Saturday, September 8, 2012

Upgraded Rain Gutter Bookshelves

I did something really crazy.

I, I mean Superman, beefed up my, I mean the kids’ bookshelf wall so it’s even MORE awesome.
Feast your eyes:

raingutter bookshelf6

And, in case you can’t remember what it used to look like, here’s the ‘before’:


First of all, I haven’t decided if the Turkish Coffee color is here to stay or not, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the railing above the books. Wanna know why? My punk kids can now put books away without them falling right back off the wall.

There was a flaw in these adorable shelves that we noticed after the ‘new’ wore off them: there was no way to insure that the books on the wall STAYED on the wall.

I complained to Superman. Told him how much I  loved the bookshelf. Didn’t want it to go. But WISHED there was a way to keep the books on the wall.

I had clearly forgotten that I had married a genius.

He instantly recommended that we simply put a rail just above each shelf.


So, here we go. Another attempt at some sort of a tutorial. Yay me! :D

You will need:

* 4” crown moulding in whatever length your shelf will be (this will be the front/decorative portion of the shelf)

* 2” x .50”  board in whatever length your shelf will be (this will be the actual shelf that the books sit on)

* 1.25” x .75” trim board, cut into 2” blocks (these are the brackets that will brace the rail across the wall – you will need 15 of them)

* 1.25” x .25” trim board in whatever length your shelf will be (this is the rail that will go above each shelf)

* 3” or 4” screws

* Nail gun

raingutter bookshelf1

Okey dokey. Here we go.

First of all: do yourself an enormous favor and paint all of the wood to whatever color you want it to be when finished … that way you just have to do minor touch ups when you are finished. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step. We skipped it. Learn from us.

Second, you are going to construct each ‘shelf’ of the wall separately, and then install it onto the wall. There is the shelf and there is a rail. At least, that’s what I am going to call them.

To construct the shelf: Simply measure the 2” board to match the length of the 4” crown moulding; both of which need to be the entire length of the wall, whatever wall you are using. I think Home Depot sells crown moulding in lengths up to 16 feet. That could be fun to get home … but, they sell them. Our wall is just over 10’ long.

Once you’ve got the 2” board cut to the same length as your 4” crown moulding, brace the two together using a nail gun. You want the shelf to sit at the top of the crown moulding as shown in these pictures. Just use your nail gun to shoot some invisible (is that the word?) nails into the front of the mouding, securing it to the shelf portion. Man, I hope this makes sense.

Now that you essentially have the shelf portion put together, you just have to put it on your wall. This also requires your nail gun. Just shoot nails across the bottom of the crown moulding, which will be sitting against the wall. You also want to shoot a few diagonal nails into the back of the top shelf, against the back of the wall. Putty over any tiny nail holes … and then touch up paint when you are finished.

Now, for the top railing above each shelf: Cut each railing piece to the same length as your shelf piece.

Cut 15 – 2” blocks (5 for each railing, unless your shelf is 5 feet or less in length, then you only need 3 per shelf) using 1.25” x .75” trim board. So, your blocks will measure 2” x 1.25” x .75”.

raingutter bookshelf2

Next, find the studs in your wall. Use a block as a brace bracket on each end, in the center, and then one in each stud on either side of the center. Hope that makes sense. Superman used a nail gut to place each bracket onto the rail before screwing the whole railing, including brackets, into the wall.

raingutter bookshelf3

Use a 3” piece of scrap wood at each bracket setting to make sure the railing is installed straight and perfectly level. Also, use 3-4” screws to screw all the way through the rail and bracket and into the wall.

raingutter bookshelf5

Once you have installed all the shelves and all the railings, just caulk or putty over each screw/nail hole and then touch up paint the area.

raingutter bookshelf4

Then you don’t have to tape off every nook and cranny and then re-tape and repaint the wall when you finish painting the brown shelves. Painting these while they were on the wall was a nightmare. Trust me. So, you’re gonna learn from me and not do that, right? ;)

This is a surprisingly simple and super fast project (maybe 3 hours, start to finish) …  Because there isn’t tons of cutting involved. I highly recommend using a spot where you can do wall to wall shelving, like I have done. Then, there aren’t any weird intricate angling cuts trying to finish off the sides of shelving.

raingutter bookshelf6

I can cram about 200 picture books on these three shelves. Not even joking. Because, with the railing there to keep the books on the shelf, I can stack the books 3-4 books deep, one behind the other.

raingutter bookshelf7

These shelves are worth every second of tender loving care you put into them.

raingutter bookshelf8

One last close up of the brackets … you don’t even really notice them at all. These ARE essential. You do have to brace that big long railing several times in between the ends of the shelf. Otherwise, some punk kid is going to put too much weight against the railing and snap the wood. That would just break my heart for you.

