Last week we had a fun project come through the shop to replicate some corbels for a 1920s Colonial Revival house in Delaney Park, Florida. I figured this was a perfect way to show you how you can make custom woodwork like these period details rather simply with the right tools.
Old houses have a lot of unique trim, moldings and woodwork that are not readily available at the home store. So, replacing them is never as straight forward as a quick trip down the molding aisle. I posted previously about 4 Tricks to Match Old Trim that may be helpful to you as well.
Home Depot or Lowe’s are good places to start looking because occasionally what you need is there, but often it requires a call to a local mill shop to find some of the more unique patterns. Sometimes even that’s not enough, so you’re left with making things yourself.
How To Make Custom Corbels
In the case of these corbels I want to show you that if you have a sample of the piece you are trying to replicate then making copy is not hard at all. Having some special tools will make the work easier, sure, but you don’t need everything I use to get it done.
Whether you are making a corbel, baseboard, or crown molding it’s all a matter of reverse engineering the sample you have in the simplest way you can. Below is the process I use and make sure to check out the video at the bottom of the post to see the whole process in action! To get more videos like these Subscribe to my YouTube Channel here.
Step 1 Template
Look at your sample piece and start taking measurements. You want to get as specific as possible (thickness, width, length, etc.) In the case of this corbel it was slightly larger than a 4×4 so we had to laminate some wood together to get the right size.
Find the right wood for your project. If it’s interior paint grade then poplar or pine are great choices. If you plan to varnish or stain it then look at oak, maple, or other hardwoods. If it’s going to be outside then you need a rot-resistant wood. Use this post to help you find the right rot-resistant wood for your project.
We choose Accoya for its great rot-resistant abilities and stable nature which make it similar to old-growth wood in my opinion. We only needed the corbels to be about 16″ long so we took some Accoya scraps and glued them together to reach the 3 3/4″ thickness we needed. We glued the faces of the wood with Titebond III waterproof wood glue, clamped it together, and let it sit overnight to cure.
Step 2 Make Your Blank
After the glue setup up we needed to shave it down in a few places and make it nice and square. We used a combination of table saw, jointer, and planer for this process. If you don’t have access to these tools then a table saw and sander is usually sufficient to get the piece close enough.
Work with what you have to get as close to square and clean as possible. If this could have been made out of nominal lumber like a 4×4 this whole process could have been dramatically shortened so always start looking there.
Step 3 Trace & Trim
With your prepped blank in one hand and your sample piece in the other lay them out and trace to the original profile onto the blank. Then it’s a mater of cutting it out. Since this was a curved corbel we used a janky old band saw that I bought years ago at a garage sale for $75.
You don’t need the biggest and grandest tools ever. I could have also used a scroll saw or a coping saw to do it by hand which would have been difficult due to the thickness but still possible. The moral of the story is find the easiest way that you can cut your new replica out. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you can refine it in the next step.
Step 4 Sand & Refine
Now that you’ve got it cut out sand and refine the profile as much as you need using whatever sander fits best. We used a bench sander like this one and a random orbit, but you could use a belt sander or hand sanding too. For heavy stock remove stick in the 24-60 grit range and then give everything a nice final sand working your way up the grits as necessary to your desired level of finish.
And that’s it! You should have a piece pretty darn similar to the original that you can put back into service and make it look as good as old! I hope that helps demystify some of the custom woodwork in these old houses.
This applies to everything from corbels to decorative rafter tails to ginger-breading. You don’t have to be an artist, you just have to be able to trace and replicate. The old craftsmen did the hard work for us coming up with these beautiful custom designs now we just have to copy them.
When people think about energy saving upgrades to their house the first thing they think of is their windows. While it’s true that windows are a source of heat loss in your home there are bigger sources of heat loss like attic insulation you should focus on first.
With autumn just on the horizon it’s time to start thinking about weatherizing your house to get it ready for the cold winter weather and windows are an important part of that equation. So, I thought I’d put together some easy and effective ways to soup up the efficiency of your old windows with eight energy saving window treatments anyone can do.
These are all time tested ideas that don’t require a contractor or serious work on a deep energy retrofit. A weekend, a tape measure, and a drill will help you get most of these treatments in place before the colder weather hits and heating prices go up.
I’ll keep saying it on this blog, but window replacement is not the solution to most window issues you are facing. There are times when it makes sense, but don’t head down this route first without looking at some of the much less expensive and more effective energy saving window treatments in this post.
Still thinking about window replacement? Read some of these posts below and see if the facts can convince you, like they have me, that window replacement is not what it’s cracked up to be.
A lot of shutters today are simply decorative and don’t function, but once upon a time shutters were a very important part of every window. Along with protecting the window during a storm, exterior shutters are excellent at keeping out the hot sun and cold winds.
