Hidden Jewelry Box Mirror

Kallie wanted a new place to store her jewelry because her old jewelry box that I made her many years ago is too small. She needed someplace to hang bigger jewelry like her necklaces and bracelets. Looking around our room she came up with the idea to convert an existing wall mirror to become a hanging hidden jewelry box. Some quick measurements and a run to the hardware store and we were ready to get to work. This is how we did it.

The mirror we used is a well made and heavy mirror. This is not some cheap Wal-Mart mirror. After measuring, we bought some wood for the project. We decided to keep it rather slim to the wall so we bought some top choice 1×3″ pine boards and a piece of 1/4″ plywood. To attach the mirror, we bought a four foot long continuous hinge and one of those magnetic latches to keep it shut.

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First I set my table saw up to cut a 1/4″ depth about 1/2″ from the edge of the 1×3″ board. Then I ran the full length of the board across the table saw. What this does is makes a slot to install the 1/4″ plywood back into later on. I had to make several passes moving the board over just a little bit to make the slot wide enough to accommodate the plywood.

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Next, using measurements off the mirror, we cut the boards for each side making 45 degree cuts to make everything look good. Now to just dry fit everything together to make sure none of the boards are too long or short. Then we attached three of the boards, both long ones and one of the short ends, and nailed them together. Don’t nail them to the mirror, just each other. Some wood glue also helps keep things strong.

Dry fit the last short side and measure the distance between the boards at the top, bottom, and lengthwise to figure out what dimensions to cut the plywood. Don’t forget to add 3/8″ to 1/2″ to your overall measurements to account for the slot the plywood will fit in. Now cut the plywood and slide it into the slot. Attach the last short side. Some minor sanding and trimming may be necessary to make everything fit.

In order to attach the mirror so that it laid flush against the wood, I had to use the router to make a channel that I could sink the hinge into. This took some trial and error but eventually we got it to fit just right. Since I had my router out we also cut a little slot like area into the frame so we could get our fingers behind the mirror to open it.

Then it was time to paint it. Kallie chose to paint the outside of the box a satin black to blend into the rest of the mirror back. After the paint dried, we assembled it and put on the magnetic latch to hold the mirror shut. Lastly we attached the hangers that we took off the original mirror so we could hang the whole thing from the wall. Now this whole thing has some good weight to it so use some good drywall anchors or make sure you hit a stud.

Hope you enjoyed this little project. It only took us about a day to complete. Next, Kallie is going to make a hanging fabric liner that will attach inside and have pockets for all her jewelry. Be looking for that soon. (UPDATE: Inserts are made and hung! https://homesteadingfortwo.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/diy-jewelry-organizer-update/)

-Dale

DIY Ironing Table

I’m an avid crafter, DIYer, and quilter. I love making and creating things with my own two hands. I also love having the space for it! But Dale and I share our hobby room which means I only have so much space to create. I love having him in the room with me, but sometimes I need more space than the two tables I have (not to mention that one of these tables has my sewing machine on it). Throw in an ironing board and I’m just about out of room. So I decided that I wanted to do something about this. All along, I’ve always wanted one table for ironing, one table for cutting fabric/miscellaneous crafts, and one table for my sewing machine. But there’s no way we could ever fit all that into one room.

You may be thinking that, yes, of course, there is a way to make it all fit, but when working with a ton of yardage of fabric, you need tons a table space so it’s not falling off while you’re ironing it or trying to cut it to the perfect dimensions. My half of the room isn’t big enough for that.

So my way of solving this issue was to just cover my current ironing/cutting table to make it an ironing board that I can place my mat on to cut. It’s a two-in-one! AND it’s a rather simple task!

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All you need is:
– A table that you don’t mind converting- A cotton based batting that isn’t too thick and will cover the top of your table
– A duck or canvas fabric (think upholstery) that will cover the top of your table
– A heavy duty staple gun and its staples
– An iron
– A hammer (optional for setting the staples flush against the table)

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To begin, lay out your batting to where the edge of the batting overhangs one edge of the table. You want to fold this overhang under the lip of your table so that there’s only one fingers width under the lip. Begin by stapling this edge in place. Next, you will want to iron out the wrinkles if there are any. Use light pressure with the iron as batting can pull and rip. Now go to the side just right of the stapled side. You will want to cut your batting so the overhang matches the first edge. Staple that into place. Continue to all four sides, working around. Don’t worry about the corners just yet.

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The corners are tricky, but remember that this is just the batting. It doesn’t have to be pretty because your fabric will cover it. First, push one side of the excess batting under the corner:

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Then pull the excess batting on top of what you just folded under:

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Staple in place and repeat on all corners

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See how my staples are sticking out? I just hammered those in.

