Sunday, February 7, 2016

Building a Black Iron Pipe and Wooden Coffee table

My kids and I love to play board games.  However, whenever we played, the board game would not fit the ottoman coffee table we had so we would have to move it out of the way and play on the floor.  Walking though the store, I fell in love with the coffee table that went with my dining table in the kitchen.  However, I didn't want my house to be too matchy matchy.  On top of that, the price was over 1K so I wasn't jumping for joy at spending that much for a coffee table. 

Therefore, I decided to make the coffee table myself.  My dining table is made from reclaimed wood and has iron legs so I wanted my coffee table to be somewhat like that.  In the end, this is what I came up with my coffee table and I absolutely love it.


I always start my creative building process by scribbling down a drawing of what I think I would like and then I do my research.  I looked up square iron pieces to be similar to my dining table, but of course, I had no soldering experience.  I needed something adjustable so I thought of pipes.  I could get whatever measurements I wanted and put it together like lego pieces. 

I decided to get black iron pipes instead of galvanized ones.  I like the more rustic look and since I was making a coffee table, I didn't need the no rust feature of the galvanized pipes.  I learned rather quickly not to pick up black pipes with your hands because they are covered with grease.  Luckily, I brought some gloves with me when I was shopping (I never go to the hardware store with out them because wood+fingers = splinters). 

I did some research on how to remove the grease.  First I soaked the pipes in Trisodium Phosphate using the instructions on the back.  I found this at Lowes for a few dollars.  With a little elbow grease, I scrubbed the grease off after it had been soaking in the solution.  I used goof off to remove any remaining residue.

I quickly dried all the pipes (so that it wouldn't rust) and then started putting them together. 


I screwed the caps (which will be like the feet for my coffee table)  to a 4 inch piece of black steel nipple fitting.


Next, I  screwed the black steel tee fitting to the 4 inch piece and added a 8 inch piece to the other side.


To the center tee fitting, I attached a 12 inch nipple fitting with another tee fitting to attach the pair of legs together.


To attach the two pairs together, I added a center piece of black pipe that was 48 inches long. 

Finally, I added 4 flanges to the top of the 8 inch nipples that would enable me to attach it to the table surface from underneath.  I know there are more black pipes on the floor there.  I bought enough to make several different size scenarios.  Originally, my table was bigger, but I scaled it down a bit.  Once I got my leg measurements, I was off to cut the table top.


I bought 3 pieces of 2x8x10 and cut them to a length of 56 inches. 


Next, since the edges of the wood were curved, I went ahead and stripped each piece so that it would have a nice straight edge.


I clamped all the pieces together so that the edges would be straight and then I glued and screwed all the pieces using my kreg jig.


Initial assembly looked like this:

I'm well aware of the price tag on the pipes (this was before I cleaned the pipes).  I wanted to make sure my top fit the dimensions of the pipes before washing them.  Next, I sanded the entire piece to remove any rough edges.

Now came the fun part.  I used hammers, chisels, knives, my feet and whatever else I had to make the wood look old.  It was quite therapeutic :)   I wanted to make the wood look old and dented so I pounded it for quite some time.

I stained it with Minwax Walnut color stain that I already had.  I applied 3 coats of polyurethane with light sanding in between to the top surface and just 1 coat underneath.  


I added some metal brackets underneath for additional support.  Then I screwed the flanges in place. 


With some creative sliding (it is heavy), I flipped the table and voila!


So I lived with this table for a week before deciding that it was a little too tall for my liking.  I built it to the height of typical coffee tables, 18.5".  However, I decided that by lowering my table a couple of inches, it would look and feel better.  Even though everyone thought I was crazy because they did not agree with my thoughts, I went to the store and replaced my pipes and rebuilt my table.  I originally had a 10" pipes instead of an 8" ones.  


Here we are with my storage ottoman I had before.  I had just reupholster the thing a couple of months prior too, but it just doesn't work in our space anymore.  It once was perfect when we had toddlers, but now it was just too small.

I bought a new rug that made the room much bigger and the ottoman just looked tiny in it.

My new coffee table looked huge in comparison and for a moment I thought it was too big.


