Working on the Old House #11 More Cabinets

It seems I get diverted and neglect updating the shenanigans going on at this Old House – not that This Old House – mine’s much more modest, not scripted and not near as interesting. Here’s were we left off.

I’ll start by backing up and talking about finishing the cabinets. I’ve used the same technique for years and it seems to work fine. I use a brush and flat latex paint and give them a good coat. I then come back and hand sand with successive grits to 400.

I choose to hand sand because of this. As you sand the latex, you’ll get a variety of little crumbs and ribbons of paint. If you use an electric sander you’ll create too much heat and these little guys will melt into the finish. And from painful experience, the only way to effectively get rid of them is to sand back down to the bare wood and start over.

Once we have the boxes painted and sanded, and installed permanently, we can start to figure out the crown molding and trim details. First a bridge panel is cut to fit over the recessed cabinet box.

Then a front facing panel is painted and then attached to the top face frames and blocking.

We add a piece of crown molding and another small rectangular piece to add some detail. While we’re up there, we’ll start to do a little plaster repair and finish out the original plaster ceiling.

Being the original 1920 plaster and lath ceiling, it had several cracks and dips and a few losses. A first coat of chemical set drywall compound makes a good bond. The final finish coats are made with standard premixed drywall compound. This gives a smooth durable repair.

We also paint on the upper doors as well. All are finished with two coats of waterbase clear satin Varathane finish.

A makeshift rigged up southern Indiana contraption to speed up the air dry drywall compound.

And finally we have some new upper cabinets, a working range hood, and much more to do.

I’ll try and be a little more frequent poster in the coming months. We’ll start on the sink wall next. My plan is to have this house ready in just a few months.

Stay safe and happy renovating.

Working on the Old House #10 Cabinet Start

We’ll pick up on the work in the kitchen, using some off the shelf cabinets from Home Depot, and then add a couple from the workshop.

Let’s see if we can make some sawdust, shall we?

We start with a finish for the three upper cabinets. This is a 36″ and two 21″ cabinets. I gave them a couple coats of BM flat latex in the color of Dove Wing. After sanding, three clear coats of Varathane waterbase finish goes on. More about finishing in another post – just trust me on this one…

Once the cabinet face frames are painted, it’s time to get them on the wall. First a ledger board is temporarily screwed to the wall. It is placed and leveled to rest the bottom edge of the upper cabinets.

Before the center cabinet is installed, the 7″ diameter hole for the range hood vent is marked and cut.

The two lower cabinets rest on the ledger, and the top one also rests on a ledger. Each cabinet box is screwed to the wall, slightly loose. This allows the cabinets to be slightly adjusted. Since I do everything by my self, it’s the only way to get these cabinets on the wall in the right spot. The face frames are then drilled through the sides and trim head screws are used to join the three boxes.The cabinets can then be permanently attached to the wall using wide head cabinet hanger screws.

We now run the 7″ duct up through the cabinet and out the original location for the exhaust fan.Not Ideal, but there is no other way the duct to run – so we’ll work around this issue to at least make it look presentable – I hope.

Again, because I work alone, a little improvisation is necessary to attach the duct and electrical to the hood. Anything is fair game when trying to defeat gravity.

Slow going, but eventually we have an operating range hood. As you can see in the photo, make sure the duct is always installed with the pipe inside the next in the direction of the air stream. This will prevent duct edges from catching dirt and grease.

Now to make some custom cabinets. Because the exhaust exit sits proud of the lower cabinets, we’ll have to make them deeper to hide the ductwork. Store bought uppers are 12″, custom ones need to be 16″. Here I’ve made some 3/4″ UV coated boxes. The one on the left is solid – the one with the duct is made of pieces to go around the duct work.

Now we make a couple of doors for the small cabinets. Rail and stile bits on my router table make this a quick project.

An easy way to line up the hinges on a Euro-style door is to place both hinges in the pre-drilled holes. Then use a level or a straightedge and slide up tight to the hinges. Then mark the locations for the screws – this will give you aligned hinges every time.

We attach the doors for a preliminary fit to see if any adjustments need to be made.

