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DIY Tips

How To Hang a Heavy Mirror

  • To view video click hereThis Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares tips and techniques for safely hangings framed objects on walls.

    1. To hang mirror on a plaster wall, use a toggle bolt outfitted with a picture-hanging hook.
    2. Drill hole through plaster large enough to accept the toggle bolt.
    3. Thread machine screw through toggle bolt nut, then pinch flat the wings on the toggle and push it through the hole in the wall.
    4. Tighten the screw with a screwdriver until toggle bolt contacts the back of the wall.
    5. For drywall, start by weighing the mirror to ensure you don’t exceed the capacity of the hanging hardware.
    6. Mark a short line on the wall to represent the top edge of the mirror.
    7. Take a 12-inch-long piece of 1×2 and mark a centerline at 6 inches.
    8. Pull the 1×2 tightly under the hanging wire on the back of the mirror.
    9. Measure down from the top of the mirror to the top of the 1×2.
    10. Take the measurement from the previous step and measure down from the short line marked on the wall. Draw a second line to represent the position of the hanging wire.
    11. Align the center mark on the 1×2 with the second line. Use a torpedo level to align the 1×2 perfectly level.
    12. Draw short pencil lines along the upper right- and left-hand corners of the 1×2.
    13. Tap in a hanging hook on each corner mark.
    14. Hang the mirror on the two hooks.

Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

It’s official. I’m on an Easter egg decorating bender. My post from yesterday got me thinking about not just using eggshells as a container for an air plant, but what about using an eggshell as a de facto container garden? I had to give it a try. I made a run for my local greenhouse to see what little plants would fit inside an eggshell. My requirements were that they be hearty enough to withstand transplanting and that they look festive and spring-y for an Easter table. The answer? Cat grass. Done.

Once I had my grass in the eggshell containers, though, they looked a little plain. I realized these little babies would make perfect placeholders, with a quick flick of my Sharpie pen. Pretty AND useful? My kind of DIY project.


 Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

Step 1

Start out with eggshells that have the tops removed. (See yesterday’s post to see how I cracked my egg tops so cleanly.) 

 Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

Step 2

At your local greenhouse, grab a container of cat grass. 

 Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

Step 3

Pull the cat grass out of its container and break up into small clumps, being careful not to pull the grass away from the roots that hold it together and upright. Then trim the grass to your desired height. 

 Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

Step 4

Tuck a small clump of grass + roots into each eggshell. Add a small dribble of water. Cute, right? But plain. They need a finishing touch… 

 Easter Egg DIY: Cat Grass Placeholders

Step 5

Ta-da! Some quick hand lettering and each mini container garden is now a place card. And each guest can take it home with them, no need for gifts! 


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How to Build A Planter Box

Step 1: Build the Frames

Build the top and bottom frames out of the 1×2 cedar strips. You’ll be butting the ends together, so no mitering will be necessary. Fasten two 26″ strips to two 13″ strips to form each rectangular frame. (You’ll need to ensure that the length remains 26″; to do this, butt the ends of the shorter strip against the longer strips. The thickness of the two longer strips will add an inch to each end of the shorter strips, increasing their length to 16″. Do this at each end of the longer strips to form a rectangular frame 26″ long and 16″ wide.) Apply a bead of wood glue to the junctions of the strips; then nail together with a single nail in each junction in preparation for inserting screws to hold them more securely. Predrill the ends prior to screwing them together; this helps keep the ends from splitting. Then insert a screw in each corner.

Step 2: Attach the Side Panels

Stand the two frames on their sides and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom side frames (the long sides). Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth sides out, and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Make sure the frames are flush with the panel ends on at least one side, or the bottom panels won’t fit properly. If the panels are jagged on the other side, you can always smooth them with a trim saw later.
Because you’re nailing from the inside, you may have to drive the nails at a slight angle. The advantage of this is that it conceals the nailheads from the exterior face of the window box. Repeat on the other side of the box.

Step 3: Attach the End Panels

Stand the half-completed box on its end and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end in the same manner that you used to attach the side panels, once again ensuring that the ends are flush on the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite end.

Step 4: Attach the Bottom Panels

Check and adjust your box for square if necessary. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using wood glue and screws. The base will reinforce and brace the box. Drill several holes in the panels so that water can escape, or simply leave a gap between the panels.

Step 5: Finish the Box

Lightly sand any rough edges and corners to smooth out splinters. If you wish, you can stain, seal or prime and paint your planter to suit your home’s decor. Because you used cedar, however, it can stay unfinished: cedar is one of the best lumbers you can use for exterior applications. This planter is a good size for potted plants, but you may wish to add a plastic liner and fill it with soil (add a layer of gravel first). If you do, don’t forget to cut holes in the liner to line up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.

How to Make His-and-Hers Vanity Cabinets

Sharing a small space can be tough – avoid conflicts by identifying storage compartments with these clever plywood people figures – customize them to your needs.

Materials and Tools

flat-panel cabinet, armoire or dresser
1×3 trim to border the cabinet doors
3/4″ paint-grade plywood
spray paint with a spray-can handle
semigloss latex paint and paint tray
paint roller and a roller sleeve
paint-grade plywood
electric sander with extra sanding pads
sanding block
drill with wood screws
caulk gun with liquid bonding adhesive
damp cloth
safety goggles and a dusk mask
miter saw

Choose the Piece

When choosing the proper piece, focus on cabinets, chests of drawers and dressers with flat-panel doors.

Remove Existing Finish

If necessary, use an electric sander to remove the existing finish. When you get it smoothed out, wipe off the dust and residue with a damp cloth.

Apply a Coat of Primer

Using paint roller and roller sleeve, add a coat of stain-blocking primer to interior and exterior of the cabinet. Tinted stain-blocking primer (which often comes in gray or brown tones) will ensure that imperfections or wood knots will not show through the newly painted finish.

Paint Background Color

Using roller and roller sleeve, apply the background color to the interior and exterior of the cabinet. Two coats is often the perfect amount to ensure a great finish.

Measure for Trim Pieces

Using a tape measure, determine the proper dimensions needed for the trim pieces that will go around the edges of door fronts.

Miter Cut the Trim

Using a chop saw, cut 45-degree angles into the top and bottom edges of the trim. Sand any rough edges, then wipe away residue.

Spray-Paint the Trim

Attach a spray-can handle to can of spray paint, then apply an even coat of paint by moving back and forth in a slow, controlled manner.

Tip: By spray-painting the trim before attaching it to the door front, a perfectly clean edge is made where the bottom of the trim will meet the door fronts.

Sketch the Silhouette Pattern

Find an inspiration image — or print something off your computer — that you can trace upon the plywood. Draw the cut-out pattern directly onto the plywood using a pencil.

Cut Out the Silhouette

Use a jigsaw to cut out the shapes along the sketched lines of the silhouette. Remember to wear safety glasses. Use an electric sander or sanding block to smooth out the edges of the silhouettes.

Paint the Silhouettes

Spray-paint the silhouettes the same color — and in the same manner as the trim pieces. Apply two coats.

Adhere the Trim

Using a caulk gun, add a bead of liquid bonding adhesive to the back of trim, then place directly onto the door front. Repeat this step for all pieces of trim, lining up each mitered corner.

Adhere the Silhouettes

Add liquid bonding adhesive to the silhouettes, then press them into place. Allow the adhesive to set for at least six hours before turning the cabinet upright.

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