About Kari Martin

Kari Martin's Posts:

H-Leg Bench by Rogue Engineer

Posted: August 14, 2017


This week’s post is by Jamison from Rogue Engineer.

This past Thanksgiving my wife Jamie and I built, what we called, the H-Leg dining table because we needed a table that sat 10 people and we knew we would want to use it outside when it warmed up so we built it out of cedar. However, we never got around to building the benches to go with it. Well the time came where we really needed them so we stopped procrastinating and got to work.

I wanted to come up with a design that matched the style of the H-Leg table but didn’t want to go with the thickness of a standard 4×4 because, proportionally, I didn’t think it would look as nice. I also dropped the horizontal support so it would look a little less chunky. So yeah, I know it’s not technically an “H” but I’m okay with that.

Anyways, we hope you enjoy and feel free to come check us out at our site Rogue Engineer where we have hundreds of other DIY furniture plans and home improvement tutorials.


Jamison & Jamie










Materials (Makes 2 Benches):

  • Qty 2 – 2 x 6 x 8’ Cedar
  • Qty 2 – 2 x 4 x 8’ Cedar
  • Qty 3 – 4 x 4 x 8’ Cedar
  • Wood Glue
  • Qty 16 – 4” Strong-Drive® SDWS TIMBER Screws
  • Qty 38 – 2-1/2” Strong-Drive® SDWS FRAMING Screws

Required Tools:

  • Drill / Driver
  • Miter Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Circular Saw
  • Speed Square
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety Glasses
  • Hearing Protection


Cut Lists:


Make Your Kids (and Neighbors) Happy with this Huge Impact/Low Effort DIY Lemonade Stand

Posted: August 7, 2017


This week’s post is by our resident DIYer, Lydia Poulsen!

There’s just something about a DIY lemonade stand on a hot day that brings back childhood memories.  As a kid, I can remember always wanting to have a lemonade stand. Unfortunately, we lived in a cul-de-sac so it wasn’t exactly prime real estate for a business. My kids are luckier than I was since we live on a corner lot along a pretty busy street that is full of thirsty joggers, bike riders and folks passing by in their cars.

As soon as the weather warmed up this spring, my daughter was eager to set up her lemonade stand and this girl wasn’t going to let anything stop her. Being the resourceful girl that she is, she quickly went through the garage looking for anything that would hold her lemonade and decided an ironing board would suffice (at last, the ironing board is serving a purpose in my house!). She taped on her signs, made some lemonade and quickly ran outside to set up shop.

After watching her successfully sell lemonade for a few afternoons, we knew she was ready to learn the business basics. We explained to her that she’d need to invest her own money and in return she would benefit from all the profits made. Without hesitation, she spent her hard-earned money on lemonade mix and we supplied the cups. We told her that if any neighborhood kids helped out, then she would need to share a portion of her profits. After making $30 in just a couple hours, we figured it was time to get real and build her a sturdier DIY lemonade stand.  An ironing board does the trick, but seriously, how cool is it having your very own DIY lemonade stand?

We are in the process of building a new fence (okay, paying someone to build a fence), so the old fence boards were perfect for this project. I love being able to utilize old material, not to mention it keeps the farmhouse rustic look I love.  My husband, who did most of the building, started by framing it out with 2×2 lumber and plywood boards but I added the finishing touches with our new Outdoor Accents® decorative hardware line. (NOTE:  haven’t done this yet but trying to see how I can add these in).   Adding the APA4 angles to the corners gave it the perfect finishing touch.

After my son saw the cash coming in, he wanted to be a part of this lemonade stand venture too. He’s a little too young to understand the whole partial investor idea (not to mention he won’t sit longer than a few minutes), so we had to be clever on what role he would play in this business. His personality was perfect for advertising so we made him in charge of marketing the lemonade stand.  You can see that he did a wonderful job on the signage.

It’s been magical watching everyone’s reactions to the DIY lemonade stand. There are smiles all around and you can see customers remembering the good old days of their own childhood. I have heard many customers commenting how they haven’t seen a lemonade stand in years! I love that my kids got to experience so many of our neighbors coming out to chat because of their lemonade stand!

All the neighborhood kids either wanted to help or became customers. They eagerly ran down the street with their quarters to buy lemonade. It’s like watching the Little Rascals show come alive from my front yard. Not only did the kids have fun doing this, but they learned valuable life skills at the same time. You can’t beat that! I highly recommend the small amount of effort it takes to build a hugely impactful DIY lemonade stand – get building!

