How to Make a Drawer Organizer

I hate buying drawer organizers. New ones are so expensive for something so simple (sometimes $20+ if you want one that looks nice.) If you go to a thrift store, you end up digging through piles of junk to find a single, beat-up plastic organizer that’s priced at $5, which is exactly $4 more than I’m willing to pay.

So when it came time to organize my new desk’s primary drawer, I said no to the organizer hassle, and decided to make my own. I did it under an hour, entirely with scrap wood, and didn’t spend a single cent. I swear, it was so easy that I will never buy another drawer organizer again.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects

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How to Make a Drawer Organizer

(In One Hour, Out of Scrap Wood)
Materials
  • 1" x 2" Furring Strips- I used some scraps I had sitting around. I would guess it takes a little more than one strip for the design I used. 
  • Wood Glue
  • Brad Gun and Nails- These are (kind of) optional. Wood glue alone is enough to hold the organizer together after it drys. However, each wood glue joint takes 20 minutes to dry, meaning that building the organizer will be a painstakingly slow process. The brad nails secure the pieces in the short term, meaning if you have a nail gun, you can continue assembling as the glue of the previous joint dries.
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Step 1 : Determine Object Placement

I laid my drawer out on the floor and arranged all the items I wanted to store in the drawer.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects

I actually have extra space. The nice part about the organizer design is that I can add more pieces later if I want to.

Step 2: Cut Pieces to Size

I started with the two long pieces that span the entire length of the drawer. Despite that I wasn’t storing anything in the back half of the drawer, I still made the organizer span the entire drawer. This way, the organizer wouldn’t shift around every time I opened or closed the drawer.

In my case, these pieces were 22” long.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects

Then I moved from left to right, placing the pieces in position as I went to make sure everything would fit together perfectly.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
A Note About Saws

Since I now own a miter saw, I used it to cut the pieces to length, which was quick and easy. Other saws will work, but may be slower and make less accurate cuts depending on the saw.

If you don’t have a saw, you might be able to do this project with thinner wood and a hand saw. While Home Depot and Lowes both will cut wood, I’ve had mixed results asking them to cut something this small and precise. They make it pretty clear that their cutting services are primarily so you can fit the wood in your car, and they “don’t do precision cuts.” Some stores will still make cuts like this for you, and it doesn’t hurt to ask, but I wouldn’t make that my plan A.

Step 3: Glue Pieces Together

Before I started gluing and nailing, I made a quick plan of the order to make sure my brad nailer could access all of the joints. Your plan may differ from mine depending on what your organizer looks like.

I started by making three independent parts: the left sides, the right side, and the center “H” part that surrounds the flash drives and binder clips.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects

Then I assembled the pieces together from left to right. I did a dab of glue on each joint, then secured it with brad nails.

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Other Tips
  • I used 1” brad nails in my nail gun. Like I said earlier, their primary purpose is to hold the organizer together while the glue dries.
  • Before I assembled the pieces, while they were still arranged in the drawer, I made pencil marks at the beginning and end of each joint. That way, when I was assembling the organizer, I knew exactly where to place each piece.
  • I intentionally arranged the wood so no two pieces intersected the long front-to-back strips in the same place. This allowed me to always secure the joints with brad nails.
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Final Thoughts

I booked three hours for making this organizer, and it was done in one! Super easy and quick to make; I really mean it when I say that I’ll never buy another drawer organizer again given that I can make one so easily. And it looks super cute, plus it matches the monitor riser organizer I have on top of my desk (coming soon!!) In the meantime, if you love organizers, check out my scrap wood wall organizer- it's one of my favorite projects!

Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects
Like this project? Save it to Pinterest!
Have some scrap wood sitting around? Customize your storage with these quick and easy DIY scrap wood drawer organizers! #organizers #scrapwoodprojects

6 Miter Saw Safety Tips for Beginners

Two summers ago, my dad bought a miter saw for the first time in his 70-ish year existence. I was shocked; how could my very handy, son of a legit woodworker father never have used a miter saw? The one single tool that I had coveted for years, but didn’t have the space for, my dad had done without for his entire life. Apparently, owning a table saw negates the need for every other tool ever, I guess?

When I went to visit him, I promptly realized he was using the miter saw wrong! Pointing this out, and promptly pulling up five websites that agreed with me was one of my proudest daughter moments ever, not going to lie. But I realized, if my super-handy dad could make mistakes using a miter saw, there were probably plenty of beginner power-tool users who needed a quick miter saw safety guide.

So without further ado, here are six of the most important miter saw safety tips!

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6 Important Miter Saw Safety Tips
1) Keep your hands 6 inches away from the blade.

This is the number one safety rule for miter saws, in my opinion. Miter saws are pretty safe, for saws at least. Given that they're relatively stationary and have automatic blade guards, it's almost difficult to inadvertently cut yourself. The one way to do so? Put your hand in the path of the blade. Keep your hands 6 inches away from the blade at all time, and you'll eliminate the easiest route to injury.

2) Push, don't pull, a sliding miter saw.
Scared of your miter saw? Check out these important miter saw safety tips specifically geared at beginners! #PowerTools

This is the mistake my dad was making when he first bought his miter saw. When using a sliding miter saw, you should be sliding the blade away from you. See picture above!

3) Don't raise the blade until it's come to a complete stop.

Safety-wise, if the blade is embedded in the wood, it's not cutting your hand. Pretty simple. But this tip is also good practice when woodworking. If you bring the blade back up before it has completely stopped spinning, it will cut just a little bit more off your project on its way up, leading to a less accurate cut.

