Essential Tools Needed to Build a DIY Doghouse

Posted: January 30, 2017


We know you love your pets and love to shower them with gifts even more. From playtime, snack time and cozy nap time, the opportunities are endless. So, what can be better than a custom-built doghouse? I mean just look at how proud Jen Woodhouse’s dog Watson is relaxing in his new doghouse! Here are free build plans for a DIY doghouse that we worked with Jen Woodhouse on just for you:

Before you get started on your DIY doghouse build make sure you have all of the tools you need nearby. Here is a helpful list:

Exterior Grade Wood

Since this is a sizeable doghouse, this is intended for outdoor use. Make sure you use an exterior-grade wood like redwood and cedar. You can also use untreated pinewood, but make sure to add an exterior-grade finish to the wood so that it can withstand the wear and tear of the elements. 

Simpson Strong-Tie Hardware

For this build, you will need Simpson Strong-Tie® RTA2Z Connectors, 2 ½-inch Simpson Strong-Tie Deck-Drive™ DSV Exterior Grade Wood Screws and 1 ¼-inch Simpson Strong-Tie Deck-Drive™ DSV Exterior Grade Wood Screws. All of this hardware is finished with an exterior grade finish, so you don’t have to worry about rusting.

Power Tools

A DIY doghouse of this size means that you need the right power tools. Since there are angled cuts, we recommend using a compound miter saw.

You will also need a jig saw to make some notches for the center truss pieces.

DIY Essentials

No DIYer should be without a power drill, tape measure, speed square, pencil and eye protection. We recommend that you have these on hand for any of your builds. What are your top DIY must-haves? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win a t-shirt from us!


Top Three Storage DIY Projects

Posted: January 23, 2017


In January, most of us like to start with a clean slate. The only way I can start with a clean slate is to find a place for all of my clutter. We all know that finding free space can sometimes be a limited resource, so what do you do if you don’t have storage space? Start by looking at which rooms have the most clutter and then build DIY storage pieces that help to organize your things. Here are our top five storage DIY projects for your January build list: 

Heavy-Duty Shelving for Your Garage

Start tackling the clutter in your most cluttered space. For me, it is my garage. What started off as a lounge space for my kids is now a place for home repair items, paint cans and more. Building a heavy-duty shelf like this one using our RTC2Z connectors and connector screws from our Workbench/Shelving Kit can help you get a jump-start on storing those holiday decorations.

Mobile Kitchen Island

Another place that gets cluttered quickly is the kitchen. When I lived in a very small apartment in San Francisco, one clever way I created storage was with a wheeled kitchen island. Inspired by small kitchen carts, the free building plans for this DIY mobile kitchen island is ideal for anyone with a smaller kitchen who needs a storage cart and can serve double duty as an entertainment cart. For this project, you will need Rigid Tie® RTC2Z connectors, a box of Simpson Strong-Tie® SD #8 x 1 1/4″ wafer-head screws, Simpson Strong-Tie A21 connectors and 1 lb. box 2″ Deck-Drive™ DSV Wood screws (DSVT2R1LB).

DIY Linen Closet by Pneumatic Addict

How many times have you had piles of towels fall on top of your head when you open your linen closet? Wouldn’t it be easier to build a stylish closet with easy to reach shelves that are tightly organized with your linens instead?

Last year, we partnered up with Elisha Albretsen from Pneumatic Addict to share free building plans for this cleverly disguised DIY linen closet. It looks like a vintage printer’s cabinet, but instead of drawers for sheaths of paper, you have a generously sized storage space. Elisha used a box of Simpson Strong-Tie® SD #8 x 1 1/4″ wafer-head screws and Simpson Strong-Tie A21 connectors for this project.

Whatever storage project you choose to DIY first, we have the connectors and fasteners for your project. Where do you want more storage space? Let us know in the comments below to win a DIY pack this week!

