Building a Bath Vanity out of scrap wood

Greetings fellow renovators and handy people! Warning! Long post.

As I mentioned in my last post, we’ll be building a bathroom vanity from scrap wood for the Woman Cave bathroom. Now scrap wood might be a misleading title, as I have a lot of nice scrap wood lying around due to an 8 year whole house remodel.

1-vanity-designFirst things first. A little inspiration. I checked out all kinds of vanities online and picked a few images I thought had some of the features I wanted. Then grab a scrap piece of paper and start doodling and ciphering. Next we make the outer frame.

2-front-face-frameAnd here’s what we get. I made a pair of inset doors with a rail and stile router set and plan on having 4 drawers on the side. The face frame is assembled with Kreg screws.

3-vanity-mock-upNow we prance down to the basement and see what it will look like. You can see my invisible wife reviewing the vanity. (Not really – it’s just her slippers) The design has one sink -offset with ample space to the right of the sink for girly stuff.

4-cabinet-interiorWith the design finalized it’s time to dig out some 3/4″ UV coated plywood. It’s really a lot heavier than needed, but it’s what I had on hand. This will form the sides and bottom of the compartment accessed by the doors under the sink.

5-basic-vanity-structureThis ‘U’ was installed with a side panel made from 1/2″ plywood.

6-vanity-with-doorsThe doors were assembled and installed with self closing inset hinges. I’m not certain why I make everything with inset doors – overlay doors are much easier to make. Maybe that’s why…

7-drawer-detailThe drawer face frames were made from scrap poplar and fastened with glue and a single Kreg screw. The back will be routed to insert 1/2″ plywood.

8-drawer-frontsEach inset drawer face was made slightly larger than the cabinet to allow trimming to fit. The sides of the vanity that are against the wall have plywood mounting strips to screw in the wall studs.

9-building-drawer-boxesI used 1/2″ poplar for the drawer sides and used a dado blade on the table saw to make all the cuts. The corners of the box used a dado and tenon joint which is stronger than a traditional dovetail joint – although not near as pretty. I used 1/2″ plywood drawer bottoms – way more than needed, but that’s all I had laying around.

10-back-notchI used Blum Tandem under-mount drawer slides which requires a notch and hole to be placed at the back of the drawer box. I ran the boxes through the table saw and broke out the notch, then cleaned up the cut with a razor knife.

11-drawer-locksThese are the locking mechanisms on the bottom of the drawer. The slides fit on the drawer (see notches at back) and simply push in to lock the drawer in place. To remove the drawer, you squeeze them to unlock and remove the drawer.

12-drawer-lock-closeupSince I’m using inset drawers I opted for the adjustable locks which allow you to move the drawer box inside the frame to get the right reveal around the face frame. You can see the dado and tenon box joint here.

13-vanity-paintedFor finishing, I used 4 coats of water-based polyurethane clear on the drawer boxes. The vanity was painted with BM Sterling and then coated with 4 coats of the same water-base polyurethane. The finish was then wet sanded with 400 grit sandpaper and polished with an 800 grit buffing pad. It’s smooth.

14-vanity-top-templateI’ve got the vanity in place and making a template for the quartz top. The sink is centered over the doors and allows counter space to the right. I used square chrome knobs for easy opening.

15-sconce-relocationOf course, there’s always a problem. I placed this sconce too far to the left. Oops.

16-electrical-boxSo we’ll remove the box on the left and get an old work box for the proper location. The only problem is that there is spray foam that buried the wires. Not as easy as I thought it would be.

17-foam-insulationSo we’ll make a bigger hole. Dig the sconce wire out and patch it all up. Move along – nothing to see here.

18-sink-faucetWhile I was wrestling with the sconces, the counter guys made a quick job with the top and got the Porcher Marquee sink in place.  I bought the sink a couple of years ago and it’s no longer being manufactured. The faucet is a Moen Eva in chrome.

19-vanity-installI plumbed it up over the weekend and all is fine. I have a few more items to add in here (like a tilt mirror) and we’ll call this one done. The medicine cabinet on the right wall might look a little strange. I put it there because I couldn’t recess one behind the sink due to the spray foam.

Sorry for the long post -if you’re still with me. I just wanted to get this one out of the way.

Stick around – it might get interesting.




Mid August Progress and Color Changes

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Lots of activity at the MisAdventures project. So I thought I’d share a photo-rich post of the shenanigans here in southern Indiana.

1 kitchen flooringFirst up is the laying of 1/2″ BC plywood over all of the existing first floor. This is the kitchen area looking towards the sunroom. The original 3/4″ T&G pine floor gets overlayed with the plywood glued and screwed every 8 inches and also screwed through the floor joists. This adds a great deal of stiffness to the floor that will have 3/4″ oak flooring.