Since they don’t look overly stupid, we can proceed. I used a cove bit to create a profile on the outer edge of the doors to visually match the ready made cabinet doors.

So we’ll leave it here for the time being. I’ll think about some trim details and how to finish this off.

More to come.

Working on the Old House #9

We continue with the renovation of the old house. I plan on selling this 1920 home once I’ve made a few improvements. The plan is to sell it this year – as a slow and steady worker – this may be a challenge.

Since I replaced the original window over the sink, it’s time to make some new jambs and casings. I usually start with the side jambs. They are ripped to the required width and then cut to length. A little mock-up of the sill is made to get the measurements.

A sill is cut and put into place to allow for measuring the casings.

The side casings are put into place temporarily and a block of wood is used to set the reveal offset. This will allow the top casing to be marked for proper width.

The header is cut to width and the two side casings are attached to the top using kreg screws in the back.

The completed ‘U’ shaped casing is then attached to the window jambs and the wall. I always make casings this way as they will allow for nice tight joints at the corners that won’t open over time.

There was an issue with the soffit nailer at the ceiling. It was 2X2 lumber and well attached to the ceiling lath. I was afraid that if I tried to remove it I would cause quite a bit of plaster damage. So to make lemonade out of lemons, I decided to make a small drop and make it into a design element. I have a 1X7 fascia plate attached to the face of the nailer.

Face nailers were added to allow for the 3/4″ tongue and groove paneling to be added to the ceiling portion.

I am using recycled pine that was originally used on the porch ceiling at my other renovation. It needed a good scuff sanding to get the best paint adhesion.

The T&G paneling is attached to the 3/4″ wall sheathing, butting up with the new window casing.

I brought the T&G siding up onto the ceiling drop and placed a new ceiling light box in the center. I had one long piece of crown molding left from my kitchen renovation in the other house, so I thought this would work well here.

Now we turn our attention to the plumbing – a little copper pipe re-routing and a little fiddling and we can start thinking about new cabinets.

An unfinished base cabinet from Home Depot is reworked to accept the new plumbing.

Holes cut and then I decided adding a Dishwasher might be a good idea. Another electrical box is added for the DW service.

So this is were we are. A dishwasher, and a couple of ready-made base cabinets. Looks like there’s a lot more to do. I see some custom cabinets in my future.

Time to dust off the tools again.

Working on the Old House #8

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! We continue on the old house renovation.

Having hopes that the old subfloors could rejuvenated and finished – structural issues and my typical ‘do it right’ voice won over. So down goes a new plywood overlay to stiffen us these bouncy floors.

The plywood is pl glues and screwed in place. Covering the kitchen and dining room.

The sheathing will help reduce the slope in the floor. Remember, this house is 101 this year.

All the floor sheathing is in place.

To meet current code, new 20a lines were run to receptacles on each side of the sink as well as by the stove wall as well.

This patch was in the wall to the left of the sink window – also notice something? Like zero insulation. This house was supposed to be insulated with blown in insulation years and years ago – but for some reason they decided this kitchen wall didn’t need any.

So we patch up the wall opening and start preparing for adding some insulation.

One other thing. This house has a combined neutral and ground – an old two wire system. The only way to meet current code without rewiring the whole house is to use this type of receptacle. An AF (Arc Fault) / GF (Ground Fault) fixture will give the required protection. They do not offer equipment grounding and must be marked at the receptacles.

These are what’s required in our area to meet code – check with local guidelines as they do vary.

So I rented an insulation blower and with the help of my brother, we added insulation for the kitchen wall. It was messy, but necessary.

I decided to fit the new sink base cabinet first before I started on reworking the plumbing. I’ll keep the supplies and drain outside of the exterior wall to make sure there is no pipe freezing in the enclosed sink base.

So the unfinished cabinet is put in place to start laying out the cabinets. It will be a combination of off the shelf cabinets and a few custom made to fit the space.

Stay tuned and stay warm.

Working on the Old House #7 I’m Floored

Well, the end of 2020 is almost here and I couldn’t be happier to say goodbye. Having a retail store has been a challenge – but we survived. So now I get a chance to wish you all a wonderful New year.

