Archive | November, 2017

Design and Build Your Own Custom Bookcase

A custom bookcase is a great touch to any room in your home. There are so many ways to design one that I could write a series of books just on designing bookcases. The custom bookcase I would like to share with you is very easy to make. Before making your custom bookcase there are a few things you need to take into respect in the design of it. The first of these is how wide of an area are you going to want to cover with this bookcase. Secondly, how high can it be so that you can still reach the items on the top of it. The third is determining how deep you want it to be. The fourth item to think about is just as important, and really is the overall reason for building it. This is the reason for building the bookcase. Are you going to just put books on it? Will magazines be part of the items on the bookcase? Are there going to be knick-knacks on it? How much of these items – books, magazines, etc. – are you storing on your custom bookcase?
Wait! That’s not all! Are you going to paint or stain it? Do you want the shelves adjustable? Are you going to want to put stenciled designs on it? You see, there are many things to determine in the design of a custom bookcase. This is how you determine what your needs are when building a custom bookcase.
Going on with the customer bookcase I have in mind you will need a few tools. The general custom bookcase I will guide you through will require these tools:

Claw hammer (16 oz)
Box of 1 1/2″ long finished nails (4d)
Box of 3/4″ nails
A nail setter
Crosscut saw
Square (“L” shaped device for making straight lines)
Tape measure.

These are the materials you will need:
4 1″ x 12″ x 6′ length of wood
1 1″ x 4″ x 2′ length of wood
1 3/16″ of masonite board cut to two feet wide by 5′-4″ tall
Sandpaper – a mixed set
Either two cans of flat or glossy white paint or one pint of brush on paint will do.
Wood putty
Plastic drop cloth or old newspaper
The first thing you are going to do is to cut two of the six foot boards into lengths of 5′-4″ tall. Yes, you can have the masonite board cut 1/6″ shorter in width and length if you want so it is not as visible on the sides and top. After you cut the boards, sand the edges well and the surfaces just enough to make them smooth. Go ahead and spray paint them white on one side to dry. Hopefully you are doing this outside, so paint doesn’t get on anything inside your home.
The next thing you will do is to cut off a piece of wood from one of the other two remaining boards that are still six feet in length. You will cut this piece to be exactly two feet in length. With slightly less than four feet left, cut off another board exactly 1′-10 1/2″ long.
Why? Well, hopefully your wood that is supposed to be one inch thick is really 3/4″ thick. That means if multiplied by two the total in 1 1/2″, which means that this second board is that much shorter than two feet. Got it? Sand the edges of each board well, and sand the surfaces smooth. Now you can paint these two boards.
When these four boards are painted on both sides, take the two sides and lay them down as if you are looking at the bookcase laying on the ground. This means they should be on their edges. Take the two foot long board to one end of those boards, lay it on its edge, and nail it to the end of those two boards. Now you have your top piece in place.
Take the shorter board you cut and painted, place it between the side panels, and use your 1″ x 4″ board as a guide so you know exactly how far up on the sides you need the shelf. Only nail the upper part in place on both sides. Using the square, align the shelf to be level across the side panels so that you can mark and nail in the other side of the bottom shelf.
You are getting so close to being done. Holding the 1″ x 4″ board in place, see if it is going to fit well. Lightly sand it down and paint it. Once both sides have been painted and dried, nail it into place. This piece should not fit between the side panels because it is what keeps the bookcase from tipping over. Therefore, it is nailed onto the front at the bottom of the bookcase.