4) Keep the blade lowered and the saw unplugged when not in use.
Scared of your miter saw? Check out these important miter saw safety tips specifically geared at beginners! #PowerTools

A couple years back, I took a construction class. My instructor, understandably, was a bit of a safety fanatic, if it's possible to be too fanatic about safety. He was very insistent that your saw should be locked in the "down" position, and unplugged when not in use. His reasoning? If a kid (your own, a neighbor's) wandered into your shop or garage unattended, it would be near impossible for them to injure themselves if the saw was locked and unplugged. Unlocked and plugged in? Comically easy for an unknowing person to injure themselves.

My saw has a little knob to lock it in the lowered position. Yours should too! Check the owner's manual if you're not sure where to find it!

5) Secure your miter saw to a table or base.
Scared of your miter saw? Check out these important miter saw safety tips specifically geared at beginners! #PowerTools

For first month or so after I got my miter saw, I didn't have it bolted to my workbench. Anytime I cut a particularly large or thick piece of wood, the saw would have a tendency to wiggle around a bit as I cut. I got lucky and never got injured. But it definitely could've ended badly, and I'm so glad that my saw is now safely bolted to my workbench!

6) Wear eye and ear protection.

You know you should do this. You know that sawdust can bother your eyes, and that long-term, the noise from miter saws can help deteriorate your hearing. But right now, those might seem minor. I get it. But here's the thing: if your saw hits a knot in the wood, a large piece of wood could go ricocheting across the room - or straight into your eye. Wear eye and ear protection.

I hope these six miter saw safety tips help keep you and your family healthy and safe, and that you feel more confident using a miter saw after reading! If you have questions, let me know, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Scared of your miter saw? Check out these important miter saw safety tips specifically geared at beginners! #PowerTools
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Before and After: $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair

I love the Habitat for Humanity Restore closest to my house. They have tons of furniture, and it starts at a pretty decent price then discounts by 25% every single week until the item is gone.

I was browsing the store about two months ago when I first laid eyes on this chair.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

There were four of them, clearly some kind of dining chair set, priced at $10 a piece. I investigated them pretty closely, since I knew I’d need to procure myself a desk chair for my office eventually. But I walked away. It didn’t seem very office-y, and the back cushion looked hard to reupholster. Plus, I was really there for a desk, which I had already decided to purchase and haul home. Did I really need a desk chair too?

Two weeks later, the chairs were still there, now $5 each. I laughed a bit to myself but walked right past, intent on purchasing something else that day. I think I bought a fake plant, since goodness knows, I can’t keep a real one alive.

A full month after I first spotted the chairs, I returned to Habitat and two of the four chairs remained. Now priced at a single dollar each, I had no excuses. I hadn’t found a suitable desk chair in the month I'd casually browsed, and it was getting to the point where I actually needed a chair. Plus, the castors, metal, and wood of the chair were in pretty good shape; the cushion was the only thing that was particularly sad, and that was pretty easily remedied. 

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

So, finally, I bought the chair. For a dollar. A single dollar. That’s it. In fact, I paid in cash and everything, since I couldn’t justify pulling out a credit card for a single dollar purchase.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

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The $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair Remodel

The remodel was actually a pretty simple one. The wood actually screwed right off the chair, making it pretty easy to spray paint. I felt pretty accomplished after I spent 30 minutes spray painting and was already halfway done with the remodel.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Not going to lie- I totally cropped out the giant mess that is my work space.

The Seat Cushion

Reupholstering the cushions was a bit trickier. As it turns out, blush colored faux suede is a bit harder to find than I was anticipating. I ended up ordering it from Amazon for a little under $10 a yard, which is pretty much the maximum amount I am every willing to pay for fabric. I got two yards just in case I screwed up, which is more likely than you might think, given that I am terrible at sewing.

The seat cushion was pretty easy. I tore out the staples and ripped the old stained fabric off. Turns out the cushion was pretty stained too, so I covered it with some leftover batting from my barstool project so that the dark (probably coffee) stains didn’t show through my fabric.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Then I wrapped the seat with my new fabric and stapled it in place.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
The Back Cushion

The back cushion, as I anticipated when I first saw the chairs, was by far the most complicated part of the project. My sewing skills are mediocre at best, so I knew from the beginning that this would be a stretch.

I cut the old fabric away, and was left baffled by the buttons which seemed to be very securely stuck in my cushion. Luckily, my mother was sitting nearby, and her 1950s era school sewing classes came through for me when she went “Oh, those just screw off.” Sure enough, with a bit of twisting, they came right off.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

I re-covered the buttons with the ultra-official method of hot glue.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

I don't know why I didn't take any pictures of the finished button... but here's a half covered one!

The old fabric that I’d cut off seemed perfect for making a new pattern, but it was actually kind of crumbly and making a mess. I just ended up tracing the cushion on my fabric, adding a 1/2” or so to account for the sides, and cutting it out. I did this twice, so I had a front and back panel to sew together.

With right sides together, I sewed the panels together. I also tried to sew some ribbons on to them so that I could tie the cushion to the chair. I did this completely wrong the first time (mediocre sewing skills, as mentioned), and ended up ripping out stitches and resewing the ribbons so that they’d ultimately end up on the outside of the cushion cover (not the inside… where they were after my first attempt…)

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

The ribbons need to be between the two fabrics to end up on the outside of the cushion. In retrospect, this seems really obvious...