So, what do you think? Should I keep them brown? Or paint them back to white?

(I’m leaning towards brown, mostly because they were so frustrating to paint in the first place)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pottery Barn Kid’s Knock-off Table/Train Table–$40!!

Okay. This is a tutorial. Wherein I will attempt to tell you how to create something that I did not in fact create myself. This could be interesting. (New here? Well, I don’t do much … I boss my husband around and he does all the hard work … this makes tutorials sorta tricky)

Here it is … a 4 foot x 6 foot adorable train table that even Pottery Barn would be proud of. :D

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table $40

Here’s what you need:

* 1/2 sheet of 5/8” MDF (1/2 sheet is 4’x6’, full sheet is 8’x6’) ($10)
* 30' feet of 1.5” x .75” trim board ($15)
* 1 8 foot 3.5” x 3.5” square fence post (you’d think they’d be 4” x 4”, but they aren’t) ($10)
* About 1/2 quart of white oil based ENAMEL paint ($5, give or take)
* A bunch of screws and a few dowels … you may or may not have these lying around. We did.

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table for $40

So, go to Home Depot. Find a full sheet of 5/8” MDF. Haul it over to the saw and ask an employee to cut the thing in half, so you have 2 4’x6’ sheets.

Grab the fence post and take that to the saw too, unless you just like cutting stuff yourself. Have them cut the post into 4 – 20” pieces for the legs of the table.

Next, grab your trim (Superman used 1.5” x .75” trim) and have them cut 2 – 6’ and 2 – 4’ pieces for you. This will be the edges under the top of the table (you’ll cut/trim them down farther when you get home).

Finally, take home about another 10 feet of the trim, to use for the pieces under the table (as shown in the picture below).

When you get home:
Lay the MDF (top of table) on the floor. Measure in 1 1/4” from each outer edge. Trim the 4’ and 6’ pieces to fit. If you are confident in Home Depot’s trimming skills, you can just have them cut those pieces to be 2.5” shorter (so, 5’ 9.5” and 3’ 9.5”).

After you have cut out those trim pieces, get the drill … it’s time for dowels. Place a dowel in the center of the trim piece and then one on either side of that, centered, on all 4 sides. So, 12 dowels total. Once you’ve drilled the dowel holes, take your table legs and measure pieces off of the remaining 10 feet of trim you brought home. You’ll need 8 – 3.5” pieces, cut with a miter saw at a 45 degree angle, shown in the picture below. You’ll also need 4 – 10” pieces to brace the table leg, as shown. Once you have all those pieces cut out (and make several mistakes and waste a bunch of trim trying to get them all right), you can start assembling.

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table $40 DIY

Make sure to run some wood glue under the trim piece and inside each dowel. This will give extra support to the table. You are going to screw the legs on as shown in the picture above and below.

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table $40 DIY tutorial

Make sure to putty over the screws that show on the trim on the outside of the table.

Once you’ve constructed it, sand and round the top edges of the table … and sand the putty areas and any rough spots through out the whole table.

Wipe it down clean removing any dust.

Then, Paint it.

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table for $40

Superman used an air compressor and paint canister to spray the enamel on. You can use a fine sponge roller to roller it on if you don’t have an air compressor/paint canister.

I think, start to finish, it took Superman about 3-4 hours to construct this. It’s really not a bad project at all; especially when you consider how much Pottery Barn wants for a table that looks almost identical.

Here, see for yourself:

pottery barn table

This is Pottery Barn Kid’s Carolina Play Table, the ‘large’ one (which is still only 45” x 30” x 22”h) and it runs $179.00 before tax. O.U.C.H.

The table Superman made is more than TWICE the size for less than 1/4th the price.

pottery barn kids inspired train table kids table $40

That’s what you call WINNING, my friends. :D

And, I know I’m partial, but I like mine better. The sturdiness of the thick post legs just helps anchor the table, in my opinion.

Wondering what to do with the other half sheet of MDF? Well, you could make a second table, or you could go here ( and make a corner shelf for the TV in your playroom:


Happy table making, y’all! :D