Category archive: DIY

Building Pumpkin’s Nursery – Part 2

With the bigger painting job out of the way, it was time to concentrate on the deco wall. The first order of business was to build the shelf at the top.

I used some of the same MDF board (though with less width) and placed it on top of the main crossbeam. That created a little nook, so I filled it with some cove molding. The lip of the shelf and the cove molding aren’t flush, but I like it. Probably would have looked weird your way, you perfectionist.

In the shot above, you can see I went ahead and primed the slats as well as the cove molding. The finishing paint is pure white, so I wanted to make sure none of the yellow showed through.

There was still some weird, dark splotches on the wall between the slats, so I went ahead and added another layer of smoothing compound. Then it was time to paint with a tiny little roller, which was ridiculous.

It should be noted that everything hurt to do it. Holding up the boards, applying joint compound, painting with a brush… everything!

After two coats of paint, it was time to work on the caulking, which again A) hurt and B) took forever. Isn’t that stuff toxic? And there I was just dragging my finger through it over and over again. Still, it wasn’t until the caulk went on that this started looking like something real. Before it kind of had a detached quality. Now it looks like part of the wall, which is nice.

It looks really yellow in my pictures. It’s not yellow. Calm down.

I started running out of steam on this project towards the end, which caused me to not be as meticulous as I should have been. Had Dom not been busy growing our baby, it would have helped to have her directing me. She’s so much better at the finer details.

Also, the wall is still white. Not yellow. Seriously, cool your yellow jets.

All in all, I give this project a solid C. It just needed something more. The walls could have been a little grayer, and the white could have popped more. Also, I totally wasn’t sure what to do at the bottom. With the Drop Zone, we pulled off the baseboards and replaced them with MDF. Probably should have done that again. Next baby.

I was excited to move some of the furniture in as quickly as possible, just to see how it will look. Again, this caused me great disappointment in my craftsmanship. Hopefully, baby won’t mind.

So this is it. Baby Verastiqui’s nursery. That crib is where our baby will sleep.

How fucking awesome is that? Truly fucking awesome, if you ask me.

Building Pumpkin’s Nursery – Part 1

When Dom and I bought our house two years ago, we made sure to include a couple of extra rooms to grow our family. Fast-forward to today, and we’re less than two months from the arrival of our first child, which we have nicknamed Pumpkin since we don’t know the gender.  Ever since we found out we were pregnant, my to-do list has contained the line item: build a nursery. I’m happy to report that after seven months of procrastination, I’m finally on the job!

Sane parents-to-be would have simply emptied out a room and put some pictures on the wall to make it a nursery. Luckily, we are not sane parents-to-be. 

Here’s what we set out to do:

  • Paint the walls a nice gender-neutral color
  • Smooth out the accent wall (Dom hates texture, and I’m not a fan either)
  • Add board and batten to the accent wall’s lower half
  • Add wallpaper, mural, or stickers to the accent wall’s top half
  • Add SnapPower guide lights to all outlets
  • Replace light switch with rocker and add SnapPower guide light
  • Pretend we’re going to replace the carpet but then not actually do it

I decided to tackle the smoothing first, since I’d be painting over it later. I used some simple painters tape and picked up some joint compound from Home Depot.

Look at that tiny putty knife. I did the entire wall in a few hours while listening to the audiobook of 1984, which was possibly the most depressing Saturday I’ve ever had. I thought the wall looked okay with only one coat, but after the initial painting, I realized I was wrong.

If you’re smoothing out textured walls with joint compound, use at least two coats.

We used the same MDF from our Drop Zone project to start the board and batten. The wall is twelve feet long, but not exactly due to builder quality. And, as I expected, the adjoining walls aren’t exactly plum either. Oh well.

We chose a light color called Ash Blue despite it being generally considered a boy’s color. We started to get a bad feeling as I was roughing it in, and upon seeing the final product, we decided to cover it up with a light gray called Silver Drop.

Now came the fun part. We got some wood slats (about half the thickness of the cross beam) and started positioning them. We bought twelve, but didn’t use that many. Of the four outlets on the wall, we only ran into one, which was really lucky. I’m sure there are a lot of options for getting around that outlet (we considered covering it up, which evidently is bad), but I went with just putting in a break in the slat. It’s not pretty, but if it bothers us enough, we’ll just put a table in front of it.

