Baby mattress pads (and they actually are DIY)
You know those baby mattress pads that have vinyl on one side and a thin layer of padding? We had several for both the bed and the changing table. They start to pill a bit and look ratty, so I have never known what to do with them. I didn't think Goodwill would want to sell them, but I hated to throw them away. One day, eureka! They are awesome for protecting your work surface (like your nice kitchen table - honey, don't get mad...) They keep your glue, stain, whatever off because of the vinyl, and the padding keeps your wood piece from scratch the surface (again, sorry honey that I discovered this after the fact.)
Not DIY related at all, but the best new baby tip I got was to buy 3 of these and 3 sheets. Layer them on the bed so that when an accident happens at 3 am, all you do is pull the top sheet and pad off, and the new clean sheet is already there. This also works for potty training toddler. Love that! Wish I could remember where I read that, but it was a long time ago. :)
Tape edges before gluing
*This only applies if you will be staining a piece you are building/repairing.*
If you are gluing and screwing/nailing two pieces of wood together, a bit of glue seeping out of the edges shows that you have used enough glue to completely cover the joint and that is a good thing. However, you need to wipe that excess glue with a wet rag because if it dries, it won't take stain.
But suppose that right when you get that kreg screw clicking, you are distracted by a screaming child or by a really mean overweight cat named Cleetus who is biting your ankle because he would like to eat for the fifth time that day? (The second example probably doesn't happen in your house, but for me, it is either that or him repeatedly whacking the backs of my calves. No kidding. We are just lucky that he weighs too much now to jump to the top of our doors. He used to sit on top of the doors so he could whack passersby on the head. Yes, we have pictures of it...) So when I get distracted (or injured), I tend to miss a little glue.
Family Handyman is a terrific magazine, and they had a tip to put blue painters tape along the edges to be glued prior to assembly, and no problem! The excess glue wipes easily off the tape, and then the tape is removed. It takes a little bit of time to do this, but honestly, staining is not fun as it is and to find that your nearly finished piece won't take the stain is heartbreaking!
1. Definitely listen to Ana White, and buy the cheap euro-slide mounts. Don't install the dresser/cabinet back until your drawers are mounted.
2. If you are making more than 4 drawer boxes of the same size, you will likely need to rip 2 sections for both the sides and the fronts/backs. The picture below shows my cut lines for making 8 drawers each 5 7/8" high. For an easy way to keep the boxes square, label as shown below. As long as your cuts are straight, making making 4 drawers of "1"s and "3"s and another 4 of "2"s and "4"s ensures that they are all exactly the same size. My husband (engineer, of course!) did this.
3. Art from Woodcraft taught us to make drawers my keeping the sides of the drawer the full desired length so they would have a clean look. If you are using drawer faces, you can keep the pocket holes hidden by drilling them in on the front of the drawer and the very back of the drawer. The drawer face will cover the front holes, and you will never see the back of the drawer.
4. Here is a simple way to make sure you drawer faces are even. The inset drawers need an 1/8 inch spacing all the way around. You can find craft wood at Michaels that is 3x12 and 1/8 inch thick. I cut one and used one piece on each side and then 2 full pieces on both the top and bottom. The length made sure the drawer was supported and didn't go wonky and made the job much easier.
5. As I fitted each drawer's slides to the opening, I marked in pencil on the back of the drawer where it had been fitted. So if it was the top right drawer, it was R1. This way, I always know which opening it belonged to. If each opening and drawer were perfectly square and perfectly the same in measurement, you wouldn't need to do this, but mine had very slight variations. Even the 1x8s that I used for the drawer fronts were also very slightly different, so it helps to keep them straight.
6. Make s simple jig to drill precise holes for your knobs. I used a scrap of the same wood from the drawer front with i piece of 1x2 on the top and on one side. The 'drawer' part should be centered on the 1x2s so there is overhang on front and back. I drilled 4 1/2 inches from the side. (Make sure you are drilling straight into your wood! It is very easy to push the bit through on a slight diagonal which will make your knobs slanted.)
On the right hand side of the drawer, clamp the jig so the 1x2s are on the top and side and drill. For the left side, turn the jig so the 1x2s are again on the top and side, clamp, and drill. This method ensures that not only are the holes the same distance from the sides but from the top as well. (I had noticed that my hole wasn't precisely centered vertically, but since the holes are the same distance from the top, you never see it!)
We don't have giant clamps and couldn't figure out how to clamp the mitered trim pieces to the dresser top. It was PNG (pre-nail gun - they change everything), and it seemed like the pieces weren't going to fit nicely without some encouragement. My neighbor, Doug (an engineer, of course) suggested using tie-down ratchet straps, and it was genius! We happened to have an entire box of ratchet straps even though we have never tied anything down, but I'm not complaining. Two of these strapped and tightened, and the whole top was perfect. A week later, I saw special ratchet straps for sale in Rockler's catalog.
New house ideas
We just built our house 2 years ago. There were several builders in our development, but the process was similar for each builder. Before the contract can be completed, you must go into the builders' design studio and pick everything out. In one day. No kidding, every tile, every floor, every faucet, etc. This is particularly tough when picking anything out with color because you don't know what the light is like in each room. We ended up missing some details because we were so stressed out!
So, here are some ideas if you are building or remodeling that might be right for your home that we have learned along the way.
1. Put outlets in closets or pantries. These are great charging places for things like cordless vacuums or irons in a walk in closet. (Thanks to my sister, Lisa!)
2. Put bathroom outlets in the base of the cabinets, so they are out of the way and you aren't knocking other stuff on the counter over when you fix your hair. It is also much more attractive than having them on the wall or wall mirror. (Thanks to Crisi!)
3. Take pictures (and label them) of the walls just prior to putting up drywall. This way, you always know where the plumbing and wiring is and could prevent an accidental later on. (This was suggested to us by our builder, Toll.)
4. Consider putting a false bottom in a cabinet in your bath or kitchen to use to store valuables. Art from Woodcraft told us that he often built these for clients. He also built drawers in the cabinet bases to store things like cookie sheets and trays.