Feeling a Little Crafty

Stripping doors is boring, rewarding, but boring, so I decided to take a break and do something on the DIY craft side utilizing the porcelain knob and tubes connectors and insulators that I’ve been pulling from my house.  I wish I had listened to @NicoleCurtisRehabAddict and not thrown these things away when I first started demo.  Turns out there is a market for them and I even found a really cool coat rack project that I decided to try.

The project I saw only made it from the knob and tube (rack on left), but I also made one out of the long skinny insulators (rack on right).  The wood is reclaimed floor boards that I got from my friend Joan.  That color is the true patina of the wood.  I just rubbed the board with denatured alcohol to clean it up and rubbed it with linseed oil to give it a shine.

The knob and tub design utilized the existing nail to adhere them to the board and I used epoxy to force the gap to stay expanded and adhere it to the board.  The nail extruded slightly through the back of the board, so I used the grinder to remove the excess.  For the insulator version I used 5 inch (only needed 4.5 inch, but Home Depot and Lowes did not carry that size) galvanized carriage bolts with a lock washer and nut.  I thought the dullness of the galvanized worked better with the old porcelain.  Warning, if you try this yourself don’t crank hard when tightening the bolts.  I cracked the first one I attached.  I counter-sank the nut in the back with the help of my neighbor’s drill bit machine and cut the excess bolt with my grinder.

The boards were already cut to that length (why I chose them for the project, too short to use for floor repair) and are about 32″ long, give or take.  I used keyhole fasteners on the back and placed them at 16″ on center, so that HOPEFULLY a stud can be hit when it is time to install.  The knob and tube board was longer, so the fasteners are at the end.  On the insulator they are 16″ apart from the center of the board as it is shy of 32″ on length.

I think the insulator tubes would make a great mug rack, but I would need to bore a hole at an angle, so the tube can be attached at an angle.  The process to make that happen is above my skill set and tools.  My neighbor could probably make that happen, but I’m actually trying to ween myself off his help.

I only had to come out-of-pocket about $10 for the bolts and fasteners, as everything else is recycled or should I say up-cycled.  Given the cost overruns on this project I may be cranking out more and selling them to help generate some funds.

This was not my first craft project, just the first one I’ve done since starting the blog.  All my others I posted on my Facebook page or made a video about it.

Here is a link to my first commissioned project.  My friend Vicki asked me to create a frame to go around a mirror in her hall bath:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10213184592195787.1073741894.1424896347&type=1&l=bd2215cbbe

My first woodwork project was a flower box for my deck (not counting the deck and gazebo my dad and I built).  It will stay with the house when it sells.  I called myself working with scrap cedar that had been in my garage since the deck project, but I got very carried away on the size and probably spent another $300 on wood and the dirt to fill it: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10209323426469057.1073741888.1424896347&type=1&l=3c63e8b7d8

My second woodwork project was making a monitor riser for my desk.  I called it the Goldilocks Project because I bought and returned two sit to stand desks before making something that was just right.  although it took to tries to get it that way:  Goldilocks Take One and Goldilocks Take Two.

One of my favorite projects came about after watching another one of my favorite DIY shows, Salvage Dawgs.  In each episode they do some up-cycle project, that “you can try at home”.  This one I bit on.  They turned a trunk into a bench, so I took my college trunk and did the same.  This currently sits in my entry foyer.  The Welcome sign never gets seen, but was placed there to hide a crack in the top of the trunk.  It also anchors the top cushion in a way that will allow the fabric to be changed if/when needed.  This was my favorite project and probably the start of accepting I love working with my hands.  I may be selling this as part of my downsizing.  There is a built-in bench in my entry foyer and I haven’t visualized a place for it yet.

The last project I will share is the work bench I made.  With most of the projects above I did not have a proper work surface, unless I was at my neighbor’s garage/shop.  I was using mop buckets, 4′ folding table, and garbage cans as cutting surfaces with power tools.  I had purchased my first large cutter tool (a miter saw) and I was a freak accident waiting to happen, so I decided to make a work bench before pulling it out of the box.  Instead of following the plans I decided to make the bench larger as I had the space in my garage.  Well my future workshop will be the basement of my house, so this puppy is going to have to be deconstructed to get it down there.  This was my first project using my own Kreg Pocket Screw gig and no help from my neighbor, which gave me extra pride.  This called for a video:  Venus’ DIY Workbench

I Should Have Known Better

Now that I have a plan of action for restoring the doors, I was anxious to put the hardware back on the one completed door.  I assumed with dark brown doors the mortice lock plate was bronze or some other dark metal.  NOT!   A few wipes with metal cleaner revealed gold/brass finish, so the wipes turned into scrubs.

I don’t think anything about this project is going to be simple and quick.  I was fearful to soak the lock or the glass door knob in any type of solution (thought about the vinegar method) for fear of damaging either.  I used Amway’s Metal Cleaner and Brasso.  Both worked about the same; both needed a steel brush scrub to get to the finish line.  I may try Tarn X.  One of my new, favorite, HGTV shows, Bargain Mansions, talked about a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice to remove tarnish.  I had neither in my house, but I may try that too.

And the B Side Winner Is……..

