August 10, 2012

Mindblowing projects to make by melting old LP records

 

If you have an oven and a collection of old LPs, you can have as much fun as possible with your clothes on.  

The PVC vinyl that old records are made from becomes pliable at extremely low temperatures.  Here are some creations you can try.  For complete instructions, see my weekly column.

Note: The vinyl melts in just a few minutes and is warm to the touch when you pull it from the 200-degree oven (don't use a hotter oven or the vinyl will start releasing toxins).  You can form it by hand immediately, but use leather gloves if you're nervous.  

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All beginners in Record Upcycling should try a bowl.  

Pressing the vinyl between two bowls will give you a more predictable outcome:

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But why be all conventional with your bowls?  Squeeze the vinyl for a more extreme effect.

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Or cinch it down into a desk accessory:

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Cut the vinyl into strips and form the strips into napkin rings that suit your musical friends/family:

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Or form the strips into hooks for towels or jewelry:

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While it's warm, cut a record in half, then reheat it and form it into a sconce:

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Here's how to fasten the sconce to a wood base; first, use a regular drill bit inserted through the record's hole to drill through the two layers of vinyl that form the back of the sconce.  

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Next, use a screwdriver to drive a short screw into the wooden base:

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You can form the vinyl into a cylindrical sleeve to slip over a bud vase.  (Wrap it around a rolling pin or a piece of hardwood dowel)

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I'm experimenting with painting the vinyl in case you don't have a penchant for shiny Seventies-looking vinyl accessories.  Whatever the case, isn't it fun to know how to upcycle your vinyl records into a funky personal statement?




 

July 27, 2012

Milk paint experiment; it smells great and boy, does it last

I've been experimenting with making my own interior and exterior non-VOC paint this week after reading about the durability of 9,000-year-old paintings found in Asia and Egypt.  

I didn't have room for all of my findings in my weekly column (recipes included), so this is a little addendum.  

Using concrete colourant, which is available at hardware stores, I tinted my first small batches of paint.  I got some nice golds and reds (one coat).

Bird Feeder

Then I added a little titanium dioxide (available at pottery supply places for less $ than art supply places) to some of my skim milk/Borax base and got a beautiful 'pickling' stain, which I rubbed into a rustic cricket bench.  The pigment built up in the rough texture (it's a little hard to see in the photo).  This formulation would look great on an urban fence or deck.

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Next, I used an exterior grade formulation made from cottage cheese and lime (which I learned about here) to coat this bench top (tinted with 'medium buff' concrete colourant).  On the buttermilk-coloured legs and base I used a two-layer cross-linking alkaline/acid formulation that I learned about from this very smart person. (To get the warm colour on the legs/base, I tinted the acidic topcoat with titanium dioxide and a tiny bit of 'lemon yellow' concrete colourant.)

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I literally did NO PREP on this bench - no brushing, scraping, or even wiping with a rag. Okay, I removed one old coccoon, but that's it.  The bench had been outside for about 10 years and the original 5 coats of water-based urethane had flaked into oblivion.  Note to self: never use water-based urethane for exterior applications; it can't hack the Canadian climate.

This is the bench after a borate-laced coat of casein (milk) paint, which I made from skim millk and Borax laundry additive. 

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After all of the experimenting, I think the milk/Borax formulation is the easiest to work with.  It produces a clear matte finish on bare wood (bye bye forever water-based urethane) and can be tinted easily by making a paste of water and concrete colourant and then mixing it into the milk/Borax base.  

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You can make the milk/Borax stuff into an opaque white by adding lime and titanium dioxide till it's nice and thick.

Of course you can order milk paint powder from either of these two places if you don't want to go the wet 'n' wild route:

The Real Milk Paint Company (U.S.)

HomeStead House Milk Paint (Canada)

I'm aiming to paint 400 feet of fence with my own homemade milk paint later this fall. Anybody want to help?

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July 26, 2012

$50 Lowe's gift card giveaway

via www.mommykatandkids.com

Canadian blogger Kat at MommyKatandKids built our camp stools project with her two little ones and they did an awesome job! She's offering a $50 Lowe's gift card to a reader who wants to try one of Lowe's Family Fun Projects with their kids or grandkids. Check out the contest here.

July 03, 2012

Proof that little kids should be allowed to use power tools

In case there's any doubt in your mind about whether someone as young as 4 years old can use a drill or a saw, just watch these faces...

(See 15 easy building projects for kids 3-9)

 

May 25, 2012

An indoor/outdoor fort made from PVC pipe

Princess Castle

Who doesn't love a fort?  Especially if it looks like a medieval fantasy pavilion!  I made this little castle with my 3-year-old friend Charlotte using four 10-foot lengths of 3/4-inch PVC pipe.  Charlotte loved fitting the pieces together and painting her own banner.  Instructions and video available with other kid-friendly summer projects at Lowe's Family Fun Projects

May 15, 2012

Not your average growth chart

Last week I built a cool growth chart with my 4-year-old friend Quintyn (with some help from his little brother, Kai).  The design has sandy beaches (made from sanded caulking), sea walls (made from pea gravel), tiny houses (made from 2x2 poplar scraps with sandpaper roofs) and the metal tape from a busted tape measure, which acts as the yellow line going up the middle of the road.  Magnetic cars slide up and down the tape to measure kids' heights. SO FUN! I'm learning so much from these little kids with their fearless approach to design and colour.  No hesitation, EVER!   A video and free plans for the growth chart are available now at Lowe's Family Fun Projects.

