$15 DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I am not a naturally organized person. I think it's because I can be a bit lazy; if putting something away involves extra work, I'm more likely to just leave the thing sitting on a table than actually clean it up. 

As a result, I've spent most of my adult life trying to trick myself into being organized. Just got home? The mudroom hooks are a closer spot for my jacket than the chairs three feet away. Don't want to carry the tools back to the basement? There's an upstairs tool organizer for those.

I know myself. If organizing isn't easy, I won't do it.

This desk organizer is my latest attempt to trick myself. I saw a similar monitor riser organizer on Amazon, and thought I'd be more likely to put pens and papers away if their proper home was on top of the desk, and not a drawer that was blocked by my body. But it was more money than I have to blow on an organizer, so I decided to make my own. And since I was making my own, I could customize it to fit exactly what I needed to store. 

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

The Plan

I started by writing out a list of what I wanted to store in the organizer. I was aiming for the things I use most often, that I was constantly going to be grabbing throughout the day.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I am obsessed with PaperMate Flair pens – I'm a former teacher, and I got so used to using them back then that I’m almost incapable of writing with anything else. The only other writing utensil I feel comfortable with are pencils, which makes sense, given that I taught math… As a result, one of my primary requirements for this organizer was that it had a spot for my colored pens and a separate spots for pencils. I ultimately decided drawers on either side of one of the levels would be perfect for this.

I also have a wireless keyboard and mouse for my computer. When I’m not using them, I want an easy space for them to go so they’re not just sitting out on the desk looking ugly. I also have two graph-paper notebooks that I use constantly; one for the blog and one for my life. I figured those and my planner could go in one section together. Finally, I want a place for all the random mail and bank statements and such that I have to file. In past lives, these things have just cluttered up my desk for a long time (a really long time- frequently 6 months) until a guest was coming over. Not saying that won’t still happen, but at least they’ll have a home in the meantime.

I finally came up with the following drawing:

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I added labels so you could see what I was thinking! Also, I didn't put a key on this, but I was trying to draw it to-scale where each box was representing 2 inches.

It was perfect. It would fit everything I really needed, plus would be pretty easy to make out of a single 1” x 12” x 10’ board.

The Prep
Materials
  • 1   1" x 12" x 10' pine board
  • 1/4" plywood (optional)
  • 1 1/4" Kreg Screws
  • 1 1/4" Wood Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Finish/Polyurthane/Lacquer
  • Brad Nails (I used a nail gun, but this isn't necessary)
Tools
  • Drill/Driver
  • Spade Bit
  • Saw (I used a Miter saw, but you could accomplish this with a circular saw as well)
  • Nail Gun (Optional)
  • Kreg Jig
  • Large Clamp (Greater than 24")
A Short Note About Cost:

Most of the materials above are common wood shop supplies (for me at least.) The only thing I had to purchase was the 1" x 12," which cost about $15. I thought that was a steal for this organizer! But if you have more supplies to purchase, that could drive the cost up dramatically, so make sure you know your inventory when considering if this project is monetarily worth it!

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The Process
Step 1: Cut Boards to Length

In my drawing, I planned for the organizer to be 25 1/2" long; 24" for the internal boards, plus the 3/4" thickness of each end. I therefore started by cutting three 24" pieces out of my 1" x 12".

Despite being the best piece Home Depot had left, the pine I purchased was a little warped, so I did the best I could to cut the straightest sections for these pieces

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I also put three Kreg Jig screw holes on either end of one side of the board. I'll use these to assemble my organizer at the end.

I then cut my dividers. Since I wanted the organizer to be 6" tall, with 2 1/4" reserved for the thickness of the cross pieces, each divider would be 1  7/8" tall. Yes, I'm sorry, that was math. If you want to build the same organizer, you can follow the dimensions in the picture below.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I also cut my sides, which were 6" long each. I ended up with this:

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking
Step 2: Finish the Pieces

I chose to finish my pieces at this point instead of at the end because I thought it would be really difficult to get finish into each of the different layers. I used Deft, which is a lacquer. I think it does a really great job of bringing a little richness to pine boards.

Step 3: Make Drawers (Optional)

While the finish was drying, I decided to make the drawers for my pens and pencils. If you don't plan to store small items like that, you could put your dividers in different spots and skip this step.

Each space I was filling with a drawer would be 5 1/4" long by 1 7/8" high by 11 1/4" deep. As a result, I was aiming for a drawer slightly smaller than this to make sure it would fit. I went with 5 1/8" long by 1 3/4" high by 11" deep. My cuts were therefore as follows:

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I used some leftover 1/4" plywood for the sides and bottoms of the box, but if you don't have that sitting around, you could totally use more of the 1 x 12. However, the dimensions would change!! You would need to recalculate what the front and back lengths would be, since the bottom and sides of the drawer would be thicker!

