If you’re like us, you’ve probably gone ahead and purchased inexpensive furniture (shelves, bedside tables, TV stands) from Sauder to save a buck or two. If you’re like us, you’ve probably experienced your share of Sauder breakdowns too.
It’s not the highest quality and some would argue not even worthy of saving. This shelf almost went straight into the trash when we moved it from Pete’s apartment, because after being used for two years to store lots of (really heavy) books, it had become a little wonky. OK, a lot wonky.
Pete said he tried to lift it up once and ripped off the top. Busted fiberboard is basically equivalent to death in the Sauder world. Frankly, I’m surprised he was able to continue to use it even in this state for as long as he did.
Call me crazy, but since I thought it would be complementary to the IKEA EXPEDIT shelf that’s already in my living room, I decided I wanted to try and make it work (with as little financial investment as possible, because let’s face it, you don’t usually put money into fixing this type of furniture). Pete suggested reinforcing the structure similarly to how we upgraded the built in shelving with added, unobtrusive support to prevent bowing. The boards I found to use were free… salvaged from a past project. Remember when Pete tore apart the basement bathroom and used the lumber to make a workbench and gardening table? (Read about it here and here and, oh, here too).
Really, he probably suggested adding supporting pieces to the back of the shelf so he could bring out his nail gun again. Even though the pancake compressor freaks out the dog, it’s amazing to have. If you haven’t caught on by now, we really like this tool and want you to have one too (these are unsponsored good words in support all nail gun brands).
First things first, I wanted to put a little glue in the exposed wounds. We considered Gorilla Glue, but couldn’t find it in the mess of the move; we also considered that the expansion of the Gorilla Glue might even warp the shelf a little more (or would have to be clamped more securely than we could have managed with the tools we had on hand) so in the end we resolved to test out plain old Elmer’s wood glue.
After the glue was spread liberally on the exposed fiberboard, we stuck the original top back into place. A few wooden pegs were left on the middle-most post to help secure it from slipping around, but I still brought in lots of books to add weight to the surface and create a strong bond between the boards and the glue (just like what I did when I was fixing the IKEA RIBBA drawers).
Once the salvaged boards were cut to length, we squared off the structure and nail-gunned the top most panel to the back of the shelf. The board overlapped all legs and the back of the shelf top as well so we could make sure we were nailing into as many pieces as possible.
Hey, here I am looking very serious while I nail gun. I was enjoying myself, I swear.
Oh, well I was enjoying myself until I screwed up, nail gunning a little too close to the top edge (and at an angle), which made the nail blast through the top panel of the shelf.
We couldn’t even get it back out the same way it came in, so Pete came to the rescue with the cutting wheel on the Dremel and corrected that little snafu. Thanks dude.
Just like the top, we secured the bottom with a reinforcing beam to add to the keep-it-square plan. If you really wanted to go all-out, you might want to consider adding boards the entire length of the shelf, top to bottom. Seriously, how sturdy would THAT be?
Oh yeah – one other thing I did while the glue was drying? Took some stain to the edges of those new support boards. I had some dark brown stain on hand (an “oops paint” find from Home Depot, priced at $1) which wasn’t exactly the same color but was close enough to get the job done, particularly along the edge of the top board where the non-stained edge would have stood out loudly if left untreated. Yes, sometimes the DIY response is “close enough”. See the before/after comparison in this photo:
I let the glue dry overnight before removing the DIY weights, although it probably would have been fine with just a few hours – the new supporting boards on the back added loads of reinforcement to the previously wobbly shelf.
And that’s how you can fix a broken shelf. It’s basically been brought it back to life.
I bet there’s a biblical Easter story in there for you if you look really hard.
The paint I bought from Sherwin-Williams ended up getting an A+ in my book (slash blog review). Here’s the brief recap of how Energetic and Laughing Orange came to be (read the whole thing here if you want): Buy-one-get-one coupon yields me testing two colors of satin Color-To-Go paint samples from Sherwin-Williams for $5.34 including tax. Hurrah. Problem? This sample formula of paint [allegedly] lacks the bonding and wearability that the premium paint brand prides itself on offering.
I’m up for a good challenge, and love a good sale, so I couldn’t say no. In this case, I decided to start my testing by modifying several all-black picture frames which were just never taken seriously in my house (I’m a lover of the grays and browns, but black is usually just too harsh with my pale skin tone and my palette). One of the frames was square with a white mat from Pottery Barn. I also had a few similar square knockoffs from the IKEA RIBBA collection. I also tapped into some of my 5×7 black frames (mostly garage sale finds) that I was content to sacrifice for creative testing.
