Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Pink Under-the-Bed Divided Toy Storage

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Charlotte from At Charlotte’s House joined us for our Habitat for Humanity ReStore Workshop in Philadelphia. Follow along as she shares some helpful tips she learned at the event and watch as she puts them to practice building and staining this beautiful under-the-bed toy storage box in her daughter’s favorite color, PINK!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Minwax®, but all opinions and pink reveal are my own.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a fun event at the Philadelphia Restore hosted by Minwax®! Truthfully, I wasn’t sure of the specifics, but when I walked into the room and saw tables with wood and samples and brushes, I KNEW it was going to be a great afternoon! The experts at Minwax® gave us a crash course in all things wood staining, wood preserving, and furniture finishing. Guess what. This 5 year DIYer was doing all SORTS of things wrong when it came to my staining.

1. I wasn’t pretreating my wood. Which makes for a blotchy stain. No bueno. Use a wood conditioner, Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner.

2. I was cleaning my brushes wrong. Alll wrong. When you turn them upside down in the faucet? All that paint just gets shoved down into the nape of the bristles. Also no bueno. Just hold the bristles pointed down, and rinse/ flick until no more paint.

3. No idea about water based and oil based nuances. Oil based stains, like Minwax® Wood Finish™,have a much longer working time, but can smell a lot. Like a lot a lot! Water based stains, like Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain, will dry much faster which can be tricky, but they also come in amazing colors like, ahem… my pink toy tray!

4. Shaking my cans. Don’t do it, folks. Bubbles are bad. Always stir your stain.

5. Brush type. I typically grab the cheapest brush unless it’s one of my favorite angle brushes. Synthetic bristles should be used with water based paints and natural bristles should be reserved for oil based products… the water can cause natural bristles to swell and change their shape.

I could go on, but five major staining mistakes seems like enough.

One of the products I fell head over heels in love with was the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Perfectly Pink.” PINK! As you know, Eleanor’s room is a plethora of fuchsia and we had a bit of a toy situation going on. I decided to build her a simple storage bin for all her toys and stain it… yep… pink!

The tray itself is very simple. I used a 3/4″ 2×4 piece of sanded plywood and framed it out with some mitered 1x3s.

I mitered the corners of the 1x3s and lined them up to the edge of the plywood with wood glue and a brad nailer.

To split the tray into two halves, I glued/ nailed a 1×2 down the middle to act as a partition to help her divide her creations from all the different toy pieces.

I sanded and pretreated the wood to start. The pre stain wood conditioner helps prep the wood so that any stain applied will be a smooth even finish. Since the pink stain is a water based stain, I used Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

The wood frame of the tray is stained with the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Perfectly Pink.” I brushed on the stain with a synthetic brush, and then wiped off any excess with a cotton rag. To finish, I went over the stain a day later with a flat finish Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish to help preserve the stain.

For the inside, I used some leftover white paint to keep the storage area crisp and clean. Casters and 2 lucite handles later… I’m in love.

Eleanor is actually VERY organized so I figured I’d give her a head start, and bought her some small plastic containers in which she can sort the various toy pieces. One corner at a time, folks… keeping this house quasi-organized!

One side of the tray is for the things that she builds and the other is for her spare pieces. I’m not sure whether it will be easier for her with or without the lids, but I love how pretty all the containers look with their rainbow toy pieces!

I was able to use three 1x3s at $3 each. The plywood is about $10. A pack of four casters was maybe $3 and each handle was about $4. I could have used simple grocery store containers, but instead I got these ones that were all about $3 a piece. Doing the math… that brings the whole project to about $50. I know that’s not super cheap, but… the alternative is a dresser or a file cabinet and this is just too perfect not to love!

You can see more great DIY projects from Charlotte on her blog: At Charlotte’s House. Her design style is fun, frugal, repurposed eclectic and she like colors and whimsy and brass and rattan. You can also follow her onFacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

5 Staining Tips Every DIYer Should Know with City Farmhouse

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Jen of City Farmhouse is back to share some wood finishing tips she learned at our Habitat for Humanity ReStore workshop. Follow along as she walks you through 5 helpful tips you should know before starting your next DIY wood finishing project. 

This is a sponsored post by Minwax®.

     

Here are  5 staining tips every DIYer should know…

     So before staining, it’s important to use an oil based wood conditioner like Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if you’ll be using an oil based stain, or MInwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if staining with a water based stain.

     

     

  

     

  Minwax® Polyshades® It’s both a stain and protective finish in one product.   

