This is a smorgasbord of an update, since the exterior of our house has changed in a bunch of different ways since last year when we painted it white with masonry paint that lets the brick breathe (you can read all about that project & the cost right here).
It’s my very favorite makeover we’ve ever done to date, but as I mentioned in that post (probably 10 times if I know myself), the exterior was still very much a work in progress after the house got painted. So without further ado, let’s talk about the new path we added, the awning, the new porch lights (we not only switched them out, we lowered them when we hung the awning) and a bunch of other landscaping related things that have happened over the last 12 months. And the few remaining things that we’re still working on… because that’s how it goes 😉
First let’s take a second to look back at the before shot because it blows my mind every time.
Man, it’s crazy how fast time flies. It was five years ago that I started making videos and showing people how I was figuring out how to build things I needed. And one of those things was a dog food dispenser. It was a simple shape and at the bottom I placed a blast gate to release food into a pouring container. It worked great but there was no way to regulate how much food was being dispensed.
Well, in this project, I’ll show you how I remade the dispenser with a mechanism inside that releases a set amount of food per pull of a lever. Pretty cool huh?
Let me start at the beginning and show you how I did it.
I kept the overall shape of it the same as before, because honestly the shape is the best for the application I think, but this time I wanted to soften the shape some by adding in some curves. Instead of messing with bending wood, I cut out a template on my CNC then traced it onto a sheet of plywood wood, then cut it out.
What I’m doing is building up the sides to the height needed by stacking identical parts on top of each other. Once I had the needed amount of parts cut and shaped, I started gluing them together. I’m using Titebonds fast drying Quick and Thick here and also using a brad nailer to hold the parts to the previous one.
For the body I’m using a construction grade plywood because I’ll be painting it later on. If you would rather stain it, then you can do the same process from any solid wood as well.
As I was laminating the sides, I did my best to keep things aligned so it would minimize sanding and shaping in the next step. Once the glue was dry, I gave both sides a good sanding with 80 grit to smooth out any slight unevenness between layers.
If you use plywood, unless you use a really high end grade there are always a few voids in the plys. My method for filling these in for a seamless paint surface is to apply some joint compound to it. Once the joint compound is fully dry, I again sanded but this time with 120 grit, just until the compound filled in areas were leveled out.
Alright, that is the body done for the moment so lets start work on the mechanism.
My little dogs eat 1 cup of food each a day so I started off building a mechanism that would dispense that amount. I grabbed some PVC pipe and cut two lengths at the miter saw. This is what will store the needed amount of food.
Next I grabbed some 1/2 scraps and started making a few circles. I used a compass to draw the circle, a bandsaw to cut them out, then a forstner bit to cut out the smaller needed circles.
If you don’t have a forstner bit, you can instead use a drill bit to punch a through hole large enough to get a jigsaw blade into, then use a jigsaw to cut it out. This whole assembly creates the inside portion that holds the food and rotates about when the lever is pulled.
Now to make the top and bottom parts that will open and close off the holes and stay stationary while the inside moves.
I’m again using scrap to make these parts and started by cutting a few rectangles at the tablesaw. Then I clamped them to my Armor Tools workbench once again and punched a few holes.
In one of the plates, after the two holes were cut out, I used a jigsaw to cut a curved pathway between the two. This simple cut out drastically cuts down on the food getting stuck and crunched when moving the lever and cutting off the flow of food.
After drilling yet another circle in what will be the bottom, where the food drops out from, I piled all the parts on top of each other and drilled a center hole through. This will give me a way to connect them all.
I started with the top of the assembly which has a circle cut out, and two square pieces, being held together with a carriage bolt and two nuts to lock it in place.
I also put something on this assembly to agitate the food. In my case this is a paint stirring stick cut to length. This part will knock the food around when moving the lever, to keep it flowing nicely into the pipes below.
Next I flipped it over and started assembling the bottom, first attaching the circle with two cutouts. Oh, and I again used Titebond’s Quick and Thick to glue the PVC pipes to the wood. This is an interior multi surface glue so it’s perfect for sticking different material together quickly.
Then lastly I threw on the bottom rectangle where the food drops out of and tighten everything down.
Let me see if I can show you how it works….. When I attach the lever, I’ll be able to rotate the inside circles to one side which opens one of the pipes while closing the other. This is the top so one will always be filling while one will always be closed off. When rotated the other direction, the opposite one will fill.
Then on the other side, where there is only one hole, one pipe is always emptying while the other is closed off. The closed off pipe is the one filling so that when the lever is pulled, and things shift, it is then emptied while the other is filling.
In theory you can resize the device to hold any amount of dog food, cat food, cereal, coffee beans….really anything you can think of. Just be aware that the larger in diameter of pipe you go, the larger the entire dispenser will become. After putting this one together I actually downsized because while my dogs eat 1 cup of food daily, they eat it over two times in the day so next I made a device to dispense just 1/2 cup of food at a time.
And you can see here the size difference in the device, which will determine how big the body needs to be.
Before setting that aside to build the front, the last thing I did was stick a handle on. I made a simple shape then again used some Titebond to attach it to the device itself.
**And a side note: if you are interested in building this mechanism, I have a set of plans for it HERE
Ok, and now onto the face. Remember that this can be something as simple as a sheet of plywood but I thought it would be really cool to use some live edge, and do a clear epoxy pour in the center to be used as a sight glass so that one can see inside to read the level of food remaining.
Evener cooler, I’m using a piece of mesquite I personally milled up myself a year ago with my chainsaw mill.
It just happened to be the perfect height for this project and it was actually wide enough to use as is, but I thought I would make a much cooler piece if I cut it down the middle, resawed it to book match, and point the two live edge portions towards one another.
I used my Track Saw to rip it down the center but even doing this, it exceeded the cut capacity of my bandsaw to resew it. So I took it to my neighbors shop and used his to get two boards that are about 3/8” thick.
I quickly ran each one over the jointer to get one side flat, then through my Thickness Planer to get the second side flat.
Next I set up a station to do my epoxy pour. First figuring out how my boards were going to lay and how far apart they needed to be.
Next I laid down tape to cover up the bottom of the board and the intention here is to create a surface that the epoxy won’t stick to. However, I will tell you that this painters tape ended up sticking really bad. I hear house wrap tape releases much better, but I didn’t have any on hand.
After the tape, I cut a few scraps to length to create some walls. These will build a form around my two mesquite boards to keep the epoxy in.
I again used tape on the bottom edges of these boards since that will be the portion in contact with the epoxy.
Next is attach the boards and seal around it to prevent the epoxy from leaking out while it cures. I’ve seen people use silicone before but that has a long dry time and I was trying to get the pour done that day…..so I used a fast setting adhesive from Titebond called Titegrab.
I laid down a decent bead under the side walls, then mushed them down on top. It is an adhesive so this will attach the walls to the bottom, then I took the squeeze out and used it to seal off where the bottom meets the walls and the corners where the walls meet each other.
With the form done, next I set my boards in place then started to mix together the epoxy. My goal is to use this as a sight glass so it was really important to use an epoxy that would end up crystal clear. This brand Total Boat has always amazed me as how clear it comes out, so that’s what I used.
Be sure to read the instructions on how long to spend on mixing the two throughly together. Also, if you are needing epoxy, you can use the code AprilW to get 20% off anything TotalBoat.
Ah, Ok time to pour!
This is my first big-ish epoxy pour so I was a little nervous, but honestly there was no reason to be. I poured it down the center until it filled up to the surface, then waited for it to settled, then poured more.
You’ll see there are lots of bug holes in the sap wood of the mesquite and I really didn’t want these to get filled in because I think they look cool as little tunnels. Once you are done pouring, you can use a quick flame to pop all of the air bubbles in the epoxy, then make sure your form isn’t leaking, then just let it sit until cured.
The next day, I used a mallet to bust open the form and expose the pour. The sides came off easily enough but that tape….nope, that was stuck pretty darn good.
Instead of spending the time it would take to peel it off, I ended up sanding it off which wasn’t a big problem since the next step was to sand the front side and clean up all the excess epoxy. For this job I started with 80 grit and I used the more aggressive setting on my 6” triton ROS and this made quick work of the epoxy and the tape.
By just hitting it with 80 grit though, the epoxy is pretty scuffed up so the next step is to run through the grits and remove all the scratches further and further until it’s back to crystal clear. I used my ROS to go through all the grits I have pads for, which I only keep up to 320 in my shop….then I switched over to hand sanding and continued to 500, 800, 1000, 1500, then 3000.
The goal is to remove the scratches you made from the previous grit. After getting through 3000 the last step to really make it shine is to add some polish compound and buff it.
Alright, after adding polish compound, I took the piece to my grinding wheel, which has a buffing wheel on one side and used it to polish up the epoxy. This was kind of hard to do because of it’s size and middle placement, but I made it work on both the front and the back.