You might notice the front piece has a hole in it. I did that so I didn't need to add a knob to operate the drawer; I could just put my finger through the hole to open the drawer. I drilled the hole with a corded drill and 3/4" spade bit. I had a scrap piece of wood beneath it, so I didn't have to worry about drilling into my workbench.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

To assemble the box, I started by nailing the sides to the front and back pieces using my nail gun.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Then I nailed the bottom pieces into place.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

And then I had a drawer!

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

For the record, I did throw a coat of Deft (lacquer) on this before actually using it!

Step 4: Assemble the Organizer

I started by attaching the dividers to base and middle pieces using 1 1/4" screws.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Top of middle piece

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Bottom of middle piece

Each divider was placed 6 inches away from the side of the board. Meaning: the further bit of the divider was 6 inches away from the side of the board.

For the bottom layer where there was only one divider, I placed it exactly in the center of the board.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Top of bottom piece

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

Bottom of bottom piece

Then I attached each piece to the sides, working from the top down. This allowed me to always be able to access the Kreg Jig holes easily as I assembled. Assembling from the bottom up would make those inaccessible.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

This is the top piece being attached to the sides.

In addition to the Kreg screws, I put wood glue in between each of these joints.

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking
This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I did not do anything to secure the dividers to the higher layer. I figured the three screws securing them to the lower level would be enough to keep them in place.

After attaching the lowest layer, my organizer was done!

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking
This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

The pens and pencils fit perfectly!

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

And, so far at least, I'm doing a great job of actually putting things away each night before I finish up!

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

I feel so good about how my desk looks; with this organizer it is never a mess! The warmth it brings to my desk, and my better posture due to a higher monitor are just extra bonuses! And given that I put this organizer together in under 3 hours means it was totally worth the $15 I spent on the board. I consider this project a major win! What do you think? If you loved it, make sure you save it to Pinterest below!

This DIY Monitor Riser Desk Organizer keeps my desk super clean and organized! Made of one wood board, it's budget-friendly! #organizer #woodworking

How to Hang a Hammock Chair From Plaster Ceilings

It was about a month ago when I first decided a hammock chair would be perfect for my office. I’m not sure what made me think of it, but really, an office space could always use something a bit relaxing, no?

My first, and pretty much only concern was how to hang the hammock from the ceiling. I knew the hammock needed to hang from a ceiling joist, but I’d determined finding one through the plaster and lath ceiling would be near impossible.

Lucky for me, upon exploring my attic a bit more thoroughly, I realized I had access to joists right above where I wanted the hammock to go. This was perfect, because if I strategically drilled a few holes through my ceiling, I’d know exactly where to hang the hammock so that it hit a joist.

This was my method.

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

Some Fundamentals

Any hammock chair you hang from the ceiling MUST be supported by a ceiling joist. If you have a plaster ceiling, the plaster and lath alone is not enough to support the weight of an adult human. If you have a drywall ceiling, the drywall will almost immediately crack and break upon anyone (even a child) sitting in the hammock.

If you expect your chair to hold heavier persons (200+ lbs), you might want to do a bit more research before hanging your chair from a single joist. The weight a ceiling joist can hold depends on many factors (how strong the joist is, if the weight is in the center of the joist vs. the edge, how much weight the joist is already holding, etc,) so you’ll want to make sure your joist is strong enough before hanging the chair. There are ways to spread the weight out between two joists instead of one in order to safely support more weight, but I’m not going to address that today.

If you have drywall ceilings, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a ceiling joist; a typical stud finder should identify them quickly and easily. If you have a plaster ceiling, finding a ceiling joist is much more involved. In fact, I don’t have a quick and easy method for finding ceiling joists in plaster ceilings without attic access. My method requires attic access above the space you want to mount the hammock.

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Hanging a Hammock Chair From Plaster Ceilings

I was hanging this hammock chair that I got from Amazon. It's super comfortable, and large enough that I can fully stretch out my legs in the chair. If you're in the market for a hammock chair, I highly recommend it!

Step 1: Identify the Area You'll Hang the Chair

This sounds obvious; of course you know where you want to hang the chair! But in addition to identifying the location in your living area, figure out exactly where that is in the attic. Where in the attic is exactly above where you want to hang your chair?

I wanted to hang my hammock in the left corner of this room.

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement

Since this was on an exterior wall, all I had to measure was the distance from the right wall to where I wanted my hammock to go.

We went up to the attic, measured over, and took a guess at which ceiling joist would be appropriate to hang the hammock from.

Step 2: Drill a Small Hole Through the Ceiling
Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement

Drilling the hole in the attic!

