Window boxes will probably cost you three or four dollars apiece. If you take a length of one-inch by eight-inch (approx.) finishing strip and cut three lengths three feet long, and nail them into a bottom and two sides, and then cut two short lengths which will slip between the sides, and nail them together and paint them, you will have a perfectly fine flower-box for about twenty cents. If you are sure to assemble the box by placing the bottom on a table or bench, and setting the sides down alongside of it, instead of on top of it, you will find that the job falls into place like a jig-saw puzzle, only easier. Providing that you want a very "finished-looking" job, you can buy a few feet of molding, and using your miter-box, cut and nail on a finishing bead around the top. If you attempt this job, we advise that you make one window box first; do not go in for mass-production stuff. If it works out nicely, very good; if it does not, knock it apart and start over again.
Building a window-box is a very simple square-cut job.
We are all familiar with the appearance, design, and general make-up of lawn or porch furniture which comes knocked down and ready for assembly. In these days of high costs an average chair may be worth eight or nine dollars. Actually, they are made of wood strip approximately three inches wide and 7/8" thick. A few years ago we bought one chair of this type, but instead of assembling it, we went to the lumber yard, bought several lengths of finished wood strip about the same size, and cut three lengths exactly the same as each individual unit of the chair we had bought. We ended up with three additional chairs which cost us about sixty cents each, not including the painting or the half-dollar's worth of nails. It was honestly about the most simple job we had ever undertaken, and consumed one, Saturday afternoon. If you attempt anything of this sort, you want to remember that furniture is made to bear weight, and there must be a supporting member under the seat slats. It will not do to nail through the side pieces into the seat slats; they must have a bearing. Follow the pattern laid out for you, and do not try to be a furniture designer yourself.
In almost every house in the country, you will find odds and ends of furniture that have been shoved into the discard because they have been broken, outmoded or have outlived their usefulness. In practically every instance, there is plenty of life, usefulness, and an astounding amount of up-to-date possibilities in these old things.
About a year ago we visited a friend who lived nearby, and on his porch we saw one of the best-looking coffee-tables (or cock-tail tables) we have ever laid eye upon. The story was quite simple. He had an old lap-board which had been used by his mother for cutting out dress-patterns. It was made of strips of mahogany and oak about an inch thick. He took the old legs off the contrivance, made a plain wood frame with four square legs, and laid the old lap-board on top of this; sanded and enameled the frame and legs white, varnished the top, and put two large cast-brass handles at the ends. The net result, a table worth fifty dollars if it is worth a cent.
Old radio-cabinets, old victrola cabinets and aged pieces of furniture can be worked over, altered, cleaned up, re-painted and re-designed to make some of the best-looking pieces imaginable. You can take an old bed with a high head; cut the head down to mattress height, and use the foot-piece as the head. You can paint it and make an up-to-date piece out of it. There is never any hurry about this kind of work. You can take your time, look around for ideas of what to do with old stuff, study it carefully, read up about it, and probably have a lot of fun in the bargain.
One of the best ideas we have seen in quite a while, is that of modernizing old doors. The usual door is made of several panels, the most modern doors are what we call "flush" doors. In other words they are perfectly smooth. You can take any old door, remove the handle and plate, and cover it with heavy linoleum of any color you wish, and then set a narrow molding around the edge, and replace the plate and handle. The result is excellent, and the door is brought up to modern style. The same method may be used in applying a thin sheet of plywood over an old paneled door.
Another excellent idea for the home-craftsman, and an easy one to work out, is to make a shelf-frame to go above the head of a bed, and to come down on both sides. This frame can be fitted with a reading-light, and the shelves can hold all of the articles you usually want to get your hand on, and hate to get up to do it. Your watch or alarm clock, carafe and glass for water, books or writing paper. All that you need is several lengths of shelving, your hammer and saw, and a good design to follow. In almost any magazine you will see a number of bedrooms featuring this idea, and you can select the most appropriate, do a bit of square cutting, and have it.
All ends and short lengths of wood should be saved and stored neatly away on racks. You may have use for any piece some day.
The man who is interested in craftsmanship soon learns not to be wasteful of material, and to save all the odds and ends of board, molding, plywood and strip. He does not bother to straighten nails, but he does bother to save screws because they can usually be re-used. The real "household-putterer" has a rack on which he stores all small pieces which may be left over from a job, and nine times out of ten he will eventually find a use for them. When a broom is broken, he saws off the handle and keeps it, because he knows that if he ever has to put a new rung in a chair, that handle will make an ideal piece of stock out of which to make the rung.