Monday, 22 December 2008

Dress Up Closets - Part Two

You have completed the back panel of your dress up closet.
The next step is to make and attach the the 2 side panels to the back panel.

STEP ONE - Side Panels
Place one of your 18" x 4' side panel pieces face down (shiny side down) on your work surface.

Cut one of your 8' furring strips in half to make 2-4' lengths.

Run a bead of glue down one of the 4' sides (and on the furring strip if using wood glue) and place the furring strip down the side with the edges and ends aligned with the edges of the MDF.
You will only do this on one of the 4' sides of each side panel as the other 4' side will attach to the framework of the back panel that is already in place.

Flip the side panel over the the right side and staple/nail through the MDF into the furring strip, all the way down the side.

Place the side panel with the 4' piece of furring against the 4' edge of the back panel, making sure that you place the MDF over the furring strip and the corners of the back panel and side panel meet. Measure the distance from the inside edge of the furring strip on the side panel to the edge of the furring strip on the back. It will probably take two people to do this.

This is the length that you will cut your furring strip for the top and bottom (18" sides) of the side panels.

Cut your furring strips to fit and attach with glue and staples/nails as before.
Prepare your second side panel as above. Now you are ready to attach the sides to the back.
STEP TWO - Attaching Side Panels to Back Panel

Apply a bead of glue down the 4' side of your side panel where it will attach to the back panel.
Have your helper stand the back panel up so that one 3' side is on the floor or the top of your work surface and one 4' side is convenient to you.

Stand one side panel up against one 4' side of the back panel, with the edge of the MDF on the back and the edge of the MDF on the side panel making a 90 degree angle and staple/nail the side panel to the framework of the back panel, all the way down the side. You have now attached one side panel.

Repeat for the other side panel.
STEP THREE - Closet Pole Support
On the inside of the side panels that are now attached, measure the space between the furring strips and approximately 5" down from the top furring strip. This is where you will place the supports for the closet bar (going from front to back).

Cut a piece of your 3/4" board to this length and attach it to the inside of the side panels by applying glue to the back and ends of the 3/4" board and placing it between the front and back furring strips so that the top of the board is approximately 5" from the top and level. You may also want to staple/nail the support bar to the framework for extra strength, from the outside of the closet into the support. This will be painted so will not be noticeable.

Once you have the supports in place on both side panels, attach one piece (with screws) of the closet pole bracket on each support, approximately in the center of the supports. Make sure that the bracket with the opening is placed with the opening up. This will allow you to insert the closet pole into position and will support it once it is in place. I'm sorry, I did not take a picture of this step.

Measure the space between the closet pole brackets and cut your closet pole to this length. Please be sure that you measure to the inside of the bracket so that the closet pole fits securely into the brackets.

STEP FOUR - Corner Braces & Top

This is where you check to see if the closet is square.

You will need to place a square in each of the bottom corners of the closet to make sure that the sides are at 90 degree angles to the back.
If you've never used one of these handy items, simply place one of the outside, straight edges up against the inside edge of the back framework, on the bottom, with the corner of the tool in the corner of the closet. Then gently pull the side panel in until the sides of the closet are squared with the tool.

At this point you will need to cut 2 corner braces from the furring strips. These will be nailed into place as shown below and will hold the closet square. They will also keep the sides from being easily pulled away from the rest of the closet.
Have someone hold the corner of the closet in square as noted above and measure the length of the brace that you need. There is not correct distance out from the corner. Anywhere will work, but we put ours close to the inside to prevent stepping on it when hanging up the clothes.
Cut the ends off at 45 degree angles as shown and staple/nail them into the corners.

TOP: Run a bead of glue around the framework at the top of the closet and place the 3' x 18" piece of MDF that was cut for the top on the framework with all edges lined up with the outside edges of the closet. Staple/nail into place.


Attach the 6" x 3' front panel to the front of the closet by applying glue and then staple/nail it into place as in the picture below.

