March 25, 2014

Who knows the places you'll go!?

It might sound like an exaggeration, but having a hobby can change your life—really! Finding an activity that is fun and a little challenging to do in your spare time can keep your mind active and thinking, and produce results that you can be proud of. An exciting project can give you something really positive to look forward to, especially if you're tired or bored of your normal routine, like sitting on the couch. Plus, your projects could improve your home, like a nice coffee table or a space saving organization rack. I've been lucky to get to share my hobbies with my family. Some of the best memories I have are of building projects out in the garage with my dad or mom.

My Dad and I Building an Outdoor Sauna
My Dad and I Building an Outdoor Sauna

There are of course millions of hobbies one could take up, from puzzles to underwater basket weaving. Here on DIY Pete, we'll discuss a few of the DIY-type hobbies that we're into, and what you need to get started yourself. Next time someone asks what you did last weekend, you can proudly tell them about the cool project you worked on!

A coat rack and chalk board make a great combination on the way out the door.

Wood Working

There's nothing like the smell of fresh cut wood! Wood is great for building rustic (or modern), solid furniture, from tables and chairs to frames and towel racks. It's a fairly soft and forgiving medium, and is not too expensive to get started. Basically, you'll need some sort of saw, and some sort of fastener. You can work your way up from a hand saw to a jig saw to a miter saw and more, and you can start with just a hammer and nails before getting a drill, and then a Kreg jig.
A drill might be one of your priorities if you don't already have one. Screws are easier to use and more secure than nails, and also, nails can often split your wood—so even if you like the rustic appeal of nails, you'll probably want to pre-drill a small hole to prevent splitting.
Wood boards are fairly cheap, especially just basic 2x4s and other construction boards, which can be made to look much fancier with a good finish. Also, most stores usually have a ‘bargain bin' with leftover wood at a discount price if you just need a few small pieces.
All woods look different and have unique strengths. Pine is the least expensive, and although it is a ‘soft wood,' it is generally used in construction. Hardwoods are more expensive and can have more interesting grain patterns, and include maple, cherry, walnut, oak, and more.

This DIY cornhole game provides hours of entertainment!

Project Ideas:

Basic Materials:

  • Wood boards
  • Wood sheets
  • Screws or Nails

Tools You'll Need:

  • Saws

– You can work your way up through these. Each saw has slightly different uses.
– Hand saw, jig saw, circular saw, miter saw, table saw

  • Drill:

– Cordless are nice in some cases, but can be annoying if their battery doesn't last very long.
– You'll also need drill bits like Phillips or Star to drive your screws in, and
– Drill bits to drill holes to prevent wood from splitting

  • Sander:

– Sand paper has several levels of ‘grit.' Start with a coarse grit like 80, then 120, then 220, depending on how smooth you want your project to be
– You can start with just plain sand paper sheets and wrap them around a block to hold it
– An orbital sander is a good and versatile power sander

  • Kreg Jig
    – This is a super handy jig to drill strong but hidden ‘pocket holes,' so you don't see screw heads all over your project
The Kreg Jig in action

– This can round the edges for a more finished look

  • Finishes

– Minwax stains and coatings can help preserve your project against drink spills or the outdoor elements

A Polyurethane coating can protect wood against the elements – including feet! This is a floor mat.

– Paint can jazz up your project, though you might lose some of the rustic-ness

– You'll also want to grab a decent brush to apply these, and/or rags can work well too

Metal Working

On its own or in combination with wood or concrete, metal is a very sturdy material with a much slimmer profile than pine 4x4s. The welding side of metal work can be intimidating, with large, expensive, firey equipment, but it's really not that tough to get into. You can do a lot without a welder too, just drilling holes and using nuts and bolts, like an erector set. A plasma cutter is the other big item to work up to, which you can use to cut intricate shapes out of sheets of steel. However, for thinner sheets and bars of metal, a jigsaw with a blade for metal can cut what you need. Also a grinder is nice to have to cut and sometimes sand metal.

Project Ideas:

Basic Materials:

  • Metal bar
  • Metal sheets
  • ~ check scrap yards for some good finds

Tools You'll Need:

Concrete Work

Concrete is solid as a rock, and can lend a heavy air of sophistication to any room. Concrete can be polished to be really smooth, and makes great counter tops and tables, with a wooden or metal set of legs. For most projects, you'll first make a mold out of laminated plywood and sandwich rebar within the concrete. Concrete mix comes in bags of different sizes, and usually you just add water to the mix in some sort of tub and stir with a big stick. The mixed concrete is then poured into the mold, smoothed out, and set to dry.
Concrete projects are pretty heavy, so for these, it's helpful to have a buddy around whenever you need to move it. There are a few tricks to flying solo, but if it's an option, I just call up a pal.

Project Ideas:

  • Table tops
  • Counter tops
  • One-piece sinks
  • Raised floor
  • Designs in driveway

Basic Materials:

  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • Rebar
  • Wood for mold

concrete-mix-for-concrete-counterTools You'll Need:

how-to-acid-stain-concrete-and-neutralizeLeather Work

If the hard edges of wood and metal aren't quite your thing, working with leather and fabrics might suit you better. Or they could make a nice additional detail to a table or chair.
Leather work is something that I'm less familiar with, but I just interviewed Rob Farrington from about it, so be sure to give that a listen if you're interested in learning more. (DIY PROJECTS WITH PETE PODCAST EPISODE 5 – DIY Leather Projects)

Project Ideas:

  • Pillows
  • Hats
  • Bags
  • Tool belt
  • Art

Tools You'll Need:

Well, if you aren't already doing one of these hobbies, we hope we may have sparked your interest. You don't need all the fanciest tools right away; I built up my collection one tool at a time. Keep an eye out at garage sales and thrift shops for good deals on tools, and the big box stores like Home Depot or Menards can have some great sales. Also, some of the bigger tools you can rent for a few hours or a weekend at rental services or even some pawn shops.

Having a hobby can be a rewarding way to spend your spare time, so think up your first easy project, and start gathering your supplies. Check back on our site for new ideas, plans, and inspirations that we post as often as we can.

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