Thursday 17 December 2015

Christmas decor

This is the first christmas for me and my husband without both our daughters living at home, they both moved out with boyfriends earlier in the year and at 24 years of age I guess I had a good inning holding on to them for that long.
They'll be round for christmas and hopefully will stay christmas eve so I'm super glad of that however I'm finding myself looking forward to christmas being over. I'm not usually such a bah humbug but I am so looking forward to summer and am done with this weird weather that cannot decide whether it's going to rain, snow or be sunny so does all of them in one day. Actually if I could I would much prefer to be on a plane jetting off to the caribbean right about now.

I haven't gone so overboard with decorations this year either, I'm kind of over the tinsel and as many sparkles as possible - it always looks great for a few weeks but I hate having to put it all away in the new year.
I did make a sled though - yay! I've wanted to make a sled for indoors for a few years now but never really got round to it, sorted it this year though. I saw a nice looking sled on Pinterest and got a few other ideas and came up with this

I also pimped up this old pair of figure skates that I bought off Ebay. All I did was spray adhesive to the bottom of them and the blades and rolled them in fake snow and then added some ribbon and a xmas pick.

Then I made some snowballs from spare tree baubles using the same method - spray adhesive and then rolled them in fake snow.

This hat I picked up from Ebay for a couple of pounds and pimped it up to look snowy.

A few Poinsettias in a jug and some xmas blocks I made a few years ago.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Upcycled Sideboard

This last piece of furniture has got to be the most tedious and annoying piece I have ever done to date though it did also teach me alot about my methods and what works, what doesn't and what I should or shouldn't do on future pieces.

I started out with a lovely Stag sideboard that I won at auction for £5.
From the start I knew I wanted to use it as a TV stand in the lounge, but that is as far as my imagination went, in fact on the first day of painting I still wasn't sure what colour I was actually wanting to do it.
Lesson no1: Don't start anything until I know exactly what I'm wanting the outcome to be.

Here she is the day I bought her home

I knew I wanted to take the middle drawer and door out so that I could fit a shelf at the top for the DVD player and a shelf below to allow me to add a couple of baskets at a later date.
The problem with that idea was that there was no middle side piece inside so once I removed the centre door I was left with no side panel where the right hand door closed.
Easy enough to rectify, just build one right? You'd think it would be that easy but I'm tight fisted so would only use the wood I had laying around and while this was decent plyboard it wasn't as thick as the other side and so it looks out of place.
Lesson no2: If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing properly.

For this project I decided to treat myself to a new set of brushes. Normally I use Harris brushes (specifically the no hair loss ones) as I find them brilliant at minimising brush strokes, especially the ones with tapered bristles, but I wanted a change so I bought a set of Prodec X5 brushes at a brilliant price of £6.95 and I have to say that for the price the brushes were fabulous and there was no hair loss with them.

I also purchased a Latex extender to thin the viscosity of the emulsion paint, this helped to reduce drag lines from the brush when the paint had dried.
Floetrol is the most popular Latex extender but I just couldn't warrant the cost of it knowing that I may only ever use it once so I chose Zamix Latex Extender. A quick google search suggested that many decorators much preferred Zamix to Floetrol so I was happy to test it at the much lower price of £13.11.
The product did exactly what it said on the tin, the flow of the paint was much improved and the levelling was much improved also. The Zamix I purchased was for Latex/Emulsion paint so could not be used with the Rustoleum oil based red paint I finally used.

Back to the sideboard:
Here it is stripped down, everything removed and the side piece put in on the centre right. It may not look too obvious in the photo but there's quite a difference in thickness between that piece and the one centre left.
I also added the top shelf support and the middle shelf support and then sanded it to within an inch of its life.
IMO prep is key no matter what product you're using - this unit had alot of grease on it and I fail to see how any product would manage to adhere to it.