Estimated Material List:

Outdoor Dining Table

Posted: July 31, 2017


This post is part of an occasional series featuring guest bloggers who are Simpson Strong-Tie brand ambassadors. Today’s post is by Jaime Costiglio from That’s My Letter. Thank you Jaime

When the weather cooperates, my family eats dinner outdoors and that could be nearly every evening in the warmer months.  But we had an old flimsy metal table that only fit four chairs properly for our family of five.  We needed an outdoor dining table to fit our patio space so in true DIY fashion, I built one to accommodate not only my family but a few extra spots for company as well.

This round outdoor dining table is perfect for everyday dinners on our front patio as well as entertaining friends and family.

With a solid post base and Simpson Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents hardware, this outdoor dining table is super sturdy and looks beautiful while holding up to the elements.

I built the round top with a 65” diameter simply because that size fit my patio best.  This 65” size fits seven chairs comfortably with plenty of elbow room.

But the real star of the show here is the Outdoor Accents hardware, which not only adds beautiful contrast but provides strength and stability to the base.

These Outdoor Accent strap ties are installed using a hex head washer and structural wood screw made specifically to fit this hardware.  Simpson Strong-Tie has eliminated any guesswork and made the installation completely user friendly.

Below are the materials and tools necessary to build this table along with step-by-step instructions.  Be sure to read through all steps before beginning and always follow all safety precautions.









  • 2 – 4x4x10 pressure treated posts
  • 5 – 2x4x8 pressure treated studs
  • 5 – 5/4 x 12 deck boards
  • 8 – Simpson Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents APL 4 strap ties
  • 24 – Outdoor Accents Hex Head washer
  • 24 – Outdoor Accents Structural Wood Screw
  • 4 – Simpson Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents APA 4 90 angle (optional)
  • 2 1/2” exterior pocket hole screws
  • 2 1/2” exterior wood screws


  • miter saw
  • drill
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • pocket hole jig
  • jig saw or router
  • sander

Cut List:


  • 4 – 4×4 @ 27 3/8” (legs)
  • 4 – 4×4 @ 24” (base cross supports)
  • 4 – 2×4 @ 24” (base top supports)


  • 1 – 2×4 @ 61” (top support)
  • 2 – 2×4 @ 39 1/2” (top side supports)
  • 3 – 5/4 deck boards @ 66” (top)
  • 2 – 5/4 deck boards @ 64”
  • 2 – 5/4 deck boards @ 59”
  • 2 – 5/4 deck boards @ 51”
  • 2 – 5/4 deck boards @ 38”
  • 6 – 2×4 @ 17”, both ends 20 miter cut not parallel (top apron)
  • 4 – 2×4 @ 20”, one end 17 miter, one end 15 miter, not parallel (see Step 4 sketch)

Step 1: Make the legs.  Attach legs to top support using 2 1/2” pocket hole screws.  Attach legs to base cross support using Simpson Strong Tie Outdoor Accents APL4 strap tie with hex head washer and structural wood screw.

Make 2.

Step 2: Create the base by attaching the two leg sets together.  Using 2 1/2” pocket hole screws at top support.  Attach base cross support using APL4 strap ties.  Consider APA4 90 angle on interior corners for more support.

Step 3: Make top.

NOTE: your boards should be cut straight at this point.  You will cut the circular shape later.  Begin with the longest middle board and attach at center to cross supports using 2 1/2” exterior wood screws.  Working your way out from the center leave 1/4” spacing between boards and continue to attach all deck boards to cross supports.

Tip: Use 1/4” plywood scraps as spacers between deck boards.  This makes attaching the boards faster and ensures even spacing between all boards.

Step 4: Attach top apron pieces using 2 1/2” exterior wood screws as per sketch above.

NOTE: miter cuts and board lengths are not all the same.

Now flip over top and cut out circular shape.  Insert a screw at center and using twine and a pencil mark 34” all around edge for an even circle.  You can use a jigsaw or router.

Step 5: Attach base to top at supports using 2 1/2” countersunk exterior wood screws. * I suggest working upright to avoid having to tip the whole table over.  The sketch above is for instructional purposes so you can see where the base lines up with the top supports.

Sand well and finish as desired.

I haven’t applied any stain or finish to this table rather I’m going to let it grey out naturally.

2017 Haven Conference Recap

Posted: July 24, 2017


We were so excited to attend the annual Haven Conference for DIYers and Designers who blog this past weekend.

With over 300 bloggers in attendance, we got to meet the best crafters and woodworkers from all over the country. We heard about their projects and awesome ideas and even got to go to a class with Clint Harp from Fixer Upper. Our own brand ambassadors Jen Woodhouse and Jaime Costiglio taught an energetic class on how to build the cutest drink caddy with products from our new decorative hardware line, Outdoor Accents®.

We’re looking forward to hearing about your experience at Haven and what inspired your next project – especially if you plan on using Simpson Strong-Tie connectors, fasteners or hardware!  We got lots of great ideas this weekend and can’t wait to share with you what we are sketching up for the next few months. Until then, stay hydrated and stay tuned!

