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...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

vintage white wash technique

Back in the late 80's early 90's a hot trend was to white wash furniture. Like all trends to much gets to be too much and the whole look died and became just another dated fad look in thrift stores.

It's time to revive it but with a subtle, fresh, vintage look.

In my opinion the key to a good vintage white wash let the projects original color toning be the behind the scenes star. In other words less is definitely more.

reclaimed lumber table with vintage white wash

Step 1, making your white wash solution.
The solution may vary from person to person but actually it's pretty simple 2 parts white latex paint 1 part water.

I like to use an old glass jar for my container for a couple of reasons; one, you can shake it up which mixes it really well. Second, you can store the excess for another time. Whatever mixing container you choose measure the height of it and divide by 3. The first 2/3rds will be for paint (mark it with a sharpie) the last 3rd is your water fill line (mark it with a sharpie).

dividing your container by 3 and marking fill lines
first add your white latex paint to fill line
now add water to fill line
put the lid on shack it up and it's ready

Step 2, (assuming your project is prepped and ready) apply the first layer of white wash.

Remember less is more.

Before you apply your first layer and after you dip your brush into the solution tamp off excess paint on a piece of cardboard or something like that. This prevents getting to many initial runs on first strokes. Only paint horizontally with this first layer stroke. As with any painting the pressure you apply to the brush determines the amount of paint to your project, ease into it...

tamping excess paint off your brush
first layer stroke horizontally

Step 3, second white wash layer.
After your first layer is dry use the same method with the exception of stroke direction, now use a vertical stroke. Adjust the amount of paint by using a heavier and lighter stroke. I like the base color to be the silent star so I use less solution.

second layer vertical stroke

The final product.
Remember to have fun with it and that nothing is perfect. If you get a little blotchy in some area's don't worry about it. The project is about the overall look you want to achieve...

corner detail of my table

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

mixing concrete for a smaller project

Infusing concrete in to a design can have a great impact on a projects overall result. I really like the way it adds a modern urban vibe to what ever I'm making. If you've been reluctant to use it in your projects don't let it intimidate you anymore. It's pretty awesome stuff.

Stage 1, getting your mix supplies ready.
For most smaller projects I'll use a bucket mix (not shown below in the pic of things you may need). There's some benefits to using this mix method. First it contains the mix really well, second they're cheap, third it's perfect for small mixes, and fourth garage space is kind-of a premium (buckets prevent the need of the additional space a wheelbarrow takes up). 

Supplies required:
  • Concrete
  • mixing container
  • additional bucket of water on hand for tools and clean up
  • hose with nozzle or additional bucket of water
  • mixing stick or drill and mix attachment
  • scoop cup
  • trowel
  • concrete color (if desired)

things you may need

Stage 2, starting your mix.
What ever your chosen mix container add just a bit of water to the bottom and sides of it. It prevents the concrete from clumping, sticking, and makes it easier to get a good mix (I leave about 2" of water on the bottom).

stage 2, pre-wet the mixing container

Stage 3, protect your mixing area.
Lay out something to mix your concrete on. You will splatter and spill it happens especially if you use a drill motor for mixing. I use a scrap piece of cardboard but anything that can be spread out will work.

stage 3, protecting your area

Stage 4, adding concrete.
With your scoop dump 2-3 scoops then start mixing. It's better to go slowly especially if your manually mixing and add as needed to get the proper consistency (pancake batter/ oatmeal) both work well. For a couple of bucks make life easier and buy a drill attachment (it makes quick work of it).

stage 4, slowly add concrete and mix
stage 4, this mix is to wet add concrete
stage 4, this is how I like it

Stage 5, to tint or not to tint?
Sometimes I like to add coloring to get a richer color in my concrete. This step is totally dictated by you and your projects over all look. In this case I'm adding a charcoal coloring. Just squirt in as much or little that you want and then mix in.

stage 5, adding color tint
stage 5, coloring mixed in and concrete ready to use

Stage 6, clean up.
Use that additional bucket of water for clean up and setting dirty concrete tools in. Be sure to dump your mess in an appropriate area. I use a spot in my backyard kinda dedicated to the left over concrete junk...

stage 6, clean up

Here's a couple of recent projects that I have done using the bucket mix method.

stool with up-cycled desk legs
the base to my mid-century modern floor pendant

In the end concrete is pretty easy to work with. Yes, it's a bit messy but it really brings an additional element of material to a project that often makes it super cool.

Go for it, use it and please post some photo's of your work...