An Adventure with a Taterbug!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life's a Bench and then You Sit On It!

Hi, ya, world!  Hope you all survived Monday and are rearing to go for a terrific Tuesday.  Yeah, doing much better today then this time yesterday.  Actually woke up on time and even managed to shave my legs for the first time since the beach trip, where they got scorched and blistered.  Looking good and the redness is disappearing.

So, as promised yesterday, I will share with you a craft or home improvement addition I recently completed for the Taterbug's birthday luau.  As I mentioned previously, I always do a luau theme and try to add something new each year.  Last year it was the house, pool and trampoline.  This year was a much smaller addition, a cinder block bench with cushions.

The (Almost) Finished Product
 What you will need to make the bench:
  • 24 - 8" x 16" Cinder Blocks
  • 4 - 1" x 6' Boards
  • 3 Tubes of Liquid Nails for Tile, Cement and Wood Applications
  • 2 - 24" x 16" Tiles
  • Measuring Tape
  • 3 - 12" x 12" Slate Tiles cut into 2-up rows (Optional)
  • 2 Quarts of Paint (Optional)
  • Paint Brushes (Optional)

It was really easy and an inexpensive piece of furniture to add under the carport.  I even drew some plans to help figure out what all I needed to get started.  Here you go with step by step instructions:

Step 1: Paint your cinder blocks and boards and let dry completely.  I didn't do this first and learned it is a heck of a lot easier to paint them before assembling unless you are a contortionist and enjoy sweating and bending.  I used a good semi-gloss paint and put on 3 coats because it really sucked up the paint into the grooves of the blocks.

Step 2: Measure the space where you want the bench to go.  The finished bench is approximately 8'8" in length so you need a good open spot to build this bench.  I centered mine under two windows that look out onto my carport from my kitchen.  If you are planning to put this on grass or dirt, make sure your location is as level as possible so that your structure is stable.  Because we are not putting mortar between the blocks, they could technically move as the ground shifts.  Keep this in mind when scoping out your area.

Step 3:  Think Lego's only heavier and not as easy to move!  That's right, start stacking your blocks starting with the base set of 4 blocks on the bottom.  These are represented above in row 1 of the diagram.  Once they are in place, put a second set of 4 blocks on top but make sure that your seams don't match up.  We want to do a criss-cross pattern, just like you do when building a wall with Lego's.  Once these look right, take off the top layer and squirt a generous helping of liquid nails onto all the tops of the bottom row of blocks being careful not to get any on the outside.  We want this to be hidden.  Now, re-add in your second layer.

Sorry, No Progress Pics

Step 4:  Next you will use only 3 blocks as represented in row 2 above.  Once you have your pattern right, remove the 3 blocks and add your liquid nails and replace the 3 blocks on both ends.  Almost done!

Step 5:  To help support the boards, place 2 blocks in the center between your to bases.  They won't entirely hold all the boards but will have a portion of each one.  Hope that make sense.

Step 6:  Add your 4 wooden boards to your base. I made sure that the first and the last board were all the way on the end and then added the middle boards, leaving a slight gap so that dirt and water could run off. Once these were in the correct place, I took them off, one at a time, and added liquid nails to attached them to the block bases and support.  Make sure you glue the one in the back first and work your way out or else you will get glue all over you.  (Voice of experience speaking!).  When this is all done, put something heavy evenly across on top of the boards so that they can dry overnight and not popup.  I put a bunch of umbrella chairs on them to hold them down.  If you have some leftover blocks, that would work great.

See the Lego pattern?
Step 7:  Now is the time to get creative.  I added two cap tiles to the two bases using liquid nails to give it a more finished touch.  I lucked up and found these on-line at Lowe's and had them shipped to the store for pick-up.  They also come in all kinds of colors.  I originally planned to use individual tiles but then I would have had to worry about grouting it and that was just a heck of a lot more work then I planned to do!  These babies were less then $2 each and in one solid piece of tile.  I also wanted a way to tie in the green bases with the pink boards and red brick of the house.  I found these slate tiles at Lowe's as well and cut them into 2" strips.  Add a little liquid nails and stick to the bottoms and you have a great accent piece.  It took 3 - 12" square tiles at about $2.50 each to do the accents.
Lessons Learned:
  1. Paint the blocks first
  2. Wear gloves when handling unpainted blocks or else you will get a blister on your thumb
  3. Bench will safely hold 4 adults and won't break or cause any issues
  4. You can make a shorter bench by using only 4' boards instead of 6'.  This puppy is really big but not overwhelming.
  5. Ask around, someone may have some cinder blocks they are willing to give to you or sell to you for less then you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot

So you may have noticed my very colorful cushions on the bench.  After building it I realized that it was pretty deep and the brick wall was not comfortable.  I also wanted something that could get wet and not disintegrate the moment it did.  I started pricing 6' chaise lounge cushions and they were either too small (56"), too thin (1") or too expensive ($50+).  What is a girl to do?  Improvise!

What you will need to make the cushions:
  • 2 Large Beach Towels or Bath Towels
  • 3 Standard Pillows or 2 King Pillows
  • 4 Hand Towels
  • 2 Travel Pillows
  • Ribbons
  • Scissors
Step 1: Take your ribbon and cut it into 6" strips that will be used to bind the towels together.  You need quite a lot of these so recruit your helper(s) to do the cutting while you do step 2.  I was lucky enough to have the ribbon left over from another project so it cost me nothing.

Step 2:  Take 2 hand towels and fold them in half and then in half again and then in half again.  This will give you equal points to cut slits 1" from the ends.  Once they are both cut, match up the corners and start tying the two together.  When 3 sides are bonded to together, add your travel pillow and close up the remaining holes of the opening.  Kmart had a great sale on pillows and towels around this time so I was able to get them pretty cheap.
Hand Towel Showing Where to Cut

Step 3:  Do the same thing you did for the hand towels but now do for beach towel.  You will need to adjust where the holes are based on your pillows and towel size.  Again, Kmart had a sale and these guys were only $8.  Because I bought such a big towel, it was too large for the pillows.  I went ahead and rolled the towel before I tied it.  This gave it a really nice look and I was so glad I did it!  After you have added in the first pillow, cut 2 holes in the center near the end of the pillow so that you can keep it from shifting.  Add the next pillow and then holes again.  Finally, add in the last pillow and finish off the opening.
Here is the Finished Products After Surviving the Party
Lessons Learned:
  1. Sharp scissors are a must
  2. When you think you have enough ribbon cut, cut more
  3. Leave the plastic on the pillows so that you won't have to worry if they get wet since they are outdoors
  4. By using ribbon and not sewing the towels together, you can remove the towels and throw them into the washer if cleaning is needed.

Okay, not as cheap as it could have been.  I did have some pillows in the house I could have used but I wanted the plastic over them to protect them.  I also could have used some towels I already had but these were so darn cute and they tied all the colors together.

I hope this gives your some ideas to noodle around and maybe modify for your own use.  Please drop me a line or send me pictures of what you came up with.

Love ya,

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