Tag Archives | DIY

DIY 2×4 Side Table

We made this side table out of 2x4s for less than $9, which we think is pretty dang cool! We did it as part of the Modern Maker #two2x4challenge and it was definitely a challenge! You could make this table with other types of wood and the steps will be easier (2x4s tend to warp and pine is soft), but the cheap material allowed us to experiment with some joinery techniques we’d never done before. We learned a lot and shared lots of little tidbits (and failures!) in the video.

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a sec it would mean SO much to us if you’d subscribe to our channel or share our video. We’re new to YouTube, so every view, like, and sub makes a huge difference for us. Thank you!]

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

We’ve included free plans that have a cut list and measurements. The video and this post will go into more details, but the plans are a great reference for the nitty gritty numbers. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

Materials:

Tools:

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

Squaring & the 2x4s

We started by giving our 2×4’s a nice square edge on all sides. The rounded edges they come with make it difficult to get a finished looking end product.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn We ran the top and bottom of them through the planer.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Then we ran the left and right sides through the table saw, and then through the planer.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn We did this before cutting them to length because we thought that would make all our boards more consistent, but it was a little unwieldy running 10-ft boards through a table saw. So it might be easier to cut them first (leaving extra length that you can trim off later).

Cutting & making panels

After squaring them up, we cut the 2x4s to length for our top panel, shelf, and legs on our miter saw. You can find the lengths and cut list in the plans we linked to earlier.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Everything got 10 degree miters: The legs are angled at 10 degrees, which means their ends need a 10 degree cut; and the shelf buts up against the legs so it therefore needs a 10 degree cut too. Technically, you could cut the top panel at 90 degrees but we thought 10 degrees would look nice, so that one is purely aesthetic.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Next we glued up the panels for our top piece and our shelf piece. We used Titebond Original wood glue here and Bessey clamps. We also have a little silicone brush that is awesome for applying the glue. We let these set overnight.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Then we ran our two panels through the planer one more time to level out any unevenness from our glue up.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Unfortunately, we got some snipe on the ends, which is when your board isn’t in contact with both rollers at the same time and the planer cuts the ends a little deeper.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

We fixed this by running it through again and again with sacrificial boards in front of and behind it until we got rid of the snipe.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

Cutting dados

This part was a little tricky since we’ve never cut dados before. We angled our table saw blade to 10 degrees and raised the blade so it would cut about halfway through the thickness of our boards. There are dados in a few different places: two in the underside of the tabletop for the legs to go into, and one on the inside of each leg for the shelf to sit in.

We started with the tabletop. We measured where the outside of each dado needed to be and made marks at those points. We started our cuts there and worked our way inward.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn We thought we’d widen our dado a little bit at a time and test fit the legs with each pass as we got close.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn We tried to be careful, but we still cut our first dado a hair too big. Womp.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn We cut new legs for that side and it ended up being fine (you can’t visibly tell a difference in the leg thickness), but we did learn to stop a little early with our cuts. An extra snug fit is ok, and you can use a wood mallet to pound the wood into place if it’s tight. Luckily, our second dado under the tabletop was fine.

We tried to be careful, but we still cut our first dado a hair too big. Womp. Next we cut a dado on the inside of each leg. We actually did all the legs together to make sure the dados were consistent. We again used the method of marking where the dados needed to start and working our way down little by little.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn To clean up our dados, we used a router with a ½” diameter dovetail bit and a chisel. The bit got the flat surfaces really well, and the chisel helped clean the corners (plus it was super satisfying).

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

Assembly

With our dados cut, it was time to assemble. This table is put together with just wood glue, no screws involved. Unfortunately, when we started to assemble it we realized our shelf panel had warped a little.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn 2x4s are prone to warping, so if you use nicer wood you hopefully won’t have to worry about this happening as much. Luckily we were able to force it into place during our dry fit assembly.

However, it took us about 15 minutes to pound everything into place with that warped shelf, and our glue (Titebond III) has a set time of 10 minutes, so we literally had to race the clock for this assembly. If you don’t have any warping it won’t be as much of an issue.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn All the pieces need to be assembled simultaneously. We applied glue to our dados, roughly put the legs where they need to be in the tabletop dados, sat the shelf in the leg dados, and used a mallet to inch everything into place. We clamped everything together and let the glue dry overnight.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

Finishing

The next day, we unclamped our piece and gave the whole thing a good sanding using a random orbit sander for the large surfaces and sanding blocks to get into harder to reach spots.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Then we used wood filler at each joint to fill in any gaps we couldn’t close before the glue set. We let it dry and sanded it off.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn Next we gave it two coats of shellac and sanded lightly with 600 grit sandpaper between coats. If you are too heavy handed with the sanding or use too low of a grit, you’ll sand the shellac right off.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn After the shellac, we gave it a coat of Briwax, which we then buffed off by placing a microfiber rag between our random orbit sander and the table. The finish came out reeeeally nice. It’s got some shine but isn’t overly shiny, and it feels super smooth.

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

Done!

We love how this side table turned out! Like we said earlier, this build would probably be easier with nicer, more expensive wood, but this was a great challenge and the cheap material really allowed us to experiment with some new techniques. Please let us know if you have any questions about this build. Thanks!

DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn DIY 2x4 side table for just $9 - Evan & Katelyn

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You can also find us at:

YouTube…………….. https://www.youtube.com/evanandkatelyn
Instagram………….. http://instagram.com/evanandkatelyn @evanandkatelyn
Instructables………. https://www.instructables.com/member/evanandkatelyn/
Facebook………..….. https://www.facebook.com/evanandkatelyn/

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DIY Marquee Letters

Hey guys! So, if you were familiar with our blog before we got started on YouTube, you probably remember our DIY Marquee Letters tutorial of yore (here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3). We built them for our wedding and they were actually the first DIY project we ever started. I say “started” because we didn’t complete them until months later, but still – I count them as the first!

We still get comments and questions about these letters, so we thought doing a video tutorial would help show how we made them. Plus, since this is our second time around and we have a few years of DIY experience under our belts, we came up with some ideas to make a couple tricky parts easier. So check out the video above to see the tutorial! And if you wanna see a budget breakdown, scroll to the end.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

[Before we keep going, I want to pause and say if you have a second it would mean SO much to us if you’d like our video or subscribe to our channel. Since we’re brand new to YouTube, every view, like, and subscription makes a huge difference for us. Click here to see the whole channel. Thank youuuuu! We’re doing a big goofy happy dance right now!]

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

So if this looks like something you want to tackle, here are the steps in the video broken down. You can also look at the old 3-part tutorial linked to above, but this version has the updates we made and is a little more succinct (since we did it in a weekend instead of over a 6-month period haha)

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

Materials

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

Tools

Step 1: Making guides

This step is a tiny bit of up front work that is going to make things way easier later in the project. We’re going to make a few wooden blocks to use as guides. We didn’t do this the first time we made these DIY marquee letters, but they helped so much this time around.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn First, we cut four 2-5/8″ long blocks out of some scrap 2x4s. These will hold up the letters to the correct height for nailing in the metal flashing later. We used our miter saw, but a jig saw works too, just cut slowly (and maybe use a clamped-on straight edge to guide you).

