Category Archives: D.I.Y.

Tree Stump Table

So we have this amazing view of South Mountain in our backyard, but when we moved in it was blocked by two trees. Well, one tree and one sad-sack-of-shit tree stump that was totally overgrown with weeds. We were sure it was providing hiding places for snakes, coyotes, tarantulas, hikers, hipsters.

Big crappy trees

Big crappy trees

No more big crappy trees

No more big crappy trees

We had someone come out and cut them down, which they did in about 2 hours flat. One by-product was a couple logs, one of which I decided to turn into a tree stump table so I could contribute to CT’s living room design.

When I went to grab the stump, I found a giant bug on it. Maybe it was a molted shell, maybe it was alive……I don’t know. All I know is I saw something brown, green and about 5 inches long in a split second before I dropped it and jumped-jerked-pirouetted away. I then soaked it for about 3 minutes with the hose. From there I gathered up the courage to gather it up and set it in the sun for few days to dry out in the midsummer Arizona sun.

Sanded, ready for poly

Sanded, ready for poly

Once I got it into the garage, I began sanding it. Quite honestly I really didn’t know how much sanding I wanted to do. The whole idea of this project was bringing in a rustic touch, but at the same time I needed some leveling of the ends. My solution was starting with medium-coarse grit and finishing with 600 grit. Just enough to smooth out the real rough spots. I cleaned it off with a can of compressed air, and started in with layers of clear brush-on polyurethane. After a few weeks of curing, it was ready to bring in and enjoy.

3EB6F042-C389-4A1F-AAC8-D339A5EF9D0C_L0_001

Pine Barncaster Build Part 3

I gotta say, I had a lot of fun doing my first nitro spray. I started by picking up 3 cans of Behlen nitrocellulose musical instrument lacquer online. You really have to order this stuff- no store around the corner is going to carry it.

Nitro!

Nitrocellulose Lacquer was used early on by Fender, Gibson and all the other bastards making guitars back in the 50’s and 60’s. Basically each spray treatment ‘melts’ into the previous layer, forming a kind of crunchy candy shell (think M&M’s) as opposed to polyurethane, where each spray forms it’s own layer (think Gobstoppers).

Anyway- in order to use it, you gotta warm it up in hot tap water. Otherwise it will spatter and fart out big globs (which as it turns out it might do anyway).

Warm it up

Warm it up

The plan I developed was to spray 9-12 coats, 2-3 coats a day, 1-2 hours apart. From what I have read, this allows the layers to melt into each other. I would hold the guitar flat, spraying about 1ft from the body with the can at a slight angle. I started and ended each spray away from the body, doing a cross-hatch pattern on the front and back. Look up Will Kelly on Youtube for more details (I did).

Spray!

Once it cured for about 14 days, I wet-sanded it using 800-2500 grit sandpaper, to get it smooth and shiny. I wet the sandpaper and the body down with a detergent/water mix.  Again, Look up Will Kelly’s videos. They really helped me out.

sandpaper

The end result was absolutely awesome. I love it. Just look at this monster.

Lacquered

 

Not sure these pics do it justice:

Barncaster 009

I even brought it in the house and put it under sexy lighting to show the ridiculous colors:

Barncaster 011

Close up of the ‘big red spot’

Barncaster 012

Next up, I’m gonna show you how I relic’d all the brand new shiny parts using melt-your-face-acid…so stay tuned…

Barncaster 007

 

Pine Barncaster Build part 2

Let me start by saying that I know there’s steps you have to take in order to seal in sap so it doesn’t mess with stain or paint. I’m not going to do that. I simply don’t care. Is this a mistake? Yeah probably. But, in the end I’m building it for myself as my Merle Travis machine, so as long as it doesn’t explode, I don’t care about discoloration or whatever.

Barncaster

That being said, I do care about how the guitar looks overall, and am critically concerned as to how I would like to stain it. I already decided it will get a clear coat of nitrocellulose lacquer, so picking out the stain will be critical. What I am interested in is enhancing all of the natural colors and features, while, if possible, making it “pop” even more.

