Build Project #4, and #5 – a Chair and an Office Accessory

I’ve been taking part of an online woodworking course called the Weekend Woodworker led by Steve Ramsey.  It has been great fun, and I’m learning how to do a ton of awesome things.

For my 4th and 5th projects of the year – one of them was part of the course, and one of them was not.

First up, a paper holder.  I know, it doesn’t sound awesome and amazing – but it taught me some great skills on the table saw, and even led to a “mini-project” where I learned how to make a pushstick designed by woodworker Matthias Wandel:

The paper holder took just a few small cuts on one 1×4 board, and a piece of plywood:

First up was learning to cut some rabbets on the boards:

I had to cut an opening in the front piece for being able to grab the papers out of the holder:

Then I had to put them all together:

Next I had to rip the sheet of plywood, which I did not enjoy.  I got it cut a bit too much and it didn’t fit exactly like I wanted it to, but that’s okay, it’s on the bottom.  I cut it out and then glued it in place:

After that dried up, I cut some decorative bevels into the top:

The last step was to make a paperweight – which consisted of just gluing up two boards together.  You’re supposed to add personalization to it, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

After I made this, I thought it was time to try something not part of the course – and we’ve been needing some barstools for our kitchen area.

This project was really more of a “let’s see if I can do it, and if I can, I’ll make a better one later” type of project.  I began with some 2x4s and cut them down to some lengths that would work well for the project:

This project, I was finally going to use pocket holes.  I don’t have an expensive “Kreg” jig, but rather I had purchased a pocket hole jig from Harbor Freight.

The only thing I don’t care for about the HF jig is that I can’t adjust the height of where the holes go in the board.  It ended up working out just fine for this project, but I can see where in the future it may restrict me from using them in all projects.

Pocket holes are supposed to “hide” the screw, and then you can go in and fill the holes later, or you can just leave them if you’d like.  Here’s the jig, and here’s how it works:

I am using the Kreg brand screws – they were a gift from my wife at Christmas.

After getting all the holes drilled, I started to piece things together:

After putting the braces in, and then putting on the seat boards, here’s what it looked like:

The chairs will fit perfectly in our kitchen/living room area under the kitchen counter.  However, they are a bit clunky – so I may go back to the drawing board and make something a bit less of a large footprint.

Regardless, even if we don’t use it in the kitchen area, I now have a great seat for my garage/workshop area.


My 40th Trip Around the Sun – Thoughts on the First 39 Years of My Life

Tonight is my last night to be in my thirties.

For some of you, you’re probably thinking “Oh shut up, I’d love to be turning 40.”  For others of you, you’re saying “Geez – 40?  You’re ancient!”

I’ve done a whole lot in my 39 trips around the sun.

