5 DIY Home Improvement Ideas

Here are five indoor and outdoor woodworking projects that can provide custom items and improvements to your home.


A custom bookcase can be created to perfectly fit any space in your home. In addition, it can be finished to match the surrounding decor. Start by planning what will go on the bookcase. Measure the items in order to plan the shelf and divider spacing to fit your needs.

The depth of the shelves can be determined by the items that will go on the bookcase. For example, if the bookcase is for DVDs or paperbacks, 1×6’s may be sufficient. For hardcover books, use 1×8’s or 1×10’s. Be aware that the actual width of the boards is about 1/2″ shorter than their labeled dimension.

  • Measure the space that the bookcase will fill.
  • Using a table saw, cut the bookcase’s back piece to size. Use 1/8″ luan or 1/4″ plywood. Be sure that the backing is perfectly square
  • Measure and cut the top and bottom boards to match the top and bottom width of the backing
  • Measure and cut the sides of the bookcase. These lengths will be the height of the backing minus the thickness of the top and bottom boards
  • Measure and cut the interior shelves. These will fit inside the side boards. Take into consideration the height of the tallest item that will be stored on the bookcase. The distance between shelves does not have to be the same throughout. A variety of spaces between shelves will create a sense of uniqueness and creativity.
  • Glue, nail or screw the shelves to the backing and to each other
  • Measure and cut the vertical braces that create the sections of each shelf. Take into consideration the width of the items that will fit into each cubby hole. The distance between dividers does not have to be uniform.
  • Nail or screw the dividers to the horizontal shelves.
  • Paint the bookcase to match or contrast with the surrounding wall.

Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table

Make a sturdy kitchen table to perfectly fit the space you have available. Know the desired finished height of the table. Use angle brackets to securely fasten the legs to the table.

  • Using a table saw, cut the top of the table to the desired dimensions. Take care that the top is square. The corners of the table can be trimmed off with a circular saw
  • Cut 4×4’s for the legs. The lengths will be the desired table height minus the thickness of the table top
  • Place the tabletop face down on a work surface
  • Locate where the legs will be fastened to the top
  • Locate where each leg will be placed.
  • Using a large carpenter’s square and a level to keep the legs at right angles to the top, glue and secure them with angle brackets, taking care not to pierce the through to the top of the table. Blocks can be glued to the bottom of the table to screw the legs into
  • Measure and cut 1×4’s for an outside band where the legs meet the table.
  • Glue and screw the outside band to the underside of the table top and to the legs.
  • Cross pieces can be added diagonally between opposite legs to make them more secure.
  • Stand the table upright. Sand and finish the table as desired.

DIY Hardwood Flooring

DIY Hardwood Flooring

Many homeowners install their own hardwood flooring. Follow the steps to give any room – including the kitchen – a beautiful warm wood glow. There are many DIY floorboards on the market. For a farmhouse look, use 1×8, #2 pine boards, cut to 4-foot lengths.

  • Remove the old floor covering.
  • Inspect the sub-flooring. It must be structurally sound, level, smooth and clean. If it is not, repair or replaces it before laying down the new flooring
  • Leave the new floorboards in the room for a few days to acclimate to the humidity in the home
  • Trim the ends at a 90-degree angle, if necessary.
  • Lay the first board along one of the long walls. Nail or screw it in place
  • Continue laying the boards, staggering the ends to make an interesting pattern
  • If the new floor needs to be sanded, now is the time.
  • When all the boards are ready for a finish, sweep to remove chips and dirt. Use a tack cloth to remove all dust
  • If the boards are not pre-stained, stain them now while they are dust free, wiping and smoothing the stain with rags. (Wear rubber gloves and have plenty of ventilation.)
  • After 24 hours, apply a sealer coat of polyacrylic. Apply a second and third coat, as needed.

Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island
Building a kitchen island may be easier than you think. If you redo the kitchen floor with wood, you can use the same wood on the top for the kitchen island, making them match perfectly.

  • *Measure the area for the island.
  • Purchase base cabinets that take up a slightly smaller area of the kitchen
  • Measure and cut a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to fit on top of the cabinets. When measuring, add 1″ to all sides beyond the edge of the cabinets
  • Attach the top to the base cabinets
  • Attach flooring wood or other countertop material to cover the top of the plywood
  • Finish and seal the kitchen island top, as desired.

Garden Bench

Garden Bench

A garden is a wonderful place to sit and relax, enjoying the outdoors and the beauty of nature. Flower gardens are only one type of garden. Consider a unique rock, xeriscape or ornamental grass garden.

A garden bench must be sturdy and weather resistant. Armrests are optional. The bench should seem to belong to the surroundings so consider rustic design, even if the finish is smooth and comfortable to the touch.

  • Measure the area where the bench will be placed
  • Build the framework of the bench. Reinforce the frame with cross pieces in the back and between the bench’s legs
  • If the bench is long, frame in the center of the bench to prevent the seat and back from sagging
  • Measure and cut 1×4 boards for the seat and back
  • Sand the edges of the boards
  • Prime and paint all sides of all the boards, using a color that will suit the atmosphere of the garden.
  • Glue and fasten the boards to the framework, leaving a 1/8″ space between them to allow rain and snow to drip down through. Use spacers to keep the spacing between the boards uniform
  • Fill and paint any holes created by the nails or screws
  • When the paint is dry and in place, sit and enjoy your garden. You have earned a rest!