DIY Monkey Curtain Rods

We needed curtain rods for my son’s room and I wanted to do something unique. He loves monkeys, so my wife drew a pattern and I made them. As you’ll probably notice his room is still done in the horrible 80’s paneling, so as of right now they are unfinished as we will probably paint them when we redo his room.

Endgrain pine cutting board

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So being unwilling to throw out the cut off from the sink I decided to try my hand at making an endgrain cutting board. I ran the off cuts from the ends and the sink through the table saw to make them all a consistent thickness and then flipped them on edge to run through my table saw again to joint the edges. After they were all square and the same dimensions it was a simple matter of gluing them all together and letting it sit in the clamps overnight. After it came out of the clamps I used the belt sander with a 36 grit belt to take off all the squeeze out and to flatten the cutting board. Then the boy and I worked up through the grits to 120 and then used the random orbit sander from 80 to 150 grit. After liberally applying a coat of mineral oil I let it sit for a couple days and reapplied. That was a month ago and now it is our go to cutting board. It needs the occasional reapplication of mineral oil to keep it looking fresh but other than that it is great.

Working as a family…

I feel incredibly grateful for a family that I can do projects with. As many of you know we are renovating our house, not as quickly as it could be but happening none the less. Over the last week I’ve been using my Alaskan saw mill to make a 21 foot 6×8 Douglas fir beam. Why not use the wood mizer you say? Well it can only cut 20 foot long logs, and its been moved to its new location and not set up yet. Anyway, here is a short video of a bit of hand planing.

Possibilities are now endless…

What poor fool hasn’t had the dream of owning a sawmill? I submit that anyone with a Y chromosome has at one time or another fantasized about owning their own sawmill. Well… Through a fortunate series of events I am now the proud owner of a Woodmizer LT10 sawmill. It’s older but nonetheless exciting, and its a lot quicker than my chainsaw mill.

Even Mrs. Birch gave it a try. This is with a rather dull blade. It cuts much quicker with a sharp blade on it.

DIY adjustable mitre saw supports…

So I had to square up and cut several long boards and I have nothing to support the ends so I found myself wishing I had some sort of adjustable roller stand. Since it was 7 o’clock at night, and I live in an area where the town shuts down at 5, I decided to see what I could throw together quickly.

A straightish stick

I started with a straight 2×2 (approximately) that I had left over from the counter top and cut a couple 2 and 1/2 foot pieces.







Next I cut a piece about 10 inches long and cut one end at a 45 degree angle and then screwed the 3 pieces together, then put a 3rd piece as a kickstand.

IMG_0094I screwed a couple of scrap pieces of OSB to the bottom for feet and then slid the remaining piece of 2×2 in between the longer pieces.

IMG_0095I screwed a couple more pieces of scrap OSB to the top along with some spacers and put some shorter pieces on as straps to keep the adjustable part inline.

IMG_0097I adjusted it to the right height and then put a screw through one of the straps to hold it at that height. As a prototype it works pretty good but you have to orient it so the kick stand is facing the saw or it has a tendency to fall over. It would be easy to use a clamp to tighten it up so you could make it more adjustable but this will pretty much be in the same place until I build a bit more of an elegant looking stand… because you know nothing says fine furniture like OSB…

Finally the bathroom vanity progresses…

So we finally got around to taking the next step in fixing our bathroom vanity. As you know we have had a fir slab ready for the project in for several months now,  and as I finally felt guilty enough to stop procrastinating I decided to do something about it. Actually my wife made me feel guilty about procrastinating. I almost feel guilty about removing the sink. Every time I look at it it just looks so excited to see me.


As you can see it is a beautiful shade of early 80’s green. It was never a good color and has not aged very gracefully.



In Pretty short order my manly helper and I had the sink removed. It was all held in by a few dabs of glue and some 2 inch finishing nails.

With the addition of a couple supports the room is ready for the new sink.


The slab has been mostly finished for a while now but I still had to square it up and cut it to length.


I used my home made track saw mark 2 to make the initial cut then a hand saw to finish up.

After cutting it to length I flipped it over and used a combination of circular saw and chisel to make a rabbet for the slab to rest on the supports.


Now for the test fit.


Looking good, but now I need to do a bunch of messing around to get the plumbing hooked up and functioning.

Installing the dishwasher…

Renovations are a sequential vortex that suck you into the swirling abyss of despair and unfinished projects. If you listen closely you can hear millions of voices calling desperately from below “Don’t do it! It’s good enough!” On the plus side we now have a dishwasher in our kitchen, so the project I commenced on is finished, however now I need to build a new kitchen countertop, finish a cabinet beside our now stacked washer and dryer, drywall the laundry alcove, and pull some new wiring. While I’m at the last one I might as well get into the attic and pull some wire for lights in our living room because that has irritated me for over a year now, and then I’ll have to do some more drywall….. Nooooooooo!!! I’m being sucked away… Let this be a warning to you all before it’s too late!