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Next we’re going to make a height guide to help us nail in the right location. We cut another piece of scrap wood to be 3-3/8″ long and drew a line at 2-5/8″. This will show us where the plywood is from the outside of the flashing.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Both of these measurements are based on using 3/4″ plywood. These guides will make more sense once we get further along in the project, but trust us, you’ll want to have them!

Step 2: Making the letters

We made printable templates for every letter (you can download them here). These are PDFs that will print out on several pages and be the right size to cut out a 2-foot tall letter. We taped together the template, which is easier said than done, at least when you have a cat.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Then we cut out the outline of the letters, taped them onto our plywood, and traced around them using a yardstick as a straight edge.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Before removing the paper, you’ll want to use the hole center guide we included in the template download to mark where to drill each hole.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn NOTE: The lights we used are a pack of 25. Our E and K had 25 total holes. If the letters you chose have more than 25 holes, you might need reduce the amount of holes and eyeball how to space them out OR look for a bigger set of lights.

Line up the center template with each circle on the letters, then either use a center punch or tap a nail a few times into the center mark.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn When you remove the paper templates, you’ll be left with tiny starter holes to show you where you need to drill.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We drilled through these using a 13/16″ spade bit, but you could also use a forstner bit or hole saw. We’d recommend double checking the diameter of the socket part of your lights before doing this. You want it to be a snug fit.

Sometimes drilling all the way through in one go can cause a little tear-out. It’s not a huge deal because the back of the letters will never be seen anyway, just make sure you’re drilling into the front of the letters. Or you can play it safe like we did by drilling halfway through the letters from the front, then flipping them over and drilling the rest of the way through.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Next we cut around the outlines of the letters with a jig saw. This is easiest to do if you have a couple clamps to hold the wood still, but we made the first set without any. Carefully guide the jig saw around the outline of your letters.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn There might be a couple places where you need to turn a corner and can’t, like the inside cuts of our E. Just drill a hole along the line you need to cut, then place the jigsaw blade in that hole and start cutting along that line.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Woohoo, at this point things are starting to take shape!

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

Step 3: Sanding and staining

Before staining them, we’re going to give the edges a quick sand. For the outside edges of the letters, we used a 220 grit sanding sponge because it’s easy, flexible, and can contour to the edges a bit.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We used little scraps of 220 grit sandpaper to sand inside the holes we drilled.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Then we applied one coat of Minwax stain in dark walnut. To keep the coat of stain even, Evan applied it and I wiped off excess as he went. This prevents it from pooling or soaking in too much in some areas and coming out splotchy. It’s not 100% necessary to do it this way, but we think it helps. Don’t worry about staining the edges or inside the holes, they won’t be visible when you’re done.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

Step 4: Adding metal flashing

This next part, adding the flashing, was definitely the hardest step the first time we did this project. But because we made those scrap wood guides earlier, it’s gonna be a lot easier this time. Go ahead and place your first letter on the 2-5/8″ scrap wood blocks to raise it up off your work surface.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn First we sketched out our letters and measured all the sides, writing the measurements down on our sketch. We planned for the flashing to start at the middle of the bottom of each letter, so the first measurement is just a partial length and we allowed for some overlap at the end.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We start our flashing at the bottom of each letter and plan for a little overlap We used those measurements to pre-bend the metal flashing. We’ve found the easiest way to do this is to grab a hammer and a sturdy (thick) putty knife, and find yourself something cushy to work on, like carpet. Because we were working outside, we used our doormat. Having your flashing on a cushioned surface lets the putty knife sink into it when you’re hammering.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Put on some gloves (the flashing is sharp). Measure from the end of the flashing to where you need to make the first corner on the letter and draw a line at that point.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Then align the edge of the putty knife with that line, and hammer the handle so that it indents the metal.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Once you’ve given it a few whacks of the hammer, you should be able to bend it easily by keeping the putty knife edge in the crease and folding the metal against it by hand.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Every time we made a bend, we made sure to a) measure the side of the letter again just in case before bending, b) make sure we were bending in the right direction (bending inward or outward), and c) test fit the bend to make sure it fit the letter before moving onto the next bend. We caught a couple measurement mistakes on our end, so we definitely recommend playing it safe!

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Here’s what we mean by corners that bend inward toward the letter.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn And here are the corners that bend outward away from the letter.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn If you do happen to make a bend in the the wrong spot or in the wrong direction, you can undo it. Lay the metal against a hard surface and hammer the bend flat. Then you can re-bend it in the correct spot/direction.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn When you have all your bends made and everything fits, it’s time to secure the metal to the wood. This is where the guides we made are going to come in handy. The blocks we made earlier hold the letter up to the correct height so that when the flashing is wrapped around them, the plywood is centered in the flashing.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn And the 3-3/8″ block will show you, from the outside of the flashing, where the plywood is so that you can nail into it.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn The first time we did this project, we were trying to simultaneously hold the flashing centered with the plywood and hammer into it at the same time. It was not the easiest thing in the world. So trust us when we say these guides will save you!

Another thing that made the project easier this time around is having a nail gun. We haven’t used it much so we did have a slight learning curve, but once we got the hang of it it made nailing the flashing into the wood much faster. We used the outside height guide to show us what height to make the nails at, and we ended up cutting a little notch in it with our jigsaw to even use it as a place to rest the nail gun so our spacing was more consistent.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn However, this is totally 100% doable with just a hammer and finishing nails. It’ll take a little more time, but it’s not difficult. We recommend nails that are only 3/4″ or so so you’re not hammering forever. Use the height guide to line the nails up with where the plywood is and hammer them in.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Whichever method you use, it definitely helps to have one person hold the letters secure while the other nails into them.

If a nail goes through your wood don’t worry, just pull it out with pliers, sand over the rough spot where it exited the wood, touch it up with a dab of stain, and re-hammer in the nail. Just think of it as added character.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn There will be a few areas you can’t nail into because a hammer or nail gun won’t fit. We secured these with super glue. We used gorilla glue last time, but in our opinion, super glue was easier.

Some places won’t need nails or glue (like the tight corners of the K), but other places will (like inside the E).

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We dabbed some super glue in between the metal and wood, then used scrap wood and rubber bands to hold them tightly together. You may not need to do this step at all, it all depends on your letters. You can also often bend the metal so that it’s bowing against the wood, which holds it against it. But adding a little super glue is easy in a pinch.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn And congrats! You’re done with the hardest part!

Step 5: Adding lights

The last step is adding the lights. All in all, this is pretty straight forward. Just unscrew the bulb, pop the socket through the hole, and screw the bulb back in.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We had 25 lights and 25 holes, so we made sure that a light was used in each one. This meant we had to do a little back tracking on the legs of the letters. Where you have to backtrack, skip every other hole on and then fill the ones you skipped on your way back. See how I skipped the holes on the leg of the K? I’m going to fill those on the way back up.

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn Annnnnnnnd done!!!!

