Not sure what she’s going to fill it with. The stained look was definitely the right decision and looks great with the towels and decorations.

Mini Decorative Crate

Doesn’t take much to make something cool out of some scrap oak. I used a mitre saw, super glue, 1/2″ pin nails, sandpaper, and spray paint.

Watch for another post this weekend to see why I made the crate.

Shop Blow Dryer

My newest tool isn’t one you’d usually think of for a workshop. When B was getting a new blow dryer for her bathroom I asked if I could have her old one. It was dark pink and caked with makeup, but I saw potential. After a simple disassembly, some cleaning, and a new paint job it’s new again.

A blow dryer is useful in a shop when you want to speed dry spray paint, make glue cure quicker, or even create an oven.

Wood Storage and Organization

My wood storage got out of control. Something had to change.

First I wanted to build a lumber rack on the opposite wall of the room. I remembered watching John Heisz make a simple one on YouTube, so I followed what he did almost exactly. I already had plywood strips the correct width, so I chopped ten to 30″ long. Then I whipped up a simple tapering jig on the bandsaw to make quick work of cutting 20 arms out of old wood.

I ran the arms through the planer and rounded them on my router table. I also rounded the plywood edges because they were rough. After a lot of repetitive gluing and screwing, the pieces were assembled.

I drilled holes and preloaded all 60 screws to make it easier to put them on the wall.

I stacked two at every other stud and loaded it up!

It’s so nice to see what I have and be able to easily access everything. I didn’t expect it to be so full already though!

Next, I wanted a rolling lumber cart for sheet goods, off-cuts, and scraps. Doing a Google image search was a bit overwhelming, but I found inspiration from several styles:

I drew up some ideas. Since I already had the lumber rack on the wall, I kept reminding myself I didn’t need space to store long boards. Originally I was set on incorporating an old drawer in my design (first picture below), but it was too limiting. Some of my design choices were dictated by only wanting to use materials I already had.

Instead of doing a final plan in SketchUp I decided to wing it, giving myself flexibility through the build. I took full advantage too by changing several things along the way.

I had bought The Auto-Jig from Armor Tool a week before, which I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It’s worth every penny and saved a ton of time.

One morning I built the base and cut most of the plywood pieces. Then I assembled almost all of the complicated half before attaching it to the base. On day two, the second side was much easier to assemble. I used the router along with some sanding to round the sharp edges. I slapped some castors on to make it mobile. The last task was making the drawers, which I put together with a nail gun and glue.

Finally it was time to load up the cart and organize everything. Big surprise, it ended up very full!

Sorting through all of the wood was a good opportunity to purge and I ended up with a big pile for the trash.

I can actually use the room again!

Dog’s Toy Box

This was a very simple build I knocked out one night. I used solid wood scraps for the sides and plywood for the bottom, all 3/4″ thick. It’s about 30″ wide and 18″ deep. The height in the back is about 7″ tall and the front is about 2-1/2″.

Since this was getting painted, the quality of the wood wasn’t a concern and I didn’t need to do much sanding. I used a roundover router bit on all of the edges. I like it when I don’t have to do the finishing work. Turned out nice.