Mid February Recap

Hey gang – thought I would drop in and pop a few pictures up on the progress at the old Misadventures project.

1-top-finishI thought I would start by finishing the post on the finishing of the problematic Cherry top I’ve been wrestling with for days. I got great results – it just took four tries.

2-notch-backOf course – I had another hiccup along the way. I forgot to allow for the thickness of the hinged top – which required notching the top 3/8″ But it worked out.

product-image-oil-based-top-coat-arm-r-seal-2014-general-finishesI mentioned I started using a mixture of 1/3 Boiled linseed oil, 1/3 varnish, and 1/3 mineral spirits. It doesn’t produce a durable finish, but does add depth to the wood. For the top coats I used this stuff. Arm-R-Seal Topcoat. Now there are multiple ways of how to apply this. Some brush it on and leave it alone – others wipe it on and leave it for 12 or 24 hours. But I found this guy on YouTube here that used a technique similar to French Polishing – and that’s the way I applied it.

3-polishing-productsThe finish goes on and dries in about four hours. I used several coats to build up the finish for the next sanding steps. After 4 coats I used a light scuffing of 400 grit sandpaper then added a couple more coats. We’ll be using 800, then 1500 and finally 2000 grit sanding. You can get these items at any auto supply store.

4-800-gritAn 800 grit sanding pad makes the surface pretty smooth.

5-2000-gritThe 1500 and 2000 sanding sponges will take out the fine scratches. I used Semi-gloss because I wanted a luster smooth finish.

6-finished-topAnd the result is a very smooth surface that looks like it was sprayed on. I’m happy.

7-final-trimI added the final trim pieces and this room is almost done. Just some touch ups and we move on to a new project.

Next we’ll build a bathroom vanity from scrap wood.


New Year – time to get busy

OK, my last post was my thumb with a smiley face on it – right. Not particularly relevant to this renovation blog – except to celebrate that I have been able to keep all my fingers and both thumbs while using power saws and nail guns. So let’s hope my good fortune continues into 2017.

1-sunroom-cabinetI have yet to get the plumber over to get my fireplace installed – no roaring fire yet. So let’s hop over to the next room and get that TV lift cabinet sorted out. That’s the lift mechanism in that dusty box on the floor – it’s been there for three years – that’s why it’s dusty.

2-cabinet-baseLet’s go over why this thing looks like this. This is used to house a retractable 55″ TV and there is also a cold air return built into this cabinet. The two rectangle boxes actually go through the floor and are connected to the return air plenum for the HVAC. The air returns from the top of the cabinet behind a false wall and the back plywood panel. It’s pretty convoluted, but the calculations for air flow are pretty good. Now the return air vent is on top of the cabinet and out of sight and the room can breathe – so it’s a win-win.

3-face-frameWe’ll start by making the face frame and doors out of poplar since this will be painted. The frame is cut and joined with kreg screws. The doors will be routed and have a panel. Here is the first door test fit. These are inset doors, so the fit is more critical than an overlay door.

4-door-partsI used a shaker router bit set to make the stiles and rails for the doors. A plywood panel will fill the rest.

5-face-frame-test-fitA test fit to check the fit of the doors. The door is not glued yet to just be sure.

6-face-detailThe face frame has a single opening with two side panels to cover the duct-work boxes. I’ve routed the back and added a ply panel on each side of the opening.

7-detail-close-upI cut down some poplar to make the cross detail. This is a simple applique glued and nailed to the panel.

8-frame-with-doorsAnother test fit of the doors and face frame.

9-doors-openHaving the door opening with no stile allows full access to the TV lift. I ran the speaker wires and communication cables to the cabinet, but decided to put the AV Receiver in the finished crawl space below this cabinet. So only a couple wires will enter this cabinet.

10-door-overlap-detailI made the doors slightly wider so that I could have them overlap. This is the same detail that is on the original fireplace cabinet doors.

11-working-roomI really like working in this space on a sunny winter day. One day I’ll have furniture in this place instead of tools.

12-paint-startIt’s a good time to get a couple of coats of paint on while this cabinet face is still unattached.

13-interior-paintI also painted the inside of the cabinet to make cleaning easier. The wires on the left go through a chase to the top of the bookcase. They might come in handy in the future for something – at least it will be there if I need it. The blue switch box and metal receptacle box on the right are for powering the lift and for a switch for the library lights over the windows in the bookcase..

14-hinge-detailHere’s the back of the face frame. You can see the kreg screws and the recessed panel. The inset hinges require this mounting plate attached to the face frame of the cabinet.

15-hinges-installedIf you had a frame-less style cabinet the plate would be mounted directly to the side of the cabinet box.

16-hinge-cup-hole-drilledThe doors are drilled for the euro style hinge. These are self-closing hinges from Blum. These are clip top, which allows you to remove and install the doors easily. They also have a three way adjustment that is important – especially on inset doors.

17-side-detailI’ll add some details to the cabinet sides to integrate it into the bookcases.