  1. I was born.
  2. I’ve been to Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Canada, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Amsterdam, China, Japan, Jordan, and Israel.
  3. I’ve lived a lot of places: Lebanon, TN; Henderson, TN; Houston, TX; Ashland City, TN; Memphis, TN (technically I lived in Olive Branch, MS too); Guntersville, AL; back to Houston, TX; back to Nashville, TN; and now in Tampa, FL.
  4. I’ve owned a 97 Pontiac Sunfire, a 2002 Ford Taurus, a 98 Ford Explorer 2 door Sport, a 2001 Honda Accord, a 2004 Honda Pilot, and now a 2006 Honda Civic.
  5. I’ve been a telemarketer, a camp counselor, an intramural referee, a chapel checker, a pizza maker at Pizza Hut, construction worker, bible teacher, speech teacher, choral director, theater director, head volleyball coach, assistant girl’s basketball coach, campus minister, youth minister, associate minister, worship minister, and preacher
  6. I’ve been married for 14 of those trips around the sun.
  7. I’ve been a father for 9.
  8. I’ve paid off all of debt except for my mortgage.
  9. I’ve struggled with anxiety and very low self esteem.
  10. I’ve played rhythm guitar, bass guitar, and drums in a band.
  11. I’ve been in 14 plays, musicals, etc.  I was one of the lead roles in about half of those.
  12. I’ve only owned my own dog for about 3 years – Chloe, our little black pug.  I really hope to own another dog one day.
  13. I only ever attended a Christian school.  Friendship Christian and Freed Hardeman.  I also taught in a Christian school – Westbury Christian.
  14. I’ve never had a cup of coffee.
  15. I’ve never had a sip of alcohol.
  16. I’ve never smoked.
  17. I’ve never seen Terminator, Die Hard, or The Godfather.
  18. I’ve driven a bus from Tennessee to Canada and back.  It was a 26 passenger bus.
  19. I’ve been on television at least 4 times that I know of.
  20. I’ve seen the Great Wall of China.
  21. I landed in Tokyo the day the great tsunami hit Japan on my way to China.
  22. I’ve seen Les Miserables in London 3 times.
  23. I’ve never tasted lobster.
  24. I’ve been bald since I was 18.
  25. I’m afraid of aliens.
  26. I can’t sleep without a fan.
  27. I once bench pressed 225 lbs.
  28. When I was about 5 years old, I sang “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” as loud as I could while showering the bathhouse at a campground.
  29. My family called me “Motormouth” when I was a child, because I never stopped talking.  I’m being punished for that now because my daughter does the exact same thing!
  30. I asked a White House security guard while on a tour if there was an underground bunker for the president to hide in like on the show “24.”  He was not amused.
  31. I have been bullied as a child and also as an adult.
  32. I have a really hard time saying the word “rural.”
  33. I have preached from the same pulpit that Alexander Campbell once preached from.
  34. I’ve watched “The Office” from beginning to end probably at least 9 times.
  35. I took a selfie with Kirk Herbstreit.
  36. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes
  37. I’ve prayed at least a million prayers
  38. I’ve found that surrounding myself with positive people makes life a lot better
  39. I have hottest wife in the entire world.

What will 40 bring?  Who knows?  All I know is, in the words of Conrad Birdie, “I’ve got a lot of living to do.”

For all of those who have been an influential part of my life up until this point – thank you.  Bring it on 40!

Build Project #3: A Bench for Our….

In my year of woodworking projects, a lot of it is learning.  And I’m learning that wood glue can be pretty daggum messy.

My 3rd project of the year is a bench.  I haven’t yet figured out where this will go.  It may go in our room as a place to sit while putting on shoes.  It may go in my wife’s classroom for her to use as a reading bench.

I have to admit, I didn’t get as many pictures of the build process this time.  The reason – well, a lot of this build was gluing and sanding.  That’s not exactly the most exciting stuff in the world.

The goal:  turn this stack of wood (well, part of it) into a beautiful bench.

Using only 1x3s and 1x2s, I was able to achieve this.  First I had to cut out the legs.  I did this by gluing and screwing some boards together:

While I was working on this project, I had a few visitors:

Sand Hill Cranes are a truly beautiful species.  They make one of the most amazing sounds of any bird I’ve ever heard.  They also mate for life, and return to their home each year.  Josie calls them Sandy and Bill.

Like I said, I didn’t get many shots of the build itself, but here’s the final product.  I used Watco Danish Oil for a finish.  Man, that stuff is messy, but it ends up making things look amazing:



Build Project #2 – Casual Table for Our Porch

We have a beautiful back porch that overlooks a small lake here in Tampa.  We have a hammock, 2 rocking chairs, and a glider that belonged to my grandparents in Nashville.  But the one thing we didn’t have was a table to sit next to those things while we were enjoying a beverage and the view.

So it was time to build a table.  I went to the local Lowes store to buy some simple pine boards.  This project was made out of 1x3s and 1x2s.