One option is going with a kind of driftwood, bleached-out effect, which should pronounce the dark coloring more heavily. To get this, I mixed ebony and natural stain together at a 1:6 ration (respectively). Here’s a pic of the little stain guys and my bigger mixing bucket:

Stain

The result on my pine test board is pretty great, as the mixture really penetrates the grain brings out the hidden features well:

Ebony/natural 1:6 ratio

The other option I landed on is just going with a straight natural stain. I did this for my first guitar build, and it adds a slight “yellowing” to the grain. While it overall darkens the pine, it doesn’t necessarily show any kind of hidden details:

Natural stain

So after much hem-hawing, pissing and moaning I decided to go with CT’s advice, and apply the 1/6 ebony/natural mix. Here’s the results:

Barncaster fully stained front

This worked perfectly, as the ebony really penetrated all the cracks and imperfections, and even brought out a few features that were otherwise invisible.

Barncaster side stained

I’m also glad that this mix didn’t mask the dark features.

Barncaster back stained

When we were living back in St. Louis, it would literally take at least 7-10 days for stain to fully penetrate my guitar bodies, given the heavy mid-west humidity. Here in Arizona that process cuts down to about 2-3 days, which is awesome.

Part 3 will cover my first attempt at a nitrocellulose spray lacquer finish. Wish me luck…

Nitro

Pine Barncaster Build part 1

Moving 1500 miles cross country has proved tough for CT and myself, what with leaving family and friends, starting new jobs, and learning to live in a place that seems to be trying to kill you for several months out of the year.

So….guess what….I chose to reward myself with a new guitar building project! As of late, I have been fascinated with the recent revival of pinewood guitar bodies. Bill Kirchen (think “Hot Rod Lincoln”) recently posted an interview on YouTube, showing off his pine telecaster built by Carmine Street Guitars in New York. The sound and look absolutely killed me. Carmine Street actually builds these guitars out of 200 year old pine lumber, reclaimed from New York city buildings. I certainly can’t think of a better way to recycle.

When I hit Ebay looking for a body, it became clear to me that I needed to make a choice- do I get a piece of perfectly figured wood, or find something with more personality? I decided to go with a body filled with knots, worm holes and discoloration. A Barncaster.

Barncaster body front

So I picked this body up off Ebay from a very reputable builder. When it arrived, I was nearly speechless. Painfully cool. The colors are simply unbelievable. If you hold it up to the light, the corners glow amber from the un-cured sap.

Barncaster body side

Check out the blue/green coloring, and the details of the fibers.

Barncaster colors

The spot that you see is an almost translucent, hard sap

This spot is almost pure sap!

This spot is almost pure sap!

The character continues on the back of the guitar. Notice the rear-loading cavity.

Barncaster back

This guitar is absolutely gorgeous to me. I am a true believer that it’s our imperfections and limitations that make us unique and interesting, and that same thing can be said for guitars, or really anything we choose to create. Follow me unto the desert and join me in the worship of cactus as we await the spaceships.

For the past few days, I have been sanding this sucker down, starting with 220 grit, and ending up with 400 grit for finishing. I even bought a can of compressed air to blow the sanding dust out of all the cracks and worm holes.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I struggle with what stain to use, and make my first attempt at a nitrocellulose lacquer spray-finish!

 

All by herself . . .

Since moving down to Phoenix and “retiring” (the nice way of saying I’m still unemployed), I have a lot of by myself time while JT is at work.  I’ve filled a lot of it with dog walking, grocery shopping, cooking, baking and helping my MIL find a place to live (we did it, she moved in last night).

I’ve noticed thought that when I’m at home all day, I’ll think up projects and plan them for the weekend and/or evenings when JT is around.  Finally the other day I had a realization that I could do it myself.  And so I did.  (Probably also spurred on by the fact that I had just read “Miss Harper Can Do It” by Jane Berentson, another way to fill some time and keep that brain working.)

I’ve already mentioned that our new house feels mansion-like compared to the small footprint of our brick bungalow in St. Louis.  For instance we now have a Master Bath.  A bathroom that is the master of all others.  I have my own sink and my own little nook for make-up-ing and other things women in their 30s do in the bathroom.  I had been looking for some artwork or a storage piece for that wall when an idea suddenly flashed into my head – I had just what I needed in the garage.

NECKLACE DISPLAY

So, voila – a once empty wall now displays all my junk jewelry with the help of an old curtain rod from our STL master bedroom (we took down these wimpier rods when we hung the new curtains.)

There’s no earth-shattering invention here – I’m pretty sure this method for hanging necklaces has already been done and pinned many-a-time to Pinterest.  I just got a kick out of using something I had and getting out the handheld drill for a girl power moment.

