November Ramblings in the Mis-Adventure House

Well, another month has gone by and I made a personal goal to stop and post about the projects – interesting and uninteresting – at the close of November – so here you go. It’s a long one.

Let’s start here. I’ve posted about this staircase a lot over the years, and one day it’s going to be finished. Not today, but some day. We’ve got the handrail in place and I’ve painted the skirt boards and polished them to a nice 800 grit sheen. I’m not sure why, but I like a highly polished skirt board. It’s a quirk in my personality I suppose.

I’ve also painted the risers as well. The center area of the stairs get a carpet runner, but the paint on the risers has to be uniform nevertheless. Now to attach the majority of the treads I’ve decided to use pocket screws from underneath.

I figured out a way to do this by myself. You just reverse a bar clamp’s jaws and now it’s a handy Kreg jig holder.

So the calculations are 108 Kreg holes need to be drilled in the stair stringers – 9 total for each tread. The bad news is that each hole needed the Kreg jig re-positioned and clamped. And the positioning of each hole had to be done above the stairs, while the drilling of the holes needed to be down below. For each hole it was up the stairs – reposition the jig and clamp, then down the stairs and underneath to drill the hole. Then back up top to reposition and down again to drill the hole. The good news is I only had to do that 108 times – it took awhile.

Now that we have all those holes drilled, it’s time to finish the stair treads. We trimmed these to size and fitted each to the stair in an earlier post. Now it’s time for finishing.

The stain color is a mix of Golden Oak and English Chestnut on white oak. I added and subtracted the ratios until I got a color fairly close to the floor color.

So we dive right in, after opening the grain with a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water.

Now the one thing I miss the most about the renovation is that I can no longer stand in the middle of the living room and flail away, making mounds of sawdust. Nope that will never happen again, sadly. But I still can use our old house’s living room as a drying rack for my stair treads.

So while the stair treads are being finished we hop back over to the Reno house and do some plumbing. I know the younger set like that fancy plastic pipe (PEX), but us old dudes like to get out the torch and live a little dangerously. After all, you can’t burn down your house with that plastic pipe.

This is a closet the opens under the stairs and is the back wall of the kitchen. I left this open so I could run all my plumbing and electrical. This is what I have to work with. Drain beside the two water supplies. I cut out a wall stud and added a header here to give me more space to work.

After a few cuts and fiddling with some fittings, we have everything in a more conventional place. 

Getting bored with plumbing, it’s time to start clearing out the space for the kitchen.

I’ve built all of the cabinets and vanities in the house, but on this I hired it out to some Amish cabinetmakers. I wanted to build them myself, but my wife wanted them done within her lifetime. I can see her point.

A large Amish community is about an hour away, so after a few trips and drawing out my designs the kitchen finally starts to go in.

The sun room opens into the kitchen with the living room off to the right. Handy when I need a snack,

The wine and coffee bar cabinets go in. I still have lighting and tile work to do, but it’s progress just the same.

Within a few hours the cabinets were in and they were on their way home. Now I have to take over.

The two level island is just a bank of drawers on the lower side. This is table height, so a standard dining room chair will work as seating on the end. The island is about 17′ long overall.

I’m test fitting the appliances before I finalize the water connections. Still a lot to do.

Floating shelves, under cabinet lighting, tile work and lots of little details to go. I like to make shadow lines and break up the depths of the cabinets to make it a little more interesting. 3 sets of cabinets have lighted glass uppers and three sets have solid doors with mullions to match the glass doors.

The cardboard mock-up really helped to visualize where everything should go. Several changes were made during this process. But I won’t know until we have the counters in place and it finally becomes a working kitchen.

So there you have it – the going-on in November – we’ll keep marching along, one step at a time.


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One Shot Post


It’s Thursday afternoon and working on kitchen cabinet details…

Stay tuned..


A Handrail’s Tale

Well, that’s about all that this post will be about. I’ve been missing in action again, but have been working like the dickens behind the scenes. When the house starts coming together and there’s pretty things about – it’s hard to make sawdust in the middle of the living room.       ~ Oh, well onward we march~

1 hand rail brackets

We start by figuring out where we put the handrail. Code says 34 – 36″ above the stair nosing, so we figure that out and mark the wall. Putting the brackets in front of wall studs for strength.

2 rail start

Of course nothing goes smoothly at the MisAdventures project. Looks like the floor guys have the stair nosing out too far.

