Archive for DIY

DIY Deck Chairs from Pallet Wood

Posted in design, DIY, environment with tags , , on June 2, 2013 by killahfunkadelic

Reduce, Reuse – ReSpace: Habitat’s “LightWall Pavilion” To Be Sold at Auction

Posted in architecture, art, design, DIY, environment, North Carolina, raleigh with tags , , , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by killahfunkadelic


Online bids are now being accepted on the “LightWall Pavilion,” the Grand Prize winner of the inaugural ReSpace Design Competition made entirely of salvaged materials. The Competition was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, the American Institute of Architects’ Triangle section, and Architecture For Humanity’s Raleigh chapter. All proceeds will benefit Habitat Wake.

On Saturday, June 1, from 9-11 a.m., AuctionFirst, the real estate bidding agency for the “LightWall,” will host a Preview Tour in the parking lot of Habitat Wake County’s ReStore’s parking lot at 2420 N. Raleigh Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27604, where the pavilion is stored.

Scott Hefner and Abe Drechsler, two NCSU students studying Environmental Design in Architecture, designed the pavilion, which measures 18.5 feet long, 11.5 feet wide, and 11 feet tall, and is destined for a variety of uses – from a gazebo-like structure in the landscape, to an artist’s or writer’s studio, a playhouse, a meditation retreat, etc.

Materials, donated or salvaged from around Wake County, include:

  • Framing lumber salvaged by Habitat Wake’s DeConstruction program
  • Interior Maple gym flooring from Chapel Hill High School
  • Diagonal floor sheathing for exterior siding from the DeConstruction program, and manufactured siding donated to the Habitat ReStore in Raleigh
  • Weather barrier and roofing donated to the Raleigh ReStore
  • Old pallet racking from the Raleigh ReStore and reused glass bottles from various bars and restaurants in downtown Raleigh. The bottles create the “light wall” that filters sunlight and bathes the interior in colored light.


Joel Lubell, a builder and volunteer at Habitat, conceived of and organized the ReSpace Competition “to raise awareness of reuse materials while showcasing creative and successful small space designs inspired by their use,” according to his website Lubell and a small army of Habitat volunteers built the structure during a 48-hour construction blitz.

Matthew Szymanski, chairman of AIA Triangle’s Young Architects Forum committee, added his feelings about the competition: “We wanted to make ReSpace more than a contest. We wanted it to be an experience that would change people, and tying it to reuse has done that.”

Szymanski firmly believes that once designers and builders have worked with salvaged materials “they’ll be more likely to do it again and again and again.”

Joel Lubell noted another value: “The materials all have a story. They all come from somewhere. You get an idea that something came from your local area and it’s got history to it.”

The contest’s jury included North Carolina architect Ellen Weinstein, AIA, who admired the LightWall’s minimalism. “I just found it to be a simple and elegant structure in the landscape,” she said.

According to the young designers, “simple” was a necessity. Both students were extremely busy as the deadline for submissions neared, so they designed something quickly during a two-hour brainstorming session, using markers and trace paper.

“We reasoned that we didn’t have enough time before the deadline to add too many layers of complexity,” Hefner said. “Little did we know that the LightWall’s inherent simplicity would be one of its strongest traits.” The entire structure fits on a lowboy trailer for shipping anywhere in the country.

“This will be a fascinating auction,” said auctioneer Sarah Sonke. “The success will depend upon bidders’ imaginations – what wonderful purposes they see for the pavilion.”

Bidding will end at 8 p.m. on June 11. The website ( includes information on how to bid and videos of the competition and “construction blitz.”

For more information on this and future ReSpace Design Competitions, go to


Trailblazer’s ‘Salvage Dawgs’ goes primetime on HGTV

Posted in antiques, architecture, DIY, history, North Carolina, raleigh with tags , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by killahfunkadelic


Congratulations to our friends at Raleigh’s Trailblazer Studios: their show “Salvage Dawgs,” the new reality series that premiered in November on the DIY network, has been bumped up to primetime on the higher rated sister network HGTV. The show airs Thurs., Jan 10 at 8pm and 8:30pm.

“Salvage Dawgs” chronicles the adventures and creativity of the Black Dog Salvage team – a Virginia-based architectural salvage business. Long time do-it-yourself fans and newcomers alike can enjoy salvage owners Robert Kulp and Mike Whiteside as they display their polar opposite personalities, making for a show filled with humor and suspense. While both share a passion for historical preservation, Robert is the self-proclaimed “bottom line guy” who focuses on the re-sale value. Mike is the “go big, go fast, go hard” guy who finds amusement in the unusual and engineers often hair-brained solutions for getting materials out of structures unharmed.

“We’re obviously thrilled that this move to HGTV allows us an opportunity to turn new viewers on to the show, said Jeff Lanter, co-executive producer. “At the same time, it gives our current fans more access to the series they’ve grown to love.”

From carefully extracting architectural elements from private homes and classic historical properties to disassembling old hospitals and crumbling mills, every show is a fast-paced treasure hunt.

In Thursday night’s 8pm episode, the crew salvages the Washington Mill, an old cotton mill from the late 1800s. At 8:30, they explore the six-story, luxury Robert E. Lee Hotel built in 1926 to uncover a peg leg sink, French doors and pelican urinals. They also build a coffee table out of a salvaged panel and wood from the Izard House.

“Salvage Dawgs” is co-produced by North Carolina-based film companies Trailblazer Studios and Figure 8 Films. The two companies have worked together previously on Figure 8 Film’s TLC series “Sister Wives,” “Abby and Brittany” and “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

Black Dog Salvage is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. With a mission to reclaim, renew and redefine architectural salvage for a sustainable future, it specializes in architectural elements from turn-of-the-century to mid-century modern homes, estates and buildings.