Now all you have left are the other shelves and the back panel.
There are two ways to determine where your shelves should be located. One is to divide the inner dimension, 4′-11 1/4″, by the number of openings you want for books, and taking into account the width of the shelves. I’m thinking five spaces which means four shelves. That’s what you have left in material.
Four shelves will be 3″ thick. Three inches from 4′-11 1/4″ is 4′-8 1/4″. Converting that measurement for each space will end up with 11 1/4″. This is where your square will come in handy. Stand up the bookcase and make a mark at 11 1/4″ up from the bottom shelf. After that mark up 3/4″. Repeat this step three more times and you are done marking on that one side. Do the same to the other side. Use your square to draw a straight line over from each mark. This is your guide as to where to place the shelves for nailing them in place.
Go ahead and cut your shelves from the remaining wood making certain they are the same length of the bottom piece, 1′-10 1/2″. Sand and paint these pieces. When they are dry you can nail them in place.
Paint the masonite on the smooth side, and use the smaller nails to tack it onto the back. Take the nail setter and carefully set the nails on the sides, front and top about a 1/16″ of an inch at most. Use the putty to fill in the holes and allow to dry. Sand down the putty smooth with the sides, front and top. Just spray on enough paint to cover the putty. A few light coats allowed to dry in between will make it look professional.
You may not want white, which is okay by me, but like I said it’s all in what you want. This project will take almost a day since you do need to allow the paint to dry. Quick drying paint will reduce the time you spend on this project.

Comments Off on Design and Build Your Own Custom Bookcase
Comments Off on Design and Build Your Own Custom Bookcase

Have a Small Living Area? Tips for Seating Design

Even though your space may be limited, you do not have to limit yourself to just a couch for seating. When shopping for furniture, be sure that the seating is at least one of the following: multi-purpose, compact, and/or storable.
Multi-purpose seating: An ottoman is compact and slides out of the way fairly easily, and it can serve several purposes if you find one with a removable lid. This allows you to store blankets, remotes, and magazines out of the way. When company comes over, they can use it as a seat, and when they leave it works as a footstool for comfortable lounging. Benches with storage under the seat add a little style to your entrance. Even if your place does not have an actual entranceway, a bench with small shelves and hooks above it can provide a little extra seating that is practical and makes visitors feel welcome. Futons are more compact than most couches and come in a wide variety of styles. They fold into a bed and are great to have around for those visitors who stick around a little longer than you may have expected.
Compact seating: When shopping for seating, try to find furniture with sharper angles. Though they may not be as comfortable as wider chairs that recline a little bit, they tend to be smaller and are better than the floor! A wooden chair with a narrow base and a straight back will take up less space than another chair with wide legs and armrests. Bar stools are also extremely compact and can be stored flush against a wall or under countertops with a lip. Some stores sell decorative, oversized pillows that work as comfortable seating for the floor. These are similar to bean bag chairs but take up less space, and you can shove them into tighter spaces. If you have a little extra space, recliners are extremely comfortable and can even accommodate overnight guests. When trying to figure out where you are going to put the recliner, keep in mind that it will take up much more space when reclined. Do not put it flush against the wall or other furniture if you want to recline in it. If you place the chair so that it reclines into walkways or other open areas, it will only take up the extra space when someone is in it.
Storable seating: This is seating that you can store in a closet and quickly pop-up for impromptu visits. Large round chairs that fold out of the way are surprisingly comfortable and come in a variety of colors and materials. Folding chairs (the kind that come with card tables) are great in a pinch. If your couch is raised above the floor, you may be able to slide a folding chair or two out of the way underneath it, while still making sure that you have easy access to it.
Watch for sales at the beginning of the school year; a lot of dorm furniture fulfills these three criteria but are only in stores for a limited time.
A small space does not mean your company has to sit on the floor. Keep these tips in mind when shopping for furniture and you will be pleasantly surprised at how many people you can comfortably sit at your next gathering.

Comments Off on Have a Small Living Area? Tips for Seating Design
Comments Off on Have a Small Living Area? Tips for Seating Design