Putting operable exterior shutters on your house and opening and closing them accordingly can make huge gains in energy efficiency. Close your shutters on the west side of your house before the afternoon sun starts pouring through your windows and you will notice a marked difference.
In the winter close them during those winter storms keep the cold winter wind off the glass and cut down on both condensation and heat loss.
Plantation shutters are a popular and attractive way to provide privacy and upgrade the energy performance of your windows too. Angling the slats upward during the winter and downward in the summer keeps the heat where it belongs. Simple, effective, and attractive.
2. Storm Windows
If you live in the northern states then you know the benefits of exterior storm windows. The selection is huge and there are dozens of reputable manufacturers to choose from. Exterior storms can be expensive, but they arguably provide the greatest improvement in energy efficiency of almost any window.
Interior storm panels made by companies like Indow, Innerglass, Magnetite and others are another option that are even better at air sealing your window than an exterior storm. They don’t provide protection from the weather like exterior storms, but they are an easy to install, DIY project compared to exterior storms which usually require a contractor to install.
3. Cellular Shades
Cellular shades, sometimes called honeycomb shades, are lightweight attractive shades that come in a wide variety of styles and functions. They are particularly effective at blocking both heat and cold because their design creates an air pocket between the window and the room that provides insulation.
A little more expensive than run of the mill blinds, cellular shades are more effective and you get what you pay for in terms of energy performance.
4. Window Film
Talk about simple and inexpensive! Window film is possibly the easiest to install and least expensive of these eight energy saving window treatments. At a couple dollars per square foot and an easy DIY installation this would be one of the first things I’d try on my windows.
Window film doesn’t make a big difference for cold climates but in southern climates where the sun can come through your windows and cook you this is almost a must. There are a variety of films that offer different levels of UV blocking and appearances. Check out all the options to get the right one for your needs.
5. Solar Screens
I didn’t understand the effectiveness of solar screens until I stood beneath my father-in-law’s new pergola in the July sun. Across the top of the pergola he had run some solar screening that claimed to block out 85% of the heat and boy did it! The moment I stepped below that screen I could feel a huge difference in temperature. It was still hot outside but I didn’t feel the heat of the sun on my skin like before.
The great thing about solar screening is that you can easily upgrade your existing screens whether they are historic wood screens or newer aluminum frames. You just replace the screening and keep the frame. You can get different levels of coverage from 70-95%. I like the 70-75% versions because I can barely notice the decrease of light for those versions. You can find solar screening here.
Drapes may seem old fashioned but they are very effective at keeping heat where it belongs. Closing heavy drapes during the day is very effective at keeping heat out and for the winter months closing them at night keeps the heat in. The style doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is using them as the weather dictates.
Look at old pictures of almost every big building before the advent of air conditioning and you’ll notice awnings. Even the White House was covered in awnings back in the day. That’s because awnings are the perfect passive heat blocking window treatment.
Here’s how it works, awnings block the hot summer sun from your windows, yet allow the winter sun (which is lower in the horizon) to shine through and warm the house when you need the heat. It’s ingenious. No work is required from you to make adjustments as the seasons change. Awnings just work, plain and simple.
Interior blinds are in almost every house and there are a multitude of styles and prices for any budget. Just like shutters you turn the slats up in the winter to keep the heat in and turn the slats down in the summer to keep the heat out. Another easy and inexpensive energy saving window treatment anyone can do.
What else have you found effective to keep the weather at bay and make your home more comfortable? Tell me in the comments the treatments you’ve used with success so we can all benefit.
Whitewash has a long history that goes back well before America does. It was one of the earliest forms of painting and sealing in historic construction and the look is still popular today. It’s a great way to get that shabby chic appearance on furniture and other decor.
The traditional recipe for whitewash was a combination of unslaked lime, whiting, and salt mixed into boiling water which would create a mixture much like milk in consistency and appearance. The salt helps with adhesion.
You can still make traditional whitewash and I, in fact, like it for sealing and protecting historic masonry. Traditional whitewash essentially forms a micro-thin layer of limestone when it dries which is a great sealer and protector for old masonry and plaster walls with the added benefit that it is breathable and doesn’t cause the issues that other masonry sealers do.
While this technique is helpful for old masonry or plaster walls, my focus today is more on getting that whitewash look with simple to find ingredients that don’t cost a ton. Slaked lime is not at the corner hardware store so we won’t going that way today.
How to Whitewash Wood
The easiest way to get a great a whitewashed look is by using water and latex paint. You don’t need to pay $50 for a specialty Annie Sloan paint either. The cheapest latex white paint you can find is more than sufficient.
I’ll layout the process below and of course there is a quick video so you can see exactly how I get that old whitewashed look. This is honestly so simple you barely need a tutorial, but I want folks to know this is an easy option for spicing up your decor and craft projects for your old home.