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Growth Chart

May 07, 2012

Lowe's Canada invests in kids with new online building series

 

Here's our latest media release...
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Lowe's Family Fun Projects pilot series features 20 kid-friendly building projects designed by Mag Ruffman (toolgirl.com) for kids 3 and up.  The first 5 projects are now live online at lowes.ca/kidsvideos

From chalkboard tables to hockey nets built with PVC pipe, Lowe's Family Fun Projects give families video instruction AND free downloadable plans.  

“The videos are shot with real kids, not actors, and the free plans are insanely detailed with tonnes of photos,” says Mag Ruffman (Ruffman Entertainment Inc.), series creator and producer, “because text without pictures makes learning frustrating, especially for kids.  We deliver an extremely graphical package to make it easy for anyone to make these projects.”

The kids' projects require simple hand tools along with a few beginner power tools.  Kids learn clamping, gluing, sanding, driving screws, painting and taping, while adults do most of the cutting.

“We’ve shot 12 episodes so far,” says Ruffman, “and every one of the kids has asked to come back again.  They love building, they love using their hands, they love being free to make some of their own design decisions, and they love taking home what they built!”

Ruffman and partner Daniel Hunter (executive producer) pitched the series to several television networks last year, but the liability issues around kids using tools became a barrier.  

So they turned to Lowe’s Canada.  “Lowe’s already conducts regular Saturday workshops for kids. They were quick to respond to our proposal and I’m really proud of this partnership.” says Ruffman, whose previous television series taught women and beginners to attempt home repairs and build their own furniture.

Ruffman is on a mission to help children develop their 3D aptitude and design cognition. “We’re at a turning point in history.  There have been 2 generations now of kids who receive little or no encouragement to use their hands.  They’re directed into professions and discouraged from entering trades or becoming artists or artisans.  There will be a shortfall of 1,000,000 skilled tradespeople by 2020 in Canada.  After 4 million years of evolution, today’s kids have the potential to be the best tool-users of all time.  But they’ve got to get it early or key brain development is lost, eye-hand coordination doesn’t develop, and you get students at MIT who have to be hauled out of class and put in practicum courses because they have no idea how to use a hammer or which way to turn a screwdriver.  Human brilliance isn’t only in the mind; it’s in the hands.”

Family Fun Projects will launch officially in mid-June when all 20 pilot videos are online.

 

 

April 03, 2012

World's best fix-it compound Sugru now in primary colors!

Great news for hackers and fixers - Sugru, the mouldable silicone putty that air-cures to resilient toughness so you can repair or improve ANYTHING - is now available in primary colours that combine to create ANY SHADE on earth!!!

 

March 12, 2012

The (Kreg) Jig is Up! How you can start building furniture now, even if you're a noob.

One Jig to Rule Them All

Hot tool helps newbies build fantastic furniture  

Photo

Stephanie Reavis' beautiful cabinet constructed with a Kreg Jig

 

As spring sneaks in, it’s fun to go through each room in your house and create a punch list of things you’d like to change, add or replace.  The list can hold all of the items that bug you, from minor to major, not including relatives.  

Don’t hold back; put everything down on that list, from faucet repairs to paint jobs to pictures that no longer give you a happy feeling.  If there’s anything you see that messes with your well being - ping! (magic wand sound effect) - it goes on the list.  

If your list reveals lots of holes in the furnishings department, don't be bummed.  It’s never been easier to build stuff.  And try not to feel overwhelmed if you've got a long list; here are a few of my must-builds for comparison:  

  • pine recycling center for the kitchen
  • wainscoting in basement
  • big framed whiteboard for the home office
  • computer hutch for the kitchen
  • matching nightstands for the master bedroom
  • built-in cabinets and shelves for the master bedroom
  • floor-to-ceiling bookshelves for the den
  • window bench in the guest room
  • bed frame and headboard for the guest room
  • storage benches in the mudroom 
  • storage shelves for dumbbells in the workout room
  • built-in storage for the laundry room
  • tool storage shelves and boxes in the workshop

So, what are the chances of any of these projects actually getting built, whether in your house or mine? 

Pretty darn good.  Even if your desire level is way higher than your budget.  

Continue reading "The (Kreg) Jig is Up! How you can start building furniture now, even if you're a noob." »

March 06, 2012

Standing room only in Halifax for free samples of @sugru

 

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It was standing room only at the Real Home Show in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I had 5 packed shows and we gave away more than 500 free packs of Sugru (not an affiliate link), the silicon putty that fixes, improves and customizes just about anything. Lots of people brought busted stuff for me to fix, and we had some great laughs. Thanks to Herald Homes for inviting me to speak, and to Sugru for supplying the free samples for all of our show visitors. And it was great to meet some of you there!

One of my favourite repairs was Margie's hose reel, which had a cracked housing.  

 

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We reinforced and buttressed the bejeez out of the plastic base, which had split around one of the screws.  Naturally we did our best to complement Margie's colourful personality using orange, blue, green and marbled black and white Sugru!

 

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Plus, I learned (well, sort of) to step dance at the opening night party, courtesy of Herald Homes editor Claudia White! Toe, heel, toe, hop, bang bang...

 

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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie