DIY: 16′ Faux Wood Beam Cheap, Fast and Authentic for under $50


I’ve seen a lot of tutorials on faux wood beams – there are some great ones out there – but I didn’t see any of them build a beam the way that I did with a veneer. Very few diy’s have dabbled into the world of veneers with edge banding and I’d venture to say most diy’s don’t think of using veneers at all. It’s a shame because they can elevate your end result from just the typical diy grade “home-made”. Using a veneer on your faux beam will get rid of the edges you normally expect when you join the three sides together. They are very simple to work with – as long as you are working indoors where the moisture and temperature is controlled. Here is a link to where I buy mine (I don’t make anything if you click on it) Veneer Suppplies

My veneer was $26 and I only used half of it to make a 14′ x 5″ x 10″ beam. So $13. I’m going to use the other half to make a faux beam over our fireplace. Guess what else? That wasn’t even their cheapest veneer – they have $13 birch veneers – so my cost would have been $6.50 for the faux beam – that’s cheaper than a big mac and fries.

I’m going to write this tutorial as though you are making a 16′ beam – even though mine was 14′ – because the cost is the same and you can adjust your own measurements accordingly.

What you will need for the beam:
1 – veneer at least 11″ x 96″ x 1/42″- you can use the entire veneer for one beam this way
1 – sheet of 3/4″ 4 x 8 PureBond Plywood with a Maple, Oak or Birch Veneer (just buy whatever matches the sheet of veneer you bought) I get my PureBond at Home Depot
1 – 2-3″ wide cheap paint brush
6 – 1/2″ wood dowel or whatever you have around the house cut into 8″ long pieces (this isn’t totally necessary if you have an extra hand to help you when you are putting the veneer on your wood)
1 – quart of DAP Weldwood Contact Cement (you can also use the spray but I think painting it on is cleaner. But if you opt for the spray you don’t need the paintbrush) You don’t use much and the quart will probably last for all of your veneer needs.
KregJig with 35-40 1 1/4″ screws OR 1 1/4″ finish nails and 4 packs of 4″ metal mending plates if you do not own a KregJig.
A bunch of heavy books or weights … you get the idea.


Sandpaper 150 grit
Stain/paint, poly or finishing paste
Sharpie – similar color to your stain/paint

To attach the beam to the ceiling:
2 – 2x4x8
16 – 4″ long lag bolts (Mike used 16 I would have used half that…)
2″ long 18 gauge finish nails

Step 1:

Rip your sheet of plywood to 4 – 10″ x 8′ long boards. This will leave you with a 8″ remainder. Rip that to 2- 3 1/4″ or 2 – 3 3/8″ boards if you’re feeling confident. The 4 – 10″ x 8′ long boards will create the sides of the beam and the 3 1/4″ boards will create the base for the veneer. If your finished beam is shorter than 16′ cut your boards now to finished length.

Step 2:

Take one of your 10″ x 8′ long boards and KregJig 3-4 holes on the short end. Basically you are going to butt-join your 8′ boards together to make a 16′ long board. Make sure you used clamps to get as flat of a seam as possible. This seam isn’t visible once it’s in the ceiling but if it bugs you – you can always add some bling to it and cover it up. Repeat to other two boards. You should have two 10″ x 16′ long pieces now. Be careful moving these pieces around they aren’t very strong until all three sides of the beam are together. Work on a flat surface – preferably elevate. I put two 8′ long folding tables together in my garage with some plastic sheeting on top. If you don’t own a KregJig then use 3 mending plates – butt-joining two ends together – use clamps and be careful not to screw all the way through to the other side. Repeat.faux-beam-illustration

Step 3:

Working along the long edge of one of your 3 1/4″ long piece drill KregJig holes every 8-10″ starting 1″ or so from the end. Turn it over and do it to the opposite long edge. Goal: KregJig holes along both edges but on opposite sides. So that if you turn it over the top and bottom of the board look the same with holes along one edge but no holes on the other…clear as mud? Here’s an illustration to demonstrate:

Step 4:

Do the same thing to your other 3 1/4″ board but at the end KregJig two holes to butt-join it to the other board. See how the board on the left in the above illustration has KregJig holes on one end? Go ahead and join them together so that you have 1 – 3 1/4″ x 16′ long board. If you don’t own a KregJig join the two ends with 2 mending plates using the same process as before.