Anyway, as you may be able to tell, I have been working on installing a dishwasher. It all started out innocently enough, when we bought house I promised my wife that it would be a simple matter to install the dishwasher as the house was lacking one. It really was simple, it only took about two hours of actual labor to install the dishwasher, however dreading the inevitable sequence of events involved in any sort of renovation I have delayed for over a month in actually installing the dishwasher. We bought a  nice Bosch dishwasher on a Sears black Friday sale which has been sitting in our carport in its box for well over a month now.  Finally the guilt of trudging by dishwasher every day overcame the fear of the renovation and I commenced. Unfortunately I forgot to take a before picture but that wasn’t really interesting anyway. I started by pulling the original countertops off, which were two different heights, and rearranging the kitchen cabinets to a better configuration to suit  dishwasher.

Also unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the beautiful original flooring that was underneath the current linoleum. It is a 8 x 8 red and black spotted tile which would’ve gone really beautifully with the 80s green snowflake print wallpaper which was also behind the cabinets. It would’ve looked a lot like a strawberry garden gone wild. We gave some thought to restoring it to its original glory and then laughed wildly moved on. 

I built a birch plywood box for around the dishwasher. Now is where the sequence of events got out of hand. In order to plum in the dishwasher I had to pull out the washer and dryer on the other side of the wall. While I was doing that we decided to stack them to save space which of course required ripping off the upper cabinets in the laundry room. This now requires a new set of cabinets to be built in the space recently vacated by the dryer, and that project will be saved for later post. Unfortunately the battery on my phone has been dying when it’s cold so I don’t have any pictures of the construction of the cabinets but the install and frustrations involved with that will probably be well documented.

We decided to make a butcher block style countertop to see if we could do it and to see how it would look. Since this was our first attempt we decided to do it on the cheap and so I purchased 5  number two or better 8 foot long 2x10s. By ripping these into 2 x 2’s I essentially made a bunch of quartersawn pine. 

Quartersawn wood has the advantage of being much more dimensionally stable. Of course the center two were more flat sawn and were discarded but I still ended up with enough to lay out a 26 inch wide countertop.  

After planing everything to the same thickness we glued up the entire countertop at once. I think if I was to do it over again I would glue up three at a time and then glue them up in pairs until I got to the full dimension. There were a few gaps and it was kind of uneven overall but I ended up using my hand plane to clean it up which worked really quickly. Edit

We sanded it with the random orbit sander but I had my plane set so well that it want really necessary. 

We applied a coat of wood conditioner and followed that up with the dark walnut wood stain. The next day after the stain had dried we applied two coats of satin polyurethane to the bottom to seal it and then flipped it over. At this point we discovered a mistake that we had made by not raising it off the paper which  was protecting our table. The poly had glued the paper to the leading edge of our countertop. We then had to scrape the paper off. This turned out all right since it gave the edge bit of a nice distressed look. 

All in all it turned out all right. We made a few mistakes but since our all in cost is less than $100 including the tools and the polyurethane I think it was a good learning experience. As you can see our superspy approves.

The New Door

In an attempt to give us slightly more space and perhaps facilitate the flow of heat through the house we decided to close in the front porch. 

The area is roughly 7×7 and opens to the west, which is where the prevailing wind comes from in the winter. Yay for us. There is a laminated 6×6 beam that carries the load from the roof and since there wasn’t enough room to put a header above the rough opening (only 5 inches clearance) I decided to assume it wasn’t needed in this case.

After the framing was done I closed it in with OSB and then covered it all with #30 felt paper to provide a water and air barrier.

 It was about this time when I got the door put in when I discovered that I should have checked how level the floor is. Suffice it to say there is almost an inch difference. Now the out of square door will bother me forever. 

I ripped some 1×6 cedar in half to use as the trim and then ripped another piece in half again for the strip over the lintle. I also put a slight bevel on the horizontal surfaces to aid the shedding of water which probably isn’t strictly necessary given there is at least 3 feet of over hang.  


Fortunately the position of the door and the cedar shakes I used coincided and I had to do very little cutting in order to get a nice fit. I used a off cut price of the 1×6 cedar as a spacer for positioning of the shakes which gave me a 5 1/2 inch reveal. It worked out about right.

Now here is the completed project. 

Now on to the next project. Maybe I’ll finally complete the vanity.