So, after a couple of weekends, we’ve got the walls painted a nice light gray, the board and batten on a smooth wall, and guide lights on most of the outlets. The remainder of the work is on the board and batten: getting it caulked and smooth, primed, and painted, which shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Once that’s done, we can move in the furniture!

Some things I learned:

  • See that pic above with the blue tape? Says 6ft on it? That’s how I measure, which I think is superior to actual measurement techniques when you’re trying to find center. Measure a distance from one wall (in this case, 6 ft), then the same distance from the other. You can then use a ruler to measure the distance between and half the difference. Works every time except for the times it doesn’t.
  • I had a moment of panic removing the tape from the cross bar when I saw blue paint on it. But then I remember that this is actually going to support a tiny ledge, so it won’t be visible.
  • Nail guns are pretty awesome.
  • I hate joint compound.
  • If you’re scared of electrocuting yourself, have a “spare” outlet cover and leave it in place. I used this method while applying joint compound and it worked quite well. Helps if you’re replacing the outlet covers with guide lights.
  • There is no good way of cleaning up after you spill half a paint can onto your tarp, but at least you remember to put down a tarp. I can’t believe that thin plastic kept the paint from getting into the carpet.

DIY Gladiator Garageworks Mini-rails

Because the price of rails is too damn high!

If you called me up and said Hey Daniel, these guys are gonna kill me unless you cut me some French cleats free-hand with a circular saw, I would calmly reply well you better go to your happy place because you’re about to get straight-up murdered.

After viewing April Wilkerson’s French Cleat System video, I thought to myself maybe this is the excuse I need to finally get a table saw! But at over $300 for a good one, I decided to put off this purchase and try doing the 45-degree length-wise cuts myself. As you can see from the photo above, I failed miserably.

Dejected, I decided to just order some new bins for my existing Gladiator Garageworks system ($). As I was adding the new rails (which honestly aren’t that expensive), I realized they are overkill for what I wanted.

So I just ordered the bins direct from Whirpool (Amazon doesn’t have them in stock) and waited for them to arrive.

Then, PROJECT!

Measuring for mini-rails

Since screws and nails don’t weigh that much, we don’t need the full Gladiator rail system. All we really need is a lip on a mount. Lip on a mount. Lip on a mount.

That’s fun to write.

Cut the lips

I had some scrap wood (I think 1/4″?) that fit nicely into the tabs on the back of the bins. So I cut those into 2 1/4″ strips.

Man that scrap wood is terrible. Splintering all over the place. Thank god for eye protection.

You should test the fit of the scraps you cut. If you want to be fancy-pants, you can make the strips actually fit snugly. It’s a game of eights though, so be careful or you’re gonna have to do some sanding.

Cut the mounts

Use a thicker piece of scrap to cut the mounts. I believe I chose a 1/4″ as the lip depth, but who knows at this point? I wasn’t really keeping track.

Glue those bastards together. On the first rail, I used the smallest screws I could find. Then I discovered you can use brad nails, which is so much more fun! Find the shortest brads and put one in each end. Then cut the excess off with some dikes.

Make sure you use some glue. That’s what all the pros are always saying, anyway.

Repeat the process

Build as many rails as you want. I did six before I got really bored with this project and wanted to go inside to play video games.

Find a place to mount the rails

Again, stealing an idea from April, I decided to mount the rails on the inside of the door to my water heaters. That would keep them out of sight and make the garage look cleaner. Double win.

Take note that if you’re gonna do this, you have to account for the lip on the doorjamb as well as the length of the bin (where it might hit another door or jamb as it closes). I was able to fit 4 of the Gladiator bins on each row under these constraints.

Done!

After mounting all the rails and the bins, take a step back and admire your work.

Do not be fooled by the angle of the picture. I assure you they’re level. Probably.

24 new bins for holding stuff! How exciting. I was running out of space in my old bin storage unit. If I fill up these guys, I’ll repeat the process on the other door. Now you know.