CLOSE UP

I hung all the necklaces without clasps on the end and kept all the other in the middle so I can unfasten them to take them off the rod if needed for actual wearing but I’m thinking if this method gets too tangled, I might grab some of the Grundtal hooks at Ikea and hang each necklace on its own hook.  Oh, the thrill of being able to “grab” something at Ikea without a five-hour drive is still novel to me!  Cheers – CT

You don’t need to huff the spray paint to be addicted to it . . . sad but true.

Awhile back, we picked up the “Crosby” floor lamp from World Market.  This is one of the few larger dollar purchases I have made from a big box retailer apart from our occasional long-haul treks to Ikea.  We tend to scour the local thrifts, junk malls and Craigslist for our treasures.  But we were in need of light in that corner and a table and this just sort of happened one day.

Once we started to live with Crosby for a while, we realized he was a chameleon.  And not so much in a good way.  We love the color of our accent wall (SW Urbane Bronze) but putting the black metal Crosby’s little frame up against it just made him disappear.

CHAMELEON

Since Crosby wasn’t a priceless fancy-designer label or other sort of “don’t paint me” treasure, I went ahead and decided to paint him.  It was either him or the wall and if I did the wall then I’d have to do the fireplace again and . . . you can see how I ended up picking the lamp.  I had some muted matte gold spray paint left over from my Pinterest-inspired art and so I tackled Crosby with that.

BORING GOLD

And . . . it was better.  But still meh.  This picture is a broad daylight view that we rarely get to enjoy, being chained to desks at our offices from 8-to-5 like most corporate drones.  In the evenings he still kind of faded away against the wall.   I wanted something a little punchier.  So I got a brassier, bolder hue at Lowe’s and sprayed poor old Crosby down again.

ALL THE WAY GOLD

Finally a win!  Now Crosby ties in nicely with our brass arc lamp from the auction last year (I had threatened to paint the arc lamp black but since it was vintage it got spared.) As an added plus, I’m starting to feel on trend (or dragging slightly behind it as usual) with all the gold/brass accents popping up in blog land everywhere.  And in a few years when blue/white/grey/purple/whatever is the new brass, I’ll just spray him down again.  Nothing to it.

Also, since I’m sharing this view over and over again of the Baumritter “Man Chair”  I’m adding some pictures of the tags on the underside of the ottoman.  The internet connect me with a reader, Elliott, who was looking to see if the ottoman was intended to come with the chair.  Our chair itself has no markings on it — I got pretty up close and personal with it when we did the straps and cleaned it off with the Restore-a-Finish so I’m 100% certain of that.  What tipped me off that this was a Baumritter was actually the tags on the ottoman, like so:

TAG 1

TAG 2

The Adjusto Lounge or Style # 1617-1 Lounge.  Hope this helps Elliott!  I’d love to see any images of your Baumritter lounger — ours needs an upholstery makeover pretty badly.

Next up – some more Style Cure updates!  Cheers – CT

Who’s Schmoopy?

A while back we started calling my sister and her then-fiance “Schmoopy”.  Why?  Well because they were.  Googly-eyed and smoochy, they were so disgustingly in love that the only appropriate descriptor was “Schmoopy”.  And it stuck – somehow it became their pet nickname for each other.  As the Matron of Honor (do I sound old or what!) I gave a toast for my sister where I wished her a lifetime of Schmooopy-ness.  And I think they’ll do it!

SMITH

(Another wedding picture I snagged off Facebook.  The Schmoopies are Smiths.)

As a shower gift, I made a little something for the Schmoopies.

PLACEMATS IN BOX

With my handy computer and a little Photoshop action, I used an 11×17 size paper to create some diner-style paper placemats.  There’s a cute little print shop near us in South City called the Ink Spot.  I used them for the placemats, the bachelorette invites and also for the wedding programs (fans) and guest book cards I designed.  They’re super close by and I can upload the files online and call them and work through all my issues.  And when I went in to pick up my stuff, I fell in love with the decor.

Ink Spot

Above are some pictures I furtively snapped with my phone while picking up the placemats.  Call me a design snob, but I totally prefer to give my business to a place that gets my aesthetic.  MCM daybed with cute pillows and molded fiberglass chairs?  Sold.  I’ve got no skin in this game, I just thought I’d pass along a great local source for any STL people needing a printer out there.

PLACEMATS IN USE

Sister asked about framing one so I think she likes it.  And I still have the file so if Schmoopys’ Kitchen Cafe ever runs out of placemats, we can reprint some more.  Now that the wedding craze has passed I think I should whip some up for Living Analog as well.  We just need a handy slogan .  . . .