Happy Holidays

Posted: December 26, 2016


We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family. Check back on Jan 9 for our regularly scheduled DIY blog posts.

How To Make DIY Christmas Decorations for Your Home

Posted: December 19, 2016


I have a confession to make: winter is not the most enjoyable season for me. It is cold and the sunsets are too early for my liking. The only bright spot is that it is the season for family gatherings and festive homes with creative holiday décor. Buying holiday decorations can get expensive, so below are some tips for easy DIY holiday décor projects and DIY Christmas decorations:

Build a Door Display

Elisha Albretsen from Pneumatic Addict shares how to make the perfect holiday door display with this DIY snowflake project. She uses our strap ties to create a DIY industrial snowflake that you can hang on your door to welcome your guests this holiday season.

Create Christmas Shelving

Garages can sometimes be an afterthought, but building some shelving using our WBSK Workbench and Shelving Unit Hardware Kit can be the perfect way for you to show off your extra holiday decorations. Plus, it can help you get a jumpstart to organizing your things AFTER the holidays too. Here is a helpful video on just how easy it is to build this DIY shelving unit:

Build a Cocoa Bar

Welcome guests in from the chilly weather with a DIY cocoa bar. You can easily set up a cocoa bar anywhere you like in the house with this portable bar cart. Get free building plans to make your own bar cart using our RTC2Z connectors here.

These are just a few DIY projects that you can do to make your home more festive for the holidays. What projects are you planning to do before the holidays? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win your own WBSK Workbench and Shelving Unit Hardware Kit .


DIY Log Holder by That’s My Letter

Posted: November 28, 2016


We partnered with Jaime Costiglio from That’s My Letter to bring you free plans for a simple indoor DIY log holder that you can build in a day.

Now that the holidays are around the corner, there is nothing better than warming yourself in front of a fireplace with some hot cocoa. A fireplace is easily one of the coziest places in the house. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, it is nice to have extra firewood nearby to keep that fire burning strong into those long winter nights. A DIY log holder is the perfect DIY project to keep your firewood organized and easily accessible.

The design for this indoor DIY log holder is simple, but allows you to keep your firewood off the floor and see just how much firewood you have before you have to run out and get some more! It features the Simpson Strong-Tie® RTU2 connectors, which are made from galvanized steel for extra corrosion resistance. Keep the natural look of the wood and steel connectors or you can customize your own log holder with paint or varnish. Make sure to read how to paint Simpson Strong-Tie connectors here for tips.

The building plans for this DIY log holder are intended for indoor use, but you can use cedar or redwood to build this firewood holder for outdoor use. Cedar and redwood are naturally resistant to rotting and decay. The nice thing about these building plans is that you can customize your DIY firewood rack for your own needs. You can make a smaller log holder or build a bigger one. Just measure the average size of your logs and the space that you are planning to store your log holder. This will help you adjust the building plans to suit your space.

Are you ready to cozy up in front of your fireplace? Are you planning to build any DIY projects for winter? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted: November 21, 2016


We are very thankful to have such faithful readers. We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday week. Stay tuned next week for our regularly scheduled blog posts.

What Tools Do I Need to Build a DIY Bar Cart?

Posted: November 14, 2016


From cocoa bar carts to lemonade bar carts, you can use a DIY bar cart for a lot of different things. If you are a long-time reader of our blog, then you know that we have a little bit of a love affair with bar carts here at Simpson Strong-Tie. One of the reasons that we love DIY bar carts is that it is such a versatile piece of furniture. We have an office bar cart that we use on a seasonal basis for team building and we love it! Two summers ago, we had a lemonade bar with our bar cart. Do you want to build a DIY bar cart, but you don’t know where to start?

Here is a list of tools to help you get started:


You need a saw in order to cut the wood to the specifications in the DIY bar cart building plans. Most beginner DIYers start off with an affordable circular saw. If you are an intermediate DIYer, you can also use a miter saw too. A miter saw allows you to make angled cuts.