Alright, I think that’s enough BSIY posts for this year. I should probably get back to writing a new book or–gross–exercise.
 

BSIY Fold-down Workbench

Because you park your cars in your garage like a good American

Oh, Saturdays. Is there anything better than a Saturday with nothing else to do? You wake up, cook yourself some chorizo and eggs, pop a few Ripped Fuel pills, and decide to build yourself a fold-down workbench in the garage.

Also because the Longhorns don’t play until six.

Let’s talk supplies

Head over to Home Depot in your SUV and purchase the following:

  • 4′ by 4′ plank — if you go longer than 6 feet wide, you may have to add another foot. That will look weird. And where will you attach it?!
  • (3) 2x4x8 — whatever color, material you like
  • Piano hinge
  • (2) 3″ bolts in 1/2″ diameter w/ nuts.
  • A latch! — Something like this.
  • Some screws — wood screws, 2.5″ or 3″

Make sure you purchase all of these things together, take them out to your car, and not be able to fit the 4’x4′ plank into your Nissan Rogue. You’ll really enjoy having to go back into Home Depot to have them cut the plank for you.

Measure out the framing

As April Wilkerson points out, you want to put the frame a few inches from the edge of the plank so you can use clamps. Measure, make some marks, do a little dance.

A speed square makes makes this speedy and square

I went all the way around before I realized that one edge of the plank is going to have the frame flush against the wall. So, you can do all four corners, but be sure to measure from one edge to one intersection for the boards.

Cut three sides of the frame

As I learned in the previous Mirror Framing Incident of 2016, it’s a crap-shoot to measure and assemble a frame by itself and then try to fit it to something. Instead, measure the sides one-by-one and screw them into place somehow. April drilled holes for pocket screws; I couldn’t figure that out at all! I just clamped the boards into place and screwed up from underneath.

You can go all gangsta pocket holes on the cross beam if you want, or, just screw in from the sides.

Complete the frame

At first, I cut a board to fit snugly in the open space. Then, I realized I wanted the eventual legs to fold flat against the bench when it was stowed. This meant leaving enough room on the sides for the legs. Here’s the progression.

I used some scrap to size the new board. I was so proud of myself for being smart.

Attach board to wall

Now, why are we doing this step now instead of after the feet are cut? Well, smart-ass, maybe you forgot that your garage floor isn’t level! Yeah, now who’s writing this post?

Anyway, grab a level and your favorite drill, find some studs, and just go to town. That means whatever you want it to mean.

If this is the first time you’ve ever attached a board to a wall, try putting the center screw in first, but don’t tighten it all the way. Then you can rotate the board until it is level, drill a pilot hole, and screw it into place. The more you know, right?

Make one good leg and one crappy leg

This really is the hardest part because who knows how legs work.

Note: If you mounted the board on the wall at your desired height in the CENTER of the board, then one leg will be slightly shorter than that height and one leg will be slightly longer. That’s all I can say about that because it’s too complicated and you’re an adult.

Here’s the sequence I used for the second leg.

  1. Use a speed square to mark 45 degree angles from both corners (making an X)
  2. Drill a 1/2″ hole at the X
  3. Put the board in place in the workbench and clamp it down. Use the existing hole to drill into the frame.
  4. Remove the leg and trace a circle that is centered around the hole you drilled. Surely something in your garage is the right size.
  5. Use a jigsaw to cut the half-circle

I decided to cut both boards to “a little longer than final” so that I could get them attached and see how much I needed to cut off to get level.

The crappy leg — don’t just make a lot of marks and hope it works!

Clamp, drill, etc…

Left leg is shorter than the work surface; right leg is longer. This will make sense later.

Test the fit on the wall

You can now put the workbench on the really sturdy board you attached earlier. Test the level and adjust the length of the legs as necessary. I’m not gonna lie — my first-try legs produced a perfectly level surface. Yeah, that’s right, first try.

You can see how badly I mangled the left leg at the top.

Latch it up, latch it down

We’re coming to the step where we’re going to attach the plank to the board on the wall. To do that, we need a way to keep it against the wall while we work. Use a scrap piece of plank (from the piece the Home Depot guys had to cut for you because you don’t know the size of your car).