The first colour I tried was brown, brown to match the wall it was going against in the lounge. The problem was that after I sanded it down it seemed to lose the brown colour and become grey, not what i wanted. I also painted all the inside cream, several coats in fact and it was still looking blotchy at this point.

I hated the brown so decided it needed to be red. I sanded the whole thing back down and got out a tin of red paint. The problem with this red one was that it just wasn't covering the cream inside, in fact 4 coats later and it still wasn't covering. The outside was looking terrible too and as it dried I could see the red wasn't drying to the shade I had hoped, this was a muted dull colour whereas I wanted vibrance.

By this point I was seriously ready to junk this piece, November 5th was fast approaching and I honestly would have been relieved to see this at least provide some satisfaction through heat on the fire.
As it happens I was interested to see what the top would sand down like - I think I'd decided that one final idea would be to sand it all down to natural wood and see what it looked like then.
The top sanded like a dream and I was surprised to find that the wood underneath all my coats of paint and whatever the manufacturer had put on it was really quite awesome.
Once it was sanded I accidentally dropped some wood oil on it and rather than attempt to sand it back out I decided to oil the entire top - I loved the look after. So now I had renewed interest in the piece, if I could just get the doors and drawer front to look as nice as the top did I was in with a fighting chance of salvaging this.

But what coulour to paint it?
Well I decided no more emulsion paint and no more home made chalk paint.
Lesson no3: Don't attempt to make chalk paint if you've never used retail chalk paint and therefore know what the product is supposed to look like, paint like and feel like.

So I did what is probably the laziest and maybe stupidest thing I could do - I purchased oil based gloss paint in Cardinal Red.
Gloss paint goes on thicker so requires less coats BUT it takes an age to harden and until it has fully hardened it is not going to withstand any knock to it, it will chip! Also the thicker paint means that the doors and drawers will almost certainly struggle to open and close without huge effort.
I spent way too much time afterwards having to sand the sides of the doors just to get them to open and close and I even ended up greasing the drawer tracks to get them to slide. All of these adjustments meant that the uncured paint chipped in several areas.

Lesson no4: Keep all door and drawer areas either free from paint or only covered with one coat and make sure all sanding of door sides is done and checked before applying varnish.

The finished look is not what I would originally have been looking for, it's bright and it's highly glossed but all in all I am not offended by the piece either.
It's certainly useable and the red doesn't look too out of place in our lounge as the colour palette is cream and brown with red accent,. in fact it does look rather nice and even Mr CH is impressed with it.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Pallet wood clock

So I started this wooden clock weeks ago after seeing so many nice ones on Pinterest. I basically wanted an oversized wooden clock that I could make from pallet wood.
If I had realised beforehand just how tedious and annoying it was trying to get the numbers and the angles of the numbers right I probably would have never started the project but hey ho it's finished now and I'm quite happy with the finished product.

I'll give you a run down on how I did it and I'll let you know how I would do it differently if I did another one.

First off I gathered several planks of pallet wood and laid them good side down - with pallet wood the "good" side is basically the better of either side, they're never going to be perfect.
Once I had them laid down I used large clamps to really squeeze them together ..... then I realised this was pointless as I couldn't attach the pieces that would hold them all together while the clamps were in place so even at this early stage I was making silly mistakes.
Once I had removed the clamps I attached 4 pieces across the back and screwed them down while trying to pull the front wood together as much as possible.
With that done and now measuring approx 40" x 40" I found the centre point and used that point to draw the circle I would then cut out. TBH there has got to be easier ways to draw a circle but I used a nail in the centre, attached a pencil to string, attached the string to the nail and did the circle that way BUT it kept coming out wrong because no matter how hard I tried to keep the pencil in the right position I found that even a teeny tint movement took the circle off circle - so frustrating!
I managed it eventually and then I just cut the circle out with my jig saw - it was at this point when I realised I should have used less screws to screw the back supports on and I should have made sure they were out of the path of the jigsaw. I broke a couple of blades before admitting defeat and actually unscrewing certain nails - yes I am that lazy that I would waste blades rather than unscrew something.

