Sunday, May 17, 2015

DIY Worm Composting Bin

Lately, everyone has been talking about ways to Go Green. Making your own worm composting bin is a cheap, easy, and fun way to Go Green! Not only does it decrease the amount of waste you need to throw away, but it results in amazing nutrient-rich organic fertilizer for your garden, flowers, lawn, or even your house plants.

You can buy fancy bins at your local hardware store, or from multiple places on-line. Or you can save a bunch of money and make your own!

Needed Materials:
2 Rubbermaid-type containers
Drill
Small Blocks of wood or rocks
Newspaper
Cardboard
Food Scraps
Dirt
Red Wriggler Worms




Step 1: Drill the Drainage holes.
Drill small holes in the bottom of one of your bins. This is going to be the bin that the worms will be in, so you don't want to make the holes too large. I used a 1/8" drill bit. The purpose of these holes is to provide drainage. Most of the time, there will be little or no drainage. But if you feed them something like watermelon, you are going to need the drainage holes. Place the holes on the lowest part of your bin, since that is where the liquid would be most likely to pool.


Step 2: Drill the ventilation holes.
Drill larger holes near the top edge of the same bin that you drilled the drainage holes. Keep in mind that this bin is going to be placed inside the other bin. Make sure the holes are near the top, so they won't be covered by the other bin. I used a 1/2" drill bit. If you don't have a large drill bit, just drill many small holes. Don't worry, as long as you provide a healthy environment for your worms, they are not going to escape out of these holes. If you are worried, you could cover these holes with a fine mesh.

Step 3: Place your spacers.
Put some scrap blocks of wood or some rocks inside the outer bin. This is the bin without the holes. The purpose of these is to hold the inner bin up a little for the drainage. If you don't have scrap wood pieces or rocks, just look around for something around your house that will elevate the inner bin a couple inches.

Step 4: Insert your inner bin into the outer bin.


Step 5: Rip up some newspaper and lay it on the bottom. 
I like to rip it into squarish pieces, but you may like to use strips. Whatever you like is fine, this is going to provide the bedding. Be sure to only use the normal newspaper pages. Do not use the shiny ad pages of the newspaper. The inks that they use for those can be toxic to the worms.


Step 6: Cut up some cardboard and add it to the bedding. 
Again, you want to use normal cardboard. Do not use any that is coated in that shiny stuff and be sure that any area that was taped or had a sticker on it is not used. The glues in the stickers and tapes can also be harmful.


Step 7: Moisten the bedding.
I forgot to take a picture of this step, but wet your newspaper and cardboard. It should be wet, but you should not be able to squeeze any water out of it.

Step 8: Get your worms ready.
I ordered my worms from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. I had bought from them before and they also have a live guarantee, but I know there are several other suppliers out there.

I received my worms within 3 days, but I was a little worried when I saw the package. I don't know what the post office did, but the box was completely smashed.



Luckily, my worms seemed alright. I opened them up as soon as I got them and gave them a good watering. They were pretty dry from shipping. Within an hour of getting some water, they started to perk up.

Step 9: Add your food scraps, dirt, and worms.
Worms do not have teeth, so they eat dirt to aid in their digestion. Worms will eat most fruit and vegetable scraps. Things like apple cores, watermelon rinds, potato peelings, and banana peels are good, but try to limit or avoid feeding them citrus fruits, onion or garlic. If you feed them something that has seeds, like pumpkin, they will eat it but they do not digest the seeds. So you will find seeds when it comes time to harvest the compost. They also like to eat coffee grounds, tea bags, breads, egg shells, pet hair, and even dryer lint. If you use a liquid fabric softener, do not feed them your dryer lint. Do not feed them any dairy, oils, salty foods, or meats.


Step 10: Cover the entire pile with wet newspaper, packing paper, or cardboard. 
This helps to keep everything moist and also helps to darken it. Worms do not like light, so the darker the better for them. Try to store your bin either in a darker area inside your house or a shady area outside. I keep mine in my basement. Ideally, you want them to stay around 60-75 degrees F. If they get too cold or too hot, they will die.


Step 11: Continue to feed your worms, as you have food scraps to feed them.
Remember to also continue to provide them with things like newspaper and to keep everything moist. The amount that you feed them, really depends on many factors. They can generally consume about half their body weight a day. But what they are eating, how warm it is and how moist it is all come into play. Also, they are going to reproduce, so you can't really know the exact weight of your worms at any given time.

Step 12: Harvest your vermicompost.
Your worms will consume your table scraps and turn them into a very dense, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. An easy way to harvest without picking through the worms is to feed on only one end of the bin. When you want to harvest that side, just start feeding on the other end of the bin. The worms will move to the food. Then you can easily scoop out the vermicompost.


Step 13: Add your vermicompost to your garden, yard, or even mix it with water to make worm tea and use it to water your houseplants. You will have amazing results!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

DIY Workshop Step Stool

Ana White is currently hosting the #GetBuilding2015 challenge. This month's theme is #BuildCave which involves building something for your workshop. Originally, I had planned on building something to corral and organize my scrap wood. It had been shoved in piles and I had to dig through it whenever I wanted to build something.

