8 Great Weekend DIY Projects

By: Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford in front on DIY fireplace mantel

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If you’re looking for a project that will really dress up your home, then look no further. We’ve got eight great do-it-yourself ideas that are just right for weekend warriors.

#1: Fireplace mantel

A fireplace mantel is often the focal point of a room. While factory made mantels are available, do-it-yourselfers with a well equipped shop can make one themselves from stock molding and medium density fiberboard or solid wood. A router was used to flute the columns and cut the molded edge around the top. Crown molding was applied under the shelf and baseboard used at the bottom. If starting from scratch is bit more than you want to take on, mantel shelves and kits are available online as well.

#2: Window Seat

A window seat not only adds to the look of a room but can serve as storage space as well. This 8’ long by 21” high window seat was made from 3/4” oak plywood and features hinged doors on top. The front was framed up from 2x4s on 16” centers and secured to the concrete slab with a powder actuated nailer. Once it was in place, the top plate was nailed on and a 2×4 attached to the wall level with the front. Two pieces of vertically cut oak plywood were used to face the front. The frame for the seat was made from solid oak 1x2s joined with a face frame nailer. Two oak plywood doors were edged with solid strips of oak then secured to the frame with brass piano hinges. The seat was then stained and given two coats of polyurethane finish.

#3: Refinishing Furniture

A chemical stripper is the quickest way to remove old finishes. Follow the directions on the container carefully, and use a gel or paste on vertical surfaces. A putty knife works great to scrape off the old finish. Use water or mineral spirits to remove any residue, depending on the type of stripper that was used. Once the piece has dried, sand it with coarse sandpaper followed by finer grits. Finally, stain the piece followed by several top coats of sealer.

#4: Wallpaper Removal

Homeowners often grow tired of wallpaper patterns and want to change to painted walls. If the wallpaper is glued down well and not made of vinyl, you might be able to paint over it, but it is usually best to remove it. Mix wallpaper remover with warm water in a pump up sprayer. Before spraying the wall, score the wallpaper horizontally every few inches with a utility knife to allow the remover to penetrate behind the paper. After it has soaked for a few minutes, use a drywall knife to begin peeling off the paper. If the top layer peels off without the backing, spray the wall down again and peel off the backing as well.

#5: Window Treatment

A fabric covered cornice over a window can really dress up a room. Since this window was almost 10’ long, the cornice was made from two pieces of ½” plywood 24” wide joined together with metal mending plates. The arch in the middle of the cornice was cutout with a jigsaw then sides and a top were applied to give it some depth. Upholstery batting was stapled to the frame from the back, followed by fabric. Multiple cuts with scissors and some creative stapling were required to fit the fabric around the curves in the arch. The back was covered with white fabric to hide the unfinished plywood, and decorative fringe was hot glued in place around the bottom edge. The cornice was then mounted with “L” brackets screwed into wall studs above the window.

#6: Installing a Chandelier with Dimmer Switch

First, determine the height of the chandelier. In an 8’ ceiling, it should hang about 30” above the table top. Cut the support chain to the length needed, leaving the electric wire a bit longer. Turn the power to the light off at the circuit breaker box and remove the old ceiling fixture. Run the wires through the trim ring and ceiling medallion, then through the hollow threaded tube in the center of the ceiling box. Attach the wires to the house wiring using wire nuts. Push the medallion and trim ring up against the ceiling and screw the lock nut on before attaching the chain to the trim ring.

When installing a dimmer switch, be sure you choose one that has enough capacity to handle the combined wattage of all the bulbs added together. While the power is still off, remove the existing switch and attach the dimmer using wire nuts. After screwing the switch to the box, replace the cover and turn on the power.

#7: Backyard Arbor Swing

This simple garden arbor is made from pressure treated lumber and fastened with galvanized nails. The posts were cut from 4 x4s with 2x6s cross members at the top. After the holes had been dug, the posts were set in the ground. The structure was then carefully leveled and secured in place before filling the holes with concrete. The front and back facing boards were made from 2x12s with an inverted bevel cut at each end. Matching cuts were made on the 2×6 rafters which were toenailed in place. A trellis on each end of the arbor and a swing hung from the rafters provided the final touch for a perfect backyard retreat.

#8: Stepping Stone Walkway

A walkway made of stepping stones is an attractive addition to any yard. Start by deciding where the stones should go based on a comfortable stride. Next, cut out around the stones with a trowel or shovel and dig the holes, making them a little deeper and wider than the stones themselves. Put a layer of sand or gravel in the holes before setting the stones in place. After leveling, fill in around the stones with sand.

Other Tips From This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Wall Corner Repair

Wall Corner Repair

Outside corners on walls take a lot of abuse and can become dented and damaged over time. To repair, use a hacksaw to cut through the damaged section of the metal corner bead then score along the edge of the bead about 1¼” back from the corner. After prying the bead off the wall, cut a new piece of corner to fit, and nail it in place. Apply several coats of joint compound to the repair, allowing adequate drying time between each coat. Sand the joint compound smooth, and prime the repaired section before painting the wall.
(Watch This Video)

Best New Products with Emilie Barta:
Ames True Temper 7 in 1 Planter’s Buddy

Ames True Temper 7 in 1 Planter’s Buddy

The Ames True Temper 7 in 1 Planter’s Buddy is a multipurpose tool with a stainless steel blade that’s designed to make fast work of your gardening jobs. The trowel features a serrated edge on one side, which is great for cutting open bags of fertilizer, and a sharpened straight edge on the other side for cutting sod. It also incorporates a twine cutter and notched trowel for prying up weeds. The end of the handle is perfect for tamping down dirt or hammering in stakes. It is also marked in 1” increments along its length for easy measuring. The Planter’s Buddy is available at The Home Depot stores. (Watch This Video)

Ask Danny:
Water Heater Maintenance

Water Heater Maintenance

I’ve always heard that if you maintain your water heater, it will last longer. What does that mean? -Allison from Louisiana

Performing simple routine maintenance on your water heater can make it last longer and keep small problems from turning into big ones. Check all the pipe connections and valves for leaks once a month. On gas models, be sure the vent pipe is properly installed and there are no obstructions. Every year open the pressure relief valve on top of the tank for a few seconds to be sure hot water comes out of the overflow pipe. Finally, periodically drain a bucket of water from the faucet at the bottom of the water heater to remove any sediment buildup. (Watch This Video)

Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® were provided by Ryobi.



Please Leave a Comment

3 Comments on “8 Great Weekend DIY Projects”

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  • Aaron Welch Says:
    January 28th, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Would you tell me how to wire a 3-way lite switch.

  • Deb T Says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Kenneth: go to CSIA.org and put your zip code in. (chimney safety institute of America) They have lots of info on how to keep your fireplace or chimney clean and safe as well as certified chimney sweeps all over the United States.

  • Kenneth Says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    What is the best way to clean a chimeny.

    Who in my area is certified to clean chimenies?? (Zip 67216)


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