What You’ll Need
Step #1 Sand and Prep
Sand your piece smooth and clean all the dust off. Somewhere between 80 and 120-grit is just fine for a final sanding grit.
Step #2 Mix Up
Mix 1 part water and 1 part paint. You can mix a little more or less of each to get slightly different looks. Thinning the paint by at least half with water causes it to penetrate the wood better than just straight paint.
Step #3 Brush It In
Brush your whitewash mix onto the surface and work it in pretty well. You are trying to get the mixture into the pores of the wood. Brushing with the grain is best, but honestly it’s not a big deal here since the paint is so thin.
Step #4 Wait & Wipe
Give it just a minute and then with a clean cotton rag gently wipe off the surface. You don’t want to wait any more than a minute. If you wait longer then the paint will start to dry and be gummy when you wipe off. The heavier you wipe off the more whitewash you’ll remove so test it to see how much force you need. You can always apply multiple coats to get a heavier appearance.
Step #5 Distress (optional)
After the wash has dried you can choose to distress your piece to get that shabby chic look by scraping or sanding corners or other high traffic areas to make the wear look realistic. Play with it and make something creative!
Check out my Minute Method video below to see exactly how to whitewash wood in The Craftsman way. Whitewashing wood is a ton of fun and I particularly enjoy making shelves for my kid’s rooms in this style. You can’t beat the look of whitewashed bookshelves in a nursery for my money!
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all the videos I post. Some of them don’t make it onto the blog and I don’t want you missing out.
Here are some inspiration photos of the awesome ways you can use whitewashing for your projects. Hopefully, these will get your creative juices flowing!
Old houses have old wood and old wood looks different than new wood. It’s darker and has more growth rings to it because it’s old-growth lumber. Learn more about old-growth wood here. Old wood is rich with tannins that darken the wood and the longer wood is exposed to the air the darker it becomes in many cases.
While there isn’t much you can do to mimic the growth rings you can learn how to age wood with vinegar to give it that older color you want and help it blend in with the older pieces around it.
This technique is great for fence repairs, shingle repairs, siding, or just fun salvage projects where you want a different look then staining. And you can achieve different levels of color by how long you allow the solution to soak.
How To Age Wood With Vinegar
This isn’t like faux finishing or distressing wood though those are both fun ways to get different effects. When you age wood with vinegar it’s much easier and gets you one main effect and that is darker wood.
Like in the picture new wood repairs always stand out like a sore thumb before they have time to age naturally to match their older counterparts. But when you age wood with vinegar you basically speed that process along and help your repairs blend in in minutes instead of months.
What You’ll Need
Step #1 Make Your Solution
Grab a sealable container and toss a couple pieces of steel wool in there. I prefer 0000 steel wool because it works faster. You can use any kind of steel wool but the rougher the wool the longer it takes to work its magic.
Pour enough white vinegar into the container that it will submerge the steel wool. Put the top on and shake it up good then let it sit for 24 hrs. You can get different levels of aging if you let is sit longer or shorter periods, but for most of my purposes 24 hrs is perfect.
Step #2 Brush it On
The next day shake up the mixture well then grab a chip brush and brush it on very heavily saturating the surface. Wiping it on doesn’t get you enough solution on the wood so the brush is definitely the way to go.
Step #3 Wait and Watch
Now for the fun part! Watch the solution dry and age the wood. The wood will darken in just minutes so once you reach the color you want you can wipe it off to stop the aging process or just let it run its course and dry on its own.
This is a super low maintenance finish since you don’t have to worry about it rubbing off or wearing out. It has actually aged the wood naturally instead of acting like a stain or coating that has to be renewed every so often.
Be sure to check out the video below to see exactly how you can do it yourself. You also don’t want to miss the time lapse shot at the end as the wood ages before your eyes!
Our kitchen renovation has been one long ass journey, with many ups and downs, frustrations and really it's put a lot of our life on hold. But having a plan from the get-go was something that really helped us to focus on the job and keep going. It was also essential for knowing where to run electric cables, lights and plumbing too! I realised I never shared the plans for our kitchen, or how we came to design it - so this is going to be a very quick post before I share the actual kitchen installation and reveal. I think I'll do a full separate post on tips for designing your own kitchen as well as how to keep costs down. But, for now - he's the grand kitchen plan and design!
So first up was selecting an actual kitchen supplier. We knew we wanted to buy from DIY-Kitchens after visiting their showroom which you can read all about here. Their kitchens are amazing quality, affordable and they have heaps and heaps of different options for cabinet sizes as well fancy units like internal pull out drawers, larders, plate racks and even dresser units. Their kitchens had the biggest selection of different colours and there's even the option to colour-match or pick your own bespoke paint as well. Unlike other suppliers, the idea behind DIY-Kitchens is that you design and plan the kitchen yourself, select the units you require in a kinda off-the-shelf type deal and then they are bespokely made and built especially for your order. You then fit it yourself, or you source your own kitchen fitter. It's simple, affordable and it works.