3 rail layout

So we have two choices here. A- I can move the rial out farther from the wall and miss the nosing, or B- make it more challenging and make some sawdust. OK – B it is. We mark the path we think we need for the handrail.

4 rail cut

Then we make our first cuts with an incredibly dull chisel. Wow – looks like we’ll need some wood putty here.

6 rail cut out finish

But we were lucky and it just needed a little noodling with some sharper tools to make a nice snug fit.

7 rail angle

Now it’s time to calculate the angle that we need to make the horizontal transition to the stair angle. So, being crappy at math – even thought that my brother was a math teacher – we’ll do it the easy way. Determine the angle of the stair and mark the angle on a piece of paper. Add another line the thickness of the handrail. Run a bisecting line through the angle points and set an adjustable angle thing to match and transfer it to your chop saw. No math.

8 rail cut

To get the horizontal 90 cut I used my tapering jig and clamped it in place. I set the blade angle using the previously illustrated angle thing.

9 bolt kit

To hold the joints together I got one of these contraptions.

10 bolt installed

Of course you have to be very accurate to use this type of fastener. I was extremely accurate – I mis-read the instructions and drilled the holes off by 3/8″. It was a nightmare. I got it to work after an hour of fiddling with this thing.

11 rail angle start

Of course with that much time wood-wrestling things didn’t look too pretty at this point.

12 rail angle finish

But with a little sandpaper and a lot of time, we got things back on track.

13 rail AC support

Since I do all of this stuff by myself my monster AC units came in handy as a handrail holder while I wrestled this 16 foot specimen through the bathroom window for multiple test fits.

14 rail test

It took 8 trips through the window until I got the trimming just right.

15 rail paint

So another issue arose as I was attaching the top bed rail to the iron panels. The color of the handrail was too opaque and didn’t show the wood grain. Out the window we go again to strip off the newly applied finish.

16 rail clamps

While that was going on the top handrail was PL glued to the bed rail. You can never have too many clamps when you work by yourself.

17 paint test

While the glue was drying I started refinishing the handrail and oak surround.

18 paint sanding

The floors are white oak and the railing and surrounds are red oak. It took some color adjustments to get the red oak to look like the flooring. The left side shown is after the color coat is applied and then sanded to reveal the grain.

19 rail finish

A paint wash was used to match the red oak rails to the white oak floors. This takes several steps to keep the red oak from turning pink.

20 fail angle close up

The new finish shows off the grain of the wood and gives it a white cast to match the floors. After the final face sanding of the joint, this handrail is finally ready to be attached permanently.

21 rail finish

Well, and there it’s done – a long post for a long and tedious project. How I miss the days I could whip out my belt sander and make some sawdust in the middle of the house.

Hang in there – we’ll add some stair treads next.

 

 

And the changes continue – with some stair stuff

As the renovation at MisAdventures continues and the sawdust making elements diminish, I have to entertain myself by continually moving stuff around. Mind you, the kitchen is still not in – I made some last minute revisions just this week and changed out the range venting. The cabinet makers probably are not used to an old man with OCD- but these are easy going Amish folk who seem amused by my attention to detail and constant ‘what if’s”.

So on we march – one step forward, two steps back.

You may recall I ended up at the close of my last post with this arrangement. Well,..

I’ve noodled this arrangement as of today – but no guarantee it won’t change.

This was my original selection for the living room – I was happy with this.

Until I came home and this subtle hint was waiting for me. The artist is the same, so I guess I can take the hint. The original selection is a local hardware store, the new oil painting is a Cathedral in Sienna, Italy. I think it’s a girl thing – I’ll find a place for my hardware store somewhere.

Other changes – This lamp in my wife’s office was nice, but she wanted something with a little more style. OK.

This is what happens when you leave an old electrical box in the plaster ceiling – not a problem unless your wife selects a light that’s not compatible.

Three hours later, the new box is in – with plaster ceiling intact. The things we do for love – and to stay out of the dog house.

And 20 minutes later her new light illuminates her makeshift bed sheet curtains. One project at a time dear.

And the lamp from her office makes it’s way upstairs the the master bathroom. Will it stay? Hard to tell.

Hercules the plant stand also made a move from the sunroom up here as well. I think this is where he’ll stay.

Enough of musical chairs, let’s get back to building something.

I decided to use stepped oak rails to bring the iron panels up closer to code. The rails were assembled and screwed to the floors. The rails were drilled and lag bolts were used to attach to the oak. The bolts were rust treated to match the rail finish.

