Posted on Leave a comment

DIY or a Pro? 4 Questions You Should Know

You are an enthusiastic weekend warrior. From landscaping to painting, laying updated flooring to installing a new toilet, you have some pretty impressive home improvement skills. But, on occasion, even you have to admit there are some times where you have bitten off a bit more than you can chew. So, how do you know when to take on a home project and when to leave it to the professionals? Even if you have the know-how, what you save in expenses might just cost you in time. Here are four questions you can ask to help you decide: do it yourself or a hire a professional?

DIY or a Pro? How much can you afford to spend?

How much can I afford to spend?

This question is hard to answer without knowing your specific project. However, a little research is all it takes to get an estimate rolling around in your head. For instance, hiring a professional to build a new deck in your backyard can run anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $24,000, depending on size and materials. If you have some interior upgrades in mind, a professional can handle these sorts of projects from anywhere between $750 to $2500. And if you need a professional to tackle a major air conditioning repair, you could spend between $600 and $1900, depending on the age of the unit and the kind of repairs needed. Weigh these costs against your estimates for completing the project on your own to decide if DIY is the smarter choice.

Photo by Pexels.

If cost is the main factor in whether to hire a professional, don’t forget the costs that you might be facing outside of the project. For example, you may need to rent a storage unit to protect some of your furniture and belongings during major construction. Over the last 180 days, the
average cost to rent a self-storage unit in Sterling Heights, Michigan is $109.00. Or, in the case of kitchen home improvement projects, you may have to order take out instead of cooking for a few nights. And if a plumbing, electrical, or construction DIY projects hits a few snags, you may need to factor in a hotel stay for a night or two, as well.

DIY or a Pro? Is this a skill I can learn?

Do I know how to do this? If not, is it easy to learn?

Just because you have never tiled a bathroom floor doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself. There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube and step-by-step instructions all over the internet. However, will the costs you save doing this project yourself outweigh the time it takes to learn the new skill, the cost of purchasing materials and equipment, and the risk that something might go wrong? To help you make this decision, get a few quotes from professionals who can handle the job. Ask your friends or your neighbors for recommendations and make a few calls.

DIY or a Pro? What if I make mistakes or get frustrated?

What happens if I get frustrated or make a mistake?

Whether you are capable of doing this project isn’t the question. We know that — for you — when there’s a will there’s a way. But on the off chance that something does go wrong, what will happen? For example, if you’re installing new countertops in the kitchen, how will the rest of your family feel if the project takes longer than expected? When they can’t cook or prepare food for several days or even weeks, will that cast a shadow over the household? Next you’ll want to consider your mental state. If you’re the sort of DIY devotee who enjoys a project from start to finish, you might feel frustrated, stressed or even guilty if something goes wrong. Hiring a professional means you can let go of all those concerns.

Is this a common repair or a complex remodel?

A minor repair — replacing a leaking faucet or a squeaky floorboard — can take you at most an afternoon. A complicated project, like replacing the pipe in your bathroom or widening your doorways, requires planning and process where you might need new tools, extra hands or even a few permits. When the projects become complicated like this — building a detached garage or transforming an unfinished basement into a game room — a professional can come in handy. They know what’s waiting around the corner. They have the tools needed, the licenses and permits required, and the experience to understand how to make your vision a reality.

Photo by Pexels.

Maybe the project required a little more knowledge and skill than you originally thought. Maybe you didn’t have the right tools or enough time. It happens to enthusiastic homeowners all the time. Arming yourself with the pros and cons of hiring a professional can help you make the right decision about how to tackle your next big home improvement project.

Written By: Ray Flynn

Are you a DIY enthusiast with skills and advice you want to share with others? Write your own tutorial and have it featured on Functional Rustic by emailing Sarah at Not ready to teach others? Learn new skills, meet other DIY enthusiasts and sell your handmade creations by joining DIY Projects of Facebook.