18-lift-installedI was thinking the TV lift was going to be complicated, but it’s pretty straightforward. I mounted the lift onto a 1/2″ ply backing board with carriage bolts. I then screwed the board to the back panel. This will make installing and removing the lift a lot easier, as the lift mounting bolt location is too low to get to easily.

19-lift-with-doors-closedSo here’s where I am as of yesterday. I’m thinking of a thick walnut or contrasting wood top – the center of which hinges open for the TV. There will be a piece of art hanging behind the lift, so when not in use I can look at something prettier than a black rectangle. That’s the plan – we’ll see if I measured this funky cabinet right, or did I miss something? Time will tell.

More to come – stick around.

Building Sunroom Bookcases part 4

Well, we are still waiting for that TV lift to arrive from back-order so that I can finish the center cabinet. In the meantime we’ll add some more details to make the bookcases a little more attractive.

1 electric boxBut first we have to make them a little less attractive. Cabinet modification. You can see in the background a small ‘pancake’ box used for sconces – only problem is this type of box has a limited box fill. In other words, they won’t work in my situation to meet electrical code. So, I butchered the case and installed an octagonal box.

2 wiringOnce the boxes are in place I can run the wires up and over to the cabinet chases.

3 switch boxDown to the central cabinet with a junction and switch box.

4 plaquesAfter looking around for something decorative to add to the pilasters, I settled on these hand made 4″ X 8″ tiles by Terra Firma  a husband and wife team working in South Carolina. The tiles depict a Lupine flower – a native wildflower that I plan to add to the sunroom garden if I ever get to that point.

12-LupineThis is one of the varieties of Lupine.

5 templateI’m going to inset these into the block atop the pilasters. Since they are hand made and slightly irregular, I made a small template to be just slightly larger than the tile. The template is screwed down and my trusty 3/4″ router bit template is brought out again to make the outside frame for the router base to ride along. Just lay the router bit template against the tile template and build a frame around it.

6 router jig startHere you see version 2 of the router frame – the one in the background was a little too flimsy to get the job done. The router frame is screwed to the plywood and the router base glides along the inside frame.

7 router jig finishedFits pretty good – the inset is 1/2″ deep in 3/4″ poplar. The rounded corners were squared up with a utility knife and wood chisel.

8 placques insetWe made it through this step without breaking a tile – so far so good.

9 blocks mountedNow the blocks can be mounted and the rest of the top trim can be detailed.

10 shevels sandedThe face frames are sanded smooth to the shelf boxes and feathered out to a smooth paint transition.

11 bookcasesSo things are starting to look better – now if that darn TV lift shows up we can finish another project. Stay tuned.



Building Sunroom Bookcases part 3

In the last episode we suspended building the center cabinet until I had a better idea what I was going to do with it- design wise. Sometimes freestyle building is a real head scratcher.

1 plinth block idea

After mucking around with a bunch of pieces of wood I came up with this design. Stay with me now, it’s not as bad as it seems. I’m going to make the lower piece longer and figure out some kind of decorative accent that’s not square or rectangular. That piece of plywood will be replaced with a fluted pilaster.

2 living room bookcase ideaI’m going to add some details that are in the original bookcases that flank the fireplace in the formal living room. The doors have 11 panel designs and the bookcases have fluted pilasters on either side of the doors, so we will add a little of that design to these as well.

3 light placementI also decided to add an articulated light above each window – Francia grows orchids and I have bonsai trees, so this might be a good spot for something living. So you can see the two octagonal light boxes centered above the windows. You see the two hollow rectangles on each side of the center case. These are used to run any wiring or cables I might need.  I will cap them with the fluted pilasters when I’m finished with all the wiring.

4 side trim startThe inside trim detail is added using a simple lattice – this will add the last detail to the window side of the bookcases. The spacer is used to space the trim because I’ll slip a piece of stone in here when we’re finished.

5 template sticksAs with everything that needs repeated, I’ve got a pair of spacer sticks to make sure the short trim pieces are put where they belong.

6 side trim in placeThe trim is in place – I’ll make a template for the stone sills – they’ll be about 34″ wide and 14″ deep.

7 paint startAnd after a couple of days sanding we start the paint. I can’t stress how important surface preparation is to a smooth finish. The room is basically shades of white, so the details will read as a subtle shadow. That’s where we are right now. I’m waiting on the back-ordered TV lift so I can finalize the center cabinet.

Keep the faith, we’ll get to the pretty stuff in the near future.



Building Sunroom Bookcases part 2

The only good thing about my accident was that it made it easier to post closer to real time – these posts are timely (like in last week) – I’m still working on them, so any faux pas are gonna show up here. Let’s continue with the bookcases.  The design of which is still developing.

1 back pannelAfter seeing the cases up next to the wall, I decided to add a back. Lots of this casework uses the wall surface as the back. Being me, I didn’t want any gaps or irregularities at the back of the bookcases, so a 1/4″ luan plywood back is painted and added.

2 bookcases upThe boxes are test fit one more time before they are fastened together.