Now that I have my portable workbench, making cuts is so much easier with my miter saw.  Here are the boards (post cut) that I will be using in the project:

The table calls for a tapered edge on the bottom, so I had to take my miter saw and chop off some angles:

Assembly would prove to be a bit tricky.  Everyone hates it when the table you are using wobbles.  Steve Ramsey from Wood Working for Mere Mortals suggests setting up a system like this to make sure everything is flush and square:

Using wood glue, clamps, and screws, the legs were successfully made:

Now it was time to assemble the two sets of legs together.  This was a bit more challenging, but by using the same setup, I was able to get things put together:

Well, it is starting to look like a table:

Now it was time to put the slats on the table.  I had to put some support brackets to attach the bottom shelf.  It was tricky to space these out since I just eyeballed it instead of using any sort of spacers (the vice is being used as a weight across the board since I ran out of clamps):

After cutting off the edges to give the slats a beveled edge, it was time to put the top pieces on.  These were just put on with glue, no screws.  So I grabbed some extra boards to hold them down while being clamped:

Here’s the table with the assembly complete:

But I still had to finish it with some fun paint.  After some sanding, Kristen helped me pick out a nice red color that matched the porch decorations.  It was an outdoor Valspar Spray paint from Lowes.  Here’s the table, completely finished, sitting in between our two rocking chairs:

All in all, this was pretty simple to make.

Again, credit for the plans goes to Steve Ramsey and his Wood Working for Mere Mortals site.  This table was a lot of fun to build.  It matches our porch perfectly, and is fun, casual, simple, and will hold many a Diet Dr. Pepper on it in the future.


2018 Woodworking Projects – A Work Bench

Everyone needs a good hobby.  Never in a million years did I think I would ever enjoy building things with wood.  Sure, I loved using building blocks when I was a child (who am I kidding, I still love it…) but I never thought I’d be using nails and screws and saws to build things that matter.

Our garage is the site of what I hope to be many fun and exciting woodworking projects in the year 2018.  I started with cleaning out the garage from all the Christmas decorations and then spent some Christmas money I received on a few new tools that I’ve been wanting.

My first project of the year was something I really did need to build first in order to do any other projects in the future.  A workbench.  To be more specific, I built a mobile workbench that could roll out of the way when not in use, so our garage didn’t become too cluttered.  If you’re interested in how I built this, continue reading to see what I did, and how I did it.

To start – I want to recommend Steve Ramsey and his youtube channel Woodworking for Mere Mortals.  He does such a great job of teaching and explaining how to do things.  It almost seems like he’s in my garage with me giving me step by step instructions on how to do this.

I used a miter saw, drill, screws, wood glue, some 2x4s, and some leftover plywood.  Remember, I had the hurricane boards for my house.  Well, I kept all the ones for the windows around the house, but the back porch boards, we decided that they just took up too much room in the garage, and we don’t really need them since there’s really nothing on the back side of our house except a lake.

So here’s where I started – a few boards, a Diet Dr. Pepper, and some determination.

One of the really great things about using the Steve Ramsey videos – he taught me how to use my Mitre saw a lot more efficiently and correctly.  Here, I have it set up on top of one of my new toys I bought for Christmas – a Ridgid Table Saw (insert Tool Man grunt sounds here…).

There’s a reason why I decided to build this mobile workbench, and the fact that I have my miter saw on top of a table saw box is one of them.  But the other reason is this:

I have nowhere to do my work.  Here you see me setting up shop on top of my Hillsborough County garbage can.  Not a lot of space, great height, though!  This is why I need a workbench.

To assemble the legs, I took some 2x4s and glued them together, then put some screws through them.

I spread the glue out, clamped them together, and then put some screws through them.  I have to stop here and brag about one of the really cool Christmas gifts I received this year – a magnetic wristband.  It makes work so much easier and is not very bulky at all.

I made 4 sets of legs, and it was time to move on to the next part:

The next part was to start cutting up the pieces that would be used for shelving and surfaces.  I have to admit, I was not looking forward to this.  Back when I built Josie’s loft bed, I had purchased a Black and Decker circular saw that was battery operated.  I thought it would make things a lot easier.  I bought Black and Decker because I already had an investment in the Black and Decker family, and I have 4 of their 20-volt batteries.

What I discovered, sadly, was that the Black and Decker battery powered circular saw was simply not a good tool.  It cuts slow, loses power quickly, and would often stop and bind up due to lack of power.  So I went and bought me a new corded circular saw – a Ryobi, with laser guidance.  It made a HUGE difference.  I know there are better, more powerful saws out there, but for $40 – you can’t go wrong.