Next, you’ll want to lay out your fabric and iron out all the wrinkles. You’re going to do the same thing you did with the batting, lining up one edge and stapling it. But I folded my first edge under, and ironed it, so the edges wouldn’t fray.

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Then I placed the folded edge under the lip of my table and made sure it lined up with the apron of my table (the part that the table top is sitting on). Begin stapling. Do not do the corners, but continue around like we did before with the batting. Remember to cut your fabric with a little bit of excess around the next three edges so you have enough to fold under. Also remember to smooth out the wrinkles on top of the table, so your fabric isn’t twisted or bubbled anywhere.

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Now to do the corners. This time it matters what they look like. They should begin to look something like this:

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Use your creativity and fold them up so they lay nice and neat. Cut them down if you need to, but remember to allow enough to fold under so you don’t have any raw edge showing. I’m pretty sure I did every corner differently, but this is the best looking one:

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Hammer in all your staples so they are flush. Now stand back and look at your new ironing table! YAY!

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Raised Garden Beds – Construction

Today, Dale and I decided to begin working on our raised garden beds. The boxes are relatively easy to build – so easy, in fact, that I built them all by myself (with Dale’s occasional “yes, that’s right”).

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We bought enough to make two boxes (24 planks total)

Supplies you need to build one box:
– Drill
– 1.5″ Screws
– Saw (circular, table, hand, whatever you typically use to cut wood)
– Measuring tape and pencil
– 12 cedar fence pickets
– 1 2x4x8 pine or cedar (anything but treated wood)
– A helper to help hold walls in place

First you will need to cut 4 cedar pickets in half. They should originally be 6′ long, so cut them down to 3′. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as we are going for practicality, not beauty. There are ways you can make it look good, but we won’t be discussing that here since we decided to spend as little as possible on this project.

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You should now have eight 6′ boards and eight 3′ boards. We will be making these boxes four pickets high (14″ tall). None the less, stack four boards together and measure them (see image below). Whatever this measurement is, cut four of these sections out of the 2x4x8 pine plank. You will also need to cut two more smaller (or same size) sections for the middle of the longest section of the boxes – for stability. More on this later.

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We had already used the majority of these 2×4’s for another project so these were our scraps

Now you can begin placing the screws in. Start by placing two 14″ blocks on the ground and laying four pickets across them. Make sure one side is lined up against the edge of the block. We placed two screws on either outside board and one in both the middle boards.

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Repeat this step on the other end. Once this is complete, measure out the middle and place another block under the middle. This could be either 14″ or smaller, depending on what you have on hand. What we used were scraps, but if you wanted to place a ledge on the top of your finished box, I would make these middle sections even with the rest. Screw this in. This will help keep the boards from bowing when placing soil in the boxes.

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That should complete one wall of our box. Repeat these steps to create two walls.

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Now you will need a helper to hold the two walls up so you can begin screwing the sides on. Make sure they line up and go board by board until you have four boards attached.

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Repeat this on the other end.

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And there you have it! A complete raised garden box. Rusty and Chester seem to be enjoying the box! This project literally took an hour, maybe even less. In the next few weeks, we will be adding soil and getting ready to plant our seeds!

DIY hand powered water well pump

Living out in the country has afforded me some piece of mind by not having to rely so much on city utilities. However, water has still been a concern out here. Sure we have our own well, but the pump is run off of electricity. If a winter ice storm were to roll through and take out some power lines, we would be out of luck on the water front. Furthermore, since we do live in Oklahoma where ice storms happen on average about once or twice a year, driving to the store to buy more water would be dangerous with the unplowed roads and dangerous drivers. I needed a way to hand pump the water from my well in an emergency.

Now I will give credit where credit is due. I first got this idea from Flojak which makes hand powered water pumps. However, I don’t have $500 to spend on one of their systems and I was certain that I could build something similar for cheaper. After a little more research I came across SlapShot plans by HydroMissions. I used  these plans along with the Flojak idea and other random bits of knowledge from the internet to come up with my own design for a 50′ well pump which costed me around $50.

First comes the planning. This well pump is designed to fit into a well that has a 5-6 inch diameter case. In a smaller well this system may not work. It is important to know how far down your water table resided in your well. There is two ways to do this. The easiest is to tie a weight to a long piece of string and attach a small fishing bobber to the string about a foot above the weight. Lower the string down into the well until the string goes slack. Give it a few jerks to make sure it is the bobber resting on the surface of the water and it isn’t just caught up on something. Then tie a knot in the string at the top of the well, pull it all up, and measure from the knot to the bobber. That is how far down your water table is.