However, after living with it for a few months, I've discovered, it is indeed perfect.



I love everything about it.  It is super sturdy, we can fit our board games comfortably and best of all, my kids can dent, color, and scratch it up, and it only adds more character to the surface.  It is definitely a put your feet up type of table which is how we live.

In the end, I saved a bunch.  I ended up spending about a hundred for my coffee table and the best part of my table is that I love it more than the 1K inspirational one.


Have you ever built something only to find out that you had to rebuild it to make it perfect?  I do it all the time.  Each piece I learn something new that I am able to apply what I've learned to my next project.  I am so happy with my table.  It took me a while to get there, but I finally did.

Here's a run down of the materials:
3 - 2x8x10
4 - 1 inch floor flange fitting
4 - 1 inch black iron cap fitting
6 - 1 inch black iron tee fitting
4 - 4 inch length (1 inch diameter) black steel nipple fitting
4 - 8 inch length (1 inch diameter) black iron pipe
4 - 12 inch length (1 inch diameter) black iron pipe
1 - 48 inch length (1 inch diameter) black iron pipe
16 screws
2 metal brackets
1 box of tsp
1 spray bottle of goof off
1 quart of stain
1 quart of satin finish polyurethane  

Note that you can make your table any size you want.  I made mine to fit my space and dimension of my couch (and board games ;) )

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Personalized Teachers Christmas Gifts

My kids have been in school for decades it seems so there have been a lot of different types of gifts given to their teachers.  I've given anything from gift cards to gift baskets, candies to lotions, but I've realized, that the biggest reactions came from gifts that were personalized and hand-made.  I was walking down the school hallway to my child's teacher's class room and noticed in a previous teacher's classroom was the crayola art picture I made for her.  I won't lie, that kind of tugged at my heart strings a bit seeing something I made 3 years ago hanging on the wall.

That got me thinking to the reaction that I got when I made a mug for another teacher with the classroom picture on one side and on the other side, it wrote, "Mrs. Allen, you are the best."

This year, I thought I would combine the two.  Being the yearbook coordinator last year brought on a lot of photo ideas so my plan was to make classroom books for my kids' teachers this year for an end of the year memento.  I went to the school and photographed all the kids.  As I was editing pictures, I was playing around and came up with this:


I decided to make a cup, but of course, it didn't turn out as I had hoped the first go at it.  I had to make a few modifications, like changing the orientation to landscape for one of them.


The result was a really adorable cup.

Next, I decided to wrap the gift and stick it in an insulated lunch bag with the teacher's initial embroidered on it.  I had read a lot of teachers liking gifts that are created from their students, especially ornaments so off my kids went to create their own masterpiece. 


It was the perfect gift tag.  One side had a little piece of artwork, while the other side had their name.


Then I decided to frame the picture I created as well because I just simply loved the way it turned out. Hopefully, it will be a nice addition to the classroom ;)


I was planning on doing this for teacher appreciation week, but I've always been a little impatient and just couldn't wait so I'm gifting it as well.


For a finishing touch, on the back of the portrait, I printed a picture of my son with a little note.

When thinking of the things that I want for Christmas, I really love receiving hand-made gifts.  I'm hoping the teachers love the gifts as much as I did creating them.  What do you think?  What were some of your most favorite hand-made gifts you have given?

Update:  What's the reaction verdict?  I got a handful of teary-eyed teachers and plenty of hugs.  Hearing that I gave them the best gift they have ever received, made all the hours of editing worth it.  That's the least I could do for all the hours they have given my kiddos, right?  Now, I have to figure out how to top that for teacher appreciation week.   I'm so out of ideas at the moment.  Anyone make anything unique that you would like to share?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Installing ring - the video doorbell

One of the things that I have been wanting to do for a while is set up some security cameras around the house for a safety measure.  I found a video doorbell online that allows you to see who is at your door before you open it.  Oftentimes, we get solicitors, but not knowing who is at the door, I peak out the window and they see me!  There goes my cover of pretending I'm not home if I don't want to answer the door.  I don't like the fact that my kiddos rush to the door without a second thought either.  Therefore, I thought I'd take the plunge and buy me one of these gadgets.  Now, the problem was figuring out which one.  I narrowed it down to two different doorbells.!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;">SkyBell Wi-Fi Video Doorbell Version 2.0 (BRONZE)</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important     

There was the ring and skybell that I was looking at.  I noticed this morning there is also the august brand that hasn't been released.  I can't remember the reason that made me decide to go with the ring brand.  I'm sure it had to do with the reviews.


