DIY Mail/Key Organizer

Howdy y’all!

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA on the blog lately. Packing and moving back into school can get a little crazy, but I am officially all moved in! It’s so weird to say that, it seems like I was just getting back home for the summer. At least I have another month before classes start (I’m here early for my athletic training clinical rotation. I’m with high school football this fall! Although our group hasn’t actually got to go to practice yet, because our background checks weren’t done over the summer, so we have to wait until that is taken care of. It’s just been a bit of a mess to start the year lol) Anyway, I know you’re all dying to see my lodge and how I decorated it. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing a post soon to show y’all everything 🙂

I only had one slight catastrophe on move in day when I realized after my parents were already halfway home that I had accidentally left my purse in their van (major face palm). Everything turned out fine, though, they overnight shipped it to me, so it’s back now!

I wanted to share a little DIY project and what I learned from it with you lovely people on this fine Tuesday. Some people constantly struggle to keep track of their keys, so hopefully this mail/key organizer will make that a little easier! Added bonus: you can put mail or whatever you want on the built-in shelf. Since we don’t get mail sent directly to our lodge, I’m just planning on putting some decorations on it!

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I stumbled across this gem on Pinterest a little while back and thought “hmmm that would be nice to have since there are 6 hooks and there are 6 girls living in the lodge.” I then saw the attached price tag, immediately scoffed and said “I can make that for under $30.” And that I did.

Luckily, in the description, it had the measurements of the piece, so I just took the picture with me to good ‘ole Home Depot and asked an employee there about what kind of wood I should get. The gentleman that helped me was named Chris and he was oh so helpful! He even helped me load the planks in my car. Shout out to you Chris!

Here are the materials you’re going to need:

  • Wood planks: I used a 2″ x 4″ x 8′ and a 1″ x 6″ x 10′. However, in hind sight, I would have used something smaller such as a 2″ x 4″ x 6′ and a 1″ x 4″ x 10′ (Keep in mind that these are the common measurements, not the actual ones. Actual lengths are about 1/2″ less.) Either way, you’re going to have a little bit of wood left over. You can use those pieces to make another fun DIY project (like the one I mention later in this post.)
  • Wood stain (I used Minwax Jacobean)
  • Polycrylic top coat
  • Eight 1″ wood screws and two 2″ wood screws (get the Phillips head if possible)
  • 2 packs of double prong robe hooks (you’ll have one left over)
  • Tape measure
  • Hand saw (a circular saw would have been ideal, but a hand saw gets the job done)
  • 100 grit sandpaper to smooth edges

Now that you have all the materials, let’s dive right in!

The first step is cutting the wood into the lengths you need. If you use the smaller dimensioned planks (not what I used) then you’ll need four 23″ long pieces and one 20″ long piece of the thinner wood. Then take the thicker plank and cut two 11.25″ long pieces. REMEMBER: measure twice, cut once!

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I had never seen this kind of hand saw before, but I’m so glad we had it because it’s so much easier to use than a regular saw!
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One plank done!

Side note: The thinner wood I got was too wide for the piece at the top so I went back to Home Depot and asked them if they would be willing to cut it horizontally to make it about 3.25″ wide. They said unfortunately they aren’t able to cut horizontally, so I thought “I’ll just do it myself.” I was kind of annoyed that they didn’t suggest a skinnier wood to begin with, but oh well, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. But let me tell you THIS WAS SO ANNOYING! It took forever and I had wished that I would have gotten a skinner plank to begin with. However, it would have been much easier to cut with a circular saw, but I realize not everyone has one of those just lying around the house (I don’t.) So don’t do what I did, get a smaller plank!

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Measuring out the new width

This was my set up:

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I used textbooks to hold the other end down while I cut
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About halfway there! This was so tiring
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Done!

The next step is to sand down the edges where you cut, to smooth them out. This goes by very fast.

I then arranged the pieces how they were going to go, to get an idea of how it would look. (FYI: If you are using the smaller dimensioned wood three of the 23″ long pieces go on the back (2 touching side by side on the bottom and the one you see at the top. The other one will go in the front. The 20″ one will go on the bottom acting as the shelf)

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Next, we need to stain (or paint, whatever your preference) the wood. Allow 8 hours for the stain to completely dry before adding the polycrylic top coat. This needs only 2 hours to dry (I did two coats.)

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There is an extra piece here because I was making something else as well

I used the other piece in this photo to make this fun little sign for our bathroom. At first, I didn’t like how “perfect” it looked with the starkness of the white paint against the dark wood so I scuffed it up a little bit with sandpaper to make it look a little more rustic. I like it much better now!