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn We are so happy to have another set of these DIY marquee letters, and this set was WAY easier to build than our first. Maybe that’s a testament to the skills we’ve learned over the past few years, or maybe it was just because while making the first set we were also trying to fix up our newly bought house and plan a wedding at the same time haha. Either way, we’re super pleased with how these came out.

They are perfect for a wedding (we might be biased) but would also be awesome for an engagement shoot, baby shower, party, or even just as home decor. We have our set that spells LOVE in our living room and they make us happy every day. Hope you enjoyed our DIY Marquee Letters tutorial!

DIY wood and metal marquee letters - Evan & Katelyn

Budget breakdown

Materials

Tools (the required ones only, we used other things just because we had them. Also, I’ve linked to both the versions we have and more budget friendly versions. We tend to invest a little more in tools because we use them all the time, but if you want to save the less expensive versions below all got good reviews)

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You can also find us at:

YouTube…………….. https://www.youtube.com/evanandkatelyn
Instagram………….. http://instagram.com/evanandkatelyn @evanandkatelyn
Instructables………. https://www.instructables.com/member/evanandkatelyn/
Facebook………..….. https://www.facebook.com/evanandkatelyn/

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1

Feeling Batty – DIY Felt Bats

Hey guys! The quickest of quick Halloween post today. Here’s the story: Girl meets felt placemats. Girl cuts out pumpkins from placemats and turns them into a garland. Girl is getting ready to throw out the remaining felt scraps when a lightbulb goes off/her cheapness takes over and she thinks “I can make something out of this felt!” And hence, 36 tiny bats were born.

Feeling Batty - DIY Felt Bats - evanandkatelyn.com

Before I started cutting, I made myself a bat template. If you want you can grab my cutesy simple bat below (just right click and save the image to your desktop, then print at whatever size you want) or you can google “bat outline” and find just about any type of bat you can imagine.

Feeling Batty - DIY Felt Bats - evanandkatelyn.com

I cut out my template and used it as a guide for cutting the felt. Because I was doing teeny tiny bats, it was easiest to use a little binder clip to hold the template in place while I cut (when my cut made it around to the clip, I’d just move the clip).

Feeling Batty - DIY Felt Bats - evanandkatelyn.com

On a side note, I started this project with the Fiskars I’ve had in my drawer for a few years. Ended up with carpal tunnel (not really, but oh the hand cramps!). Then Evan busted out his favorite pair of scissors (yes, we’re the types of people that have favorite pairs of scissors) and they were soooooooo much better. I’m converted. Bonus: they are only $8.73 on Amazon.

I cut and cut, and cut some more. Not a bad way to spend some time when you’ve got Netflix on in the background and a fall candle burning within sniff-range.

Feeling Batty - DIY Felt Bats - evanandkatelyn.com

My original intent was to turn these into a garland, but then seeing them strewn about the table I thought they actually looked pretty good as table top decor. I’ll do another post in a few days with lots more photos of where these and all of our other Halloween crafties live around the house. For now, here’s a round up of all the Halloween projects we’ve done so far:

Sprucing up faux pumpkins with puffy paint, a bit more realism, and metallic ombre.
Upgrading our Halloween hurricanes with metallic insides.
Turning felt pumpkin placements into a felt pumpkin garland.
Fixing some messed up gourds with Sugru and paint.
Bonus 1: our DIY floating outdoor ghosts from a few years ago.
Bonus 2: our Halloween decor from a few years ago.

Bonus 3: this silly video

6

From Felt Placemats to DIY Pumpkin Garland

Hey guys! You may have seen Wednesday’s DIY decor post where I upgraded our black jack-o-lantern hurricanes with copper paint or last week’s DIY painted pumpkins. I’m here to continue the series of easy Halloween decor DIY’s with a story of placemats-turned-garland.

I had these four felt pumpkin placemats that I snagged from Target a few years ago. But they totally weren’t practical for two reasons: 1) who can use a felt placemat without messing it up?? 2) we have six table settings at our table and only four pumpkin placemats. That would just look silly.

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

So I decided to cut out the pumpkins and use them as a garland! The first cut was a little scary, but after that it went quickly.

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

To take the felt pumpkins and actually turn them into a garland (i.e. run a string through them), I cut out a tiny rectangle from the extra placement felt and glued the two ends of the rectangle to the back of the pumpkin, near the stem. I left the middle part of the rectangle unglued so I could thread through it.

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

I actually cut out the border of one of the placemats and used that as the string to thread the pumpkins together! Then I hung it over some art in our entry way, securing it by using binder clips to attach each end to the hanging wire on the back of the canvas. Very easy, and much more practical than using them as placements.

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

I could only fit three of the pumpkins across the art, so the fourth found its home in the middle of the “O” on our love letters. Luckily, he fit perfectly snug in there so he holds himself up, though if we needed to we could have suspended him using a little fishing line and tape.

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

This project makes me think pretty much anything can be turned into a garland – black paper bats or tiny styrofoam pumpkins would be cute!

Turning Felt Placemats into a DIY Pumpkin Garland evanandkatelyn.com

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2

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

I can’t even tell you how much time I spent ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over beautiful dessert tables on pinterest. Then I started wondering about the practical stuff like, wait a minute how are we gonna transport all this? When are we gonna have time to cook this stuff? It’s an outdoor wedding, how do we keep bugs away? And these desserts aren’t gonna refill themselves throughout the night, how are we gonna do that?

You can find all sorts of info on how to create color schemes or add height to your items, but I had a hard time finding answers to my less-than-glamorous questions. If you’re looking to DIY your own dessert table, hopefully this post will shed some light on the nitty gritty!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Tip 1) Choose your tasties

I decided to keep it simple. There are beautiful dessert tables out there with 20 different options to choose from, but I knew I wanted to keep it under 5 types of desserts (excluding our little cake) for the sake of practicality. It’s easier to make big batches of a few things than small batches of a lot of things.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Also, having tons and tons of rice krispie treats stacked on your counters kinda makes you look like a drug lord.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Evan and I each picked a couple favorites we loved. For example, my mom’s homemade rice krispie treats were a must for me, and Evan definitely had to have his mom’s chocolate/toffee/pecan candy (affectionately named “Hans Pecans”). We brainstormed with our families to come up with a few other tasty treats as well.

Because our desserts had to travel to a different city, we made sure to choose things that were pretty sturdy. Nothing with frosting that would get messed up or anything too delicate that would crumble. And if you’re having an outdoor wedding and it’s hot, make sure your items won’t melt!

Also, we wanted items that would freeze well because we knew we’d have to make some in advance! This was SUCH a huge help. Some items we made the weekend before and froze, and let them defrost on the 3 hour drive to the venue. If you decide to do this, make sure you test it well in advance so you know if your items will survive the freeze.

Tip 2) Guilt your family/friends into helping. Reward with tasty treats.

