Words of Distress (ing)

In my last post I mentioned I took the plunge into the YouTube world by posting my first official video.  I’m probably nuts (or you’re nuts for putting up with me) but I’m wanting to learn more about video recording and video editing so here’s video #2.  I get asked all the time what finishing products I use.  Along with describing my techniques for distressing furniture, I briefly talked about my finishing schedule and my love for General Finishes products. I hope you like this video and if you have any questions be sure to send me a message….I’m always happy to talk shop!!


New Blooms Bring Hope

I’m a gal who loves change and I certainly love the changing seasons of Iowa.  I’m not sure how the winter days went by so quickly but I’m not complaining about the wonderful springy like weather we’ve experienced the last week or so.  Each fall I drag as many plants into my shop as room allows with the hopes of keeping them alive over the winter.  About this time of year I take cuttings from the plants that survived and attempt to start new plants for the upcoming growing season. Basically I just need my “fix” of getting my hands in the dirt and awake the gardening monster that lives within me.  You die-hard gardeners know about this monster….as soon as we see the first signs of spring, our heads start to spin about this year’s growing season.  I was granted a wonderful surprise this morning when I went out to the shop and found two of my “winterovered” plants blooming.  Early morning songs from the birds, warm winds from the south and old plants coming to life brings me great hope that spring is here….well…very close at least!

WoodGal Post March 14 2015

Almost December….Still Bloomin’

Winter Pink Gem (1 of 1)

If you’ve read some of my older gardening posts you know how much I love Proven Winners plants. Their Supertunias and Superbells are unbeatable for glorious mounds of color all summer long. When fall rolls around I have a terrible time letting the frost deliver my favorite plants an undeserving death.  Several weeks ago when I heard rumblings that Iowa was going to get its first cold snap of the season, I had to decide which plants made the “Save List”. Not an easy task for this flower lovin’ gal. I think this Superbell Pink Gem is especially grateful I saved it as it’s been putting on quite a blooming show inside my shop. Although not as showy as when it was in its prime this summer, I’ll take anything that produces flowers when it’s 20 degrees outside.  Hopefully I can keep this Pink Gem alive until February so I can take cuttings and start new plants for next year’s growing season. You can bet I’ll create a post on how I do that next February or March.

Loft Barn Doors

Yee Haw!  It’s looking a little barn like in the shop today with the added loft doors I just completed last week. Since I built a cupola for the shop, doesn’t it seem fitting to add some barn doors too? My contractor persuaded me to add storage trusses in the two outside sections of my shop, which I had not planned on when designing the shop. With the cost not being all that much more than regular trusses, I decided that even if I didn’t use it a lot the next occupant of this building might. I told my builder to just rough it in and I’d build some loft doors later. Good grief, I never intended it to be 4 years later but like I’ve said a hundred times….my projects are always the last to get done.  Anyway, here are a few in progress pics.

After moving into the shop, the last thing on my mind were the loft doors so to get me by I covered the opening up with 1/4″ plywood backed with some insulation. Although quite ugly, this setup did a pretty amazing job of keeping the heat in my building during the winter.

Plywood Cover (1 of 1)

A look inside.

Inside Storage Area (1 of 1)

 It started with a simple mitered frame. I opted to use the rough side of the cedar boards to match the barn door theme.

Frame (1 of 1)

 Roughing in the boards for the 2 doors. I really love cedar because it has so much character in the wood.

Placing boards (1 of 1)

 Add some bracing and brad nail it all together. Such a simple build but a lot of fun!

Frame + Doors (1 of 1)

 I’m so happy to have this to look at now rather than the lame 1/4″ plywood!

Loft Barn Door WM



Some Cupola Love

TheWoodGal Shop

For some reason I’ve always loved cupolas. I don’t know…..maybe me growing up in the country with chickens and sheep running around gave me a love for barns. It seems to me that country and cupolas go hand in hand so when designing my shop I knew I just had to have one. I’ve been in my shop for 4 years now and I’m embarrassed to say I just got the cupola finished and installed in October. My projects are always at the bottom of my to-do list so for once I took some time and FINALLY did a project for myself! Not too often do I get to keep what I build as most of the projects I do are for other people. This was a build that stayed in-house…..or should I say on top-of-house!  Hope you enjoy the in-progress pics!

Mr. Scraps Scarecrow



Mr Scarecrow


I just love fall time, especially in Iowa. Just thought I’d share one of my favorite fall decorations……Mr. Scarecrow. Would you believe this guy was all built out of scraps from the shop? Like most woodworkers, I hate throwing wood away so I look for any way to use up even the smallest pieces if possible. Mr. Scarecrow is mostly made out of MDF which paints up really, really nice. I hate working with the stuff as it’s terribly dusty but there’s no better material to paint on. I painted this from a paper pattern by Renee Mullins many years ago when I was a new mom. Having an infant left little time for me to do woodworking so I turned to painting which still allowed me to scratch my creative itch. Hope you have a great rest of October! Oh how I’ll miss the beautiful colors!

Cedar Planter Box – You can do this!