I set my discarded hurricane boards up in my Rockwell JawHorse, which I still think is one of the best investments you can make.

A few minutes later, I had made all my cuts needed for shelving and surfaces:

Next, I started to build the frame for the bench:

I used the top of another plywood sheet in my Rockwell JawHorse for a workstation to make it easier for me to do the work.

Then, I had to start putting in the plywood cuts.  This is where I realized I had made a mistake.  I custom cut the legs to be a bit taller since I’m 6’2″ tall, but I didn’t adjust my plywood cuts for the dividers and end pieces.  So I got a bit creative and put some bottom brackets in to raise the height of the dividers:

The last part of this was to put the top piece on for my work surface and put the wheels on it.

Listen, a workbench isn’t made to be “pretty.”  It’s made to be used, abused, worked on, and create art.

Here’s my final workbench, complete with some tools on it, and in its storage space tucked out of the way till the next project:

Here’s to many more projects in the future!!

Link to Steve Ramsey’s Youtube channel: STEVE RAMSEY WOOD WORKING FOR MERE MORTALS

Link to Magnetic Wrist Band: MAGNETIC WRISTBAND

Link to Rockwell JawHorse:  JAWHORSE (look around, and be patient, I got mine for much less than advertised here when it was on sale.)



















Taking Your Life Back From Social Media


You’re driving in your car, and you pull up to a stop light.  You have time to kill, about 30 seconds or so.  Instead of just taking a moment to breathe, reflect, or better yet – pay attention to traffic, you decide to pull out your phone and check Facebook.  Before you know it, cars are moving, the light has changed to green, and the guy behind you is laying on the horn for you to go.

Listen – I love Facebook.  Why?  I live in Florida with my wife and daughter, while the rest of my family lives in Middle Tennessee and North Alabama.  It is a simple, easy, and fun way to send pictures and update each other on life and activities.  However, recently, I’ve noticed that social media is starting to take more and more of a stranglehold on my time.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says “Be very careful then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”  Time is a treasure we’ve been given by God, and I dare say He didn’t plan on us spending our days glued to a screen staring at social media.

Recent studies done by various time management groups show that as of March 2017, adults ages 18 and over spend 2 hours and 51 minutes on their smart phones every day.  Now, if you’re doing business, that’s one thing – but most aren’t.  In fact, 1 hour and 56 minutes of that time is spent on various social media outlets.  Broken down –

  • 40 Minutes on Youtube
  • 35 Minutes on Facebook
  • 25 Minutes on Snapchat
  • 15 Minutes on Instagram
  • 1 minute on Twitter

Now, your mileage may be coming from different sources, but reality is – this is a problem.  Over a lifetime this equals upwards of 5 years and 4 months spent on social media.

Do you want to know what I think are the real dangers with things like Facebook, and other social media outlets? It never ends.  When you read a book, eventually, there’s a final chapter, a final page. When you watch a show, or a movie, it ends. But log into social media and start scrolling — and there is no end.

Recently, I rediscovered something that is very useful in social media usage – and it’s called “Social Fixer.”  If you’re using your desktop/laptop to scroll through Facebook, I highly suggest you download this today.  It will take back your time, while still allowing you to scroll through and enjoy.  In essence, it gives you control of Facebook.

For example, in the top left corner of your facebook page, you can set your stories from “Top Stories” to “Most Recent.”  But did you know that Facebook will automatically reset it to Top Stories after a while?  Why?  Because if you have it set on Most Recent, it doesn’t keep popping up as much new material for you.  And you know what that would do?  It would cause you to stop scrolling.

Social Fixer – along with having some really cool filters, fixes it so it maintains that “Most Recent” setting, along with a lot of other great things.

  • It can remove the ads that are on Facebook.
  • It can filter out posts – such as political posts, posts with certain words, etc.
  • You have the ability to “check off” that you’ve read a post, therefore keeping it from popping up again.
  • You can set how many posts it will show you, to keep it from going into an infinite loop of regurgitating things.