The second method will allow you to determine where your water table resides and how far down your well is drilled, and possibly how far down your current electric water pump is. Take an absorbent string that is preferably made out of a natural fiber. Think about twine. Attach a weight to one end and drop it down the well. The weight will likely get hung up on the electric pump so multiple jerks and pulls might be required to get it past that. Keep lowering the string until it goes slack. In my well the string slowly went slack in the last 5 feet of the well (probably due to sedimentation) versus suddenly going slack as it will when it gets hung up on the pump. Make a knot, pull up the string and measure to where the string becomes wet (this is the water table) and to the end of the string (this is how deep the well is drilled).

For my well, the water table is around 35′ down so I initially decided to build a 40′ pump. This was a bad idea as I found out because it has been so dry around here and we have been using a lot of water for the plants. That usage dropped the water table below 40′ pretty quickly and the well did not recharge very fast. So plan to build a well that is at least 15+ foot below your water table, the further the better.

*** UPDATE***

After reading through this post I decided that it can get sort of confusing, so I drew up some diagrams. Now bear with me because I am not an artist, but hopefully this with clear up some of your confusions.

Pump Assembly Check Valves Drop Pipe

***UPDATE COMPLETE***

Without further delay, here is my design and supplies needed for a 50′ water well hand pump that cost around $50. I was able to fill a 5 gallon bucket in 1 minute and 4 seconds, and Kallie did it in 1 min and 14 seconds. So a 5 gallon flow rate is possible however, a 2-3 gallon flow rate is more practical over an extended period of time. Also, the pump holds its prime very well. I can leave it sitting for days and it will produce water on the very first pump. Each full stroke produces 24-28 ounces of water.

Please read all directions completely and thoroughly before buying or building this pump. I used thin walled pipe to keep the weight down. This is for ease of installation and to reduce the amount of extra weight that one has to lift every time you pump up water. If you choose to buy regular walled pipe just be aware that the parts might not fit together and the inner pipe connections may not be able to slide into the outer pipe.

Also a quick reminder on female versus male connectors. A male connector has its threads visible on the outside and a female connector has the threads on the inside. The male connector screws into the female threaded connector. Just think of human anatomy and you won’t ever forget what the difference is between a female and a male connector is again. I know that analogy is kind of wrong but you won’t forget.

Supplies:

  • 4 – 10′ long 1/2″ thin walled PVC pipe
  • 5 – 10′ long 1-1/4″ thin walled PVC pipe
  • 5 – 1/2″ slip connector with Male threads
  • 6 – 1/2″ slip connector with Female threads
  • 5 – 1-1/4″ slip connector with Female threads
  • 1 – 1-1/4″ Male thread to 3/4″ Female thread adapter
  • 4 – 1-1/4″ slip connector with Male threads
  • 1 – 10′ long 1/2″ regular walled PVC pipe
  • 1 – 5 foot long 1-1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 1 – 1-1/2″ to 1-1/4″ pipe reducer fitting
  • 3 – 3/4″ slip connector with 1/2″ male threads
  • 1 – 1/2″ female to 1/2″ male connector
  • 1 – 3/4″ slip connector with 3/4″ male threads
  • 2 – 1/2″ threaded PVC connectors (female threads on both ends)
  • 1 – 5′ long 3/4″ PVC pipe
  • 1 – 4″ long 1/2″ diameter black iron “nipple” pipe. (take a look at the LP gas line post)
  • 6 – washers. The 1/2″ black iron pipe must be able to slip through the center and the washer should be able to just barely slip into the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe (or come close to fitting into the pipe as we can fix it later).
  • 1 – 4″x4″ 1/8″ thick rubber sheet
  • 1 – 1/2″ slip to 3/4″ male thread adapter
  • 1 – 3/4″ Tee (slip)
  • 1 – 3/4″ cap
  • 1 – 3/4″ slip to male thread
  • 2 – regular sized marbles (try a dollar store)
  • 2 – rubber hose washers
  • 2 – 1″ or longer thin penny type nail
  • *1 –  1-1/2″ slip connector
  • *1 –  1-1/2″ slip to 3/4″ female threaded connector

Now I know this is a long list but by making this pump out of PVC, it can still be made relatively cheaply. The items marked with an asterisk * are my original designed parts. Below is a short list of substitution parts for a better design that would allow for access to the piston after being fully assembled.