Finally, I threw a zipper on the bottom and called it day. I’d tell you more about that, but I am 99% sure I did it wrong.

I then put the chair back together. It was so exciting to see the final product!

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Super cute, no? And it cost me right around $30 total: $1 for the chair, $20 for the fabric, and $7 for the ribbon and zipper. Considering there is no way I could have purchased a new desk chair for that (I think they start around $60) I am thrilled. And it’s actually pretty comfy. I thought about adding more cushion to the seat, or putting in an ergonomic pillow back instead of the cushion that came with the chair, but I decided it was comfy enough without those things.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

It looks great next to my desk (which is also a Habitat remodel, coming soon!) and I am so excited to sit and work every time I have the opportunity. It’s actually causing me to find reasons to work at my desk, which is fantastic and I hope lasts forever.

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Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
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Cheap and Easy, No-Sew DIY Curtains

I have a beautiful front room. It’s kind of why I bought this house.

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

So many windows. So much sun. In the day, it’s lovely. But at night I feel like I’m on a stage, all lit up and surrounded by windows so that the neighbors can watch whatever performance I decide to deliver.

As a single girl living by myself, this was not okay.

So, my number one priority for curtains was that they be thick enough to provide significant privacy. They didn’t need to be blackout curtains, but I wanted something that would mostly obscure my silhouette. Thus, heavy and lined.

However, my number two priority for curtains was that they be cheap. I had three whole walls of windows to cover. Six long, wide curtains in total. Since most of the curtains that were heavy enough to provide privacy and long enough to be hung above the windows cost at least $50 per panel, I had a bit of a dilemma. I couldn’t afford to put out $300 in curtains, no matter how much they make me feel safer. So, then what?

I turned to Pinterest. But all my “cheap curtains” searches turned up sheets (too thin,) tablecloths (maybe?), and drop cloths. As drop cloths were the thickest, I went with them. But they shrunk in the wash, and didn’t bleach white, which left me back at the beginning, except now out $45 and stuck with a bunch of short, cream colored drop cloths.

So I bought some sheets. And then clipped the drop cloths to them and called it curtains. At less than $20 a panel, they came in around $120. I’ll take it.

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

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5-Minute, No-Sew, $20, Thick White Curtains
Materials (Per Panel)
  • One 9' x 6' drop cloth- I purchased mine from Harbor Freight
  • One Flat Sheet- I have tall ceilings, so needed my curtains to be extra long. Therefore, I purchased a queen sized sheet (the Mainstays Walmart Queen Sheet, to be exact.)
  • 6 Binder Clips
Step 1: Prep the Fabrics

For the drop cloths, I washed and bleached each one before starting. This made them super soft and more curtain-y. That being said, bleaching was probably unnecessary. Just washing them would probably soften and shrink them enough for this project, since they won’t really be seen.

The sheets were a bit less involved: I just washed them with hot water before starting.

Step 2: Cut Slits at Each End of the Sheet

At the top of the sheet there should be a two-layered section. At the each end of that section, I cut a 1 inch slit through the back layer. See picture below.

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

This is where your curtain rod will enter/exit the sheet to hang it up.

Step 3: Clip Drop Cloth to Sheet

I used six binder clips to clip the drop cloth to each sheet. I clipped them on the back layer of the folded over part; the same part where I cut my slits.

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

If you’re using 9’ x 6’ drop cloths, and Walmart queen sheets like I was, you’ll run out of drop cloth before you run out of sheet. I was fine with this, since the drop cloth alone was enough to cover my window. When bunched at the side of the window, you can’t tell some of the sheet isn't lined, and when the curtains are drawn, there is more than enough drop cloth to cover all the windows, so you still can’t tell, because the "unlined" section is still bunched at the wall. If your windows are too wide for this to work (aka, the curtain needs to cover more than 6’ of space), you might want to purchase actual fabric to line the sheets with (or try something else entirely.)

4. Hang curtains

If you have plaster walls and are unsure about how to hang curtain rods on them, check out my other post!

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

But that's it. All done! Admittedly, they would probably be higher quality if I bothered to sew the drop cloths to the sheets like a real person-who-can-sew. But I had six sheets, I’m not that great a sewing, and that seemed like extra work. The binder clips can’t actually be seen, and they don’t annoy me enough when I’m opening and closing the curtains to make sewing seem worth the time.

Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I’m more than pleased with the way they turned out. Full disclosure: They’re not quite as luxurious as the real, $300 billowing white curtains would have been, but for a third of the cost, I think they make an acceptable substitute. Did you try sheets or drop cloths as curtains? I’d love to hear about it. Or did you think of something else cheap and creative, in which case, please share in the comments below, because I would have loved to be able to think of more options when I was starting this project.

And if you’re planning out your curtains right now, check out my other curtain posts about how to hang curtains on plaster walls, super cute heart curtain ties, and why drop cloths make terrible curtains!

Making DIY Curtains? Save this to Pinterest!
Need some budget curtains? Check out this easy diy for thick, quick, and cheap DIY curtains made from drop cloths and sheets! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #Curtains #Budget #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
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7 Reasons Drop Cloths Make Terrible Curtains

So I have this room.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

It’s very sunny and pretty and dreamy. It’s kind of why I bought the house. Sitting in it makes me happy. Except there’s no furniture or anything interesting in the room at all at the moment, so sometimes I just go stand in there for a minute, staring out the windows and enjoying the sun. Is that weird?