As usual, I put the piece in place to figure out what to do next. Freestyle design takes a little bit of trial and error.

Vertical Oak rails were added to the back and long lag bolts attach the railing into the wall studs.

I had built a pair of pine square columns, but decided these oak newel posts off the shelf were a much better design. I like the scale and keeps the railing compact.

The posts are marked and a newel post bolt is used to secure the post to the floor. The bolts are screwed at an angle into the floor joists below.

The posts are drilled and fastened to the floor.

I had some railings from the old house that I will use for the caps. The top rail height is now fully compliant to modern building codes.

I’ll use an oak base rabbeted on both sides to fit the top of the panel and also to hold the top rail in place. The newel post is scribed and cut to fit the cap to the post.

Clamps hold everything in place until the design is finalized. Still a long way to go…

Come along – pretty things to come.

July Updates – the Art Edition

Since I’ve been trying to increase my posting frequency, I thought I’d pop in this Saturday with a July-ish update. This is a strictly art roulette edition, with a time frame from Mid-June to present. It’s more of a game of musical chairs with pictures, so if you’re looking for a DIY tip or special instructables – this post isn’t it.  We all have that one (or two or more) things we obsess over that other people just don’t understand. Art and antiques are mine.

But I have an excuse – this is what I do for a living – I look art art and doodads – buy art and doodads – and sell art and doodads. It’s my occupation, my interests and passion as well. So please  forgive my preoccupation and I’ll get back to making sawdust in the next post.

Back in April I posted this photo of a painting that I thought would be displayed in this spot along with my old wooden horse. I actually had this painting in mind when I designed this sunroom, with the wall large enough to hold this 4’X5′ painting. But as usual, after a couple days it was time to change things around.

The next idea was to make this a nature theme. So I brought in a large landscape and a couple more that my wife liked.

Here, clearly, I’m making progress. I’ve found some more paintings in storage and decided this combination would be a possibility.

But then I pulled this large oil by Robert Kingsley from storage and my wife said that’s the one she wants displayed. OK. Now something I just noticed.that the TV monitor visible just above this painting is showing the exact same image during a slide show. Coincidence?

And over in the corner was this Chinese Altar Table from the 1880’s. That might as well come home too. Time to make some more art adjustments.

OK – now they’re home. And the gymnastics begin. The painting is nearly 5X6 feet and wall anchors need to hold it up there – that I will move 3 times before I’m done.

I then added some little landscapes by artist Jeffery Little – so they were really Little Landscapes. But the arrangement looked a little uninteresting.

So to give my mind a little rest, I thought I’d work on the art in the living room. The sunroom painting was moved in here, along with a couple other single women paintings.

On another wall in the living room I added these two oil portraits of Indiana artist Kieth Klein’s daughters. Then promptly removed them to use upstairs.

And put these two paintings in their place. But I have decided the girls should stay with the girls so I’ll revert to my previous image. So you see how this art roulette goes? Most folks would hang something on the wall and call it a day, but not yours truly.

So I wrangled these big oil paintings into place and I’m OK with the placement. But now that painting over the fireplace seems out of place. Time to dig into the storage bins – some of these pieces have not seen the light of day for 30 years.

With a little more digging and a lot of re hanging I’ve got this arrangement I’m fairly happy with. A mixture of artists and mediums and subject matter. I’ll try to finish the pile of stair treads under the window sometime soon. And now I am contemplating painting this wall the color of the sample above the Altar table to give the art a little depth in presentation. So you see, this is the kind of tom-foolery that consumes my days.

Moving things around also allows the chance to see things in a new light. I’ve owned this old altar table for decades and never noticed the old red paint and gold leaf still visible when the sun illuminates it in the late afternoon. This makes me happy. Art is my life and livelihood, so I guess in some ways it’s a good thing.

Enjoy something beautiful today.

May Updates in July

Well, I think I previously noted that my updates would be more current – and I’m certainly trying. But cleaning out our current house and wading through collections of 40 years in the making has been a real time-suck. But we’ll march on. Where were we? Oh, yes updates!

Back in the master bathroom and it’s time to make some more sawdust. I decided on two sizes of sinks here. I just usually brush my teeth and go – my wife on the other hand, likes a big sink to splash around in. I’ll swap these, as I’m left handed and she is right. (A tip for a long marriage – she is always right).


It’s gotta start somewhere – we prop up a couple sticks and start the process.