  • 1 –  1-1/2″ slip to female thread connector
  • 1 –  1-1/2″ male thread to 3/4″ female thread connector

Tools and other items required to complete this project

  • PVC primer and glue
  • 2 pairs of channel lock pliers or pipe wrenches
  • Saw to cut through PVC
  • Bench grinder (or a file or belt sander could also work)
  • Pipe dope
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • 100% clear silicone
  • Electric drill
  • 1/4″ drill bit
  • Pliers
  • Razor blade or exacto knife

Steps below. Please read all steps and follow them closely. Failure to do so will likely result in mistakes leading you to have to buy more parts.

Prep work:

Take all the 1/2″ connectors (all of them) and grind any excess plastic off with the bench grinder so that they are round and the same diameter.

Trim the inside of all the 1-1/4″ female PVC connectors so that a trimmed 1/2″ connector can slide through. This is easiest to do with a knife.

Connector on the left has had the inner ring shaved down.

Connector on the left has had the inner ring shaved down.

First to make the check valves.

  1. For the check valves take a 3/4″ slip with 1/2″ male threaded connector and add a small bead of silicone glue in the bottom of the connector on the slip side. Place a water hose washer on top of the silicone and press the washer down and centered. Wipe off excess glue. Prime the inside of connector with PVC primer but be careful not to get any on the silicone. It might be best to let the silicone dry for an hour first. Repeat this step for the second check valve.CIMG3718
  2. Cut a 2.5″ long section of 3/4″ PVC pipe, deburr, and clean the ends with primer. Apply a thin layer of PVC glue to one end of the short pipe and press it into the connector from step one. Wipe off any excess glue. Repeat this step for the second connector from step one.CIMG3719
  3. Place a marble in the bottom of the check valve and check to make sure it sits well in the center of the washer. With the valve facing down you can blow into the pipe end and you should have very little air slipping past the marble and washer seal.
  4. Take one of the thin nails and chuck it into the drill so that it spin without wobbling. Now with the drill spinning at full speed, press the nail into the PVC pipe just above the connector or 1/4″ above the marble, whichever is greater. Continue to drill the nail through the PVC pipe and half way through the other side of the pipe. Now stop the drill and hold it very steady for about 30 seconds to allow the nail and PVC to cool and solidify. This method is a type of plastic welding. Now un-chuck the nail from the drill and trim the nail as close to the PVC pipe as possible with a pair of pliers or metal saw. Repeat for the second check valve.CIMG3720
  5. Here is where things get different for the two different check valves. For the lower check valve prime a 3/4″ slip to 3/4″ male thread connector, apply a thin layer of glue and press it onto the pipe of one of the check valves. For the upper check valve prime a 3/4″ slip to 1/2″ male thread connector and apply a thin layer of glue. Press the connector onto the pipe end of the other check valve. Afterwards you should have two check valves. Both have 1/2″ male threaded ends on one side and one has a 1/2″ male thread on the other side (the upper check valve) and the other has a 3/4″ male thread (the lower check valve).

    Upper check valve with 1/2

    Upper check valve with 1/2″ connector on the left, Lower check valve with 3/4″ connector on the right.

Now to make the piston:

  1. Take the rubber sheet and use one of the washers to trace 4 circles on the rubber. Use a razor blade or exacto knife to cut out the circles from the rubber. Cut out the center holes too. These rubber circles are now rubber gaskets that will be used to get a water tight fit between the piston and the outer pump casing. Set the gaskets aside for now.CIMG3727
  2. Now we have to make sure the washers will fit inside the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe. I had to shave mine down. To do this I placed the washers on the 1/2″ black iron pipe nipple, donned some leather work gloves, and pressed the outer edges of the washers into a bench grinder stopping periodically to check if the washers will fit into the pipe. The perfect fit will be for the washer to loosely fit into the pipe, with no more than a millimeter of space around the outer edge of the washer and the inner side of the pipe. Place the washers off to the side.CIMG3726
  3. Take the black iron pipe nipple and cover the threads on one end with pipe dope. Screw on one of the 1/2″ female threaded connectors and tighten with a wrench. Place one washer on the iron pipe, followed by a rubber gasket, then another washer, and another gasket, and finally a third washer. Now this next part takes a little guess work. Measure from the end of the washer to the beginning of the threads on the other side. Cut a piece of 3/4″ PVC pipe to this length. Slip that piece onto the black iron pipe followed by a washer, gasket, washer, gasket, and finally another washer. Then coat the threads of the iron pipe in pipe dope and screw on a 1/2″ female to 1/2″ male connector. Tighten until all the washers and gaskets are very snug together. If you cut your 3/4″ pipe spacer to short you might have to cut a longer piece.

    This is how it should look minus the last connector.

    This is how it should look minus the last connector.