Choosing a Kitchen Range
I knew I wanted a shaker style kitchen, I think they look modern but also classic and are pretty much age-less. I also knew I wanted solid timber doors - I think they're a really good investment as they can be painted in the future without too much hassle and they can also be sanded if any damage does occur over the years. Affordability was a big part of our decision as well. I loved the Harewood Style kitchen but the cost was more than I was willing to pay, so instead we went for Linwood. It's not THE cheapest kitchen they sell, but it's the cheapest for solid timber - and that was something I was prepared to pay a little more for.
Grey, Grey or Grey?
If you didn't know, I love grey. Grey grey grey! So it had to be grey. But which shade of grey? Well, I wasn't prepared to go for a bespoke colour at additional costs, so that narrowed it down to the three greys they had in their standard range. Originally I thought I would go with Lamp Room Grey but after ordering a door sample in the colour, I realised it looked very different under different lights. Under a white-light it looked beautifully grey and I loved it - but under a more warm toned light, it had a very green undertone. Our lights happen to be warm lights and I really wanted them that way - particularly with the Edison bulbs that are also warm toned. So I went back to DIY-Kitchens to look at the colours again.
I was particularly inspired to take a second look at the dark grey kitchens after I fell in love with a gorgeous dark grey kitchen on Instagram (to be more precise - Faith's @darcinderdiary on Instagram - or go check her blog out here!). Her kitchen is a gorgeous dark grey colour (Graphite) with white worktops, which I absolutely loved but I was really unsure whether a dark colour in our narrow and not-always that bright kitchen would work. So in some kind of rock n roll fashion, I asked Instagram to vote on it for me. And the outcome was pretty phenomenal 39 votes for Graphite to 14 votes for Lamp Room Grey. So we had a winner and I rolled with it!
Cabinet ColourAs well as door colours, DIY-Kitchens also offer a range of cabinet colours and wood effects. I really liked the look of the wood ones, just to add a bit of interest to the interior of the carcass when you open the doors. I decided to steer clear of the matching graphite colour available as I figured it'd way too dark for me to see inside otherwise! These were my top 3 picks, but Light Winchester Oak stood out to me the most. I think they work really well together and I also think it makes the units look more expensive/high end.
Wood Worktops from Worktop-ExpressAs beautiful and as much as I love quartz, our budget is miles too small it. I'm not really a fan of laminate, so the next obvious option was wood. We used Beech in our old house and despite the general upkeep of wood (not always for everyone!), I really loved it. This time I knew I wanted something lighter (Beech was quite orange-y toned) so ordered a whole bunch of samples from Worktop-Express. Unfortunately DIY-Kitchens don't offer many choices on wood and their prices are also more expensive. We used Worktop-Express in our old house and had no problems - they even offer a bespoke cutting service, so it can arrive and be put straight into place! The decision on which wood was pretty instant - Ash stood out to me straight away and luckily it was one of the most affordable option (second to Beech, that is!). It's light but with a gorgeous grain and I think will look perfect against the dark units. This photo does not do it justice! (And yes, it's a tad tea-stained from being used as a coaster!)
Layout & Design
So finally the fun bit - actually designing! The room that will be the kitchen is pretty much long and kinda narrow so it obviously had to be a galley kitchen - if you don't know what that is, it's a kitchen with cabinets either side of the room in a straight long kind-of runway type deal. We wanted our dining room to be a separate space, so that's why we're not bringing the kitchen out into there. On-top of that, it would have made the costs of a kitchen vastly more expensive!
Designing a kitchen is much like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I took measurements of both sides of the room and positioned the appliances first; the cooker opposite the sink (keeping the sink in pretty much the same position really helps to keep costs down!), the washing machine and dishwasher either side of the sink and then the fridge against the back wall near the french door. Then I added units into the spaces we had leftover. I knew I wanted one set of pan drawers as well as a basket unit. Once those were positioned, the rest really just fell into place. We've opted for fewer larger units over many small ones - as this is also something that keeps costs down. Finally, I treated myself to wall dresser unit because well, I freaking love them and have always wanted one!
You'll notice there's no wall units - this is partly due to costs but mainly because I wanted the space to feel open. With the room being long and narrow, I was worried wall units could just aid the room into feeling claustrophobic. We have very few kitchen items anyway, so we really don't need a whole bunch of storage. We also toyed with the idea of a bench seat, which you can see on the plan above - but decided against this in the end.