How To Find Simpson Strong-Tie Products At The Home Depot

Posted: January 16, 2017


Hopefully you are off to a wonderful start in 2017. Since it is the New Year, I am in the middle of planning Simpson Strong-Tie DIY projects. I want to give you the inside scoop on how we determine which DIY projects we’ll build throughout the entire year as well as how easy it is to find our products in your local Home Depot so when you’re ready to get building your DIY projects for 2017 you’ll know right where to find them.

While you may not be using Simpson Strong-Tie products yet, we have over 60 years of research and development experience that goes into our products so you know Simpson Strong-Tie wood connectors and fasteners (nails and screws) are produced to the building industry’s highest standards. When you use our products for your own DIY projects, they will be strong and durable.

So, how do we plan and get started with our DIY projects? Research is first. We research to see what projects are trending, which past projects performed well and we ask our DIY brand ambassadors what they want to build. Once we have a list of proposed DIY projects, we meet with our social media team and whittle it down to about 12-15 projects for the year. For projects built by our DIY brand ambassadors, they send us their proposed sketches of the projects, build it, photograph or video it, blog about it and then post the free building plans for you!

For our in-house projects, we work with our master builder, Joseph Way. He has incredible experience designing furniture in New York since the 80’s and is our resident set builder and photographer. He initially sketches the design, does a rough build and then refines building plans with our Marketing team. We then share those plans with you. From a leaning ladder bookshelf to a bar cart, we create the project plans that you want to build.

With a manufacturing plant in our backyard (well Stockton, CA) we are lucky enough to order our parts from our manufacturing facilities, but you can find most of our products at your local Home Depot too. If you want to find our connectors, locate the Building Materials section at your Home Depot store.

Typically, our connectors are located in the same aisle or close by to the lumber section. Our connector fasteners and nails are also there. If you are looking for our other fasteners, make sure to check out the hardware section. Here is a great video from Elisha Albretsen from Pneumatic Addict where she does a Home Depot walk through:

Shop With Pneumatic Addict in Home Depot

I hope that giving you a sneak peek into our DIY planning inspires you to pick up a hammer and start building. We can’t wait to see what you build in 2017.

3 Tips To Create Outdoor Living Spaces With Outdoor Hardware

Posted: January 9, 2017


When the weather is great, there is nothing better than enjoying an outdoor living space. In most parts of the country it’s a little too chilly to enjoy your backyard, but it’s not too early to start planning your outdoor projects for spring and summer. No matter what you plan to build in your outdoor living space, Simpson Strong-Tie has the outdoor hardware to complete all your projects. Here are some tips on creating the perfect outdoor living space for your family:

Build a Pergola

Do you love entertaining family and friends? Building a strong, sturdy pergola provides partial shade and a place for outdoor seating so that you can entertain in style. No matter what size your outdoor space is, there is a pergola design that you can build to suit your needs.

For a pergola that makes a statement, using an outdoor hardware line like Outdoor Accents® brings design elegance and structural strength to your structure. Here is a video overview on how you can DIY a pergola with Outdoor Accents®:

If you prefer a concealed outdoor hardware look, we have you covered (pun intended). From our CPTZ concealed post base all the way up to our CBTZ concealed beam tie, Simpson Strong-Tie has all the connectors you need to maintain structural integrity with concealed connections.

Build An Outdoor Bench

If your have limited outdoor space, you can transform it with a few small pieces of outdoor furniture. This DIY outdoor bench or ottoman by Jen Woodhouse uses Outdoor Accents® decorative hardware as a design feature as well as a handy storage space for cushions. Outdoor seating with storage is a win-win in any size yard. Customize this project to fit your space and add some color with a cushion.

Create a Custom Grill Table

Another project to upgrade your outdoor space is a customized table for your grill. The benefit of building it yourself is you can design it to match the existing outdoor furniture you have. This DIY Kamado Grill Table built by Jen Woodhouse matches the look and feel of the DIY outdoor storage bench:

What recommendations do you have to upgrade your outdoor space? Let us know in the comments below.




Happy New Year

Posted: January 2, 2017


A new year means new DIY projects! Check back on Jan 9 for our regularly scheduled blog posts.

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.