Regardless, in my attempt to make this room functional, I’ve decided to add curtains. However, do you see how many windows there are? So many windows = lots of curtains. Except I don’t have $300 to blow on curtains, so I’ve spent the past two weeks experimenting with cheap curtains options. Aka, sheets and drop cloths.

While I eventually came up with something both pretty and functional, there was a whole lot of failure first, primarily with the drop cloths. So I decided to write this post to share with you all things the “Easy Drop Cloth DIY Curtains!!” Pinterest gurus don’t tell you. 

Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I will be compensated with no additional cost to you.

7 Reasons Drop Cloths Make Terrible Curtains
1. They Shrink in the Wash

You’re probably thinking, “yeah, but not that much,” which is exactly what I thought before I started. No. They shrink an absurd amount. Here is the exact same 9’ x 12’ drop cloth, cut in half to fit in comfortably in my washer. The left side has been bleached and washed, the right side was about to go in.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

10 inches. The left half shrunk almost 10 inches in the wash. That is a considerable amount, and will definitely make these curtains shorter then you wanted if you have tall ceilings.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
2. Drop Cloth Lengths Aren't Uniform

Take a look a this drop cloth. It is supposed to be 9 feet long, aka 108 inches. We’re a good 3 inches short.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I could get mad at Harbor Freight (where I bought the drop cloths) about this, but some googling and review reading seems to show this is a pretty common complaint among drop cloth purchasers, no matter the brand. And of the three that I used, only one cloth was the full length of 108 inches.

3. They Don't Function Well

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I will always, always pick function over pretty. You can buy the prettiest desk, or drawer organizer, or curtain in the world, but if it doesn’t function well, you won’t use it, or you’ll try use it and end up with a giant ugly mess. How an item functions is 100% the most important thing I consider before I buy or make something, and in my humble opinion, should be for everyone.

Drop cloths take effort to make look pretty. All those pretty pictures of drop cloth curtains you see on the internet were after a blogger spent 30 minutes arranging them *just so*. That is not something you’re going to want to do every single time you open and close your curtains. So, if you plan on actually using your curtains for privacy and to block light, be aware they will look much less attractive with regular use.

4) Drop Cloths Don't Bleach to White

Or at least, not reliably. I think I’ve read six or seven different blog posts about bleaching drop cloths. In every single one, there were mixed results in the comments section, with some people getting a perfectly white cloth, while others ended up with something even uglier than they started with. Maybe this depends on the drop cloth makeup (100% cotton seems to help) or the bleach used, or maybe it’s based on whether you have a magic fairy waving her wand at your washing machine as you bleach your drop cloths.

I don’t know. What I do know, is that my drop cloths were supposedly 100% cotton, I used a ton of bleach, and left my drop cloths soaking in the washing machine overnight. They got lighter, for sure. But not white. If I wanted a cream color, they’d be perfect. But when I tried hanging them in my space, they just seemed dingy compared to the white trim and blush walls.

Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I’m not saying you can’t get your drop cloths white. I’m just saying it’s an unreliable process that depends on a bunch of different factors, so if you were hoping to get 6 uniformly white panels to make into curtains, start praying.

5. Drop Cloths Don't Work Well Outside

Drop cloths are intended to soak up moisture. That’s the point. So if you intend for your drop cloth curtains to live outdoors, know that they will mildew. Washing them frequently could help, and there may be products that help the drop cloths resist this, but it will not be the simple “hang up and be done” project you were hoping for.

6. They're Thin

You can see right through drop cloths – even the heavy duty ones. If you were hoping for curtains that darken your room or block people from seeing shadows in your house at night, these are not it. You’ll need to layer the drop cloth with another fabric to make them opaque enough for privacy or room-darkening.

7. There Are Equally Affordable Better Options

So, lets say you’ve decided to go through with drop cloth curtains. You’ll plan on one 9’ x 12’ drop cloth per panel, either to account for shrinkage when washed, or to fold in half to have a thicker 9’ x 6’ panel. Harbor Freight, a discount tool supply store with bargain prices, sells 9’ x 12’ drop cloths for $15.99. Even with the 20% off coupon that Harbor Freight distributes, you’re looking at $30 for a pair of curtains.

Ikea curtains come in two, longer-than-normal lengths: 98” and 118.” They have a pretty robust selection of 98” curtains for under $30, with at least one of those being blackout curtains. If you need longer, you can get 118” curtains for $40. As a result, if you’re going with drop cloth curtains to save money, know that you’re not saving much if there’s an Ikea style that suits your room.

But Maybe...

Maybe, if you were using your curtains in an indoor area with 8 foots ceilings, where they won't be regularly opened and closed, don't really need to block much light, and you don't mind hemming the curtains so they're all the same length, drop cloth curtains could be an easy, economical choice. Alternatively, I used drop cloths as liners for the curtains in my office - they actually turned out pretty nice, adding volume and privacy to the budget sheets I ended up going with. I'll be posting about that on Thursday, so stay tuned...

I don’t want to imply that drop cloths should never be used as curtains – I just wanted to make you aware of some of difficulties they come with them. Just remember the issues above, and make sure your plan will work despite those things. You don’t want to get home, wash your drop cloths, and then find that they’re too short to use but can’t be returned!

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Thinking of making cheap budget DIY Drop Cloth Curtains? Don't do anything without reading about my drop cloth curtain experience first! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #DIYProjects #DropClothCurtains #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
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How to Hang Curtains on Plaster Walls

I hate hanging curtain rods. I think this comes from when I was living in this super old house in San Jose. One day, I was just minding my own business in my bedroom, when the curtain rod next to my bed suddenly crashed to the floor. All that remained on the wall were two gaping holes in the plaster where screws apparently used to be.