One of the best tips that I learned as a newbie to DIY is that most home centers like Home Depot will actually make courtesy wood cuts for you, or you can rent a saw first so that you can try it out before you make a big investment.

Drill/Screw gun and #2 Phillips drill bit

If you want to do any sort of wood DIY projects, having a drill or screw gun is essential. It really does make a project build go faster. The #2 Phillips drill bit is what you need to pair your drill with for this DIY bar cart build.

Tape measure

Before you make cuts to your wood, you should measure twice and cut once. By measuring your cuts, you can avoid the costly mistake of having to buy more wood in order to get the right cuts.

Framing square and pencil

Once you measure the right cuts for your wood, a speed square and pencil are the best way to mark your wood before you cut it with a saw. Here is a video we made showing you how you can use a speed square:


Have you ever tried to build a DIY project only to realize that you wished you had another set of hands? Clamps are a great way to hold your wood members together nice and snug before you get your screws in. There are various clamps, but we recommend using one-handed bar clamps for our DIY bar cart build.

Here is another helpful video that shows you how you can use clamps here:

That’s it! With this tool list, you will be able to build a DIY bar cart in time for the holidays. What tools do you use most for your DIY projects? Let us know in the comments below.

DIY Industrial Farm Table by Shanty2Chic

Posted: October 31, 2016


This week, we feature a special DIY industrial farm table by Shanty2Chic.

As an adult, I have a newfound love for fall but when I was a kid, I hated it. When fall came it reminded me that summer was over and that winter would soon strip the trees bare. My love of fall returned over the years because of pumpkin spice lattes, cozy fall clothes and special family gatherings.

One of the most important parts of any home is the dining table. Many of my favorite memories are of my family sitting together sharing important meals. My mom was the first of her family to arrive in the United States when she emigrated from Bangladesh. She naturally became the matriarch for family members that came after her. In later years, her six siblings would come to our home every year for Thanksgiving, filling the house with delicious food and unconditional love. It was these family gatherings, centered around the dining table, that made me change my mind about fall.

These days I can’t make it back East to my mom’s house every year, but I am keeping the same tradition by hosting Thanksgiving here in the Bay Area. Fortunately, I already have a large dining table, but if you are planning to host your family and need a new table, you should check out the DIY industrial farm table that Whitney and Ashley from Shanty2Chic built.

This gorgeous table is perfect for large and small gatherings because it looks great and accommodates many people and it’s an affordable way to upgrade your entire dining room! They used framing lumber and Simpson Strong-Tie connectors and straps to build it and it only cost $75! These industrious Shanty2Chic masters show you how to build it with an entertaining and informatative step-by-step video. The DIY industrial farm table features our A21Z angles, HRS12 straps, and gives you a first look at our new line of decorative hardware, the Outdoor Accents Washers and Outdoor Accents hex screws.

Shanty2Chic are judging a contest along with Clint Harp from the HGTV show Fixer Upper called #IGBuildersChallenge. They are asking DIYers to build tables from their plans and they will pick a winning entry! So far, about 1,300+ entries have already been submitted! Here is a look at one of the entries from @firandsteel that caught our eye!

What do you think – do you want to build one too? What fall traditions do your families have? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a Workbench/Shelving Kit.


DIY Console by Rogue Engineer

Posted: October 24, 2016


I finally moved in to my new home. I only moved three blocks away, but anyone who has ever moved knows how hard it is. The only thing more painful than packing and moving is unpacking.

I still have to unpack the dreaded final boxes in the garage. But I have a pretty big incentive. I really want to clear a space for a workbench so that I can start building my own DIY projects. I have to start small because I want to be able to complete my DIY projects so I can gain some confidence. I am planning to start with DIY projects like picture frames and some shelving. Eventually, I want to be able to build a few pieces for the house too. One of those projects is a DIY console table.