While I was in the basement trying to think up a plan to build, I realized that I had an old metal filing cabinet that I hadn't used in years. I took out the drawers, turned it on its side, and it was the perfect solution! The only problem was the shorter pieces were getting lost in the bottom. I simply put some empty cat litter buckets in the holes where the drawers used to be. I put the longer pieces around the bucket and the shorter pieces inside the bucket. It worked out perfectly. But, I no longer had an idea about what to make for the challenge.


While I was putting some stuff away on the top shelf of one of the shelving units, I realized that I could use a step stool. I had been standing on top of a Rubbermaid tote whenever I needed to get to the top shelf. I searched the internet for some ideas for a simple step stool and I found this plan on familyhandyman.com. This would perfectly fit my needs. Not only does it give me a step stool, but also a small table top or stool to sit on.


This step stool does not take much to make. I actually had all the needed supplies in my scrap pile. If you need to buy the supplies, you can buy everything for under $10. You can view the complete plan here. I did not follow the plans exactly, but here are the steps I took to make it.

Needed materials:
2 - 1" x 3" x 8'
1 - 1" x 4" x  2'
1 - 1" x 6" x 3'
1 - 1" x 8" x 2'
Saw
Countersink drill bit
Kreg Jig (optional)
1 1/4" wood screws
2" wood screws
1 1/4" pocket hole screws (optional)
Wood glue
Hinges
Sander or sandpaper

Step 1: Cut your boards. I started out using my miter saw for this, but it broke and I finished it with my circular saw.

Needed Cuts:
4 - 1" x 3" at 25" (legs)
6 - 1" x 3" at 14" (rungs)
1 - 1" x 4" at 16" (back brace)
2 - 1" x 6" at 16" (steps)
2 - 1" x 8" at 19" (top)


Step 2: Using wood glue and countersunk 1 1/4" screws, attach the top rung to the legs. This rung should be flush with the top of the legs.


Step 3: Using wood glue and countersunk 1 1/4" screws, attach the middle and bottom rungs to the legs. The top of the middle rung should be 8 3/4" from the top of the top rung. The top of the bottom rung should be 17 1/4" from the top of the top rung. Make two sets of these.


Step 4: Using a Kreg jig set at the 3/4" setting, drill pocket holes in each end of the back brace. You can skip this step if you are not using pocket holes.


Step 5: Using the pocket hole screws, attach the back brace to the legs. You could also use 2" countersunk screws to attach the brace.


Step 6: Using wood glue and countersunk 2" screws, attach the two steps. The bottom step should be flush with the front. The second step should be 3 1/2" in from the front.


Step 7: Attach hinges to the two top pieces. The plans suggest using non-mortise hinges. I just grabbed regular hinges that I had at home. It left a slightly larger gap between the two boards on the top, but that's not a big deal.


Step 8: Using wood glue and countersunk 2" screws, attach the back top piece to the top rung.


Step 9: I normally would fill any holes with putty, at this stage. But since I am only going to be using this when I am working in the basement, I did not bother with this. If I ever decide to use it somewhere else, I can do it at that time.

Step 10: Sand all surfaces. I gave this a quick once over with my Random Orbital Sander. I actually won this sander as a give-away over at Home Repair Tutor. If you haven't checked out that site before, it is definitely worth it. He has a ton of great ideas!


Step 11: I normally would paint or stain at this point, but I don't need it to look pretty in my workshop. I may decide to paint it at a later time.

Step 12: Enjoy your new step stool/table!



This was really easy to make and I know I will use quite a bit.

If I was to do this again, I would have used pocket holes screwed into the rungs to attach the steps and the top. I didn't think about doing this until after I had the ladders built, so I only used pocket holes for the back brace.

Be sure to check out all the other #BuildCave projects on Ana-White.com.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

DIY Scrap 2x4 Bunny

Although there is still some snow lingering in the back yard, I wanted to make a quick spring decoration. I dug through my scrap wood pile for some inspiration. This past winter, my Little Sister made these cute snowmen out of 2x4s. I love how they turned out!


I decided I would make a bunny out of some scrap wood. 


If you would like to make your own, here are the steps I took to make mine.

Needed materials:
2" x 4" @ 6"
1" x 2" - @ 7"
1/4" plywood scrap (optional)
Paint
Wood Glue
Sander or sanding block
Miscellaneous craft supplies (ribbon, wire, pom pom, felt, foam sheet, fabric, etc.)

Step 1: Cut your wood. I used scraps, so I did not have to cut anything, but here are the sizes I used. You can make your cuts any length you want.

Wood cuts:
1 - 2" x 4" cut at 6" (body) - I grabbed a scrap that was about 6" long.
2 - 1" x 2" cut at 3 1/2" (ears) - I used scraps that were about 3 1/2" long.
1 - 1/4" plywood cut at 1 3/8" triangle (nose) - I used a scrap from when I made the charging stations, so the dimensions were not perfect at all. These would also be cute with a larger or smaller sized nose. If you don't have any 1/4" plywood laying around, you could use a piece of felt or foam or even just paint the nose on.