Visualising the PlanSo as you can see, I pretty much designed it in an old-school kinda way. Good old pen and paper and terrible terrible drawings. I can visualise things quite well, so this worked fine for me. And I didn't feel like I needed a to-scale drawing to do the math either. However DIY-Kitchens do offer a layout grid which you can use to help you see everything to scale/see if it will fit - but if you want to see how your kitchen will actually look properly, I recommend using this 3D Kitchen Designer site. I used it to show Grant the plan, as he claims to have no visualising ability. ;)
The StyleIf I had to use a couple of words to sum up how I wanted the kitchen to look, it would be classic chic, with a hint of vintage industrialism. Makes sense right? Basically I love classic chic kitchens, I love hints of industrial style interiors and I love vintage pieces. So I'm combining all three in some kind of messy mix-up.
It sounds like a chaotic awful combination, but hopefully it'll look better than it sounds. We've already picked out our traditional limestone floor (go see it here!) and the kitchen style will hopefully fit with this. We've exposed the steel beam for some industrialism as well as adding some Edison bulbs. I'd also like a more industrial style tap as well. And as for the vintage, well I have a whole bag in storage of random little pieces I've been picking up from fairs and antique centres (I've written a couple about what I've been buying over the last few years, which you can see here and here) that will on full display in here too.
So now you've seen all my terrible drawings and the design ;) I'm going to do a separate post on tips for designing your own kitchen as well as one for keeping costs down. But before then, you'll be seeing our new kitchen reaaaalll soon... and I'm absolutely chuffed to bits with it! So, watch this space!
What are we to do with all these old statues and memorials to dead white men? The country is all aflutter with anger, fear, self-righteousness, and a slew of other emotions that have quickly risen to the surface. There are questions about our nation’s past and even more about our future that are not so much being discussed but rather screamed at each other in a fervent pitch.
It’s rare that on a historic preservation blog I have the opportunity to wade into current events, but this week I feel it’s the only thing I should be talking about. When the populace begins demanding the destruction irreplaceable pieces of history my ears perk up. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t believe all of these statues or memorials have a place in our public square. Many of them are offensive, inappropriate and deserve to be removed, but casting a broad net like has been done recently is endangering some precious historical pieces of art and architecture.
As calmer tempers prevail in the coming months, and they always do, municipalities should continue to review their inventory of Confederate and other historic sites as has been steadily happening year after year. And there will be questions that need to be answered, but to say simply, “ALL statues associated with the Confederacy or slave owners MUST be torn down.” is an offense to the intelligence that God has given each of us.
Such broad generalizations dumb down the conversation and can result in costly irreversible losses to our history. As the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in a statement they released this week, “We should always remember the past, but we do not necessarily need to revere it.”
What Should We Do
This is not a question that can be answered simply. Each case needs to be individually investigated. Many of these statues were commissioned and placed in the public square wth the express purpose of intimidating black Americans during the civil rights fight of the 50s and 60s. Those have no place in our country any longer and serve no purpose other than to remind us of a dark time in our country’s history.
But the history of this country is not as cut and dry as that. We have stains on the soul of our country from past sins just like individuals do for their own sins. But if there is forgiveness of our personal sins by a gracious God then the same would stand true for our nation.
We have come a long way in America. It is no longer legal to own slaves, it’s no longer legal to discriminate against anyone based on their age, gender, color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation. Women now have the right to vote and work outside the home. Each day we are marching toward “a more perfect union.”
We will not get there tomorrow, or the next day. It is a journey of slowly perfecting our nation. In the past workers would sift the wheat to remove the chaff, steel workers would burn the steel hotter and hotter to burn off more and more imperfections, technology inventors are constantly improving our computers (could you imagine using a Commodore 64 today?)
It is a slow march toward perfection, but it doesn’t happen overnight and being angry at our founders for not creating a perfect country by 2017 standards in not realistic or helpful.
Where Does it Stop
Recently the most disturbing things I have heard are the calls for the tearing down of the Jefferson memorial in Washington DC. The thinking goes like this: Jefferson was a slave holder, therefore racist and any tribute to him is inappropriate and offensive.
Ok, let’s say that we remove that memorial. How about George Washington? He owned slaves. Should we remove his memorial as well and change the name of our capital city? Should we also redesign our monetary system? After all, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, and Franklin all would be branded racist by today’s standards. They all owned slaves with the exception of Lincoln, but he spoke publicly about his aversion to equality between blacks and whites. So even the great emancipator was not perfect!
The fact is this: We should judge people by the times in which they lived. To expect a citizen of the 1700s to live by the standards of the 2000s is impossible, just as we would be perilously lost in the customs and traditions of previous centuries they would be woefully out of place in today’s society.
Removing the traces of our history that disagree with us is like pulling the thread on a sweater. It may seem like a good idea at first but often it does more damage than good. A town without old buildings is like a man without a memory. And without a memory of the past we are bound to repeat the same mistakes.
