Ladies and gents? A lot of us have a problem. We (as humans) have an inherent itch in the back of our brains that makes us want to build and create things. We want to scratch that itch by working with our hands and be creative. Unfortunately, a lot of us live in small spaces, don’t think we have the money, or just don’t know how to start in on Do It Yourself (DIY) projects.
I’m no different. I don’t own my home and, being military, have to move every few years. It’s difficult for me to amass all of whiz-bang tools that I want, much less build the shop I dream of to hold them all. The space I get isn’t always big enough, I’m off doing some crazy training and can’t play with my toys, or I know that I will end up having to store things away because of the lack of time and money to do projects.
The worst part? I’m making up excuses.
Yep. That hour I wasted bouncing back and forth between Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and analytics, and…(insert 500 other things)? I could have been out getting my hands dirty and playing with my toys.
And that’s what I did recently. I stopped making excuses and started putting my ever-swelling blogger’s butt into action.
Here’s what I have done so far:
I fixed my space problem.
I have plenty of room in my garage. It’s a two door and I don’t park in my side anyway. So I cleared it out, cleaned it up, set aside the crap I don’t need anymore for a garage sale. This opened up a pretty decent sized area for my work space.
I fixed my money problem.
Knowing that I still have a day job and will likely be a weekend-warrior DIY’er, I tossed the notion of needing the “best” tools in the business. I took the money I would have spent on one power saw and some miscellaneous items to Harbor Freight. After signing up for their newsletter, I received some awesome coupons with deep discounts on their already low prices, so I put those together and spent less than $250 to get two staple woodworking tools (a miter saw and scroll saw), some extra clamps, tons of extra blades for both saws, guides, and great “no questions asked” replacement warranties.
I also went to a local warehouse and got some used pallets. I figured that my work bench would take a beating anyway, so why worry about it being perfect from the start? I tore apart three pallets (I could only fit five in my SUV), added four 2×4’s from the hardware store, and built a workspace that was over six feet long! I now have plenty of open space to work on smaller projects, mounted both power saws, and still have room for wood storage, tool storage, and of course, a tunes for the “shop”. Total cost ended up around $20. And that’s only because I chose not to re-use the nails from the pallets and went with multi-purpose screws.
An added bonus is that the extra unused pallet wood will be re-purposed into a huge wall hanging Brandi wants done and some smaller projects (probably bird feeders and such) that Alexis and I can to do together for a little extra bonding time.
I fixed my “where to start” conundrum.
Obviously, I had no real idea what I was going to do first. I knew I need to practice before I jumped into bigger projects, so I looked up some free woodworking plans online, snatched up two woodworking books from my local bookstore (using a gift card from Christmas), and got a subscription to a woodworking magazine (also with the gift card).
These gave me a lot of great ideas. As I talked about above, I built myself a work space, then tackled a set of sawhorses I needed to work on some other projects on my “honey-do” list.
Now I am ready to get to work… excuse free!
This weekend I started working on a craft cabinet for Brandi. We didn’t have plans for it, but with a little careful planning and some excerpts from my new books, I will be able to get it all done for a lot cheaper than we could buy one for. It may not be perfect, but I will have the satisfaction of building it myself and the piece of mind that it won’t break on the first move, like some of the overpriced “put it together yourself” particle board stuff you find in the stores. Plus, I get some practice.
Your turn – what ideas have you come up with to use your smaller spaces in a more practical manner? Did you find a way to re-purpose other things? Were you able to get it done for cheaper than buying new? Let’s talk about it!