For example, look at this screen shot.  This shows how it hides ads, how I’ve read a post and it minimizes the post, how I’ve hidden something I don’t ever want to see again, but most importantly – it shows how it has stopped loading stories for me.  This is a GREAT tool on how to limit your time on Facebook.

Social Fixer will allow you to check off stories you’ve read, will hide ads, will filter content, and will keep you from mind-numbingly reading the same things over and over again.

I’ve seen people “quit” Facebook.  I don’t think that’s a great idea.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – these are all great tools if used the right way.

Psalm 90:10 tells us that are days are numbered – 70, maybe 80 years – they quickly pass.  And in verse 12 it tells us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Use social media, but use it the right way.  If you need to delete it off your phone – DO SO!  If you find yourself spending countless hours scrolling through something that simply doesn’t matter in the long run, get rid of it.  If you get upset over what your friends are posting – don’t look at it.  Unfollow people if necessary – or simply learn to appreciate other people’s opinions no matter how different they are from yours.

But at the end of your life, don’t look back and say “I should have spent less time scrolling and more time _________________.”


The God of Comfort: Words to Prepare Us for Hurricane Irma

In times where people are anxious and nervous about the oncoming events of the storm, people need comfort.

You usually hear sermons of comfort after something tragic has happened – usually, a death, at a funeral, – or after something horrible happens in the world.

But you know what?  I certainly can use comfort pretty much every day of my life, knowing that God is with me, and knowing that He is in control of all things.  Every day, one of us needs that reassurance.


Isaiah 66:13 offers an encouraging, comforting passage – where God says “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”

This conjures up an image of a loving mother drawing her child near to her, wiping away tears and singing a soft lullaby.  God is saying that he is there for us in the same way.

In the New Testament, a word is used – the word is parakaleo – which means “called to the side of.”  God offers us comfort by calling us to walk beside Him, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to be with us.  He is with us always.

And who better to have by our side than one who is immovable, unshakeable, always constant, always there, never wavering?  Who better to have by our side who is described like this in Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God loves His children.  And we are His children.  God is great and wonderful, and most worthy of our praise – and regardless of what may come our way, God is in control.

As we face the storm, I am reminded of scriptures throughout where God stills and calms them.  Today, I pray for God not only to still and calm the oncoming storm, but I pray He will still and calm our spirit, our wandering minds, our fears.

In Acts 27, Paul finally sails for Rome, but along the way, they ran into a storm.  Acts 27:13 describes that it started as a gentle south wind, but before long, a wind of hurricane force called the northeaster came down from the island of Crete.  The ship was caught and they threw anchor for fear they would crash into the rocks.  The bible tells us for 3 days, they threw things overboard, and didn’t see the sun nor the stars.

In verse 22 – Paul gives us the men this message that I want to leave with you this morning:  “But now I urge you to keep courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”

After the storm, and a shipwreck, and even after being bit by a snake, he walked away and arrived at Rome.

Through this storm, I can’t promise you that things won’t be destroyed, but if they are – as Paul said – only the ship will be destroyed.  Our course is set to Heaven – and when we follow this great God of comfort, I promise you we will arrive.

Be safe everyone!

~Lane Widick

A Few New DIY Projects

So recently, I started trying to do some woodworking projects around the home.  I successfully made a loft bed for my daughter, and I made some floating shelves for our bathroom.

I had some wood leftover from the bed that I made.  I wanted to do something with it, and decided that i would make something for my daughter’s American Girl dolls.  She loves playing with them, putting them to bed, etc., so I figured this would be a great thing to do.  I didn’t do a step by step on this one – however – here’s the final product: (shout out to Kristen for sewing Josie some mattresses and blankets for the dolls, too!)

I also have been in a real bind about garage storage.  We’re not one of those families that throws everything in the garage.  We like that space to be usable instead of just a giant hot storage room.  Plus, I want to do more projects for around the house.

