Handmade Projects

I heart wood. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about wood that I love to work with. I love the look and feel of it. I took wood shop for a bit in high school and worked in the production department at the Japanese American National Museum in college, so maybe those experiences gave me some of the basic skills I needed to feel confident working with the stuff. Yet, I’d like to believe that I developed a love for working with my hands because I used to see my grandpa build things out of wood around the house when I was younger… cabinets, truck beds, shelves, etc. Anything he needed, he built! Maybe that old Japanese ingenuity was passed down to me without me knowing.

1) CHALKBOARD >> I had a large bare wall in my kitchen and I wanted to make an art piece that added character. The thing is, I think I might get bored of a static piece sitting there for so long… plus… I wanted something that would inspire me, and that I could change with the seasons. So, I decided to make a giant chalkboard! I ordered chalkboard paint online and went to home depot to p/u some wood and board. I wanted to make it rustic/farmhouse to fit in with the rest of the house decor, which made it easier to build. Exposed screws and other minor “imperfections” give much-needed character. Now I use it to write quotes, Bible verses, messages, or draw pictures for different parties and gatherings I host here. My friends and their children love it when they come over too!!

my blackboard. I also put together the “fishing pole bouquet” in the corner. It’s made out of my grandpa’s old fishing poles… sort of an artistic nod to him in the house. The bouquet is made from a metal container from Marshalls, some landscaping rocks, fishing poles and reels.
I found these black handles at home depot. They're perfect for lifting the board since it's so big... and they give it a little side flare!
I took some cheap, old baseboard i found lying in the garage and created this chalkboard lip to hold chalk and an eraser. It's not the strongest piece of wood, but it does the job well... plus it looks really rustic!

2) TABLE >> I’ve been enamored with long wooden tables. I wanted one for my house so I could fit our small group and friends around one table for dinner. I also wanted something that could be outside in the summer to enjoy the view I have here. The only problem: long tables cost a LOT of money. I could easily dish out a few thousand dollars for the table I wanted… so the only solution: build it myself!

I’d never built a dining table before… and this one was going to be extra challenging because I calculated that I needed it to be at least 10ft long to accommodate the amount of people I wanted to fit. I poured over furniture catalogs and websites to help me figure out a design I liked, then drew up some sketches. Next, I got some cheap pine from home depot, stain, and weatherproofing finish. My dad who was an engineer gave me some helpful structural advice, and here’s what I came up with…

Ikea has cheap stools (~$7) that stack to save space. They work really nicely around a large table like this. I find that chairs (although much more comfortable) take up too much space when your goal is to get everyone around the same eating area. However, if you or your friends weigh 250lbs+, this stool idea will NOT work. Sorry Shaq. We can't be friends.
I notched the corners to expose the grain of the table legs. This was the hardest detail to get right. Ikea lamps ($4) also provide nice decor for the center of the table. It's not a wide table (about 3ft) so I can't have large centerpieces. 3ft gives enough room for everyone's plates, cups and a few small decorative items.
I had to build a lot of support beams underneath the table along with triangles in the corner. My dad encouraged me to do this so that the table wouldn't start to warp/sag over the years. Every engineer that's seen the table reaffirmed this recommendation. So far, so good... no sag! Check back with me in 5 years.
I picked a walnut colored stain. I suppose I could have just bought walnut wood, but being my first table, it was too expensive to experiment on. I also got a nice weatherproofing finish that provides good protection for outdoor use. I'd leave it outside more, but I noticed when I do, spiders hide out underneath. I hate spiders.

3) PALLET GALLERY >> I’ve been wanting to use re-purposed wooden pallets to design something for a while now. When the opportunity came up to partner with one of my college students to put together a gallery, I jumped at the chance to put my pallet vision to the test! With the help of Don Liv, Dennis Chow, Stuart Kobata, and a bunch of men from our church, we were able to make that vision come to life.

We used donated pallets from IFCO Systems (a company in Riverside that rebuilds wooden pallets) and created our gallery walls in a very “green” way. I had to fight off termites and a rain storm… but in the end, it came out FAB.

Take a look!

The pallets before the art was added. Don Liv helped to organize the walls in a really interesting and professional way.
my favorite piece... the DJ booth. We also hooked up a camera and monitor to show DJ Mixtine spinning the 1s and 2s!

Check out my post on The Vine, or the gallery page up on this blog for more pics!

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