Measure, attach it to the wall, and put the latch on it.

You can use the second half of the latch on the plank if that’s your style.

Attach the piano hinge

The hinge I got from Home Depot was 4 feet long and needed to be cut down to size. Figure out which way it’s supposed to bend and attach the plank to the board on the wall.

Once you’ve filled all 89-bajillion holes in the hinge, your bench should look something like this.

Another cross beam

The keen observer will note an extra cross beam in the previous photo that was heretofore unmentioned. This keeps both legs in sync as they fold out and also keeps the legs from coming out too far when you extend the bench.

Attach the cross beam while the bench is folded out and put the beam right below the framing.

Depending on how much attention you pay to your projects, you might be able to get both sides of the cross beam flush with the framing.

WARNING: This beam creates an excellent space to mash your fingers!

Put your car in your garage

Fold your work bench up and pull your Japanese car into your American garage like the thoughtful neighbor you are. Seriously, why do people park ten cars in their driveways? Or worse, on the street? Or worse, on the street in front of my house?!

It’s a thing of beauty.


Disclaimer: This edition of BSIY was kind of a cheat because I watched this video of April Wilkerson building a DIY Fold Down Workbench. She’s really amazing and details every step of the build. If you’re actually interested in building one of these, I fully recommend you watch her video.

She even has plans available on her website (for a small fee), but that kinda defeats the purpose of Bullshit-It-Yourself, doesn’t it? Come on, only a lame-o uses plans and schematics. You’re not a lame-o; you’re a bad-ass BSIY vato.

Disclaimer 2: I only took on this project to justify buying a jigsaw. Don’t tell Dom.

BSIY Mirror Frames

Because your girlfriend said it would be easy

When Dom and I built a new home last year, we had this idea of using pre-framed mirrors in our bathrooms. We asked the builder not to put anything on the wall, so of course we spent a month staring at a blank wall while brushing our teeth. The problem, we discovered, was that there were no mirrors available in both small and large (for my sink and hers) with the same style of framing.

The only solution was to buy naked mirrors and build the frames ourselves! At least, that’s what she told me. So we got some mirrors from Lowe’s and some supplies from Home Depot. We looked at some plans online, but that’s not really my style. They don’t call it Bullshit-it-Yourself for nothing.

I drew up a plan.

I know, it’s really complex. But, the plan was only to figure out how much molding we needed for the frame.

Now, I could tell you about the first mirror frame I built (it took a month), but I know your time is valuable, so we’ll skip right to the second mirror, which only took a day.

1. Gather Supplies

Here’s everything you’re going to need and why.

  • A mirror (optional — you can choose to print a 30×36 poster of Jeff Goldblum if you wish)
  • 1/4″ x 2″ x 4″ sheets of plywood to act as backing
  • Crown molding or baseboards, whatever floats your boat
  • Liquid Nails
  • Caulk
  • Sliding Miter Saw (Confession: I only accepted this project because it would allow me to purchase this.)
  • Small screws (for securing backing to molding)
  • L-brackets (for larger mirrors, as extra stabilization)
  • Mounting hardware
  • Painting Supplies (paint, brush, tape)

2. Arrange backing

Lay out your plywood to create a base. We’re going to arrange them to make the minimal amount of cuts later.

Do your best to eliminate any gaps between the plywood.

3. Set mirror on backing

Get your girlfriend to help you carefully place the mirror on the backing.

Let’s assume you’ve already messed up a frame or five before tackling this project. Use some scrap molding to carve out the plywood by placing them right at the edge. Use clamps to hold them in place while you push the mirror into the corner.

Use EVEN MORE MOLDING to mark cut-lines on the plywood (left pic). Cut the plywood down to size and use molding to confirm it is close enough (right pic).

4. Cut and glue the molding

Without letting the mirror move, remove all the scrap molding.

If this is your first time using a sliding miter saw, you’re in for some fun! Pick a side to start on and cut the first piece of molding. Use 45-degree angles and eyeball (you can measure if you are one of those DIY weirdos) the placement.

Glue it down with some liquid nails and use clamps to make sure it stays up.

Work your way around the mirror in this manner until you have three sides completed. DO NOT GLUE ALL FOUR SIDES unless you enjoy starting things over.