Recruit help!!! My mom made the rice krispies and lemon bundts, Evan’s mom made Hans Pecans and brown sugar poundcake bundts, and my grandma made banana muffins. Don’t try to take on all the baking yourself- one person does not have enough ovens to handle that! Don’t forget to get help wrapping up any items that need to be wrapped up too (you’ll notice our bundt cakes are wrapped). It’s fun to have a dessert wrapping/eating party :)

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

You’ll notice some s’mores packs above- those were our favors! We wrapped those up while we were doing our bundts too.

Tip 3) Figure out what all these sweets are gonna sit on

I really tried to minimize decor expenditures as much as possible. So nope, I didn’t rent crystal dessert stands or go antiquing to find the perfect eclectic mix of dishes. I borrowed- a LOT. Most of the cake stands you see here are borrowed from our awesome friends and family. We just had to purchase a couple things, which I don’t feel too bad about because we will use them in the future. We mixed white and clear cake stands and let the desserts take the stage.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Having trouble adding height to your display? Get creative! The stand with our main cake is sitting on top of an upside down planter I found at Homegoods, and the 2 cake stands on either side of it aren’t actually stands, the are platters glued to candlesticks! Super cheap and easy.

If you are having your wedding outside, keep in mind that bugs can be an issue. That’s why we individually wrapped our moist/stickier items AND had cake domes to go over things. Yes we did have a few uncovered items, but they were “sturdier” (rice krispies and mini muffins) and they held up just fine, no issues with bugs. It helps that there was a breeze all night and it wasn’t during the heat of summer.

If you’re worried, you could definitely individually wrap every type of dessert or cover everything with domes, then remove the domes when it is dessert time after dinner. Also, if your venue has fans you could have the fans near the table which will help keep bugs at bay. Again, for us it ended up not being a huge issue because it wasn’t the middle of summer and we had a nice breeze, so our “less moist/sticky” items being left uncovered method worked just fine.

Tip 4) Make it feel like you

This was the fun part- all the pinterest-y little details that make your dessert table uniquely yours. Granted, the biggest part of that for us was the fact that everything was homemade- but even if you buy everything from the store, which you totally could do, you can still make it feel 100% you. To do that, we used a table overlay my mom made to match our runners, I made custom chalkboard labels that said what the items were and who made them, and we had quirky little Toki Doki cake toppers because we are weird like that. Have fun with it!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Also the dessert table is a great place to display your bouquet after the ceremony! Because it’s damn gorgeous but who wants to carry that massive thing? Putting it on the cake table gets it in all the photos and looks so pretty.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Tip 5) Your desserts are delicious- keep em coming!

Since we DIY’d our own dessert table, there was no vendor automatically responsible for the practical things like refilling desserts, keeping the table clean, topping off the fork supply, etc. Make sure you talk to vendors, family, or friends who can take care of these things! We hired an extra server through our catering company to help keep an eye on the table. It’s a little detail that you definitely don’t want to forget.

Well I hope this helps! It’s awesome to see the pretty side of dessert tables on pinterest…

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

…but it’s good to see the practical side too! Especially when it’s a very involved endeavor!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Hope this post helps any DIY brides-to-be with the logistics side of doing your own dessert table! If you have any questions please let me know and I’ll do my best to help out :)

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

7

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier

As y’all know, we DIY’d a lot of wedding projects. I reeeeeeally wanted to incorporate paper lanterns in a creative way to give our decor a sense of whimsy, so I landed on the idea of a paper lantern chandelier. Yes this was a project for our wedding, but I really think it could be used for any party, and a scaled down version could even be cute in a nursery!

Isn’t the finished product pretty? This is the prettiest picture you’ll see in this post for a while, bear with us while we get our hands dirty putting this thing together!

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

I had seen a lot of cool paper lantern chandeliers on Pinterest that were basically hula hoops with paper lanterns attached to them. But the problem with those was that you were limited by the size of the hula hoops. We wanted something a bit larger, so we had to get creative.

It was puzzling to come up with something light enough to be suspended, but sturdy enough to hold its shape. We browsed Home Depot trying to look at building materials and imagine them working. We considered building a wood frame but thought it would be too heavy. Then we thought about PVC piping but thought it might not be too pretty with all the joints. But that led us to the idea of using our good ol’ buddy PEX piping for the basic framework- and we just so happen to have some leftover from our pipe replacement last year!

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

The cool part about choosing PEX piping for this project is that it already wants to be in a circle and you can easily adjust the size. We decided on a 54″ diameter. To attach its ends to each other, we actually used a cheap PVC fitting and kinda forced it to work. Technically the fitting is sized for something a hair smaller, but the PEX is flexible so we were able to make it work

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

This large circle gave the the basic framework for our chandelier, but we had to come up with some way to hang it. We decided to attach pieces of thin nylon rope across the diameter at regular intervals. At the center where all the rope pieces met, we would use a hook that it could be hung from.

We used a long piece of wood from another project to trace lines in pencil directly onto our garage floor. And we used a right angle to make sure we got the spacing/angle accurate.

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

You know, math stuff. This left us with a lovely design on our garage floor that we could center our PEX circle on top of.

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

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Once we got it centered, we made a mark on the PEX wherever a line met it. This showed us each spot on the circle that we needed to attach our rope to.

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To attach the rope, we bought some eye hooks that were long enough to go through the PEX. Evan drilled holes through the PEX at each mark so that we could pop the eye hooks in.

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Make sure you drill holes that are the correct size for the hooks; you want the hooks to fit snugly inside. After the holes were drilled, we popped in our hooks with their loops facing the inside of the circle. We secured them with nuts on the other side.

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Then we cut 4 pieces of rope to go through our 8 hooks like so.

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We were worried simply tying the rope in a knot at each eye hook would look messy and not be secure enough. So we used a trick Evan knew to secure them better. First we looped the rope through the hook and got a small zip tie ready.

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The w pulled the zip tie as tight as we could around the loop of rope. We used pliers to grip it tightly so we could really pull. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry. Clearly we were pulling so vigorously that the camera couldn’t handle it.

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Then we cut off the extra plastic from the zip tie as close as we could, and repeated the steps with a second zip tie (since we wanted to be super secure).

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We repeated this all the way around your circle, pulling our rope tight so that there’s not extra slack.

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

At the center where all the ropes met, we hooked on a quick link (you can find them at Home Depot) which gave us a point to hang the whole deal from.

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To test it, we used the same type of rope, tied one end to the central link, and hung it from our garage ceiling. The good news about using the link to hang it from is that you can adjust it from side to side until it is balanced. Sucess!

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

We decided it was good enough to bring inside and hang some paper lanterns. But once we added that extra weight, things started to get weird. Although the warping was kind of cool in a way, we worried once we added lighting to our lanterns it would be too heavy and the frame wouldn’t be strong enough. Womp womp.

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We knew we had to call in reinforcements. And by “call in” I mean browse Home Depot again til we figured something out.

First we were thinking dowels, but then we came across these lightweight wood trim pieces that were actually cheaper. Score!

We hoped that 3 pieces going across our PEX circle would be enough, so we snagged those and headed home. We laid them out on our garage floor and put one long screw through all 3 of them from the top down. Because it was a screw (not a nail), this allowed us to adjust the wood pieces little by little until we got them evenly spaced.