Now paint your closet in the color/colors you have chosen and apply your lettering to the front panel. As I stated in part one, I ordered my lettering from my daughter's Upper Case Living site. Feel free to order from her or find a representative close to you.

After painting we decided to add hooks to the outside of both side panels so that our girls would have a place to hang their beads and other accessories.
Those of you who have more carpentry skills that we do may want to add some finishing touches such as corner molding, etc. Fix it up any way you like and enjoy the process.
Here is the finished product with dress-up clothes hanging and ready to go. Our grandpunkins loved them.
I hope you enjoyed this, my second tutorial. Please let me know if you did and what I can do to improve my instructions. Also, please send me pictures of your finished product.
Have a Happy New Year.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Dress Up Closets - Part One (because this is a long one)

We have two 3 year old granddaughters, not twins, but cousins that were born 7 weeks apart. Both of them are "girly girls" and love to play dress up. So we, OK - I, decided to make them dress up closets for Christmas. But I think my dear sweet husband has had as much fun with this project as I have.


10 - 8' lengths of furring strips (framework)

2 - 4' x 8' sheets of 1/8" MDF for shell of closet

2 - 3' closet poles (dowels)

2 sets closet pole brackets

1 - 8' length of lumber approx. 3/4" thick and wide enough to hold
closet pole brackets

Glue - we used wood glue, but next time I'd use faster bonding glue.

Hammer and nails/nail gun/staple gun, your choice

Saw, measuring tape, pencil, screw driver, screws

A sturdy work surface

Paint in your choice of color - we chose white, I always seem to.

Uppercase Living lettering (DD's web-site) or paint and brushes for hand lettering.

Paint roller – I used one designed for trim work

Painter’s tray

We purchased our materials at our local home store and had them cut the MDF to the size we needed. This allowed us to carry the materials home in our car rather than having to bring a truck. The size of the sheets of MDF was one of the determining factors in deciding the size we made the closets. You know, a better use of our resources!

Remember, we are NOT carpenters. You may have more experience in such things and find a better/easier way to do this. This is how we did it.

For closets 4' tall, 3' wide and 18" deep.

STEP ONE - Cutting out the “skin” of the closet
Cut the following from each sheet of MDF:
For the Back, cut 1 piece 4' x 3'
For the 2 sides cut 2 pieces 18" x 4'
For the top cut 1 piece 18" x 3’
For the front panel (where we placed the lettering) cut one piece 6" x 3'.

STEP TWO - Adding the frame work.
Place the piece that will be the back on your work surface, with the shiny side, which will be the outside of the closet, face down.

Cut your frame work from the furring strips:
Cut 1 - 8' piece of furring strip in half to make two 4' pieces. These will be attached to the 4’ sides of the back by running a bead of glue down the 4' sides

of the back piece and laying the 4’ lengths of furring so they are even with the edges of the MDF.

The instructions on our glue said to apply glue to both surfaces, so we put glue on the MDF and on the wood frame.

On the first closet we placed the furring strip laying on its side, on the second, we laid it down flat. It worked both ways. But we preferred laying it down flat. It looked better and it seemed a little sturdier as well.

If you've used quick bond glue you can flip the back over to the right side again without too much trouble, but if you use wood glue it will take 2 people to turn it over and hold the framing in place. So, flip it over and place it on a sturdy surface, right side (shiny side) side up.

Make sure your framework is aligned with the edges and ends of the MDF and staple or nail the MDF to the frame.

Flip it back over so that you are again looking at the wrong side with the 2 pieces of framework on your left and right and the 3’ side nearest you.

Measure the space between the pieces of framework that you have already stapled into place.

Cut your second 8' piece of wood framing to fit this space. I would suggest cutting only one piece at a time. It will measure 3’, minus the width of the 2 furring strips and should be the same for both ends, but measure each side before cutting to be sure. There always seems to be a difference.