Designing Rubrics

The performance criteria for a learning activity may be created and placed in an educational rubric. The criteria placed in the rubric direct refer to the current standards and benchmarks used by the school district. The rubric provides a set of four or five gradient levels of achievement for each benchmark as set forth by the performance strand. The teacher uses the rubric to place the student’s achievement level in the appropriate box. The rubric may then be provided to the student or the parent to clarify why the student received the specific grade on the assignment.
The rubric design may be that of the teacher’s, set by the school district or department chair. The form is normally a table or matrix. The set-up displays the criteria for the different levels of achievement in rows or columns. The labels included within in the rubric design are: Criterion Standard; Exceeds, Meets, and Does Not Meet. An extra column or row may be added for the results/grade.
A description of the standard or benchmark is written at the top of the rubric page. The performance outcomes are placed under the label of Criterion Standards. These criteria describe the desired outcome for the benchmark. The descriptive behaviors are placed under the three objects of Exceeds, Meets, and Does Not Meet. The objects need to be measurable, explicit, clear and describe outside classroom application. New strategies and assessments are then built upon the outside classroom application.
The most difficult part of writing a rubric is deciding on how the various levels of student achievement will be measured. In a school where there are several teachers teaching the same subject matter a group consensus works well to prepare the achievement measurements. Three levels are the minimum for the levels of standards. There is no set amount of levels that may be included. Three to four are recommended for ease in evaluation and comprehension for the individual reading the rubric after it has been completed.
The rubric should be designed so values and weights can easily be placed on each area. This affords the teacher an easy and accountable way to assign grades for a given assignment. The key to using a rubric effectively is being constant in the evaluation process.
Grades can easily be given to assignments with the use of a rubric after a weighting has been placed on the outcome. Students receiving their grade and a copy of the rubric will be able to understand why they are getting a particular grade. The conflict between the student and teacher concerning grades will be eliminated.
There are several excellent on-line websites for rubric examples and development. They include: Ruistar,, and The Landmark Project.

Comments Off on Designing Rubrics
Comments Off on Designing Rubrics

The Skinny on America’s Designer Water

Our great grandparents never dreamed of buying their water in a bottle. The idea was absurd. Ridiculous So what happened? About 20 years ago, someone got the idea to designer pack water and sell this liquid to the public. It seemed odd at first, but now buying pre-packaged water is part of the American staple. We buy it in different sizes, shapes and flavors. Yet, the question needs to be asked is this trendy way of quenching our thirst just a bunch of hype? To best answer this question, it’s important to examine the motivation driving most Americans to buy their water. We’ll cover the top three. Here they are…
1) Bottled water is more convenient. If you’re out on a hike or running errands, it’s easy just to buy a bottle of water to go. By doing so, you’ll stay saturated and avoid the urge to buy soda or juice. Right? Wrong
Buying bottled water has not impacted the American thirst for salt filled sodas or juices. And the consumption of it has increased our usage of plastic. It is just as easy to buy an eco-friendly container that you can keep filled with tap water and placed in the refrigerator. So when you go out the door, you can take it with you.
2) Bottled water tastes better than tap water. Some people swear by the taste of a particular brand of water. Also, they enjoy the benefits of having a vitamin or nutrient fortified product. This pushes their drive to buy water.
One’s taste buds cannot be argued with, especially in certain areas of the country. Water can taste different from region to region. However, some of this discrepancy can be reduced by the purchase of a good water filter. The filter would actually pay for itself over time because of the money you won’t be sending on pre-packaged water. Also, the fortification in most waters is not the same as eating a piece of fruit and takes away from the fact that fluoride is in tap water. Remember, fluoride is that all important ingredient that helps prevent tooth decay.
3) Bottled water is safe to drink than tap water. This reason is the main impetus for the bottled water craze. We all want to believe that there is some secluded part of America were water is germ free and untouched by the pollution of mankind. So when we read a label stating that some particular water came straight from a mountain stream, we believe it’s better than that questionable stuff coming out of our tap. Unfortunately, we are wrong.
Bottled water is less regulated than tap water. As a result, it can be just as contaminated as anything that comes out of a tap. A four-year study completed by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that bacteria and other chemicals are found in bottled water despite labels that say otherwise. Because of the lack of regulation, no standard is really set yet for the production of pre-packed water. So buyers, beware of what you are actually drinking from that beautifully designed bottle of water.
So what do you think? Is bottled water better than tap water? The answer is clearly ‘no.’ Buying bottled water is truly a preference, so if you want to trim down your budget, go for tapped water. It can be just as convenient, healthy and safe as it’s counterpart.

Comments Off on The Skinny on America’s Designer Water
Comments Off on The Skinny on America’s Designer Water