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Galvanized pipe creations

How Many things can you make from galvanized pipe?  We haven’t stopped counting yet!  Just measure your space and go to the hardware store pipe section.  You can test fit all the pieces before you buy them, keep them the same size and check which is cheaper black or regular galvanized.  Then spray everything at home after you put it together.  We used Oil rubbed bronze spray paint by Rustoleum.  If you let it dry for at least 4 hours it has less chance of scratching.  Things you paint don’t really cure for about a week.  

Toilet paper holder:0201171242b

How about a Towel bar/Shelf??0201171243a

Let’s see. . .  a tiny sliding barn door!0201171241b

Shelves. . .02011712430201171242

0412161817bOne of the neatest galvanized projects was Steve’s loft ladder.  Initially it was all made of pipe, but it hurt your feet to climb up and down on.  Steve added leftover pieces of the floor decking to each pipe step with the groove biting the pipe and the width table sawed flat and supported by wood underneath:

We decided everything would be spray painted oil rubbed bronze  loft steps
Wood support

A Railing, how about that!  0201171242a

And last but not least. . .a desk made of decking and an old filing drawer:0201171241a 0201171241

Needless to say, once we got started on galvanized, it became a theme!  One that saved us buco bucks!

Here is a link to more ideas on my Pinterest board

Pallets for Wall Decoration

On our local Northwoods Trading Post we read about free pallets.  We went down to Rhinelander, WI,  with the trailer and the pallets I liked best were the heaviest. Decorating with pallets can be really beautiful after you take them apart and stain them different colors.  The hard part is taking them apart! OMG it’s hard!  Even with a sawzall and crow bars of all sizes, there is a large risk of splintering the piece making it unuseable.  Sawzalling after you crowbar a space with a hammer to get the blade next to the nail is the best method.  We used our Sawzall reciprocating saw. 

Then I ran the boards through the Rigid Table Saw so they are all the same width.  If you mix up some ebonizing potion you will use a lot less stain.  My ebonizing potion is white vinegar and steel wool soaked together for a day.  The longer you leave the solution, the more it rusts and changes from gray to rust gray.  Pallets are all different kinds of wood so they’ll react differently to the vinegar/steel wool.  Some will turn almost black and others won’t do much at all.  After the solution dries on the boards you can add different color stains to the boards for a variety.  The just snap chalklines on the studs that you find with a studfinder and level your first row, nail it in, and keep adding boards from there.  A great rustic look that costs almost nothing!

This room is part of the new wing made by turning the attached garage into living space.  Follow this link to find out more:

Garage turned into Living Space

Making the Barn Door

Steve made the barn door for our guest room/exercise room.  We made the (4 feet)  large so it feels more like a den when it’s open.  We used leftover floor decking (1 1/2″ thick) and ceiling boards (pine 3/4″ carsiding)  for the middle portions.  We put in 2 panel doors in the house so I wanted the door to be 2 panel also.


Since the boards are all tongue and groove, they were easy to put together after being cut to length for the middle.  The frame is the thicker decking boards so the grooves had to be adjusted on the table saw to fit into the carsiding boards.  Steve added crosspieces to strengthen the horizontal plane.   The boards were wood glued and braced together until dried


Amazon had the best deal on 8 foot Barn door hardware for about $90.  It is a 4 foot door so we needed the 8 foot hardware for it to slide all the way open.  The smaller door hardwares cost about half that much.  He leveled the wall and attached the hardware


We vinegar/steel wooled the door to age it and so the stains would take better.  Let it completely dry first before staining.  Then the poly we use all over the house is Varathane Matte Polyurethane.  It dries really hard and is very washable.  If you would like Steve to send you the plans for making your own barn door go to  For $10, he will supply you with directions and a materials list and expected costs for the project.


Wainscoting can be rustic too

I love wainscoting to keep a lot of dents and marks out of walls and corners.  You can use a semigloss enamel to give it a hard washable finish.  I use a double antique white for a softer white.  As long as it’s not pure white which comes off really harsh.  I used all reclaimed wood in the powder room.  All of the pine boards that we removed with the recking bar and didn’t ruin were saved for making trim and nailer boards for walls using the Rigid Table Saw and our Dewalt Benchtop Planer.  The planer is used WITH NO NAILS in the boards after they are cut on the table saw.  It cleans off all the paints and you only need a light sanding.  This makes reclaiming SO EASY!    After a year, we had finally used up all our wood from the demo period.  Pinterest gave me a great idea to use 4 x 8′ sheets of hardboard cut into slats on our  Rigid Table Saw.Rigid table saw.  

