Thursday, October 29, 2015

23 Our Favorite Tools for Everyday, Crafts & DIY

With the number of questions and inquiries we have received regarding our favorite DIY tools over the years, it is crazy that it has taken me this long to compile a post on that exact subject.

We are a mixed bag of big projects (knocking down walls, installing floors, building storage and furniture....) and smaller, crafty DIYs (drawer organizers, decorative boxes, labels, memo boards....).  Why we opt to DIY really varies from project to project; sometimes it allows us to create something bigger and better on a tighter budget, and other times it allows us to create something custom to exactly fit our style and needs.

Our tool arsenal has grown over the years, however, there are a few specific items that we find ourselves reaching for time and time again.  Bryan and I sat down and came up with our top, "couldn't DIY without" products for everyday, crafting and DIY.  We thought about the things we use most frequently, as well as the items we would purchase first if we had to start from scratch all over again. 

For everyday repairs, installs and home maintenance, these are the items we keep in a nearby drawer and that we use more than any other tools:

  • Utility knife: Opening packages, slicing paper, scraping/cleaning glass
  • Safety glasses: Protective eye wear
  • Hammer: Quick hanging projects
  • Pliers: Tightening pipes, removing shelving pegs
  • Tape measure: Project planning, drawer liner installation
  • Flashlight: Power outages, viewing dark corners/crevices (cabinets, behind furniture, etc...)
  • Screwdriver: Removing electrical plates for painting, opening electronics, tightening furniture
  • Level: Hanging projects, furniture/maintenance checks

utility knife | safety glasses | hammer | pliers | tape measure | flashlight | screwdriver | level

When it comes to my daily organizing antics, here are the ten items that keep me excited and motivated to tackle any size project (in no particular order):

paper slicer
I utilize a paper slicer for cutting paper of all sizes, typically 12" x 12" sheets of scrapbooking paper.  I also reach for my paper slicer when working with rolls of vinyl, making labels and cutting liner for smaller drawers and dividers.  The slicer offers quicker, straighter cuts than I ever would be able to make myself with scissors.

silhouette die cutting machine
There aren't very many organizing projects that happen without the help of my Silhouette.  What I love most is that it has the ability to make vinyl labels, which look professional and seamless on just about any drawer, bin or jar.  It also offers a print and cut feature which is fantastic for sticker labels.  The die cutting tool also has the ability to be paired with a variety of specialty papers to create projects out of gold foil, glitter and even iron-on fabric.  In my opinion, the Silhouette is one of the most versatile craft tools around.

I surprised myself with this one, but I do love my iron for a variety of small projects.  Because I don't always get along with my sewing machine, an iron comes to the rescue with a slew of "no sew" options.  I have done iron-on labels, new sew pouches and fabric covered boxes all with the help of this standard household tool.

craft brushes
Although the obvious use for these brushes is painting (which I love), I also reach for them for projects that include gold leafing, gilding, and decoupage.

color pens
I am able to get my daily color lovin' fix by using fine tip markers for writing notes, making labels and filling out my daily calendar, planner and to-do lists.

hot glue gun
Hot glue is great for working with rope, upholstery trim, labels, and just about any other small fabric or paper craft.  I reach for my glue gun before I reach for the bigger tools, and typically am surprised about the amount of hold is provides.

My laminator basically acts as an insurance policy for my projects, especially when kiddos are involved.  Most often I laminate labels to ensure they last for the long haul, but I also find myself laminating checklists (allowing them to be reused), as well as smaller drawer liners and the covers to my spiral-bound planners and notebooks.

staple gun
I generally use my staple gun for upholstery projects (playroom benches, dining chairs, headboards, stools, etc...), but it can also act as a fastening tool for small woodworking projects.

paint sprayer
If you love to spray paint, you will love having a small paint sprayer.  This spray gun gives you the ability to turn any color paint into a spray paint, and it covers smoother than any brush or roller.  Sprayers also provide consistent coverage and allow for you to get into awkward spaces easier than with typical painting tools.

cutting mat w/rotary tool
After I finally broke down and purchased an over-sized cutting mat and rotary tool, I questioned why I waited so long.  It was life changing, especially for a girl obsessed with lining drawers and bookcases.  I actually have two of the rotary cutting tools; one designated for fabrics and the other for paper projects.  Talk about cutting like butta!  Pair them with a yard stick and you will have the most beautiful and straight cuts for all of your crafty projects.  #gamechanger

Now that you have my top ten, I am turning the mic over to Bryan to find out more about his top ten woodworking tools.