Step 5:

Lay one of your 10″x16′ long board flat on the table. With the KregJig butt-join on top (this way it is inside your beam not on the outside). Place your 3 1/4″ board perpendicular to your other piece to make a long “L“. Make sure you align your KregJig holes to be on the inside joint. The ones on the outside should be in the air on the top. Join the two pieces together at a 90 degree angle being careful to make your seams line up as flush as possible. I used my Kreg 90 degree corner clamp for this – but you can do it without one if you are patient (I guess I’m not patient).  This will give you a 16′ – “L“. If you don’t own a KregJig finish nail the two sides to the 3 1/4″ piece so that their exposed sides are flush with the top edge of the 3 1/4″ piece and the 3 1/4” piece sits inside the two – then skip to Step 8.

Step 6:

Lay your other 10″x16′ long board, again with the KregJig’d butt-join up, flat on the table, parallel to your other piece. Take your 2×4’s and line them longways on their short edge on top of your 10″x16′ piece. This will give you support when you carefully – hopefully with another person, flip your “L” on top of the 10″x16′ long board. You are literally just flipping it over 180 degrees – not rotating, just flipping it like a pancake so that the joined 10″ x 16′ long “L” is on top and the unjoined 10″ x 16′ long piece is on the bottom and the KregJig holes on the 3 1/4″ x 16′ long piece are on the outside bottom. Do you see how the 2×4’s act like a resting support for the joined pieces? This keeps the top from sagging and putting pressure on your joints – although it is pretty sturdy at this point.

Step 7:

Join the two together. Be sure to get the outside edges flush. When I join long pieces like this I start in the center and work my way out – moving my clamps as I go – checking for flushness (is that even a word?) by running my hand along the seam I am making.

Step 8:

Grab your sander and sand all three sides. 150 grit is good enough. End with the 3 1/4″ x 16′ long section on top. It should be resting on the table like staples in a stapler. This is where you will apply your veneer. Don’t worry about filling your exposed KregJig holes with wood putty the veneer will go right over them – you won’t be able to see even a shadow or outline of them when you are done. Mike’s got the hose of our shop vac attached to my sander with gorilla tape. It’s the worlds best vacuum attachment. Wipe everything down with a tack cloth.

Step 9:

You are now ready to use that veneer! Size your veneer panel up to your 3 1/4″ x 16′ long piece. You will want your veneer to overhang 1″ or more on either side of your beam. Mine was 96″ long so, I cut it in half long ways and laid the other half on top of the beam – butt-joining the two edges of the veneer together and lining the grain patterns. You can use painters tape to hold the two cut edges together. Get your can of contact cement and your paint brush and brush it onto the side of your veneer that will attach to the beam. This stuff is sticky – your veneer edges may curl as the grain expands – don’t worry – just use some scrap wood to keep them from touching. Follow the directions on the can – you are going to let this dry. I used my 2×4’s as a “platform” for the veneer to dry on – you do not want any glued edges to touch anything – your veneer will stick to it then pull apart when you try and remove it from whatever it’s stuck to.

Step 10:

While it’s drying, paint the contact cement onto the 3 1/4″ side of your beam. Wipe up any drips quickly with a damp cloth and make sure to keep dust out of your glue. Let it dry.

