Friday, February 24, 2017

My first wood burning project!

So I've used a LOT of tools over the years and feel comfortable with all of them. But I still get intimidated when I use a new one! (The tile saw made me sweat the first time, till I realized how easy it was to use!) If someone is interested in learning how to use a new tool I tell them to do two things -- do a ton of research (blogs are a GREAT resource 😉) and take your time and "get to know" the tool before you use it. 

When I'm trying something for the first time I take my time unboxing it and putting it tougher, and read all of the paperwork that comes with it. This helps to ease me into it and makes me feel more comfortable. I also look up videos to see how people use the tool. 

Recently the folks at Dremel asked me to share a DIY project using their Dremel Maker Kit and I was honored they asked...but nervous to try something new!:
Dremel maker kit review for burning and cutting wood

I laugh when I think about that because I feel totally comfortable using my huge compound miter saw but these little Dremel tools were intimidating me. I think it happens to everyone -- and I think it's a good thing because you don't want be overly confident when you use a tool for the first time.

This maker kit comes with three tools -- the Dremel 200 rotary tool, which can be used for a variety of DIY projects. The Dremel engraver is for engraving stone, metal and wood. And the VersaTip soldering torch, which I was most excited about, is for burning into wood, soldering or cutting: 
Dremel three piece tool set

I had a project in mind and I knew either the engraver or the VersaTip would work:
Dremel tool kits

I worked in the garage on a large scrap piece of wood and started trying them out (after reading all the materials on operation). 

I tried the engraver first and it was so cool and incredibly easy to use: 
Dremel engraving tool

I knew right away this wasn't the look I wanted but I am thinking of ways I can use this one on metal or glass in the future. 

I really wanted to give this project a burned look so I decided to try the VersaTip instead. You need to fill the tool with butane -- we already had some for filling our candle lighters. You flip the tool upside down and then press the butane nozzle into it. It only takes a few seconds to fill it up -- you'll feel the canister getting cold: 
Butane Dremel wood burner

You need to let the butane warm up a bit and then it's ready to use! 

It was incredibly easy to operate -- there's a safety switch but once you flip that up it's just like a lighter. You'll hear the torch start burning and you'll see it as well: 
Dremel VersaTip for wood burning crafts

You can smell the butane a bit -- that's another reason you may want to try this project outside. It's not overpowering by any means. This tool comes with a bunch of tips for different projects -- from cutting to soldering to burning. I found this one above to be the easiest for this project. 

On a side note -- I was thrilled to learn that I can use this tool for caramelizing foods as well. I've always wanted to try making creme brûlée at home and now I can! :) 

Once I was comfortable with using the tool, I printed out what I wanted to burn into the wood. A friend of ours is getting married later this year and I thought this would be a cute addition to their gift. I LOVE adding a handmade or personal gift for weddings or baby showers and used to do it a lot. I'm trying to get back to that. :) 

I found a package of wood slices at Michael's for this project and taped the image onto the wood: 
Burning wood with Dremel tool

Then I traced the letters with a pen to transfer the image to the wood like I showed you how to do here

On some of them I found it was helpful to trace the imprint with a pen before I started with the tool. I took the paper off (don't leave it on there with a flame!) and started burning the shapes into the wood:
Wedding gift wood coasters

This is not a quick project -- you'll want to take your time and be methodical about it. I started with a lighter hand to get my shape and would go back over it to get the darker burnt look. 

I think they turned out SO cute. I'm kind of in love with them. In my head I made these planning to gift them as coasters so I added a couple layers of wipe on polyurethane:
DIY wedding gift/craft

But really, they could be used in so many ways!

I added some felt stickers to the bottom of each one so they don't scratch: 
DIY wood slice coasters

I tried to do wedding-type images -- their initials, the heart (like one you would see carved into a tree) and the Roman numeral for the day they're getting married and the year: 
DIY wood slice wood burning craft
I think they'll make great coasters! But they could be used in so many other ways too -- I could see them as super cute ornaments if they decide to drill a hole into the top of each one. I also think they'd be fun as art in a shadow box or placed on top of a black background in a frame. They could also be used as small trivets for dishes -- there are so many uses!