A face frame is made to fit the space.

A quick double check of the clearances and we’re good to go.

Outside in the garage, we cut some more sticks. I’ll make double doors on each side.

Once cut to size a rail and stile bit on the router makes the pieces.

Doors assembled and fine trimmed to size.This is clear grade poplar, which is a nice fine-grained wood perfect for painting.

The frame fitted again with drawer dividers added in the center. Measurements are taken for the cabinet boxes.

While I’m working on the vanity – these lights keep reminding me of my purchasing mistakes. I’m out to replace the small chandelier wanna-be and the wall sconces that I’ve complained about in previous posts. I just have to find the right ones to take their place.

For an evening break, I finished up the wall details and paint in the under eave storage areas.

Finishing up the baseboards. The white oil finish on oak floors will probably never be seen in these areas – but you never know when I’m in the dog house, I might just hang out in here.

These two storage areas are accessed from the main pointy closet with the little doors I cut from full sized 6 panel wood doors. Each has power and lights, so I’m ready if I’m banished from the living space.

Meanwhile, I added some old furniture temporarily so I could act like I live here. The floors will need one more coat of finish after the kitchen goes in, so everything has to come out one more time.

But that didn’t stop my wife from dragging Hercules out of storage and putting another orchid on top. He’s an old Victorian carved wood stand purchased many years ago. Now I have to find his round marble top…it’s in here somewhere…[ rustling, clanging, and crunching sounds ]

And in the meantime I’ve dragged this Japanese Butterfly Maple home. It’s a really old one and not too pretty, but it has potential…something else to keep me busy.

See you soon. enjoy the summer!

A Father’s Day Note

Wishing all of the Fathers out there a very happy day. I unfortunately am not a father, but I certainly had a great one. You may think you’re not appreciated sometimes, but you are so very important in shaping your children’s lives.

Dad

Photo of my dad taken in 1947 at a local park. He was a photographer his whole life.

Here is a note I wrote to show just how many gifts he gave to me.

The Colors of My Father

This time of year is the best of seasons. The beginning of summer presents nature’s beauty at its zenith. The vibrant greens of the trees and brilliant display of the annuals are sharp and pure, with colors rich and full. The month of June with its festival of colors is the perfect season for Father’s Day.

When I think of myself as a child, or all children really, I imagine that we are like the pages from a coloring book. When we come into this world, we are so like an uncolored image – two dimensional and vacant of color. The black outline is easily recognizable a little boy or girl, but inside those lines it is void of the colors of life. The parents and loved ones help in ‘coloring’ that little image…to make a mere outline of a child come alive in the world. Through love and compassion, discipline and convictions, faith and commitment, the colors of a young life are added inside those boundaries, one by one and layer upon layer.
Every Father’s Day I think of this coloring book image and I am thankful for my father’s colors.

My father was an artist in the true sense of the word. He lived his life
in a most artistic way. He made his living doing what he loved to do and
he shared that enthusiasm with me…and so he painted me with the colors
of artistry and conviction.

My father could create the most imaginative images. He could craft
tools and gadgets and toys from the broken and discarded…and so he
painted me with the colors of creativity and resourcefulness.

My father was an honest man, who spoke quietly but truthfully. He did
an honest day’s work for a fair wage, as money was not the primary object
of his labors…and so he painted me with the colors of honor and
earnestness.

My father was a dreamer, who dared to imagine what could be. Some
of his dreams were realized, and some were not; but he dreamt them just
the same…and so he painted me with the colors of vision and hope.

And on it goes…

My father touched me with the vast palette of his life and I am a better man because of those colors he gently gave to me.

As with every Father’s Day celebration, I miss my father very much. He was such an important part of my life. This gallery is here because of his artist’s touch on his little boy so very long ago. Reminders of my father are all around me…the logo and the signs…the large round stained glass window at the peak of the gallery…that’s him – The Man in the Circle – an image taken in 1947, the year he founded this business.

Although he passed from us on a sunny summer day thirty four years ago, his influence is still so very important. His shared guidance and knowledge are prized possessions. As the years have passed and the business has grown in directions unimaginable to my father, the tools of experience he gave to me are all the more important. I am very fortunate to face each day confident in the skills that he taught me.

Thanks Dad… for all the wonderful colors
Happy Father’s Day
Curt

Navy Dad ID

My Dad was the personal photographer of the Commander of the South Atlantic Fleet during WWII.