Step 11:

When enough time has lapsed for the glue to cure and the surface is just the tiniest bit tacky – not sticky – dry and satin – you’ll know. It is time to join the veneer to the beam. If you are doing this alone use the dowels. Evenly space them along the 3 1/4″ long beam – perpendicular to the beam. Take your veneer and with the glue side down line it back up on top of your beam. Working from the center out, remove your first dowel and press the veneer onto the beam centering as you go and making sure not to create any voids. Do not try and re-position it after you’ve connected the two surfaces together – it’s too late. That’s why it’s so important to center it first, work slowly and be patient. When all the dowels are removed and the veneer is completely attached run your hand over it using a good amount of pressure as you go paying special attention to the edges and curving the veneer over the edges to really seal the two pieces together. You kinda want your veneer to bend over the edges a little to help create a nice “straight edge”.

Step 12:

Lay your “weights” on top of the veneered beam and let it sit overnight.

Step 13:

Using your sander, remove the excess veneer from the edges. Just rest it at an angle over the edge and run it back and forth over the edge until the excess comes off and you are left with a smooth edge. Run your sander over the veneer a couple of times to smooth it out and get it ready for your stain.

Here’s a close-up of the end after sanding the veneer down:
faux beam veneered2
You can see some of those KregJig holes from the inside joint too 😀

faux beam veneered

Step 14:

Finish it however you like. I use Rustoleum or Varathane stain. I like to use a brown and a black to get a really multi-dimensional or “rich” black. The two stain colors I used were Dark Walnut and Ebony. I finished with their brush on poly in a satin.
After the stain:
faux beam stained

After the poly:
faux beam poly

Step 15:

Attach the beam to the ceiling. Using a stud finder, locate the center point of your ceiling joists or trusses and note the measurement. Then predrill your 2×4’s with the lag bolts so that when you lift them into place they will line right up with your ceiling joists or trusses (whatever you have). Mike used 2 lag bolts per joist, I would have only used one.
faux beam hanging1

It took three people to lift our beam into place. Two people on either side holding it up and me with the finish nailer nailing it into the 2x’s. Before I put the nails into my gun I colored the nail heads with a black sharpie. I put a nail in about every 4-6″. You can’t even see them. I used 2″ long 16 gauge nails.
faux beam hanging2

Now stand back and admire your work. I know there are a lot of steps involved – but honestly this is a very simple and quick build. I did the whole thing in two days – including finishing and hanging the beam. Good luck and tell me how it goes!!!
faux beam finished

Furniture SOS: Fixing a “Ruined” Wood Surface

We have four kids. So, I thought I had a pretty kid friendly space. I was wrong. For roughly oooh, forever, Mike and I had a crappy table. I’d paint right on top of it – no protection needed. Sew – sure, right on top of it, draw – you name it I did it right on that table top. I knew if I ever wanted to “fix” it, I’d have to sand the whole thing down and paint or stain it. The thing is, I had zero intentions of ever fixing that table because it had four legs and we have a built in banquet. What I wanted was to replace it with a pedestal base table. It took me a long time to find the “perfect” table and when I did – I bought that thing. I brought it home and I threw that old table outside. Then I started protecting it when I painted/sewed/drew/did crafts with the kids.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure I taught my kids some bad habits when we had the old table. Because while I was patting myself on the back for coming up with a great indoor activity, E was spilling nail polish all over my table. Then she was rubbing it in with a paper towel. There were tears shed and apologies made and a trip to the big blue box store in all under an hour. Me and my four satellites. I had lived so long with a crappy table I just wanted my pretty table back.

sanding tabletop

Step 1: Sand the mess out
I used 220 grit sand paper on my random orbital sander. Just a quick run over it, enough to remove the finish and a bit of the surrounding finish so your stain will be able to touch bare wood. FYI – this table is covered in a veneer in case you are wondering if this will only work on solid wood. As long as you don’t overdo it with the sander you can fix veneered surfaces.

I wish I had a picture of the table before I sanded out the mess. However, nail polish has acetone in it soooo….yeah. I think you can imagine what it looked like.