After a significant amount of googling, multiple phone calls to my father, and $20 in different sized molly bolts purchased at Home Depot, I managed to rehang the curtain rod. It was a giant hassle, and not a terribly pleasant introduction to hanging things on plaster walls.

So when I was faced with an entire room of windows to curtain in my future office, all I could feel was dread. Three different curtain rods, each with three brackets, into plaster walls. I wanted to cry. But since there was no curtain fairy around my house to hang curtain rods for me, I eventually found my fake positive attitude and did it myself.

It went super smoothly, and mid-way through I realized it’s actually easier to hang curtain rods on plaster walls than drywall. So I decided to write this nice post about my super successful curtain rod hanging method, and why hanging curtain rods on plaster walls is actually awesome!

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Plaster Vs. Drywall: A Short Note

The curtain+curtain rod combo is heavy enough that in an ideal situations, your brackets would go into wood. In the typical, recently-built house, this means getting your screws through the drywall and into a stud. However, studs are only found every 16-24 inches, so it’s unlikely there would be one everywhere you want to put a bracket. To make up for this, we put molly bolts into the wall to support the screw in lieu of a stud. In a house with drywall, you’re going to need molly bolts for most of your brackets. These typically come with the curtain rod, for the record.

However, in older houses with plaster walls, the plaster is supported by lath, strips of wood that look like this:

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

While I wouldn’t trust this wood to support super heavy things (like a TV), it’s more than enough for some curtains. Meaning: if you drill your holes and hit lath, you don’t need a molly bolt! You put your screw straight into the lath and trust it to hold up your curtain rods.

Now, you won’t always hit lath, so you’ll still need to use a couple molly bolt for the occasional screw. But that is much preferable than for every single screw/bracket.

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The Easy Way to Hang Curtains on Plaster Walls
Step 1: Mark the Spot for the Bracket

I was hanging my curtains 100 inches above the ground. I marked where that was, then put my bracket up and marked where the holes should go.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

If you're hanging your curtains high and wide like everyone says to do, make sure there is enough space for the finial (ball thing at end). Mine was dangerously close to hitting the wall.

Step 2: Drill Top Hole

I drilled the top hole first (check your instructions for the drill bit size, mine was 3/16”,) noting if I hit lath or not. I’ve found that plaster really dulls my drill bits, to the point where they struggle to go through wood after being used on plaster. As a result, it’s super obvious when I hit lath, because my drill bit resists moving further. If there’s not lath, my drill bit suddenly lurches into the wall when I finish drilling through the plaster.

Of the 18 holes I drilled to install my three curtain rods, I hit lath fifteen times, and was required to use a molly bolt on the other three holes.

I’ve written two different instructions based on if you encounter lath or not, read what you need!

If You Hit Lath:
Step 3: Add Screw

If you hit lath, you can add your screw directly into the wall. I didn’t screw the screw in all the way, so that I could take the hanger on and off to drill the second hole. Once the lower screw and bracket were in place, I tightened this top screw.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
If You Don't Hit Lath:
Step 3: Insert a Molly Bolt Into the Hole

Molly bolts are typically provided with the curtain rod. They look like this:

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

Take one and insert it into the hole you’ve already drilled. You’ll need to gently hammer it into place. If, even after hammering, it doesn’t fit (aka, the bolt crushes instead of sliding into the hole) grab a drill bit slightly larger than the one you were using, and enlarge the hole. Be careful! The hole doesn’t need to be huge, just a little bit larger, so that a molly bolt will fit when you hammer.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
Step 3.5: Add Screw

I don’t tighten the screw all the way yet, so that I can still add/remove the bracket to mark and drill the second hole.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
Step 4: Dry Fit Bracket and Mark Second Hole Hole

I then placed my bracket on the first screw, and marked where my second hole should go. It typically was a little different from where I first marked in step 1, which was totally okay. It’s why I always did this step to double check before I drilled the second hole.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I'm about to mark the second hole!

Step 5: Drill Second Hole and Add Screw

See steps 2 and 3 based on if you hit lath or plaster. Note that when you add the screw this time, you should be holding the bracket in place.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

The plaster cracked a bit when I was drilling the second hole. Not a big deal- the hanger will cover this up.

Step 6: Repeat for Other Brackets

I had three support brackets per rod.

Step 7: Add Finials to Curtain Rod

Most just screw in.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
Step 8: Add Curtains and Place Rod on Brackets. Secure.

Tighten the screws on the brackets to secure the rod in place!

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

All done!

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments

I’d been dreading hanging up these curtain rods for weeks, but it was done in less than two hours! Hanging (light) things on plaster walls is not nearly as difficult as I was imagining; the lath makes things so much easier! I’m almost looking forward to hanging the curtains the curtains in the living room (well, not dreading, at least.) If you haven’t already, check out my super cute curtain tiebacks! The hearts make them perfect for Valentine's Day, but if you have a a pink room like I do, they're great year round.

Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
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Hanging curtains on plaster walls can be super difficult. But hanging these curtain rods was pretty simple after I realized this one trick! #AButterflyHouse #DIY #HomeImprovement #WindowTreatments
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Easy DIY Curtain Ties | Valentine’s Day Decor

I am not a Valentine’s Day fan. I’m not sure if it comes from my teaching years of having to deal with massive teddy bears and ostentatious balloon bouquets invading my classroom, or my complete dislike of signing 30 stupid Valentine’s cards in elementary school, but it’s not my thing.