2 coffee canI guess you had make do with what was handy. This old coffee can lid was used as a patch over a larger hole in the floor. Looks like the plumbing had been moved several times over the 80+ year history of this house.

3 corner repairThe two first floor offices have the original plaster lathe walls and ceilings. I spent many hours grinding out cracks and repairing with plaster. The final corner crack is cut out and repaired with fiberglass mesh and hot mud plaster.

4 crown mouldingThe other office got a new crown molding and paint. Here’s a test fit – and I have to admit to failure in the coping corner ability. I tried the proper way by coping the corner and just couldn’t get a good fit. Mitering the corner is not the way it should be done – but it sure looks better than what my poor coping saw skills produced.

5 closet doorThe original doors were all sanded and repainted and fitted with those fancy door knobs and plates.New hinges and mortise latches will let these doors hang around for another 80 years.

6 tv boxBefore I finished laying the plywood underlayment I was able to run a couple more cables and power for a recessed TV box. Trimmed out the doors and painted everything.

7 new office paintSince I had to repair the cracked corner in my wife’s office – it gave her a chance to change colors – so the walls now are a more saturated blue/green instead of sky blue.

8 ceiling medallionsI found a couple of smaller ceiling medallions laying around from the previous owner. I reconfigured them with some bondo and put them up. The bead detail matches the door plates and the large medallion in the living room.

9 skirt board cuttingOne more thing before we head to the woman cave. The stairs from the 1st floor to the 2nd needed skirt boards. One side is 14′ long and the other is 16′. Here I’m cutting the angles using a cardboard template. I use a lot of cardboard for angle cuts – just to make sure.

10 stair skirt boardsThe stair skirt boards slide in next to the outside stair stringers. I left a space when mounting the stringers so that these trim pieces could fit easily. If you don’t allow for the skirt you’ll have to scribe cut the whole skirt – and that’s no fun. The risers and treads will butt up against the skirt board.

Now for something completely different

11 tub plumbingI gave up on hiring plumbers and started doing my own plumbing. Here I’ve got the all the copper fitted to the tub deck filler. The pipes look a little  crooked in this photo – but it’s just the camera angle.

12 Josh Craig tileHere’s Josh Craig – the tile guy. He’s one mean mamma-jamma when it comes to tile. He’s spent over a month on this bathroom, so he might not win a race, but the finished product is worth the wait.

13 tile patternAll the tile in the basement is porcelain from Atlas Concord. I added two vertical panels of this lotus flower design in the shower. I had Josh cut the tiles in two to run them vertically. It’s very subtle, but adds a little interest to the shower without being too obvious. The green doo-dads keep all the tiles flush, with very little ‘lippage’.

14 tile floor.I have a floor border with mosaic inserts to match the design of the shower floor. The green stuff is a crack isolating membrane called Green Skin.

15 color changeI was never a fan of the Italian Ice green color Francia selected for the bath. Now that the tile is going in she also though it was too pale. So time for another color change. Good thing it’s only paint – and my labor. No problem –  a couple of hours and all will be forgotten. Looks like BM Boothbay Grey it is.

16 paint startFirst we do a little cutting in.

17 new colorI think the grey will be a little more relaxing. We’ll see what happens – who knows what the future holds..

So there you have the latest update – more to come.



Cast Iron Tub Wrestling

Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. I’m all about the design – and that is my main focus. Trivial matters like gravity are of little importance. I did have a little forethought to have the tub put through the window when I was replacing all the windows. Notice this is pre two room additions.2 tub through window

Of course, that was several years ago and the tub has been sitting upstairs for four – that’s right, four years waiting for a place to call home.

1 tub on trolly

So there’s the tub. I’ve cleaned up 4 years of dust and dirt and cut and installed the drain and over flow pipes. I had built a rolling cradle for the tub so that I could move it around upstairs while I ran new HVAC pipes and other structural projects.

2 tub target

And here’s the target. All I have to do is get the tub off the cradle and over here. Simple enough, except the thing weighs 324 pounds and sits about a foot off the floor. I could have opted for a light and nimble acrylic tub, but no, the design thing called for something, well – heavier. My wife knowing I was scheming to somehow get the thing in there by myself, called a moving company and yesterday morning 3 guys showed up to help. And it took all 4 of us to maneuver this awkward object into place.

3 thread sealant

Once we got close I wrapped the drain tailpiece with heavy duty Teflon tape and added a little pipe dope for good measure. I don’t want to do this part again.

