Posted August 17, 2017

DIY life: from dining tables to Nerf gun “armory”

There are DIY-ers and then there are DIY-ERS!!!

Today we’re meeting a Home Depot / GCC associate named Stephen Nelson who has taken his curiosity about the world around him and love of building with his hands to really interesting new levels.  His woodworking projects are what caught our attention, but there is no limit to what Stephen has worked on, rebuilt and recreated in his workshop.  We’re inspired!


DIY curiosity meets necessity meets entrepreneur

Years back, I would have called myself a “curious DIY-er” as I started making things simply because I wanted to see if I could do it.  Then I transitioned into more of a necessity DIY-er, doing things that needed to be done on my own (home projects, plumbing, car repair) because it’s cheaper to get the exact results that you want.

These days, I’m stretching into an entrepreneurial space as I have started selling some of the projects that I’ve completed.  It’s pretty exciting when your love for DIY turns into a self-funding hobby!  I love the reactions I get from customers when I drop off a custom piece of furniture; it’s important to me to create well-finished pieces that are head and shoulders above anything mass-produced that you would buy in a store.  Quality matters!

What project are you most proud of?

So far, the project I am most proud of is a reclaimed wood table and benches – built for someone who saw the set in an expensive furniture store and wanted a “look alike” set.  I took on the challenge as I knew I could make it better!  It took about 50 hours of work, learning new processes along the way, but it turned out even better than I had imagined!

I wanted to give it a really distressed look, so I sourced my oak and other hardwoods from a place that builds pallets and used a steel wool and vinegar stain, finished with a coat of poly.  The entire process went really smoothly, the most frustrating part was probably that it took about 50% more time than I initially expected.  I have honestly been surprised at how many people absolutely love it!

Where do you go for DIY inspiration?

Most of what I know about woodworking has been self-taught through trial and error – plus lots and lots and LOTS of YouTube.  Some of my regular go-to’s for building and project help include:

Beyond YouTube, I am inspired by almost anything. My approach is that if I see something, I think about if I could make it, then, what can I do to make it better!  Necessity is the mother of invention, so I have tried my hand at a huge variety of home and auto projects.

For a typical project, The Home Depot is my go-to for almost everything. Every once in a while I might have to go elsewhere to get a specialty tool or part, but that’s not often. They usually have what I need, and cheaper than anybody else, and as a DIY-er, the price is important!

From lemonade stands to a Nerf gun armory

I recently finished up a lemonade stand for my boys, which was a perfect summer gift to help them start a business of their own.  I’ve also seen custom picnic benches for kids and bunk beds be super popular, what’s neat is that the more I make of a project the better it ends up (and the faster I get it done). 

I’m currently in the process of building a small wardrobe that will be used as an “Armory” for a friend’s boys to put their costumes and Nerf guns in!  I love getting requests like this and use SketchUp to make 3D drawings to make the design process a little easier.

Thanks to Stephen for giving us a window into his DIY lifestyle – powered by his creativity, YouTube and The Home Depot!