Posted: October 2, 2017
by: Kari Martin
We’re out raking the leaves this week but check back in with us later this month to get new DIY plans from Jen Woodhouse on her floating deck and pergola build. You’re going to love it!
Posted: September 19, 2017
by: Kari Martin
Last month, my daughter had a soccer tournament in another Bay Area town, and in between games we had enough time to visit a dear friend of mine who lived in the area. As our kids played outside, she and I chatted inside and caught up on the past few years. As I took a sip of my tea, I heard this crazy swooshing sound coming from the backyard. I could hear the kids laughing and screaming, and my friend said excitedly, “Oh, the kids are on the zip line!” I quickly put down my tea and ran outside to watch the show.
In between the succession of zip-liners coming towards me, I eventually made my way up the curved path to the “staging” platform, and, as any good Simpson Strong-Tie employee would do, I looked underneath to see what connectors were used to join the 2x4s together. To my excitement, they’d used Simpson Strong-Tie! (Connectors used: LUS24.)
The kids spent the next hour or so taking turns zipping down the path between the redwoods, palm trees, and the cute Turtle City enclosure that my friend also made for their rescued turtles. I never did make it back into the house to finish my tea — by the time the kids were done on the zip line, it was time to head back to the soccer tournament. It’s been several weeks since we visited my friend, but my daughter has not stopped asking when we are heading back to their house for more zips!
For those of you lucky enough to have some solid trees and a long backyard, I highly recommend building a zip line platform. It will reward you with hours of fun and laughter – for the whole family.
Posted: September 11, 2017
by: Shelby Lentz
This week’s post was written by Josh Lentz.
This spring I decided to build an outdoor playhouse for my twins’ fifth birthday. My wife is Simpson Strong-Tie’s Director of Communications, and she sent me a link to a blog by one of Simpson’s Brand Ambassadors, Jen Woodhouse. Jen built a playhouse a year ago using Simpson Strong-Tie connectors. Then she blogged about it and included a set of easy-to-follow plans with a detailed cut list.
You’ll notice she calls it the Easy Kids Indoor Playhouse. The materials aren’t suited for outdoor exposure, particularly here in western Washington. So at her suggestion, I made some modifications to help it survive the rainy season. More on that later.
The inspiration to build the playhouse came in several forms. First and foremost, my wife told me do it. Having received my orders, I gave myself free rein in the tool department at The Home Depot. I wanted to build some shelves in the garage anyway, so I bought a circular saw, a jig saw, a brad nailer and a Sawzall. The Sawzall was just for fun.
The other inspiration was that I eventually want a shed to store my lawn mower and wheelbarrow. When the kids get tired of their playhouse in a few years, I’ll board up the windows and move it to the side of the house. Which brings me to a point about using Simpson Strong-Tie connectors – the four wall panels on the playhouse are connected using only the company’s A21Z angles. That makes the panels easy to take apart so when I need to move the structure, it’ll be simple enough to take down and reassemble.
It took me twice as long as Jen to build the playhouse, in part because I made a couple of silly mistakes (I attached the plates on the wrong side of the first frame I assembled; I took the cut list too literally – this is wood framing after all – and learned it’s a better strategy to measure and cut as you go rather than cut each piece ahead of time). I also lost 10 lb. in three days and gave myself elbow tendinitis in a desperate effort to complete the project before the kids’ birthday party. (By the way, use a scrap board for aligning the tongue-and-groove siding, not the palm of your hand.)
To make this an outdoor playhouse, I used marine-grade plywood for the floor and roof. I stuck with the pine tongue-and-groove siding and trim boards, but I used three coats of exterior-grade polyurethane. I also shingled the roof and attached a drip edge. And the “Z” on the Simpson parts means they have a ZMAX® (galvanized zinc) coating, for corrosion resistance.
Now the kids have their own outdoor escape, I have a bunch of fun toys (tools) and leftover scraps for making planter boxes, and my wife is happy.
Posted: September 5, 2017
by: Kari Martin
This week’s post is from Jaime Costiglio of That’s My Letter. For busy parents Labor Day signifies the beginning of the school season. While many kids dread going back parents are often ready to return to a regular schedule. So after a long active summer it’s time to pack up the toys and bring out the books. Jaime has created a super stylish toy storage solution that might even entice your kids to put away their summer toys and get organized for the school year.
Outdoor play is great for everyone, especially for kids to get out all that extra energy. And if your kids are anything like mine they have a few outdoor toys which end up scattered all over the yard. I finally took control of the messy yard and built an outdoor toy storage bin.
Corralling all the balls, bats and miscellaneous is a cinch with this giant outdoor toy storage bin. It’s worth noting we don’t have a garage or a shed so once items are out for the season we need a proper place to store them with easy access.
With hardware cloth sides the kids can see all the toys but yet they are still contained instead of strewn about the backyard.
The best part about this project is the hardware. I used one Simpson Strong-Tie workbench and shelving kit to build the outdoor toy storage bin. Everything is included in the kit:
- 8 Rigid Tie RTC2Z connectors
- 1 Box of Simpson Strong-Tie #8 x 1 1/4″ Wafer-Head screws
- 20 #6 x 1 1/4″ flat-head screws
- 4 #6 x 2 1/2″ flat-head screws (you will need a few more 2 1/2” screws)
I choose to leave the bin open for easy access but you could definitely add a lid and of course be sure to tailor the size to your needs. This outdoor toy storage bin is large at 63”l x 42”w x 30”h, check your space requirements before building and adjust as necessary.