Note: For whatever reason, I had little luck measuring and cutting. Instead, I carefully made a cut, tested the fit, and repeated until it was perfect. Get it as close to perfect as you can; we’ll fix the tiny gaps with caulk later.

5. Glue the mirror down

If the mirror is sufficiently large, ask a friend, neighbor, or pastor to lift the mirror as you apply liquid nails to the plywood.

You should probably use a lot of glue. Like, a lot. You wouldn’t want this thing falling off the wall onto your sink and then your bathroom floor. That’s seven years bad luck.

6. Complete the frame

Using the skills you learned in Step 4, cut the final piece of molding and glue it to the plywood. Give it some time to set.

7. Add some bracing (optional)

The smaller of our mirrors didn’t seem to need it, but because of the size of the larger one, the entire frame felt kinda flimsy. To ensure a uniform shape, add some L-brackets to the back of the frame.

This keeps the two pieces of molding in each corner steady so you can caulk them.

8. Secure those panels

Use some of those small screws to secure the plywood to the molding. What size screws, you ask? I don’t know, man. Just a small one that won’t poke up through the molding.

At the very least, add screws to the joints between the plywood panels. Add them along the border at regular intervals. I’m sure there’s a scientific method for determining the maximum distance between each screw but we’re gonna leave that to the science nerds.

9. Clean up your mess, you animal

Depending on how the mirror is going to be mounted, you may want to clean up the rough edges of the plywood, since they’ll be visible from the side. Use a file and some sandpaper to smooth those out.

Admittedly, this is the worst part of this BSIY design. It’d be nice if the plywood could somehow be recessed into the molding so that it’s hidden, but I’m not Chip Gaines and neither are you.

10. Fill the seams

Use a caulk gun (or brute strength) to fill in the seams at the joints.

You might as well tape prior to caulking since there is a seam that touches the mirror.

11. Sand, prime, paint, and hang

This part doesn’t involve a single power tool, so I won’t go into much detail. Make the frame look nice. Take frequent breaks to show your girlfriend and make sure she’s pleased.

Final Warning

Do not attempt to craft the frame without the mirror in place. Doing so will inevitably lead to the mirror not fitting in the hole. Then you’ll have to cut the backing, fit the mirror, and redo the backing. It will look horrible. Like this:

This project doesn’t take very long, so don’t worry about being without a mirror. If you start in the morning, it can be on your wall by dinner.

And then, dinner!

BSIY (Highway to the) Drop Zone

As mentioned at the end of BSIY Elevated Garden, Dom and I have been working on a Drop Zone for the area just inside our garage door. When we built the house, there was supposed to be a diagonal nook that connected the oven/micro to the wall behind it. We asked them to build a valet / drop zone instead, and they said blah blah no blah blah fire code. So we said, fine, leave out the nook; we’ll build the drop zone ourselves.

Our requirements were simple:

  • A place to hang jackets for the two months out of the year that it’s cold in Texas.
  • A bench because we’re getting old and can’t put on our shoes standing up anymore.
  • A place to store said shoes so we don’t track dirt into the house.

Dom put in months and months of Pinteresting to find designs we liked, and then we set to building!

Step 1: The Tools

Even with my ever-increasing arsenal of tools, we still had to stop by the Home Depot to pick up a new toy.

I don’t believe in any tools that can shoot nails into my eyeballs, so I left this guy to Dom’s steady hands. Much like the dogs, I ran and hid in the other room anytime she used it.

Step 2: The Design

We went for the simplest design we could find: MDF over bead board. Here is Dom’s initial sketch.

You can get all of the materials from Home Depot. Choose your bead board based on how wide you want the slats. As for the MDF, you’re going to need a few different widths.

  • Large — to form the baseboard
  • Medium — for the sides and horizontal braces
  • Small — for the shelf that will overhang the top of the wall

We also got:

  • Liquid nails
  • Caulk
  • Electric sander
  • Paint

Step 3: Prepping the Site

Luckily, the wall we were working with had no outlets and no light switches on it. The only teardown we had to do was for the shoe molding and baseboards.

