An initial report on the Common Fund Data Ecosystem

Sourced from: http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/2019-cfde-july-report.html

For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been working with a team of people on a project called the Common Fund Data Ecosystem. This is a targeted effort within the NIH Common Fund (CF) to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability – a.k.a. “FAIRness” – of the data sets hosted by their Data Coordinating Centers.

(You can see Dr. Vivien Bonazzi’s presentation if you’re interested in more details on the background motivation of this project.)

I’m thrilled to announce that our first report is now available! This is the product of a tremendous data gathering effort (by many people), four interviews, and an ensuing distillation and writing effort with Owen White and Amanda Charbonneau. To quote,

This assessment was generated from a combination of systematic review of online materials, in-person site visits to the Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) DCC and Kids First, and online interviews with Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures (LINCS) and Human Microbiome Project (HMP) DCCs. Comprehensive reports of the site visits and online interviews are available in the appendices. We summarize the results within the body of the report.

The executive summary is just under four pages, and the full report is about 30 – the bulk of the report document (another 100 pages or so) consists of appendices to the main report.

I wanted to highlight a few things about the report in particular.

1. Putting your data in the cloud …is just the start.

This may be obvious to those of us in the weeds, but supporting long-term availability of data through the use of cloud hosting is only one of many steps. Indexing of (meta)data, auth and access, and a host of other issues are all important to spur actual data reuse.

2. Just, like, talking with people is, y’know, really useful!

We did a lot of interviewing and found out some surprising things! In partial reaction to our experience with the Data Commons, we are taking a much lower key and more ethnographic approach to understanding the opportunities and challenges that actually exist on the ground. A lot of the good stuff in the report emerged from these interviews.

3. Interoperability is contingent on the data sets (and processing pipelines) you’re talking about.

The I in FAIR stands for “Interoperability”, and (at least in the context of the CFDE) this is probably the trickiest to measure and evaluate. Why?

Suppose, not-so-hypothetically, that you want to take some data from the GTEx human tissue RNAseq collection, and compare the expression of genes in that data with some data from the Kids First datasets.

At some basic level, you might think “RNAseq is RNAseq, surely you just grab both data sets and go for it”, right?

Not so fast!

First, you need to make sure that the raw data is comparable – not all RNAseq can be compared, at least not without removing technical biases. (And I’m honestly not sure what the state of the art is around comparing different protocols, e.g. strand-specific RNAseq to generic RNAseq.)

Second, the processing pipeline used to analyze the
RNAseq data needs to be the same. Practically speaking
this means that you may need to reanalyze all of the raw data.

Third, you need to deal with batch effects. I’m again not actually sure how you do this on data from a variety of different studies.

Fourth, and more fundamental, you need to connect your sample metadata across the various studies so that you are comparing apples to apples. (Spoiler alert: this turns out to be really hard, and seems to be the main conceptual barrier to actual widespread reuse of data across multiple studies.)

There are some techniques and perspectives being developed by various Common Fund DCCs that may help with this, and I hope to talk about them in a future blog post. But it’s just hard.

4. Computational training is second on everybody’s list.

This is something that I first saw when a group of us were talking with a bunch of NSF Science and Technology Centers (STCs): when asked what their challenges were, everyone said “in addition to our primary mission, computational training is really critical.” (This broad realization by the STCs led to two funded NSF supplements that are part of Data Carpentry’s back story!)

We saw the same thing here – a surprising result of our interviews was the extent to which the Common Fund Data Coordinating Centers felt that computational training could help foster data use and reuse. I say “surprising” not in the sense that it surprised me that training could be important – I’ve been banging that drum for well over a decade! – but that it was so high on everybody’s list. We only had to mention it – “so, what role do you see for training?” – to have people at the DCCs jump on it enthusiastically!

There are many challenges with building training programs with the CF DCCs, but it seems likely that training will be a focus of the CFDE moving forward.

What’s next?

This is only an interim report, and we’ve only interviewed four DCCs – we have another five to go. Expect to hear more!