When we moved in to our house, the person who owned the house left behind a ton of what looked like scrap plywood.  Us being new to Florida homeownership, we had no idea what it was.  Finally the previous homeowner told us that it was custom made boards to go over the windows in case of a hurricane.  Problem is, it takes up so much space.  Second problem is that many of these boards are starting to warp and fall apart.  I moved them all to this wall, and used some bungees to get them as close to the wall as possible.  Still, they take up a ton of room.  (No, i’m not sure why they were painted.)

The plywood that had been cut out for windows in case of a storm. These take up about 18 inches of space from the wall, and the front part go from floor to ceiling. They run almost the entire length of the garage, too.

I decided that I wanted to try to find a use for them – since there is no where else to store them.  As I looked around the garage, I decided that I could use some of the wood to make some shelving for this part of the garage.

Blank wall that needed some storage.

Our garage is already on the small side.  It’s a “double” garage, but there’s no way we’d ever fit two cars in it.  So storage is a great idea.  This spot had nothing on it, so I figured it was time to be creative.

I started by grabbing one of the sheets of plywood.  It’s 3/4″ plywood, but like I stated, parts of it are warping and breaking apart.  After I found a good piece, I laid some boards on the floor, and grabbed my circular saw, and measured out what I wanted.  It was going to be about a 42″ x 42″ open cabinet.

Here’s where I learned a few things:  circular saws are a great tool, but they’re not the best for making accurate, long cuts.  After all was said and done – I ended up using some extra 2×6 boards to reinforce it.  It’s easy to mount things on the wall in the garage since it’s all cinder block walls.  I don’t have to find the studs, I just have to make sure I avoid any electrical wires!

Here’s the finished product:

Now I have a place to put my power tools, and some other odds and ends as need be.  Nothing fancy, works great.  I did all of this with just a miter saw and a circular saw — but i’m really starting to wish I had a table saw…

How to Build Your Own Floating Shelves

For the longest time, we’ve needed some shelves in our small bathroom.  Our Master Bathroom is one of those that has a small closet toilet room – and that’s where we needed shelves.

We had looked around for some shelves to add, but the walls have a funny angle to them.  Had we bought just some normal shelves from Target or Amazon, we would have had some practical shelving that just wouldn’t have looked all that good.

So I decided that I was going to have build some on my own.

I started off by buying a few supplies –

  • a couple of sheets of 1/4 inch Birch plywood sheets 2×4
  • 2 8-foot lengths of 2x2s

Some 2x2s and some 1/4″ birch plywood sheets.

To do this build, I simply needed a circular saw, some clamps, a drill, and some glue, screws, and I used some small panel nails since I don’t have a brad/finish nailer.

My simple tools of choice – Irwin clamps and a Black and Decker Cordless Circular Saw.

I wanted to use 2x4s, since I had some of those left over from the bed I built earlier, but the simple fact is that it would have made some giant shelves that wouldn’t have looked good in our small area.

After measuring the angle of the wall, I cut the plywood pieces.  I then clamped them together, and sanded the rough edges.  I used my handy Rockwell Jawhorse to hold them together.

Clamping and sanding the shelves.

After that, I assembled the 2x2s into the shape I needed.

Assembling the bracket for the shelf. I would have put these on the outside too, but the studs in the wall were on the outside.

It was time to assemble the shelf cover – I decided to put in some extra 2×2 pieces on the outside to help the structure/support of the shelf.

Using an extra piece of 2×2 to support the shelf. I forgot to take a picture of the front edge during assembly, but I used panel board nails and screws (on the underside).

It was now time to put the brackets into the bathroom.  You can see now the strange angle, and how a straight shelf would have looked awkward.

The brackets installed. Like I stated earlier, I would have put the brackets on the outside, but that’s the only place there was a stud to attach to the wall.

Now that the bracket is installed, the moment of truth was to see if the cover fit…and it did!  Now you can see the nails I used across the front.

Shelf cover installed, you can see the angle now.

You can see the panel board nails here.

Thoughts from the build:

I wish I had stuck to my 2x4s instead.  It would have offered more stability, however, they were just too large.  The shelves are not what we would call “Super Stable” but they are good enough for what we’re using them for – toilet paper…

Both shelves done. Hoping to finish them with a stain or paint soon. I will secure them to the brackets when we are done.