I chose the venetian bronze color because I had just painted my hardware an oil rubbed bronze so it would match nicely. Opening the box, you see all these fancy tools to help you install your new doorbell.


Here's the doorbell I started with.  It is completely boring and very ugly.  I've wanted to replace this thing since I moved in.


First up, I turned off the power to the doorbell.  Then it was time to remove the old doorbell.  I removed the screws and then pulled the door bell off, cutting away at the sealer.  Disgusting, huh? 


I had to then drill through the brick.  Can I say, this is SOOOO hard to do.  Because of the location of our previous doorbell and me wanting to hide the two screw holes already there, I had no choice, but to have to drill through brick TIMES FOUR!  I'm telling you now.  If you have a choice weather or not to drill through the mortar or a wood trim, do it!  Although the kit comes with a drill bit, our brick was SO very hard that it wore that out and I had to buy another masonry bit to replace it.


Drilling the four holes was hands down the toughest part.  Next up was pulling the two doorbell wires through the back plate of the doorbell and attaching it to the screws.


I screwed the blue wire to the left and the white wire to the right screw.  It was a complete guess on my part as far as which wire went to which screw.


I screwed the top plate on top and now was the time to test it out.  I installed the ring app, set my settings and gave it a go.


It worked!  My kids had so much fun watching themselves on their devices.


What's the verdict 6 months later on this little gadget?!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;

I can't live with out it.  I am surprised by the advantages still today.  I set my doorbell to be motion activated. Therefore, even if no one rings the doorbell, my phone notifies me whenever someone is at the door.  This comes in so handy during the holiday seasons when I am buying all my christmas presents online.  Whenever the delivery man comes and drops off the package, I can see on my phone the packages and bring them inside!  They don't even ring the doorbell anymore, but I know the packages are there because I can see them on the floor through the camera.  I also get notified from UPS via text, but sometimes that notification comes 30 minutes later and I never get notified if it is FEDEX or USPS so that doorbell is awesome especially in the evenings when I wouldn't even know the packages are there (FEDEX for us delivers in the evening and never rings the doorbell to let us know).

The doorbell also lets me know when the kids leave the house.  Since I work early in the morning, its nice to know when my kids leave for school. I can't tell you how many times my kids let me know that dad overslept and they were late!  

Aside from the fact, its awesome to see who is at the door from your own bedroom so you don't have to get up if you don't want to, it is even MORE awesome to know who is at the door when you are not home.  Just this week, we were remodeling our pool and workers were over working on it.  I couldn't stay because I had to take the kids to piano practice.  Yet, while I was gone, the doorbell rang so I picked it up on my phone to answer it because I could see it was one of the workers needing to show me something.  I was able to answer the ring and talk with him to let him know I was only a few minutes away.  Instead of him leaving and then having the company call me back, he waited for me to personally show me around.

Those are the advantages.  Now for the disadvantages.  It's great that there is a motion-activated sensor, but there is also a downfall to it.  I see every car that "slowly" drives by.  I live in a culdesac and there are only 3 other houses at the end of the street so I don't get too many cars that drive by slowly, but if you live on a busy street, the motion-activated sensor could be annoying.  The other disadvantage is the lag.  Sometimes, there is a slight delay from when the person rings the doorbell to when you are notified.  The last thing is that you cannot see through the camera in real time.  I wish there was a feature where you can see out your door without being activated by a motion.

For me, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages to the point I contemplate installing one for our backdoor as well - not necessarily for the "doorbell" feature, but for the motion-activated camera.  In the end, it was worth the purchase.  I wasn't able to find any discounts or coupons or sales, but its one of the purchases I would still make again, regardless.  Are there any gadgets you have bought that you just can't live without?
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