Working with Wood: A Brief Guide to Finishes

When working with wood, you’ve got to treat or stain it somehow to protect it. This post has just a very brief list of stains and oils you can use.

Working with Woods_

We make a lot  of things with wood: signs of all sizes, hat racks, jewelry holders, and more, I’m sure. Most of these have to be treated in some way to protect them from the elements and just make them look pretty!

We use a couple different stains and oils, so I thought it would be useful to list a few and show what they look like. This was a fun post to write because I didn’t know much about any of these oils, either, until I did a little bit of research!

 

Tung Oil

We use this oil pretty often. Tung oil comes from Asia and its use goes back for years and years.

It’s a great oil to use for beginners or for someone in a hurry. It dries fast, it’s safe, and makes the wood look like, well, wood. It gets deep into the wood- making it pretty waterproof- and brings out the natural grooves and patterns of the wood, leaving a matte, slightly darker finish.

 

Linseed Oil

Honestly, I’ve never used this, but it is a pretty popular oil to use on wood. For one, as a natural oil, it’s safe and environmentally friendly. It’s also very functional as it protects the wood from water and anything else that could be absorbed by it.

Lastly, like the tung oil, it brings out wood’s natural grain, staining it with a friendly golden color that will darken and deepen over time.

 

Walnut Oil

I’ve never used walnut either, and I probably won’t, for one reason. Walnut oil tends to take much, much longer to dry than the first two oils listed here. You have to leave it for about twenty-four hours, from what I’ve seen.

Despite the long dry time, it works amazingly at protecting your wood projects.

 

Beeswax

My dad has used beeswax before, and it’s a great option. It’s a natural product, so it’s safe and eco-friendly, and it provides a beautiful, shiny finish that protects.

 

Polyurethane

This one, of course, is not a natural product. Polyurethane is a synthetic, plastic-based substance that is used anywhere and everywhere, even for treating wood, like wood floors. It protects the materials from the elements, much like oils do, but in a different way. Poly is a coating on the wood, whereas the oils are absorbed by the wood. Polyurethane lasts a long time, but should any spot be messed up, it’s a pain to fix it. Oils last a really long time, too, and if they get messed up, it’s much easier to fix.

 

So when you’re making a decision on what to use (synthetic vs. natural or what kind of oil to use), just do a bit more research, and know what you want. After all, it really just comes down to taste and situation. Hopefully this brief guide is a good starting point for you!

 

~Hannah

 

Sources:

https://www.realmilkpaint.com/blog/tutorials-videos/beginners-guide-pure-tung-oil/

https://ardec.ca/en/blog/22/linseed-oil-a-natural-solution-for-wood-finishing

http://www.leevalley.com/us/shopping/TechInfo.aspx?p=59385

http://polyurethanes.org/en/what-is-it

http://kentwoodfloors.com/sites/default/files/literature/PT9-04.pdf

Steak Hooks

How to make steak flippers (or hooks, but I think “flippers” is more fun to say). If you don’t know what those are, keep reading!

 

This is one of my favorite things that we sell. I had nothing to do with it, either; it was all my dad! Steak flippers or turners are a tool used for flipping steak, as the name suggests. It’s just a long stick with a hook at the end- perfect for Labor Day down the road!

Steak Hooks

This is how my dad made it.

To make the flipper, he used a deer shed and- get this- an old hay rake. I think that’s awesome!

First thing he did was cleaned the rust off the rake. He did this by soaking it in vinegar and buffing off the excess, shining it up. Then he took it to his forge (he makes knives) to heat it up and bent it so that the hook would more sideways. While that cooled, he moved on to drill a hole in the base of the small deer shed to fit the rake into. He also drilled a hole in the pointy end of the shed to tie leather through, so that it could be hung when stored. Once that was done, he put the two together, twisting and whatnot so that they securely fit together.

 

And that’s it! Easy peasy, but not too speedy to put together (that attempt at rhyming is just disgusting).

 

Happy grilling, y’all!

 

~Hannah ❤

Deer Antler Jewelry Holders

How we make jewelry holders.

CANVA Deer Antler Jewelry Holders

One of our best-selling pieces is this jewelry holder made with white tail deer sheds and forty year-old mesquite. The deer sheds come from all over, but that will be its own post, exclusively for y’all animal lovers. The mesquite, as I said, is about forty years-old. My dad had cut the wood when he was a teenager, and it survived the years. He found it recently, brought it back to their house, and cut it up into long, flat pieces. He makes knives and uses it in hilts and such.

deer antler wood pretreatment.JPG

 

Making the holders started out as something for myself. I just wanted one. I don’t have a huge attachment to deer hunting, but I have gone before. Those are some of my fondest memories, and frankly, I think antlers are just great for decoration!

I’m thrilled that they are so popular, because they are nothing to make! Quick and easy. Let’s get started.

First, pick out your shed and your wood:

deer antlers

Next, prep your picks (that’s fun to say). This takes a couple steps:

Take your shed, and sand the base down to where it stands up flat. Done.