Now – back to the old house – where were we…

Now that we have the old cabinets out, we can see what we have going on with the floors. Old cracked tiles, some unevenness and some creaking noises here and there. Let’s investigate.

One issue is that there are floor registers in awkward places. Like this one that was next to the stove and steps. Not an ideal place for a register. We’ll think about how we can relocate this one.

Well, now I’ve done it – I could have just laid some click-lock vinyl over this and call it a day. I’m selling this place after all. But no – if there is a better (and more expensive complicated way) I’ll always choose that fork in the road. I’ll never learn.

The original subfloor was overlaid with 1/4″ plywood. This stuff was nailed down with hundreds of spiral nails. Not a lot of demolition fun right here.

But progress is being made. One painful nail at a time.

I kept scooting the old stove around the room – not sure why. Perhaps I needed the exercise.

As progress continues, so does the pile of spiral nails.

I decided to extend whatever the final flooring finish will be into the adjacent dining room. So this carpet needs to go.

So after a couple hours removing the hundreds of carpet pad staples we have the area cleared.

Another odd placement for a floor register by the entrance to the hallway from the kitchen. It looks like it was previously a larger air vent for the old coal furnace when the house was built in 1920. Now we’ll move it to a little more convenient place.

We’ll fill it that space and move it over closer to the wall.

Of course, we’ll have to revise the duct-work to accommodate the new register placement.

The one by the steps is also filled in – we’ll figure out a way to integrate a vent into the stair risers.

So that’s how we’ll leave the Old House in 2020 – clean floors ready for the New Year.

And I’m wishing you the same. A brand new year that will certainly be better than the last one.

Stay safe and productive.

Working on the Old House #6 Let’s Get Cooking!

Well, no cooking yet, but let’s rip out this old kitchen and make something a little nicer for the folks that will buy this place.

First we’ll make quick work of this old basement door. Messed up would be a charitable description. We’ll take it down, sand and resurface and give it a new coat of paint. We’ll remove and rebuild the casings.

OK, that’s done. Now on to the kitchen.

I started taking out the old metal cabinets before I remembered I needed some ‘before’ photos. So here’s a shot with one upper cabinet down and several more to go. These were metal cabinets put in the 1920 home probably around 1940. From a distance, they don’t look too bad, but the sink area was rusted through and they were pretty messed up. The Formica top and banding was worn out.

So a little later we have the uppers and lower cabinets out. Plumbing is a mess and the two side cabinets were built in place. I contemplated leaving them – but I think you can guess they won’t survive. I’ll also redo the plumbing – maybe I’ll add a dishwasher….hum…

The uppers were still in OK shape, so they got to go to a new home somewhere in Illinois.

Now let’s get rid of the soffit. I made a little investigation hole (OK a big investigation hole) and nothing was hiding behind the wallpaper but an old recessed light can and .a clock receptacle.

Still in the same day – out comes the rest of the soffit.

As always, while I’m at it – I might as well replace the single pane metal frame window above the sink.

It ended up being quite the ordeal to remove the window – apparently, the contractor at the time had a metal window meant for masonry installation and thought he’d just use it in the kitchen. A couple hours were needed to get this thing out without destroying the wall.

Since this house was built in 1920, it has traditional plaster and lath walls. This area needs some repair. Fortunately, I’ve worked on old plaster houses for 4 decades, so this is a pretty easy fix. First we plan where to make our repair and draw a plumb line for the cut.

Then we get out our angle grinder (please don’t do this at home – without the guard that is.) An old masonry grinder disc is used to cut the plaster but not the wood lath.

Once the cut is made, all the old loose plaster is removed from the wood lath.

You can use almost any stable material for repair. Here I’ve used two layers of thin plywood, shimmed to closely match the surrounding plaster surface. The plywood is screwed to the wood lath.

To make the repair, you mix up some ‘Hot Mud’ – chemical set drywall compound. It sets by chemical reaction instead of the air dry premixed compound. This is a harder material and works well as the bedding coat.

The first coat of ‘Hot Mud’ is used to bed the spun fiber joint tape. I use FibaFuse tape. This first coat of chemical set compound make a good bond between the patch and the surrounding plaster.