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Once we had the spacing right, we secured them with a couple nails to keep them from moving anymore.

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The next part was a little tricky. We wanted to use the tension from our wooden pieces to push out from the center against our circle in order to keep the PEX from warping. So we decided to make holes in the PEX that the ends of the wood could pop into. Evan used his drill to make the hole, wiggling it back and forth to make it wide enough for the wood. He did not make the holes go all the way through the PEX, just through one wall.

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Then he sanded down the corners of the end of the wood so it would pop in more smoothly.

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Woot!

It was a little tricky measuring the spots for the other holes. Once we popped in the first wood piece, it pushed against the PEX and made it oblong. So much so that we were worried it would pop off our PVC fitting! So we secured it with a couple nails before moving forward.

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Because the first wood piece made the circle want to turn oblong, we had to hold it into a circle and mark the places we thought we needed to drill, then try it and see if it worked. It required a little trial by error but we got it!

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Next came a very satisfying part… spray painting! Up until this point our paper lantern chandelier frame looked a little mish moshed, but painting it all pretty silver really brought it all together.

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Now that our frame was sturdy, we decided to try hanging paper lanterns again. But let me back track a bit. We had to find a way to hang them that would make it very easy and quick to disassemble and reassemble our chandelier (since we would have to transport it from our house to the wedding and back).

We went with fishing line because it is pretty invisible. We tied one end of each piece of fishing line to the PEX, tight enough that the paper lanterns wouldn’t slide around on their own, but loose enough that we could easily move the line from side to side as we determined our final layout.

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On the end of each piece of fishing line, instead of tying it directly to the paper lantern itself, we tied it to a small washer, like this:

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This allowed us to more easily switch lanterns around as we determined the layout, and it let us remove the lanterns for transportation. The lanterns easily hooked into them.

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Once we decided on a final layout, we added a tiny drop of glue to each string where it was tied to the PEX so that it stayed in place permanently. I also added a label to the bottom of each string to make it easy to reassemble at the wedding (I just used colored sticky notes and a sharpie, you can sort of see the little squares above each paper lantern in the photo below).

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

The photo above puts the scale into perspective. This thing was pretty big! Lastly, we wanted to add lights so that all our hard work was still visible even once it got dark outside. There are a lot of ways to add lights, like making throwies or ordering LED’s meant for paper lanterns. But because this was for a wedding and would need to be set up that morning, we wanted something that we knew would last a really long time and remain bright throughout the night.

We bought LED under cabinet lights on Amazon, and I forgot to take a photo of just them but they are basically little discs with lots of LED bulbs within them. Evan put his engineering skills to good use and printed hooks that we could glue to the back of the lights and hang them from each lantern’s metal frame.

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Note, in the photo above we had not glued them, we just used the stickies that came with the lights to stick them on. But those ended up not being strong enough to we had to glue the hooks on instead.

We turned on the lights and hung the hooks off of each of the lanterns, and voila!

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

It was awesome to get to use this at the wedding! And even with the lights, which were the most expensive part, it was thousands less than having a professional vendor set up light paper lanterns at your wedding venue. Woohoo!

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Paper Lantern Chandelier- evanandkatelyn.com

10

To DIY or Not To DIY- That is the Question

When Evan and I bought our house, at first we were like:

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But then we were like:

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See, after our recent decision to hire professionals to finish up our master and guest bathrooms, we started talking about what we should DIY in the future and what we should hire professionals for. Because there have already been a couple instances (like our laundry room floor) where we tried to DIY something ourselves and ended up having to hire someone to finish it, which wasted a lot of upfront time and money. On that laundry room floor, we probably spent an extra $100 on supplies to do it ourselves that we couldn’t return because we had already used them.

When it comes to “DIY or Not To DIY,” what we decided is this: if it’s a project that we are truly excited about (like lots of the fun stuff we plan to do after finishing all of the necessary for-the-function/structure-of-our-home projects) it’s worth DIY-ing. Or if it’s something that is gonna save us a significant chunk of change (like replacing our leaky pipe or our upcoming insulation blowing project) it’s worth DIY-ing.

But if it’s a project we’re not excited about, won’t save us too much money, and is taking time away from doing more important things… we are gonna hire out that sucker!

I’m not saying we won’t end up trying things ourselves first like we’ve done so far. We like learning how something is done, and we’re always down to give it a shot before deciding we can or can’t do it. But we’re gonna try not to feel like DIY fails if we end up making things worse in our attempts to fix them and then have to hire somebody to clean up our messes. Hopefully we’ll keep learning as we go and get better and better at this DIY thing!

2

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)

Let me start this post by saying we haven’t done laundry in over a month.

Because ever since we finished the laminate wood floors, our laundry room has looked like this.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Yep, remember that icky white cracked tile we had throughout so much of the house? When the guys demo’d it out of the kitchen and entry way, we asked if they could remove it from the laundry room too. (Oh yeah and that hulk of a freezer that used to sit in there? Sold that beast!)

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

After the tile removal, our washer and dryer were covered in a nasty layer of dust that somehow got inside the things too. They needed a major cleaning before we could actually use them, but since we were planning on moving them to the garage while we installed new tile flooring, there wasn’t much point in cleaning them until it was time to bring them back in.

But installing your own tile is intimidating. Especially when your floor is currently a hot mess.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

So we mayyyyyy have put it off a while. But finally last weekend, we went to Home Depot, showed them pictures of the floor, and asked what we needed to do to prep it for tile. They suggested using a patching compound, which is similar to the self-leveling compound (aka float) the floor guys used to level our floors for the laminate. Here’s what we got: 093994110251

It’s sort of like concrete. You get a bucket, pour in this bag of dusty stuff, add a certain amount of water, and then attach a giant egg beater to your drill and whip it up like batter. Then you have about eight minutes to spread it perfectly level before it sets. Sounded fun challenging really scary! But we were excited nonetheless. Perhaps it was the fact that we didn’t want to go buy more underwear (yet again), or perhaps it was the fact that dust from the laundry room had made it to our brains… but we decided to give it a go.

Before we could get to mixin’ and patchin’, we had to remove our washer and dryer. First we turned off the gas valve leading into the dryer and detached it from the dryer itself. Next we detached the lint vent thingy (like my technical terms?) from the wall. Then it was heave ho and out the door!

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

The washing machine was a little more difficult. Before doing anything, unplug it from the outlet and then turn off the water valve (usually located in a little recessed area of the wall with two tubes coming out of it). Then unscrew the hot and cold water tubes from the back. Water is guaranteed to leak out where the tubes connect to the back of your washer even after the water is turned off, so have a bucket and a towel handy. It’s not a ton of water (unless you’re like us and turn your water valve the wrong way on your first try), but still you don’t want to make a mess.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

We got our washer and dryer into the garage and our laundry room was left looking quite barren. And look at our floors. Ewwwwww. You can see where our water spilled from the washer. To make things easier to clean, we tied up all the tubes coming out of the walls so that they didn’t get in the way.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

We then had to give our floor a big sweep. You have to get it as clean as possible before applying the patching compound. Evan used a big broom for the bulk of the room and I got the perimeters with a vacuum. (That entire sentence kinda rhymes).