4 tub in place

And finally it’s in place – hopefully for a very long time. It’s one of those French Skirted Bateau (Boat) bathtubs. I got this from Signature Hardware – actually I got two of them. The first one had a dent in the skirt, so they sent a replacement – no problem. I even took my wife to their showroom near Cincinnati so she could sit in the tub and make sure it wasn’t too big or uncomfortable. I say I’m obsessive – my wife thinks I’m crazy.

5 tub plumbing

The plumbing shows more than I imagined, so I’m glad my motorcycle parts are shiny to look at when I’m sitting on the toilet.

6 faucet

The faucet is a traditional one with a knob for a hand shower – it’s the same one I have in the first floor bathroom. I’m not sure about the style – but it works.

7 tub interior

The tub drain is a toe tap, so it makes the plumbing pretty simple.

8 bath ceiling

Now I have to find a rustic chandelier and put on the air vents and move on for now. The vanity cabinets won’t be built until the kitchen goes in. So we’ll pop down to the basement and make some stairs. Looks like more sawdust.

Grab your dust mask and tag along.

Using Motorcycle Parts in the Bathroom

OK, the internet is generally a good thing – search is a good thing – sometimes.

I’ll explain later

1 wall painted

We left off here with the wall painted and the sconce electric now finished by adding a mud ring to bring the wall boxes out to the wall surface.

2 toilet flange

Now it’s toilet time. I plumbed the floor closet flange with a stainless steel doodad – use this type if you can instead of the all PVC or stamped steel versions.

4 toto toilet

Here’s the toilet – it’s a Toto Soirée one piece toilet.I chose this because my wife wanted a one piece unit – and because I made the paneled wall go to the back of the toilet, it reduced the drain center to 11″. A standard toilet needs 12″ from the center of the drain flange to the finished wall – I only had 11″. Oops, another design faux pas.

3 toto toilet rough

 Toto to the rescue. This toilet uses a doodad that lets you adjust the distance the toilet sits next to the wall. The one that comes with the toilet is for a standard 12″ – but you can buy (for another 65.00) one that makes a 10″ or 14″ rough. So here I’m installing the 10″ rough. I’ve also installed the supply valve and stainless hose.

5 Bristro wall sconce

Then we get up off the floor to install the sconces. These are Restoration Hardware Bistro Sconces. I like these because the arms are adjustable.

6 sconces and toilet installed

Here the sconces, marble window sill, toilet and water supplies for the tub are in.

7 removable tile

I had a tile panel made that is removable for access to the plumbing without having to demo the tile to get access. The water supplies screw into the plumbing below the floor. The wall baseboard is also removable to get the tile panel out. Now we need to plumb the bathtub drain.

10 drain instal

The PVC pipe goes through the floor into the drain trap. The threaded compression fitting had to be close to the floor so the trim ring would sit flat on the floor.

9 marble sill

The window sill is marble and had to be installed before the water supplies. I made a wood template to take to the stone guys and then I installed the sill with silicone. The pipes holding the faucet were pretty stable, but I wanted to make it more secure with some sort of bracket to fasten it to the wall.

That’s where the internet and motorcycle parts come in.

I spent several hours searching for something that might work. Searches for “Pipe Hangers, pipe brackets, tube and/or rod holders and every conceivable search word combination came up with nothing. Nothing in plumbing worked, nothing in electrical, drapery, or closets worked either. So next was marine, auto and then finally motorcycle.

And these popped up.

11 handle bar risers

The criteria was as follows: Chrome and shiny? Check / Split so that they  can be installed without disassembling the water supplies? Check / Fit a 1″ OD pipe? Check / Can be attached to the wall? Check. What the heck are they? Handlebar risers for a Harley Davidson. Sure, that will work.

12 recessed bolts

So we make a poplar bracket and recess the back for the bolts.

13 painted bracket

We paint and finish the bracket to match the wall. Then install the risers.

14 bracket instal

We attached the bracket to the wall. The tub will hide most of this stuff, but I still wanted them to look pretty.

15 bracket closeup

A little hole filling and touch up and these pipes are staying put. So we’re starting to get to the bling – hang in there.

Master Bath Tile Tales #1

Well my fellow renovators I’ve finished the outside siding and am waiting for the gutters to be made before I do an exterior round up. So in the mean time I thought I’d start on the Master Bath on the second floor. It’s not done yet – but what else is new?

I must say I didn’t do this tile project – even though I bought a fancy tile saw. While I was siding the house two guys worked every day for three weeks to put the shower and floor together.These guys were pros – so if I did this you could add a couple months to the time line.

1 Kirdi Board Shower startThe shower is a 48″ X 72″ space. The walls are Kerdi Board and the floor is a traditional mud bed with Kerdi waterproofing.