This was pretty simple, and since we had plenty of leftover molding in the attic, we didn’t need to salvage what we removed. Okay, yeah, we were just lazy with the whole reuse recycle thing.

Step 4: Cutting the Bead Board

Dom really wanted to do most of the work for this project, so I just sat back and helped where I could. Although her circular saw form needs some work, you can’t argue with results.

Step 5: Attaching the Bead Board

For reasons I can’t remember now, we decided to mount two sections of bead board, leaving space for the middle horizontal brace. If we had to do this project again, I think we’d leave out that unnecessary step and just stack the second row of board right on top of it.

This part took way longer than it should have thanks to the cheap-o caulk gun I’d had for years. We bought a better one from Home Depot right after we finished this stage.

Why no pictures of Dom using the nail gun to secure the boards? Because I was in the room hiding with the dogs. We went over that already.

Step 6: The MDF Cometh

I don’t know what it is about MDF but they cut like they already want to fall apart. We sized the boards and used liquid nails to attach them to the wall. Once they were dry, we drilled holes for the cross braces and secured them with screws, since they will be supporting the weight of the hooks.

Step 7: The Shelf

We used a smaller MDF board to lay across the top of the wall to act as a shelf. Home Depot sells white cove molding, so we used that on the underside to break up the right angle. We don’t expect to put anything on the shelf, but it looks damn good. That was all Dom’s idea, by the way.

 The cove molding is hard to see with the caulk and paint already done.

The cove molding is hard to see with the caulk and paint already done.

Step 8: Make it Pretty

Now that all the easy work has been done, it’s time to crack a bottle of wine and prepare for two months of finishing working. We filled in all the nail holes and joints with caulk, waited for it to dry, and then sanded. And sanded. And then we bought and electric sander. And sanded one more time.

I could write an entire other post about the hoops we had to jump through to get the right paint for our drop zone. We really wanted it to match our interior trim. Easy, you say, just ask the builder what paint they used. Yeah, it sounds simple. After multiple trips to Sherman Williams, half a dozen people all telling us different names of paints, it took Andrew from CalAtlantic (formerly Ryland) to come over with his painter and then just straight give us paint from a current build down the street. He didn’t have to do that at all, so it was a nice ending to what was weeks of head-shaking torment.

Still, Dom did a great job with the finishing, often staying up until midnight while I slept soundly in a soft bed.

Once the paint had dried, we reinstalled the shoe molding and door stop. Again, Dom had to use the air gun and I can still feel the echoes of that terror.

Step 9: Hook it up

We couldn’t figure out what color we wanted the hooks to be, so we went ahead and mounted them as-is to see how black would look. If we decide later that we want another color, we can just unscrew them and paint. Drop Zones vary in the number of hooks they use. We went back and forth between 7-across and 5-across. I think we made the right call with the less-cluttered look.

Aren’t you done measuring yet?

No matter what your future wife tells you, take your time with measuring and spacing out the hooks. All of this work will be for not if they aren’t distributed evenly or aren’t pointing straight up. Measure first, measure second, drill third.

Finished Product

After we were done, Dom and I shared one of our classic high-fives and looked in awe upon that which we had created. We both acknowledge that this took much longer than it should have, mostly because we’re still learning. One day, we’ll graduate from BS-it-yourself to Do-it-yourself, and then we’ll be unstoppable. We’re going to take a week or two off and then figure out what we’re going to do next.

Dom wants crown molding. I’d like a sliding barn door for the master bath. We’ll see.

Send us pics of your drop zone if you end up building one!

 Carrot wreath, because May.

Carrot wreath, because May.

BSIY Elevated Garden Bed

When it comes to making decisions at 36, I typically opt for the choice that doesn’t require me to bend or kneel. Thus, when it came time to think about building a garden at the new house, I didn’t want to repeat our last mistake of a raised garden bed, i.e., that it was still on the ground. So, after Dom showed me a few pictures of elevated garden beds, I looked at my wall-o-tools and decided I can build that.

I can’t remember where she saw the original picture, and I didn’t feel like downloading plans, which meant it was time for a good, ol’ fashioned Bullshit It Yourself project.