As you can see the circle wasn't perfect but it didn't take long to sand that bulge out.

Next I needed to create a half inch or so band all the way round the clock. I decided to try using the same nail method but with 2 strings attached to the pencil - I figured this would stop that movement I spoke of earlier. It didn't! After several attempts I was getting the same rubbish result and the band would be half inch thick in one place a quarter inch thick in the next, so I came up with what I think was a brilliant idea but forgot to photograph it.
To get the band regular all the way round I put my metal ruler at the top black mark and then I marked with a pencil half inch or so down from it. Then I moved an inch to the right and repeated - all the way round. Time consuming but I don't mind that when I know it will result in an even band! Once I had gone all the way round I just used a pencil to join all those dots up and the band was formed.
This next part was the part that got me swearing and cursing for days on end. For the life of me I could not figure out how to get the numbers in the correct places, not only speced evenly but looking correct with the opposite number. It was easy to get the line from 12 to 6 right and the 9 to 3 right but the rest of them just wouldn't come out even no matter how much I measured and divided.
Eventually I had another brain wave - I used my pull down saw to cut a piece of wood with a perfect 30 degree angle to it.
This piece of 30 degree wood was then used from the middle of the clock face to give me the correct angle for each number, so all I had to do was draw a line along that 30 degrees.

Once I had all the lines in place I could freehand the roman numerals - this was the next tedious part and next time I would definitely consider vinyl instead of a sharpie.

Once i had all the numbers on I used a sharpie to go over them and then also went ahead and coloured in the band that I created before.
Once that was done I gave it a coat of varnish and that's pretty much it.
But what about the clock mechanism you may ask. Well, I actually forgot about it! No seriously I forgot it needed a mechanism. Once I went online to buy one I found that I couldn't find one that would go through my thickness of wood even with an extender. I was advised that I could route out a few mils on the backside of the clock so that a mechanism would then fit in this gouged out area but I'm way too lazy for that. Instead I bought one of those mechanisms that you stick directly to a wall and then stick numbers on the wall too. Obviously I didn't need the numbers but the mechanism and hands were easy to fit to the clock.

It's not on the wall yet because the wood started to seperate as it dried out indoors. You can see that the 3rd plank down is showing a small gap at the bottom of it. If this is as bad as it gets then I'll hang it but if it gets worse I will have to adjust it from behind cos it will bug the hell out of me.

Sharing at
The Interior Frugalista
Skip The Housework

Sunday 11 October 2015

Antique wooden trunk

I now have a workshop full of half finished and not yet started projects - a symptom of trying to juggle too many things I'm afraid. The end result of having so many things to do is that nothing is getting finished and yet despite this fact I still went to auction and bought up every piece of furniture that went for £3 or £5. Ordinarily I would love the fact that no one wanted the furniture but my lack of ability to say No means I now have too much to do and unfortunately this comes at a time when not only is the garden renovation needing my time but I also need to get started on christmas decorations. So it seems I have to learn to prioritise - eek!

With this lack of time in mind I decided that the wooden trunk I bought at auction would have to get less of a makeover than I originally intended.
It was going to get a serious paint job and distressed but oh well I still like how it turned out.

It was in fairly good knick anyway so I was determined to win this piece and paid something like £55 for it. Normally I would have stopped at £30 as I really am a tight wad but I didn't know when another dome top wooden trunk would come along up here in the back of beyond so I left the bidding to Mr CH.
As you can see it was originally covered in canvas. The canvas was filthy though and I considered leaving it on for all of 10 seconds. The main reason to strip it off - other than the ghastly smell - was that I saw evidence of woodworm on the inside when I pulled off some paper.

