Monday, October 13, 2014

industrial style concrete lettering

Over the years concrete has become one of my favorite mediums to work with. I'm attracted and drawn to the great industrial esthetic it gives a project. On the other hand I'm also attracted and drawn to it's affordability. It's really pretty cheap on small scale projects. Whatever the reasoning I love it! This project industrial style concrete lettering is a great diy for anyone.

finished product
What you need:

  • Cardboard lettering (Joann's has the larger letters and at better prices)
  • 60lb bag of concrete (you won't use it all)
  • 5gal bucket
  • margin trowel
  • utility knife
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • scrap piece of mdf or ply
  • palm sander
  • and a few screws

the raw letters from craft store


Using your utility knife with a good sharp blade cut the outer edges of the letter. It cut's best on a flat surface. Once you have cut all around the edges of your letter lift the top off. Inside there's accordion cardboard remove it because it's not needed. What we want is to create a trough or mold to contain the concrete.

letter with top cut off

Step 2:

Get a piece of mdf or ply that you can use to help give structure to your letter. Put a few screws around the outside of the letter to help further structure it (Try and maintain the letters shape when placing your screws).

letter on a backer board of mdf
letter with a few key placed screws to help structure

Step: 3

Mix up your concrete as specified on bag to a consistency of thick oatmeal (too much water will effect the cardboard mold) I used a mixture of ready mix and masons mix (the ready mix has rock for structure the masons mix has no rock. Another good choice is Quickrete 5000

my mixing set up

Step 4:

Spray the inside of your letter mold with non stick ccoking spray and let dry.

what the inside looks like when sprayed

Step 5:

Using a margin trowel start filling your mold with the concrete (i use a margin trowel because its small and easy to handle). Once you fill the mold smooth them out and level the concrete take your palm sander and vibrate the edges of the WOOD backer getting bubbles out (don't vibrate the mold). Let your project dry for 2days.

NOTE: Don't get to bogged down on how smooth it is because it's the back of the final product.

filling letters with concrete using margin trowel

Step 6:

Remove the mold from the dry concrete. Pull it away from edges. You may have some residual cardboard on the sides (it easily comes off with a sponge and water).

removing cardboard mold

what the letter looks like removed

 Step 7:

You can seal your letter with a concrete sealer if you desire. I use a glossy product that gives concrete a crisp wet look. But it looks just as good in the natural state.

letter in it's unsealed state
the letter during sealing.

There you have it one industrial style monogram that you made for the house, office, or wherever...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pallet demo how 2

fresh pallets yes!!

Over the last couple of years I've been asked a question over and over: What's the secret to dismantling a pallet without destroying the slats? It doesn't make much sense in me explaining the how 2 on this one... so we decided to make a short video to demonstrate the how to.

On average it can take as little as 5 minutes per pallet for demo with most projects requireing 2-3 pallets.

Need ideas our blog and other sites are loaded with amazing super cool projects for you to make!!

So go for it time to get busy!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

upcycling that encyclopedia set into a vintage steam-punk lamp


vintage is one style that appeals to most peoples taste. not only will a period piece instantly convey and provoke stories of a time past they just look super cool. because of the high desirability and lack of inventory on everything vintage the cost of product continues to rise and rise. the project before us is about achieving an aged vintage look without breaking the bank.

Supplies needed:
  • set of encyclopedia's
  • paint (white and dark grey)
  • stain (dark walnut)
  • galvanized plumbing flange, rod, and coupling (size is up to you)
  • sandpaper 150grit
  • drywall screws 1 5/8" (course)
  • edison bulb
  • lamp wire about 10' / plug / light socket
  • drill
  • boring bit (1/2")

step 1: acquiring your encyclopedia set
some of you have one in storage waiting to be used for a project like this or perhaps you may have to hit a few yard sales like i did. what ever way for a couple of bucks there's a set out there for you (mine cost $3 bucks).

my yard sale score and jump off for the project $3 bucks

step 2: stacking your set and attaching them together
starting from the last volume in the set screw each one together. set on a solid surface with the last volume first and in sequence screw together one at a time about 4 screws each (be sure to random the pattern so they wont hit each other, diamond/square works well and make sure the screws are long enough to get a good bite 1 5/8" worked for me).  the stack should look like the pic in step one when done.

step 3a: distressing and getting that aged vintage look
the first stage to this process is painting your stack out white. be sure to get all the nooks and cranny's then let dry.
step 3a painting out white

step 3b: dry brush the stack with dark gray
going one direction and using light long strokes dry brush with gray.