–titus

Brown, C. T., Charbonneau, A., & White, O.. (2019, August 13). 2019-July_CFDE_AssessmentReport.pdf (Version 1). figshare. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.9588374.v1

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7 Essential Tools for Your Metalworking Projects

Sourced from: http://www.ccr-mag.com/7-essential-tools-for-your-metalworking-projects/

Whether you’re a professional or a budding hobbyist, metalworking projects need some specialized tools to make your plans a reality.

For those just starting out, however, there’s a bewildering array of tools available.
That makes it hard to figure out what you need from the outset.

If you’re trying to find the essentials, then you’ll want to pay attention. We’ve put together a list of seven essential tools to make your metallic dreams a hard reality.

1. Hammers
Hammers are one of the quintessential metalworking tools, but the carpenter’s hammer you use to tap in nails twice a year isn’t going to cut it.

There are a surprising number of hammers out there for metalworking, each with their own use. They range from lightweight finishing hammers for precious metals to heavy sledges designed to beat stubborn stainless steel into place.

A heavy club hammer is a good place to start for those who plan on working with steel, while those working with softer metals may find themselves looking for something like a ball-peen hammer.

Regardless of your intentions, if you’re planning on working with metal, you’ll need the right hammer.

2. Anvil
Anvils aren’t just for the blacksmiths of old; they’re an essential part of any metalworker’s toolkits.

Anvils provide a smooth, hard surface to allow for hammering heated steel. The horns can be used for further forming and curving.

They’re heavy, often expensive, and an essential part of the metalworker’s toolkit. In the past, they were the primary tool used for forging and shaping metal, although modern tools have largely replaced them.

It’s still essential to have a nice flat space to handwork metal, and there’s nothing better for that than the good old-fashioned anvil.

3. Bandsaw
Intricate cuts are made with a bandsaw. There’s really no other tool like them, and there are different variations for every material — from wood to metal to stone.

A bandsaw runs a blade which is… well, a band. Intricate cuts can be made easily due to the thin nature of the blade. If you’re looking for smooth, rounded curves or detailed cutouts, bandsaws will quickly become your best friend.

They can also be used for chopping down smaller stock, although you’ll want to be careful of which blade type you use. It’s all in the teeth, so make sure you’re using the right blade for the stock you’re working.

These are often expensive tools. Some people prefer to pick up a high-end bandsaw from an auction, rather than go with a cheapy. If that sounds right up your alley, you can learn more about equipment auctioning and get on your way to a cheaper saw.

4. Hacksaw
Hacksaws are a hand saw, but with the right blade, they can make short work of tubing, sheet stock, and even smaller solid rods of material.

Hacksaws are simple to use, don’t require power, and as long as you have the metal in a solid hold, they make for easier cuts than most suspect.

Unlike chop saws and other larger power tools, they’re also quiet and relatively safe to use as long as you don’t try gripping the teeth and pulling.

Those who have time invested in their skills might find themselves using power tools more often, but a hacksaw remains an essential part of every would-be metalworker’s toolbox.

5. Flux Core Welder
Really, any welder will do, but flux core welding is the simplest for those who haven’t welded before. They operate in essentially the same fashion as a MIG welder but don’t require you to use an inert gas for shielding.

Flux core welding is remarkably forgiving due to the lack of extra gasses. You’ll still need to spend a lot of time learning how to manage your welds. But, in the end, flux core welders are suited to be used pretty much anywhere and are more newbie-friendly since you don’t have to work with the shielding gas.

The core of the electrode’s flux is enough to shield the metal and prevent oxidation during the whole process in almost all cases.

With the right technique, they can be used to weld most metals.

This is undoubtedly the most advanced tool on our list, but without some kind of welder, you’ll find yourself quite limited in the workshop.

6. Drill Press
Drilling holes should be a simple process, but when it comes to metal, nothing is simple.
You can use the right bits in the old drill sitting in your garage to drill through metal in most cases. But you won’t turn back once you’ve used a drill press for the first time.