Fence Post

Posted: July 17, 2017


This post is part of an occasional series featuring guest bloggers who are Simpson Strong-Tie brand ambassadors. Today’s post is by Jaime Costiglio from That’s My Letter. Thank you Jaime!

Curb appeal and yard improvements can give you major bang for your buck, especially when you do the work yourself.  Adding a fence is one project that can dramatically enhance your property in many ways. I created an architectural element by raising a split rail fence on one edge of our property to make a nice divide between our yard and the neighbors’.

And I was able to install this fence with ease using Simpson Strong-Tie fence brackets:

These fence brackets make the connection between the rails and posts simple, quick and strong.  There’s no need for toenailing or trying to screw the rail to the post.  I’m sharing the steps below on how to install a split rail fence using Simpson Strong-Tie fence brackets.

Above are the dimensions for one section of my fence.  Be sure to measure your space and account for the frost line, depending on where you live.


  • (3) 4×4 x 10ʹ pressure-treated posts
  • (8) 2×6 x 8ʹ pressure-treated boards
  • (16) Simpson Strong-Tie FB26 connectors
  • (96) #9 x 1½” Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive® SD Connector screws
  • Gravel
  • Rapid-set concrete


  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • Drill
  • Post hole digger
  • Plant auger (optional)
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • String
  • Stakes

Cut List:

  • (5) 4×4 @ 54″ (posts)
  • (8) 2×6 @ 96″ (rails)

Step 1. Determine placement of posts and drive stakes into ground at each post location.  Use string to keep the stake line straight.

Step 2. Using a plant auger, loosen up the soil where the post will go, then use the post hole digger to make the hole.  Keep checking for proper depth.  I live in lower NY, and my posts are 16″ in the ground and 38″ above ground.  I actually dug an 18″-deep hole, then filled the bottom 2″ with gravel.  Insert the post, check for level and plumb, then add 4″ more gravel.  Add mixed concrete (rapid set) and let dry.

Step 3. Attach the FB26 fence connector to the post 5″ from the top.  Then insert 2×6 rail and attach at connector.

It really is just that easy.  Once you have all the rails attached, step back and enjoy your new view!

It’s amazing what a little effort can produce! This fence project was made super simple using the Simpson Strong-Tie fence connectors.

Do you have a border that could benefit from a fence? A side yard that needs to be marked off from the neighbors’ property? I always dreamed of having a little fence, and I’m so happy I finally took action and made that dream a reality.

DIY Done Right – Creative Fuel

Posted: September 13, 2016


We’re always cooking up exciting DIY projects and easy-to-follow instructions and lumber cut sheets that show you how to use Simpson Strong-Tie® connectors and fasteners, but allow us to take a moment to ruminate on what’s special about the world of DIY.

Now that the kids are back in school and most of my summer DIY projects are finished up, my thoughts naturally turn toward Halloween. (Or were unnaturally forced by CVS and Walgreens putting their Halloween decorations out before school even started – either way, the holiday isn’t far away). I love making unique handmade costumes, so on Labor Day weekend, my daughter and I went to the first Halloween store that opened to get ideas. Nothing really jumped out at us, well except for the animatronic zombies and werewolves on display. Eventually my daughter settled on the concept of a female mad-hatter. Then today, while researching recycled DIY home projects, I came across the cutest costume idea using recycled plastic bottles by Doodle Craft.

In addition to being a great way to recycle bottles, it got me thinking about the importance of imagination and being creative at work. Dressing up and costumes are sometimes an early window into the passions of a person and can develop into lifelong pursuits for some. This simple costume might ignite an idea in that little guy pictured (or any kid who wears it) to become the next astronaut or engineer who creates something that changes the world. He may grow up curious about transportation and become the inventor of a new way to travel through space or time! Being creative allows us to think beyond the confines of logical, linear thinking into the unknown and the discoverable. When both sides of the brain are used together, we begin to stretch the limitations of design, function and purpose. Essential for inventors!

As a new employee at Simpson Strong-Tie, I sometimes feel like the people who work here are adult versions of that little guy, continuously using their imagination to create, test and build new products to keep homes and buildings safe and strong. Most homeowners don’t know what’s behind their perfectly painted walls. But whether the beneficiaries know about Simpson Strong-Tie or not, the imagination junkies who work here are constantly using the inspiration of our corporate environment and resources to develop construction-industry products that keep changing the standards of homebuilding.

Perhaps one day my daughter will be inspired by her costume to figure out a way to stop time or make virtual reality real life, or perhaps it will just be a fun way to go trick-or-treating. Either way, I will always encourage her to use her imagination to discover new ways to perceive the world and what’s possible in it – just as Barc Simpson did when he invented the first connector 60 years ago.