Coat Locker

Coat Locker

We needed a solution to the mess of coats hanging in our entry way. After touring some newly built homes my wife and I decided that a coat locker was the answer.

I drew up some rough plans and got started.  I milled all the joints with a table saw dado set, they’re glued, I pre-drilled countersunk holes, and screwed everything together with 2″ wood screws.

I built the top and bottom separately to make it easier for me to handle during the install.

I decided to use beadboard for the back to pay homage to the farmhouse style from which the mudroom locker is derived.

The bench top is pine, stained with dark mahogany, and sealed with three coats of polyurethane which I sanded with 220 grit between coats. The sweetheart of the project.

I removed the existing baseboard before installation in order to give the piece a built-in look.

I used pocket hole joinery to marry the top and base.

After I got it installed I ripped down pine 1x boards for trim and added crown molding, which I pre-planned to align with the top of the door trim.

Finally I installed the baseboard, base shoe, and hooks.

I hadn’t built a piece of furniture since high school shop class so it was a fun challenge. My plans were basically napkin-drawing fidelity. If I had it to do over again I would take the time to use Sketchup or at least drafting-level fidelity drawings because it would have saved some head scratching time in the garage where it was really cold most of the time. It came out nice and it should serve its purpose well for years to come.


I designed, engineered, and built a second story deck for my house.  I spent a lot of time researching building codes, considering safety, and thinking about how to physically pull off some of the steps without help.

To help wrap my head around the project I needed to visualize the final product.  I learned to use Sketchup to create a 3D model.  The wood-colored portion was existing and the white is the new addition.

The model proved to be very helpful to me in figuring out how to tie the two together and deal with a head clearance challenge above the existing staircase.

I started in late October so I was not able to work on it much in the evenings due to lack of light.

While looking at pictures along the way I decided to put the decking on an angle and frame it.  I routed the ends of each deck board so it has a nice finished look.

Construction ended up taking about 6 weekends of 10ish hour days.  I rented a cement mixer and a ladder, and I got to buy a sawzall.  Other than that I had all the tools to do the job.

We’ve since gotten a new propane firepit and furniture set.  I’m currently toying with some accent lighting and will eventually under deck it and add flood lights for the yard.  It’s been a great addition to the house.

Raspberry Pi Project

The power supply for the media center PC that I’d been using for the past few years quit.  I’d been wanting to check out XBMC because everyone raves about the great experience. This was a good time to consider building a machine with enough umph to meet the XBMC specs.  After doing a little research I found that I could run a version of XBMC on a Raspberry Pi which would cost little more than a new power supply for my ancient machine.  The path forward was clear.

It’s a 16GB 3.0 stick, Raspbmc is running the Bello skin, the files are coming over WiFi, I’m using Yatse Remote to control it, and it’s packaged in a case I cut out of plexiglass and put together with some cool looking hardware.

The pieces:
pi pieces

Finished product:

Pretty impressive hardware and learning a little about 10 Foot UI was a lot of fun.

Shipping Crate Shelf

I saw this shipping crate that an 80″ Smart Board came in laying by the garbage at my office.  When I looked at it I instantly saw shelf components.  We needed something in our unfinished basement for camping gear so I guess that was a subconscious contribution to my imagination.

I took this thing home, chopped it up and made it so.

Pretty stout storage shelf for free and it’s proven to be useful.

Garden Box

A friend at work gave me the idea to use cedar pickets as a really economical way to build a garden box.
I ran and spent all of $12 on lumber.

At this point I just wanted to see how cheap I could do it.  The 2×2 was on the 70% off rack so it cost next to nothing otherwise I would have used something stronger.
Chopped everything up.

I already had some stain so decided to add some flare.

I thought caps on top of each upright would give them a nice substantial look.  What I initially imagined would look good didn’t work out so well functionally.  The sides seemed like they would bow as soon as I filled it with dirt.

I sturdied it up with a rail around the top.

I got mulch from our community compost and mixed it with some garden soil and topsoil.

I had not previously grown a garden because I didn’t think I would want to take the time to stand out in the heat and water it every day.  Harbor Freight has great prices on hose manifolds so I UX’d the irrigation then buried the system.  At the flick of a single switch each plant gets direct water that’s throttled by valves on the manifolds.

Rabbit Hutch

My son had a pet rabbit that needed a hutch so he could enjoy the outdoors and be protected from the elements.  I had some leftover cedar from a second garden box I’d built and some treated 2×4’s from my deck project.

It’s not the prettiest thing in the world but it’s functional, it was free, and it only took an evening to put together.

I really like the challenge of creating something functional from scraps.