 

      

  

DIY Floating Bench

 

Live Edge Bench

 

DIY Modern Rustic Beam

 

Driftwood Sculptures

Jen shares DIY projects and thrifty decorating solutions. Her design philosophy is that bringing style to your home doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn more about Jen and visit City Farmhouse. You Can also follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

A Guide to Buying Wood at the Big Box Stores

In case you haven’t noticed, the old fashioned, family-owned lumberyards are nearly extinct. If you still have one in your area, feel fortunate. For most of us, the closest home improvement store is the only source for purchasing wood, which can be daunting for those new to DIY. Here are some tips to help you on your next visit.

Poplar

What to Expect

Home improvement stores are not going to have a wide assortment of wood species, especially not high-grade hardwoods, such as cherry, walnut, maple or mahogany. For those woods, you will have to find a specialty woodworking store. At most big box stores you can expect to find pine, oak, poplar, birch and fir.

Carts

Come Prepared

Be sure to come knowing what type and quantity of wood you need. Bring a tape measure and a pair of gloves for handling the wood. And you better measure your vehicle to make sure it will all fit!

SizeSize of Boards

Wood has shrunk to the point where a 2” x 4” board is closer to 1.5” x 3.5” by the time it reaches the store. Bring your plans and measure each board before you buy it.

KnotGrades of Lumber

Regardless of the species, wood is priced according to flaws. Construction grade, sometimes called #3, will be loaded with knots, some with actual knot holes. For that reason, it is the cheapest, least attractive, and least prone to accept a stain and finish evenly. Wood with only a few tight knots is considered #2 grade (shown above). Slightly more expensive, it still does not absorb stain well around the knots, even after one or two coats of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Prime #1 grade is considered clear of flaws and is both the best and the most expensive, regardless of the type of wood.

PlywoodBeware of Plywood and Particleboard

Plywood (shown above) is composed of thin layers of wood glued together. It is primarily used for construction, but you can find oak, birch and other hardwood plywoods. They are expensive, do not stain as evenly as solid wood, and you have to cover the exposed edges with strips of wood or veneer to hide the layers.

ParticleParticleboard (shown above) is sawdust or shredded wood chips mixed with glue. It, too, is used for construction, although manufacturers of shelving and some furniture top it with a layer of veneer. Be aware that particleboard bends under weight, such as in bookcase shelves. It also cannot be stained, breaks under stress, doesn’t hold screws well and crumbles when wet.

PickyBe Picky

I was buying eight-foot lengths of 1”x6” tongue-and-groove cedar recently, and at $20 per board, I was not going to just take the top boards in the stack. And I was not going to feel guilty for picking out the best boards. In most cases the boards on top have already been rejected by someone ahead of you, so pull them out, put them aside, and dig down to find the best boards that no one else has picked over. Avoid those that are warped, twisted, badly stained, and cracked!

BUT — be polite and return your rejects to the pile.

And remember, you don’t have to finish all your boards, just the ones you want to last.

Until next time,

Bruce

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Dealing with Dust

Dust

Ask any wood finisher and you will learn that dust is the enemy of a smooth finish. Eliminate dust and you eliminate the problem. So, how do you do that?

First, recognize that dust is everywhere; on your project, around your workbench, on the floor, on the ceiling, even on your clothes. And, as soon as you brush on a sticky stain or finish, it acts like a magnet, pulling dust to it.

Second, pick your work space carefully. Working outdoors only trades wood dust for pollen, road dust and bugs. Working indoors is better, but you still want to avoid brushing a stain or finish beneath an active heating or air conditioning vent. Also, avoid areas with a strong natural breeze that brings dust indoors. If you rely on an open window for ventilation, put a screen on it to block out dust particles.

 

Rag

Third, a rag or a dry brush are not the best ways to eliminate sanding dust. A rag forces dust deeper into the pores of the wood, where it will come back out once you start applying your stain or finish.

 

Brush

A dry brush or, worse yet, an air compressor simply blows the dust up into the air, where it hovers before landing back onto your wet stain or finish.

 

Vacuum

Finally, the best way to control dust is to eliminate it with a vacuum. A soft bristle brush on the end of the hose will gently dislodge dust from the pores, joints and corners of your project while the vacuum draws it into the canister.

Sanding

Even with vacuuming, however, you will still have some dust settle into your wet finish. To eliminate it, after your clear finish dries, sand it lightly with #220-grit sandpaper before applying your next coat. If needed, wet-sand your final coat with #400-grit dipped in mineral oil, which acts as a lubricant to prevent your sandpaper from leaving scratches.

Until next time.

The secret to a smooth finish is a smooth surface.

Bruce

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.