A Really Late April Update

Well, time flies and the old MisAdventures posts haven’t been appearing on a regular basis. Not that things aren’t going on, they’re just little things that aren’t that particularly interesting. But let’s see if I can do my best to catch up on where we are –  and keep our fingers crossed that  I’ll have this place done this year.

As was covered in a previous post on baseboards, I’m doing the same thing upstairs. The base is laid out and scribed to the floor, then the bottom edge is contoured to match the floor surface. Since the floors are finished, I have to take the baseboards outside to trim and check again. Lot’s of exercise on this little detail.

I’m still figuring out how I’m going to use these old French iron panels at the stairwell. For now they’re just clamped in place.

I looked for several years to find something the right size that would go here. These French panels from the 1880’s seemed just right. The problem is these things weigh more than 100 pounds each, so they’re a little hard to maneuver. I want to get the design exact before I start lugging these things around.

The pocket doors had to be reworked with the new floor level – something I though I had accounted for, but missed by a smidgen.

All of the floors on the first level will need one more coat of floor finish before we can bring in permanent furniture. So to divert my wife I repaired and painted up this little hall table so she could pretend we had a living space here with real furniture.

Another make it homey touch was to bring over some of her favorite orchids to place on the sun room bookcase. Now she understands why I put those library lamps above the windows.

Also a new privacy fence was put in. This is a definite DIY project, but to get it done within the decade, I hired this out.

My OCD and perfectionist traits were all over this fence. It serves the purpose, but not how I would have built it – but it went up in a day and that is important. I’ll fashion some small copper caps for the tops of those flush-cut posts.

Since the imperfections of the fence install were on my mind, I thought I’d distract myself by putting on the last pair of door plates. Of course I’d have to use a laser level to line up the screw holes.

So the door plates are on straight and I can close the door on the Month of April, with a promise to post  May’s progress by the end of June.


Mid July Roundup – Doors and Floors

It seems as I march towards making this place into a habitable dwelling – the photos just don’t seem that interesting. I know the good stuff is right around the corner, but it’s hard to grab a camera and take a picture of so many ho-hum projects. So here’s what happening now at the Misadventures project.

1 sunroom lightI left off with these sunroom lights installed because I needed the space in the garage. I was worried the scale might be too large, but they fit between the beams fine. You will see my problem in the background. The wall sconces were placed to correspond to the windows. Unfortunately, this left an awkward gap between the lights. You can see I’m fiddling with a cardboard design to balance out the space. We’ll see how this turns out.

2 window casingThis is a view from the kitchen into the sunroom. I’m casing the last window and one of the final door openings.

3 plywood underlaymentLooking back into the kitchen area you can see I’m adding a 1/2″ BC plywood underlayment, glued and screwed to the 3/4″ T&G pine floor. There is a 14′ island that runs down the middle of this space.

4 plaster wall damageI kept two rooms with original plaster lathe walls and ceilings. This is what was behind the baseboard. We’ll repair this before we replace the trim.

5 bondo fillerAll the doors get new hinges, mortise locks, plates and knobs. So of course the new door strikes don’t fit the originals. First I use auto bondo to fill in the areas that would show with the new striker plate. The pencil marks show the new location.

6 door mortise jigAs usual, I made a jig that will make a fast and accurate cut to recess the plate. The jig has a piece that fits against the door stop. It is then screwed to the jamb so it won’t move.

7 router and jigThe router uses the jig frame to make an accurate cut for the recess.

8 door strike fittingThe test fit shows I didn’t get enough filler to cover the old hole. We’ll add a little more later.

9 marking mortiseThe jamb is marked for the latch hole that needs to be mortised.

10 drilling mortiseMake a couple holes with a forstner bit. This type of drill bit makes a flat bottomed hole. Then just use a wood chisel to square up the hole.

11 screw hole fixI usually fill the old screw holes anytime I replace a plate or hinge. Take a small diameter forstner bit and dill into the screw hole. Take a matching diameter wood dowel and glue it in place.

12 cutting dowelAfter the glue is dry, saw off flush. This not only gives you a clean start, but reinforces the wood around the original hole.

