It’s a Laundry Room, a Mud Room, Pantry, Catch All. Most houses have them. That room that’s by the garage door or, if you’re in the South, the door that everyone you know comes through because front doors are just for show.
We took this empty room and transformed it into the perfect landing zone for a busy family. As you walk in from the garage you’re greeted by a hall tree to hang backpacks, and put shoes. We made a fully adjustable shelving unit so it can change as their needs change.
Entry Bench/Hall Tree
Next, we built a large three-door closet. This closet has one bank of adjustable shelving for those things you use, but not every day, but still want access too. Those things. The next is set up for the vacuum, cleaning supplies, and has a clothes rod for hanging clothes out of the dryer if needed.
When we arrived the dryer was sitting on this ugly wood box. The homeowner mentioned she loved the height it made the dryer but very ugly. We made a beautiful dryer stand with a full extension drawer for additional storage (can you ever have enough?)
Above the washer and dryer, we built matching upper cabinets.
Window Nook Desk
One unique addition to this laundry room is this little window nook desk. It was one of those “can we do this?” additions and I’m proud of how it turned out.
Draw-Bridge Doggie Door
Do you even love your dog if you have not provided them with a draw-bridge doggie door?! I’ll admit that I did this for free because I thought it would look cool. There was a door here that the previous owner sealed up. We removed the old leaky door and framed in this opening with a high-quality Low-E window.
This is the only original cabinet we left in this room. Refacing a cabinet box can save a lot of money so we refaced this old ugly cabinet to make it look just as good as the new cabinets. This method saved the customer about $1000 over fully removing and rebuilding a similar cabinet. Don’t Replace – Reface!
A Fun Project – A Useful Transformation
Our client loved our finished result. Not only is it beautiful, but every change we made serves a purpose. Custom cabinetry designed to make your life easier and less stressful.
Here’s what the Home Owner thought of our work:
Her review was delicious.
We specialize in coming up with unique cabinetry solutions designed for your space and designed for your life. Contact Us to start your next home improvement project.
I’ve been accused of being hard to shop for. I think most Carpenters, Handymen, and other skilled tradespeople are. The reason is that most of us like tools, a lot.
Umm…That should make it easy right?
Buying Tools is the Whole Point
An HVAC friend, who really helped me out when I got started, said, “If buying new tools all the time isn’t part of the job, then what’s the point?!” He’s right. We’re a bunch of big kids who now have a legitimate “business reason” to buy all the toys tools we need. Shh… don’t tell our wives.
Seriously though, If I need a tool for a job, I buy it. If I have a good month and a new tool will make my work a little easier, I buy it. If it’s in the right spot at the Lumber Yard, I buy it. Having the tools to do a job safely, do it well, and do it fast ultimately makes or breaks our businesses.
Therefore, here are 10 gift ideas for some less common tools, under $100, that we may not have… yet.
Why don’t I own one of these? A laser measure can quickly and accurately measure a room with a push of a button. It will speed up estimates, measuring for base and crown, and generally just save time on the job site. If I don’t get this for Christmas I’m buying one. I should have already.
While the multitool doesn’t excel at any one job, having a small tool that can do many jobs readily available is handy when you find yourself in a surprise situation where you did need that flathead, wire cutter, etc. I had a multitool really liked but have no clue where it is.
Reading books regularly correlates highly with being a successful person. “Readers are Leaders” or something along those lines. My problem, I’m busy. I’m always working toward the next project deadline, or catching up on family time. I rarely sit down to read. By the time I’ve given up hope on finishing my to-do list, I can’t focus on words on a screen or page anymore. But I do spend a lot of time driving, working in my shop, sanding, and painting. There’s plenty of time to listen to a book and learn new things. Audible is something I’d like to try, but never do myself
Good, quality headphones tie in with the Audible Gift. I’ve tried a few different $20-ish dollar Bluetooth earbuds, but they don’t block enough noise to really be useful around loud equipment. These headphones from ISOtunes, are also earplugs. Blocking the loud noise from saws, sanders, and planers is a safety issue that I have been lax in addressing. These are also Bluetooth so there’s no wire to create an additional safety hazard or be in the way.
These are the best, most versatile clamps I’ve ever owned. Yes, I already have 8, I could use 8 more. The concept is simple: route a dovetail groove and use it as a track for this clamp. I’ll have a video on these soon because they are amazing. I use them for; Auxilary Fences, Face Frame Assembly, Jigs, Stop blocks, and they also fit in dog holes and can be used basically anywhere. These clamps are high quality and worth every penny.
