The Upskill Project Comes To Buffalo, Making DIY Dreams Come True

This post is sponsored by Lowes. The thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you could win an opportunity to bring a DIY project to life right in your own home with help from professionals AND a $2,000 gift card to Lowe’s to make it all happen, would you enter? Well that’s exactly what took place with The UpSkill Project Contest and let me tell you, the contest entries were nothing short of amazing. Five local residents were selected and got their DIY dreams to come true with The UpSkill Project. The results? Nothing short of incredible.

I joined The UpSkill Project team and contest winner, Heather, in Colden, NY.  Being an architect, Heather is well versed in design, and has spent five years transforming her fixer-upper country home into a true beauty. With her sights set on winning The UpSkill Project Contest, she wanted help and guidance getting her hands in on the action for some carpentry work building bookshelves underneath her staircase.

Going into the project she was excited to see how it would transform over the two days. “I love seeing unused space turned into something useful and this space is a perfect example of that.” Take a look yourself. Here’s the space before:

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As you can see, the wasted space underneath the staircase was screaming for a makeover. The UpSkill Project team including local Lowe’s associates came ready with their knowledge, skills and supplies from Lowe’s to help teach Heather how to transform her space.

The first step was to take off the baseboard to make room for the framing of the bookshelves.  A member from the Lowe’s crew helped show Heather how to use a Multi-Max tool for her very first time! The blade cut through the baseboard quickly with a nice even line as if the baseboard wasn’t ever there before. Heather’s first success was in the books!

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The next task at hand was cutting wood (and I mean LOTS of wood) to frame out the space as well as build the drawers and structure.  This meant Heather and her family got to get their hands dirty with a Kobalt miter saw (also commonly referred to as a chop saw) and a Kobalt table saw; use of both tools was new to the whole family.

Not only did they learn how to use the saws, but they received some pro tips from The UpSkill Project team along the way too!

The UpSkill Project Pro Tip #1: When using a miter saw (chop saw), pull the saw out, put it down onto your piece of wood and push away from you instead of pulling in towards you. This will prevent the saw from skipping on you…safety first!

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The UpSkill Project Pro Tip #2: Go slow with your cuts (especially if your saw blades are a bit dull) to make sure the wood isn’t chipping at the end. If it does, don’t fret. Sand it!

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The UpSkill Project Pro Tip #3: When using a chop saw, push down on the wood and apply pressure to both sides to make sure it doesn’t deviate from the line you are cutting on. An extra pair of hands comes in handy for this tip!

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The UpSkill Project Pro Tip #4: When cutting thin plywood, put some clear packing tape over your cut marks before you head over to your saw.  The transparency of the tape will allow you to see your measurement marks and the tape will prevent your wood from chipping. Sounds crazy? See for yourself!

Once all the wood was cut, Andrew from The UpSkill Project taught Heather how to assemble the custom drawers going into her bookshelf. The tools required were simple: a rubber mallet, wood glue, ratchet straps, L-brackets and screws.

The UpSkill Project Pro Tip #5: After applying your wood glue to the seams of the wood, use ratchet straps for box miter joints to secure the frame instead of clamps; it makes for a tighter hold on the angled joints!

When building the drawers Heather said, “This has been the best DIY skill I’ve learned so far. Being taught how to build the drawers was a very special thing.”

Meanwhile, the framing continued to be built inside the house. Teamwork is dream work!

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The project continued to take shape to make great use of the space for Heather’s needs! A little trim work and paint, and this bookshelf will give her better storage, aesthetics, and a project she can be proud of for years to come.

Heather and her family had an amazing experience with The UpSkill Project and love the new and improved feature in her house. “I won’t miss the space being empty and dirty. It was always pregnant with potential,” Heather said. “I love that this will now be used to its maximum potential, joy and ability.”

Reflecting on working with The UpSkill Project team Heather said, “It makes me really happy to see other people’s artwork in my house come to life.  Whether its artwork, food, or cast off pair of boots, I really like other people being a part of my home. I love now having this custom piece made from my family and new friends’ skills and experiences…it is magic.”

“The best way to describe everyone here is that they are true ladies, gentlemen and warriors. I have so much respect for everyone’s skills, thoughts, and ideas.  My project has been filled with so much kindness, humor…it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

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