Step 2: Gather up your arsenal
fixing table top2

  • Steel wool grade #0000
  • Oil based stain(s) – color to match the finish
  • Staining rags – old shirts will work
  • Chip brushes
  • Minwax finishing paste or polyurethane/laquer/whatever
  • Microfiber towel or similar lint free towel
  • Paper towels

staining tabletop

Step 3: Apply the stain
To get a richer color I often use more than one stain when I am finishing furniture. Today I mixed Minwax ebony with Rustoleum dark walnut. Usually I mix ebony with kona and I use Rustoleum brand. However today the store was out of my favorites so I went with the closest match. Rustoleum can be re-applied after an hour – Minwax is 4-6 hours between coats. I applied the dark walnut first. I use cheap chip brushes to apply stain working with the grain. They work really well and I can throw them away when I’m done. After a 15 minute dwell time I wiped the excess stain off with a rag. After an hour I repeated this process with the Minwax ebony. When I wiped the excess I knew I needed another coat of ebony to get a better color match so I let it sit over night (it was bedtime). In the morning I applied one more coat, waited, wiped, then waited until the kids went to bed to apply the finish. If you are happy with the final color move on to the next step.

minwax paste

Step 4: Apply the finish
If you ever plan on painting the surface of what you are fixing you can just use wipe on poly or your favorite clear finish to go on the surface. Make sure you use something that has the same sheen as what you are matching up – or plan to coat the whole thing. If you are like me and do not plan on ever changing your table – because it is perfect just the way it was is, then use Minwax finishing paste. The beauty of paste is it protects the surface from spills and it doesn’t leave brush marks. But, like wax it resists a new finish – so if you want to ever paint the surface you will need to sand it off. It’s fairly easy to apply, leaves a sheen based on how much you buff it and – get this – the finish is so smooth it will match whatever factory finish your table already has.

steel wool minwax

Dip your steel wool into the paste and then start rubbing it onto the entire surface of the table.

table top applying minwax paste

I like to rub it in with the grain and I always do the edges of the table first – this way I know I covered them when I’m covering the center and not paying attention to my strokes. Some people rub it in with a buffing/circular motion – it’s a sanding tool so I follow sanding rules. If anyone has a reason why it’s better to do circular let me know!

table top with minwax paste

It’ll begin to dry and when it does it’ll look like crap. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes on the surface then start buffing it out. Do not let it sit longer – more is not better. It’ll get too hard to buff and you’ll have to sand it off.

finishing tabletop4

I used a microfiber towel for my first round of buffing. Then I finished with a combination of a paper and microfiber towel until I got to my desired sheen. You want to remove all of the excess paste. If you aren’t sure if it’s off just press your finger on the surface – like your making a fingerprint and if it leaves an imprint you’re not done.

When you’re done, it’s going to look like it did before – maybe just cleaner : ) Here’s some close ups of the finished tabletop and I swear I didn’t touch them up in Photoshop.

finished tabletop finished tabletop2


The first photo was taken when I got the table. The sheen is the same. I only refinished half of the table and the other side matches.

DIY – Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Before the twins were born I was on strict bedrest…for about ten thousand years. Pure torture by boredom. For part of the day M would let me sit up and during my “sitting time” (as opposed to my laying time – and there was zero walking or standing time) I would get to sew, draw, paint, whatever task I could do as long as I was sitting.

Here’s one of my favorite projects, I hope you like it!

stamping-fabricStamped Muslin Blankets

When I first read the tutorial on MADE (how to sew your own muslin/gauze swaddle blankets) I wondered if it would be possible to use stamps and an ink pad to “print” on the fabric. The beauty of stamped ink is it has a softer feel than most fabric paints. It is also semi transparent so it gives it an airy, artsy vibe. The bummer about stamped inks is sometimes they are only permanent when they get on your clothes by accident. I’m not sure why this is – but it seems to be a universal law. I made about 10 of these blankets and the ones that I stamped with Hero Arts Shadow Inks seemed to work the best. They faded to just the right color and I heat set them in my dryer. The ones I heat set with an iron and my dryer were a different brand are barely visible after washing.