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Even though the inside of our laundry room was a little cleaner, our garage had seen better days…

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

To finish up our floor prep, we used a straight board to find all the low areas to mark for patching, and we taped up the padding that was under our laminate floors where it ran into the laundry room.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

At that point, we had prepped all we could prep and it was time to hold our breath and mix the patching compound. First use a yardstick or measuring tape to mark inches up the inside of your bucket. This will help you know how much water to add. Then you pour the bag of compound into a large bucket (be careful, if you pour it from too high up it will just puff dust into the air).

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Follow the instructions on the bag to see how much water to add. Ours was one part water to three parts powder. This is where your measurement marks come in handy… just see how far up your compound is in the bucket and do the math to figure out how much water to add. It’s not as hard as Evan’s expression makes it seem, promise.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Then you pop your mixing attachment (sort of like a giant egg beater) onto your drill and mix the compound. It starts out liquidy and bubbly.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Just keep mixing until it is fully blended. It should be like thick gray pancake batter.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Next we just kinda poured the whole bucket out on the left half of the laundry room where the floor was lower and rougher. This method worked out ok but I’m not sure it was the best way to go about it.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Once you pour it, grab your flat-edged trowel and work quickly! You only have about eight minutes til it’s too thick to spread, and that time goes by really fast. I tried to get a picture while we were spreading it but I was rushed so it’s not the best photo.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

We tried to get it as smooth as we could but it’s not easy! After it was too dry to spread any more, we posed for a couple fake pictures to show what our system for spreading was. Evan used a board to spread the compound over the large area, and I went around the edge of the room to smooth it out along the wall.

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This is how it looked when we were done with this side.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

The other areas we needed to patch were around the perimeter of the room and a couple random spots. Since another full bucket of patching compound would have been too much, we decided to just mix a little at a time in plastic cups. We also cut one of the cups to use as a measuring cup so that it was easier to get one part water and three parts compound. We eyeballed the water, then scooped the compound.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we mixed it with a wire hanger until it was the same consistency we got it to in the bucket (sorry for the blurry picture).

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

It was MUCH easier to do it this way because we had less compound to spread at once. We used the trowel and a plastic knife to get all around the perimeter of the room.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Here’s how it looked after a few cup-fulls of patching compound.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

And by the next day, our floors looked like this!

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At first glance we thought we were pretty badass. Then we took a closer look…

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

And it was not so pretty. We also busted out our yardstick to see how level it was, and what we found is that even though we fixed some areas, we made other areas worse. See how far off the ground the yardstick is? That’s not good for laying tile.

Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com Sir Mix-A-Lot(-of-Patching-Compound)- evanandkatelyn.com

Womp womp. So basically, in order to fix this problem we’d have to rent a cement grinder to grind down the high spots and/or use self-leveling compound (different from patching compound) to fill in the low spots. This meant more money and more things we could potentially mess up. And the floor needed to be perfectly level and smooth for us to lay tile, otherwise the tile would eventually crack.

So briefly we thought maybe we could do vinyl tile instead since those won’t crack, but then we’d still have to add self-leveling compound to raise the height of the floor (since vinyl tile is thinner, it alone wouldn’t raise the floor anywhere near the height of the adjacent laminate flooring). And upon further research we found that the floor still needs to be perfectly smooth for vinyl too, so we’d STILL have to get a grinder and/or self-leveling compound.

So long long story short… we decided to hire out our tile install.

I guess you have some DIY wins and some DIY fails. This one was fun to try on our own, but it ended up being more difficult than expected and we didn’t want to mess up our floors any more than we already had. With such a small room we are hoping it won’t be too expensive! We’ll keep you guys posted on how things go from here.

3

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required

How do we spend our Saturday nights these days? Why, hanging out in our attic for six and a half hours of course!

Six and a half hours Katelyn?! Bloody hell! Why on earth would you hang out in a blazing attic for six and half bloody hours?

Oh imaginary British person, because we were working on the PEX piping project I mentioned in our last post of course! You’re so silly.

But I thought you so confidently said, and I quote: “it didn’t look all that hard or expensive to DIY your own PEX.”

…Yeah. Well. The PEX part WAS easy. It’s just that everything else took freaking forever. GOSH.

Don’t get testy with me you cheeky prat!

Don’t be such a turd!

Bollucks! Fish and Chips! Cheerio!

This is what happens when you work from home and hang out with your cat all day.

ANYWAYS, we successfully replaced our leaky old galvanized pipe with a fresh new piece of PEX piping! Remember this pipe with 2 leaks on it?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Well, that pipe is no more!! But let me back up a bit. Like I said in the last post, when our plumber mentioned replacing this pipe with PEX piping, we started doing research on PEX. Cross-linked polyethylene, commonly known as PEX, is made of plastic, flexible tubing. It’s an alternative to PVC or copper pipes that is being more and more widely used due to its low cost and ease of installation. The “low cost” and “ease of installation” parts of that sentence made our ears perk up, so we looked into how to install it ourselves.

PEX piping

We found several tutorials and sorta spliced together bits and pieces from each. We mainly used this one, this one, and this one. At the end of the post I’ll list the steps you SHOULD follow in case anyone reading wants to attempt this in their own home. We may have accidentally not followed some/followed them in the wrong order. Oops. So consider this kind of a “do as we say, not as we do” deal.

First off, we did what you’re supposed to do before ANY big plumbing project: we turned off the water supply to our house. There are two spots you can do this- at your main water valve where the supply line goes into your house (usually around one of your hose faucets outside) or near the street where your meter is. Since we didn’t have a water meter key to turn it off at the meter, we decided we’d just turn it off at the main water valve.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Next you’re supposed to run all your faucets, showers, etc until no more water is coming out. This is to drain any water that was hanging out up in your pipes. It took a few minutes and then no more water was coming out so we assumed we were good to go.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We gathered our materials and went up to the attic. Make sure to wear gloves and breathings masks! Here’s the supplies you’ll need (plus I’ve listed a few more that we didn’t know yet at the time of this picture… yes there were a couple trips to Home Depot that night)

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

1- PEX piping. We needed 25 ft of 3/4″ piping, so we got a 50 ft roll just in case. Just measure the diameter of your current pipes and the length of the pipe to find out what type of PEX you need. You can get white, blue, or red (the only difference is that red is used to identify hot water, blue is used to identify cold, and white can be either. We chose white).

2- Plastic sheeting. This was great to have under the pipes to protect your insulation and wood. Be generous and spread that stuff around.

3*- Pipe wrenches. We started with one (pictured). Then we had to get another. You 100% need TWO for this project!

4- PVC/plastic tubing cutter. This is to cut your PEX.

5- Flashlight. Or two. Or ten. Gather as many as you have, attics are dark.

6- Sharkbite PEX adapters. We got two 3/4″ male adapters because we were removing the two male ends of our 3/4″ galvanized pipe.

7- Teflon tape. You have to wrap the threading on the adapters, the same way you wrap a shower head when you replace it.