Q: what is dry brushing? 

good question and I'm glad you asked. dry brushing is very simple once you dip your brush into paint tamp off all excess paint so the brush isn't loaded with paint.

you don't need to cover the entire area random dark gray throughout the stack goes a long way. let dry

step 3b dry brushing with dark gray

step 3c: dry brushing with dark brown stain
in this step you use the same technique as in step 3b only using your dark stain stain. let dry

step 3c dry brushing with dark stain

step 4: aging and distressing
with 150 grit sandpaper start distressing your books. you want to get area's that look blotchy first (they sand out pretty easy). the goal is to make them look natural. select other random area's and area's that would be naturally worn down over time (like corners). for corners a file works well if you have one.

NOTE: i used the existing numbers on my set to make them look more authentic. You'll just need to sand a bit more in those areas to bring them out. try not to over dot it...
step 4 distressing and aging
step 4 corners distressed and aged
step 5: drilling the necessary hole through the stack for wiring
this step is by far the hardest but really if you have a long boring bit it's pretty easy. find what you think to be center of your stack and start drilling.

step 5 and what a 1/2" boring bit looks like
step 5 bottom and center of stack

step 6: attaching flange and running wire
on the top of your stack attach your pipe flange (i've chosen 3/4" pipe and hardware) attach flange with 3" deck screws over drilled out hole.

feed wire from bottom up pull enough and attach pipe to flange.

step 6 bottom of stack feeding wire
step 6 attaching flange over bored out center hole
step 6 attaching pipe to flange

step 7: hooking up electrical
it's pretty simple to hook up the electrical to plug and socket positive to positive and negative to negative. assemble the rest of socket and test.

step 7 wire fed up through bottom of stack

step 7 attaching the 2 leads to socket

step 7 socket assembled

step 8: elevating stack to accommodate cord at the bottom
now that the cord is running directly through the center of stack we need to elevate it so the stack sits upright and stable. for this i used 4 3/8" x 3" lag screws one at each corner of stack. once lags are attached place a rubber sticky bumper on each to prevent your project from scratching what ever it may sit on.

step 8 close up of lag and rubber bumper

step 8 view of the elevated stack accommodating the cord

for about $30 bucks worth of material or less depending on what you have laying around the house we have a unique industrial chic with vintage appeal steam-punk lamp. on to the next one...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

up-cycled pallet primitive American flag

final product

As most people who follow my post know i love to up-cycle and re-purpose whenever possible. This project is no different. We used an old pallet and gave it a bit of funky, primitive, patriotic charm.

Supplies needed:
  • pallet
  • paint (red, white, and blue)
  • 2" paint brush
  • saw (demo saw works best)
  • aluminum roof flashing
  • heavy duty scissors or snips
  • hammer and a few nails

stage 1; decide where to cut your palet.
I wanted to have the overall scale of a rectangle. So i measured my pallet across and it was 40" then measured down about 8 boards and it was 34" so that's where we made our cut @34"

stage 1 determining where to cut the pallet

stage 2; cutting your pallet
using a demo saw or sawzaw cut along the pallet slates in every place that the excess slats are attached (in our case three places) if you don't have a saw use the entire pallet and give it a bit more raw look.

stage 2 cutting to get desired look

stage 3; rough sand top surface and edges of pallet.
this helps clean up your pallet and aids in giving it more rustic appeal. be sure to use a mechanical sander (orbital or belt it really doesn't matter).