I’m very pleased with how they ended up looking.  Kristen is going to probably put some sort of finish on them at some point soon, just haven’t decided yet on a stain or a paint.

My First Woodworking Project: A Loft Bed for My Daughter

When we began looking for a house here in Tampa, FL, one of the things that we noticed almost right away was that in our price range, the secondary bedrooms in most of the newer homes were tiny.  In the apartment we stayed in for two years, Josie’s bedroom was about 12′ x 13′.  In Nashville, her bedroom was about 14′ x 14′.  Now, her room is roughly 10’x10′.  She’s never complained about the size of her room – except that she wished there was more room to play and stretch out.

Her bedroom used to have a daybed given to us by some good friends – the Bybee Family – a long, long time ago.  After several moves, the thing finally just fell apart.  So unfortunately, since we moved in to our house in December, Josie has been sleeping on two twin mattresses stacked on top of each other in her room.  Needless to say, we needed to remedy that.

I wanted to surprise her, so last week, when my wife’s parents came in to town to stay at the beach for a week, I stayed behind a few days to get something done: A loft bed for Josie.

Understand this:  I’ve never worked with wood in any way.  I have never fancied myself as a DIY guy.  I like to watch DIY videos, dream about doing DIY things, but never had the tools or skill level needed to do much.  So why not start with a gigantic loft bed to place in your daughter’s room, right?

I scoured the internet for plans – and finally settled on about 3 different ones.  I ended up sort of merging some ideas together to get the final product.

I also had to buy a few things in order for me to get started.  I had a $300 Amazon Gift Card from a promotion from my internet/cable provider, so I used that to buy these two things:

A Rockwell Jawhorse Sheetmaster

Rockwell Jawhorse Sheetmaster. Could NOT have done this job by myself without this.

An inexpensive Hitachi Miter Saw

Once these came in, and after I got going, I realized my tool box was rather dry.  I had a few things, but not nearly what I needed to make this project go smoothly.  I figured I’d spend a few dollars and make an investment into what I hoped would become a hobby down the road.

So I also added:

A Black and Decker Orbital Sander

A cordless Black and Decker Circular Saw (went with this one because I already had 4 batteries from previous purchases that were interchangeable)

Irwin Clamps

Titebond II Wood Glue

I had a buddy from church that was going to help me with the build, and we were all set to go, but at the last hour, he texted me telling me his wife was going in to labor.  Can’t get mad about that!!  (By the way, the baby is doing well…)  The only problem was that he is very skilled at woodworking, and he also had a vehicle to put the lumber in!

I drive a 2006 Honda Civic, not a car known for it’s lumber hauling ability.  My wife’s car might could have handled it, but she had taken her car to the beach to haul all the vacation items.  So I rented a cargo van from Uhaul for $19.99 a day, a $10 collision waver, and 59 cents a mile.  I ended up paying about $50 total for the rental.  But it was worth it.

I got the van, and proceeded to my local Home Depot.  Mind you, I’ve never purchased lumber before, but I knew I needed good quality straight boards.  The bed would be built out of 2x4s, 2x6s, and a sheet of plywood.  I went through the boards, picked out the straightest pieces I could, and moved on to hardware.

For the build, I needed about 60 4″ hex bolts, and Home Depot didn’t have those.  They only about 20.  So instead I bought the 3 1/2″ wood screws I needed, the 2″ wood screws, the flat washers, the lock washers, and the hex nuts.  Then I loaded everything up, and went to Lowes.  They had the bolts I needed.  I also picked up a 3 pack of chisels.

I got home, unloaded, and then returned the van.  I finally got the project started around 1pm on Tuesday.

My stack of 2x6x8 boards, and my Hitachi Miter Saw.

My stack of 2x4x8 boards.

The first thing I did was start measuring out the wood for cuts and for drill holes.  Since I’m not very sure of what I’m doing, and since i had never done this before, I took careful steps to measure often, and cut once.  Same thing with the drill holes.