2 in floor heat 1I screwed down another layer of 1/2″CDX plywood over the 3/4″ underlayment before adding a WarmWire in floor heat system. This is my 3rd in floor heat install and I used the wire instead of the mat and it went much better. Before the wires go down the plywood had to be primed for the self leveling concrete that goes over this.

3 in floor heat 2The wire heating elements are wrapped around metal cleats that are nailed to the floor. The wires can’t go under cabinets or tub or toilets, so proper spacing away from these is important.

4 ardex floorArdex Liquid Backerboard. is poured over the subfloor and heating wires. This floor was so wonky that it took 19 bags of this stuff. At about 50.00 a bag -it’s the price you pay to make an 80 year old house have a flat and level floor. And it had to be flat for the basket weave tile to lay right.

5 shower detailHere’s a shot of the back of the  shower. It has lots of angles and a basket weave insert in the wall. All the tile edges are bullnosed on site. Notice that they cut the tiles to wrap around the corner and keep the pattern. That’s why the pros are doing this job.

6 shower tileThe basket weave insert in the shower is marble, but all the field tile and floor is porcelain.

7 shower detailThe two Hansgrohe I-Box rough boxes have 3/4″ water supplies. The top one controls the two rain shower heads and the bottom one is for the sliding shower bar. I put in two separate niches because my wife seems to have a dozen bottles of shampoo.

8 shower detailThis niche is next to the door, so you don’t see this from the outside. Can’t have too many niches – I guess.

9 shower floorThe shower floor is the same porcelain tile in a 2″ mosaic. All tile in the shower is done in a matte finish to minimize water spots.

10 greenskinAfter the self leveling concrete a fracture membrane goes on. This is GreenSkin it’s used to minimize any fracturing or grout failure. It’ll add waterproofing too, as this is over the kitchen below.

11 Tile layoutAnd the puzzle begins. The border is a solid porcelain tile and the insert is a carrera marble basket weave. The bathroom is 9′ wide and 18′ long.

12 tile layoutThe tile is Atlas Concord Statuario Select 12″ X 24″ The inset is White and black Carrera marble mosaic basket weave.

13 Tile layoutThis is the vanity wall where my repurposed doors were made into cabinets.

So on we go – so much to do and so little time. Hang in there, we’ll finish something inside someday.




Master Bath Reno #10 time to move to another floor

So we’re stuck with a miss-cut door.Three out of four’s not bad – really?  So after a night of thinking about the problem I came up with a fairly simple fix.

1 door markI’ll need to cut this much off the top of the door – close to 1/2″. I’ll take the hinge plates mounted to the cabinet and move them up the same amount that I cut off the door.

2 glued on bottomThen we’ll take the cut piece from the top and glue and nail to the bottom. Then use a solvent based wood filler for the first coat.

3 vanity drywallWhile that’s setting up, we’ll add some drywall in the vanity space between the cabinets.

4 door sandedThen back to sand the the door joint.

5 door primedSome surface filler is applied and then the first primer coat goes on. Now I’m glad my wife wanted painted doors. It will get several more applications until the seam disappears.

6 vanity drywall cut outAnd while that’s getting finished we’ll add the electrical boxes for the sconces and cut the hole for the vanity cabinet. I’m getting to a stand still here – better go downstairs and start on another project.

7 fireplace cabinetsAnd this looks like a good candidate – the cabinets next to the fireplace.

Time to clear out another room and get to work… stick around we’ll finish something sooner or later.


Master Bath Reno #9 the Door edition

Now for a change of floors, we pop up to the 2nd floor and back in the master bath. We left off with trying to repurpose a set of solid wood panel doors that I cut down the middle.

1 cutting doorWe start by cutting the length of the doors down size. Simple enough – well, maybe not – we’ll see.

2 filling the holesOnce the doors were cut down I used the cut off pieces and made the filler pieces using a 2 1/4″ hole saw without the guide bit on a drill press. These were glued in place.

3 first hanging the doorI arranged the hole section of each door to be next to the walls.

4 door hinge detailTo hang the doors I used a euro style hinge made for thick overlay doors. These hinges will accommodate a door up to 1 1/2″ thick. I used three hinges per door.

5 door hinge close upThe hinges use a 40mm hole to recess the hinge cup into the door. I made a simple jig out of a thin piece of plywood to make sure all the hinges were aligned to the door edge.

6 all doors onAll the doors are up for their preliminary fitting. Don’t worry about the gaps. There was a major mistake staring me right in the face – can you spot it?