Posted on Leave a comment

Reciprocating Saw TUTORIAL from Functional Rustic

Power tools are fun. Power tools that can destroy a piece of lumber in seconds are even more fun. With this sentiment in mind, Functional Rustic is proud to present this week’s DIY Tutorial teaching you the basics of a reciprocating saw and how to safely use a reciprocating saw to break apart a wooden shipping pallet.

Title Page Saw tutorial
How to Use a Reciprocating Saw: DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic

The reciprocating saw is a small yet powerful tool that will make quick work of any boards that need to be rough cut. In addition to being effective it is also fairly straight forward to work with.

There are three main parts to a reciprocating saw.

3 parts to reciprocating saw.png
There are three main components of a reciprocating saw: saw blade, battery and saw.

3 Main Parts of Reciprocating Saw

1. Saw Blade

There are different sizes and uses for reciprocating saw blades. Some saw blades are intended for metal while others are better for wood. Also, you will find that the blades come in various sizes. Use which ever blade is most appropriate for your project.

Reciprocating Saw Blade.

You many notice that my saw blade is silver and white. When new, the blade was white. However, the paint wears away the more it is used and that is why my blade has two colors.

When I first started cutting pallet wood with the reciprocating saw I used the longer saw blade. The blade became bent and unusable – I suspect that my body movements in reaction to the force of the saw caused the longer blade to bend. For that reason, I plan to only use the longer blades for thicker pieces of wood instead of on the thinner pallet boards.

2. Battery

The typical reciprocating saw uses an 18.0 volt battery or has a power cord attached. Battery operated saws allow for more mobility than the corded saw but have a limited supply of energy and need to be recharged often. My battery usually dies after a couple pallets so if I am breaking down more than two or three pallets than I need back up batteries. Fortunately it was not difficult to find multi-pack replacements online.

Once I learned how to attach and remove the 18.0 volt battery using the saw was quick and easy. Before I was taught how to do it though, I had quite a bit of awkward fumbling.

First, not all batteries look the same. The ones I have pictured have two different colors which make finding the release buttons easy. The first battery I encountered was solid black and the button was not as obvious.

Second, not all 18.0 volt batteries are the same size. In fact, the replacement batteries I have shown are rather large and awkward to handle with my hand size – perfectly normal hand size – compared to the original Ryobi batter that came with the saw.

18 Volt Battery.jpg
18.0 Volt Battery.

The black portion of the battery is the bottom and the yellow part is what is inserted into the saw. Inserting the battery simply involves putting the yellow part into the battery hole in the bottom of the saw.

Insert Battery into Saw Bottom.jpg
Insert 18.0 Volt battery into the bottom of the reciprocating saw.

To remove the battery from the saw you need to press both of the release buttons on the battery and pull the battery out of the saw. The release buttons are yellow on my batteries. As pictured above, to remove the battery I squeeze both the yellow buttons while also pulling up on the battery.

3.Reciprocating Saw

There are five components of the reciprocating saw that you need to be familiar with in order to use it.

Saw Description.png
There are five main components to a reciprocating saw.

5 Reciprocating Saw Components

1. The Battery Location
The battery is inserted into the bottom of the saw handle. There will be a hole for the 18.0 Volt battery to plug in.

2. The Power Button
The power button is located on the handle of the reciprocating saw. To turn the saw on and move the blade you squeeze the button. The harder you squeeze the button the faster the saw cuts.

3. The lock button

The lock button is an important safety precaution. This button slides back and forth and allows you to lock the blade in place. For safety reasons it is always recommended that the saw be locked when not in use. The button is located on the top of the saw and slides right and left.

Locked Saw.jpg
Locked Reciprocating Saw.

The picture above shows a saw that is locked as demonstrated by the closed lock icon. When the button is moved to the right the saw becomes unlocked as show by the open lock icon as demonstrated below.

Unlocked Saw.jpg
This saw blade is in the unlocked position.

4. Saw Blade Release

The saw blade is attached to the reciprocating saw with a saw blade release located toward the front of the saw.

Open Release Tab.jpg
Fold the blade release up in order to release the blade.

As pictured above, when the saw blade release is folded upward the lock is open and the blade can be inserted or removed. As pictured below, when the saw blade release is closed the blade is securely attached to the saw.

