DIY Furniture Newbie!

One of the bloggers that really inspired me to start DIY-ing furniture is Ana White. I’m so amazed at all of the things she’s come up with. She lives in Alaska with her family, and one of the most recent things she (and her husband) built was a cabin. A CABIN, for crying out loud. How can I not admire someone who builds one with her own bare hands? Plus, she has loads of free plans on her site – several of which I want to make! Anyhoo. It took me a while to start on my first project. It’s not like we have a Home Depot in the Philippines, or easy access to power tools. Normally, we leave the carpentry work to, well, the carpenters. But I’ve always wanted to give it a try. My dad looked at me like I was crazy when I told him a few months ago that I wanted to build my own dining table. He said it was easier to just buy one. True, but it wouldn’t be as fulfilling. This project took about a month and a half to complete, only because I only spent a couple of hours working on it at a time. Initially, I just wanted to make a little rolling side table to put next to the couch. I went to Wilcon and picked out the wood I wanted. I bought several 2×2’s, some 1×4’s and a couple of 1×6’s. They delivered the wood to my house a few days later, and only the weekend after was I able to start on my project. While waiting for the delivery, I decided to make e a bar-height desk. My house is a little small, so I wanted a table that wouldn’t take up too much space. I designed it myself and made a crude drawing of how I wanted it to look, and wrote down the dimensions.

First I measured the pieces of wood, then I used my circular saw to cut them. I read somewhere that in order to cut wider pieces of wood (because the maximum width is 4 inches), all I have to do is place another piece of wood under and make the cut as usual. i had to put the saw on the floor and do my cutting there, because we don’t have a work table.


Here are the pieces, all cut, and treated with Solignum (to prevent termites). Please disregard the ball and sack of sand – my husband was trying to make his own medicine balls.


Next I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the middle plank for my table top, which is 5 feet long and 18 inches wide. I’ve had the jig for over a year but used it for the first time for this project. And apparently, I used the wrong measurements to drill the holes but it’s a good thing they turned out fine!


Here we are, screwing the base together on our makeshift work table. Not the safest thing to do, I know. A work table is also on my list of things to build. Please disregard that little finger on the right. Our daughter took our photo while we were working. Fine, I asked her to take our picture and she ended up taking loads. Julio’s job was to pre-drill and put the screws in, because I wasn’t too confident to do it myself.


Bea saw us (Julio, mostly) nailing the table top to the base and wanted to give it a try.


Here is the table, sanded and with holes filled.


And here it is, all done! I stained it with a color called Red Mahogany.


I wanted to buy stools to go with it, but I couldn’t find any that I liked so I decided to build it myself. I got these stool plans from Rogue Engineer, and they were pretty easy to follow. I ran out of 2×2’s though and needed a 1×12 plank so I went to the hardware store close to my house to buy them. Let me tell you, Wilcon is NOT the place to buy wood. It’s incredibly expensive! Although, I have to admit that the quality of the wood is superior to that of the smaller hardware stores. This new batch I bought needed a whole lot of sanding and seemed to be a softer kind of wood. But if you’re on a budget, go to your neighbourhood hardware stores. Your wallet will thank you for it.

Here’s the unassembled base of one stool. I had to make the foot rungs for one stool higher, so it would suit my height.


And here they are, waiting to be primed and painted.


I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but the paint colors you can get in Manila are pretty limited. I bought Rust-Oleum spray paints instead, in Cardinal Red and Orange. The orange one is Julio’s and mine is the red.


I gave them all a coating of polyurethane, left them out to dry for a day, and put them along one wall of our ground floor. The stools were a good idea, because I can just push them under the desk if I need a little more space.

Not bad for first-timers, huh?


Redo: Dresser

I’d always wanted to work on refinishing furniture, and regularly visit blogs like Design Sponge for their Before and Afters, Shanty 2 Chic and Simple Home Life for inspiration.

One day, there was this shabby, old dresser sitting outside my in-laws’ house. I passed by it a few times and I kept wondering whether I could fix it up, so I finally asked if they were getting rid of it. And they were!


I asked if I could have it and they were more than willing to give it to me. In fact, they had asked someone to pick it up that morning to throw but she had to go and get a bigger cart because hers was full. It ain’t pretty, I can tell you that. And it’s OLD. Apparently, it was given to my husband when he was a baby. So that makes it at least 31 years old!

Oh, the ideas that popped into my head! There was so much I wanted to do with this piece. First, was to install drawer guides. Next, I wanted to do a chevron print on the drawer faces. Oh but then I thought maybe I can convert it into a shoe cabinet instead! Then I thought maybe it would be a good idea to put a granite top and use it as a kitchen counter. Alas, none of those came to fruition.

I’d been working on this project for a little over a month and I finally finished it over the weekend. It took longer than I expected, because I was hoping to get it all done in one weekend, but I kept getting sidetracked. All right, I confess: I started on it without having any idea how to go about doing whatever it was I wanted to do. So I had to do a lot of research on painting and installing drawer guides.