Drill presses hold the bit entirely stationary, making clean holes through any flat surface. All you need to do is twist the wheel or levers and bring the bit into contact with the metal.
No messing with off-balance drills or the slight variance that occurs with the human wrist, just a solid connection that’ll drive the bit straight through any surface it will cut.

7. Die Grinder
Die grinders are essentially a more powerful, scaled-up rotary tool. Think “Dremel on steroids.”

They’re also something that you need to have around if you’re planning to do any kind of welding. Die grinders are primarily used to clean up welds after they’ve been made, leaving a smooth and even surface.

With the right attachments, they can also be used to polish, hone, and even machine.
Essentially anything you can’t manage with the other tools on this list will be accomplished easily with a die grinder.

Make Your Metalworking Projects a Reality
When it comes to metalworking projects, you’re always going to “need” more tools. That’s why it’s important to sort out the essentials as you get into the hobby.

The above list is enough to get any amateur on the way to a great finished project. With all seven in your shop, you’ll find metalworking much easier than you ever thought.

It still takes time to build the skills up, however. Why not browse around and see what you’ll need in a workbench while you’re waiting for your tools to arrive?

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Vintage Camper

Sourced from: http://originateandrenovate.blogspot.com/2012/09/vintage-camper.html

Remember this project?  Yeah, I’m not sure it really deserves the name “project”, hmmm…maybe it’s more of a remodel. I can’t believe the amount of time and energy we put into this camper.
After months of working on it, we still haven’t even started on the exterior!!  Think Teal on the bottom and white on the top. I’d love to just get it done, but I guess it’s smart to do it right.  We’ve still got to seal all the windows and potential openings before we can even think about paint.
Thankfully, we’ve finished the inside!!!  Don’t worry, we’ve been using it to camp in through each stage of progress, but now it’s finally complete. 
Before:
After:

is this the world’s ugliest kitchen?

Sourced from: http://renovateanddecorate.blogspot.com/2009/02/is-this-worlds-ugliest-kitchen.html


The missing door: poor bugga nearly made it. Was hanging on by one tiny nail. But Steve kept forgetting its state and it fell on his foot one time too many and spent its last few days beside the fridge.

It might well have been. But unfortunately it can’t claim this distinguished title because it NO LONGER EXISTS!!!! It’s sitting all partly smashed up on my front sandpit (what pathetic grass we had has been fried in the heat). And it’s never looked better. Even Z is glad to be rid of the “kitchen mess” as he calls it. Gee, do you wonder why I never posted pics of this room? I’m completely embarassed to show this, but seeing that it’s all in the past, let’s have a laugh, shall we? Yes, I’ve put up with this for five years. My medal better be in the mail…

A few incredibly exciting facts:

* I painted the doors white when we moved in because I couldn’t imagine living with green doors for any amount of time. I did such a crap job, I was wishing for the green to come back.

* The previous owner’s son thought himself a handyman. He wasn’t. He installed the taps himself did such a bang-up job they didn’t work properly. They were replaced numerous times and ground back and had lots of work but no makeover could save the cold one which exploded one day. I’m so used to using warm/hot water for everything I rarely turn the cold water tap on in the bathroom. He also cut a hole too big for the tap nozzle and didn’t bother doing anything about it. My non-handyman husband figured expanding filler would do the trick temporarily. It sealed the hole, but, well, look at it! Ugh.

* The tiles are on big sheets of some asbestos-ridden material and weren’t the same depth as the rest of the wall, so there was a weird uneven gap no one ever bothered fixing. I don’t remember how the piece of wood make its way there but there it is!


Hmm, what’s sadder? The contact-covered sheets? The mssing door? The paper towel stuffing the hole where the cold water tap used to be? The lovely aged yellow stains or the fish plug that for some INSANE reason I never replaced??????


One of the delightful tile prints I could admire while cooking. They clearly shopped at the Ugly Tile Shop – same place they got the sunflower tiles that were in my old bathroom!