The entire trunk had to be stripped inside and out, hours into this project I realised that there was going to be no skimping on it - this 'quick' makeover was going to be anything but.
The canvas had to be burned off as it had been glued on with something that just would not budge but yet seemed to turn to dust when heat was applied.
Once it was completely stripped inside and out it had to be treated for woodworm as there was alot of evidence of the little blighters. There's every chance they were gone but I couldn't risk it as the trunk was to go in the living room which has solid wood floors - suffice to say I literally drowned the thing in killer.
The outside was then dyed with Wickes Medium Oak wood dye and given a couple of coats of varnish.

 All of the metal work had to be brushed with a wire brush and toothbrush - more tedious work.
I then used a teeny tiny art brush and painted all the metal work with Hammerite Black hammered paint - this was actually the best part, I love this kind of work.

See all the woodworm holes.

Inside I gave it a coat of paint but being the tight gal I am it had to be a colour I already had. I was going to go for white because I'm totally unadventurous when it comes to these things but I found a large tub of Farrow & Ball paint that was crying to be used - why not!
Initially I was going to do several coats of solid colour but tbh I just wanted it done so I could gain some space so I did one coat and then distressed it and gave it a coat of varnish.

I love how it turned out, it wasn't as quick as I thought it would be but it looks great in the front room holding all our winter blankets.

The Interior Frugalista 

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Auction lots

We live in the Scottish Highlands. We chose to live here to get away from the hussle and bustle of the credit card lifestyle we had in England. We wanted a life of clean air, no mortgage and freedom for our children in relative safety as they grew up and we got that, all of it.
We love living here, despite the naff weather we literally love living here. The only slight niggle we have ever had is the lack of shops, the nearest town is 15 miles away but has no bargain stores or shops where I would have a choice of brushes, paints etc. Homebase is the only DIY store and while it's certainly handy to have in a town with not much else, the choice is limited.
We can drive 2 hours south to Inverness City and we used to do this on a regular basis but now it just seems like a chore that neither of us wants to do so I mostly have to buy online.
You can imagine the joy then when a town store decided to open a weekly auction - hey, it's somewhere to go in a county that has nothing!
Mr CH and I went to the auction a few weeks ago and I bought a wooden trunk to renovate and a side cabinet with strange carvings on it to renovate as a fish tank stand. But this week we went with the intentions of bidding solely on a freezer Mr CH needs to keep the food for the birds of prey in.
Mr CH won the freezer but no one was bidding on the furniture that was that - I mean literally no one!
Well what's a girl to do when furniture such as a Stag cabinet was in danger of ungoing unsold at £2 - buy it of course!
This set the tone though and I ended up buying 5 other pieces for £2 each and I'm not even sure what I can do with them.

This is the Stag sideboard is the only piece that I have a mission for so far.

 I guess I'm going to be scouring Pinterest for ideas for all these items for quite some time.

Monday 17 August 2015

Draper pocket hole jig - review so far!

I have wanted a pocket hole jig for quite some time now but I kept putting it off because I basically thought the one I wanted (the Kreg K4MS) was too expensive. Then I decided to do some research and find a good but cheaper alternative - after all a pocket hole jig is a pocket hole jig right? Well not so much, as it turns out!

After much research I decided on the Draper jig and at a cost of £50 it was considerably less than the Kreg K4MS at £96.
Mr CH never understood the theory behind this, as far as he is concerned you buy the product that you want because an alternative is never going to quite live up to your expectations - wise words!

My jig arrived and I was so excited to get going with it on some coffee tables and a sideboard I was making a new top for but when I opened it up it was obvious that the company had sent me a used product - all the parts were loose in the box, some of the pocket hole screws were missing and the part you drill though actually had some damage to it.
It took a few weeks for Draper to send me a replacement because I went away on holiday but I was still excited to get going with the new product when it arrived.