Take your wood, and make it the length that you want. Make sure its dimensions are such that they’ll support the antler and whatever jewelry you put on it. In other words, make it a solid length and width.

Once it’s the size you want it to be, sand it on both sides as needed to make sure it rests flat and doesn’t wobble. No one likes wobbly things.

Now that your pieces have been cut and shaped, you need to treat and stylize your wood, and maybe even your antler, if you’d like. The wood, though, is a must. I use tung oil to brush on both sides of the wood. This is an important step. It protects the wood, and by doing it on both sides and the edges, you prevent cracking. Plus, it makes the wood pretty. You could make the antler shiny, but I don’t I like the more rugged, raw look to it. It maintains the integrity of the deer.

 

It is now time to assemble. Find where you’d like to mount to the antler. Be sure it’s in a place that the weight is well-distributed. Otherwise, your holder will fall over. Don’t want that.

Using a power drill, drill into the bottom of the wood part of the way. Place the base of the shed over that, and hold tight. Drill through the wood into the shed. Once it’s in, twist the shed with your hand till it’s on tight.

deer antler drilling antler

Boom. You’ve got yourself a jewelry holder. Go dress it up now.

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May you stay inspired and crafty always, and God bless!

 

~Hannah ❤

Porch Signs

How I make outdoor porch signs.

CANVA Porch Signs

I wish so badly that I had a porch. Like a wooden porch with steps, a swing, pretty railings and columns, a fancy front door, tables and chairs, all that stuff.

Why do I wish I had a porch? Aside from the fact that I’d love to spend my mornings on that swing?

Because I could do so. Much. Serious. Decorating.  Front porch displays are what I spend hours thinking about. I wish that was a joke.

So many of my front porch fantasies involve rustic elements, like tin and wood, so to bring that to life, I made (well, make) these signs:

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All of these signs are made with barn wood and/or ridge row that my dad and I go out and get from my grandpa’s or uncle’s land. My uncle and his friend own a bunch of land in the town over from my hometown, and he let us have at it. There’s on pasture in particular that had some knocked down structures that were perfect. When I saw the torn down house, with that minty-colored paint, I heard angels sing.

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To be clear, we don’t go tearing people’s barns and houses down. These are structures that are vacant, aren’t used, or have already been or are about to be torn down. Knocking down those empty, decades-old barns is probably the only good thing Hurricane Harvey did for us. Another great example is the wood I got from my fifth-grade teacher. Harvey knocked her fence down, so she offered me the wood. 

harvey fence

 

So anyway, I have seen similar signs on Pinterest, and I thought they were either crazy expensive (which they can be) or really difficult to make (which they are not).

I will say, these require some bigger equipment, but aside from that, they are a piece of cake. Let’s do this.

Let’s start with the wood, because it is literally the backbone of your project.

If you are using untreated wood, you have to treat it. That’s where your oil, like teak oil, comes in. Make sure you brush both sides and the edges. If you don’t, the wood will crack. If you’re using something like old barn wood, you don’t have to treat it because it should already be treated. I do recommend spraying it down with that clear spray paint or decoupage to help set any paint that’s on it. It’ll help (a little) to keep it from chipping more.

Next, cut it to the length that you need for it to fit your word. If it’s wide enough, you are set; however, if you are having to put two or three boards together to make it wide enough to fit your letters and/or tin, just remember to put a board behind those cross-ways that’s the width of your boards when they’re together. That’s common sense, but I feel like I have to say it anyway as a reminder.

Screw all these pieces together or use the nail gun.

welcome sign how to removing nailswelcome sign wood backedwelcome sign backing the woodwelcome sign wood backed back view

 

Now that your backboard is made, put your tin over it, if you’re using it. Cut it to size and then screw/nail it on.

 

Lastly, add the letters! By now, you should have painted the letters whatever color you wanted and spray it with that spray paint or decoupage to protect the paint. I sometimes like to distress the letters by sanding them down in places to make them look old and worn.

Using your measuring tape, center the letters and space them out evenly. When you have them where you want them, screw/nail them down. You must secure them in all the .major places of the letter to keep the wood from curling up.

 

All that’s left to do is put it on your porch!

welcome sign complete

final fence sign harvey

 

Happy arts and crafts-ing!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

*When you put something like a nail or screw through that wood, it is going to stick out the other side. That’s not okay. You will have to cut it off. There are a variety of ways that could get that job done. I’m assuming that if you have the means to build this sign, you have the means to cut off those pointy screws. If not, a quick internet search will give you the help you need!

 

Pot Holders

A brief look at how I make pot holders, and you can, too… if you dare try.

How to Sew

I add that “if you dare try” only because this was one of the hardest things I’ve made in my life. It wasn’t necessarily hard, but I, at least, had a tough time with them in the beginning.

I understand why people just buy them!

Despite my struggles, I still enjoy making them and selling them because one, mine are super affordable and two, I like to use fabrics and designs that other stores just don’t use.

 

I like to think of it as making an itty bitty quilt.