I am leery of recommending a specific tool box, tool bag, or toolbox system because everyone has their unique needs and preferences. I work out of a trailer so I don’t need an interlocking rolling toolbox system, like the DeWalt Tough System. However, I do need a good bag that I can put all my cabinet door installation tools into, or my crown molding tools into and take into a customer’s house.
I’ve had this tool since I started my business 3 years ago. I have used it in countless ways and has been one of the best purchases I’ve made under $100. It folds flat for easy compact storage and both the cart and dolly positions have plenty of uses. I don’t use it all the time but it has a designated spot in my trailer so I can get it when I don’t feel like hauling something heavy
There you have it 10 gift ideas that you can give the handyman in your life this Christmas season.
I often hear the question, “What kind of door do I need?”
When it is time to replace a door on your home you have many options and likely many questions. Our goal with this post is to provide a clear, yet concise, buying guide to help you choose the right door for your home. We will briefly touch on interior doors then focus on exterior doors for the bulk of this post. If you’re in the Brazos Valley, we provide interior and exterior door installation and are happy to help you with your project. And of course we build and install custom Barn Doors as well.
How to measure your front door.
There are rough opening dimensions, finished dimensions, etc. Thankfully residential door sizes are pretty much standardized throughout the industry. This means it’s as simple as measuring the width of the actual door.
I snapped this picture sitting at my desk in my wife’s new craft room. As you can see this is a 24″ door.
Pre-hung vs Slab Doors
There are two options when buying a new door. Slab or Pre-hung. A slab is just the door. It may come predrilled for a lock set or it may not. With a slab the hinges must be mortised and the door trimmed to fit the existing jamb. A pre-hung door is just that, a door that is “pre-hung” on a jamb. I always recommend purchasing a pre-hung door. The cost difference in negligible. In fact, I charge more to hang and fit a slab on an existing jamb than I do to remove and install a pre-hung door. With a pre-hung door you get a full “door unit” and everything lines up straight from the factory.
Interior Doors: Hollow Core vs Solid Core Doors
A “Hollow Core Door” is hollow and a “Solid Core Door” is solid. Glad I could clear that up!
Hollow core doors are lighter and cheaper both in quality and price. You can pick up a hollow core interior door off the shelf at any box store or building center. Your house most likely has hollow core doors.
A Solid Core Door is solid. This means it weighs more, about double from my guestimation. They also cost about double. The advantages are that a solid core door will take more abuse from your three year old super hero, block sound a lot better, and will also insulate better than a hollow door. The disadvantages are cost and availability. The 24″ door in the picture above is a solid core and is used as a passthrough from my shop to my wife’s craft room. We chose a solid core for the sound and insulation benefits. We had to special order the door and it took about 3 weeks to come in and cost about double.
Exterior Doors: Steel vs Fiberglass vs Wood
When it come to exterior doors there are a plethora of options: double doors, arched doors, doors with windows… you have a lot of options. Knowing the differences in cost, quality, and maintenance will help you make an informed decision.
Steel Doors – The Economy Option
Steel Doors are your basic option and the cheapest option for an exterior door. At my fixer upper, we’re slowly replacing our exterior doors with steel doors. Our house is in a “working class” neighborhood and it would be a poor return on investment to spend more money on a higher quality door. If you live in a “fancy” neighborhood going with a “cheap” steel door isn’t a great idea for resale purposes. The only real advantages of a steel door are the cost savings and being readily available.
[/caption]The downsides are as follows: They dent and scratch very easily, once they are dented it’s almost impossible to hide the dent. Other flaws like “ripples” are almost impossible to see until after you paint the door. The ultra flat factory primer makes it hard to spot these imperfections, but once you apply a semi-gloss paint EVERY flaw in the door stands out.
Steel doors have their place; cost savings, rentals, back doors, and starter homes for example, but I recommend going with a fiberglass door whenever possible.
I recommend you install fiberglass doors in your home. The cost difference varies from about $75 more than a basic steel door to upwards of $2000 for a wood-look premium fiberglass door like this one:
Fiberglass doors insulate better, don’t rust, and resist dings and dents better than steel doors. It’s definitely the way to go if you want the best door for your money. (Read our blog post about this door installation in Bryan TX.)
Absolutely nothing compares to the beauty of a real wooden door. I love them. This is a door I sanded down and refinished a year ago. Which brings us to the big downside of wood doors: maintenance.
I left this picture big so you could take it all in as you were scrolling down. What an amazing door! They are also very expensive. A prefinished solid wood door and a top of the line “wood-look” fiberglass door are about the same price. Now I will begrudgingly share with you the negatives of a real wood door… As I mentioned earlier, maintenance is the biggest draw back of a wood door. With the extremes in temperature, humidity, and the blistering summer heat you can expect to refinish your wood door every 7-10 years (prices change but refinishing a door like this runs about $450).