From the attic, directly next to the ceiling joist you've identified, drill a small hole through the ceiling. This small hole will allow you to pinpoint exactly where the ceiling joist is from your living area.

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement

The hole in my ceiling. Super exciting, I know.

Step 4: Identify the Final Hanging Point of Your Hammock Chair

Using the hole as a guide for where your ceiling joist is, decide the final hanging point for your chair. Remember that A) the hammock needs to be hung in the joist and B) the hammock needs room to swing around. We ended up using the next joist over from our original hole to ensure the hammock wouldn’t hit the walls when pivoting (the one I purchased was pretty big!) Because of that, we repeated step 2 to ensure we knew where our new joist was.

Step 4: Drill a Large Hole at Your Final Hanging Point

From your living space, drill a large hole upward through the ceiling and into the ceiling joist at your final hanging point. We used a 1/4” drill bit to drill this hole. Make sure you hit the ceiling joist- if you drill eventually lurches after you’ve gone through the plaster and lath, that is a bad sign and means you didn’t hit the joist. Go up to the attic and figure out how far off you were, then re-drill the hole.

For what it’s worth, we missed the joist on our first attempt, and had to try again.

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement
Step 5: Screw the Screw Hook Into the Ceiling Joist

Screw the screw hook through the hole and into the ceiling joist. It will take a fair amount of force to get the screw hook into the joist. My father (the primary installer of the hammock- I just stood around and took pictures) ended up grabbing a screwdriver to gain a bit more leverage.

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement
Step 6: Add Hammock and Adjust to Length

When we hung the hammock on the wall, it was about 6 feet off the ground, requiring a ladder to sit in it. Obviously, we went and got some nylon rope to lower it to a more appropriate height. A strong chain would have worked as well.

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement

I don’t know about you, but my hammock came with absolutely no instructions about how to hang it up. If yours was the same way, I hope this helped you out. And if you regularly struggle to hang things in your plaster walls, check out my other posts about hanging curtain rods and opening a doorway in plaster walls!

Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement
Thinking of getting a hammock chair? Save this to Pinterest!
Unsure how to hang your hammock chair? Learn how to hang a hammock chair in plaster ceilings! #HomeImprovement

Quick and Easy $30 DIY Floor Lamp

Lighting. Designers tell you it’s one of the first things you should think about when planning a room. Despite that, I pretty much always remodel a room, and then at the end, think “hmm, this place needs lights.”

My office remodel is no different. I am almost done (stay tuned for the reveal!) and only now am I realizing there should probably be more light than the ones on the ceiling fan.

But that’s okay, because there is a perfect spot for a light! My new super snazzy hammock chair is perfect for reading a book, so it only makes sense for there to be a light behind it. I dithered a bunch on whether this should be a wall light or a floor lamp, and ultimately decided on a floor lamp for simplicity.

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

$30 DIY Floor Lamp
Materials: 
  • 2  2" x 4" x 8' 
  • Pendant Light- I mean a light socket on an cord, not a pendant-style lamp. I couldn't easily pull this up on the Home Depot, Lowes, or Menards websites (although I imagine they sell them somewhere,) so I ended up purchasing this one off Amazon.
  • Lampshade- I got my globe at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $2. Check your local thrift stores for a good deal, but if you don't have any luck, you can find a simple lampshade at the Home Improvement stores for around $20.
  • 3 Galvanized Steel Angles- I bought the "Simpson Strong-Tie" brand at Home Depot. I purchased two that were 1 1/2" in width, and one that was 3" in width to go on the sides of the 2" x 4".
  • Tie Plate- Also purchased the "Simpson Strong Tie" brand from Home Depot.
  • Electrical Staples- I had a few of these left over from my kitchen remodel, so I used them to secure the cord of the pendant light in place.

I live 45 minutes from the nearest Home Improvement store... so I plan my projects like crazy before I go. I recently made and started using a Project Planning Worksheet, which makes everything so much easier! I have yet to forget something on my trip, which is a near miracle. Grab a free copy of it below to help you stay organized too!

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$30 DIY Floor Lamp: The Process
Part 1: Make the Top Structure

A quick google search told me that floor lamps tend to be between 58 and 64 inches tall, so I aimed to make my lamp in that range as well. I planned for the post to be 54" tall, with a 30 degree angle for the lamp support piece.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Note: While the base is labeled 12" in the above photo, I ultimately changed this to 16" to better support the lamp.

However, I screwed up my first attempt, mitering the cut instead of beveling it. Once I re-cut the piece correctly, it ended up a little shorter; around 52" tall.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

The top piece that would ultimately hold the lamp I cut to be 20" long.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

I then drilled two holes in the 20" piece for the pendant light cord to go through. The plug on the pendant light was pretty small, but still large enough that I needed to use a hole saw (and not a typical drill bit or spade bit) to make the hole.  