stage 3 rough sanding project

stage 4; dry brushing the pallet
because i want the over-all look to closely resemble a flag will use the mental picture of the American flag as reference. start first red stripe off to the right and lightly paint (you want to see sparatic paint coverage) in other words your project surface should show through. skip every other line and paint out flag pattern.

stage 4 red, white, and blue paint
stage 4 red stripes painted out

stage 5; painting the white stripes.
with a clean brush paint out white stripes with the same method used in stage 4. i left the first 4 boards free off paint where the blue field of stars will go.

stage 5 white stripes painted out

stage 6, painting the blue field for the stars.
start on the right side and paint towards the left. this helps give you a clean line where the field meets the stripes. paint out using same method as in above stages.

stage 6 painting out the star field blue

stage 7; cutting out stars from roof flashing.
the funky and primitive part of this project is all in the stars (you want them to be a bit off and odd looking).
Using 10' aluminum roof flashing cut 5 strips as wide as each slat of pallet. then cross cut into rectangles. stack into piles of 3-4 and cut out some funky shaped stars. BE CAREFUL FLASHING IS SHARP!!

stage 7 roof flashing for stars
stage 7 strips
stage 7 bundled rectangles
stage 7 my just-a-bit funky stars

stage 8, attach stars to pallet.
use small head nails (not finish nails they wont hold because heads to small) and randomly place and attach each row. we only used 16 stars to help achieve overall look (it's ART).
stage 8 attaching stars

this super fun and easy project has a great unfinished look and can be done in about 2hours (including dry time of paint)

also, because the project base was a pallet it will hang pretty easy with some good deck screws.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

a quick fix to headlight hazing

If there's one thing that dates a car prematurely that yellowing-brown grunge corroding the headlights. The best fix can be a bit pricey, replacing the lens covers. If you're looking for an economical quick fix polish your existing ones. I've seen several video's that use a kit from the automotive store and the result is similar to our simple method below.

BEFORE                                                              AFTER 
Stage 1, assessing your approach to that grungy lamp cover.
The best approach is not the simplest take off the headlamp lens cover. This will allow you  to handle the cover without damaging your cars paint (we skipped these steps because each car will vary on the difficulty and method). If you choose not to take it off you can mask off the area to protect the cars paint.

stage 1, assessing your approach (to remove or not)
stage 1, grungy lens cover off
Stage 2, wet sanding the cover.
Using a sponge sanding block wrap block with 1500-2000 grit paper wet lens and start sanding. Make sure to sand complete area adding water when needed. Rinse the lens cover and sand paper then re-sand. Continue this process until you have completely removed the grunge from the cover. It may take a couple of minutes depending on the severity of grunge on your lens cover.

stage 2, wet sanding lens cover with 1500-2000 grit sand paper
Stage 3, polishing the cover with a sock and Colgate all white toothpaste.
Slip your hand into an old sock and squirt a dab of toothpaste on it (the toothpaste acts as a rubbing compound/scratch remover). Wet your lens cover and start polishing. This step is probably the hardest and takes some elbow grease. The lens final product is dependent on how well it gets polished. Be sure to add water when needed and re charge your sock with toothpaste. Keep polishing until you like the final result.

stage 3, polishing the lens cover with toothpaste
Stage 4, rinse and clean off cover then let dry.
When the cover is wet the final result will look deceiving. It has to totally dry and even then you may need more polishing. You'll know if it needs more polishing because it dries hazy.
stage 4, rinse clean and let dry off
Stage 5, (optional) clear coat lens cover with a crystal clear UV spray protective coating.
Per clear coat instructions spray lens cover with a minimum of (2) coats. Let cover dry completely then re-install. This optional step will give the lens added protection and add to the life of your finish.

stage 5, (the final product) lens cover coated and re-installed

In the end the final product is definitely worth your effort as a temporary substitution for cover replacement. The whole process (minus dry times for clear coat) takes about an hour and be sure to take caution when washing your car lens covers if you clear coated. Use a sponge so you don't scratch or damage the coating...