 Pin preview

Above are the sizes to cut your wainscoting.  As long as you plan on painting it, hardboard is a super cheap way to go.  You could do a whole room for about $30.  Make a few level marks across the wall where you want horizontal boards and then use a partner to snap chalklines around the room.  I use a Bostitch brad nailer to attach the boards after marking studs behind the drywall with a studfinder.  After the horizontal boards are in, I measure for vertical boards and put them in.  If you want to make a lot at once, you can make a list of the sizes and mark them on the back once they are cut.  After the boards are in, caulk all the edges with paintable latex caulk.  Below are some of the projects we’ve done using wainscoting.

Below are some links to other posts related to this topic:

Garage turned into Living Space


Cement Countertop for Bath

During the attached garage conversion, we were adding a bathroom.  With the rustic cabin theme, we decided to make the vanity and cement the top.   Supplies needed were

  1. pine 4″ X 4″‘s
  2. 2″x4″‘s
  3. our vinegar/steel wool solution
  4. walnut  stain
  5. cement countertop mix from Menards
  6. blue tape and plywood for cement form
cement counter
cement counter

Steve measured the space and built the vanity in the garage.  He used  4″x 4″‘s for the posts and 2″x 4″‘s to build the upper and lower shelf frames.  I wanted a “slat” look like on garden benches so Steve used slats made of 2″ and wider 3.5″ 3/4 boards cut from 1 x 10’s on the table saw.  He used a Kreg pockethole tool to countersink the screws that attach the frame so you couldn’t see any on the outside and so you could get in far enough with 3″ screws.pocket_hole_detail_250

Steve then built an in place form for the countertop.  There is a 3/4″ plywood base and 1″by material on the back wall edge an inch high.  He left the sides so the cement would fill to the wall edge, and temporarily placed a 2 x 4   on the front edge.  the front and back edges served as the screeding surface to level the concrete after it was poured into the form.  He also made a 1 inch form hole for the sink pipes to fit through.  We used a vessel sink and had it there for reference as to the hole size.  I think he mixed a bag and a half all at once outside in a cement tray and brought it in by the bucketful.  We trowelled it a little after is hardened some, but Steve says he wouldn’t do that the next time because it left wierd patterns on the top.  We also tried to sand it to quickly before it was dry enough and it started gouging out the surface.  So we had to add another skim coat to the top.   Luckily it’s pretty forgiving in that you can keep adding skim coats till you like it.  We sealed it with the 511 stone sealer but in the kitchen we need to come up with a food safe sealer to make it not so porous.  

The inside of the form front had blue tape on it instead of melanine so it has a texture that i like instead of being perfectly smooth.  Steve said he would have liked it perfect.  I think it came out great and it hasn’t made any stain marks or anything.  

A word about removing ceilings. .


Every time we demo a ceiling or wall, there is old oiled cloth sawdust insulation from the fifties that we found out has an R value of about 1.  Some walls have R11 but not many.    To give you an idea of the fun we have had, here is a picture of the powder room ceiling:There were SEVEN layers of ceiling, none of which was insulation!




Sleeping loft



In the process of raising the ceiling height in the living room, we decided to make a sleeping loft above it instead of a cathedral ceiling.  This gave us an 11 foot ceiling which is still dramatic.  We lost a walking height bedroom and went to a four foot height.  We built a small ladder made of galvanized pipe and wood to climb into it.  The loft is also found on Pinterest showing  a pic of the finished loft.  