For the next couple of finish coats I use standard premixed drywall compound. The reqular compound is easier to sand and feather out. Here I’ve got a couple fans to speed up the drying process.

So there you go – we’re off to make a new kitchen. We’ll see what we can cook up in this project. It will be done freestyle, with no real plans.

I can almost smell the bacon….

Working on the Old House #5 The Serendipity Edition

Sometime things go a little crooked – you start out with a plan and it just doesn’t work out. Other times – those rare times – something goes magically right. In my world of existence, this is an almost nonexistent occurrence – but even I get lucky once in awhile. Take this post for instance.

The windows in this old house are original – 1920’s – most painted shut and with cracked glass and some not even in their proper place.

These two windows are on the front of the porch – I knew at least these would have to be replaced to make the home presentable. So I popped out one to check for measurements to order some new replacements.

I took out the second one to double check measurements to make sure they were the same – I learned the hard way in the past that some are not. These were the same, but the numbers seemed vaguely familiar.

If you recall (of course you don’t – it was 2010) I was working on the MisAdventures house and was replacing all the windows in the house. These were in good shape, so I kept all of them to use in a future potting shed for my wife. So out to the garage I went to retrieve one.

I brought it over to the the Old House – and it fit. It didn’t kinda fit – it fit like it was measured and ordered kinda fit. So back to the garage I went to retrieve the rest – there were four more.

So in goes the second.

Some surfacer, caulk and new paint, and these look pretty good.

Then in goes the third window – then the fourth & fifth – all fit. now that’s serendipity!

A little reworking of the interior trim and the old windows are replaced with newer energy efficient windows that actually work.

Since I saved money on these five windows, I thought I’d replace the three front windows as well.

A little more work, some new trim stops and these will be a big improvement over the broken single pane originals.

Inside a little trim, a refresh coat of finish on the woodwork and a dusting of the original valance and the windows are presentable again. So the renovation Gods smiled on me this day – perhaps I’ll get lucky again – time will tell.

Working on Old House #4 Outside

Well, this is not the most interesting project that I have personally strapped on a tool-belt for, but it will get a little more interesting, I promise.

Let’s do a little work on the exterior before we get back inside to make some cabinets and other fun stuff.

So to start on the outside lets go inside and look at this.

This is a square sheet metal duct for the kitchen – it’s a big square duct running horizontally from the stove area to outside. A surface fan was used on the wall and it was quite the grease pit.

Inside it looked like this after I chucked the fan – it was a mess. So I cleaned it up the best I could and ran a 7″ round duct through the square duct.

As you saw previously in this photo after the new drywall was up in the kitchen. A 7″ duct is in place.

Now we finally go outside. Here is the original exhaust to the kitchen fan. You’d pull down a chain inside on the fan and the exterior flap would open and the fan would start.

So changing out the square flap to a 7″ round duct exhaust vent. I used some PVC trim to make the new vent fit the larger opening.

Now we turn our attention to the roof. Some shingles had blown off a couple years ago which resulted in some deck rot. Here’s the photo after I’ve replaced the decking and some fascia structure. I didn’t have process photos because I was busy working on this solo.

Of course, I couldn’t find the exact same shingles, but fairly close. So after a couple hours we have the roof back to repelling water, like all good roofs should do.

Now we set up some scaffold on the back of the house. It seems the bathroom fan was never properly vented out of the roof. The bath fan just vented into the unfinished attic – not to code – and certainly an invitation to mold.

So after drilling a 6″ hole in the roof and adding the proper vent, we’ll have a way to get the bathroom breathing as it should.

Inside I’ve added the vent and reducer – ready for the new bath fan duct – which will have to wait until I get to the bathroom makeover.

One last item on the exterior to-do list until spring is refreshing the original porch ceiling. It is tongue and groove pine with the original 1920’s finish – the light fixture is original too.

So after a cleaning and a couple coats of gel stain, the ceiling looks like new. And while I was there, I scrapped and prepared the wood box beams and added new paint. I’ll refresh the brick porch in the spring.

