April 05, 2020

How to Sew a Simple Homemade Face Mask (a very detailed tutorial!)

With federal recommendations going into effect a couple of days ago to wear face masks when people are in public due to the coronavirus, I made some face masks for my family. And then some other people started asking me to make them. I made several, but I'm getting burnt out, so I wanted to make this tutorial to show exactly how I made mine. And anyone with basic sewing machine experience can make one--it's very simple!

This is made of regular fabric and is three layers thick. There is a pipe cleaner across the bridge of the nose so that you can push it down snug to your face. It's held on to your face with hair ties that loop around your ears. And it covers a good amount of your face--very important!

I wrote all the details on the (trillion) photos below, but there is one thing I'd like to note beforehand about hair ties. I started out using the thick elastic hair ties that I like to use for my hair, but after wearing a mask for a couple of hours today (I had a big grocery shopping trip) I found that it was bothering my ears.

I bought some of the thinner hair ties and used those today--I think they are more comfortable, especially after I added the pipe cleaner across the bridge of the nose. However, Jerry likes the thicker banded elastic. It's all personal preference!

These fit my family well, but obviously everybody is different, so it may need some adjustments depending on your own face. If the thick hair ties are uncomfortable, then try the thin ones. The thin ones may make the mask feel too loose, which also isn't a good fit.

But anyway, here is how I made them!

I downloaded a pattern (and I originally made some as-is from the pattern, but I found it too time consuming and had a lot of unnecessary steps. I also didn't like that there wasn't a spot to put something across the nose to hold it in place. (They recommended using double stick tape to hold it down)

So, the only part of the pattern that I used was one of the "face" pieces. If you download the pattern, the only piece you'll need to cut out is "Face 1" or Face 2" (it doesn't matter which, if you follow the instructions I have here).

Here is a link to the pattern pieces. Just print out the piece that says "Face 1" (or "Face 2"--same thing). Cut out that pattern piece, and then use it as I show below. Good luck! (I hope this is detailed enough... I used way too many photos!

April 04, 2020

How to Build a Squirrel Picnic Table (a tutorial)

I've gotten a lot of compliments on the squirrel picnic table I made for my squirrels, so I wanted to write the specifics here in case someone else wanted to replicate it.

As I said before, this table was NOT my idea... it came from a photo of a table that went viral. A man made a squirrel picnic table and shared the photo on Facebook, and then several people sent the picture to me and said I should make one. Of course I agreed! (Here is a link to the original: Squirrel Picnic Table by Rick Kalinowski)

(Here is the post about how it went over with my squirrels when I was done building it)

So, here I am posting a (not great) tutorial for how to build it (assuming you're familiar with simple woodworking). Because I made this up as I went along, I don't have pictures of everything. But this will give you a good idea of how I made it.

I didn't have many scraps of wood left to work with, and I ended up using a slightly warped board that was 1 inch by 12 inches by 6 feet. I used my table saw to cut it down to the size pieces I wanted and I used the router to smooth out the edges of each piece. But this is a project that is a great way to use up scraps of any size!

I was going for a "rustic" look--I wanted it to look a little more detailed/realistic than the original viral photo (mainly because I love woodworking and I wanted to spend some time using my new tools making it my "own" rather than a copy of the original).

Even though I spent a ton of time disassembling and reassembling pieces of it as I went along, I finally got it done and it's actually very simple to make! I added an umbrella, but I'm not going to include that here because I don't think my squirrels were happy with it, hahaha.

Here, I'll just show how I made the table, and then you can choose how to hang it. (I added a block of wood on one end of the table and screwed the block into a post on my deck.)

First, here are the final cuts I made out of the warped board. These are actual dimensions and not the "common" dimensions of most strips of wood. (Aside from the wood, I used exterior screws that were 1-1/4 inches long)

Seat tops (4): 2" x 3/4" x 8"
Table top (3): 2" x 3/4" x 8"
Legs (4): I will detail this below, because I cut them on an angle; but the boards were 1.5" x 3/4" x 5" (They were 6" before I angled them on the miter saw)
Supports for table top (2): 3/4" x 3/4" x 5"
Supports for seats (2) 1.5" x 3/4" x 12"

(In the photo below, the dimensions are slightly different than they ended up being... I modified the dimensions a little as I worked, but this shows the pieces I cut):

First, I cut out all the boards on the table saw. I thought about putting them together as-is, but when I think of picnic tables, I picture the edges of the boards being slightly rounded (a little more rustic). So, used the router with a rounding bit to trim the edges along the length of the boards.

For the legs, I had no idea what angle to cut them. I eyeballed it, and then noticed that it was close to a number that, on my miter saw, is highlighted at 22.5°. I have no idea why that is an important number as far as mitering goes, but I decided to give that number a try. And it worked great!

So, after routing the leg pieces (they were about 6" in length), I cut each side to a 22.5° angle with the miter saw (making each one a parallelogram). After angling, they were 5" from the top edge straight down to the bottom edge.

To assemble:

(There has to be a better way to assemble than what I did, because it was hard to drill in such a tiny area. I had to use a drill bit that allowed me to drill at a right angle. But here is what I did...)

Lay the three table top pieces next to each other, and then lay the two tabletop support pieces on top of those (perpendicular to the tabletop pieces).

I put the table top support pieces 2" in from the edge of the boards and screwed them down to the bottom of the table top. (Yes, they're messy looking, but they were just scraps and hidden from the outside of the table).

Then I placed the legs on the outer side of the support boards (1/4 inch apart in center) and screwed them into place from behind.

You can see from the side--this is how I laid it out to see what I wanted it to look like from the side. (Obviously that's a bigger gap than 1/4-inch between the top of the legs, but this was just a rough idea as I worked--after assembling, there is 1/4-inch there. The dimensions below are what they ended up being when I was done).

If you look at the side of the "A" frame when everything is together, the measurement from the bottom of the middle tabletop board to the top of the seat support is 4-1/4".

After screwing the legs into place, I added the seat support boards--those are just screwed into the legs from behind.

Finally, I placed the seat boards on top of the seat supports and screwed them down into the supports from the top.

As I clearly demonstrated, this is NOT an easy thing to explain, but I think the pictures help. The dimensions aren't super important, and you can just play around with them to get it to look how you want. Basically, I just played around with it until I liked the way it looked.

This is the final result... (like I said, I added an umbrella, but if making it again, I wouldn't do that).

Make sure you check out the post about how my squirrels liked it... I'm so glad I spent so much time working on it for them! *eyeroll* Hahaha

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