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

faux-beam-finished-intro

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.

Finishing:

Sander
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:
faux-beam-kreg-jig

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.
faux-beam-L

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.
faux-beam-final

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

DIY Alcove Bed

DIY Alcove Bed

Our first 800 revisions of our second story addition did not include an alcove bed, in fact they didn’t even include Red’s room. E was going to get the old master downstairs and Red was going to get the other bedroom upstairs (next to our new master). The area that makes up Red’s room was originally planned as a loft/playroom/office homework space.

When designing our addition we really wanted to make sure the new flow of the house made sense. We didn’t want it to feel like an addition and Mike and I felt that having two rooms upstairs and two downstairs wouldn’t give us the flow we were going for. We decided to change the loft plan into another bedroom – even though the space was super small. This would give us three rooms upstairs and two downstairs…By having most of the bedrooms in one section of the house we would get the flow we were going for.

The hard part in this was planning two bedrooms and a bath in such a small and oddly shaped area. The shapes of the rooms are definitely not conventional – but I think that’s what makes them so fun and what makes our house unique. Plus, I wanted the girls to have a Jack and Jill bath because the thought of that seemed awesome – kids love to have secret spaces and areas that are all their own – we really tried to incorporate this idea into every area of the house.

Alcove bed10

The red rectangle area is where Red’s alcove bed is built. We had to wait until after we finaled with construction in order to build it…some rule about a room’s definition = 7′ clear space in any direction and 100 s.f. of floor space. The alcove bed would cause one dimension to be 5′ across. It didn’t matter that a bed would go there built in or not. I guess they thought after we built the alcove we would try and put a bed somewhere else in the room? Who knows. Anyhow, after we finaled we built a wall from 2×4’s 16″ OC and covered it with 1/2″ mdf instead of drywall. This was easier and cleaner although a little more expensive. I also used the leftover mdf to make the board and batten trim. I just ran it through my table saw set to 2.5″. I attached the trim with 1″ finish nails. The trim covers the screws we used to attach the mdf to the 2×4 wall.
alcove bed8

The base of the bed was made out of a 2×4 ledger and 2×4’s spanning across the ledgers. The height was set around the height of a counter stool – we wanted to incorporate storage under the bed so it is a little high. We also made the alcove 17″ longer than the length of a twin bed and 2″ wider. This gave us room to actually make the bed. We were also able to squeeze in a bookshelf and a hidden toy chest at the foot of the bed. Mike put a sheet of 3/4″ mdf over the base. This added integrity to the bed and also keeps Red’s treasures from falling into the abyss below her bed.
alcove bed7
So enthusiastic.

The drawers were built out of 3/4″ plywood and are the main point of this post. Once the drawers are in place you can just build a face frame and trim around them.

Tools:
Finish nailer
Kreg Jig
Table saw

Supplies:
3/4″ plywood
Drawer slides I used these2×4 for legs or base of drawers

Using my table saw I made a bunch of strips that were 10″x 24″. I kreg jig’d them together like the picture below. These formed the boxes my drawers sit in. The final width was 22.5″ wide. The slides I used require .5″ on either side of the drawer.
alcove bed6

Next I made my drawers. Just three sided. The drawers are 22″ deep x 21.5″ wide. Make sure when you make the drawers they are 1″ shorter in width than the box you are putting them in – this gives you room for the drawer slide hardware.
alcove bed5

My drawer slides mount onto the bottom and sides of the drawer, so I just used my finish nailer to nail a bottom onto the drawer boxes. You can also see my kreg jig holes for the drawers. I made the base out of 3/4″ mdf because that’s what I had laying around. Plywood would be better.
alcove bed4

Attach the drawer slides according to the package instructions and that’s it.
alcove bed9
alcove bed3 alcove bed2

It’s that simple. If you build everything really square the drawers glide like a dream. I used extra 2×4’s that I cut to 6″ and attached to the boxes with screws to add height to the drawers. I attached the drawer front with the kreg jig. The front is made out of 3/4″ mdf and some of the 1/2″ leftover mdf to make the shaker style front.