- 6 – 2x4x8 PT studs
- 3 – 5/4 x 10 deck boards
- 7 – 2x2x4 PT balusters
- 3 – 1x4x8 PT boards
- 1 – Simpson Strong-Tie WBSK workbench & shelving hardware kit
- 2 1/2” exterior pocket hole screws
- 2 1/2” exterior wood screws
- 4 – rolls 2’x5’ – 1/2” hardware cloth
- 1/2” staples
- miter saw
- measuring tape
- 4 – 2×4 PT @ 30” (legs)
- 4 – 2×4 PT @ 60” (long sides)
- 4 – 2×4 PT @ 35” (short sides)
- 3 – 2×2 @ 36” (floor supports short sides)
- 2 – 2×2 @ 48” (floor support long sides) + 2 – 2×2 @ 11”
- 6 – 5/4 deck boards @ 59 7/8” (floor)
- 2 – 1×4 @ 39” (interior trim short side)
- 2 – 1×4 @ 58” (interior trim long side)
- 4 – 2×2 @ 20 3/4” (interior trim corners)
Step 1: Make the short ends. Attach legs to sides using a Simpson Strong-Tie RTC2Z Rigid Tie® Connector and wafer head screw. Make 2.
Step 2: Create the frame by attaching long sides to short ends.
Step 3: Attach the floor support pieces to the frame using 2 1/2” exterior wood screws. On the long sides you will need to butt the boards because balusters are only 48” long and this bin is about 59” long. Attach one 48” piece and one 11” piece to the frame.
Step 4: Attach the hardware cloth to the frame using a stapler and 1/2” staples. Begin at one edge, staple down in the corner and all along the top and bottom stapling into the frame.
Step 5: Attach floor boards to floor supports using 2” exterior wood screws. Keep spacing about 1” between boards.
Step 6: Attach interior trim short side to frame using 2” exterior wood screws.
Step 7: Attach interior trim long sides to frame using 2” exterior wood screws.
Step 8: Attach interior corner trim to legs using 2 1/2” exterior wood screws. Sand well.
Fill it up and enjoy and tidy backyard plus your kids will know exactly where to find all their outdoor toys.
Posted: August 21, 2017
by: Kari Martin
This weeks post is another one from an amazing builder, Elisha Albertsen of Pneumatic Addict.
I love my garage. I love having a space where I can get creative and build things. Organizing said garage is a different matter. Until lately, I’ve had virtually no storage space for my tools. Everything was piled up in boxes or on the floor.
I was tired of stumbling every time I reached for a tool, so I finally grabbed some hardware and sketched up a plan.
- (1) 4ʹ x 8ʹ x 3/8″ OSB sheathing
- (3) 1×8 x 8ʹ boards
- (1) 1×12 x 8ʹ bullnose shelving
- (1) 2×4 x 8ʹ stud
- (3) Simpson Strong-Tie® H1 hurricane ties
- (4) Simpson Strong-Tie RTU2 connectors
- (3) Simpson Strong-Tie SBV shelving brackets
- (9) Simpson Strong-Tie CF-R shelving brackets
- (1) Box of Simpson Strong-Tie SD8x1.25″ wafer-head screws
- (1) Box of #8 x 5/8″ wood screws
- (1) Box of #8 x 2 1/2″ wood screws
This project is completely modular and adjustable to your needs. The component that makes the flexible design possible is the backerboard. My first step was to attach a 4′ x 8′ x 3/8″ sheet of OSB sheathing to the wall. This backer panel not only works as a base for the storage system, it helps to protect the wall behind it.
I made sure to locate the studs and securely fasten the OSB using #8 x 2 1/2″ wood screws. With the backerboard anchored to the structure of the wall, I could safely configure my storage any way that I like.
Since I build DIY furniture, I have quite a collection of clamps that I need easy access to.
I came up with a super-easy solution. First, I attached a Simpson Strong-Tie® H1 hurricane tie to the OSB backerboard, upside down, using Simpson Strong-Tie SD8x1.25″ wafer-head screws. Then I cut an 8″ length from a 2×4 stud and slid it into the opening, tight against the OSB. I secured the 2×4 using more SD8x1.25″ screws and I was ready to hang clamps.
To create hooks for some of my hand tools, I attached Simpson Strong-Tie RTU2 connectors to the OSB backerboard, using SD8x1.25″ wafer-head screws.
They hold things like saws and levels perfectly.
I have a healthy collection of chargers for my power tools. Some can be mounted to the wall, but a few need to sit on a flat surface such as a shelf.
I attached three Simpson Strong-Tie® SBV shelving brackets along the bottom edge of the OSB and added a 1×12 bullnose shelf. To hold it in place, I drove #8 x 5/8″ wood screws through the bracket into the underside of the shelf.
The depth of the lower shelf allowed me to add a couple of baskets for items I need to grab quickly like batteries and measuring tapes.
It was so convenient to be able to place my shelves wherever I needed them! If you have larger items to store, you can choose deeper shelves and space them further apart.
The space under the bottom shelf was the perfect spot to drive a few more screws for hanging extension cords and air hoses.
By thinking vertically, I’ve made much more storage space for myself! Each tool has a designated spot, and my garage should be a lot easier to keep tidy, even for the organizationally challenged like me.
Posted: August 14, 2017
by: Kari Martin
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
- Drill / Driver
- Miter Saw
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw
- Speed Square
- Tape Measure
- Safety Glasses
- Hearing Protection
Posted: August 7, 2017
by: Kari Martin
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:
Posted: July 31, 2017
by: Kari Martin
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
- measuring tape
- pocket hole jig
- jig saw or router
- 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.
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.
Posted: July 24, 2017
by: Kari Martin
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!
Posted: July 17, 2017
by: Kari Martin
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
- Rapid-set concrete
- Miter saw or circular saw
- Post hole digger
- Plant auger (optional)
- Measuring tape
- (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.