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Finally, I attached the two pieces together with two 2 1/2" wood screws through the top piece and into the 51" piece. I drilled a couple pilot holes before I started to ensure I could countersink the screws.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Be careful drilling these screws! You want to make sure you're drilling parallel to your long, 51"/54" piece, which is not perpendicular to the 20" piece, since it's at a 30 degree angle. So you'll feel like you're drilling the screw at an angle, if that makes sense.

If you accidentally mess this up, and drill your screw perpendicular to the shorter piece, the worse that will happen is your screw will poke out of the longer piece. That's okay. Take out your screw and try again. For the random hole you now have in your wood, fill it with wood filler; it will barely be visible!

Part 2: Make the Base

I made my base out of four pieces of 16" long 2 x 4. 

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

To connect them together, I put three Kreg Jig/Pocket Hole screws into three of the four pieces. See below.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

There is also wood glue in each of those joints, because a little extra support never hurts!

And that's it for the base!

Part 3: Assemble

I connected the top structure to the base with Simpson Strong-Tie supports. This was a bit tricky to do, since balancing the top portion while trying to drive the screws is difficult. I therefore started by just attaching two supports to the base.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Once these two supports were in place, it was easier for me to hold the top structure in place, since it was steadied on two sides by the supports. I then connected the supports to the top structure.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

If you're worried right now that these metal pieces will be visible: yes, they will be. I made this plan with the knowledge that I would be painting the piece. Because of that, I figured I could just paint the supports, and they'd blend right in. If you'd rather stain the furniture, you could still make this, however you might want to get some paint that is a similar shade to your stain, and paint the brackets before attaching them to the piece. They'll be visible, for sure, but they hopefully wouldn't stand out to much.

I'm not sure there's a structurally sound way to connect the top to the base without having visible supports. While you definitely can drive 2 1/2" screws through the bottom of the base and into the top structure, making the connection invisible, I think your top piece would wobble, and could ultimately fall off. You could do the back tie-plate support to help (see below, I haven't gotten to it yet!) and only have a visible metal piece on the back, but I'm not sure that would be enough. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes.

Anyway, back to the tutorial. After the first two supports were in place, I added the last two, which was a much easier process.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

The top structure wasn't wobbly at all at this point, which was great. I'll be honest; I was a little worried about that, but putting a support on every side made the connection really secure. That top piece wasn't budging!

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting
Part 4: Finish

I'm not a huge fan of the matte chalk paint style, so I just used plain old semi-gloss latex wall paint. As an added bonus, this matches my desk perfectly, since I did that in the same color!

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

I did one coat of primer and two coats of paint.

Once the paint had dried, it was time to add the light and globe! I spray painted the globe gold, then threaded the pendant light through the globe and the two circles that I had drilled earlier.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting
Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

The socket of the pendant light was just big enough that the globe fit perfectly without any additional connections. If I find that it tilts or move around too much, I might hot glue them together so the globe stays exactly where I want it, but that hasn't been an issue so far.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

To secure the light in place, I nailed the electrical staples around the cord of the pendant light. I made sure they were pretty tight so that the cord wouldn't budge.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting
Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Then I added a lightbulb, and was done!

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

I was really nervous to get started on this project, because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Like, at all. Would it be stable? Would it tip forward, no matter what I did. Would the top half wobble? I wasn’t sure at all that it would be structurally sound, but I’m happy to report it’s a pretty solid floor lamp, and not at all in danger of tipping over.

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

I am so pleased! It looks so good in my office, and of course, matches the other furniture since I made those too. The desk in the office is Habitat for Humanity Restore remodel, and my tilt-out trash can (coming soon!) was made from an old wall cabinet!

Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

And it’s really nice to have a light above my hammock for reading. It works so well! Is there anywhere in your house that could use a standing lamp like this? Where? I’d love to hear all the ways this project could be used!

P.S- I've had some questions about the hammock. It is the world's comfiest chair, and is large enough for me to fully stretch my feet out in. I got it from Amazon (here), and could not be happier with it.

Like this lamp? Save it to Pinterest!
Need some quick budget lighting? This DIY floor lamp is easy to make and can be done in under $30! #DIYFurniture #DIYLighting

Breaker Box Basics: What You Should Know

Electrical work is scary. When things go wrong, or you want to add an outlet or a light or something, almost everyone you know says “hire a pro.” I’m not going to dispute that at all, actually. If/when you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be really dangerous. But there are some simple and common electrical situations that are really easy to deal with, and, to me at least, paying someone a couple hundred dollars to do these things for you is absurd.

I plan to do a whole series of simple and common home electrical projects, but today, I just want to start with the simple facts about electrical panels that every homeowner should know.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

What is a Circuit Breaker Panel?