Here is what the above door looked like before I refinished it.
For interior doors you have two main options: Cheap and available hollow core doors or expensive and special order solid core doors. Wood interior doors are also an option.
Exterior Doors have many options in three main categories:
Steel Doors – Cheaper/lower quality. Good for rentals, back doors, the budget friendly option
Fiberglass doors – Best value and quality. You simply get a lot better door for your money. I recommend fiberglass doors especially for the front door that everyone sees.
Wood Doors – Unparalleled Beauty but High Maintenance…There’s a marriage joke in there somewhere but I’ve closed the door on jokes made in poor taste.
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Right Hand or Left Hand In-swing
I’ll be honest, this still confuses the heck out of me. I’ve lost count of how many doors I’ve installed (over 100 for sure) and I still have to re-enact opening the door or draw a picture for the guy at the store. Instead of trying to explain it to you and confusing us both, here’s a diagram I found.
My Favorite Locksets
I really like these keypad locks from Kwikset. They are easy to install and have an “auto-lock” feature. It’s nice to be able to text grandma the code instead of finding an extra key.
This doorway was a challenge. The entry to an older home in Bryan, TX was a massive door that, unfortunately, was damaged beyond repair. Years of rain, Texas heat, and, most recently, a beating from Hurricane Harvey had caused the old wooden door to swell, crack, and begin to fail at the joints. We set about replacing the door and rebuilding the entryway.
My clients chose a door from our door supplier and we installed it when the door arrived a few weeks later. The old entryway had no insulation and I can imagine that in full summer heat or winter chill, you would feel the draft walking by. We completely tore out the old framing, built new framing, installed the door, added insulation, closed it back up, and painted it.
The finished result really boosted the curb appeal of this home. In fact, the homeowners loved it so much that I’m going back to replace a few more doors for them in the next couple of weeks. We originally painted the door and surround in Doe Skin by Kelly Moore but since both of the homeowners are professors at Texas A&M University, it just wasn’t right without some Aggie Maroon.
My client supplied the whiskey barrels for this project and thanks to pictures knew exactly what he wanted me to do. We took two whiskey barrels and made two matching tables for him and his brother. We went with an Oak top stained with English Chestnut and finished with a semi-gloss clear coat.
Oak gives the strength and stability needed for this type of table. We initially make a top out of pine with disappointing results.
Cutting a perfect circle in wood is a little tricky. There are a few methods of doing this. I chose to make a compass jig for my router. You can buy these but making one is very simple. Using shallow passes made multiple cuts until I bottomed out my plunge router. I then used a jigsaw to cut away the rest and cleaned that up with a flush trim router bit.
To mount the top we used some very simple 2×4 bracing. Our youtube video shows you how we did it better than we can tell you.
Pinterest is a fun place for ideas and projects. I’ve done a folding workbench a client found on Pinterest and a few other projects. If you have an odd build request use the Pinterest Challenge contact form are we will work on bringing your ideas to reality.
If you have a project in mind Contact Us, we can build what you want and have nationwide shipping available for furniture projects.
Your kitchen is the most important room of your house.
It’s where you prep your meals, it’s where your junk drawer is, it’s the countertops you put groceries on, it’s where you make your coffee… I could go on (but I could have also just said your kitchen is where you make your coffee to establish my point).
The Kitchen is the Hub of most homes, if that space isn’t functional or enjoyable then it affects your whole life. We took this old, worn out, and poorly laid out 1960’s kitchen and completely updated it to be beautiful and functional. AND WE USED THE EXISTING CABINETS SAVING THE HOMEOWNER $1000s!
Modifying existing cabinets is called “Cabinet Refacing.” Refacing cabinets can be as simple as new door and drawer fronts on a functional but dated kitchen. Or Refacing can be extensive modifications to existing cabinets to drastically change how a kitchen functions. Sometimes it is best to go with all new cabinets but many times we can come up with budget-friendly solutions.
This kitchen had a built-in oven and a separate range, both broken. We looked at the option of replacing each but it’s shocking how much a built-in oven costs. We decided to demo the existing cabinets and build to new base cabinets to allow for a combination stove/range. Even with the cost of new base cabinets for this area and a nice new stove was still about $500 less than it would have been for separate built in oven and stove top.
I built two drawer banks to flank the new oven and when we were all said and done you cant tell where the original cabinets end and the new ones begin.
All About Those Drawers
All but one of the base cabinets were converted to drawer banks. Deep drawers do a better job of not only organizing your pots and pans but also allow for better access. We built all of our drawers with 1/2 birch plywood and have 1/4 drawer bottoms that are captive on 3 sides. This creates a very strong drawer that can hold a lot of weight. We use ballbearing full extension drawer slides.
