The DIY Project That Almost Broke Our Marriage

Okay, not really.  That’s a little dramatic, but it was one of the biggest (albeit stupidest) fights we’ve had in a long time. 

It started when I pinned this DIY paper towel holder and thought, “I could do that!”



Lately I’ve been feeling a little inadequate next to Mike’s mad skills.  Before I met him I was very self-sufficient and anything I wanted, I was determined and figured out a way to do it myself.  Fast forward 6+ years and I wait for Mike to help me hang pictures.  What’s happened to me?!  I’m scared to use half the tools out in our garage.  Something had to change.

So I started small, and set out to make a paper towel holder.  Seemed simple enough.  Some table saw, (really the scariest tool in my opinion), chop saw, and drilling action.

That was until I showed Mike and asked where I could get a solid piece of birch.    

It started simple enough.  We couldn’t find solid birch, so Mike suggested we use plywood and biscuit a simple frame around so we didn’t have the plywood edging visible.  Whoa, we were definitely getting out of the realm of “things Mallory could do on her own”. 

I mentioned this to Mike, there may have been yelling/tears, and he said something like it’s simple enough and I could learn how, which may or may not have included yelling back.  I bought the copper pieces, and weeks went by with this little project over our heads.  We tried to work on it together, but I got resentful that Mike had to show me/do it for me, and he got angry that I was taking it so personally.

Fast forward a month of two, (yeah this thing got dragged out), and it finally got complete.


I eventually came around to Mike’s idea of the edging, and Mike suggested using heart wood since it’s such a pretty wood.  Mike had to cut it down using the table saw and I did get comfortable on the chop saw cutting those little pieces for the edging.  It’s super hard though and it needed a lot of sanding to get smooth and even.  All that sanding wasn’t good for the center plywood and Mike sanded right through the veneer.  It wasn’t the end of the world because the heart wood and birch plywood would have taken the stain differently, so I was already thinking of painting the center.


I chose black and stained the heart wood, then taped off and painted the center.  I added 2 coats of shellac when everything was dry.


Mike screwed in the copper piping after spraying with a sealant to protect it from oxidizing and we added rubber feet to the bottom.


I didn’t stain or paint the bottom, so you can see what the plywood looked like after all the sanding.

While it was not the project I wanted it to be, and I didn’t do it on my own, I’m still really happy with my little paper towel holder.  I like our variation of the original, and in the end we did it together so that’s a plus, I guess!


I’m definitely still thinking I need to do more of these little projects myself so I can get comfortable again, I just think I won’t tell Mike since he’s known for adding a little more work to simple things.  Which is a good thing a lot of the time, just not when I’m the one who wants to figure out how to do the project!