Step 1:
Buy gauze fabric – the same fabric that you see on those popular muslin blankets are made out of gauze. They call it muslin in other countries like Australia. Here, muslin is something else. At Joann’s gauze comes at 44″. Wash and iron your fabric, then cut it to 44×44″ squares – I say roughly because these things don’t have to be perfect the fabric is so wrinkly that there is a lot of room for error.

Step 2:
Sew all the edges under 1/4″. On MADE she says to iron all the edges. I didn’t do this, later on she says she rolled the seems under – this worked great. Do it that way. Once you have all your edges sewn it’s time to start stamping!

Step 3:
Get out your stamps and ink pads and use a scrap piece of fabric to test them out. Make sure you place a piece of cardboard or newspaper under your fabric so you don’t ruin whatever surface you are stamping on.

Step 4:
Iron your scrap and throw it in the washer. This step is optional. I didn’t do it and I’m happy with how mine turned out. But, if you have extra time on your hands or are planning on selling or giving this away you may want to know the final product first. To be honest, I stamped, waited 24 hours for the ink to dry, and then I threw them into the dryer on the highest and longest setting x 2. Then I washed/dried them. And by them I mean the actual blankets, not the scrap.

Step 5:
Stamp your blankets. For two of my blankets I chose a feather stamp. I placed it very randomly and you can see that on the navy feather blanket the feathers are closer together than the peach feathers. I think both ways look great : )

muslin blanket1

Make sure you stamp on the edge of the fabric and let your stamp hang off the edge – this makes the pattern look more natural and gives a better final product.
muslin blanket2

Step 6:
Pop the blanket into the dryer for two rounds on the highest setting.

Step 7:
And this is a tough one! Hang it up, lay it flat, do whatever you need to do but leave it alone for at least 24 hours. Letting it sit really lets the stain take hold and helps cure the ink. Let it sit up to a week if you like. Then wash and dry it for use.

Note: if you happen to have a t-shirt press then just heat it up to 350° F and spend 2 minutes on each press until you’ve pressed the entire blanket. Mine is sitting in my parent’s garage an hour and a half drive away…since driving wasn’t part of my bed rest (or ironing forever) my dryer did the trick.

The beauty of this project is you are only limited by your imagination. You don’t have to just stamp these sweet little swaddle blankets. You can stamp many other things like bibs or even a favorite t-shirt. You also can make your own stamps out of potatoes or foam or whatever your mind thinks up.

muslin_swaddle_blanket muslin_swaddle_blanket2

DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

I am a big fan of houzz for interior design inspiration. If you’ve never heard of houzz – it’s like pinterest for house stuff. If you’ve never heard of pinterest……..hmmm. This link was pretty handy in helping me decide on how wide I wanted my runner to be and whether I wanted a waterfall edge or a Hollywood edge. Solid or patterned. On the landing or not. Basically every decision that you will also have to make if you are planning on installing a stair runner.

First though, why a stair runner? We made our treads out of pine. Pine is a soft wood and scratches very easily. It is also 1/3 the cost of oak. With our addition I made sure to squeeze every penny dry. I was extremely logical about every decision because if I let my emotions take over and not logic we would not have done our addition for $70 per s.f. That’s right. $70 per s.f. I didn’t forget a 1 or a 2 there people. Some might argue that in the long run I will pay more for those stair treads because of wear and tear. I’m going to argue that I won’t. From the very beginning we knew we wanted a runner. The runner keeps the stairs quiet, keeps them a little cleaner (looking), protects the treads from wear and most importantly, helps our littles and oldies avoid slipping down the stairs. Soooo….yes, oak is better, mahogany is better, you name a hardwood it’s better, but pine is just fine…and if I ever need to replace it – it’s $9/tread.