  4. Check the fit of this assembly to the inside of the 1-1/2″ pipe. It should fit very snug. If the gaskets are too big around, carefully and slowly shave them down on the bench grinder or by using hand files until they just barely fit in. The assembly will fit better in the next few steps once the piston is properly lubed up.
  5. Attach the 1/2″ male connector of the upper check valve, the side that does NOT have the marble in it, to the 1/2″ female connector on the piston. Just to reiterate, the side with the marble should be away from the piston.

    This is how the piston should look. Don't worry about some of the other connectors as I assembled mine a little different than these instructions (and it was much harder my original way).

    This is how the piston should look. Don’t worry about some of the other connectors as I assembled mine a little different than these instructions (and it was much harder my original way).

Now to make the pump assembly:

  1. Take the 5 foot long 1 1/2″ PVC pipe, a 5 foot section of 1-1/4″ pipe, and the adapter, prime and glue them together so you have a 10 foot section of pipe.
  2. Now take a 1/2″ pipe, prime and glue a 1/2″ female adapter to one end. Screw that female adapter to the 1/2″ male adapter on the piston using pipe dope (not the check valve).
  3. Apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the inside of the 1-1/2″ PVC pipe and the outside of the piston around the gaskets. Slip the piston into the pipe with the 1/2″ pipe going in first, then the piston going in last. Work the piston back and forth in the pipe several times and add more petroleum jelly if needed.
  4. ***Next step indicates improved design. Old design requires different parts. See list above and substitute those parts.*** Glue on the 1-1/2″ slip to female thread connector and screw in the 1-1/2″ male thread to 3/4″ female thread connector with plenty of pipe dope. Then, with pipe dope, screw in the lower check valve by the 3/4″ adapter. This change will allow access to the piston at a future date if service is required.

    The piston on top showing the correct orientation in assembly with the outer pipe on the bottom.

    The piston on top showing the correct orientation in assembly with the outer pipe on the bottom.

  5. Lastly, glue a 1-1/4″ female connector to the top of the pump assembly. Pull the 1/2″ pipe until the piston stops at the top and cut the pipe about 2-3″ from the female connector. Now glue a 1/2″ female connector to the 1/2″ pipe and be careful to not push the pipe back in.
  6. Then take the 1/4″ drill bit and drill 4 holes in the 1-1/4″ pipe about halfway up. This will allow any water that slips past the piston to drain back into the well and not be forced all the way up to the surface.

Make the drop pipe assembly:

  1. Follow directions carefully.Make as many of these 10 foot sections as you need to equal the length of the total assembled well depth, minus 10 feet (for the lower pump).
  2. Take a 1-1/4″ pipe and glue a male connector to one end. Take a 1/2″ pipe and glue a female connector onto one end. Slide the 1/2″ pipe with the side without the connector into the 1-1/4″ pipe side without the connector. Once the 1/2″ pipe comes out the end of the 1-1/4″ male connector, glue a male connector to it. Now glue a female connector to the end of the 1-1/4″ PVC pipe.

    Male connectors all at one end.

    Male connectors all at one end.

Final assembly and fitting: (use pipe dope on all connections)

  1. Take a middle drop pipe assembly and screw the 1/2″ inner pipe into the 1/2″ inner pipe on the pump assembly.

    Screw all the inner pieces together at once. This is the pump assembly and the first section of drop pipe.

    Screw all the inner pieces together at once. This is the pump assembly and the first section of drop pipe.

  2. Next, take a second middle pipe assembly and screw the inner pipe to the inner pipe of the previous assembly. It is much easier to screw all the inner 1/2″ pipes together first before screwing the outer pipes together. Assemble all the inner pipes of the drop pipe assemblies together. You will need help from another person to hold once side of the pipe with a wrench since the connections are actually being made inside the larger outer pipe.
  3. (This is to make part of the handle assembly. This next part will slip into the top most drop pipe). Take the 1/2″ regular walled PVC and glue a male connector onto one end. Slide the 1-1/4″ Male thread to 3/4″ Female thread adapter onto the other end of the pipe with the male threads first. This is the cap for the outer pipe to keep the inner pipe centered and to keep debris out of the pump. So at the end of the 1/2″ pipe should be both sets of male threads. Connect the 1/2″ regular walled pipe to the inner pipe of the assembled drop pipes. (The very top drop pipe)
  4. Once all the inner pipes have been connected, you can go about threading together the outer pipes. When you get to the last section of drop pipe, thread on the 1-1/4″ to 3/4″ adapter that we talked about in step 3.
  5. Now push on the inner pipe while holding the outer pipe. Check to make sure you can get a full stroke. When everything seems to work like it should, push the inner pipe all the way in carefully. Make a mark at where the the inner 1/2″ pipe is visible coming up through the outer cap.
  6. Pull the inner pipe back out a little ways and cut it off about an inch down (towards the pump end) of the mark. Now glue a 1/2″ slip to 3/4″ male thread connector on the end. This will ensure that the inner pipe can never be pushed in so far as to break the upper (inner) check valve that is at the bottom of the piston.
  7. Finally, screw on the 3/4″ tee. Cut two 6″ lengths of 3/4″ pipe and glue them into the tee. This makes the handle. Now glue a cap on one end and a 3/4″ slip to male adapter on the other.