miter saw
Our miter saw is used for the majority of our woodworking projects, generally for cutting wood at specific angles.  An invaluable tool for cutting trim and moulding, it is also one of the quickest ways to make any clean wood cuts.  Just getting started with DIY?  A miter box is a great alternative for smaller woodworking and moulding projects.

pedestal roller
The pedestal roller offers support and acts as an "extra set of hands" while working with longer or larger pieces of wood.

kreg jig
This tool provides the ability to create seamless exterior finishes by hiding the screw hardware inside of "pockets".  A Kreg Jig is perfect for building boxes, cabinets and other decorative furniture in which you do not wish to see the fastening hardware as part of the end result.

aluminum cutting guide
A cutting guide is a carpentry tool designed for use with circular saws or routers to create accurate cuts over long distances.  Although you can substitute a straight piece of wood or trim, the aluminum guide offers a sturdy, reliable and straight edge each and every time.

cordless drill
Rarely a day goes by where we don't reach for our cordless drill.  Perfect for projects big and small, it can do everything from tightening furniture and hanging window hardware to constructing a full wall of built-ins.  Sure, a screw driver can work, but your hands will be grateful for the ease and quickness this tool provides.  Pair it with a "drill-flip-drive" bit and you can switch between your pre-drill and standard drill bit in one swift motion.

circular saw
A circular saw offers portability and flexibility with your cutting projects.  When paired with saw horses and the aluminum cutting guide we shared above, it can take the place of a standard table saw.  Although we have a table saw tucked in the corner of our garage, we gravitate towards this tool due to the ease of use and the overall flexibility it provides.  Blades can also be swapped to be used with wood, stone and metal.

quick clamp
The squeeze clamp can expand to fit both small and large projects and offers padding to protect the wood finish.  The squeeze option allows you to quickly set the clamp in place, it also comes with a quick release to protect the integrity of the project when removing the clamp.  The clamp itself either acts as another set of hands for cutting or drilling, or holds wood pieces in place while your glues/adhesives work their magic.

sliding t-bevel
The T-bevel has a movable blade that allows you to copy any angle, from 0 to 360 degrees, and transfer it onto other surfaces such as moldings or lumber.  This was a jumbo sized time saver for us while working with awkward ceiling and flooring angles.

brad nailer
Brad nailers utilize finishing nails, which are tiny in comparison to standard screws/nails.  The small size of the nails makes this tool ideal for a magnitude of woodworking and trim projects in which you wish for the fastening hardware to be concealed (with wood putty or painter's caulk).  All nailers will need to be paired with an air compressor, which provides the force to the tool.  All of our trim work, crown, planks and moulding have been completed utilizing this fabulous piece of equipment.

Now watch me jig, and watch me nae nae.... No?  Oh boy, my kids just hid in embarrassment...  Anyway, we do like to do a little jig for this jigsaw tool, because it provides endless creative flexibility for cutting and shaping wood.  Generally used for creating curved wood edges, it can also create intricate shapes and designs, even decorative typography.  The small blade is the key to allowing the cutter to go places typical saws cannot reach.  These blades are also interchangeable for cutting a variety of materials.

So there you have it, our absolute favorite tools and supplies.  Each one of these tools make really wonderful Christmas, birthday and house warming gifts for others, or even for yourself!  The majority of them are so wonderfully versatile and can be used for an endless array of projects for years to come.  

Now that we have shared our favorites, we would love to know your personal DIY and craft supply loves.  What items would you feel lost without?  What tools do you find yourself grabbing for multiple times per week, month or year?  Any other items that are game changers in your day-to-day projecting sessions?

Find my favorite painting supplies here.

* affiliate links used

Thursday, October 22, 2015

24 UHeart Organizing: A Pretty in Pink Closet

Not only is my friend, Jen, awesome because her name is Jen... she is also awesome because she has an insane ability to create stunning projects from wood.  Another awesome fact?  Her last name is Woodhouse.  And another?  Her blog is titled The House of Wood.

Mind blown.

I know I am a nerd and I girl crush gush about my contributing team all of the time, but they just inspire me so much!  For example, Jen has inspired me to pick up power tools.  Because of her, I am no longer afraid of their sharp edges or sounds.  I may not be quite as good as using the tools as she is, but I am using them!

After you check out her latest building turned organizing project, you may be inspired to grab for a tool or two as well.  And if not, maybe you will at least want to clean out a closet or two.

Hi friends! Jen Woodhouse here, from The House of Wood. I’m happy to be hanging out with you guys, sharing my latest organizational DIY project. The last time I was here, I shared my family command center as I dreaded the start of the school year with a Kindergartner. I also moved my sweet girl into her first big girl bed when I built her West Elm-inspired queen bed. You guys. I am trying to keep it together – the days are long, but the years are way too short. Am I right? Now that my daughter has a pretty bed on one side of her room, it was time to focus my attention to the other side.