Step 2: Sand your wood pieces. I forgot to take a picture of this step, so this is an old picture, but sand everything. You may also want to round the corners on the nose.


Step 3: Paint your bunny body, ears, and nose. Again, I just used paint that was left over from other projects.


I didn't bother making a template for the inside of the ears. I just painted it by free hand. If you don't want to paint, you could glue on felt, foam, or other fabric for the inside of the ears.


Step 4: Using wood glue, glue on the ears and nose. Again, I forgot to take a picture at that step. Sorry! 

Step 5: Paint on the eyes and mouth. I just did this by free handing it. I'm not very artsy, so my eyes are not great. You could also try using googly eyes for a goofy looking bunny.


Step 6: Add the whiskers and bow. I used some floral wire for the whiskers and a piece of ribbon and a button for the bow. 


Step 7: Add the tail. A bunny would not be complete without a pom pom or cotton ball tail.


This was super easy to make and it didn't cost me anything at all! What makes it great is that it is completely customizable! This would also make a great spring craft for the kids!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DIY Land of Nod Inspired Tabletop Puppet Theater

Ana White is currently hosting a #GetBuilding2015 challenge. This month's theme is #ScrapWorkLove which requires the use of scrap wood to create a project. My niece's 4 year birthday was coming up, so I decided I would make something for her. I looked through my wood scraps and tried to come up with a project. A few years ago, I had made this puppet stage for another niece and she loved it.

I didn't have enough scrap materials to make something that large, plus this was going to be for a 4 year old, so I decided to make something smaller. I saw Land of Nod's Tabletop Theater. I knew this would be perfect! My measurements are not exactly the same as the Land of Nod version because I was using scrap wood, but it worked out great! You can easily adjust this to make due with the scraps you have on hand.
If you do not have scraps, here are the needed materials:
1 - 1" x 6" x 3'
1 - 1" x 4" x 10' (You can get an 8' board, but you will need to change the 21" cuts to 20 1/2" cuts)
1 - 1" x 3" x 4'
1 - 3/8" x 3' dowel or a tension rod
Saw (I used a miter saw and a jig saw, but you could even use a hand saw)
Kreg Jig or countersink drill bit
1 1/4" pocket hole screws or wood screws
Spade drill bit (if you are using a dowel)
paint or stain
small amount of fabric
needle and thread or sewing machine
Coat hooks (optional)

Here are the steps I took to make the puppet stage.

Step 1: Cut your boards. I used a miter saw for most of the cuts. but any saw will do.
1 - 1" x 6" cut at 18" (bottom sign)
2 - 1" x 4" cut at 21" (sides)
1 - 1" x 4" cut at 18" (top sign)
2 - 1" x 4" cut at 18" (stage and top sign base)
2 - 1"x 3" cut at 6 1/2" (bases)
1 - 3/8" dowel cut at 20 1/2" or a tension rod
Step 2: Using a Kreg jig set a the 3/4" setting, drill pocket holes in each end of the inside of the stage, and top sign base. 
Step 3: Using a Kreg jig set a the 3/4" setting, drill pocket holes in each end and the top of the inside of the top sign and the bottom sign.
Step 4: Using the pocket hole screws, attach the bottom sign to the sides. If you don't want to use pocket holes, you can use countersunk screws.
Step 5: Follow this process for both sides.
Step 6: Using the pocket hole screws, attach the stage to the sides and bottom sign.
Step 7: Follow the same process for the top sign and top sign base.
Step 8: Draw the curve for the front edge of the bases. An easy way to do this is to trace around a paint can or something similar.
Step 9: Use a jig saw to cut around the curve. If you don't have a jig saw, you can just leave these as blocks on the sides instead of being curved.
Step 10: Attach the bases to the sides using countersunk screws from the inside of the sides.
Step 11: Using a spade bit, drill holes into the sides where you want to place the dowel.
Step 12: Drill a small hole in each end of the dowel (This step is optional.)
Step 13: Make your curtains. I am not an expert at sewing, but these were pretty simple. Just cut your curtains to size. Fold over about 1/4" and sew around the edges. Fold over the top edge. Be sure to make this long enough to fit the dowel or tension rod. Sew that top part down.
Step 14: Slide your dowel into the hole in the side. Slide the curtains on, and put the dowel through the other side.
Step 15: I wanted to ensure that the dowel would not slide back and forth, so I put some small screws into the ends of the dowel. This also will allow the curtains to be removed and washed or changed.
Step 16: I also placed a couple coat hooks on the sides so hold the curtains back. This is not necessary. You could also use a ribbon or a piece of the fabric to tie the curtain back.
Step 17: Fill any holes with putty, sand all surfaces, and paint or stain. I normally paint everything at the end, but because I was using more than one color, I decided to paint as I went.

Step 18: Have fun! My niece loved her new puppet stage. 
It was a Frozen party, so the puppet show starred Elsa and Olaf. She had a great time!



This was a quick build and did not cost a thing to make! You can make easily make one for a fraction of what it costs to buy. This would also make a great classroom gift!