Apply glue as before. Be sure that you apply glue to the ends where furring strip meets furring strip. Flip the back over once again and staple into place.

Repeat on the other 3’ side.

You should end up with something that looks like this.

The back is now complete.

Pat yourself on the back and take a break.

End of Part One.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Christmas Ball Ornament Wreath

This is not an original idea. I wish I could claim it as such, but the first time I saw this design was in Martha Stewart Living. I have been wanting to make one since then and I finally had the opportunity when I was asked to decorate my new office for Christmas.
1 MDF/hardwood wreath base
1 length of green (or other color) garland in a quantity enough to cover the base
Hot Glue gun and glue sticks
Ball ornaments in various sizes and colors from tiny to large
Florist wire or other appropriate hanger

I purchased my wreath base at Michael's for $1.99. It is a 12" wreath base. I found it in the floral section near the styrofoam. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of it and I can't seem to find a picture on their website. It is just a 12" circle about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" wide with small holes spaced evenly around the diameter of the circle.

Place of dot of hot glue anywhere on the wreath base and attach one end of the garland. Wrap the garland around the wreath base until it is completely covered. Go through the hole in the center with each wrap so that you maintain the shape of the wreath. Cut the garland and hot glue the end to the wreath base to secure it.

The ornaments I used are glass, but I have seen many perfectly suitable plastic ornaments that would work just as well. I chose blue, gold and silver because these colors coincide with the colors in our company logo. You can choose any color scheme you wish, but be sure to choose various sizes to make it interesting. I was able to find both shiny and satin finishes, plain and covered with glittery designs. Just mix it up as you see fit.

Before you begin to attach the ornaments, remove the cap and wire at the top of each ornament. Discard the wire and reattach the cap with a small dab of hot glue. Be careful, the metal gets very hot. Allow the cap to cool so that the cap will be secure.

Begin by attaching the larger ornaments around the inner and outer diameter of the wreath in random color order with dabs of hot glue sufficient to hold it securely. Distribute the ornaments in a pleasing arrangement. Do not fill the entire wreath. You will want to leave spaces in which to place the other sizes and colors of ornaments. It is best if you can attach the ornaments directly onto the MDF rather than attaching to the garland. It will be much more secure if you do.

Next, begin attaching the next smaller sized ornaments in a pattern that pleases your eyes. Alternate sizes as you see fit. Then fill in the empty spaces with the smaller ornaments. You can attach ornaments to the wreath base or ornament to ornament. Be sure to hold each ornament long enough for the glue to harden or the ornament will slide out of its position. The garland will help fill in any small empty spaces. Refer to the above photo for placement ideas.

There is no incorrect order in which to place your ornaments, except that you want to place them so that the cap end is hidden as much as possible and the sizes that are next to one another vary. If your design pleases you, it is perfect.

Allow your wreath to dry overnight so that the glue is dry and your ornaments are secure.

Locate one of the small holes in the wreath base at what you choose to be the top of your finished wreath. Place a length of floral wire or a sturdy string/twine/fishing line, through the hole and long enough to hang on a hook of your choosing. If you want to use a wreath hanger that fits over the top of the door, just leave a space on the inside opening of the wreath large enough to accomodate the hook. If you choose to mount your wreath on the door, I suggest that you use plastic ornaments rather than glass as the glass ornaments may shatter if the door is slammed shut.

Alternate ideas: Use a styrofoam base, wire base, straw base or vine base.
Spray paint the base in a color that matches your color scheme rather than covering it with garland.
Use ornaments of various sizes and shapes. I have seen some very cute ornaments in the shape of Santa, angels, bells, etc.
I have also seen antique glass ornaments used, but I would hesitate to do so as the ornaments cannot be removed intact from the hot glue and the value of the ornaments would be lost.

Get creative. Enjoy the process. Send me pictures of your creations. I'd love to see them.

Let me know if these instructions have been helpful and/or if you have suggestions as to how to I might make changes that would make projects more easily understood.