Now, which stair runner? I wanted an inexpensive option that I could replace if I wanted to. I picked an outdoor rug with a fun pattern that came in a long length from It’s wide enough to cover about 2/3 of the stair width – that’s the number I came up with that was the most aesthetically pleasing. It also gives enough walking space and enough tread exposure on either side of the rug. Our stairs are 42″ wide that = a runner of 27″ leaving 7.5″ on either side of the rug. This isn’t a rule 4-8″ exposure seems to be the general guide. It just so happens that 27″ rugs are easy to come by. Safavieh was the maker of our rug. Here’s a pic of the rug I bought:

Once I knew the width then I had to figure out whether I wanted the Hollywood edge or the waterfall edge in order to calculate how much length I needed to order. The Hollywood edge is a little more difficult to calculate and install and involves wrapping each tread and pinning it into the riser below it. Kind of like a fitted top. The waterfall edge is more like a lose top, you don’t wrap the edge of each tread and attach the runner where the stair tread and riser meet. Check out the pics below, courtesy of houzz.   
Here are some pics – also from houzz of the Hollywood edge:

We ended up choosing the Hollywood edge. To calculate length of runner the easiest method I found was to grab a tape measure (I used my fabric sewing tape measure) and measure from the back of the tread – where it meets the riser, to the edge of the tread, then wrap around the tread and measure down the riser to where it meets the next tread. This gave me a measurement of 17.5″ give or take an 1/8. I have two sets of 8 steps. Take 17.5″ x 8 steps = 140″ + 7″ (this adds the last riser, the one that meets the landing and the one that meets the second floor) = 147″ or roughly 13′ (I rounded up for extra). The rug I bought is 16′ long – just the right amount of wiggle room. I bought two, one for each run of stairs.

We did not want to attach the runner to the treads – only the risers. I also did not want to use carpet tape to help keep the rug in place on the treads, so I bought one of these:
rug gripper
I just bought one really large one for an 8’x10′ rug and cut it into strips of 8″ x 24″ for each tread. This works perfectly under the rug and I didn’t have to worry about wrecking my pine treads 😉

Now for the tutorial!

Staple gun
1/5″ staples
Sharpie marker in a color that is similar to the rug you purchased

Step 1:
Calculate how much length you need to buy and buy it. See above for how to do it (if you got bored with all my nonsense and just skimmed it). Once you get it, unroll it and let it acclimate to the room for a few days. This is really important if you picked a rug with a pattern.

Step 2:
Measure your tread width, subtract the width of the runner from that and divide by 2 (this gives you equal amounts of tread exposed on either side of the runner).
42″ – 27″ / 2 = 7.5″
At this point we cut a scrap piece of wood to 7.5″ to use as a guide. You can also just use your tape measure or a ruler or whatever (a mark on your arm?).

Step 3:
Cut your rug gripper pad down into strips that will fit under your runner and just on the top of the tread. Mine were 2″ shorter in width and length than the runner. Place these strips on the stair treads, centering them on the tread. You don’t need to tape or glue them, just haphazardly drop them on the stair treads.

Step 4:
Using your sharpie, color the backs of your staples. This keeps the staples from shinning right in your eyes.

Step 5:
Here’s the fun part. Grab your rug and starting from the top of the stairs, butt the end of your rug up against where the riser meets the landing and staple it into place. Then staple the runner where the riser meets the tread below it pulling it in tight as you staple. Staple as much as you need to, but we found that every 4″ across on the top of the riser and the bottom was good enough. Let the runner lay on the tread and use your hands to help it “hug” the edge of the tread while you staple it to the riser below the tread. You can staple up into the tread if you need to help it form around the edge. We found that just pressing the stapler up into where the tread meets the riser and tacking it in there was enough. Work your way down the stairs until you get to the end.

Step 6:
Using a very sharp utility blade, cut the runner. I have a cutting mat. Mike placed this on top of the floor and the runner remnant over it. This protected our wood floor while we made the cut. After stapling the runner into the last riser he pinned the utility blade down into where the runner meets the floor and cut. The outdoor rug had a few little threads that unraveled a little bit when cut. Mike used a lighter and melted those ends in. Careful.

Step 7:
Admire your work. This whole project took a couple of hours, but looks like we paid someone to do it.


stairs  stairs3