Brace yourselves.

This is her very disorganized and dysfunctional closet. We moved into this house back in June and those moving boxes have been there ever since. #motheroftheyear

The bi-fold doors took up valuable space in her small room and those wire shelves were just not practical. I’m not very tall, but I am adult-sized and I could hardly reach the top rack. Having a clothing rod hung that high made no sense for a little girl’s room, so I decided to give her closet a bit of a makeover.

Here’s how it turned out:

This DIY project may look intimidating, but surprisingly, it only took a couple of days and less than $100 to complete!

First, I cleared everything out of her closet and removed the wire shelving. The wire shelving left gaping holes and unsightly tears in the walls because they were installed using large anchors instead of being screwed into the studs in the wall. After realizing I’d have to do a substantial amount of spackling to repair the walls, I decided to cut my losses and just cover it up. I picked up a bead board panel from The Home Depot and used construction adhesive and brad nails to attach it to the wall.

Then I moved onto building the center shelving unit. I used a single sheet of 3/4″ plywood and constructed the box using pocket hole joinery.

I picked up a few packages of these wood pole sockets and an 8-foot wood dowel for the clothing rods.

After painting the shelving unit, pole sockets, and rods with white latex paint, I brought everything into the house to install. I located the studs in the wall, then attached the shelf by screwing directly into the nailing strips with 3″ spax construction screws. The nailing strips are the three boards right under the top, fourth, and sixth shelf (the bottom one isn’t visible in the photo below).

Can you believe you can create a custom closet with plenty of practical storage out of a single sheet of plywood? I just love that.

I placed the clothing rods low enough so that my five-year-old can hang up her own clothes. Gotta start ’em young, right?

Of course, I had to make space for her many, many princess gowns. I think my little girly girl owns every single Disney princess dress except Pocohontas’ (because hers “doesn’t twirl”). #priorities

Finally, I hung up a tension rod and this pretty ruffled curtain, slipped some baskets on those shelves, and called it a day. I hung her dresses on the top left rod, her school uniforms underneath, and her princess gowns on the right.

Didn’t I tell you about those princess dresses? My daughter has more costume changes in a day than Whoopie at the Oscars. Alice, Belle, Merida, Aurora, Ariel, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jasmine, Elsa, Anna… you name ’em, they’re in there (except poor non-twirly Pocohontas – womp womp).

My favorite one, however, is Maleficent. My daughter insisted on wearing her Maleficent gown on her Daddy/daughter date, which I thought was super awesome and hilarious. Can she please stay this little always?

I picked up the baskets from Michaels (they have the best deals!) and they hide toys, shoes, and other miscellaneous items.

After getting everything installed, I decided I wanted to add a long shelf that ran across the entire top of the closet to store extra blankets, quilts, pillows and such.  I rummaged through my scrap wood pile and kept on building. I also added another clothing rod to hang her coats and raincoats.

You guys. I swear by these huggable hangers. They’re ultra slim so they’re a great space-saver and they’re velvety, so clothes won’t slip off. And they come in cute and colorful kid sizes too!

So there you have it – my daughter now has a functional and organized closet that makes the best use of her small space. Thanks so much for hanging out with me today, IHeart readers! I hope you find this project useful and inspiring. If you have a free weekend and about $100 to burn, you can build your own custom closet out of a single sheet of plywood. Happy building and organizing!


Hello friends! I’m Jen Woodhouse, the author of The House of Wood blog, my creative outlet for all things DIY and design. By trade, I am a performing songwriter based in Nashville, TN - I’ve released three albums, toured the world, and licensed my music to national television shows and films - but more recently, I've added ‘DIY Blogger’ to my eclectic resume. The House of Wood is where I document my adventures in woodworking, interior design, and life as a musician, military wife, and mother of two unbearably adorable babies. When I’m not writing, recording, or touring, you’ll usually find me in the garage building furniture! I’m pretty freakin’ excited to join the iHeart Organizing team and I can’t wait to share a few organizing DIY projects with y’all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

31 DIY Rolling Storage Cart

Every time a few days go by without me writing a post, I feel so strange and disconnected from my happy place.  I really, really miss blogging more frequently and truly appreciate this amazing community, and look forward to amping things back up again down the road.  But my absence has been really great for me behind the scenes, as I have been able to give my shop some much needed time and I am #thisclose to getting my planner released.  This week I am also jet setting across the country to speak at Bloom Bash Seattle!  It is my first trip to the area and I am really excited to do a little exploring, networking and coming home with some new ideas.  My husband, intense 49er's fan, is excited to wear his red and gold apparel in Seahawk territory.  Let's hope he doesn't land in jail somewhere....