And another one – I guess they just couldn’t decide between the two beauties and chose both…

On a happier note, I did wonder if I was utilising the space enough with the new design. Would I fit everything in? Considering I was ruthless and thew out half the contents of the kitchen cupboards as well, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine. Aside from another bag out of sight, this is all I have! I sense a shopping spree coming on!


I started building the cupboards so I had something to store it in. Four packages down, 48 to go…

So I was feeling the pressure with all your “can’t wait to see the new kitchen” comments. But I guess, looking at this, anything is going to be a huge improvement isn’t it?

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What I wore: Family Pictures

Sourced from: http://originateandrenovate.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-i-wore-family-pictures.html

Life is delicate, No? We work so hard and worry so much about making it the way we want. Yet, We have such little control over it. In a single instant our entire world can change. A child gets sick or a spouse is taken before we can prepare. People save their entire lives just to lose everything they’ve worked for.  Women that would make incredible Mothers struggle to become them.  The worst part is that not one of us is invincible and it’s only a matter of time before we are faced with our own trials. 
 My way of coping with these thoughts is through memories.   Making them, I mean. And taking way more pictures than my family appreciates.  I never want to regret not having documented each and every stage of life. Not because I want to live in the past, but because when things get rough, we need something to remind us what makes it all worth it.
And so you see why I love having family pictures taken. Especially by someone as talented as Jennifer Fauset.  She was a gem to work with, and the photos are exactly what I was looking for. Seriously, I could spend hours on her blog looking at all her beautiful work.

What We Wore:
Me:
Top and Scarf: J. Crew
Skirt: Target
Belt: Downeast Outfitters
Shoes: Steve Madden
Jewelry: Express
Steve:
Undershirt: Target
Button down: J. Crew
Sweater: Gap
Pants: Express
Shoes: Aldo
Alfie:
Shirt: Crew Cuts
Cardigan, Jeans and Shoes: Gap Kids
Juju:
Shirt and Necklace: Crew Cuts
Cardigan: Baby Gap
Jeans: Joe Jeans
Boots: Target
Hairbow: Made by me 

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can you just imagine this coming towards you…

Sourced from: http://renovateanddecorate.blogspot.com/2009/02/can-you-just-imagine-this-coming.html


How frightening.

I’d feel way too guilty whinging about living without a kitchen and blogging about the reno when so many people have lost their lives, homes and livelihood in the disastrous fires so I’m going to give it a miss today. On Friday afternoon there was a fire somewhere in our area – it would have been miles away, but the smoke and smell was quite intense and I found it hard to breathe at times. I thought to myself “here we go…” and sent out a silent sympathetic thought to the firies who we’re in for a big weekend and made bets with my husband how long it’d be before the freeway was closed and the trains stopped running. Pretty much every year the central coast gets blocked off for a while due to fires. This is an incredible pain in the rear for anyone who needs to travel to Sydney or is stuck in Sydney trying to get home. It can be hours – at times days – before you’re given the all clear. After this horiffic weekend in Victoria, we of course, have no right to complain. In fact, I’m sure every one of us up here would have happily been inconvenienced for a while if it meant Victoria had no fires, no deaths, no devastating tragedy. I cannot imagine the emotions being felt down there…

My husband suggested if the latest federal Stimulus Package is passed, they should immediately halve the amounts they’d planned to hand out and give the other half to the fire victims and to rebuilding the demolished communities. He also said part of it should go to upgrading our firefighting equipment, procedures and training. Because as temperatures rise year to year, our country is only going to burn faster, further and with more fury.

And for those insert-angry-adjective-here animals lighting these fires, I only hope they’re found and punished accordingly. I might not be the world’s biggest advocate of capital punishment, but in this case, I think being burnt at the stake highly appropriate…

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News from the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium

Sourced from: http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/2019-nih-data-commons-update.html

You may recall that about a year and a half ago, I got involved in the NIH Data Commons.

Between then and now, we built a project execution plan, ran Phase 1 for six months, and then in October took a planned work moratorium for the purpose of doing future planning.