The circuit breaker panel, also sometimes called the "breaker box", is where the main outside electrical power connects to all the different wires that feed the electricity in your house. It looks like this: 

Own a home? Here are the things you should absolutely know about your circuit breaker panel! #homeownership #homeimprovement

Note: My breaker box is located in my unfinished basement, so you can see all the wires leaving the box to feed power to my house. If your breaker box is located in a finished area, these might not be visible.

Own a home? Here are the things you should absolutely know about your circuit breaker panel! #homeownership #homeimprovement

On the inside, there are a bunch of switches. The large switch on top controls power to the entire house. In the case of some major electrical emergency, you can cut power to the entire house by flipping that big top switch.

(Not so) Fun Sidenote: In Texas, it's common for breaker boxes to be on the outside of the house. Robbers know this, and frequently will find the breaker box and flip the big switch to cut power to the house (and therefore any security systems and cameras) before approaching. While monitored security systems will call the homeowner when this happens (which will eventually lead to a 911 call), un-monitored systems are off for good. This happened to my parents just a couple weeks ago.

Each small switch controls power to some subset of your home. For example, there might be a switch labeled "Living Room." That switch probably controls all the lights and outlets in the living room, although you might want to do some testing to make sure. I'll be doing another post on how to test switches to see what they control, so stay tuned!

The power supplied by each separate switch is generally called a "circuit." I'm sure this is not the most official definition of a circuit, but it was the best I could come up with. You might have heard someone say something like "all the outlets and lights in the living room are on the same circuit," which for the purposes of the typical homeowner basically means the power is supplied by the same switch.

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Where is My Circuit Breaker Panel?

The location of the breaker box differs in every home. Mine is in my basement, but sometimes they can be in laundry rooms, hallways, and even outside! Look around, I promise you have a box somewhere! Note that in my pictures above, you can see wires. If your circuit breaker panel is in a finished area, it's likely the wires will be hidden by walls, and the box will be embedded in the wall itself. For example, in my old condo, the breaker box was located in the laundry area. The box was embedded in the wall, and all that was visible when it was closed was the grey front panel.

One extra note I should add: if your house is old and the wiring hasn't been updated, you may have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker panel. I won't pretend to know anything about fuses, but if you open the box and don't see switches, you probably are working with fuses.

How Do I Use My Circuit Breaker Panel?

When you open the panel, you'll see something like this:

Own a home? Here are the things you should absolutely know about your circuit breaker panel! #homeownership #homeimprovement

To turn off (or on) power to a section of your house, you simply flip the appropriate switch. Why might you want to turn off the power? Here are some common scenarios:

  • Resetting a breaker- If you draw more power than your circuit allows, the breaker will automatically shut itself off. You'll need to switch it back on. I'll talk more about this later.
  • Installing a new light fixture or ceiling fan- Anytime you're working with power, you'll want to make sure you've turned the circuit off for safety reasons.
  • Turning off certain circuits to save money when on vacation- Last summer I went on vacation for two weeks. Despite the fact I was gone, I paid $15 to power my house in that time. No idea what used the bulk of that power, but I promised myself I'd shut off any unnecessary circuits before I leave this year.

If you're feeling nervous right not, because electricity and all, know that at this point nothing easily accessible can hurt you. While there are some very dangerous wires inside the box, you'd have to take off the entire top panel (by unscrewing all the visible screws) to access those. All the switches you see are intended to be used by a novice homeowner. 

How Much Power Can a Circuit Handle?

The amount of power that can be handled on a single circuit varies depending on the circuit. Luckily, the each switch is labeled with the amount of power that circuit can handle. We measure electrical current using amps.

Own a home? Here are the things you should absolutely know about your circuit breaker panel! #homeownership #homeimprovement

In the above picture, most of the circuits are 20 amp circuits, including the "lights" circuit I circled in pink. This is pretty standard for residential homes in the US; most are either 15 or 20 amp circuits. 

Circuits requiring larger amperage are typically for major home appliances that draw large amounts of power. Above, you'll see my dryer is on a 30 amp circuit, and takes up two spaces in the panel. Other appliances that draw large amperage and take extra space are typically electrical ovens/ranges, air conditioners, and hot water heaters.

If you're wondering why this matters, or really what an "amp" even really means, for the general homeowner, not a whole lot. What you really need to know is that 20 amp circuits can handle more power than 15 amp circuits, which means you can plug more things in without problems. If you have 15 amp circuits, that is still plenty for typical usage, but you might need to be a bit more careful using multiple high-power small appliances at the same time on the same circuit (things like space heaters, convection ovens, hair dryers, etc.)