If you’re a Master Craftsman, you can already see from the picture above how simple this design is and how easily it will be to build. For the rest of us, we’re just gonna wing it.

Step 1 — The sides

Since the legs will be sitting directly in the dirt, you’ll likely need some weather-treated wood. This is just a guess, since I didn’t bother to look it up first.

Cut two 8′ 2x4s in half. Cut the ends at 45 degrees to level with ground and top of bed. Mark the center point on each leg; this is where you will join them together. Because of the way we’re going to attach the slats, you’ll need a shim at the join point.

I used wood glue and exterior-grade screws to put everything together. The slats aren’t weather-treated, so I’m guessing this will fall apart within a year or two.

Since there are no plans, you’ll need to measure, cut, angle, and attach each slat individually. I used two 8′ 1x4s; you can save some wood if you cut it down on 45 degree angles. If you mounted the legs completely perpendicular, you should be able to make 45 degree cuts on the slats and have them line up. Keep adding smaller slats until you reach the shim. If you’re not lazy, maybe fill in that last bit between the slats and the shim with a triangle piece. I’m lazy, so I didn’t.

Obvious tip: pre-drill the holes to keep the wood from splitting. Also, if the wood is soft, be careful not to sink the screws too much.

Step 2 — Connect the sides together

If you’ve got time, you can continue to use 1×4 slats to make the front and back of the garden. I’m sure it would look very nice. If you’re lazy, just use larger slats! I can’t remember the exact measurements of the boards I used, but they were 6′ long and 1″ thick. I needed 2 for each side.

You can choose any length you want, depending on how big you want the garden to be. Note that because of the way the legs are positioned, you may have to notch one side to get it to sit right. In the picture above, I notched the other side of the board unnecessarily.

See in the foreground how my slats don’t sit flush with the other boards? That’s just shoddy craftsmanship. Do a better job than me.

Step 3 — Bracing

It was at this point that I realized just how much dirt the bed was going to hold. At six feet long, I knew I need some additional bracing to keep the longer panels from bowing out.

I started with some inner bracing to connect the panels together.

The 2x4s are joined to the legs, and the panels are secured from the outside in. See that metal bracer on the right? That’s because I didn’t have an extra six foot 2×4 and damned if I was going to go back to Home Depot for a fifth time that day.

I actually started staining and sealing the wood before I decided to add even more bracing. With most of the weight centered over the gap at the bottom, I needed something behind those panels to keep them straight. Two 8′ weather-treated 2x4s cut to size did the trick.

Step 4 — Mind the gap

I’ll admit that I really had no idea what I was going to do about the bottom of this garden bed. Even with the sealing and the plastic sheeting (later), I didn’t want the brunt of the wet soil sitting on wood. I settled on using PVC to form the bottom. I could put some holes in it to let the water drain freely, or just use it to force water to the sides. Unfortunately, Home Depot only had 4″ diameter, and the gap was just a little bigger.

Time for some teeth!

I cut up some 1×1 pieces to form the teeth. And now, as I sit here looking at it, I realize the PVC will be bearing the weight for the soil, and the teeth will be bearing the weight of the PVC. Luckily, those teeth are secured with 3″ screws going through the panels and 2×4 brace. We’ll see how long they hold!

The PVC does fit nicely inside now, and there are more channels for the water runoff:

Step 5 — Pictures

We placed the elevated garden bed next to the fence just outside our dining nook windows. It’s high enough that we’ll be able to see the plants through all stages of growth, and should be more pleasant to look at than the boring fence.

What Did We Learn?

Here are some of things I learned while working on this project:

  • You should probably have plans before starting a project.
  • The more tools you have, the more options you have for accomplishing a task. I used a circular saw, hacksaw, multiple drills, shavers, sanders, clamps, a t-square, a quick square, line chalk, etc., etc. Buy more tools!
  • Two days of woodwork equals three days of lower back pain.
  • Safety goggles save eyes.
  • Point a fan at your workbench when you’re cutting with the circular saw and blow all that sawdust to the side.

Dom and I are putting the finishing touches on a valet project that we are also BSIYing our way through. It looks much better than my garden.

Comments are open below. What did I do wrong? How long do you think this garden bed will last? If you build a better version, link to the pics!