You may say that you wouldn’t make those mistakes, but it’s not you I’m worried about. It’s your neighbor or your neighbor’s children that never heard the stories of our failures that will repeat them. Repeating the mistakes that run through our past cannot be an option. We cannot go back to those days! But whitewashing our history is not the solution.
If we removed every statue built to a flawed human being, or tore down every church that housed a corrupt clergyman, or destroyed every work of art by philandering artist we would be left with nothing. Let us not focus on the flaws of our founders but focus instead on their successes. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered for your accomplishments than have your life’s work dismissed because of your shortcomings?
I save old buildings for two reasons. First, because I think they are beautiful works of craftsmanship done by master builders. Second, because they are one of the only physical links to a different time and a different people. I know those times were different and if those old builders were here today they wouldn’t choose hand driving nails and hand hewing beams. You better believe they would be using tables saws and nails guns. They did what they could with the information they had.
We have come a long way as a society, and our foundations were built on stronger things than racism and flawed individuals. Slavery, while prevalent in our founder’s time, is not at the core of who we were as a people and we fought a bloody and awful war that turned brother against brother to abolish that hateful institution.
It’s not statues or memorials that are the problem, rather a brokenness of the human heart that needs redemption. So my plea is simple, don’t let our country’s precious works of art and architecture be swept away in this current emotional torrent unless they justly deserve to be. Irreversible actions done in the heat of the moment are often regretted when the dust settles. Let’s not be that country. Let’s not be those people.
There are so many different brands of dog food on the market; dried food, wet food, tinned food, sachets food, mixers, don't worry I won't go on. But essentially, despite the many many choices, they're all pretty much the same. Some are more processed than others, some have more ingredients than others and some just have the luxury of being a well-known brand.
But what you don't see every day on a shelf is dehydrated dog food. Food made with 100% natural pure ingredients, the kind of food you'd cook for yourselves. Human quality food. No sweeteners, food colouring, wheat or taste enhancers - just 100% pure ingredients but preserved by natural dehydration. Pure Pet Food is totally different to everything else out there on the market and is essentially the closest you can get to having a pure home cooked meal for your furry friends. Aside from of course, actually cooking a home cooked meal, but who has time for that really?
Straight from the box it looks like a kinda not-so-appetising chunky powder I guess, but the idea is that when you add water, the food slowly rehydrates, almost doubling in size turning into a kind-of wet food.
It's such a simple idea and it works. The front of the box tells you EXACTLY what's in it - in a really simple, easy to understand way. I don't know any other dog food brand (you can tell me if I'm wrong!) that promotes so-very obviously exactly what's in their food.
This one I'm reviewing is the Chicken Dinner box, which is particularly suitable for sensitive stomachs as well as fussy eaters, but they also have boxes made with Duck, Turkey and Fish too. Each one has a particular list of the type of dog it's suitable for (Puppy, Senior etc) as well as certain diets, such as weight management and sensitive stomachs. All their boxes are wheat free and are suitable for raw eaters also.
So here's a few shots of it in its dehydrated state, with a bit of warm water added and then once fully rehydrated, which takes around 10mins. You can see how it really changes once water has been added and you can also physically see the chunks of meat and vegetables in here too. I find some types of dog foods absolutely revolting to look at and smell, but this actually stuff smells and looks good. I guess they actually say it's "human quality" for a reason.
By comparison, the brand we were using before trying Pure Pet food was a pretty close match in price, to the same KG. So although it certainly isn't cheap, it is the right price for what we're willing to pay for our dog food. It's worth noting as well that while the boxes are much smaller in size (due to their dehydrated state) they can still supply the same KG as a large bag of food. For example this 500g box I'm reviewing is the same amount, when rehydrated as a 2kg bag of food.
It's recommended to mix your usual dog food in with the pure pet food to begin with, so that's what I've done in these shots. The real critics here are the pups themselves. So, here's what they thought...
So, obviously our pups totally love it. They did have slightly more wet poops the first few times they tried it, but since then they've both been okay. Our pets aren't used to a raw or wet diet as they usually eat dried food only, so their stomachs have had to get a little used to it. But they certainly find it much more tastier than dried food, which sometimes they won't be so desperate to eat.
So to summarise, here's some my fave and not-so fave bits...
Not-so Favourite Bits:
If you're interested in giving Pure Pet Food a try, it can be found stocked at many Pets at Home branches throughout the UK, or you can use their online store (which offers free delivery above £20 and you guys know how I feel about paying for deliveries!) and they also offer a loyalty point system as well for repeat customers, which you can use to get free treats.
There's also a special link here where you can get 40% off a starter pack! Let me know if you decide to give it a go and what your furry pals thought of it ;)
*I received Pure Pet Food for this purpose of this review, however all thoughts & opinions are my own and I only share products I would genuinely recommend.