Yellow Banner with Deer

Wide Shot of Planters

Next to my two sons I have two major passions in life. One is woodworking and the other is gardening. I’m a happy gal when I can smoosh the two hobbies together and create something to feed my creative bug. I built these planter boxes nearly 5 years ago and they’re the most often asked about item in my garden. They were simple to build and the only tools I used were a tape measure, miter saw and a cordless drill. In August I built one for a gal after she saw mine while on a garden club tour I hosted at my home. The planter was identical to my three with the exception of me adding the Kreg Jig tool to my bag of tricks which stiffened the corners up. You’ll see this tool in use as you read through this post.

When I was designing my planters boxes I had certain things on my wish list. Here they are:

1. I wanted to be able to reach the plants easily and have it high enough to keep the weeds from invading the box. I have a wild flower field beyond my property line so weeds are definitely part of the landscape.

2. I needed some method of containing the soil and plants without having to build an elaborate treated wood box. Inevitably, a wooden cavity design would eventually rot out. Furthermore, a wood box would have added to my materials list considerably raising the cost as well.

3. Lastly, I wanted some way of easily removing the soil and plants should I decide to move the planter to another part of the garden. For example, needing to move a planter further into the shade during the extremely hot parts of the summer.

Keeping all the things on my wish list in mind, the planter below is what I designed.  I used 2 concrete mixing tubs you find at the big box stores located in the building supply department. They’re made of heavy plastic and measure 36″ x 24″ x 8.5″deep at a cost of around $15.  Basically the entire planter is built around these heavy tubs.  The tubs fulfilled all 3 of my wishes. They’re high off the ground, they won’t rot, they are inexpensive and they’re removable. With the help of one other person you can pull the tubs out, set them on the ground, move the cedar planter and replace the tubs without disturbing the plants.  I’ve even gone so far as to pull the tubs out of the planters and into the garage when I knew there was a major hail storm coming! All gardeners know that heartbreaking feeling of watching all your hard work and money being crushed by 3-4 minutes of hail!

I’ll give you the exact measurements of all the wood pieces I cut but the chances of you finding the exact same tub I used are probably slim. Just keep in mind you’ll have to build your box around whatever heavy tubs you can find. No worries though….you can do this!!

Final Pic 2

What a Bloomin’ Season!

Now that the growing season has come to an end here in Iowa I’ve spent some time looking back at the pictures I took of all my bloomers. I started most of these plants way back in February and March of 2014 and it’s hard to believe summer has come and gone already. One of the reason I love living in Iowa though are the wonderful seasons we experience. I thrive on change so about the time I get tired of 3-4 months of a certain kind of weather I’m blessed with a new season which is so refreshing.

As you can see I’ll plant flowers in just about any kind of container I can find. Many of the tubs I planted in are from sheep feeding tubs my dad gave me after his ewes nibbled the supplement out of them. I also planted a lot of my flowers in landscaping pots that my favorite nursery man gave to me for free. He had loads of 2-3 gallon pots he was thrilled to get rid of. I planted the flowers in the pots and then sunk them in the ground at varying heights which gave me a tiered looking garden. I’m a big fan of Proven Winners Supertunias and their Superbells which are unbeatable for the mounding color they provide. The window boxes are Supertunia Bubblegum which amaze me every year no matter what the Iowa weather throws down on them. I also love Petchoa Supercals in the colors of Neon Rose and Artist Rose. They too are like eye candy for any garden lover! Although this season has come to an end I’m already thinking about what I’ll do differently next year.  Hope you enjoy my 2014 sea-of-color summer pics!

Front of House

Deer Friend

Wide Shot of Planters


Front of House 2

Hanging Basket






Weight Lifting Platform

The great thing about doing custom woodworking is getting those “unusual” kind of jobs.  I received a call from Scott Carnahan from Sports Plus, a local sports medicine and physical therapy center, asking if I’d build a floating platform for their weight training station.  Basically it’s a combination of plywood, squishy mats and hardwood flooring. I have to admit this was new territory for me but I’m always up for a challenge. Scott introduced me to Matt McQuiston who is their strength & conditioning specialist.  Matt knew exactly how he wanted it built and had it nicely planned out for me on paper. One of the biggest challenges with this build was keeping the floating floor in place which required the handy work of a talented welder. I left this part of the job in the hands of John Jr. at Central Iowa Machine Shop in Marshalltown, Iowa.  He and his guys did a great job of creating what I asked for and I’m for sure keeping their number handy for the future when I need them again.  Enough background….here are the project pics!

Final Pic

Final 2


Welded frame starts the process
First layer
2nd Layer-Thin rubber mat
3rd Layer
4th and final layer-3/4" rubber mat
My Festool track saw did a wonderful job cutting this very tough mat. Lots of shallow cuts!
Installation time at the site
Center panel needs lots of cushion. Planed down 2x6 did the trick
1 layer of CDX plywood and the start of the oak flooring
Created this template to use for a pattern when cutting the CDX plywood for this section
I sprayed 3 coats of General Finishes Water Based Poly after the decals where installed
Can't imagine not having my beloved Fuji Sprayer! Love this machine!
Matt giving the new platform a try


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