I just think they're plain cute and I smile when I see them. The bride and groom are a fun young couple and I hope they'll enjoy them too: 
Wood burning craft/gift with wood slices

I'm so glad I tried this tool and got over being intimidated by something new. Of course after I used it I realized how easy it was! We have a Dremel cutting tool that I've used in the past but this set is more for precision crafts and items where you want to add more detail. I highly recommend it if you are interested in doing those types of projects. 

Have you tried this tool for any crafts or DIY projects? I though it was fun and it wasn't nearly as intimidating to use as I thought it would be. I felt comfortable with it within minutes of trying it out and burning the wood was fun. My mind is swimming with ideas for future projects! Now I'm off to make creme brûlée! ;) 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How we hide the TV electronics

Hello there! First of all, I know there is a weird redirect going on with my site and I'm trying to get it figured out. I'm still here! Go ahead and click through if you get the notice and hopefully I'll have it fixed shortly. 

You all have been so helpful the past couple of weeks! If you missed my review of our family room sectional earlier this week, check it out here. You all had some great ideas that may be helpful for you those of you with similar issues. I've already tried adding a pillow to our cushions and it made them way too thick, but I'm going to keep working on it. 

I have a whole post planned soon about the best way to hang your TV without seeing cables and cords everywhere (safely). But this post goes into more detail on how we hid our electronics in our family room. I didn't want to have the components out if we could help it and this was a perfect solution! 

When we took down a wall and extended our family room years ago we had to build our gas fireplace out into the room. Usually there's a little "dog house" bump out outside that your fireplace sits in, but ours had been a corner fireplace. Adding that bump out would have required permits and a lot more time. 

Since the fireplace was going to come out into the room anyway, I figured out a solution to reconfigure kitchen cabinets (like I do a lot in our house) and make them into built ins to hide the electronics:

I didn't do that part personally -- the guys we hired expanded them in the back so they would be deep enough to hold the electronics. We used upper cabinets because the lower ones were too deep for what we needed. I had them extend these to 18 inches deep instead of 12 inches like the original cabinet. 

I later cut the center part of the doors off and then installed metal sheeting so the components could breathe: 

I love that the sheeting lets air flow, but also still hides the items inside pretty well. The best part -- the remotes still work! 

Here's how it looks inside: 

THIS is important and I will go into this more at a later date -- do not run power cords through the wall. I learned years ago this is NOT the correct way to hang a TV. We had an electrician/AV professional install the proper outlets and plugs behind the TV. (Power and receptacles for all HDMI, etc.) 

I had the fake wall built above the fireplace so I could recess the TV back into it and have it sit flush with that wall when it's pushed back:

I love that you don't see the wires behind the TV or the mount when the TV is in it's regular position (it also pulls out, swivels and can go up or down). I highly recommend this little trick if you are considering hanging your TV -- especially with a mount that pulls out!

The other cabinet is pure storage which is awesome! Those fabric covered bins are from IKEA and I have all our extra remotes, phone accessories and random electronic stuff inside. I LOVE having this storage in the family room:

I love even more that there is empty space in there! :) 

This fireplace wall is the focal point of our family room for sure. I think it turned out so well. The fact that the electronics are hidden away makes it even better:

I still haven't hidden the subwoofer, but now it doesn't even bother me. Years ago I was going to  build some kind of cover for it, but now we hardly notice it.

These DIY tricks are what completely transformed this wall -- it's another spot in our home that looks good but also functions wonderfully as well.

Here are some more helpful projects from this wall if you are interested!

How I used $13 to panel the wall behind the TV:

And I just did this again this morning! I share how to clean the (inside) glass on your gas fireplace

It's actually quite easy! :) Ours gets yucky every year and this helps tremendously!