If you do end up overdrawing power from a circuit, it's not a huge deal. We call this "tripping" a circuit breaker, and in essence, the circuit turns itself off. It's easily fixed by unplugging your appliances, walking to the circuit breaker, and flipping the switch back on. I'll be writing a more detailed post on this soon, so stay tuned!

If You Do Nothing Else...

This post had a lot of information in it, especially if you've absolutely never thought about the electricity in your house before. What, where, and how to use a circuit breaker panel are essential things to know if you don't want to pay $200 to an electrician the next time you try to run a space heater and a hair dryer at the same time. But since that day is (hopefully!) not today, there's one thing I want you to do. If you have no idea where your breaker box is, I challenge you to get up and search your home until you find it. You never know when you're going to need to use it.

And finally, if you learned something reading this post, go ahead and save the image below to Pinterest. That way, not only will you know exactly how to find this post next time you're considering an electrical project, but your friends can benefit from this information too!

Own a home? Here are the things you should absolutely know about your circuit breaker panel! #homeownership #homeimprovement

Before and After: $11 Pottery Barn Knock Off Desk

How much money are you willing to pay for a desk? I imagine there’s a spectrum from $0 to Kardashian amounts of cash that most of us are willing to spend. It probably depends on the type of desk, personal philosophies on money, and the current financial situation of the buyer.

I’ll admit, I am on the lower side of the spectrum. At the moment, I couldn’t imagine spending more than $100, although I can imagine a future me that has money to burn being willing to spend a couple hundred.

However, even in my ideal imaginary daydream where future me is a billionaire with more money then I know how to spend, I can't imagine spending more than $1000 for a desk. I just can’t think of reason why a $1000 desk would be necessary, when there are plenty of beautiful, high quality desks for under that amount.

And yet, Pottery Barn exists. With all of it's beautiful, $1000+ desks that someone must actually buy and the rest of us just covet. So this week, I set out to recreate a desk I saw on Pottery Barn (specifically, the Aubrey Desk,) but with my $100 budget in mind.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

The $50 Pottery Barn Knock-Off Desk

I started with a nice and sturdy $11.75 desk I found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. 

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Yes, this desk transformation happened in my living room. It was super cold outside, so the porch and garage were out, and there was no way I was going to be able to get this thing into the basement myself.

If I need a furniture piece, I always try to transform an existing piece rather than build a new one myself. It is A) easier, B) significantly cheaper, and C) better for the environment. I can't always find what I'm looking for, but I got lucky this time and found this desk after only three trips to Habitat. It checked all my boxes of 1) medium sized, 2) made of wood, 3) fixable if broken, and 4) under $50. I purchased it as soon as I saw it.

If you're interested in my Thrift Store Furniture Checklist, which helps you pick out quality used pieces, click below!

The Transformation

Since I had plans to store a computer in this desk, in addition to the just changing the outward appearance, I need to convert one of the sides of drawers into a cabinet space. I decided to start with that, then work on the aesthetics of the piece once the structural components were complete.

Part 1: Structural Changes

I started by taking out all the drawers on the left side, and cutting out the front dividers with my jigsaw. For those of you that are considering doing a similar project, know that getting started is the very hardest part, and I sat there nervously for about 5 minutes before actually being brave enough to start cutting.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Since the computer I'm going to store in the space is pretty heavy duty and creates a whole lot of hot air, I decided to remove the back panel so that the space had some ventilation. I drilled holes in each of the four corners, then cut out the panel with a jigsaw.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Then I added some scrap wood bars (with wood glue and screws) so that the space wasn't totally open. Note that I countersunk all the screws so that I could fill in the space with wood filler and they wouldn't be visible.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Finally, I flipped the desk over and added scrap wood cut from a leftover 1"x 8" to the bottom to create a "floor" for the cupboard. I used wood glue and screws to secure these pieces to the bottom of the desk. I also did a whole lot of measuring before I did this step to make sure my computer would fit in the space.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Before adding "floor" of cabinet.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

With new "floor."

You've probably noticed that there are spaces between the boards- this wasn't super thought out or or intentional, I was just too lazy to cut another piece, so I just spaced the three pieces I had out.

You also might notice that my cupboard is currently door-less. There will be a door eventually, but I'll get to that later!

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Part 2: Aesthetics

The Pottery Barn desk I was particularly coveting had significant base molding and beautiful beadboard sides. The website implied the whole series was meant to resemble built-in furniture, hence all the molding. But guess what? I, too, am perfectly capable of adding beadboard and molding to a desk, with the added bonus of not having it cost thousands of dollars. (Am I bitter? Maybe a little.)

The legs on this desk were almost 7 inches tall. I couldn't find molding that tall, so I added some 1/2" plywood to cover the space between the top of the molding and the bottom of the desk. I secured this to the wood pieces I had already added to be the "floor" of the cabinet.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I did this on both sides, I promise!