Today I am popping in with another sweet and simple DIY.  One that I almost made far too complicated.  One that I almost decided to scrap.  But it is also one that just about any DIY beginner should feel comfortable tackling. Although about halfway through I questioned whether the project was going to pan out, it ended up being a darling little fit for our laundry room.

This project began like many of our other DIY and organizing projects do, out of pure frustration!  We have a folding counter in our laundry room, yet I also use the space to hold our stain removal kit (which I find myself reaching for ALL of the time), sewing supplies and other random items that are dropped there over the course of the week.

Truthfully, the counter has begun to bow and the pretty paper backdrop has bubbled and curled in the corners due to the room's humidity.  Someday soon we would like to update it all with a sturdier folding surface and pretty backsplash tile, we just aren't quite there yet.  But back to the problem at hand... with all of the items landing on the counter, I really don't have an effective place to fold (or sew).  It's a bit of a hot mess.

And no, I don't neeeeed those flowers there for any other reason than they make me happy and they were leftover from a recent photo project.  But the rest of the items that land here, are all items we use often. 

So, the cart.  Wanting to also create something as part of this month's organizing challenge, I thought we would try to DIY with a new supply.  That supply that I picked was plumbing parts.  That supply didn't end up in the outcome of the final product though, but that was ultimately for the better.  I couldn't resist sharing the story anyway, because the cart ended up being functional and fabulous and even budget friendly.

What we did use:
  • 1 - 1" x 12" x 4' board, cut into two 12" wide by 14" long pieces
  • 2 - 1" x 6" x 8' boards, cut into eight 6" wide by 14" long pieces 
  • 1 - 1" x 2" x 8' board, cut into four 2" wide by 22" long pieces
  • 4 - Clear Casters
  • Wood Glue (previously owned)
  • Brad Nailer (previously owned)
  • Drawer Pull (previously owned)
  • Paint (previously owned)

The construction of the cart began my making two very basic boxes.  We cut all of our pieces at home, but most home improvement stores can also do that for you right at the store.

The 14" long 6" boards were glued and nailed around the perimeter of the 1" x 12" board.

We did that twice.

Now, what not-to-do.  The plan was to use plumbing pipe to connect/stack the two boxes.  I was also going to spray paint the pipe to dress things up.  To install the pipe, we used a drill bit that was slightly smaller than the pipe coupling and drilled halfway through the bottom of the wood board.

But once we connected everything together, the scale of the boxes to the pipe was all wrong.  Yikes.  The cart was instantly top heavy, and not in a good way!

After some pondering and finally being OK that the pipe just wasn't going to work, we solved the problem by affixing 1" x 2" boards to outside corners of the cart with a couple of screws.

Also, I really want to take a moment to talk about my favorite moment in this entire project.  I found these "acrylic and gold" looking casters at our local Ace Hardware.  Love at first sight!  At $10 for four, they were not the cheapest option, but they are by far the prettiest I have seen.

Installation of the casters went quick. We used an appropriately sized bit and drilled into the edge pieces used for the walls of the box construction (because the edges were deeper than the floor of the box to accommodate the casters).

Then pressed the casters in place.

So stinking cuuuuute!  I filled in the nail holes, painted her up (Sherwin William's Sea Salt), attached a drawer pull, and now she holds all of my laundry room counter clutter.

The casters and drawer pull make it really easy for me to pull the cart out from under the counter when I need to access the stain or sewing supplies.  They also gave the plain cart a little character.

And now I am back to using the counter for its original purpose... folding!  No more eye rolling or quiet curses because there is too much counter clutter for me to get my daily chore completed.  Is it appropriate to throw a party to celebrate this small and simple victory?

We used a combination of store purchased supplies and supplies we already had at home, bringing our total investment in at under $25.  Considering we were able to customize it to our specific dimensions and color, I am happy with that nice number.  And just think of all the use we can get out of this piece down the road should our laundry room requirements change.  The size, shape and design make it the perfect candidate to be used in the garage, craft room, kid's room, bathroom... it's definitely a versatile one!

It's been so nice catching up today!  Another Jen will be back tomorrow with another DIY that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  And if you don't plan to get your power tools out anytime soon, her project will also provide organizational and storage eye candy as well.  #ipromise

Now, I am off to plan our next "new supply" project and protect my husband from an abundance of Seattle fans...