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Back to the mail/key organizer! Now that your wood is finished, it’s time to screw the pieces together. Disclaimer: Make sure that the power drill is charged before you try to do this (mine wasn’t so I had to wait until the next day to finish because it needed to charge for 9 hours!)

I had very little experience using a power drill before so I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to attach the screw to the drill! So what did I do? Googled it. I watched a Youtube video and figured it out. Turns out there is a thing called a drill bit that you put in the hole and then tighten. If my description isn’t helpful, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FjCpf1uUB8

Start with the back pieces and use a level to make sure they are straight (if you used a handsaw to cut the wood, chances are they aren’t going to be perfectly straight. That’s okay, just ballpark it.) Screw the thinner wood into the vertical pieces using the 1″ screws. It helps if you hammer the screws in just a little bit before screwing them in all the way. I only had four 1″ screws so I had to use 2″ screws for the top piece (It took two trips to get the correct ones. I accidentally got 1.5″ screws instead of 2″ the first time.) When drilling, make sure you apply a good amount of downward force to the drill to keep the screw straight.

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Hammer the screw in just a little bit

Once that is finished, flip it over and slide the bottom piece in between the two vertical pieces. It’s going to be a tight fit so you can use a rubber mallet to carefully put it in place (don’t use a hammer, it will damage the wood.) Next take the two 2″ screws and screw them into the sides.

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It should look like so at this point

Next, take the last piece and screw it on the front using a 1″ screw (again, I used the thicker wood so I used a 2″ screw, but I would recommend using the thinner wood for this part and the bottom shelf as it will cause the whole thing to be much lighter.) Theoretically, I could have cut the thinner wood lengthwise again, but it was just so much work, I used the thicker wood instead.

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I had some trouble with the last screw going in all the way. I think it’s because there was a knot in the wood that was preventing it from going any further, but because of this, the drill kept slipping off of the screw and would damage the wood. Eventually the head of the screw became stripped so I couldn’t get it in anymore and just took a hammer and pounded it in the rest of the way.

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You can see the head of the screw became stripped and the damage to the wood where the drill slipped off

With a little stain, you can hardly even notice any damage now!

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The final step is to add the hooks! Take your tape measure, find the middle of the board (should be at 11.5″) and place your first hook there. Take the screws and hammer it in a little bit and drill the rest of the way in. Find the center between the edge and the middle hook (5.75″) and repeat with the other two hooks.

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Find the center
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Hammer the screw in just a little bit
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Drill the rest of the way
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After one was in
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And the rest!

Ta da she’s all done! In hind sight, I wish I would have spread the end hooks out a little more. I was so focused on getting the exact measurements, instead of what I really wanted, but I think it still looks great! From start to finish, this project took me 3 days to complete (it would have been 2 if my power drill had been charged!)

Here’s what she looks like hanging in our lodge. I used four command hooks that can hold 7.5lbs each (it weighs a whopping 18lbs, but I would rather be safe than sorry!) This is why I suggested using the skinner wood for all the pieces that aren’t vertical. It will save you several pounds and command hooks!) I’m just praying that it will stay up there and it won’t come crashing down in the middle of the night, completely destroying it (fingers crossed!) It survived night one so far! I just can’t wait until I have my own place where I can do whatever I want to the walls and don’t have to mess with command hooks anymore. I’m screwing that sucker into the wall as soon as I get the chance!

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I’m the only one who has moved in so far, but you get the idea!

Now that you’re finished, sit back, admire your work and give yourself a pat on the back for making something yourself instead of shoveling out more than double what you paid to buy one off the internet. Sometimes it’s just better to do things yourself! I’ve been really proud of myself this past summer for doing things with my own hands that isn’t something easy like a painted mason jar. I remodeled tables entirely by myself! It taught me the valuable lesson of hard work and using my bare hands to make something come to life. I’ve really enjoyed watching an idea I have come to fruition with a little creative thinking.

If you’re considering doing a DIY project there are two things that you should keep in mind: time and money. Ask yourself “how much money is this going to save me?” and “how long will it take me to do it?” If it will save you money but take a long time to complete, it may not be worth the effort. Or maybe perhaps it won’t take a long time to do, you just simply don’t have the time to spend working on it, thus buying it would be your best option (or you could find a friend who loves DIY projects and ask them to make it for you 🙋🏼) The best DIY projects save you money and can be done in a short amount of time!

I hope this inspires you to try to make something yourself that you’ve had your eye on instead of overpaying for it!

Much love,

Alyssa

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