    The hand pump (right) without the handles yet next to the electric pump (left).

    The hand pump (right) without the handles yet next to the electric pump (left).

Now you just need a friend to help you lower it into the well. You will also need to find a way to secure it to the top of the well. I will let you come up with a clever solution to that since every well is different. For mine, I replaced my old well seal with a new one that has two main pipe holes.

With the handle installed

With the handle installed

When I first made my pump I did not take into account fluctuating water levels and so it was too short and therefore only pumped air. I had to add another 10 feet so that I can pump water. In the future I want to experiment with tying this pump into the house system and see if I can build up any pressure in the pressure tank. It would be exciting to know that during some cold winter storm when electricity is out that Kallie or I could take a hot shower (propane water heater) while the other pumps.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If I missed anything or you have suggestions on how to make improvements, please leave me a comment.

Dale

DIY Automatic Chicken Watering System

Chickens need a lot of water. A lot! And we like to sleep in late on the weekends (… ok who am I kidding, I like to sleep in everyday!) We also like to travel, and we don’t want to have to depend on friends and neighbors to fill up our chicken’s water twice a day (or more). So we decided that we wanted an automatic watering system. I found this tutorial online. I would do a little more research on these things. They are pretty simple, but for some reason, we had a hard time configuring this thing. We ordered our watering nipples from Amazon and once they came in, we got to work building our waterer.

We had some left over thin wall PVC from the feeder we built, so we cut it to size and assembled it. I drilled our holes for our water nipples.

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They fit perfectly!

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Then we used pipe dope to seal them.

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Here’s our waterer with the nipples in. We decided to make it an “L” shape so there would be some storage room, therefore allowing it to fill up less frequently.

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Then it sat for a week. We had a million other projects to do and this one got put on the back burner. But that’s ok. When we started this project back up, we started by burying 80 ft of hose from our pump house to the coop. That took a while. Burying it keeps it from freezing in the winter. All we will have to insulate is from the faucet to the ground and from the ground to the waterer. Once we got that buried, we started working on getting the waterer to work in the coop. Originally, we wanted to pressurize the waterer so we could just keep the faucet on and they would always have fresh water. This didn’t work. We just didn’t have the right items. Plus, it blew out a few of the nipples. So we had to figure out another way to get these babies some water. We settled on a timer system – same set up, but just on a timer and with a vent hole for overflow. We attached it to an inside wall and connected the water and when we turned it on, the chickens were so excited about this new play thing in their coop.

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There was only one problem… well, three. Three of the nipples were leaking and wouldn’t stop. We know that, based on reviews, that nipples will leak if they aren’t perfectly vertical. But they were. So we were very flustered. Instead of waiting for more nipples to come in, we went back to the drawing board and thought up other ideas. We could rebuild the waterer with regular PVC and attempt to pressurize that system, but we figure that was too much added on work and we didn’t want to spend any more money. We ended up deciding to just let it leak, but on the outside of the coop. We moved it outside and under the coop so the chickens would have plenty of fresh water while they were free-ranging. This made perfect sense. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this earlier. They would need some source of water during the day, and why make them go in and out of the coop all day long just for water? They are babies now, and can’t use it to its full extent, but we still have the gallon waterer in the coop, and will continue to use it throughout their lives.

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We decided to keep an extra hose as well out by the coop so we would have an easier way of getting water. This will also be our way to fill up the gallon waterer, as well as rinse off anything that needs rinsing off.

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Our view from under the coop. It gives them, plus our renter’s chickens, plenty of fresh water.

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So, although it was a very stressful project, I am happy to announce that it works! And, we don’t have to worry about the dripping causing mold or mildew or rotting in our coop floor. If you ever want to try an automatic watering system, be sure to have a good idea in place before attempting this project.