Annnnd now that all three components are made (the mechanism, the body, and the front) we can join them together. The front is really the main part that will be seen, because my dispenser will end up in my kitchen pantry so I picked out a brown that would compliment the mesquite wood.
Then for the mechanism, I painted it whatever sort of brown I had in a rattle can. : ) I didn’t think about it too much because you honestly can’t see it as the sight glass narrows where it is.
After attaching the body to the dispenser, I set it on a piece of ply to trace out for a back. I quickly cut that out then attached it using Quick and Thick once again.
For a lid I cut a piece of piano hinge to size, then threw it on using a few short screws.
Before attaching the top, I first squared up one edge, the top edge, over at the table saw using a cross cut sled.
Once I had that edge sorted, I measured down in two different places to the final length I needed the piece, this way I could use a Track Saw to cut it square.
Ok, so good so far!
This main piece of the front goes all the way down but top above the handle. Next, I used the table saw to rip off another small strip of the epoxy pour to attach right underneath the handle. After squaring both pieces up to the body and also making sure they were in line with each other (even though there is a gap in between them), I used the smallest drill bit I own to punch through the front face and into the body. My intention is to attach this face by using dowels but I don’t want to see them in the front at all…I’m calling them blind dowels but I don’t know if that is really a term or not.
After punching a few holes through the face and into the body, I could remove the top and have an exact location in both pieces to enlarge that would fit a dowel but also line up to one another. I used a piece of tape on my drill bit to mark a depth and make sure I wouldn’t go through the face.
I threw some Titebond and some 1/4” dowels in the holes, then crossed my fingers and hoped this method worked…..
I did throw it in clamps until this glue was dried. But then I used my favorite bit, which is the Infinity Mega Flush Trim bit, to match the shape of the body to the front.
I also used the Infinity round over bit after to soften it a tad by getting rid of those 90 degree edges, then ran over the entire front with 220 grit paper.
Now on to finish!
This is my first time working with mesquite but what a beautiful, beautiful wood. Not only the red brownish of the heart wood, but also that brilliant yellow sap wood. I also love that the majority of the bug holes stayed hollow.
After letting three coats dry, I hung it up. This will end up in my kitchen pantry but since I can’t easily get a camera in there, I hung it on my shop wall to show you how it works.
Dog food goes in the top……then pull the lever to have the set amount dispensed.
When I’m serving the dogs, I’ll place their food bowls under the dispenser but for testing purposes I was using a measuring cup.
What do y’all think!?
I wasn’t too sure about the live edge front when I started, but I’m really loving the way it came out. I think the sight glass is neat and I love being able to just pull the lever, the right amount of food fall into the bowl, then set it down for the hounds to start in on.
If you are interested in building your own, I do have a set of plans for the mechanism. You can find those HERE.
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up at the top of this page for my newsletter so you don’t miss new projects!
I’ll see you on my next project.
(Most of the links listed above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)
Today we’re exploring an expert’s theory that your childhood passions (specifically around 5th grade) could hold the key to what you’ll love doing most as an adult. It was fascinating to take a look back and see if the idea really held up for us. We’re also confessing to a mistake we made when hiring a pro for a recent house project and sharing what we’ll do differently from here on out. Plus it turns out that plants aren’t the powerful air purifiers we were promised, and the nerdiest decorating project you’ve ever heard in your life.
You can download this episode from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, and Spotify – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.
We’ve gotten hundreds of questions about the financial side of running an Airbnb or other short term vacation rental. Specifically: “can you detail the expenses and fees that take a bite out of the profit? Are there hidden costs? How exactly do rental taxes work? Insurance?! ACK!“
Whether the person asking us was considering doing one themselves, or just plain curious (talking about money = interested face emoji), we’re laying it all out in the hope that it demystifies it a little bit, and is helpful to anyone who might be on the fence about whether or not this is a viable side hustle. We actually really enjoyed learning the ins & outs of this stuff – so it’s fun to share what we learned.
Obviously there are expenses like actually purchasing, renovating, and furnishing a home that you’ll be using as a vacation rental.
One rocker requires six 1 x 6s of your choice of material. I had cedar left over from my picnic table (oh yeah, add that to the seating options list!) so that’s what I used.
I spent some time in my 3D modeling software designing the chair so that I could cut out some custom templates to make this job go a lot smoother. I started by tracing out the templates to the seat bottom and the seat back onto my cedar board.