In the box
  • Clamp assembly and base
  • 75mm square recess drilling bit
  • 150mm square recess drilling bit
  • Drilling depth stop collar
  • Drill bit
  • Drilling depth stop collar
  • 2.5mm hex key
  • 5mm hex key
  • Replacement drill bit collars
  • Drill guides
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Instructions

At this point I have to say that the instructions are naff, really seriously naff! If you're an expert with pocket hole jigs then you'll obviously know what you're doing so it won't matter (though I seriously doubt an "expert" would be using this jig) but if you're a complete newbie to them you're gonna have to find your info elsewhere. The problem with that is I scoured the net looking for a tutorial using the Draper Jig and couldn't find anything - the Kreg jig had loads but it isn't relevant to using this Draper jig.
Eventually I figured things out by wasting time and wood and seeing what does and doesn't work and when I eventually got the hang of it I was looking forward to producing professional looking pocket holes!!

I'm not sure what these pocket holes are supposed to look like but to me they looked very rough though it's not a problem because you don't actually see them and yes, the join is exceptionally strong.
Along with naff instructions this jig came with no info on how to figure out where to set the drill stop and it makes no mention of screw sizes and how to work out what to use and what size wood to use for each screw size.
The problem I had that really reaaaaaaally annoyed me is that the clamp kept leaving dents on the good side of the wood. Even when I had the clamp open as much as possible and used only 3/4" wood there were still dents on the good side which are going to take time to get out.
The dents haven't shown up too well in the picture but honestly they are really evident and spoil the finish. The wood I use for my projects is pallet wood so it's never perfect anyway but these dents are really annoying.

The other problem I encountered is that the drill guides kept loosening on the jig plate and it made it harder to drill and the finished drill hole wasn't accurate. It was a simple solution to keep retightening the drill guides but very annoying.
I haven't yet completed a project using this jig because each piece now needs alot of time sanding it to get those darned dents out.
Basically I wish I had followed my husbands advice and just bought the Kreg jig, I really do not like this jig for many reason however I should point out it's good points as well as its bad


  • Metal construction
  • Cheaper than Kreg
Seriously that is it!

  • Poor instructions
  • Poor clamp design
  • No versatility
  • Dents on work!
  • Wobbly unstable parts. 

I may learn to like this jig the more I use it but I seriously doubt it and I can actually see me purchasing the Kreg jig I originally wanted and selling this one.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Auction furniture revival

A new auction place has opened up in town and last week Mr CH and I went along to see what was up for grabs. It was an antiques and jewellery auction and I had my eye on a few pieces of furniture but I'm quite tight fisted and won't go over what I want to pay for an item. Mr CH on the other hand knows what we should pay for something but gets caught in the excitement of a bidding war and doesn't like to back down, a few times I had to tell him no more!

I particularly liked a very large, carved chest of drawers, I had so many ideas running round my head for what I could do to it but when it came to bidding it hit my limit very quickly and while Mr CH would happily have bid until he won, it would have taken some of the pleasure out of the project for me if I knew I'd paid more than I wanted for it.

We did win this lovely wooden trunk though

If I only came away with one thing from the auction this trunk would be the one thing I would want.
It even still has the original top box inside

Thankfully all the metal work is still in situ with just one nail missing from the front lock.
I'm looking forward to transforming this trunk and can't wait to start taking all that dirty ugly canvas off to the lovely wood below.

We also had the winning bid on this lovely solid wood sideboard

Not sure what the carvings are all about but they certainly add some interest.
Initially we didn't realise the unit had drawers as they're very concealed when they're closed. It wasn't until we got it home that I discovered them.

It's not without its damage though - the previous owners obviously removed the original backing and replaced it with some nasty fibre board. They've also mullered the base panels for some reason and haven't done a very good job of making good.

A piece of carving from the bottom back has also been removed, probably to make the side board fit somewhere and it also looks like it used to have a top half attached to it as you can see where something has been removed just at the back of the top.

Two projects I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into. The trunk will be a blanket box for the front room and the sideboard (after much work) will be the new fish tank stand, at 4ft the tank fits on it perfectly.