Sleeping loft

“shiplap” the cheap way

Pinterest is a great source to find decroating ideas.  One of the best for us was “shiplap” made from quarter inch underlayment from Home Depot.  It costs about $10 for a 4’x8′ sheet and you can request to have it cut in 8 inch x 8 foot strips that you just tack on with brads over our existing paneling.  If you are going over drywall, you may need to apply liquid nails.  Our entire house was filled with different color paneling, no drywall.  We removed the panelling, updated the wiring and put in new insulation.  Then we rehung the panelling and painted it black.  The 8 inch strips were tacked up with nickels as spacers:0922152113

Raising the ceiling height

The main floor is 7 feet 4 inches and the second floor is now 8 feet in the middle slanting to 2 feet on either side.  We had 2 bedrooms with an upper foyer.  To increase the ceiling height downstairs in the living room to 11 feet we are taking out the floor of the riverside bedroom upstairs.  We don’t want to lose bed space so a sleeping loft will be installed  4feet  at its highest point.   The new living room is 11 feet high.

Living room after
Living room before
removing floor
removing floor
View from living room
View from living room


Another 2 sets of 2″x 12″ LVL beams with 4×4 supports had to be put in horizontally under the second floor to support the floor and the new loft.  Then we took out the ceiling below and the floor joists of the old second floor bedroom.  Pretty freaky,huh? One tool I highly recommend for demos is a Recking bar.Recking bar

 It’s a huge crow bar that gives you the leverage to take down walls and ceilings without being a gorilla.  We installed the pine ceiling upstairs first so we didn’t need a ladder to do it.  Then Steve put in a header against the outside wall to hold up the new loft floor made of 2×8’s.  We insulated the floor to cut down on noise from the people sleeping in the loft.  Go to the link below for the post on finishing the loft above:

Sleeping Loft

In the breakfast island area and the master bedroom, we put in new 4×8 beams that we left exposed to increase their heights to 8 feet.  The floor upstairs is  2″x 6″ pine decking from Menards that is stained dark upstairs and left naked below.  It’s thick enough to be the underlayment and the floor.  

0212161437img_20160325_095639871_hdr-1 img_20160301_192400256

let’s build a GARAGE!!!

. We went to Menards after much debated agony on their garage design-it-center, estimator online. We printed our design estimate and ordered an 11,000$ “kit” and scheduled a delivery for two weeks later.  When you do that all at one time, the delivery charge is only about a $100, but you have to have a place to put everything!  You should have seen our driveway and yard.  The driveway was narrow so the truck could only put things near the street – they brought in the rest by forklift.  We still had to move quite a bit by hand to organize it in order of need.  

We hired some great local contractors to level the ground, pour the cement, frame the garage, and put the metal roof on.  We always try to save as much money as we can so we bought during a Menard’s 11% sale and received a $1200 rebate check a month later.  We try to do that for every project.   It helps.  Some people complain about the quality of Menard’s wood but when you order a lot it is handpicked and of good quality.  You can change the standard kit, so automatically you will get boxes of the different nails so if you have framing  or roofing nailer guns you should specify those types of nails.  

One thing we messed up on, (well one of them) was only having one course of cement bricks laid.  We ordered a 10 foot high garage which was at least a $1000 more than an 8 foot high garage.   BUT 2 courses of brick would have given us a 9 foot garage with an 8 foot kit for not much  more money to pay the bricklayer.  

The bricklayer came 2 days after the cement was poured and within 3 or 4 days Jim and his crew came to start the framing.  After about 2 weeks they were done with the framing, a few structural osb sheaths and the metal roof.  

Now it was our turn to take over building.   You are given the right amount of sheathing if you plan your cuts the way a builder does.  We didn’t have to make too many trips back to the store.  Because of the 10 foot garage we wasted more of the sheathing placing a seam where I wanted it. Again we should have ordered 4′ x 10′ foot sheathing, but alas 4 ‘x 8’ footer’s came.  We decided on 4 foot and 6 foot panels  which was still several 2 foot leftovers.  We hand nailed the siding sheaths on, which was bit of a pain, sometimes Steve used the our Senco Stapler .  After caulking all the seams, we rolled the paint, Benjamine Moore’s Northwoods Brown color matched by Menards with their Ultra Outdoor paint.  A good paint for the money.  We spray painted Rustoleum Metallic finish spray paint on the stock white windows and soffits and the spray has held up well after a year.  There is a liquid paint can form that you can order for touch ups called Rustoleum Painters Touch quart.