I find Valentine’s Day decor even more distasteful than Valentine’s Day itself. Most of it is gaudy, with clashing pink and red hearts and cheesy sayings that we don’t notice looks bad because we’re so used to seeing it. Plus it costs a fortune for something so completely unnecessary. Gag me.

But.. I’m a DIY blogger. And I have a pink office. And so, here you go, readers. DIY Curtain Ties. My one, single, obligatory Valentine’s Day decor project. I will promote this post for every Valentine’s Day to come. Let’s never speak of this again.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood

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Valentine's Day DIY Curtain Ties
Materials and Tools
  • 1/4" Sisal Rope
  • Scrap Wood
  • Staple Gun + Staples
  • Paint
  • Hot Glue + Hot Glue Gun
  • Jigsaw
Step 1: Cut Out Heart

I started by drawing a heart on the scrap wood. Not going to lie, I am terrible at drawing, so it took three or four tries to get a decent heart.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood

Then, using my jigsaw, I cut out the heart. I went super slowly so that I was able to trace the heart as accurately as possible.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood
Step 2: Paint Hearts

When I painted my office, I purchased three different sample "blush" colors to test on the walls. I used one of those leftover samples (Behr's "Stolen Kiss") to paint the hearts.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood

I did sand the hearts just a little bit before painting. The wood had been sitting on my porch for awhile, so it was pretty rough. Sanding smoothed all that out and made the wood a perfect surface for painting!

Step 3: Add Rope

Before actually cutting, I took the rope over to my curtain and tested what length would be appropriate. For me, a 40" long rope was perfect; both large enough that my heart easily fit through the opening, but small enough to contain the curtain. Check your curtain!

After cutting the rope, I attached it to the heart. I started by securing it with a dollop of hot glue.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood

Then I added two staples with my staple gun to make sure the rope was extra secure. This might not be necessary; I'm honestly not sure. If you don't have a staple gun and decide to try and make these, I'd love to know if the hot glue alone is enough to keep the rope attached to the hearts long-term.

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood

And that's it! DIY curtain ties, done! Now I can officially pretend to be a cutesy blogger who decorates for minor holidays. Or, alternatively, a girl who happens to have some heart curtain ties in her pink office. If you make these, for Valentine's Day or otherwise, let me know how it goes! 

I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood
I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood
I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood
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I love these simple DIY Heart Curtain Ties! They're a quick and practical way to add some easy DIY Valentine's Day Decor with just a little scrap wood and rope! #AButterflyHouse #ValentinesDay #ValentinesDayDecor #DIY #DIYProjects #CurtainTies #ScrapWood
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3 Things to Do When You Fail at a DIY Project

You’ve failed at a DIY project before, right? I certainly have, and truthfully, I think everybody has at some point, as evidenced by the abundance of #pinterestfail and #nailedit posts in the world. We get a good laugh out of those posts, as well as a nice feel-good feeling of “at least our projects aren’t that bad.”

But what about when that happens to you on a DIY project you’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into? It’s not so funny then. In fact, it’s more this sickening feeling in your stomach competing with complete despair in your head, and the absolute wish to just break down and cry for 30 minutes.

I would know. I’ve been there. A lot. And I have some tips for how to deal with it.

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1) Take A Break

If you’ve spent a long time working on a project, and it looks terrible at the end, you’re going to be frustrated. You are going to want to be done. You will want to walk away and not think about this problem for a couple weeks. And that’s okay. Give into that impulse. You will feel so much better and motivated after you’ve forgotten how awful this process was in the first place.

About two months ago, I mounted my new microwave above the stove in my kitchen. The kitchen was a complete remodel that I totally planned myself. Since I installed it completely alone, the microwave was particularly difficult- it probably took me three hours, and most of that was stacking hardback books on the stove to slowly raise the microwave into place and then fighting with the microwave to get it on the bracket. By the end, I was exhausted, sweaty, and sore, and never, ever wanted to mount a microwave again.

But, after completing the install, low and behold, the cabinet next to the microwave did not open.

I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

Here it is, not opening.

I’m pretty sure I can fix this (at least a little) by taking the microwave down and reinstalling the cabinet door so that it opens the opposite way. But do you think I was going to do that the night I installed the microwave? Absolutely not.

In fact, two weeks later, my dad came to visit. He offered to help me fix it then. I still said no, because I was not ready to face re-mounting that microwave. I know it will be easier with two people. But I had not yet forgotten the trauma.

We have plans to fix it at Christmas. I think I’ll be ready.

2. Brainstorm Ways to Make It Better

I’ve screwed up a lot of projects. In fact, before writing this post, I tried to brainstorm a list. I keep adding to that list, because apparently I’ve screwed up so many things that I can’t remember them all. But, you know what all of those screw-ups have in common? They could be fixed. Some way, some how, I could make it better.

Take the doorway I closed up in the laundry room during my kitchen remodel.

I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

It looks great from the kitchen side.

I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

But the laundry room side? Not so much. 

I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

There is a giant bump where the new drywall starts. It’s been so long since since I’ve done this project that I don’t even remember why I couldn’t get the drywall flat. Regardless, it’s unattractive, and for awhile, I wasn’t sure what I could do to fix it.

But now I have some ideas. I could do something called a “skim coat,” adding watered down joint compound to the wall until things are even. Or I could add board and batten, but be creative about where I put certain pieces. 