Walls plastered, floors tiled, electrics complete, new gas line in place - more than 12 months from the start of our kitchen renovation and we're finally at the painting stage, so close to a finished kitchen!! Getting to the painting stage is always the most exciting part of a renovation, you can almost see the end - and the way paint can literally transform a room is amazeballs!
So I never usually pick paint colours until we're at the actual painting stage - but I do generally have a rough idea for the kind of colour I'm looking for. I knew I wanted to use a F&B colour called 'Downpipe' in the dining room - a kind of deep grey, which I'd already purchased and used behind the log burner (you can see here) and intended on doing a whole feature wall in that colour. Since our kitchen and dining room are very much open plan, I wanted to pick something that complimented the colour Downpipe - but much lighter and brighter to keep the space feeling bright and clean.
I love Farrow and Ball paint - it's water based, a bit more breathable on old lime plastered walls than modern paints. The quality of the paint is also so very different to plastic kind of paints, but it is however a very expensive paint, so a decision you really was to only make once and get right the first time. I'd picked out three testers (at £5 each, these were a blooming expense on their own!) but they were all a bit too similar to the tones of the floor. So after another three samples (yep, that's £30 worth of sample paint *GRITTED TEETH*) I picked out the colour Strong White, a beautiful off-white with a hint of grey. You can see the samples in the picture below - from left to right: Slipper Satin, Shadow White, Dimity (I think?!), Strong White & Wimborne White, which you can barely see at the end there.
For me, it was an obvious choice - the others were a little too green-toned or beige-toned for my liking. So with Strong White picked, I first had to mist-coast the fresh plaster. I use a 50/50% mix of plain white trade emulsion and water, and went on with two coats before finishing with a higher 80/20 mix of paint to water. This is how it looked after white paint - very clinical, but so much brighter and a huge difference!
Once the white mist-coat I was dry I could then go on with 'Strong White' by Farrow and Ball. It's a gorgeous off-white with a hint of grey - but you only really notice the grey when it's paired against a bright white. If you were to sample it alone, it would just look white. We have a white ceiling and white woodwork, so I knew this was the perfect colour! And oh-boy did I make the right pick. I think I may actually even prefer this to Cornforth White which we used in the smallest bedroom. It's just a gorgeous gorgeous chic colour and is exactly what I wanted!
I love it so much, I already wish I could re-paint the bathroom in it. I think it really makes beautiful limestone floor stand out on its own and I don't think there could have been a more perfect colour for this room. You'll n notice I haven't bothered to paint where the kitchen cabinets will be - this is purely because this paint is so expensive, the more I can save the better! We're also using this colour in the dining room, which I think will bring the two rooms together perfectly - but you'll see more on that soon.
So finally, with the painting done, we could finally add our new feature lights, which you saw a hint of in this post.
These were from eBay (found with this seller here), but they actually came with glass shades which I'm yet to decided whether or not I want to use. I've paired them with 3 different types of Edison bulbs, which I think makes them a little more interesting. I was worried 6 feature lights would be a bit OTT, but now that it's painted - the whole room has really come together and I'm loving it! (Spy new appliances in the next pic!)
So there we have it - our long ass journey is coming to an end and the next post will feature our lovely new kitchen. We made it! I mean the journey of course - not the actual kitchen. We didn't make that ;) Coming soooooon!
Costs(rounded to the nearest pound)
New Tools Purchased:
White Trade Paint £10
F&B 'Strong White' Paint £74
Learning how to stain wood is one of those basic home improvement skills that everyone should know. Whether you are repairing old wood floors, making DIY shelves or fine furniture it’s a great skill to have to that anyone can learn to do rather easily.
There are some tips you should know that can make your staining projects a lot less frustrating and deliver much better results so that’s what we’ll talk about today.
By the end of this post and included video you should feel confident to stain almost anything and get professional results.
How to Stain Wood
Every species of wood is different and will accept stain differently. Some woods like red and white oak are excellent at accepting stain while others like yellow pine can get blotchy or uneven results even on the best day. Knowing which wood you are working with is the first key to getting a good stain job.
Anytime you are planning to stain I recommend doing a test patch before you commit to the color. The color may look great on the can but seeing it on the actual wood your project is using is way more important.
This is a great way to know how your wood will accept the stain as well. Use some leftover floor boards or lumber from your project for the test patch so you don’t have to sand it down again.
Sanding is the key to a good stain job. Make sure all the old finish is off of your floor or furniture. Even fresh lumber can have a “mill glaze” on it which will prevent proper staining. No matter what the condition of the wood it will likely need sanding first.
Start with a 60-grit sandpaper to strip everything bare and then work up to an 80-grit paper and eventually finish with a 120-grit paper.
Don’t go any higher than 120-grit sandpaper because as you get into the 180, 220, 320 or higher grits you start to sand so smoothly that the wood has a harder time accepting the stain deeply.
