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31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Essential Tools for Repurposing (and learning how to use them)

Three years ago, if I wanted a bench made from a headboard, or a pallet bookshelf, or even a curtain hung, I had to ask my husband for help.
And I never got him to build #1 or #2, but he would help me hang a curtain rod from time to time.
But without fail, hanging a picture on the wall or a curtain in the bedroom would lead to an argument.    We’d either argue because it took him so long to get around to it, or because I’d change my mind halfway through the process and he’d get frustrated.

Finally, for Christmas in 2010, Bart bought me my own drill.
And inadvertantly created a monster.
I started slowly, but gradually became more confident.  I went from simply assembling Christmas presents, to building a pull-out pantry, attaching shelves to a dresser, and creating a stuffed animal “zoo.”  All with that tiny drill.
At some point (the pull-out pantry?) I expanded my tool repertoire to include the compound miter saw.  It’s amazing.  I adore it.

Anyway, you don’t need an entire history of my tool use. Just know that it takes time to become comfortable with power tools.  If you’re not there, yet, don’t fret.  Just start small, and work your way up.  If you don’t have someone patient to teach you how to use the tools, read the manual and watch youtube videos.  (That’s what I do.)

I’ve divided my tools into two categories…Level 1 are the tools you should start with.  Once you are comfortable with them, move on to Level 2.

Level 1 Tools:

Not scary, great for refinishing and painting furniture, small repairs, and decorating.
  • Cordless Drill – Maybe start with a baby, lightweight one like mine?  It was so much easier to hold above my head when hanging curtains. (It an also be used for super-handy things like drilling draining holes in ice cream buckets so you can plant tulips in a toolbox.)
drill drainage holes
  • Jigsaw – okay, this one might be slightly scary.  It is possible to cut off a finger with a jigsaw, but unlikely that you’d cut off an entire appendage.  The jigsaw is just so darn versatile, though.  Lightweight, easy to use, and can be used for all sorts of fun projects, like barn-wood letters.
father's day gift
  • Mouse Sander – a MUST have for painters/refinishers.  Some use an orbital sander instead, because it has more power.  But I feel like my body is going to vibrate to death when I use one of those.  The mouse sander is just much more comfortable for me.  But watch out for those nasty marks it can make!
mouse sander marks

Level 2 Tools:

A bit scarier, and more expensive, but pretty cool!
  • Kreg Jig – a Kreg Jig allows you to hide your screws when building furniture.  Much prettier. I used it to attach the footboard to the headboard on this bench.  headboard bench
  • Sawzall – like a jigsaw on steroids.  I use this to chop apart barns (and prune my lilac bush.)  It is heavy, and sometimes hard to control, but I like to hold it up high and yell, “Ar, ar, ar…MORE POWER” like Tim “the ToolMan” Taylor.
salvage barn wood
  • Compound Miter Saw – Big spinning blade.  Very noisy.  Kind of scary.  But so, so, so useful.  I use it to cut things to length, including boards, trim, whatever.  “Compound Miter” means that it can cut a kazillion different angles.  My dad wouldn’t teach me how to use this, so I read the entire manual and then watched YouTube videos.  I did my first cuts with his supervision and I generally make sure there’s another adult in the area in case I lose a digit. I used it to cut these adorable “Trimmy Trees” for The HomeShed’s last sale. 

  • Circular Saw – This is on my list of “things to learn.”  This is what I would use to cut big pieces of plywood to size (instead of my jigsaw.)  My understanding is that circular saws are nice for cutting long, straight lines.  I was all ready to go one day, but couldn’t figure out how to change the blade and then chickened out.  I’ll let you know when I have mastered this one.

To see pictures of some of my “repurposed” or DIY projects, check out The HomeShed on Facebook.

This post is part of 31 Days of Decorating with Junk: Vintage, Antique and Unique for your Home and Garden.

decorating with junk

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i'm doing it! 
31 Days of Decorating with Junk Posts:

31 Days of Decorating with Junk Introduction
Farmhouse Style Front Porch 
Modern Farmhouse Design 
Repurposed Upright Piano 
Our Exterior Makeover Reveal
Adjustable Game Table Makeover (In a Ballard Designs Whitewashed Style) 
The HomeShed's September Sale & Fall Decor Inspiration 
Proof that I'm a HardCore Junker
My Gallery Wall
HomeShed Sale Preview and Christmas Inspiration
Cute Green Dresser with Chalkboard Labels
My Favorite Paint for Antique Furniture
Kris's Cabin Tour
Essential Tools for Repurposing
Making a Custom Glaze
Fixing a Stripped Out Screw Hole
How to Make Your Home Your Own
Spray or Brush?
Five from the Archives
Owning a Junky Business Part 1
Owning a Junky Business Part 2
1840 House
Simple Vintage Halloween
Five (More) from the Archives
Crib Spring Repurpose
Owning a Junky Business Part 3
Quick Chair-Do
Pallet Wall Art
Not So Junky Basement
Owning a Junky Business Part 4
31 Days Wrap Up

Shared at: Funky Junk Interiors Party Junk  
Home Stories A to Z Tutorials and Tips 

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