Remember, I live in Tampa.  It’s summer.  I’m working in my garage.  It’s probably 150% humidity and the temp was high as well.  It took me the better part of the day to get the cuts made and the holes drilled.

Stacks of my cut and drilled pieces.

Stacks of my cut and drilled pieces.

At the end of that night, I was able to assemble the tall side legs.  I used the glue, a 1/8″ drill bit to pre drill for the wood screws, and then clamped them together to assemble.

Assembling the legs. I glued them, clamped them, pre-drilled, and screwed them together with 3 1/2″ wood screws.

I then took these inside to Josie’s room, and crossed my fingers…and they fit!  The pieces fit!  I had already notched out the thin side of the mattress support rails, using that same 3/4″ circular saw depth, I went around the 2″ side of the 4 2×6 boards used for the support rails.  The plywood would set inside these notches.

Tall side legs before cross brace.

What I had to do next was temporarily put the cross brace on, so I could measure where I needed to make the cross lap joint.  I did this by using the circular saw set to a 3/4″ depth, and notching out the space for the joint, and then using a hammer and chisel to knock the pieces out.  I went back in, and the cross lap joint worked!  I joined it together.

Put the cross brace in place, marked, and notched out a cross lap joint.

I got those done, and promptly went to bed at about 1:30am.

I woke up in the morning early, and proceeded to put the other end of the bed together, the short side.  This side would house the ladder steps.  I was able to get that assembled, and put the 4 bed rails up, and then I left to go to work at about 9am.  I got back home after church that night about 9pm – and immediately began assembling the rest of it.  I was joining my family at the beach the next day, and didn’t have time to spare!

Short side of the bed assembled, with ladder steps, and the mattress rails in place as well.

Shot of the notched area for the mattress. A sheet of plywood will go here.

I put together the cross piece for the middle of the bed to support the plywood.  I also put together the back cross brace the same way I did the side cross brace.

The center brace for the bed, the plywood will sit on top of this, and in the notched area of the mattress rails.

Here you can see the back cross brace, done in the same manner as the short cross brace at the head of the bed.

After that, even though I wasn’t completely done, I realized the only thing I had left to do was cut the plywood, and make the shelf for the top of the bed.  I couldn’t make the shelf until I cut the plywood, so I decided that I would finish all that after Josie saw her surprise.

We came in on Saturday after vacation – and Josie saw her bed – she was stoked!  She was so excited (since it’s taken us nearly 7 months to get to it!  However, there was still some work to be done.

I got the plywood measured and cut with the help of my lovely wife, and then started work on the shelf.  The shelf went together perfectly.  I went ahead and sanded the shelf pieces, and then the final steps were underway.  We got the mattress plywood support on (which was actually the hardest part, since it was one of  the last pieces to fit in) and then put the shelf on.

Assembling the shelf to go on the top of the bed.

We positioned the bed, and put the mattress on, and Josie made inaugural climb to the top of the bed.  We realized as she was doing this she needed some handles for the bed (more on that later).  She made it, and was elated!  She was so happy!  Kristen climbed up there as well, and the bed was as sturdy as a rock.

Josie on her bed for the first time! It didn’t fall!

Kristen wanted to get in on the fun too!

On Sunday, I sanded the whole bed down, and then bought some handles for the bed.  I bought two bathroom wall handles that were 16″ long, and put them at the top of the step side.  I also bought two smaller handles for support.

So here’s the final product in all it’s glory!

Final product! Note the handles on the end.

Here’s a close up shot of the shelf at the top for Josie to put her clock on, and other knick knacks.

This was such a fun project to work on.  All said and done, it took parts of 3 days to finish.  I have already ordered her a clip on light, a clip on fan, and some lighting to go underneath the bed, so when I get around to making the desk to go on the bed, she’ll be able to see!

At this point, she did not want to paint it, she just wanted to leave it as is.  I think that’s because we told her it would take a few days to paint, and she was ready to sleep on it right away!  The only thing I have left to do now is take the ceiling and down and replace it with a simple flush mount light – until then the ceiling fan stays off!