Backyard Table

    We've been on a scrap-wood kick - trying to get rid of the extra plywood we have with some useful projects. One of these is a table for the backyard patio. The fountain turned our backyard into a nice oasis to chill out in, but it was still lacking something. Primarily a table, so that our back-porch picnics would have somewhere to put the food instead of just on our laps.
    In our characteristic fashions, the Mr. wanted to just screw some plywood together, stain and seal it, and then call it a day. But the Mrs. had some more vibrant ideas, and after a quick trip to the local hardware store, we came back with some tile and mastic. Here's the story of the backyard table.

    We cut out an (almost) equilateral triangle from one of the plywood scraps, rounded the corners, and sanded it to a nice finish. After this came two coats of stain and sealer.
     Next we laid the tile out on the wood, marked the edges, and cut the tile with a Dremel equipped with a diamond cutting wheel (sorry no picture). This process took awhile, and should also be completed with proper safety precautions (safety goggles, dust-mask, and gloves).

    Next up was the mastic and grout - a thin layer of mastic was applied on the surface of the wood, and we pressed the tiles into that. Once it had dried (24 hrs) we applied the grout to the tiles. We needed to start at the center tiles and work our way to the edges to allow the edge tiles some time to set. This way we didn't knock all the grout off when cleaning the tile surfaces. Moistening the cloth helped remove the drier grout from the top of the edge tiles.

    After that the legs were attached with some hardware that we had laying around from when we built the bench. The screws going into the table-top are 1/4 inch plywood screws. With the metal bracket, they barely avoid going through the plywood.

    With a couple of coats of grout sealer, we had a final product! The table nestles nicely between the two chairs when we have them angled towards the fountain, and is matched in height to the arms, so it's easy to use.

  • Mitre saw
  • Jig saw
  • Power screwdriver ./ drill
  • Dremel
  • Protective devices (goggles, dust mask, gloves)
  • $10 Tile
  • $5 Mastic
  • $0 Existing wood, screws.

Wine Bottle Cutting Jig

    We've been storing up empty wine bottles for awhile. The plan was to recycle them into some artwork - vases, candleholders, etc. Earlier this year, we tried to cut the top off by scoring them with a glass cutter and heat-shocking the glass. The plan didn't work out so well, mainly because the scoring was very uneven, both in pressure and in making an even line around the vase. So while we were able to heat-shock the glass into breaking off, the end result was more effort than it was worth, and not very pretty.
    So over the last few months, I've ideas of how to improve the results simmering on my mind. The result is a nifty cutting jig I threw together this weekend:

The idea is simple: a couple of boards to hold the bottle while we rotate it, and a backstop to keep the bottle from sliding back and forth. The glass-scoring tool is seated in a wood block so it's easier to apply pressure.

My favorite part is the peg and hole system I used to allow the tool to cut the bottles at varying heights. The holder / guide for the cutting tool has two pegs at the bottom which pair up with numerous holes along the length of the guide-rail.
This allows the jig to accommodate bottles of multiple sizes. It doesn't allow for arbitrary distance movements, but the steps are 3/4" apart, so it's close enough for practical purposes.
As you can see, it makes nice even scoring - perfect for later heat-shocking for cutting the glass.

Tools needed:

  • Jigsaw
  • Mitre Saw
  • Sander
  • Power screwdriver / drill

Total cost:

  • $7 (Another furring strip and some longer screws.)

EDIT: Here's a schematic of the jig with sizes. The base and backing is 1/4 inch plywood, and the square wood pieces are furring strips. Be sure to take all safety precautions when working with wood, glass, and fire. Click for a larger size.