Since cedar comes with only one side smooth and the other really fuzzy, I use the miter to cut the parts to rough length first but then run each part through the Thickness Planer before moving on. This will drastically reduce your sanding time later on. Since I made my stand for the planer mobile, I always move it out to my shop porch to keep the mess down. : ) Pro tip.
Moving back inside, I could now use the bandsaw to cut the parts out. On these, you only need two of each part and you could cut one, then use it for a template on the other. But I just took my time and cut both out individually and on my lines.
Once all four parts were cut out I started joining things together. Titebond III is the waterproof glue so it’s my go to choice for any projects ending up outside. This will probably always be under my porch, but still.
I flushed up the two angles on the parts, clamped them down using my self tensioning Armor tool clamps then countersunk first then drove in two screws.
I repeated the steps to make up a second, making sure to make it mirror the first and not identical.
Ok, lets make some slats to span across those two supports! I flipped out the wings on my miter saw stand, set a stop block to make these repeatable cuts go really fast but accurate, then chopped my board to length. Then I took them to the table saw to cut into strips.
I keep the remote to my ClearVue DC on the drop down to my saw, so when I walk over to use the saw, I can switch it on. BTW: Remember that I have a running 5% off coupon code (“Wilkerdos”) you can use on any ClearVue dust collection item.
Next was to round over all the edge for a softer look and also feel. I loaded all my slats up on my mobile workbench and wheeled them to my router table where I used a 1/2” Infinity round over bit on both of the long edges.
Ok, now load them back up and head back to the seat assemblies to start attaching them.
I went ahead and used a small dab of glue on the underside of each slat. It’s a small surface area but with every one having glue at both connection points, it really adds a lot of stiffness to the seat once it’s put together. Even though this will live it’s life under a porch and should be protected from the rain, I went ahead and used Titebond III since it’s a waterproof glue.
I started with the very back most slat on the base, then jumped to the very front and worked my way back from there.
I cut a spacer to make lining these up go quick.
You can see I’m also predriling using a countersink before I drive in the screws. This will prevent splitting as well as make sure the screw head is seated below the surface. Make sure to use exterior grade screws here.
Perfect, that’s the seat done. Lets set that aside for right now and bring in the parts that make up the legs.
I made these back when I was cutting up my other material, first ripping my boards to width at the table saw, then using the miter to cut the end angles and also the length of the boards.
Now the joinery on this chair is half laps, but it’s kind of a faux half lap. What I did was use two boards, cut to different lengths then glued together to create the half lap. Whereas if I was using thicker material then I would have carved away half of it to create this joint.
As I put together this leg, I have my long stretcher, then a short one. I position a leg flush to the end to line up where the short one goes.
I made sure to test fit the second leg in place as well and see if it’s flush too. Since it was, I wiped the long stretcher clean, laid down some Titebond III and assembled for real this time. Instead of waiting for it in clamps, I used a brad nailer to act a clamp while that glue set up, trying to remove as much as the glue squeeze out as possible once I was done attaching things.
Next I cut to length the second piece of the legs. I’ll call these the short legs, because I’m making another set of cheat style half laps here.
You’ll see in this shot here where I’m gluing them to the existing long legs.
I laid down wood glue, then attached the short legs to the long legs, making sure everything was lined up flush.
And now I have a half lap at both bottoms that will later join to the rockers.
Before moving on, lets do some clean up work. If you don’t like the brad nail holes, keep in mind you can always use clamps. Or what I do in cases like these is use a dab of Titebond’s fast setting wood glue called Thick and Quick. I shove a small amount in the nail hole, then rub some saw dust into it. You can use your finger but a scrap also works. Now you can hit it with a sander and the holes all but disappear.
Then while I was sanding, I gave all the parts up to this point a good run over, just hitting it with 180 grit right now. Then I took the frame to the router table and rounded over the edges on both sides with the same 1/2” bit.
Alright, lets talk about the rocker.
When I decided to tackle a rocking chair I had no idea how complicated it was. And this bottom rocker portion is the reason it’s a difficult piece of furniture, the length, the slope, the placement in relation to the legs….it all factors into if the chair works and also how well. You ever sit in a rocking chair and it has too short of a stride? Or one where it felt like you would go backwards? That’s due to these tricky rockers.
So what I did, was I grabbed a piece of cardboard then traced a rocker that I knew I like the feel of and created myself a template.
I used the bandsaw to cut it out then traced that on to a cedar board.