7 doors openThe doors have self closing hinges and work well on the 18″ wide doors.

info-1The thing is when you cut a door down the middle you have to do a little reinforcing. The cutting removes one of the stiles – and that’s an important structural element.

8 door rail stripSo we’ll add a strip of wood to cap the cut side. Glued and nailed, it will keep those pesky rails together.

9 door strip onHere you have the mini stile finished and in place.

10 cabinet detailWhile this is going on, we’ll put the side supports in the cabinet – this will reinforce the hinge area. While we’re at it we’ll prime and then paint the interiors with BM Impervo Waterborn enamel. Color is the same as the ceiling.

11 doors on finalHere the doors are painted and finished. I wanted them rustic and antiqued, my wife wants them white – well maybe I’ll get to glaze them later. The nice thing about the euro style hinge is you have three ways to adjust the hinge to give you a nice finished look at the door seam. The big mistake is right there, but I still don’t notice it.

12 door side viewThe doors overlay the cabinet frame. It’s about this time when I realized my mistake. Have you found it yet?

13 door mistakeFor those much more observant than me you probably spotted it at the beginning. This door seems curiously lower than the other door. Why? Because I cut it upside down!


All together now….   crap.


Hang in there – we’ll fix it somehow.


Woman Cave #4 time to move to another project

Happy New Year to everyone. It’s been some time since my last installment at the Misadventures project. But I’ve been busy with the gallery and of course here at the renovation home.

1 bathroom wall framingNow that the tub has found it’s final resting place we can build a wall behind it. 1st a pressure treated plate is attached to the concrete floor with Tapcon screws. The 2X4 studs are then cut and screwed into place. I like to assemble the wall this way instead of putting it together on the floor and then sliding in place as a single unit. Being an old house nothing is uniform and this allows for minor variations in the old framing.

2 closet framingThe wall framing incorporates the brick support pillar so it will be invisible. I placed a small closet in this area as well.

3 closet doorI used an 18″ door for the closet. It’s a small place to store cleaning stuff.

4 whirlpool tub framingThe other side of this area will be used as an open shelf unit to hold spa towels.

5 basement wall framingI went as far as I could with the wall framing, incorporating the breaker panel into the wall. Spray foam will be added to insulate the walls.

This is a short post, as the weather has stopped this project until the ground thaws out. That cast iron drain line will go away and I’ll  add an egress window in the spring – then I can finish the wall framing and get to the pretty stuff!

Don’t worry, I’ve got lots of other projects to keep me busy until then.

Next up – back to the Master Bath….

The Woman Cave #3

We continue with this epic renovation. I have slowed down the past couple of weeks because I do have a real job and this is the time of the year our gallery gets pretty busy.

1 tub baseThe cutout tub base top is starting to get built – upside down.

2 floor cutAnd while we’re at it – we’ll start cutting the floor up. I had pipe laid under the floors before the overlay of 4″ of concrete. Since I made the bathroom much bigger I now have to cut the paths for the new lines.* Note to self* Lay out the bathroom before you pump your basement full of concrete.

3 tub base doneThe path is finished! No problem!

4 floor cut additionBut we made the bathroom even bigger to accommodate the steam shower. So more cutting.

5 floor cut doneThat’s it – no more concrete cutting.

6 pantry startWe’ll get over to the pantry now and start building the walls. I use kiln dry pressure treated lumber for the bottom plates. I’ll build a new staircase once we’re finished with the walls. I also installed a new jet pump under the stairs so I can have well water for our garden.

7 bath wall framingNow over to work on the bathroom walls – I love variety.

8 floor beam cutI’m using full height doors down here, so I made temporary walls and cut the floor support away.

9 door framingThen re-framed with a smaller header for the new door. This area is not load bearing – so the header is more than adequate.

10 bath doorI used the same diffused glass for the door as in all the other bathrooms, but I made it a single large piece.

11 pantry doorAnd looking through the bathroom door, I used the same kind of door for the pantry. I think it gives the space more of a vintage steam room kinda look – but what do I know.

12 entrance layoutThe walls for the doors are in. You can see the layout has the pantry with two angled walls. This is the only way I could get the two entrances into the space. I wanted to avoid a straight wall with 2 doors. The bath door is on the left and pantry to the right. On the other side of the wall space between the doors there will be a refrigerator nook in the pantry.

Well, we’ll just keep keepin on….



Woman Cave Floor Plan

Some one asked about a floor plan – well I didn’t have one so I drew this one in an old version of Microsoft Publisher. Who needs SketchUp?

woman-cave-planI get a little room downstairs with the furnace and hot water heaters – she gets the rest.

But I’ve got the 4 car garage 🙂 Well, so far I have a 4 car garage…