DIY- Rain Barrel Stand and Installation

Posted in DIY, environment, raleigh with tags , , on April 30, 2009 by killahfunkadelic

01porch_beforeThe recent North Carolina drought and subsequent water shortage in the Raleigh area is still fresh on our minds as we head into a new summer season, already in a rain deficit. Last year we installed a TwoDrips 275-gallon rain tank on our front gutters and it’s worked great for washing cars and watering plants, but we also need something a little more convenient for watering our container garden on the back deck. Above is the deck corner that will work perfectly with a little downspout redirecting.02stand_unstainedHere is the rain barrel stand design I came up with to elevate the barrel as high as the space would allow, about 3 feet, built out of treated lumber. Keep in mind that the rain barrel, in our case a 60 gallon tank purchased from a local nursery, will be very heavy and will require an extremely stout base. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs, so 60 gals would be about 500 lbs. Although putting this weight on a deck is not ideal, it is the only space that would work in our situation so the bracing below on the deck was reinforced to compensate for the additional weight. 03stand_cu3′ tall 4×4 posts form the main stand corner supports, 2×6’s form the top outer frame. 2×4 joists closely spaced form the bottom supports for the base of the barrel, and as you can see in the detail, they are recessed a few inches inside the top frame to allow the base of the barrel to fit snugly inside the frame without the chance of sliding off. The 4×4 inside corners were trimmed also to fit the barrel base.04drain_cutoutOne modification that I added to our rain barrel was the addition of a much larger overflow drain. The existing overflow was sized for a garden hose, way too small for the volume of water that comes off our roof, especially during a decent rainfall. 3″ black PVC pipe was chosen, and should handle a heavy rainfall (black was chosen over white PVC merely for the aesthetics).05drain_partsBlack 3″ PVC drain termination parts, and a square of vinyl screen to keep mosquitoes out.06drain_caulk08screen_cu2Be sure to add a silicone or similar caulk sealant where the drain terminates into the barrel. The screen can be held in place between the two coupling ends that are screwed together on either side of the barrel.09staining_standAfter staining the stand with a nice weather resistant rosewood stain, we are ready to hook up the downspout and drain assemblies.10drain_finishedThe overflow drain assembly shown completed, the remaining pieces sealed with PVC pipe cement. 11gutter_sealantThe downspout parts connecting to the overhead gutter are then assembled and sealed with a gutter sealant to prevent leaks. 12cable_strapTo secure the downspout in place to the top of the rain barrel I improvised a cable strap secured to eyelet screws and small cable clamps as seen in the above image.13rain_barrel_and_standThe completed rain barrel and stand should now give us enough height to allow easy watering. All I need to add now to complete the design is a hook to hang the hose from, and a little rain would be helpful to ween us off of Raleigh NC city water completely for the container garden!

Update 5/20: A few heavy rainfalls later and the intake and overflow screens are getting clogged with pollen and fine debris washing in from the gutters, so have had to clean them a few times. Solution: drilling a few extra (narrow) intake holes on the top of the barrel, and relocating the overflow screen from inside the barrel to the end of the overflow pipe on the outside to allow for more frequent cleaning. Also, am clamping a length of a panty hose leg over the end of the downspout to catch the fine particulate before it clogs the barrel screens. This is a system that has worked great on our 275 gallon tank: simply unclamp the hose periodically and empty in a trash can.

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DIY Tension Cable Railing

Posted in architecture, DIY with tags , , on April 6, 2009 by killahfunkadelic

tension cable railing 1This weekend’s project was adding a DIY tension-cable system to our existing deck railing. While we love the modernist look of the galvanized conduit rail design, the 1965 design isn’t exactly up to current building codes (in that they are spaced too far apart) and give us a mild heart attack every time our aging dog gets a little too close to the edge. Also with a new baby due in our household any day, the safety monitor in me is on a mission to fix any small child hazards. This would be one.

tension cable railing 2I’ve always loved the clean aesthetic of tension-cable systems in modern architectural design, so I set out to recreate that look on a friendly budget. One trip (ok, a couple) to the local home improvement store yielded a spool of 3/32″ plastic-coated steel cable (a bit fat, but I like the look of big industrial fittings), stainless steel turnbuckles, 3/32 compression ferrules and a compression ferrule/swaging tool. To repeat the same location of holes through the railing posts, a jig was made (just a scrap piece of wood cut to size) with the holes premeasured to use as a guide.

tension cable railing 3I debated on how to terminate the cables on the corner posts and decided on closed eyelet screws anchored on each end of the cable run (instead of boring through the corner posts as well). To keep a uniform look, make sure the stripped cable ends are all measured exactly the same (I stripped 3″ of vinyl off the ends throughout). All the turnbuckles were spaced evenly as well for a clean design. Vice grips were used to hold up the cable while the crush ferrules were set in place.

tension cable railing 4Be sure to open up the turnbuckles all the way before setting the cable, to allow enough space for the slack to be pulled in. Start at one end of the rail and work your way down to the other.

tension cable railing 5Cutting the cable was a challenge. I probably ruined a pair of sheet metal sheers doing so but next time I’d invest in a heavy duty set of pliers that would do the job. After making almost 50 cuts, the cable ends started getting messy and hard to thread into the ferrules.

tension cable railing 6In the end we ended up with a beautiful contemporary railing design, and a safe one at that. Our dog is now free to roam the deck at will and reclaim his domain, and we can still enjoy an unimpeded North Carolina view.

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