This part holds a lot of weight so when you are tracing this, tilt the template as much as you can to get as much straight grain running the length of the rocker.
When I cut this part at the bandsaw I cut as close on my line as possible then used my belt sander turned upside down and clamped to my workbench, to smooth it out. It’s really important that the bottom curve not any any hitches in it, so take your time here. Or you can buy my rocking chair templates and not worry about it.
Because once you have a template that’s good to go, you can use a flush trim bit to make the remaining three. I’m using what’s called the Mega Flush Trim bit by Infinity and it can flat get the job done. Remember to turn down the router speed if you get into a larger diameter bit.
Ok another pause for clean up work. I wanted this rocker to fit into the half lap of the legs seamlessly which means I needed these short legs to match the curve of the top of the rocker. If you buy the Rocking Chair Templates, the short leg template will have this curve for you. But since I was doing this part as I went, I would set the part in place, saw where the high spots were, then used my palm belt sander to knock them down. This is such a good sander because the belt is flush on one side, meaning I could easily get into this 90 degree tight spot with ease.
Now even though things looked good, I wanted to do a dry fit and test it out before I did the joinery in the rockers. So what I did was clamp one rocker to the chair legs…..clamped the seat to the legs…..then tested it out.
I was nervous about two things: 1) the rocking action feeling awful and 2) the clamps not holding and me busting my butt. Haha, thankfully neither was an issue.
As you can see, I was thrilled it worked. Since it worked, lets make the second rocker. On the first rocker I held it in position then cut around the long leg. This gave me the half lap position that I could use a bandsaw or jigsaw to cut out.
This would make this piece way too weak to do any good except…a full rocker gets laminated directly on top of it. This not only makes it strong but also gives the outside a smooth look all the way down the rocker : )
Of course when gluing the rockers together, it’s really important they are lined up properly so you have a smooth rock. Just the same, it’s important to get all the glue squeeze out cleaned up afterwards as well.
After repeating to make a second, it was time to attach them to the body. I found the best way to do this was to lay it on it’s side to attach the first one.
I applied more Titebond III then set it in clamps for a few hours before standing it up and repeating on the second side. Using the help of my multi stand to prop up the front while the back end rested on my workbench.
After the glue was dried on both sides, I reinforced these connections with some oak dowels. To do this, I grabbed a forester bit and drove about 1/2” through the leg. I placed two dowels at each connection, so four total per side.
Ok even though it looks like a rocker, there is still one last component….arms. I wasn’t yet sure where the arms would fall on the back so when I was slatting, I just made them all the same. To make way for the arms to extend past the slats, I used my multi tool to nip off the ends of the same slat.
I used my template to trace out, then cut, then round over each one of the arms, before I positioned it on top of the legs and attached it.
I originally thought to do some blind dowels to pin this to the legs, but since the screws are exposed on the seat, I figured these would blend in as well. Of course, countersinking here as well to seat them under the surface, giving it a nice smooth feel. Then on the back, I punched a hole through and attached it using a carriage bolt.
And that’s it! Ahhh, I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m so happy with it.
I will probably end up putting some finish on it, but I just love the way the cedar looks so I’ll leave it for the mean time.
If you would like templates, I have them available HERE.
Getting rid of stuff is hard, especially when it comes to kids and their creations. So this week we’re sharing the simple trick we use to keep everything from arts and crafts to forts and cardboard box villages from taking over our house, without putting a damper on creativity. Spoiler alert: this trick works for adults and our favorite things too! Plus, armed with an expert’s advice and a new guideline for how much indoor greenery a home should have for optimal air quality, Sherry doubles down on our home’s plant collection. Also, why things got weird when we switched sides of the bed – and the embarrassing dangers of moving furniture.
You can download this episode from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, and Spotify – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.
If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the wallpaper bandwagon, let this post be the soothing voice that gently strokes your hair and says “don’t worry my pet, wallpaper doesn’t have to be hard, permanent, or expensive. Also your hair looks good today, and I should probably stop touching it because I don’t know you like that.”
Adding wallpaper to the middle bedroom at our beach house took us just a few hours and cost us less than $100. It’s a whole lotta bang for not much buck (or extra high skill level). Plus it’s 100% removable so if we ever tire of it or want to swap it for something else, it’s not a big deal. So in this post we’ll show you exactly how we hung it, including a video I took of my lovely husband hanging a panel for you in real-time while I talk and point (you know, the things I’m most known for).