I’m not totally sure what I’ll do. I’ll handle it when it comes time to remodel (or just plain “model”) the laundry room. But I have ideas, and that’s the important thing.

Can't Think of Ideas? Ask the Internet!

Brainstorming didn’t go well? That’s okay. Is there a DIY forum you read a lot? Post your problem there! Or google it- someone may have had a similar problem before. Still stuck? Feel free to shoot me an email (with pictures, pictures are great!) or ask in the comments below! I’d love to help out.

Absolutely Convinced Your Project is Hopeless? Take It Down/Throw It Out.

This is sad and depressing to do, but it’s okay. Keep in mind that you probably learned a whole bunch of things during the DIY project (especially since it was a major failure), and so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

And for what it's worth, yes, I have completely, hopelessly failed at projects. This sad, flopping board at the bottom of my closet is all that remains of what was going to be a built-in closet dresser thing:

I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse
3. That List You Brainstormed? Do Those Things Later, When You're Not Tired and Drained.

This goes right along with “take a break.” Now is not the time to run around fixing your DIY project (unless it’s something urgent, like heating or plumbing, in which case, pros are great.) Fix it after you’ve had a bit of a break, and are motivated to re-tackle it. I typically wait about a month or so, when I’ve forgotten how difficult the project was in the first place, and am tired of looking at it in its sad, failure state.

Failing a project sucks. Failing at a project that you’ve put days, weeks, or months into is devastating. But it’s going to be okay. Take a break, brainstorm some “fix-it” ideas, make a plan, and conquer it later. Someday it will be what you dreamed of, I promise.

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I fail at DIY Projects all the time! This is a super useful list of things to do to make my project-fail into something better! #HomeImprovement #Fail #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse
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7 Circular Saw Safety Mistakes You’re Probably Making

Back when I was younger and had an abundance of spare time, I took a construction class at the local community college. Before being allowed to operate any new power tool, we had a chapter to read, an hour and half lecture, and a quiz to ensure we knew the safety rules. I suppose this was understandable, given that we probably could’ve sued the school if any of us accidentally chopped off a limb.

While for the most part, the quizzes were easy with obvious answers (You should wear eye protection, true or false?) on every quiz there were at least a couple of questions specific to that tool that I wouldn’t have known had I not listened to the lecture. For this post, I attempted to put together the circular saw safety mistakes I see people make the most, in hopes that it might save at least a couple people a trip to the hospital!

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Word You Should Know

In this article, I'm going to talk a lot about "kickback." This is when the saw suddenly moves backwards toward you while you are attempting to saw. This is super dangerous, in that it can fly into you and cause blunt force trauma, or worse, fly into you and cut you with the spinning blade. Many (but not all) of the circular saw safety mistakes below are specifically for avoiding kickback.

7 Circular Saw Safety Mistakes
1) You're Placing the Saw Upright, Not on It's Side
Oh no, I am definitely guilty of making some of these Circular Saw mistakes! Take a look to make sure you're operating your circular saw power tool safely and effectively! #HomeImprovement #DIY #PowerTools #Safety #AButterflyHouse
Oh no, I am definitely guilty of making some of these Circular Saw mistakes! Take a look to make sure you're operating your circular saw power tool safely and effectively! #HomeImprovement #DIY #PowerTools #Safety #AButterflyHouse

The instructor in my construction class was quite adamant that he knew multiple people who’d lost toes from this mistake. They’d put the saw down before it had stopped moving, or it somehow got switched on after being placed on the ground. The saw took off, running over their toes. Place the saw on its side, and you’ll avoid this problem entirely.

2) When Carrying the Saw, Your Finger Is on the Trigger

I feel like this one is obvious once you think about it, but not something we ever stop and actually think about. If your finger is on the trigger and you trip and fall, you might press the trigger and start the saw, which would probably have bad consequences. Find another way to carry your saw.

3) You’re Supporting Your Piece on Both Sides

This seems like a good idea. If your piece is supported and clamped on both sides, then nothing will fall to the floor when you’re done cutting. I suppose that logic is technically correct, but you’ll rarely be able to finish cutting without encountering kickback. The two pieces sag toward the middle as you finish the cut, pinching the blade and causing kickback.

4) You’re Standing Directly Behind Your Saw/Cut

If kickback occurs, the saw will fly right into you. Stand a little to the left or right, therefore if kickback occurs, you wont be directly hit by the saw.

5) You're Cutting with Dull Blades

This increases the likelihood of kickback. Enough said.

6) You're Setting the Saw Depth Too Deep
Oh no, I am definitely guilty of making some of these Circular Saw mistakes! Take a look to make sure you're operating your circular saw power tool safely and effectively! #HomeImprovement #DIY #PowerTools #Safety #AButterflyHouse

This is bad for a couple reasons: A) The more saw that needs to go through the wood, the harder the saw has to work. The harder the saw has to work, the more likely it is to kickback. Keeping the saw at the appropriate depth therefore reduces kickback. B) The deeper the saw, the more the blade will be exposed. This increases the likelihood that it will come in contact with a human appendage.

Oh no, I am definitely guilty of making some of these Circular Saw mistakes! Take a look to make sure you're operating your circular saw power tool safely and effectively! #HomeImprovement #DIY #PowerTools #Safety #AButterflyHouse

The appropriate saw depth is 1/4" more than the piece you're cutting. Any deeper, and you're setting is too deep!