Since I had to make a trip to Lowes to purchase the baseboard molding, I actually did the beadboard next. I had some leftover from the mudroom project, and simply cut it with a combo of my circular saw and miter saw to fit in the indented places on the sides of the desk.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I secured the beadboard with wood glue and brad nails, using my awesome Ryobi Electric Nailer. Seriously the best thing ever- super versatile (I don't think there's a single project I haven't used it on) and easy to use. I was even raving to my friend about it at Thanksgiving, because clearly, everyone should own one.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Once the beadboard was in place, I moved onto the baseboard molding. I purchased the tallest molding I could find (5 1/4", if you were curious) to wrap around the bottom of each sides. This was the biggest investment I made in the project, costing me around $25 for two 8 foot lengths.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I am not at all a molding pro- maybe someday I'll get better and write a whole post on how to apply molding perfectly, but in the meantime, you should probably read somebody else's advise on applying molding. That being said, I'm pretty good at covering up all my bad corners with caulk, so I guess there's that.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
Part 3: Doors and Drawers

Since I hollowed out one of the sides of the desk, I needed to make a door to replace the drawers that were there before. I wanted to keep with the beadboard theme, so I designed a three layer door. I had 4" wide 1/4" plywood strips left over from my kitchen floor project, so I used those combined with the beadboard to create my door.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I attached it to the desk using these hinges that I special ordered from Home Depot. I struggled a bit to find hinges that I knew would work with this door since I wanted it to be inset style.

The drawer fronts were much easier. I wood filled the holes left from the pulls, and then sanded down the fronts:

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I glued on some a frame made from the 1/4" plywood, then painted so the drawers matched the rest of the desk.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
Part 4: Finishing the Desk

Before painting, I liberally applied wood filler to the desk. Any visible screws, brad nails, and damaged portions got filled with wood, then sanded back down. Caulk was applied anywhere there might have been a gap; behind the molding was the most significant spot. Then, the desk got a thorough sanding with my orbital sander

Finally, the desk could be painted. It got a coat of primer followed by two coats of latex paint. While I've seen chalk paint produce some gorgeous vintage-style pieces, I much prefer the semi-gloss finish of latex paint in my own home. As long as I prime and sand before painting, I've never had an issue using latex paint on furniture.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Once the desk was painted, I was able to attach the door and replace the drawers. When I was finished, it looked like this:

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

It's so much better, right? And it has just the right amount of storage!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

It was definitely a bit time consuming of a project; I probably spent a 3-4 days working on it. But for less than $50 ($11.25 for the desk, $25 for the molding, and $10 for a half sheet of beadboard), I consider the time investment totally worth it!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I'm so excited for my sunroom to be finished! Stay tuned for the upcoming posts about the other furniture I made in this room- a standing lamp and tilt-out trash can! In the meantime, if you found this project inspiring, go ahead and pin it to Pinterest so you can find it later!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Refinishing Hardwood Floors: 5 Reasons Not to DIY

I just finished the second portion of the floor refinishing project in my house. To recap a bit, the floors in my house were severely damaged, with deep gorges, many stains, and the finish straight up worn away in many places. I suspect they’ve never been refinished or re-coated in the 108 year history of the house.

Since I’m DIY-ing this, and I need a place to put my furniture while I refinish the floors, I decided to do the house in stages. I started small, with the front room, which is a very small room that took about 3 hours to sand. That project was completed a couple months back (and if you want to see how I dealt with a bad sander that day, click here!) This time, I was conquering a much larger section of the house: the living and dining rooms.

I wised up a bit: I intentionally planned this project for when my dad was in town, so I’d have a helper. We went to a different rental place, in hopes of getting a better sander than I had last time. I thought it would go faster, and that I’d do a better job.

I was wrong.

My floors look better than they started, for sure. But they're not the beautiful, flawless works of art that pros are able to produce. And I thought about this a lot. I researched. I planned. And I’d done it before!

So I thought I’d let you know why this project is so difficult to do well, from two generally handy, but relatively inexperienced in refinishing people, so that you can make an informed decision on your own floors.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

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5 Reasons Not to Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself
1) Something Will Go Wrong

Sanders are temperamental. The first sander I rented had an uneven drum, so only half the sander was touching the floor as I worked. This resulted in some super clogged sandpaper:

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

And a floor that looked like this after the first sweep with the sander:

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

Not quite the even, flawlessly sanded floor I was hoping for.

I panicked a bit, but eventually figured it out.

This time I went somewhere else in hopes of getting a better sander. But 30 minutes in, the sandpaper kept exploding off the belt.