Then, in February, we received word that the the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium (DCPPC) would not continue in its current form. Here’s what we received:

The NIH Office of Data Science Strategy has been asked to lead the next phase of trans-NIH data ecosystem development as described in the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science. The deliverables from the DCPPC will inform next steps, but we will not pursue a second phase of the DCPPC. New initiatives may emerge from the ODSS and/or from the ICs in response to the Strategic Plan, but they will communicate their plans as they are established.

My award finished at the end of March, and I thought it would be a good time to update y’all (especially since I’ve been receiving questions!)

What did the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase Consortium achieve?

I think we achieved quite a lot in our fairly short stint! (And there’s a fair amount of public material that was made available as part of it, although it’s not well advertised.)

I’m going to focus on things my team helped with, because that’s what I know best. There were lots of technical prototypes as well, but those were produced by other teams and are not mine to discuss. (See the list of deliverables and their reviews for more info. Happy to connect you to the authors if you’re interested – drop me a line at ctbrown@ucdavis.edu.)

First off, here is the top link to the public site that we created for the end of the first Pilot Phase. There are links and documents in there that I continue to find useful, and expect to find useful for many years to come.

I’m particularly happy with how the Use Case Library effort was proceeding. I think we set a good path for collaboratively developing use cases for Phase 2, and even without a Phase 2 I will be making use of this approach and this material for other projects.

The Centillion search engine that my team built was pretty cool!! See the October writeup of it, here and also the public GitHub page, here.

The “On Commonsing” document we wrote up after a workshop on “Data Commonses” is something that I will be coming back to regularly!

People interested in pragmatic standards development might be interested in Why Multiple Stacks are Necessary.

I continue to think the FAIRshake portal is unreasonably cool… check out the projects.

Personally, I learned a lot about interoperability and creating and growing community from this experience, and I think the same is true of most of the other participants. Completely apart from the technical and infrastructure efforts, the coordination and community aspects of this Pilot Phase seem likely to have long-term positive impacts on how many of us deal with these kinds of projects in the future.

So what’s next?

I’m not sure!

I think it’s fair to say that the problems the NIH Data Commons effort was tackling are not going away (you can see more about these problems in my talk slides from my 2018 talk at the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences). And the NIH and broader biomedical research community will certainly be working on many things in this area. And I may not be involved but I’m sure to have opinions. So, stay tuned!

–titus

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i Heart Radio

Sourced from: http://originateandrenovate.blogspot.com/2012/09/i-heart-radio.html

Feeling quite happy about being home with these two munchkins after a spontaneous trip to Vegas with Steve to see the i heart radio music festival.  Grandpa stayed over and we made the 6 hour journey on the hope of scoring tickets from someone down there, which was rather crazy considering this concert sold out in under 10 minutes. We did find someone to buy tickets from, but sadly he never showed. Thankfully, having a super chatty husband pays off and some of the clear channel peeps we met down there hooked us up with FREE TICKETS!!  The lineup was insane. No doubt, Taylor Swift, Usher, Rhianna, Aerosmith, Pink, Green Day, Pitbull, Miranda Lambert, Deadmau5, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Swedish House Mafia, Lincoln Park, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Lil Wayne, Mary J. Blige (with a special appearance by Prince) and Calvin Harris. The best part was the little to no downtime between acts. However, I did feel old when we didn’t even use our after party credentials because we were too tired. 

1. Had time for a quick haircut by the fabulous Shep before we left.
2. The set up at the concert, the huge screens were pretty deluxe. 
3. The gardens at the Bellagio. That pumpkin is real and yes I’m wearing pants 😉
4.  i Heart Radio LED bracelets that lit up to the music.
5. Scoring free tickets.
6. My most favorite celebrity ever, Gwen Stefani.
7. Pink. Ugh, love her. 
8. After party credentials 
9. Us
As glamorous as it all was, I must admit, I was missing Alfie and Juju something fierce by the end of the 2nd night.
 So while my real life looks more like this ^  and can feel a tad bonkers at times. It’s nice to be reminded that no celebrity, or credential or lifestyle is quite as rewarding as a family.  Glad to be home. 