I start with two squares of fabric (the size is up to you), though I sometimes try to make one a little bit bigger than the other, so that I can guarantee that I’ll catch both sides of the fabric when I sew.

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I cut a square of special batting (the insulating kind) about the size of the biggest piece of fabric, maybe a little smaller, so that I can see all three layers.

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Then, I layer them, pinning everything in place. First is big fabric square, pretty side down. Then the batting. Lastly, the smaller square of fabric, pretty side up.

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I stitch around the edges first.

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You can stop here or “quilt” a design, even if it’s just straight lines.

Trim it all up.

Lastly, bind it like a quilt. I’m no binding expert, so if that’s something you don’t know how to do, I suggest YouTube or Pinterest!

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Why I thought this was so hard, I don’t know. Writing it out now, it seems so easy!! I felt like that too the first time I read a tutorial.

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I guess that’s why people just buy them instead of make them!

Happy sewing!

 

~Hannah ❤

Quick-and-Easy Heat Vinyl Transfer

One of the shortest, easiest tutorials on how to cut and apply heat vinyl transfer.

Quick & Easy

I have a Cricut, and it is truly my most prized possession. I’ve made so many shirts, stickers, decorations, and school projects with that thing. Before I got it, I was reading so many tutorials on how to do the heat vinyl transfer, and it seemed scary because everyone just went on about it. So today, we’re keeping it simple and hitting the basics.

The design in this tutorial is what I used to make shirts for my best friend’s bachelorette  party. The quote was her idea, and the font is “Affectionately Yours” that I got from DaFont.com.

Make your design and find your vinyl.

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Stick your vinyl on your cutting surface front side down.

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Before you cut, make sure you mirror the image! This ensures that you don’t tear the protective plastic.

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Cut.

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Peel off slowly.

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Fix onto fabric.

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Iron it on thoroughly for about 30 seconds.

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Easy! Quick and easy. So now, go forth and make all the shirts.

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~Hannah

Coat Racks

How we (okay, Dad) make coat racks with railroad nails.

CANVA Coat Rack with Railroad Spikes

This ain’t no rinky-dink Etsy craft. 

This is a coat rack made with old wood and railroad nails, and one of my favorite things that we sell. It’s so unique, and so much work goes into it, particularly regarding the nails. First of all, we have to get the nails. Dad is an ace at picking them up. He goes to the railroad tracks (usually in La Ward), and just picks the loose nails up off the tracks. That right there is what makes these racks so darn special.

Trains will always be a part of m, as annoying as they are. Several times a day for years, I’d hear that whistle blow. I never thought anything of it until I moved away. Now, whenever and wherever I hear a train whistle, I feel a little pang of homesickness. I’m sure the same could be said of many other people.

 

First, we have to get the nails ready. They’re almost always rusty, and for once, the rust won’t fly. There are a couple of ways to get rid of rust. The easiest way is by soaking them in vinegar. The harder way is by grinding it off, which is what I did when my dad and I made these. I picked up the nail with some pliers and held it against the grinder till the most of the rust was off.

coat rack how to- the grinder

This is where things get hard. I don’t do this part!

We have to bend the nails. The only way to do this, obviously, is by heating them up. Lucky for us, my dad has a forge (he makes badass knives) and so many other toys that he has no problem heating up the nail and bending it. Then he plunges it in water to hasten the cooling process.

Once the nails are shaped to our liking and cool enough to work with, we paint them. The first time we made these, we used black and red spray paint.

While the paint dries, we make the boards.

We cut the boards to be 28 inches long. It sounds specific, but there’s a reason. In pretty much any house, the boards in the walls (the frame of the house) are 16 inches apart. That’s where you have to put on the back teeth or hooks that hang the rack on the wall, since you can’t just put it in the sheetrock, especially something this heavy. That said, you want to center the front of the rack relative to those measurements, so you figure one nail in the center, then on either side of that one, you place a nail about 8 inches from that center one.  That leaves 6 inches on either side of those two nails to the edges.

It’s important to keep this in mind when making anything heavy like this. Like I said, if you want to hang it on the wall, make sure you put the hangers on the back of it 16 inches apart, like this:

Also, if the wood is untreated, make sure you treat it by brushing it with oil on all sides, including edges. It protects the wood and covering it on all sides prevents cracking. If it’s treated wood, like this barn wood we went and got from a torn down barn out at my uncle’s, you don’t need to treat it, but spraying it down with clear spray paint or decoupage will help set any chipping paint.

 

Moving on from our carpentry lesson.

 

The boards are prepared, and the paint is dry. Now it’s time to assemble. Once again, I don’t really do this part!

If you know how to drill, you’ll know what to do, but I’ll go over it anyway. First, drill a hole into the nail first with the power drill. Then, once everything is measured out, screw it in.

Teachable moment: when nailing or screwing anything in, be sure to cut the ends off in the back. It’s dangerous to leave them poking out.

 

That’s it! From big ass rusty nails to a beautiful rustic coat racks with materials you can’t find anywhere else.

 

As always, thank y’all for reading and learning, and may God bless y’all!

 

~Hannah ❤