So there you are – nothing fancy, or that interesting, but things that needed to be done. Hopefully, the projects will get a little more eye-worthy in future projects. But there’s still plenty of tedious work to be done.

Stay safe.

Working on the Old House #3

So to be a little more timely in my posts – here’s another one. Nothing spectacular, but as I bring the old house up to a more livable condition before it is sold, I wanted to record the process so the new owner could review what was done to the old girl. And to show – no matter how hard I try – that I could never be a house flipper. I’ll make economical decisions, but I can’t in good conscience cover up any defects or cut corners. This post shows as close as I can come to being a ‘flipper’

This was a door on the side of the house. An odd place for a door entering into what is now a small bedroom. It at one time had a stair and railings. Not sure why, as it is a small one bathroom home. Perhaps a room rented out during WWII when there were a lot of workers in our city for massive military manufacturing. But whatever the reason, here it is hanging three feet in the air, so I’ve removed the door and we’ll close this wall up for everyone’s saftey.

We’ll start by framing in the opening with 2X6 studs that have been ripped down to match the original wood framing.

Since the home has original clapboard siding under the vinyl, we’ll add a layer of plywood over the wall studs to bring it up level to the siding underneath. .

Inside we’ll finish the framing and prep for insulation.

We’ll add some faced fiberglass insulation.

On the outside, we’ll pull off some of the vinyl siding. And add a little foam insulation to match the existing material.

Here is my economical choice. The siding is 20 years old and is sun faded. I pulled some of the siding off the back of the garage, as it was the closest match. Still very obvious, and I wanted to painting the whole house to get an even color, but I will tell you it has lightened up significantly since it was installed.

Inside, I’ve started to overlay the wall with 1/2″ drywall.

Then a little preliminary tape and compound.

And after a coat of primer the wall is ready for final finishing.

So as I mentioned above, no eye candy here. Just a little more progress – and we won’t have to worry about the door to nowhere anymore.

And Time to Reappear

Well, did you think I was done? Finished? Pooped Out? A victim of the COVID? Well, not exactly. But my circadian clock must know when May rolls around and thinks it’s best for me to get some more surgery in Nashville during a pandemic. Well, OK. I’m not dying any faster than the rest of you – I’m not infermed to the point of not being able to pick up a hammer and making a mess. No, I’m just a medical hobbyist. So now that I have regained strength and 2X4’s are triple the price of last year, let’s get back to to renovating the old house.

Well, this doesn’t look like much, does it? Well, what do you expect with my IV holes not completely healed yet? The first piece of drywall overlay in the 9′ high ceiling. The blistered and loose plaster was removed to make a level surface for new 1/2″ drywall sheets.

I added the additional sheets of drywall to finish the back wall. I moved the old stove in position and attached the 36″ range hood I purchased 10 years ago to see how we will make this all work out. It will end up better than this mockup, I promise you. The original house had a large square duct with a surface fan to draw out the cooking odors – it did not work. So I’ve run a 7″ round duct through the square duct and now we begin the mental gymnastics to make this look respectable.

While we ponder that conundrum, I’ll sheet the side wall in the kitchen. Settling and age has taken a toll on this wall. I usually remove all the plaster and lath and drywall from the studs, but given my weakened state I opted for the overlay this time. The plaster on the corner chimney bump-out was in good shape, so we’ll just keep it with no overlay.

Of course, nothing is that easy – so this area was so deteriorated the plaster had to come off and a piece of same thickness plywood added before the drywall overlay.

And when you overlay a wall the thickness changes and openings will have to be modified. Here I’ve added a spacer to the door jamb and am in the process of making a new casing trim for the door. I cut the sides to size and clamp in place. Mark the top piece and assemble with kreg screws.

Add a little back band trim and we’re ready to move on.

We now wrap the other wall next to the range hood vent.

Trim out the opening and run the pipe for exhaust. Some tape and compound and we incorporate the new drywall into the existing plaster.

Add a coat of primer and we’re ready to march on. And I hope all of you are marching right along through this unpleasant year. I feel most comfortable right here, toiling away on my little projects. I hope you too find your bliss. Stay safe.