DIY Concrete Outdoor Coffee Table

Sourced from: https://www.loveandrenovations.com/diy-concrete-coffee-table/

What happens when you fall in love with the perfect outdoor coffee table, only to discover it’s sold out? You make your own! Here are the details on my DIY concrete outdoor cofee table.

back porch with DIY outdoor sofa, a DIY coffee table, and two lounge chairs

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how far our backyard has come in the last few months, y’all. I was honestly pretty nervous when you decided that I should tackle our back porch this summer because it felt like such a daunting task, but I am so (so!) glad we did. This space has become one of my very favorite places to be, and I can’t wait to wrap the last few projects up and call this space finished!

If you haven’t been following along with this summer makeover, here’s everything you may have missed:

Today I’m sharing the (gorgeous) DIY outdoor coffee table we built, and then there’s just one more big project to share before the official reveal (NEXT WEEK, Y’ALL!).

This coffee table has been on my mind since the very beginning of this entire renovation. It started when I was shopping for furniture for the porch and I found the Palmera Faux Concrete Coffee Table from World Market (no longer available, but see the other stuff in the line here). It was everything I wanted for this space, and y’all agreed when I put it to a vote over on Instagram.

Of course, it wasn’t until after this coffee table won the vote by a landslide that I discovered that it was out of stock. And, once I contacted World Market I was told they weren’t sure when (or if) it would be brought back.

Perfect.

close up of DIY feather finish outdoor coffee table
concrete coffee table with text overlay - "diy outdoor concrete coffee table"

Thankfully, the design is pretty simple and I felt confident that Corey and I could re-create the same basic look – and probably for a lot less money! This project was incredibly cheap, since we were able to use some scraps from our outdoor sofa for the legs. Even if you need to purchase the wood, the materials for this entire build should set you back no more than $100 or so – and you know I love saving money!

Ready to learn how to make your own?! Let’s do it!

DIY Concrete outdoor cofee table

tools + Materials Needed:

STep One: Build the Legs

For the legs, we used pretty much the exact same process that we used on our outdoor sofa. We loved the invisible joints created by Rockler’s Beadlock Pro and it was the perfect tool to use again for this project. However, you could also use pocket holes or even just extra long screws (like these) if you don’t mind the visible hardware.

Each leg is made up of two 14″ pieces with one 13″ piece in the middle. We put them together using the loose tenon joints but, again, if you aren’t comfortable with those joints or don’t have the jig, I’d recommend just using extra long lag screws and wood glue.

Just like with the couch, I recommend sanding the wood for the legs (starting with 80-grit and working up to 320-grit) before assembling them!

man assembling legs for an outdoor coffee table

Step TWo: Assemble the top Frame

Once the legs are built and dried, you’re ready to assemble the top of the table. We wanted a concrete look without the weight of an actual concrete slab, so we built a wood top and covered it with Henry Feather Finish. I’ve seen people use this stuff on countertops dozens of times over the years, and I’ve always wanted to try it so this was the perfect opportunity!

To build the top, we started by making a 29″X44″ rectangle frame using 2X4s. We ended up deciding it was too thick, and we cut down the excess, so I’d actually recommend just starting with 2X2s to make your life easier! We used wood glue and screws to assemble this part of the table.

man assembling a table top

Once the outside is built, you’ll add your supports for the legs. We just cut two 2×4’s to fit inside the rectangle, then placed them 5″ in from either side – they’re attached with wood glue and screws, just like the rest of the top!

Then, we set everything up really quickly to see how we liked it – and, of course, this is when we noticed that the top was much too thick! Corey just ran it through the table saw to cut it down, but I’d recommend starting with 2X2’s for the outside pieces – that’s about what we cut it down to.

frame for diy outdoor coffee table

To attach the legs to the top, simply apply wood glue to the tops of the legs and then drill the top into the legs from the top of the supports.

Step three: attach plywood to top

Next, we wrapped the entire frame with some 1/4″ plywood. You should have five pieces, cut to the specific measurements listed above (though, I recommend that you double-check the measurements on your specific table before cutting, just in case you made any small mistake along the way that would cause it to be a slightly different size!).