Coffee Table

When we lived in Texas, we were desperately in need of a coffee table. I looked and looked and just couldn’t find what I liked in stores. So I turned to my handy-dandy… Pinterest! Thank goodness for Pinterest. I knew what I wanted. I wanted it to look like we pulled pallets apart and reused them, in a staggered, offset look. I wanted it to have pretty legs, but not be too tall, and not too short. I also wanted some storage areas where we could put away our laptops or books. I have a great habit of gathering images of what I like and showing them to Dale and he helps bring my ideas to life. Unfortunately, when we were planning on building this, Dale was super swamped with work. But that’s okay, because I can confidently say that I was the main muscle behind this project.

Literally… I used a ton of muscles. I was so sore after this project.

Unfortunately, I never expected to post this project on a blog, so we don’t have any in-progress pictures. But it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Things you will need if you want to build this:

  • At least 6-8 pallets of varying sized planks. At least two of these need solid risers (in between the two sides of the planks)
  • Two 2’x4′ pieces of 1/4″ plywood (or other thin, lightweight material)
  • Crowbar, Hammer, or if you have it, a Sawzall, and a regular hand saw
  • Circular saw
  • Electric palm sander
  • Wood glue
  • 1 lb pack of 3″ annular thread underlayment nails
  • Four leg attachment plates (typically found near the table legs in the wood working area of a hardware or home improvement store)
  • Four legs
  • Leather gloves, protective eye wear and hearing protection
  • Some sort of protective finish (I recommend Minwax Polyacrylic) and a brush

Step one would be to lay out the plywood pieces. These will be our bases that we will glue the pallet pieces on. Now comes the most difficult, time-consuming, frustrating part of this entire project – unless you have a sawzall. You’re going to want to set up your pallets on top of a couple of saw horses. Now beat the crap out of them to get the planks off. Use your hammer, then use your crowbar to wedge the pieces apart and continue hammering. OR you can use your sawzall to cut through the nails in between the planks and the risers. OR you can just use your circular saw to cut down the sides of the risers, but this might result in all your pieces being relatively the same length, which won’t allow them to stagger. Be sure to set aside your risers. You will break a few planks on accident (or maybe out of frustration). Next you will want to sand down your planks and risers. Make sure they are nice and smooth, because you might end up putting your feet up on this wonderful little coffee table, and you definitely don’t want splinters. Next you will want to lay out your planks on the plywood pieces in a design that appeals to you. Then glue them! You’ll want to place some heavy objects on top of the planks and plywood to make sure the glue sets (since you can’t clamp them with regular clamps). Let them dry overnight or longer. Once they are dry, you will probably need to trim them down to be square, since some of your planks are longer than others and didn’t make a perfect rectangle of a tabletop. Use your circular saw for this.

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Next, you will want put the risers in between your two new pallet planks. You’ll need three risers. If you weren’t able to get your risers out of your pallets, you can use any size solid common board that fit your needs. As you can see in the picture above, we marked where the risers would go, then one riser at a time, nailed the planks to the riser. We decided to use nails to keep it in the “pallet” theme. You can use screws if you want.

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I’m not gonna lie, this was a difficult part. Once I put in one of the three risers, it was like they shifted and none of them lined up anymore. PLUS, the dang nails bend easily, so if you don’t hammer straight down, they get crooked. And trust me, your arms get tired hammering these puppies in. But I looked on the bright side and just hammered some of them down after they bent. It added to the look right? Be sure to get a nail in each plank to make sure they will always stay put. Now that that’s done, you get to pick out legs! Put on your leg plates where needed, preferably where the legs will be in about 3 inches (you don’t want to stub your toes with them being right on the edge of the planks).

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Dale definitely thought these tall legs would work… But once we got them on, we knew we were wrong. (Please excuse the dog toys! Those silly boys!) Back to Home Depot, where we got shorter legs that work much better. Then I dragged it back out to the garage and set it up on the saw horse so it was completely off the ground.

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I did my own DIY coffee/vinegar/steel wool stain on the legs to oxidize them so they look like the rest of the table (inspiration found here). Then I used my Polyacrylic and covered the top surface, the sides, and the legs. I didn’t worry about the inside pockets because of the plywood under the top layer of planks. If we spill something, which hopefully we never will, that plywood would stop anything from leaking through. We are still SUPER careful with drinks on this table, especially since the planks don’t all lay flat. You can sand the planks once more, but since we sanded it so well in the beginning, hopefully there are no splinters left. One thing I should mention is that the polyacrylic I use is water based, so if you were to set a cup of hot tea or coffee on it for an extended period of time, it will ruin the protective finish (i.e. rings in the finish). Another wonderful reason why I use this instead of another urethane, especially on pallet wood, is because it doesn’t add any color to the wood. Any other urethane, lacquer or shellac will add a reddish or yellowish color to the wood, which is fine if the wood has been stained, but on bare wood or pallet woods, where you want to keep the rustic/worn look, you’ll want something clear. I love this stuff and swear I will never use anything other than it! I applied two coats with no sanding in between. I let it dry completely over a 24 hour period then pulled it back inside to enjoy our new coffee table.