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

We went through 4 different sandpaper belts in the span of 30 minutes trying to figure out what was wrong. Eventually, after driving back to the rental center, we learned the instructions the rental guy had given us for installing the sandpaper were incorrect, resulting in the sandpaper explosions.

2) Pros Have Better Equipment

The sander that you rent will be a nice, heavy 110 volt machine that plugs into a typical household outlet. But the pros use even bigger, more powerful 220 volt machines that take off wood and finish faster.

If you think the rental sander is probably good enough, you’re half right. It will get the job done. But it will take a lot more effort on your part, and more than one pass with the sander to take off all the finish. To give you an idea, here’s what my living room floor looked like after my very best effort. I passed over each spot with the 36 grit sandpaper, incredibly slowly, applying pressure, four separate times. Then the 60 grit sandpaper, twice. Finally the 100 grit sandpaper, which I only did once.

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

Despite all of this, there are still finish marks on the floor. The end result will be blotchy because I couldn’t get the wood to an even color. Admittedly, my floor is over 100 years old, and pretty warped. It might be way easier to do an even sanding job on a newer floor that hasn’t had 100 years to move around and become uneven. I wouldn’t know.

My father, who is noticeably stronger than me, fared a bit better in the dining room. But, still, not a pro level. See the blotches?

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

And that’s just the sander. They have access to better finishes, too. Do you really think the polyurethane you can buy at Home Depot is really the strongest floor finish on the market? Of course not. The stuff the pros use is significantly stronger, and of course, exponentially more difficult to apply.

3) Sanding Floors is Physically Exhausting

Theoretically, you’re just pushing a big, wheeled machine around. And maybe, if you get a machine that has a lever to raise and lower the drum, that will be the case. But the sander I rented this time used a rocking motion to raise and lower the drum. That meant that to keep the drum in contact with the floor, not only did I have to push the machine forward, but I needed to be pushing the machine into the floor, else it would rock backward and the drum would lift off and barely sand the floor.

The sander is heavy. After a couple hours of this, I was exhausted, and my arms felt like they were about to fall off.

4) You Will Make a Giant Mess

Both my sander and edger had remarkably good dust collection systems. Despite this, there was still an obvious layer of dust coating everything, including in the rooms I didn’t sand, when I was done. Pros will be meticulous about cleaning up their messes, and have the tools and routines to make that easy. This is especially important in a floor refinishing job, where sawdust getting into a drying finish can destroy it.

To give you an idea of the dust, when I finished sanding my floor, I went over it three separate times with a vacuum cleaner before applying finish, because that’s what it took for me to be confident there wasn’t anymore sawdust on the floor.

5) Pros Will Do a Better Job

This last reason is more an accumulation of everything above. Pros will do a noticeably better job at refinishing your floors than you will. They have better equipment, better products and more experience. While this can be said about almost any DIY task, the difference between a pro job and an amateur job is particularly obvious with hardwood floors.

So, Should You Ever DIY Refinishing Hardwood Floors?

If the floors in your house are truly in terrible condition- the finish has worn down entirely in places…

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

There are holes and giant gouges...

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

Or there are clear stains from damaged portions...

Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

And your house is not worth much money (for a house; $100,000 or less) then go for it. My reasoning here is that the cost of hiring a pro to refinish your floors will not be recouped when you sell your house. And if the wood floors are truly in terrible condition, the sell-ability of the house will increase even with a mediocre job.

But if you live in a nice house, one that is valued well above $100,000, hire someone. While I found it difficult to leave large gouges in the floor like many websites claimed I might do, there are many minor imperfections in places that a pro would have done perfectly. All in all, a pro will do a significantly better job than you, and if your house is truly a valuable investment, it’s worth hiring someone.

Still Thinking of DIY-ing Your Floors?

Cool, me too; I still have another two rooms to do. I’ll be rooting for you. And if you’re looking for all the resources you can get your hands on, check out my other two posts: 8 Tips for Refinishing Hardwood Floors, and What to Do if You Get a Bad Floor Sander.

Good luck! I’d love to hear how it goes; I still have another two rooms to refinish, after all!

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Don't refinish your hardwood floors without reading this first! Includes all the reasons my DIY refinish job did not turn out well. #RefinishingHardwoodFloors #Flooring

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

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

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. If you're on the fence about getting a nail gun, know that I consider my nail gun one of the best DIY purchases I've ever made; it has made almost every project considerable easier.
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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!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

6 Important Miter Saw Safety Tips

Note: I have this Ryobi miter saw, which I absolutely love! If you're looking for a quality budget miter saw that can do pretty much everything (sliding, compound, single bevel,) I'd check it out!

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!

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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

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

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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 (here.) 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 for the chair, fabric, 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, check it out!) 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

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

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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 at 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!

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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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