Attach the large piece of plywood to the top using wood glue and nails (we use this power nailer), and then attach the side pieces on the sides of the frame with the same method. After you’ve attached all of the plywood, you should use some wood filler to fill in any gaps, cracks, or nail holes!

It should look something like this when you’re all done!

base of DIY outdoor concrete cofeee table

Step Three: finish the legs

Now the bones of the table are finished and it’s time to make it look pretty! I chose to stain the legs using Varathane’s Dark Walnut stain, but you could also paint them if you prefer. My original plan was to actually paint them black, but I didn’t have any exterior paint on hand so I decided to use something I did have instead.

Once you’ve stained the legs, be sure to apply spar urethane to protect them from the elements outside. It typically requires several coats with sanding in-between, so don’t rush this step!

Step Four: Apply Feather Finish to top

Now you’re ready for the fun (and slightly terrifying) part: applying the feather finish to the top!

The most common brand of feather finish I’ve seen used for this kind of project is Ardex Feather Finish, but I didn’t wait to wait for it to be shipped so I just grabbed the Henry brand Feather Finish in store. I think they’re pretty comparable, so either should be fine.

To apply your feather finish to the table top, start by mixing it up (mine had a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part powder) in small batches. I just mixed mine in one of these little pails (with a liner) and I found that it was just the right size. If I tried to get too much going at once, it started to harden towards the end of the batch – and this stuff is much easier to work with when it’s on the looser side! Think of the texture you’re shooting for as a loose cake frosting – it should be super easy to spread but thick enough that it won’t just slide off the edges of the table when you apply it vertically.

I applied three layers of feather finish (though, I probably could have gotten away with just two). The first two layers really just need to provide coverage – don’t stress too much about making them smooth! I used both an angled trowel and a wide putty knife to apply the concrete and I found that the best strategy was to get the concrete on the table and mostly spread out with the trowel, then switch to the putty knife to really spread it out and smooth it as much as possible.

After each layer dries, grab some 80-grit sandpaper and your orbital sander and go to town – you’re looking to just smooth out the rough edges and the ridges in the table. You aren’t shooting for perfection with these first two layers!

hand applying concrete feather finish to a table top
concrete table top with two layers applied

On the final layer, I worked much slower when applying the concrete and I really tried to focus on minimizing any lines in the finish. This is the layer everyone will see, and it’s the one you’ll be sanding to perfection, so really take your time with it!

Once it has dried fully, you’re ready for the final sanding process. I started with 80-grit sandpaper, then slowly stair-stepped my way all the way up to 320 (meaning, I sanded the entire thing with 80-grit, then 100-grit, then 120-grit, etc.). It takes a long time to get it fully sanded, but the buttery smooth texture is worth it.

finished concrete table top

Step Five: Seal the table top

After I finished the table top, it was time to seal it. Thankfully, since this is just a coffee table and not concrete counters (which is where I see this product used most often), I didn’t need to worry about a food-safe sealer! I used this wet look sealer and it was a breeze to apply!

I applied three thin coats using a regular old paintbrush. It’s very thin, so be careful not to allow it to pool at all as it’s drying. Each coat needs to dry for about an hour before applying the next one, and I found that it stayed really smooth and I didn’t need to sand in-between coats at all.

hand with a paintbrush applying concrete sealer

Once it’s fully dry, you’re good to go!

I am so, so happy with how this little faux concrete table turned out and I honestly can’t wait to tackle another project using feather finish concrete! It was so much fun, and the finished look is truly, absolutely beautiful.

back porch with DIY concrete coffee table
close up of DIY concrete coffee table
back porch with DIY concrete coffee table

With this project complete, we’ve only got one big project left back here before we’re ready to accessorize and call this back porch complete!

Be on the lookout for the final project later this week, and the full reveal is coming next week!

What do you think I should use the feather finish on next? An indoor dining table? Nightstands? I kind of want to cover everything with it!

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