One thing about moving is trying to accommodate your old furniture pieces with your new space. I currently have an open concept first floor with a large space between my kitchen and the garage door. I have filled that space temporarily with a very worn leather bench, but I would like to have a console table in that space instead. A DIY console table would be a nice place to put some decorative touches and keep the space from looking too cluttered.

While I am scared about starting to build projects without the watchful eye of a master builder, I know I can do it. At Simpson Strong-Tie, we work with great builders and bloggers to build DIY projects that not only look good, but are strong and durable too. Spending time on a DIY project is an investment and we want your investment to last. So we work with our brand ambassadors to develop building plans that you can use to build DIY projects that are just that.

Our brand ambassador Jamison Rantz from Rogue Engineer recently created building plans for a DIY console table that uses a truss design and our connectors for an industrial look. For this project, he used Simpson Strong-Tie® LUC26Z Hangers, Simpson Strong-Tie® A21 Angles and Simpson Strong-Tie® #9 x 1-1/2” Strong-Drive® CONNECTOR Screws. 

For anyone who is new to building, Jamison put together this great video tutorial on how to build this DIY console here:

As a beginning DIYer, these videos are so helpful! While I am nervous about really getting into DIY, I know that building new furniture pieces for my new place is a lot more satisfying than buying new pieces. I really can’t wait to try my hand at this DIY console table. Do you have any building tips for this DIY novice? Do you have any tools you recommend that I buy first? Let me know in the comments below.


5 Ways to Prepare for an Earthquake

Posted: October 17, 2016


Earthquakes can strike without warning, and they can occur at any time of the year, day or night. The U.S. Geological Survey shared an updated seismic hazard map  in 2014 that shows 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake within the next 50 years. Are you and your family ready? Get ready with the Great ShakeOut on October 20, 2016. It is an international event that coordinates earthquake drills to increase earthquake awareness and safety practices.

There are other steps you can take besides practicing earthquake drills. Here are some other ways that you can be earthquake-ready:

Create an Emergency Plan

Do you and your loved ones know what to do during an earthquake? During an earthquake, drop (under something like a table), cover and hold on. If you aren’t near a table, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head with your hands and arms. If you are in bed during an earthquake, stay in bed and cover your head with a pillow. American Red Cross recommends keeping sturdy shoes and a flashlight near each family member’s bed. Teach family members how to access an emergency kit and how to use either whistles or knocking in order to alert rescuers after an earthquake.

Pack an Earthquake Kit

Pack an earthquake kit filled with essentials such as bottled water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, first-aid kit and spare clothing. Keep this earthquake kit in an easily accessible area. Let your family know where this kit is. 

Inspect Your Home

Checking whether your home is earthquake-ready is essential if you live in an earthquake-prone area. Here are some things to look for:

  • Check your foundation: Is it secured to the foundation, using anchors, bolts, sill plate connectors and holdowns? Are minor foundation wall cracks repaired with epoxy?
  • Check first-to-second floor connection: Are there metal strap ties or holdowns to connect the floors?
  • Inspect your beam-to-joist connections: Are they connected with metal connectors and fasteners?
  • Look at roof connections: Are there metal connectors connecting the roof to the wall top plate?
  • Check post-to-beam connections: Are there metal connectors reinforcing the connections?

Brace Large Objects

Brace and bolt your water heater and other gas appliances to the wall studs. Avoid hanging heavy items like picture frames and mirrors above couches and beds. Bolt tall and heavy furniture pieces like bookshelves and china cabinets to the wall. Brace your light fixtures.

Retrofit Your Home

Simpson Strong-Tie’s Seismic Retrofit Guide (F-SEISRETRGD12R) educates homeowners about how earthquakes affect a home and the steps to take to reinforce the structural frame of a house. With this guide and the right tools, you can increase the structural integrity of your home, making it stronger and safer. If you hire a professional to do a home retrofit, the guide can help you make sure your retrofit is done right.