First off, I had to remove the drawers and fix the bottoms. The bottoms are made of chipboard and I removed them because I had the idea of converting the drawers into doors. Then I realized that I wasn’t confident enough to do that so I nailed them back on. Then I removed the knobs and filled in the holes with putty.

And I’m so proud – I bought my first power tool for this project!


I bought a Maktec orbital sander. I sanded down the whole dresser, as well as the drawer faces (once the putty dried). I felt so very professional wearing my face mask and sanding the piece. Then the ruckus interrupted my daughter from her nap. Boo.

Next, I painted everything gray.


I was not at all happy with it though. I was trying to go for a darker gray, but silver gray was the only color. The paint color choices in Manila are so very poor. Plus the rollers I bought were crap. They left lint on my paint job! So I sanded it all down again. It was too late to go out and buy more paint (read: it was almost time for me to cook dinner) so I started on the bottom of the dresser.


It had legs that I wanted to replace with caster wheels, and didn’t have much of a bottom, so I yanked those all out. I then cut the bottom to size from a spare piece of 3/4″ plywood I had lying around and nailed it into place.

When I finally found the time to go to the hardware store, I bought black paint and mixed it into the gray until I got the shade I wanted. I painted the dresser and the drawer faces the new shade of gray. Then I figured a pop of color would be nice, so I painted the drawer sides yellow. I thought the yellow was a bit too bright. At this point, it was dark and my husband had come out to poke me and say it was time for dinner.

To rectify the horrid yellow shade, I added white to the yellow paint I had and repainted the drawer sides. I did away with the chevron design on the drawers and instead bought some drawer pulls that I spray-painted black. I also bought drawer guides that took me a while to install.

Over the weekend, I finally worked on the dresser again. I had researched on how to install the drawer guides, and had to add a wooden block to the inside of the walls to screw the guides onto. I had to contort my body and press my face against the cabinet just to get some angles right. Then I screwed the guides on one of the drawers and decided to try it.

Lo and behold! The drawer no longer fit into the dresser. It was built just right for the drawer space, with no room for anything else. So I removed all the drawer guides and left it as is.


What do you think? I also decided to paint some white detail on the sides, as inspired by this. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, but now I need to answer the question my husband has been asking me – where will I put it?


Party Clothes

Little B’s first birthday came and went, but before that I had a birthday party to plan for.  Pinterest put all these party ideas in my head but I only got to use a few of them.

I had planned on a milk and cookies theme, but decided on a pink party instead.  I always said my little girl would never wear  one of those cutesy tutus, but that’s exactly what I made for her to wear for her party. As I said, I saw it on Pinterest and thought it would be fantastic if I could make one for Little B. I could just imagine her toddling around wearing her fluffy skirt. What to wear aside from the tutu though? I stenciled a onesie as well. Tissue paper pom poms? Check. Banners and buntings? Done. But in this post, I’ll focus on the outfit I made for her.

I looked up how to make tutus and found one site that made it seem so simple – Treasures for Tots. Next step was to buy the materials I needed to make the skirt. Unfortunately, in Manila, tulle doesn’t come in 6-inch width rolls so I estimated I needed maybe 3 yards each of 60-inch width tulle. Turns out, I ended up using only half the amount. I chose pink, fuchsia and lilac (with glitter). I also bought 18 inches of white ribbon to attach the tulle strips to.



I alternated 3 strips of fuchsia, 3 strips of pink and 3 strips of lilac. After loads of cutting and knotting (with country music playing on my laptop – for some reason that’s what I felt like listening to that afternoon), this is what I had.


Pretty, isn’t it? It looks better worn though. For the full how-to, visit Treasure for Tots.

Next up, the onesie. I made the design using Photoshop then I printed it out on sticker paper. Every blog I looked at said to use freezer paper but again, in Manila we don’t have that. But thanks to a post I saw online, I found out I could substitute sticker paper instead. After printing it, I cut out the design with something like an X-acto knife .


I removed the paper backing and carefully placed the stencil onto a plain white sleeveless onesie. Then I used fabric paint to paint the design.


It took a bit of work and a lot of waiting but here’s how it turned out:


The lettering didn’t turn out so good. The sticker paper didn’t adhere well to the already-painted portion, so there was a bit of color bleeding that happened. But, I keep telling myself, not too bad for a first-timer.

Next post: the party!

DIY Bookshelves

A few posts ago, I was talking about a DIY project I was working on for Little B’s room. Well, I finally finished it! Actually, I installed the shelves about a month ago and am just posting this late.