The drawers are clear-coated with lacquer for a durable finish.
Doors and Drawer Faces
Simple elegance was the goal with this kitchen. Shaker style doors and drawer faces create a timeless look. We only use Euro Style concealed hinges on our cabinets.
No remodeling project is done by just one guy. It takes various tradesmen to get the job done. My tile guy Chris is outstanding in his attention to detail. The Electrician installed all new can lights, undercabinet lighting, and brought everything up to modern code. Scott, my favorite plumber from Bass Plumbing puts up with me and fixed what was a mess underneath the sink.
Our countertops were done by Brazos Valley Granite.
Want a walk through? I documented this remodel on my youtube channel so you can see the process of how this project came together.
Straight boards are essential to quality woodworking, however, I’ve yet to buy a perfectly straight board. This easy to make jig can be made in a few hours and will definitely up your woodworking game.
A Jointer is a woodworking tool that is used to get a perfectly straight edge on a board. You cannot typically do this on a table saw because the curve of the wood will follow the fence and you’ll be left with a narrower curved board. A Jointer is a specialized tool that is able to deal with the imperfect boards to get them straight. They are also expensive ranging from $400-$3000.
Also, I don’t really have room for one in my shop. But I can achieve the same results faster and a whole lot cheaper with a jointing jig for the table saw. With this jig, I’m able to get perfectly straight edges on lumber up to 2x12x96. That’s a little overkill for most folk so you can make a smaller one that better suits your needs. The jig uses plywood, which will have a straight edge from the factory and inexpensive toggle clamps.
Did you know that you’re existing built-in cabinets can be modified? Many people assume that built-in cabinetry has to be completely removed and new cabinets made if they ever want to make changes. What a waste of time, money, and materials!
Cabinet Modification, also commonly called cabinet refacing, allows existing cabinets and built-ins to be changed, modified, and updated to change their function and style.
This entertainment center was built in the days of big heavy CRT televisions. Thank goodness for new technology and better TVs.
I recently purchased the Ridgid 10in Heavy Duty Portable Table Saw (R4513) to replace my Hitachi C10RJ Table Saw (Sigh). The Ridgid R4513 has a great fence, plenty of power, and a “gravity rise” stand. I’m mostly happy with this saw and can trust it on the job site unlike the Hitachi.
One area that really could use improvement on the Ridgid Jobsite Table Saw is dust collection. I’ve really been on a dust collection crusade recently, because of the health benefits, time saved in clean up, and an overall more enjoyable woodworking experience.
I noticed fairly quickly that the dust collection was poor on my new saw. Looking underneath I found that the shroud was mostly open which didn’t allow for strong suction. I decided to do something about it,
I couldn’t make a shroud cover out of plywood or stiff material because it would interfere with the blade tilt mechanism. Therefore, I simply doubled up some duct tape (sticky sides together) and started closing in the empty spaces. I also used Zero Clearance Tape by Fastcap to quickly make my stock throat plate a zero clearance throat plate and to add some rigidity to my Gorilla Tape shroud underneath the saw.
The results were too good. I actually closed up the saw to the point that air was only entering through the zero clearance throat plate. This caused too much restriction and quickly caused the dust shroud to clog. I cut out a small portion of the duct tape at the front of the shroud to allow for air flow and it works great.
This simple improvement greatly improved the dust collection at my table saw and makes it far more enjoyable to use. I did this to my Ridgid Portable Table Saw but the same method should work on any table saw.
Watch the video below to see how I did this. It should work on any jobsite or portable table saw.
I don’t have an elaborate dust collection system at my shop. My system is two shop vacuums that I got on Black Friday deals for about $40 each. I did splurge on a few extra hoses here and there but that’s it.
One thing that I always do is run filter bags in my vacuums. Especially while sanding the fine particles will quickly clog a filter and dramatically decrease performance. The filters also really suck (no pun intended) to clean. Filter bags do a great job of keeping your wet/dry vacuum performing at full capacity until the bag is packed full, but man they are expensive!
Filter Bags get Expensive, Y’all!
The best prices I’ve found for filter bags are on Amazon (which is not always the case). Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2u5oCzU
These are 3 for $10 with free shipping, If you look sometimes you can find better but $3.33 per bag is about the best I can find. The Orange store runs about $5 per bag and the Blue store is a shocking $7 per bag. It pays to shop around!
If I’m building a Dog Kennel running my miter saw, table saw, and sander I can fill one of these up in a day, easy. So I decided to try and make my own dust separator.