Projects To Try Feed

Decorating the apartment with something other than "Dogs Playing Pool"

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Dogs Playing PoolHey bachelors, no matter how cool you think the "Dogs Playing Pool" art is, DON'T DO IT!

Do something like a mirror window instead. 

Inspired by a mirror window my step-mom has in her kitchen, I decided it was time to put one in my kitchen as well.

It's not a tough project and you'll spend about the same amount of money if not less on materials and accessories as you would in buying a cheesy "Dogs Playing Pool" framed piece of art, cough....  And the ladies will appreciate a mirror window far more than "Dogs Playing Pool."

If you've got a 'blank canvas' above your kitchen sink, here's what you do....

Before Pic Above Kitchen SinkStep One: Measure the area above the sink for the mirror window.  You want the mirror and framing to measure less than the opening to allow for curtains or other form of window treatment.

Step Two:  With those measurements in mind, go to Lowe's, Home Depot, wherever and purchase a 6" to 8" by whatever opening width shelf to set your mirror and window frame on, buy some extra wood trim to dress things up.  Pine works great if you're painting, oak is good if you're staining.  The goal is to match up with the existing cabinetry.  Purchase mirror, paint and/or stain, hardware as needed at your preferred store.

Step Three:  Assemble your mirror window, starting with a piece of trim just below cabinet level (pictured above), then the 6" to 8" shelf cut to opening width, then the mirror and framing.  Paint and/or stain as desired.  Since this is a light weight application (the shelf not holding heavy items), you should be able to anchor your materials using Powergrab or other adhesive and a few light duty wood screws and/or finishing nails.

Above the kitchen sink afterStep Four:  To create the French Window look, use balsa wood cut to size and adhere to the mirror with a glue that dries clear.  Paint or stain the balsa wood prior to putting in place.

Buffalo PlateStep Five:  Accessorize as desired.  In my kitchen, I went with sunflower curtains.  I've got a prairie look theme going on in the kitchen, centered around a hand painted buffalo plate (circa late 1800's) handed down to me by my mother, born in South Dakota.

This project cost me about $45 to complete, wood, paint, glue, fasteners, mirror and decorating accessories.  Guess how much a framed "Dogs Playing Pool" piece of art costs?  Around $50 and that doesn't include shipping.

Don't go "Dogs Playing Pool", go with something YOU created as a conversational piece instead. 

Repurposing that old file cabinet - turn it into a grill

By Mike Thayer

File cabinetSo I had this old file cabinet on hand, just sitting in my garage no longer being used for its intended purpose....

"How can I re-use this?" I asked myself.

I was thinking about storing power tools in it, but came up with a better idea!

A Sunday project, I turned an old four-drawer tall metal file cabinet, into a charcoal grill!

Here's the "How To" laid out like a recipe:


  • An old metal vertical filing cabinet (four drawers, three drawers, doesn't matter)
  • Black auto engine paint (it can take the heat), about three cans
  • About one dozen metal screws
  • Grill grates


  • A drill and drill bits

Remove all drawers and clean all cabinet parts, inside and out with warm soapy water. After it's dry, paint all parts black (or whatever color you wish). I used auto engine paint because it can take the heat. It's a bit more expensive, but you won't have to worry about paint peeling and flaking off later. After all parts are dry, you're now ready for assembly. Set the cabinet on the side with the drawer cavity openings facing the ground. You may want to do this where you're actually going to use the grill. I would recommend having it set on concrete blocks, decorative bricks or a bed of rock. Next, screw the cabinet drawers side-by-side to the 'new top' of the cabinet, with the tall end of the drawers being the 'back' of your grill area, two screws for each drawer to secure them to the cabinet base should do it. You're almost done. If you pre-measured your drawer size and bought some of those universal grill grates like I did, place those grates on your "new" charcoal bins - the drawers. The grates should fit snugly on top of the drawers at the tall end (the grill back), but you'll have to drill a couple holes and strategically place some screws to hold the grates in place at the business side of the grill. Do NOT drill the screws all the way in, you just want to keep the grill grates from sliding left to right and you'll want to be able to easily remove them for cleaning purposes.

File cabinet grillThat's it, you're done! I like the flat-top style layout of the grill. I can fire up one drawer when I grill for one or two, fire up a second drawer for family or small get-togethers or fire up the third and fourth drawers for parties! And the beauty of this design is, you don't have to put a grate over every drawer. For one of the drawer spots I purchased a stainless steel grill pan to use for veggies and fish, it didn't need any strategically placed screws to hold it in place either. You can put a butcher block cutting board over one of the drawers, it's easily placed and removed.

Or, you can set up a permanent cutting station/counter space over one of the drawer spaces using a more permanent material like a couple tiles of marble or granite. My cost for this grill was just $60. I'm real pleased with how this project turned out, it grills nice and should last for many a grilling season! In breaking it in and only using one drawer, I grilled up four pounds of skirt steak, a dozen hot dogs, five burgers and I still had plenty of heat left, I could have grilled more!

File cabinet grill 2

Reclaiming furniture

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

If you have a friend that's giving some items away, or you find something at a garage sale that's 'iffy', or you see something you like at a thrift store, take it!

20160812_182358 (2)Today's project. Reclaimed furniture. This used to be a glass top coffee table. The glass top shattered, and rather than shell out the bucks for tempered glass, I gave the metal frame a fresh coat of hammered black paint, put on a wood top and stained it. Total cost, $24.

A little imagination and a few bucks can turn something functional, into something that also looks really good!