8- A saw that can cut metal. We used Evan’s jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade, but you could also use a hacksaw, a reciprocating saw, etc. Just talk to people at Home Depot or look online to make sure it can cut metal.

9*- Trays to catch water drips. We bought one painters tray, but luckily I had some disposable 9×9 baking trays because we ended up needing those too. You definitely need at least two trays that can catch water if you’re working on a project like this. And maybe some plastic cups too just to be safe.

10*- WD40. It’s not in the picture, but you 100% will need it if you’re trying to remove galvanized pipe.

11*- Water meter key. This also is not in the picture, but you need it to turn off the water at your meter.

Notice all the asterisks. Those are all the things we didn’t buy/didn’t have enough of when starting this project. Learn from our mistakes.

Before we could add the PEX piping, we first had to remove our old galvanized pipe. We started by prepping the area- we picked an easy to reach section of the pipe we were removing, laid out lots of plastic underneath, and set a tray under where we were going to cut.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Before you can actually remove your pipe, you have to cut it somewhere in the middle so that you’re actually able to unscrew each end. So after the area was prepped, we took a deep breath, decided we had the balls to move forward, and Evan took his saw to it! Look you can see the blade going through the pipe!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

It wasn’t necessarily a speedy cut, but eventually the saw made it all the way through.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

…And already we were having a water problem. See the pool collecting in the tray?? Yeah, this is when we started to silently freak out inside. There was a steady stream of water trickling from our pipes filling up our tray surprisingly fast. Luckily, I remembered I had some throw away 9×9 baking pans so I ran down to the kitchen and got those, because our single tray was not going to hold out much longer.

We were able to scoot over the full tray and put one of the 9×9’s under the leak, but the first tray was so full that trying to remove it so that we could empty it would have made us spill water everywhere. So to try to contain the leak, we did what any resourceful 20-somethings would do- we duct taped the crap out of it.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

This slowed the leak slightly, and it was enough to allow us to figure out why the water wasn’t stopping. Evan double checked our main water valve to make sure it was off all the way. It was, but he turned on our outside hoses to release more of the water in the pipes. Then we turned on the faucets again just in case… and there was water coming out of them! Somehow, even when our main water valve was off, water still got in.

So we decided to just keep all the faucets on the on position and Evan ran to Home Depot to get a water meter key so we could turn off the water at our meter too. Meanwhile, I hung out in the attic scooping water out from the original tray, having flashbacks to a previous plumbing experience that involved scooping lots of water with a plastic cup… I finally got enough out to move it, then Evan came back and shut off the water at the meter. From then on we were fine water-wise, yay!! No more almost-flooding our attic!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Now that we had stopped the leaking, it was time to be done with this pipe and remove each of the two ends from their old fittings. We busted out our new pipe wrench, clamped it on, gave it a tug and… nothing. The thing didn’t budge. At all.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We did some online research and found out that you need TWO pipe wrenches… one to turn the pipe you’re removing, and one to turn the threading it’s screwed into in the opposite direction. This keeps you from breaking anything and gives you a little more turning power. Whoops. It also said WD40 helps loosen things if you spray it into the threading and wait a few minutes. But it said the BEST thing to unscrew it is to heat up the metal by blowtorching it.

Yes. Blowtorching it.

Apparently warming the metal makes it malleable enough to unscrew. I mean, I’d take a culinary blowtorch to a crème brûlée given the opportunity, and my fiance will not deny that he’s a bit of a pyro, but NEITHER of us was about to bring a blow torch into our wood-filled attic.

So Evan ran to Home Depot again while I stayed here to keep an eye on leaks, and he picked up another wrench and some WD40. No blowtorch.

He came back, we tried the WD40 and the additional wrench… and still no dice. That pipe would NOT budge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We started this project at 3:30pm. By this point it was about 9:00pm. We had no running water, no way to turn it back on since our pipe was cut in the middle, and no way to replace the pipe because we couldn’t get the dang thing off. So we decided to go have a snack (it seemed logical at the time).

As Evan laid on the floor in defeat and I perched on the counter eating wheat thins, we talked about how we could always stay the night at his parents if we had to. For a minute I thought we were going to give up. But then we decided to try unscrewing the other end of the pipe, just to see if it was easier to get than the first end we tried.

We sprayed it with WD40, waited a few minutes, then with just one wrench (because it was at a T-joint) Evan was able to unscrew it!! Oh happy day!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We didn’t lay out plastic beforehand, shame on us! At least we remembered the tray. Luckily there was pretty much no water to deal with this time.

Then we got to actually attach our new PEX! First off, we prepped the adapter by wrapping it with Teflon tape the same way you’d wrap a shower head before installing it. You have to wrap it in the same direction that you screw it in, so clockwise if you’re facing the threads (see in the picture below).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then you screw the adapter into the joint that you unscrewed your pipe from.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Now that the adapter was in, it was time for us to bust out our new piping! You know I love a man with nice PEX…

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We cut the PEX with our PVC cutter to make sure we had a nice clean edge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we marked 1″ from the fresh cut (this marks how far you need to push the PEX into your adapter).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

But before we pushed it into the adapter, we needed to straighten it the best we could. Luckily it’s pretty flexible.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

As we straightened it we fed it under the boards on the floor along the length of the original pipe.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we just pushed the end of the PEX into the adapter and it was done! No clamping, no adhesives. Just pop it in and stop at your inch mark.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

With new confidence and one end of our piping complete, we decided to tackle unscrewing that first part of the pipe again. But we used a slightly different technique this time (after spraying again with copious amounts of WD40). Instead of Evan holding onto both of the wrenches, I pushed the one on the joint counter-clockwise as hard as I could while Evan used his body weight to push the one on the pipe clockwise with his foot.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

And that did it!!! We loosened it enough for Evan to do the rest by hand! It only took two pipe wrenches, a buttload of WD40, and two adult humans using all their force to unscrew this pipe, but we did it! PS doesn’t Evan look like a giant trapped in a doll house in the below pic?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Sweet success!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

From here you pretty much do the same thing as you do on the other end. Teflon the adapter, screw it in, cut the PEX, mark an inch from the cut, and pop the PEX into the adapter. Easy easy.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

And then of course, rip out the old pipe with your bare hands and growl at it. Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

So there it is, we did it! By the time we finished it was 10pm and we had officially spent 6-1/2 hours replacing one pipe in our attic. But it was worth it! All together, we spent about $100 on these supplies, which may seem like a lot. But to get it fixed by a professional it was going to cost $800, so in comparison $100 was small change. Plus we will be able to use most of the items again for future projects.

As promised, here is a quick guide to all the steps you SHOULD follow:

STEP 1: Turn off your water. To be safe, do it at your main water valve AND at the meter using a water meter key.

STEP 2: Run all your faucets and showers to empty them of water. Don’t forget your hose faucets outside too! Leave them open til you’re done with the project, just to be safe.

STEP 3: Prep your area. Lay down plastic wrap and a shallow tray under the spot you’re going to cut. Make sure you have at least two trays on hand to catch water.