3 attaching bookcasesThe individual boxes are clamped and screwed together from underneath. I use a lot of clamps – always a good idea, and a necessity if you work by yourself. I made individual elements because it was just easier to layout the casework – it could have been made in two pieces, but the separate boxes made it easier to fit to the windows.

4 drywall 2nd wallThe cases are in place and the bottom sides for the center case are attached. The drywall panel is added in the middle that creates the return air ducts.

5 trim startedThe face frame trim is being added, as well as the base for the crown.

6 crown trimNow we throw a little crown trim up and think about what to do with that center case design.

7 meter base removalSo while I’m thinking about that – let’s hop outside and remove the electrical off the roof and get the siding stripped. I had the power company out to disconnect the overhead wires and put in a saw drop. (see last picture for explanation).

8 siding removal startI’ll be running the power underground instead of overhead. The siding has to come off to put up plywood sheathing and a new Azek meter base before the siding is installed.

9 center bookcase startNow back inside, as I think I’ve figured out in my head what the design will be for the center casework. The panel clamped at the top will be the return air chamber – air grilles will be added to the top, so they will not be visible in the room.

10 panel frameA bottom panel is fabricated with pocket screws and routed for two recessed panels for detail. You see that crazy cutout sheet of plywood in the background? I never throw anything away (or cut it down) that might be used later. That sheet yielded two perfect sized panels for this project.

11 panel frame in placeThen a test fit of the bottom panel.

12 center trim mock upStarting a mock-up of how to deal with the trim. Stumped again – time to go out and mess with the siding.

13 eave detailI’ve been procrastinating this part, so I saved it for the end of the day. The old aluminum soffits are removed to reveal this mess.

14 eave removal in progressIt’s dirty, dusty and not fun – but we’ll get rid of all this gunk from 1935.

15 back of houseThe back stripped of siding. The electrical is removed, along with the air conditioners. You see the saw drop to the right – all power to the house and garage are coming from extension cords plugged into the pole.

Not bad for a day’s work – now if I can just figure out that bookcase…stay tuned and we’ll come up with something.



Building Sunroom Window Bookcases Part 1

We’ve finished the main windows in the sunroom – all but the two that will have bookcases that will wrap around on all sides. I’ve been putting off building these because? All together now – I have no plan. Just like everything else it’s just freestyle design, so let’s start cutting some wood and see what happens.

1 bookcase startI built 2X4 bases for each side and cut the outside pieces of the bookcase carcass. I used 3/4″ Maple faced plywood for the boxes. This is B-2 grade – a lesser quality than true cabinet plywood – this has a micro-thin layer of maple – but they will be painted and cost the same as birch faced plywood so I went with these at 50.00 per sheet – cabinet grade is about 80.00 per sheet in my area. It takes 5 sheets for this project.

2 window caseEverything is cut and test fitted – no nails or glue yet. Each side is slightly different, so measurements must be taken individually.

3 rounting jigA little more about routing jigs. The best work table for me has always been a single sheet of plywood. You can screw your jigs and stops right to the sheet to make things go quickly and get repeatable results. Above you see the setup for routing bookcase sides. The cross piece is the straightedge for the router base to ride against. The right piece of wood is at a 90 degree angle to the straightedge. The left piece is spaced with a slight gap so that the piece to be routed can slide easily into the jig. It is attached with a single screw into the plywood table to make a pivot. Slide the piece in and clamp against the right hand wood – you have a 90 degree straightedge.

4 routing jig detailTo repeat the routed joints on all bookcase sides you can set the first one and then screw a stop onto the plywood. Now you can repeat this on each piece so that you have perfectly aligned shelves and dividers.

5 case testMore unglued test fits. Not only to test to make sure it fits, but to make sure it doesn’t look too goofy.

6 figuresI’m going through these yellow note pads pretty quickly as I try and figure this thing out. Time for a new pad.

7 tv baseThis might look like a modernist coffee table top or some other artsy doodad – but actually this is the product of all that yellow pad doodling.

8 tv base instal And here’s what that thing is for. The problem is that this area also has to have a cold air return and a cabinet for a TV lift. The duct work for the HVAC had to be out from the wall. The return air will be routed up behind the cabinet and the intakes will be on the top of the central cabinet. Complicated, no?      Yes.

9 routed sidesNow that we know what is what, we can assemble the bookcase boxes – after they are sanded smooth.

10 tv backThe TV lift will be bolted to this panel – it is recessed to allow the 55″ TV to drop all the way to the subfloor, allowing the cabinet to be 36″ tall. The cold air return will run behind this area.

11 bookcase testThe window bookcases are now built as individual boxes, but not fastened together yet. You can see the shelves are aligned with the window mullions to keep the visual plane unbroken. Another anal detail from yours truly.

12 paintingNow the cases are taken down and painting interiors begin. I would usually pre-paint the sheet of plywood before fabricating, but the routed joint is so tight that just the paint thickness would cause problems in joining the pieces together. Also, some of the plywood sheets varied in thickness, so some of the routed joints were too tight and had to be slightly widened.

Hang in there – we’ll get some books on these shelves eventually.