Simpson Strong-Tie Supports Great ShakeOut 2016

Posted: October 10, 2016


Earthquakes don’t just happen in California they’re happening all over. Did you know that two years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey provided an updated seismic hazard map that shows 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years?

Simpson Strong-Tie wants to keep you and your family safe by supporting earthquake safety initiatives like Great ShakeOut. The Great ShakeOut is an international event that coordinates earthquake drills all over the globe to increase earthquake awareness and safety practices. It is being held this year on October 20, 2016. Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness.

Being prepared for national disasters as a whole community means impacted communities can recover quickly and be more resilient. Here are some tips for you to be earthquake-ready:

Prepare For an Earthquake

Participate in earthquake drills. Practicing what you need to do during an earthquake helps establish brain patterns that support quick and effective action during an emergency. Pack an earthquake kit filled with essentials such as bottled water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight, first-aid kit and spare clothing.

For homeowners, make sure that your home is ready for an earthquake too. Here is a helpful checklist for homeowners to see if their homes are properly connected and reinforced to withstand an earthquake.

Know What To Do During An Earthquake

The safest thing to do during an earthquake is to drop, take cover under a table or desk and hold on.  If you are not close to a table or desk, run to a corner of the room and cover your head with your hands and arms. Don’t get in a doorway: it is does not protect you from falling or flying objects.

After An Earthquake

Check yourself and loved ones for injuries. Check your water, gas and electric lines for damage. Wear shoes and avoid areas where there is broken glass or debris. Stay out of damaged buildings. After an earthquake there may be aftershocks. Avoid being near the ocean if you’re in a tsunami zone.

The key to avoiding massive earthquake damage is to be prepared. We hope these tips are helpful. What steps have you taken in preparation for natural disasters in your area?

Build a DIY Grill Table for a Kamado Grill

Posted: October 4, 2016


If you are a regular reader of the DIY Done Right blog, you know that I have outgrown my townhouse with my expanding family. One reason I knew we had outgrown it was that my family was spending more and more time outside eating, socializing and playing. The good news is that we found the perfect house to call home! The bad news is that I have a lot more outdoor space to furnish. Luckily, this week we are going to share how you (and I) can build a DIY grill table. Our very own Ben Rivera in Marketing built a DIY grill table for his Kamado grill and shared some tips with me that I am going to pass along to you too. If that isn’t enough DIY for you, Jen Woodhouse from House of Wood ALSO shares how build a DIY grill table with free plans.

Ben is one of our creative designers here at Simpson Strong-Tie. Since he lives in SoCal, he likes to take advantage of the nice weather and entertain outdoors. Since he grills so much, his wife surprised him with a Kamado grill for Father’s Day. He spent time researching Kamado nests online and realized that he could build a custom DIY grill table for much less. He used reclaimed wood from some outdoor benches, 4×4 studs and cedar planking. In terms of hardware, Ben built his DIY grill table using LUC26Z and FB24Z connectors along with Wafer-Head screws, Strong-Drive® SDW EWP-Ply screws  and Strong-Drive® SD Connector screws.

He used the LUC26Z to connect the studs and frame out the project. He stained his wood with Minwax in the stain called Jacobean and used Rustoleum spray paint in Flat Black for the hardware. Here is a blog post on how to paint our connectors. His quick tip for painting the fasteners is to push them into a Styrofoam takeout box and spray them all at once.

He matched this DIY grill table to a custom table he built just for outdoor entertaining.

Great minds must think alike because Jen Woodhouse just shared how she built her DIY grill table. You can download free building plans for this DIY grill table here.

Jen Woodhouse’s version uses our new Outdoor Accents decorative hardware line. While she uses the product for decorative purposes, these connectors are load tested and rated. So you can be sure that your projects are rock solid.

PLEASE NOTE: A Kamado grill needs to be placed on a non-combustible surface. Ben used black bricks while Jen used a paver stone.

Are you planning any more outdoor projects? What fall related DIY projects do you want to build? Let us know in the comments below.