Tuesday, September 08, 2015

DIY Bench/Game Shelf

I had a blank wall and no ideas for how to make it cute and useful.  My mom had an idea to build a shelf for all of our games in this space.  I loved that idea, but knew that our house could use more seating and a cozy spot to read.  We transformed the shelf idea into both a shelf and a sturdy bench.  It turned out amazingly well.  

I am new at woodworking but do find such joy in making projects out of plain wood.  I had made a Platform Bed out of cedar planks.  Since I had a few boards left over, I figured that they would make a great bench top.  I had only enough wood to make 8 feet and I needed 10 more inches to fill up the wall.  I ended up creating a cute little shelf to fill the corner and keep the pillows from falling off the end.  I bought cheep planks to make the rest of it.  This took me 3 days to complete.  The cutting and initial staining took the longest.  Then we had to stain the other side and let it dry.  It took about an hour to assemble.

Here is the material that I started with.

2  2x8's that were 10 feet long.  
(ok, it was actually 4 pieces doweled/glued together to form a plank.
  I'm cheep and I just use what is on hand)

4  1x8 by 8 feet of pine

1 2x12 by 10 feet of doug fir

Gorilla wood glue

2 inch, 2 1/2 inch and 3 inch screws

8 L brackets for support

A miter saw, table saw, pocket hole jig, dowel jib and screw driver were the tools I used.

Plus Danish oil (I used Dark Walnut on all the pieces)

First, I cut all the pieces that I would need.  My dad helped me set up a brace to allow me to cut all the vertical shelving at 14 inches.  We screwed a piece of scrap wood to my workbench at 14 inches from the miter saw.  Saved a lot of time when we were cutting.

Here are the cuts:

1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch by 14 inches long = 4 total

6 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch by 14 inches long = 4 total

11 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inches by 14 inches long = 4 total

2  2x8 inch by 8 foot planks for the bench.  I used cedar.

4  1x8 inch by 8 foot planks for the shelves.  I used pine.

I sanded and stained each of these pieces. 

Since we wanted the bench and shelves to be strong and able to withstand weight, my dad helped me to put dowels in the boards to make them a 16 inch wide plank.    I had never done this, so my dad ended up doing it.  He marked each of the boards every 6 inches.  Drilled the holes with the dowel jig.  We dry fit them and then glued and clamped them together.

Once all the boards were doweled, stained and dry we assembled them. 
Start with the bench turned upside down.  Pocket hole each of the 6 1/2 inch boards.  I used 2 inch and 2 1/2 inch screws since I didn't have enough of one of them.  Again, just making do with what I have.   Make sure that you place the board correctly so that the good side is in the front and then put the pocket holes where they will be less conspicuous.  We accidentally put one set of the holes on the outside of the bench.  Whoops!!

Then place the L brackets on each shelf.  I messed up here and placed them on the front of the shelf instead of the back.  You can see the unstained wood is the back and the bracket at the other end.  Don't make this mistake!!  Fortunately you can't see them on my shelves and it is a quick fix to move them.

Each board should be 29.5 inches apart and centered in the middle of the bench.  We had 1 1/2 inches on either side (I think).  Really, you can make this any dimension.  Just center each divider.  

Sorry for no more photos, I was so into the project I forgot.  Once all the 6 1/2 inch boards are secure,  place the 1 by 8 board on top and screw it down with 2 inch screws.  Add the 11 1/2 inch boards next, keeping them directly above and at a 90 degree angle.  Then add the last 1 by 8 board and screw it on with 2 inch screws.  Then add the 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch boards for the bottom.  I used 3 inch screws here.  I counter sunk them so that they would not split the board and the screw would not touch the floor.  Easy peasy!!!

Here is my bench in my living room.  All ready for the shelf and games.

I used an extra Cedar board that I had to make the shelf.  It was 2 by 6 inch.  I cut three pieces 16 inches long (so the shelf could be away from the wall a bit and allow room for the baseboards.  There are two brackets holding up the shelf.  My husband used dowels to secure the two top pieces together.  I used pocket holes and screws to add the bottom board.  This is only secured to the wall. The bottom board rests on the shelf but is not secured to it. This way, I can pull out the bench to clean and such if I need to.  

My puppy was just begging to be in a photo!!!

This is my happy place now.  I love my little butterfly lamp I have in the corner on the shelf.  It makes it feel all cozy and perfect.  My mom is still working on some cute artwork for the wall, but it is looking good so far. 


Now, off to play some good old fashioned games!!!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Thankful to be a NICU Nurse today!!!

This morning I am amped up.  No caffeine!  No sleep for 26 hours!  Just awake and energized and full of ideas and thoughts.  So instead of going to sleep like a good night shift nurse, I am sitting in my comfy bird chair with my hot vanilla milk and blogging.  When the ideas start coming, sometimes you have to slow down and just get them on paper (well, sort of).  So today I'm having a thankful day.

I try so hard to be grateful for each and every moment.  I count each gift that God has graciously given me.  My joy journals will attest to that fact.  I have named and received almost 4000 gifts from God.  The last couple of hours are no exception.

  Last night I was working in my NICU with two sweet babies.  I started thinking how truly blessed I really am as one of the little ones held my thumb in his hand.  A hand so tiny his thumb and fingers still had a cm to go before they would touch each other.   These babies are fighting for their lives.  Again and again they stop breathing and I rub their back and see their dusky lips and ask them to please just keep breathing.  One more good deep breathe to bring the color back to their tiny faces.  And I'm grateful for my life.  And for my healthy children.  I'm grateful for my job that allows me to snuggle these precious children and love on them day after day, until they are big enough to go home to their own mommy.  I walk through doors that are closed to all but the few that take care of these sweet ones and the families holding onto hope and fighting back tears until they can take their baby home.  And I'm grateful!

No one knows the hours or days that they have left here on earth.  We are only here for a moment, and then are gone like the flowers that grow outside my window.  Take time today to search for the gifts that have been given to you.  They aren't a gift until you name them.  Write them down.  Say them out loud.  Realize what you have.  I am thankful for life and smiles, friendships and encouragement, a clean floor and folded laundry, kids that are learning to do the chores and give me sweet kisses and love.  There is so much to thank God for!!!!

I'm exhausted and headed up to my comfy bed with my huge fan that drowns out noise (for which I am SUPER thankful).  Love you all!  I am grateful for each of you in my life.  You enrich my life and encourage me more than you will ever know.  Have a great day!