7) You're Wearing Gloves

Yes, wood has splinters, and gloves seem like a good idea. But they increase the risk of your hands getting caught in the saw, so they are a big no-no when operating any power tool.

I hope there was at least one thing on this list you learned about operating a circular saw, and the circular saw safety mistakes people commonly make. If so, make sure to subscribe to my email list; I plan to do a whole sequence of posts for all sorts of power tools, so make sure you don’t miss out!

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Oh no, I am definitely guilty of making some of these Circular Saw mistakes! Take a look to make sure you're operating your circular saw power tool safely and effectively! #HomeImprovement #DIY #PowerTools #Safety #AButterflyHouse
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8 Tips You Should Know Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Lets talk about hardwood floors. When they’re well taken care of, they’re beautiful. But if they haven’t been protected or refinished in their 100 year existence, well...

The floors in my house are/were in terrible shape. Water stains that go all the way to the wood? Check. Warped wood that has created noticeable bumps in the floor? Check. Weird gray spots where the finish has completely rubbed away? Check. Someone was going to have to refinish these floors, and since I am philosophically opposed to hiring people, it was going to have to be me.

I decided to do things room by room, because I have furniture and no real place to move all of the furniture at once. Plus, refinishing the floors of my entire house seemed incredibly intimidating, and this project was scary enough as it was. I started with the sunroom/future office, which was nice and small and achievable. Also, the majority of the floor was going to be covered by a nice rug, so if I screwed up too badly, I probably wouldn’t have to look at it.

I learned a couple things along the way, and fully expect that the next chunk (the living and dining rooms, to be completed in a couple months) will go much smoother. I thought I’d share a couple tips I’d learned along the way!

Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I will be compensated with no additional cost to you.

1. Keep Moving

No matter what. Shoe fall off? Keep moving. Trip over the cord? Keep moving. An important looking screw falls out of the sander? Keep moving. You can’t ruin your floors too badly if you follow this one single rule.

The biggest danger in sanding your own floors is to stop moving and accidentally sand a hole/divot into your floor. The drum sander is super powerful, and it will do that in seconds. Thus, if the sander is on, you are moving. Embrace this fact, and everything will turn out okay.

2. Watch Out For the Cord

The cord is large, long, and unwieldy. It is your biggest barrier to following tip (or really, necessity) #1. Pretty sure I tripped over it at least 5 times, and had to keep moving. Have a plan for keeping it out of the way.

3. Sand With the Grain

The drum sander will sand marks into the floor. No matter how many grits you use or how high you go, the marks are inevitable. They will be almost invisible if you sand in the direction of the grain, as the grain will disguise any leftover marks. But if you sand perpendicular to the grain they will be super, super obvious if you add any stain.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a
table I refinished. I sanded all the paint off with a belt sander, and wasn’t super discriminatory about which direction I sanded.

Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

See all those little lines?? That was from the belt sander. Now imagine that on your floor. Not cool.

Sand with the grain.

4. Weird Floor Pattern? Don't Stain.

Take a look at my floor:

Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

Hopefully it's obvious this is a "before" photo...

Cool pattern, right? It’s the first thing everybody comments on when they walk into the house. All my hardwood floors make this cool square pattern, and it’s definitely a conversation piece. But it makes refinishing the floors much more difficult, since the grain pattern isn’t always facing the same direction. Because of this, I can’t always be sanding with the grain.

As mentioned in #3, this will result in a bunch of small marks from the drum sander appearing on my floor. And since sanding in a square shape seems super difficult, I’m going to have to deal with it.

The solution?? Don’t apply stain. Any stain on my floor will highlight the marks. Since I wanted a bit more color on my floors than the pale oak it was after sanding, I opted for an oil polyurethane with a “traditional autumn tone.” So far, no obvious marks!

The sander I rented from Menards had definitely seen some wear and tear- only half of the drum actually contacted/sanded the floor. I wrote a whole post about how I dealt with it; go take a look if you’re worried it might happen to you!

6. Get a Friend

The drum sander is heavy. Like, 95 pounds heavy claims the manual. There was absolutely no way I could have lifted it into the car myself; I actually ended up building a ramp and rolling the sander up it into the car, which was not that much fun either. I highly recommend finding a friend, if for no other reason than getting the sander in and out of your car.

7. Buy Extra Sandpaper

While there are published guidelines on how much sandpaper to buy (1 sheet lasts about 250 square feet,) if your sander is a little more worn down, or you have a particularly thick/sticky finish, you may run through it faster. Instead of having to run back to the store mid-sanding, purchase more than you think you need, especially of the lower grits. Then, if you don’t use it, you can return the sandpaper to the store when you’re returning the sander.

8. Refrigerate Your Flooring Finish Applicator
Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

I suppose if you’re using water-based polyurethane, it’s not that big of a deal to wash out your applicator after each coat. But if you’re using oil-based polyurethane, that stuff is tricky to clean. It must be washed using mineral spirits, which are expensive, plus it feels super wasteful to basically be pouring them down the drain.

One way around this is to put your applicator in a gallon sized baggie, and then into the fridge. This keeps the applicator from drying out, and then allows you to reuse it (without washing!) multiple hours later for your next coat. 

Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse

If you’re considering refinishing your own floors, don’t be scared! Keep moving, and you’ll be okay. Hopefully the rest of the tips will help make things easier. If you end up refinishing your floors, I’d love to see a before and after! Let me know how it goes!

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Super useful tips to make refinishing your hardwood floors just a tad bit easier! #hardwoodfloors #DIY #DIYProjects #AButterflyHouse
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