Closed release Tab
Fold the blade release down to lock the blade in place.

5. Saw Blade Location

The saw blade is inserted into the front of the saw. Only when the saw blade release is open can the blade be successfully inserted. The part of the blade that has a hole in it is inserted into front of the reciprocating saw. The teeth, or sharp edges of the saw, should be facing downward. Once the saw blade is properly inserted into the hole the saw blade release can be closed to lock it in place.

Insert Saw Blade.jpg
Insert the blade into the front part of the saw.

Safety First!

In addition to knowing about your saw it is also important to practice basic safety anytime you are working with power tools.

1. Wear protective eyewear to keep your eyes safe from flying debris.
2. Avoid baggy clothing so it does not interfere with power tool usage.
3. Wear work gloves to ensure a firm grip on the machinery.
4. If saw dust will be developing than be sure to wear breathing masks.
5. Always cut away from your body to minimize risk of injury.

Now that you know the basics of how the Reciprocating Saw works watch the video below to see how I use it to cut a wooden shipping pallet.

Use the comment section below to provide your feedback.

Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic


Wooden Thank You Card RED

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.


Posted on Leave a comment

Belt Sander DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic

belt sander graphics.png

The belt sander is my favorite piece of equipment in the barn. I use it for just about every item I build for the Functional Rustic Store. This week’s DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic is a video demonstrating how I use the belt sander. You will learn proper safety practices and the techniques I use with the sander to achieve the look I want on the wood.

The video tutorial below will answer any questions you may have about using a belt sander. The only bit of advice I forgot to mention in the video is to use a mask over your mouth to protect from inhaling saw dust. Sanding without a face mask will result in your nostrils and mouth being filled with saw dust. It’s gross. And  it is not at all healthy. I used to use a bandana to cover my mouth/nose, and that was better than nothing at all, but I now have actual wood working face masks.

My only complaint about wearing a face mask is that it causes my eye protection to fog up every time I breathe. I welcome any advice on how to remedy that problem. The protective eye wear is necessary but ultimately useless if I cant see what I’m doing anyways.

Enjoy the Belt Sander DIY Tutorial Video below and let me know what you learned or any advice you have for me going forward.



Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just Tutorials? Find out what others already know by exploring the Functional Rustic Store. Below are a few of the items available that I created using the techniques displayed in the video.


Mini Chalk Board – Green by Functional Rustic

The Mini Chalk Board by Functional Rustic is the fun and quirky handmade conversation piece you never knew you needed. The mini chalk board is made form repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint/chalkboard paint. Measurements: 19 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in.



“Meow Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

“Meow Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.


Posted on 17 Comments

How To Change A Drill Bit DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic

It has been less than a year since I began my DIY journey and I have learned a great deal along the way. It is hard enough finding the inspiration and courage to begin a project, but the added stress of learning how to use the power tools can turn away even the most determined DIYer.

How to Change a Drill Bit.jpg
How to Change a Drill Bit DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic.

You do not need any special training or experience to start your first DIY project. However, it is very helpful to know the basics regarding the tools you will be using. Functional Rustic is here to help!

I was embarrassed to ask someone to teach me how to change a drill bit. Technically I knew how to do it, but it took me forever each time I tried. I’m starting a wood working business and struggling to use a drill does not provide confidence. Fortunately my husband saw my struggle and realized I was never going to ask for help so he taught me a better way.

Learn from my struggles and approach your next project with confidence.

In this week’s DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic I will teach you how to change a drill bit.

Let me know in the comments below if you found this Tutorial helpful. Be sure to share your next DIY project with other DIY enthusiasts at DIY Projects of Facebook.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just tutorials? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.


“Quack Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

“Quack Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.



3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Green

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.



Mini Chalk Board – Green by Functional Rustic

The Mini Chalk Board by Functional Rustic is the fun and quirky handmade conversation piece you never knew you needed. The mini chalk board is made form repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint/chalkboard paint. Measurements: 19 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in.