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Isn’t this thing wonderful? I’m sad to admit that once I made this, our dinners in front of the TV increased tremendously. Oh well. BUT I can say that after hours and hours and hours of a lot of work, this is probably the one piece of furniture that I’m most proud of.

Nightstands

Before we moved to Oklahoma, I decided that I wanted to attempt to build something with good wood (i.e. not from pallets… See our coffee table project from when we lived in Texas) and with good plans. We had terrible, mismatched, thrift stored nightstands. They were bad. So I went online and compiled multiple pins from Pinterest for nightstand plans. I needed some kind of cohesion in at least one part of my house! I showed the hubby all of the plans that I had found and we decided on this one. Thank you Ana White for all your wonderful plans, although this was our first and maybe last time we use plans. Dale just likes being able to do things straight from his mind… and I like having ideas that I can just imagine and talk about and he can put them all together. BUT, I did enjoy the plans on this one, because they were straightforward and we knew what they would look like at the end, which we can’t say about other ideas we pull from thin air.

So we jumped in the car and headed to our local Home Depot and bought all the wood we would need. In fact, we had left overs, but that’s okay because we always need extra wood.

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This is obviously the cut pieces. I searched our phones for images of the nightstands being built, but I can’t find any. But I do have plenty of images of them completely built, so yay! The handles are from Hobby Lobby, in case you wanted to know. I bought these two then decided, after we moved, that I would need some for the dresser as well. So I went back and luckily they still had them!

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You see that lovely quilt? My grandmother, the woman who taught me how to sew, made that for us for our wedding. Also, interesting fact, we made that headboard as well. It was crafted with pallet wood, old fence posts, and other random wood we found lying around at our first rented house. You’ll soon find that we love this look. This will come in handy later when I attempt to get that cohesion with all our bedroom furniture.

Aren’t those lovely? Then we moved… Into a tiny apartment… where our furniture would sit in a storage unit until we found our perfect home. Shortly after moving into said perfect home, I decided it was time to stain these babies (time to get that cohesion that I had been longing for… months later). My only issue was that I had to stain new, unaltered wood to look like old, worn, and damaged wood, like our headboard. Time to turn back to Pinterest (I love Pinterest).

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I found several blogs that posted about vinegar, steel wool and coffee DIY stains, as well as tea conditioner to bring out the grain of the wood. So I tried all of them. I got some scrap wood (see, I told you it would come in handy), and dabbed several kinds of brewed tea on them.

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This is the front, with the teas and the coffee/vinegar/steel wool stain on top. We used everything from Earl Grey to Irish and English Breakfast, to black teas and green teas, to Morning Thunder and Sleepy Time teas, to even a Christmas Peppermint tea. Each had a different effect. I loved it.

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This is the back with no tea before the stain, as well as some real oil based stains that we had lying around from previous projects.

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Did you know you could essentially water down store-bought stains to create new stains? You have to use a paint thinner to thin it, but it works well. I must mention that I couldn’t wait the full 24 hours to start testing my stains. You’re suppose to wait 24 hours to let the vinegar work its magic with the steel wool and coffee. I read on one blog that you can also add hydrogen peroxide to the mix and it will speed it up and give it a new look, which it did. I tried three different stains. One was the steel wool, white vinegar, and coffee, another was steel wool and white vinegar, and the last was apple cider vinegar and steel wool. I loved each of them, plus the different teas made each end up with a different color. This is JUST what I needed for this nightstands.

So I dragged these nightstands out to our shop and began staining. Here are some in the process pics of the staining process.

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As you can tell, maybe, is that it was all a guesstimate on where to do what. On the first night, I just applied different teas. On the second night, I applied the stains, both the DIY and the real, store-bought stuff. After that, it was all just tweaking to make it look good. On the edges, I used some sand paper to wear them down so they looked more worn. I also added some more of that water downed stain to several places to make it look like some areas were more worn than others. Once I had them just like I liked them, I applied my favorite protector, Polyacrylic by Minwax. I even applied this stuff to my unfinished headboard to make them all look, yes, cohesive. I love that word.

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Overall, these nightstands turned out beautifully. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of these things. They match unbelievably well with the headboard. Now to conquer the beast that is our outdated, but passed down, veneer covered dresser. Wish me luck!