If you don’t sand enough and stop at 60 or 80-grit then you will likely see sanding marks in the wood as soon as you apply the stain. 120-grit is the nice middle ground that gets the best stain results for most woods in my opinion.
Clean or tack the surface of any dust or debris before continuing. You have to make absolutely sure you have a clean piece of wood. No dust. Not even greasy finger prints or sweat otherwise it will change the way the wood takes the stain and leave marks later.
Pop the Grain
For most projects other than fine woodworking (and let’s be honest if you’re reading my blog you know this is not a fine woodworking blog) I recommend “popping the grain” of the wood prior to sanding by wiping it down with water. This opens up the pores of the wood and allows it to accept the stain more deeply and evenly.
Yes, you can pay good money for wood conditioners or pre-stain treatments but water works just as well! Make sure you cover every inch of the wood and let it dry thoroughly. This is a big time saver too because rather than doing multiple costs of stain you can usually get a deep rich color with just one coat.
Watch the video below to see the difference it makes using water before staining on a normal pine 2×8.
Your wood is dry and you are ready to stain. Awesome! I use Minwax oil-based wood stain for most of my projects. It’s easy to find at almost any hardware store and Minwax has a ton of colors. I’d recommend staying with oil-based stains whichever you choose because I get mixed results with water based stains.
Shake the can up, put some gloves on, and apply the stain liberally with a cotton rag. Go heavy but evenly and let the wood soak it up for at least 5 mins. Then, with a clean cloth, wipe off the excess so there is no pooling and the color looks even. If you notice some uneveness or missed spots you can reapply right away.
When your finished let it dry for at least 24 hrs or until you can press a clean cotton rag on it and the stain doesn’t come off on the rag. For floors if you walk on it in socks you shouldn’t have discolored socks afterward (you know who you are!)
After that you are ready for you finish coat. Whether you use polyurethane, spar varnish for outdoor projects or my own special recipe you want to make sure you protect it fairly soon. At least get that first coat on the wood so it is sealed and ready for finishing later.
It’s always easier to learn by watching so check out the short video below to show you everything I just talked about in action. 2 minutes later you’ll know how to stain wood like a pro!
The generous folks at Eco-Strip sent us a brand new Speedheater™ Cobra to test in our shop, and I put it through the paces for a couple weeks on a bunch of different projects. So, this week I wanted to share the results of my testing as well as a “How To” video on using infrared paint removal for your own projects.
We’re all looking for faster and safer ways to remove old paint (especially lead paint) and there are a ton of options I see people using like scrapers, heat guns, steam, chemicals and of course infrared. I think they all have their place depending on a few things like budget, size of the project, and time. So, today let’s take a look at infrared and how it can help you!
What is Infrared?
Infrared technology is different than the old fashioned way of just applying heat to paint. Used to be painters would use a torch to strip old paint. It worked great except that it caused a ton of house fires and vaporized the lead paint which is a serious health hazard.
Infrared works faster and at much lower temperatures than traditional heat guns. For example, the Speedheater™ I was testing runs between 400°F and 560°F compared to a traditional heat gun which needs to be at 900°F to 1100°F to get the same effects.
That cooler temp means there is almost no chance I am going to vaporize lead paint or start fires. That my friends is the awesome thing about infrared paint removal.
The Speedheater™ Cobra
I’ll come right out and say it, I really liked the Cobra. Having used the Original Speedheater™ for a few years I was used to a big bulky tool that worked great for doors and siding, but was not nimble enough for the large amount of windows we restore.
If the Original Speedheater™ is like the reliable work truck you use for the big jobs the Cobra is the Ferrari that you want to drive every day! I was worried about the smaller size slowing down production speed, but since the Cobra heats paint so quickly (2-4 seconds!) production time wasn’t an issue.
With the small size also comes a few other benefits:
I blew threw a 3-lite sash inside and out in about 20 mins which is about 10 mins faster that it usually takes me and I was less tire because with the soft paint I wasn’t working my scraper as hard.
The only thing I took issue with was that the Cobra doesn’t come in a carrying case like the Original Speedheater™. Since I’m mostly planning to use this in the shop it’s not a big deal, but infrared bulbs are expensive and I sure would like to have a custom case to carry this from job to job especially for the price.
How to Strip Paint Using Infrared Heat
The video below will walk you through the tools and techniques you need in just 5 minutes and give you a good demonstration of the Cobra. And please excuse the sweat, I’m using a infrared heater…in a warehouse…in the summer…in Florida.
You’ll see me using a variety of tools in the video above and in case you are wondering what they are here are the links below as well as a few other tools that may be helpful. Some are available in our store and others are pretty standard and can be found online or in a local hardware store.
You can click on any of the links below to learn a little more about each tool.