YouTube, How to Restore a Wood Door!  I cannot be more thrilled, elated, excited, by how well the back side of the door turned out using only the method described in that video.  I get save the stripper for the two doors that were painted.

I started out by pouring some of the denatured alcohol in a plastic dish, so I wouldn’t have to keep holding the awkward can.  Using a fresh piece of steel wool the first pass on the door immediately went through the thick, glossy build-up.  This door had paint splatter on it and even with pressure scrubbing it was not coming off.  I ended up taking a metal scraper to carefully remove it.

Each time I dunked my steel wool in the dish and went back to the door the area I scrubbed got gummier and gummier, almost as if it was re-staining itself.  I quickly took some paper towels and started blotting up the excess.  That revealed some very smooth clean areas and some gummy areas.  I was perplexed, but determined not to pull out the stripper.

I decided to get a fresh piece of steel wool and go back to pouring fresh alcohol on it and sure enough that did the trick.  The entire door eventually, it took about 20-30 minutes, had a nice smooth surface and as the video states it looked cloudy/dry.

Using my same Restor-a-Finish rag from yesterday, I wiped the entire door and WOW that door came alive and honestly could pass for new.  I let it dry for about an hour and came back and applied the boiled linseed oil, with the same rag from yesterday.  I let that sit, thick, about 10-15 minutes and then wiped the excess off with a clean rag.20180108_010406


The change seems subtle in these two picks, but in person it is amazing.  Of course I turned the door back over and was so underwhelmed by the side that will be exposed that I decided to give it another coat of Restor-a-Finish and BAM!, that did the trick.  I think the coat of linseed oil opened up the pores, so that second coat of finish really had an impact helping to darken the lighter spots caused by the stripping.    Can you tell the difference between the two sides?  I can’t wait to bring another door to the basement.

I’m also planning a trip to Chicago to visit the Rebuilding Exchange.  Their website looks amazing.  They have 76 Flicker pages of salvaged material.  I saw several built-in dressers (already sold) that were more like what I hoped that piece of crap dresser I got from EBTH (beware of that site, I’m one and done) was going to be.  I’m selling it on Ebay in hopes of recouping some of my money.

Baby It’s Cold Inside

It is so cold in my house that the bottles of water I have for drinking are frozen solid.  I thought with the box gutters repaired, sealing the gaping holes to outside, the house would retain some sense of warmth.  WRONG!  I went to take some quick measurements for the master bathroom tile and within 30 minutes my finger tips were numb under double gloves.

It is also freezing in the garage of my current house.  I bought a propane heater that does nothing to heat the garage, so my basement has once again been transformed into a workshop and I’ve started reviving the doors.  I could have called this post “The Tell of Two Methods”.  Some of the doors have graffiti on them and weeks ago I was at Ace Hardware in Clifton and asked about removing graffiti from wood doors and I was advised I’d need to strip and sand.  I was at Woodcraft to get epoxy for my stain glass window frame and they recommended Star 10 Stripper, which I immediately went home and tried.


Almost instantly the graffiti wiped away, so I thought I have my game plan, strip, sand, stain, poly, re-hang.  BUT then my dad sent me a YouTube video (I told you YouTube is a DIYers best friend) that showed how to restore a salvage door.  They made an old door look new in a an hour with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and Restor-a-Finish.  I had to give it a try, so I started with the door I tested the stripper on.

Turns out the alcohol also removes graffiti, with some scrubbing effort and more time, but it does not remove the finish.  Unfortunately my stripper test area stood out, so I decided it would be best to strip this side of the door.  Since it is obvious the stain on this door is deeply embedded I am absolutely NOT sanding any of the doors.  After applying and quickly scrapping off the stripper, I went over the door again with the alcohol and steel wool.




20180106_144248The door looked amazing at that point, so I could not wait to rub on the Restor-a-Finish.  Ebony Brown is the darkest color they make.  It’s hard to tell from the picture to the right of the can, but the door did look less dry after a coat of the Restor-a-Finish.  My plan to poly was negated due to the instructions on the can stating to not apply polyurethane on top of the product.  Instead they recommended following with their wax product.


I didn’t buy the wax product, so instead I wiped the door with Boiled Linseed Oil.  Oh my goodness, like lotion on an ashy body that door brightened up and looks absolutely 20180106_182737beautiful.  You can see all the “weathered” imperfections that are the norm for a 94-year-old door.  I can definitely see where the stripper had more time to process in certain areas (they are lighter), so I probably won’t buy the Star 10 again.  If I do decide to do this hybrid practice of stripping, alcohol, and Restor-a-Finish on the other doors, than I will find and use a less potent/fumey stripper.

I’ll give tonight to let this side dry and tomorrow I’ll work on the other side trying only the alcohol and Restor-a-Finish process.  I suspect I will need to strip the shiny finish off, but now that I know I won’t have to deal with sanding and staining I’m thrilled.

This door was the original door at the base of steps leading to the attic space.  It is the exact size of the entry foyer closet door that was damaged beyond repair, so once I figure out how to change the swing you’re looking at the new entry foyer door.  This is the outer side of the door, so no hiding any mistakes or flaws.

One thing I’ve learned for sure is cleaning up the floor moulding and door/window trim is going to be a piece of cake.