Category Archives: diy

Something I made


So this is a mobile bar I designed and built for Black Ankle Vineyards, below is what the wood looked like when I started.






Basically some water damaged oak left over from them building their tasting room.

I initially planned something utterly insane and complicated, but my fiancee suggested something a bit more minimalist and industrial and while more expensive (pipe isn’t as cheap as you’d think) it ended up looking good.

So I did three rounds of sanding, one with 80 grit, then 180 grit, then stained it and sanded again with 180, stained it again and then applied a high gloss finish.




Ended up really smooth and shiny.  Because each board weighed about 80lbs this thing is pretty heavy, so I reinforced the bottom with left over pieces that I applied similar prep to as well as the end caps.  I used 3 1/2 inch lag bolts to hold it together which also sort of match the galvanized steel 3/4″ pipe used.


Overall I’m pretty happy with it.  I’m building a matching one and then some insane table that I’m sure I’ll post when I’m done.



Things that have been and will be

2013-01-08_20-37-27_347As many do, I have recently been neglecting my blog a bit.  It is not because of laziness or disinterest, but due to productivity in things other than writing; namely designing and building a book shelf and getting my portfolio together for grad school application, which includes making a new piece of art and figuring out how it’s going to work. Hopefully what I’m working on will yield acceptance, however the idiosyncranicity of my previous work along with the likely horror with which my past professors are regarding my requests for letters of recommendation may prevent a positive review of the material.  The first few large scale projects I attempted were not only ridiculously ambitious, but were also undertaken with so little practical guidance that they were doomed at conception.  This is not to say that these projects/presentations/performances were failures; all I’ll say is that in retrospect I fully realize that a good deal of the potential existent in my undergraduate projects was wasted because I didn’t know the right questions to ask.

The photo above is part of my current machine/instrument.  It is skeletal at the moment, but once it’s wired to the microcontrollers I’ve built, each switch will trigger a loop of one of my compositions which were constructed to represent human emotions and other abstracts.  So remorse, anxiety, etc… My impressions anyway.

DIY # 1:Island


This particular item is not overly sexy or innovative, but extremely solid, functional and would look alright in most kitchens.

I designed and built this kitchen island for about 10 dollars.  Granted I had a lot of scrap wood lying around, but it turned out pretty well for being constructed primarily out of old warped boards.  The placement of the screws is the most important part when working with junk wood, because if the screws are in the wrong place or angle, the wood will split or break away from the frame and then you have to cut a fresh piece and hope you didn’t drill a hole you can’t work around.

The method I attempted to employ in this project was the invisible screws approach, that is to say that at a glance no screws should be visible.  In the case of most furniture people don’t want to see lines of nails or screws as a part of the exterior, unless of course their going for the sloppy rustic look.  I will note that I was not completely successful in hiding all the hardware.  Because of the width, weight and a few minor design decisions it was necessary to add additional support to the bottom of the island to make it stable enough for repeated heavy use.  I couldn’t quite sand all the water damage off the slats, but it ended up looking okay anyway as it is in keeping with some of the curvature and obvious hand cuts used to make said slats.


2 Wheels-lots of varieties at home depot, the length of the 34″ 2X4’s below is dependent on the size of the wheels.

6 2X4’s-2 -36″, 2 -34″, 2 -25″

10 1X4’s-2 -28″, 8 -24″

24 1X2’s (I cut these manually and they ended up being more like 1X1.5’s, but you can’t generally buy those) 14 -28″, 4 -25″, 6 -24″-I had lots of water damaged 28″ 1X12’s that I cut up.

lots of 1.5″ drywall screws (don’t judge, it’s all I had)

6- 2″ wood screws

8- 4″ wood screws-excessive, but worked fine.

Sand paper-I used 80 grain, but anything above 50 would probably do.

Power drill

1/8″ drill bit

Phillips head bit

Circular saw

Get all that stuff together and look at the picture.  Island is 28″ wide and 24″ deep.  The easiest way to start is to use the 24″ 1X2’s to connect the 36″ 2X4 to the 34″ 2X4.  The top one is hard to see in the picture, but will be the first one attached and should be flush with the top of the 34″ and 36″ boards.  The positioning of the other 24″ supports determines the shelf height, which is left to the builder’s discretion.  Make sure that the shorter 2X4’s are in the right position to come together properly for the wheels to be on the same side.  Drill holes before you put in the screws.  Use your imagination for the rest.  Comment with any questions.

Obscenely Complicated


So I’m building things again.  I’m sure I’ll post some pictures of the sadly pedestrian kitchen island I designed in a few days.  On the bright and not-so-bright side, I designed something today that is ridiculously tedious and tricky; the thought of building it causes me nothing but dread.  The bright side however is it would be neat.  I cannot disclose what this thing is because it could end up being a gift, although the chances of me having 20 hours or so to build it between now and Christmas are pretty slim.

To construct this item I will have to craft and assemble over 150 pieces that will fit together in a variety of ways to construct the finished product, which happens to be small, meaning all the pieces will be small, meaning construction will be on the meticulous/maddening side because as anyone who invents or designs and constructs anything will tell you; initial designs/prototypes only work seemlessly about 2 times out of 100.  Also, people tend to get irrationally angry when you build them something and it doesn’t work or look like something from Ikea, Pier One, etc….

I’ll be happy when I’m building machines again.  Building furniture makes me feel like an inept 15 year old in shop class.  At least the properties of electricity don’t change when it happens to be rainy (one of the specifications for the island was that it was at least partially constructed using 2X4’s, which warp in a variety of horrible ways; I hate them very much).  So maybe I build this thing, maybe I just relax and see if I can buy something in the same ballpark.  The potential recipient will doubtless see this post and then more than likely request the ordeal, which might be fun in that desperatetofinishsomethingwithoutcuttingoffafinger way.