To increase the possibility of obtaining awesome results, I tapped into a few products I already had on hand – a handy spray primer and glossy clear topcoat. The Rust-Oleum brand is a little more expensive than some of the other products I’ve tried, but it goes on nice and smooth, and as you can see in this variety, claims to be doubly good at coverage. I can’t disagree with that one.
The spray primer was essential to prepare the surface of the frame, which was finished and semi-glossy smooth on all of my test subjects. A light sanding prior to spraying ensured any irregularities were leveled out, and made a nice surface for the primer to adhere to. While I’m pretty sure most DIY’ers would encourage you to do this, I admit that I forgot to do it on one of the frames and I can’t tell the difference. What is good is to give the frame a light sanding between coats of paint (which I did 2-3 coats of), but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I chose a nice snow-free section of the backyard and laid down a few layers of newspaper to make a spray priming surface. And then I sprayed, let it dry outside for about an hour and inside overnight (when it’s cooler or in the shade, allow generous dry-time).
I test painted one frame with the yellow-orange, and the other with the tomato-soup orange. The lighter of the colors required three coats, and the darker needed only two for adequate coverage, despite starting the project with a level playing field. I didn’t even take any photos of the project in progress, which is unlike me, but believe me when I say you’re not really missing anything here.
FYI – I also applied all paint with a foam brush because 1) they allow a nice smooth finish; 2) I love home improvement but dislike cleaning paintbrushes; 3) I had a LOT of foam brushes after finding them on sale 15 for $1 at the craft store:
But I’m really excited to share how wonderfully these frames turned out after the respective 2-3 coats of paint! The yellow frame in this shot had been sprayed with the clear gloss, and the darker orange-red had not been (so you can see the difference between having that top coat and not). I notice that a lot of the fine brush strokes disappear once the topcoat is applied and dried:
And so, when I got going, the frames really started to look great. Between giving time between coats of paint and time to really let that top coat of spray gloss cure, it took me about 5 days to get as far as I have today. The art I selected for these frames is a mix of hand-drawn (by 4-year-old handy-girl) and hand-selected tear sheets that I’ve collected from the frequently distributed Anthropologie catalogues. (I’ve got a good habit of saving the images I adore, and it’s a nice stash to tap into when I need a colorful print. Remind me that I need to show you what I’ve done in my kitchen with these tear sheets.)
Just a little bit closer on the amazing glossiness that each of the frames left me with:
A favorite tear sheet featured a beautifully photographed book (The Secret Garden) with a meticulously designed cover. The palette of this book cover ironically matches both the energetic orange and laughing orange frames; can you tell how giddy I was to realize I had this in my tear sheet stash?
And sometimes all you need is a perfectly hand-drawn rainbow on crisp white paper.
So, I gave this project an A+. Why? I’m totally, 100% convinced that for a project like this (one which isn’t going to have to endure lots of wear and tear) the Sherwin-Williams Color-To-Go color samples are worthy of your time if you’re going to make the effort to properly prepare the base of the project and add a decent top-coat. Without the top coat, the “satin” finish would have been a little too matte for my liking and possibly more brittle a surface.
And, I’ve barely dipped into each color sample. I see lots of “energetic” and “laughing” inspired projects in my near future.
The bathroom mirror was an awesome garage sale find a few summers ago. I’m pretty sure it was originally a cabinet door painted white, perhaps an old vanity door, and was priced at only $2 (well, I may have talked them down from $5), I knew I could put it to good use again.
Adorned with a sweet floral texture, I knew I wanted to bring it home to use in the bathroom as a replacement for the too-expected-and-cheap medicine cabinet that had been installed over the sink. It was a nice size too; even a bigger mirror than the one on the cabinet.
The swap actually allows for a bit more sink space – the cabinet that came with the house was jutting over the faucet, whereas the new mirror lays more flush against the wall. That’s an IKEA GRUNDTAL towel rack in the mirror reflection below. And it’s big sister is shown in the reflection of the above photo. (I updated those towel racks a few months ago and wrote about that over here.)
I still haven’t painted it; fully intend to though. There are some rough patches that could use a fresh coat (it shows in some areas that the frame was once painted an aquamarine hue and I’d like to hide that). The only thing I did was swap in a few Anthropologie flower knobs into the existing holes, where the cabinet handle must have been. The little added pop of color does it nicely, I think.