STEP 4: Using a saw that can cut metal, cut your galvanized pipe. Some water will come out, don’t panic.

STEP 5: Bust out the WD40. Spray it onto the joints where your pipe is connected, and try to get some of it to go into the threading. This helps break up any rust in there. Please don’t bring a blowtorch into your attic.

STEP 6: Unscrew the pipe ends. Use two pipe wrenches pulled in opposite directions, one gripping the pipe you are unscrewing and one gripping the joint you’re unscrewing it from. Don’t break the pipe, but use your body weight to unscrew it. Having two people helps.

STEP 7: Prep the PEX adapter. Wrap it with Teflon tape clockwise (the same direction you turn it).

STEP 8: Screw adapter into the joint you unscrewed your pipe from.

STEP 9: Cut a nice clean edge on the PEX with your PVC cutter and mark one inch from the end.

STEP 10: Straighten your PEX and run it along the length of the pipe you’re replacing.

STEP 11: Push the end of your PEX into the adapter until you reach your one inch mark.

STEP 12: Do the same thing on the other joint and you’re done! Celebrate with late night cheeseburgers!

Hope this helped and made DIY plumbing a little less scary!

Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!
How to swap a galvanized pipe for PEX piping evanandkatelyn.com
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Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)

Some house projects call for power tools. Some call for getting your hands dirty. And some projects call for being the tiny one in the relationship. This was one of those projects.

And I was super excited!!!

We decided to try our hand at another DIY plumbing project, even though our last attempt at DIY plumbing yielded some pretty shitty results (hah!). But this project was gonna be awesome because it involved wearing a hardhat, army-scooting on my belly, and working in a space where the ceiling was less than a foot high off the floor. I was all up in our attic y’all!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Oh yeah, I was feeling pretty badass.

But before I go on and on about how badass I am (hahhh), I should explain what the problem in our attic was. We have leaks. Three leaks to be exact. Our home is in her 30’s so that means she was built with galvanized pipes, which tend to be the problem child of the piping world. They collect buildups and spurt leaks and all this awesome stuff.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Before we bought the house, our inspector pointed out one leak that he spotted in our attic, so we had a plumber come out later to give us a quote- and he found two more. Luckily they were all slow leaks and had only dampened our insulation a bit- they hadn’t made it to our wood frame at all. Phew! So there was no disaster, but these leaks still needed to be taken care of.

Our plumber gave us a quote to replace the leaky pipes with PEX piping and it was a little more than we wanted to spend (buying a house = you are poor). So Evan and I did some research and found that it didn’t look all that hard or expensive to DIY your own PEX. We’ll talk more about that later, but here’s a peek at PEX so you know what we’re talking about.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Unfortunately, I was a dummy and did not go up into the attic with our plumber during his assessment to see where the other two leaks were. We found leak #1 ourselves, but after crawling around forever up there we still could not spot the other two. So when our plumber had to come by again to rid our guest bathroom of the you-know-what, I asked if he would show me the leaks and give me tips on how to fix them ourselves. Leaks #1 and #2 were on the same pipe and both were pretty accessible. So if we just figured out how to replace one pipe, it would be sort of a two-for-one deal.

Here’s leak #1, the one that our inspector spotted and we were easily able to find:

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

We laid plastic sheeting leftover from our floor prep underneath it to catch any errant drips while we did further research on PEX-ing things ourselves. Also see in the close up how it looks all corroded and icky? That’s a sign of the leak.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Leak #2 was a little trickier because the corroded part was on the underside of the pipe, which is why we didn’t spot it ourselves. I asked our plumber how he was able to spot that there was a leak there, and he said that when you see mouse poop around a pipe it’s usually because the mice in your attic are gathering around it to drink the drippy water. And actually the thought of mice in our attic didn’t freak me out. I am considering them tiny little pooping leak detectors and I am thankful for the role they’ve played in our home’s water damage prevention plan.

See the mouse poop to the left of where the plastic is? Our mice were getting their drank on. And when I felt the underside of the pipe, lo and behold it was wet. Sneaky leaky! Thank you mice!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Like I said, these two leaks were actually on the same pipe which would make things a little easier for us when it came time to fix them. But leak #3 was not going to be so cooperative. There’s a reason we weren’t able to spot #3 on our own. It’s because it was in the smallest, darkest corner of our attic, right where the sloped roof meets the attic floor.

Sorry for the bad picture. I circled where the leak is, otherwise it would be nearly impossible to spot.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Creepy attic, nails protruding from ceiling, ominous flashlight glow… looks like a scene from a scary movie!

In this part of the attic, there’s only about 10 inches of head space between the floor and ceiling, and really only about 6 inches of space directly above the leak because of the rafter. The plumber said that to replace this pipe, they’d have to cut a hole in the garage ceiling and get to it from there. Womp womp. But then he told me there’s a temporary solution if we’re interested- a clamp!

I was interested. He said he used clamps in his own office (which is an older building with galvanized pipes) and his have been fine since the late 80’s. So if “temporary” means they can last over 20 years, sign me up!

He was nice enough to give me a couple clamps for free and explain how to use them. Here’s the one we ended up using.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

You basically just pop the clamp onto the pipe and tighten the bolt til it’s snug. Simple simple. I like simple. But even though it was easy, right after our plumber left I took this little video to remind myself how to do it just in case I forgot later on when it was time to actually use it. Please excuse me while I awkwardly fumble around trying to do it one handed and temporarily forget the word “wrench.”

Evan came home that night and we decided to give it a go! He was my official wrench holder, flashlight shiner, and picture taker. I geared up with mismatched gloves, Evan’s Chevron hardhat from back when he was an intern, and a mask we found in the garage. Super legit.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

I think we spent more time taking pictures than actually attaching the clamp. It was that easy. We grabbed a couple extra pink 2×4’s leftover from our DIY attic duct protector bridge and laid them down so I had something to scoot along and lay on. I crawled as far as I could and then had to lay on my belly and ooch along til I could reach the leak. Thank goodness for the hardhat because I was bumping my head on the nails protruding from the ceiling as it got lower and lower, yikes!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Once I got down there, it was a little awkward to maneuver but popping on the clamp wasn’t too bad. I forgot to take a “before” picture, but it basically looked like leak #1 (with the corrosion on top) except a smaller area was corroded. I laid some extra plastic under it, popped on the clamp, used the wrench to tighten the nut on the bolt til it was snug, then looked back at Evan like a crazy person and asked him to take a picture.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

I did manage to get a couple close up shots of the clamp on the pipe once I was done. You can see how tiny of a space I was working in!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com We have been keeping an eye on this pipe and so far the clamp seems to be working! After a week or so, we went back an checked leaks #1 and #2 and both had a little water in the plastic we left, but leak #3 with the clamp was dry. Success!

So the next project on the plumbing agenda is to replace the pipe with leaks #1 and #2 with PEX piping. Our plastic wrap will only last us so long. We’ve picked up all the necessary materials, done tons of research, and now it’s Evan’s turn to get his plumbing on. Wish us luck!

Simple-to-use clamp for fixing minor, slow leaks yourself evanandkatelyn.com

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