You’re So Vain

Home improvement is awesome for building one’s self esteem. Considering that building Aubrey’s self esteem is my full-time job at the moment, what better way than having her help me with all the house projects, as well as whatever other projects she wants to work on? She took over finishing up her room, which is great since I already have a ton of stuff to do, and not enough energy or muscle capability to get it all done. Her first project for herself is to make a vanity, so she has a place to store her makeup, hair stuff, and the electrics like her hair dryer and straightener.

I scour craigslist every single day, multiple times a day. That’s how Aubrey got a free haircut from a very expensive salon, btw. Anyway, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a vanity, but they all run about $100. Sometimes they show up for $50 or so, but those are rare. However, back in December I had stopped at a house down the street that I thought was having a garage sale. It turns out they just have a ton of stuff in their carport, but the guy let me look around. I saw that he had two side bits, so someone obviously chopped one up. Since they actually belonged to his friend, he couldn’t sell them to me, and I said I’d come back, then promptly forgot.

Last Friday, they actually DID have a garage sale. I asked about the sides and the woman running it said I could have the two of them for five bucks. All the veneer is coming off because they’ve been outdoors, but Aubrey doesn’t care, because she’s going to paint it anyway. We also have a ton of scrap stuff in the shed (obviously), so she can easily make a top.

Today though, she worked on the mirror part. When we last went to IKEA, we went to the as-is section and she found three of the KRABB mirrors (the four separate squarish wavy ones) for $3. Because it was missing the fourth mirror, she saved $17. Not a bad deal. Using some boards that were weird leftovers in some laminate storage closets that we put in the garage at our old house, she started with drawing out a frame. These boards are long and narrow, so it took four boards to fit all three mirrors onto the frame. Because she’s still nervous with any power tool bigger than a Dremel, I cut the frame out for her using the jigsaw. In case you’re wondering, using a jigsaw is a lot like sewing, except the machine moves and the material stays put. It’s rather addictive; once you use it, you start looking around for other things to cut up.

After everything was cut and dusted, Aubrey laid it all out on the office floor (I really need to get the shed cleared so we can use it for the messy stuff, instead of the office), and dry-fit the mirrors. Dry-fit is when you just put it in place to make sure it’s going to go the way you expect it to, before you start gluing stuff down. The mirrors fit perfectly, so it was time to glue them. Even though the frame was in four pieces, it wasn’t an issue because the glue on the mirrors would hold it all in place. We chose Loc-tite, because it is cheap, dries fast, and fits in a regular caulk gun.

Working with a caulk gun takes a little bit of practice, but really, it’s not much different than piping icing on a cake. You want about the same thickness and evenness, which requires an even pressure on the “trigger” part of the gun. I showed her how to screw down the press-plate until it hit the inside of the glue tube, and let her figure out the most comfortable way for her to hold the gun. If there is one thing Aubrey can do, it is ice a cake, so after a couple of false starts, she got the hang of it pretty quickly.

It’s important that you zig zag your glue so you get enough on there without having to worry about globbing. It has room to spread when you press it. Aub had about two inches of zig between her zags, which is just right for what she was doing. For this project, it was also important to put the glue on the mirror, not on the wood, because the wood wasn’t a solid piece. Once she flipped the mirror onto the wood, she had a few seconds to wiggle it into exact position, and then the Loc-tite started to hold. Because she couldn’t use anything super heavy on the mirrors to press them down, she used my yarn for two of them, and a bucket of makeup stuff for the third. That was just the right amount of weight.

Depending on what glue/caulk/sealant you use, it will usually have the cure time (the time it takes to REALLY set up) written on the tube. If not, give it around 24 hours at the minimum. Some sealants, like those used for laminates, take up to a week to cure.

Tomorrow, we are expecting a sleet storm, so we are prepping by putting all the stuff we want to work on into the shed. Aubrey plans to start work on the vanity sides. Scraping off the veneer won’t be hard, but sanding down the paint that’s left over on the parts without veneer is going to take some work. This will be the first time we’ll use the Dremel for sanding the details on a piece of furniture. This very thing is what made me want a Dremel, years and years ago. They would show the commercials on HGTV, and I would sigh with lust. I finally bought it for cutting rings for making chain maille jewelry, so I wouldn’t have to cut my rings by hand anymore; there really was no choice, as I no longer have the hand strength to do it…right?

Stay tuned for the next installment of “How to make a vanity for $8.” Over the next six weeks, Ron has ordered me to not spend a single cent, so you will be seeing a lot of posts on “Projects done from crap we found in the shed, on the side of the road, or from curb alerts on craigslist.” If nothing else, it will be one hell of a challenge. The good news is, I have one hell of a lot of crap in my shed, so…bring it!

“You had one eye on the mirror…”


4 thoughts on “You’re So Vain

  1. mzklever says:

    Reblogged this on The Upcycle Shed and commented:

    Originally posted at

  2. Cally says:

    Uhm, I can’t wait to see when this is done! I’ve been obsessed with HGTV recently. I’ve been begging people with houses to let me tile something. Stupid apartment.

    • mzklever says:

      Cally, You can tile a coffeetable, or tile a piece of plywood and hang it on the wall. If you just want to add color, you can buy a few yards of inexpensive fabric and tack it to foam core and hang it on the wall. I just saw a new wallpaper that is like the wall decals…it is literally peel and stick wallpaper. Pretty cool stuff for an apartment, but a bit pricey. You can also starch fabric to the wall; you can peel it off later and just wash the walls before you move out. Don’t let being in an apartment stop you!

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