Here’s what they looked like before I fixed them up:
And here’s what they look like now:
I had to give them a second (or was that a third?) coating of white spray paint then I ran over it with sandpaper to give it a bit of a distressed look.
One night, I screwed the l-bars onto the shelves by hand. It took me a few more days to quit procrastinating and install them in Little B’s room. But first I had to make sure the shelves were installed evenly. So I took a piece of string, tied something to the end, and taped it to the wall. Using the string, I was able to line up the shelves. I also had to use a leveler (?) to ensure the shelves were, well, leveled. J had to teach me how to use the electric drill so I could screw the l-bars onto the walls. Thank goodness the wall I decided to put the shelves on was made of wood! I don’t know if I could have done it on my own on a concrete wall.
I’m pretty proud of myself for doing it mostly on my own, and I hope Little B will like it when she’s old enough to appreciate it.

Pat on the back

I’ve FINALLY finished one of the projects I did, using the leftover plywood from the cabinet and bookcase we had made. Funnily, it was the most difficult one but the bookshelves for Bea and the hanging rack for behind the bathroom door are still waiting to be completed.

We keep the gas tank between the counter and the oven, and it’s a bit of an eye sore. So I came up with a solution – a cover for the gas tank (and trash can) and an extension for our counter.



I’m so proud of myself. I did this all on my own! Measured the space, cut the wood, nailed it together, painted it. Who knew I had it in me? My husband just sat back and watched. I did ask him for help at one point, to screw an L-bar in. But other than that, that’s all me. It’s very simple, absolutely no frills – I wouldn’t be able to handle it otherwise.

Now, my problem is how to waterproof the top! I need to protect it from oil splatters and liquid spills. I bought polyurethane earlier today. I hope brushing it on helps.

Sewing Skillz

Little B ran through her cloth diaper supply this afternoon. I bring about 5 extra inserts and diapers from home, and she used them all up by 3pm. To top it off, she soiled her last remaining change of clothes. So what was a Mama to do? Thank goodness I work in my parents’ house, so I still have a bunch of clothes in my old room. I grabbed an old shirt and cut it Little B size.

Using a pen, I outlined the shirt for Little B. I cut on the lines and cut off about 4 inches from the hem. Then using the sewing techniques I learned in high school (14 years ago!), I sewed up the sides, making sure not to sew up the armholes.

You’ll see the stitches are nothing great, and terribly loose, but they seem to have done the job.


Here’s the finished product, as modeled by Little B herself:


Not bad, eh? Of course the neckline is way too loose but I didn’t know how to make it smaller. I’ll try and fix up the stitches – maybe use a sewing machine this time.

DIY Stress

I have always wanted to be a DIY-er. DIY pins on Pinterest are saved in my bookmarks folder, for when I have the time to finally get started. The cabinet and bookcase are done, and there’s loads of wood left over. I figured, now is as good a time as any. I pulled up a DIY link that I thought would be a good first project.
Image taken from Shanty 2 Chic
It sure seemed easy enough. $20 shelves ANYONE can build. Actually, I started this last weekend.  I ran out of nails so had to buy more and I thought, maybe I can use wood moulding. It took me a while to find a nice-looking one and was only able to finish today. To be fair, I couldn’t continue it during the week as I had to be at work.
As it turns out, I’m not anyone. The shelves didn’t turn out the way I thought they would. Originally, I wood-stained them but they didn’t look too good (or maybe I didn’t stain it properly) so I decided to spray paint them white. I’m just waiting for them to dry before I add the hanging mechanism and install them as bookshelves in my daughter’s room. I made another project, to hang behind the bathroom door. J has been wanting to replace the hooks we have there now but we haven’t been able to find what we’re looking for. I thought I might as well make it too!
Still didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I wonder what I can do to jazz it up a bit?  It just might be better for me to give up my illusions of DIY-ing.


Several months ago, J and I had agreed to hire some carpenters to custom-make a bookcase for the space under our stairs so I removed the desk that was there and put everything on it away neatly. I guess J was getting a bit impatient and disturbed by the clutter because he asked me when the carpenters were supposed to start. Confession: honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it. Finally, I got around to asking a couple of carpenters to work on it. The perks of having a dad in the development business! 
A couple of nights before they were going to start, I decided I wanted to have a cabinet built in our bedroom – my present closet is in another room and frankly I was tired of having to leave our room just to get a change of clothes. So I printed out a photo of a bookcase and a photo of a cabinet, the styles of which I wanted the carpenters to copy. When I showed the photos to them the next day, they said they’d need to make a few changes because of the layout of our room and of our staircase. Fine, I said. We went over the size of each and one of them asked me, why not make the cabinet 6 feet wide, to maximize the sheets of plywood? I said fine again. 
Little did I know how much space that darn cabinet was actually going to take up! I was at work and my husband sent me a photo of the cabinet shell, and texted me that it was huge. Oh my god. I was at a loss for words but I had to say I needed it and would share it with him if he liked. 
It’s been a week and the carpenters are nearly done with the project. We had to sleep at my in-laws’ last night (and will sleep over a couple more nights) because of the smell of paint. We didn’t want Little B to inhale the fumes, and the smell was dizzying! I am happy with the way the bookcase turned out, but am still a little unsure about the cabinet.