Here’s the finished pic of it painted and lived in. I really need to put drawer pulls on. They’ve been sitting in Red’s closet for months now.
alcove bed

DIY Pinwheel Nursery Dreamcatcher Mobile

DIY Pinwheel Nursery Dreamcatcher Mobile

I’m part Native American and Mike is Irish/Dutch. For the twin’s nursery I wanted to make something that brought two of our backgrounds together. That is where the inspiration for creating the Pinwheel Dreamcatcher Mobile for our nursery came from. I guess when I’m pregnant I get a “little” sentimental….or something.

dreamcatcher pinwheel mobile
What you will need:
Scrapbook paper – 2 sheets per pinwheel – unless you want the inside of the mobile to be whatever color is on the back of your scrapbook paper – or you have paper that looks good from both sides then you only need one. Btw – if I were a teacher (which I am not) I would love to see these made out of regular college ruled paper and strung as a pendant for a classroom decoration…

Anyhow…you will need:

Scissors
String
A hoop – mine was a 9″ diameter brass hoop I bought on Amazon for a couple bucks, but you can use anything – bike rim, quilters hoop, you get the idea.
X-acto Knife
Scrapbook paper – I used 16 sheets
Pinhole paper punch – the one that makes small punches
Paper fasteners – I used brass colored ones – 1 per pinwheel
pinwheel mobile6

Making the Dreamcatcher

Step 1:
Grab your string and measure out ~25 feet and wrap it up into a small ball. This makes the string easier to handle and as the catcher takes shape the ball will fit through the little loops. 
dreamcatcher 5

Step 2:
Take your hoop and your string and attach the string to the hoop with a double knot. Then begin winding around your hoop with loose loops. It’s hard to explain so I’ll let the pictures do the work.
dreamcatcher 3dreamcatcher 4

I put one of these loops about every 3 inches or so…nothing is exact so don’t get hung up on the measurements. When I got all the way around to the double knot I made my next loop in the center of the hole around the middle of the string. Don’t be afraid to start over if you don’t like it, but trust me, once done it looks great even at first if you are like wtf? Making these goes really fast too. Don’t knot the string as you go. It is just a quick loop around the middle of the string.

 dreamcatcher 2  dreamcatcher 7  dreamcatcher 6

Work your way around, looping as you go until you get all the way into the center of your hoop, finish off with a double knot.

Making the Pinwheels

Step 1:
Cut your scrapbook paper into squares. I did this with an X-acto knife and my straight edge. If your paper comes in squares, well lucky you! I made two different sized pinwheels 6.5″ squares and 4.5″ squares. Pick a size the will work with your hoop. Layer the two sheets together when you cut so that they always have the same dimensions. Cut them with wrong sides facing and right sides out. I made four of each size. So, 16 sheets of scrapbook paper total.

Step 2:
Take your two sheets that are cut to the same dimensions, making sure right sides are facing out, and cut, with your scissors from each of the four corners in towards the center. I just eyeball this. Do not cut them apart, you are just making slits.
pinwheel mobile5

Step 3:
Take your hole puncher and punch a hole in the right side of each cut corner. And then punch a hole right in the middle of the square. Again, I just eyeballed this.
pinwheel mobile8

Step 4:
Grab a paper fastener and insert it from the bottom of one hole upwards and then thread it from bottom upwards through each hole, working clockwise as you go.
pinwheel mobile4

It helps to bend the next corner up and push it onto the fastener like this:pinwheel mobile3

Step 5:
When you get all four corners on the fastener it can feel pretty tight just push the fastener down into the hole that you punched in the center of the square. Then open the fastener up and fold the ends in together.
pinwheel mobile2

pinwheel mobile1
pinwheel mobile10

Repeat until you have lots of pinwheels:pinwheel mobile9

Putting it all together

This part is simple. I just wrapped a string around the back fastener on each pinwheel and hung each pinwheel from the hoop. Space them out however you like, that’s what I did! Then I used my hot glue gun to help the string hold the pinwheel in the position I liked best. I tied four string onto the hoop then tied them together and hung them from a simple cup hook I hand screwed into the ceiling above the cribs. I put it right into the drywall since it wasn’t that heavy…if you make something heavier – obviously fasten it into the ceiling better since it’s going to hang right over your baby’s head.
dreamcatcher 10dreamcatcher 9