13 jamb sawTo get the 1/2″ plywood under the trim, I rented a jamb saw to make the cuts. 20.00 for 4 hours rental. Had all the doors cut and the tool back to Home Depot in an hour. This project would have taken all day with a regular saw.

14 close callBut I dodged another bullet – while I was handling the still spinning saw I nearly snagged my leg. It ripped my jeans but didn’t get any skin. Lucky this time.

Hope everyone is having a great and productive summer.  Till next time.


Rehab Addict – please stop the madness!

I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this post – but I just can’t help myself. I was pushed over the edge watching last night’s rerun.

Being an old carpenter and having quite a few renovations under my tool belt – and the Misadventures currently in progress – I watch a lot of home renovating shows and most are entertaining but really not that helpful in the actual nuts and bolts of renovation. The exception is This Old House – it’s really a good show and gives good advice on repairs that will not need to be redone in a couple of years. Holmes is pretty good too. Are most of their projects expensive fixes? Yep pretty much they use expensive products – but it depends on what you’re fixing. Is it a flip or do you want to do it right?

The other renovation shows on DIY and HGTV are not so great and Rehab Addict is one of my least favorite. She’s fun to watch, but not someone I would seek for advice.

This show should have a disclaimer – she is a flipper of houses, not a restorer of old homes. I watch the show but in every episode I find myself yelling at the TV – don’t do that!

And here’s why.

If you are fixing up a house to ‘flip’ then by all means use a lot of ‘elbow grease’ clean it up and call it a day. Bad cast iron bathtub? Spray paint it with a can or finish with a reglaze kit – it’ll look good for a couple of years. It will be way cheaper than a new tub, that’s for sure. But if you decide build a brand new tiled bathroom around your ‘refreshed’ alcove tub and a few years later the rust is eating through the drain flange – you are going to have a problem that no ‘elbow grease’ will remedy.

Sure most of us are on a budget and aren’t going to plop out a couple of grand for a new cast iron tub and  that’s fine – just understand the difference of  fixing something for a couple of years or for your lifetime.

A TV promo running now in our market has Nicole Curtis telling viewers ‘Don’t like the layout of your home? – Just move a wall’ What? I have renovated several 1930’s homes and I can tell you from experience – it’s not that easy to move a wall in an old house. You’ll need a structural engineer for certain. Load bearing walls will need point loads that go all the way the down to the foundation. You’ll need inspections and engineer seals to do this legally. Non load bearing walls can be a problem if you have a floor above them – many old houses have 2X8 floor joists that might be a trampoline if you take out the wall below.Talk about costs – and safety issues too – not to mention you may not be covered by insurance if you try to ‘just move a wall’ by yourself.

And the last straw was last night – and why I’ve finally snapped. It was a rebroadcast of ‘Burned Out Bathroom’ and I was yelling at the TV again!

Here’s the transcript and time of the dastardly deed.

00:04:04    [ Drill whirring ] Justin has been busy upstairs getting the bathroom drywalled and the tub area fitted with 6-inch subway tiles.

What is depicted is some drywall ‘green board’ (Moisture resistant) being attached around the alcove tub and some subway tiles being installed – no waterproofing, no membrane. I don’t know what to say. It’s not to code in our area and I don’t know any professional that would do such a thing. I’m no fortuneteller, but I see mold, rot and big problems in this bathroom’s future.

Will it last? Depends – if you want to deceive the next home buyer and sell it pretty quick – sure.

Shame on you Nicole Curtis.



Azek Trim #3 The Difficult Project

So far, so good- we were able to get some of the tall stuff done – like the pointy front of the house. It was pretty easy because it was only one section of scaffolding two units high. And we’ve been able to get the fascia and soffit wrapped around the sunroom without incident.

Now we go for a bigger project – the sides of the house. We’ll do the tricky side first.  The 1st problem is scaffolding.  It takes a little longer for a 60 year old who still walks like a penguin from last year’s experiment with gravity to get things in order.

1 scaffold set upThis is set up #2. I put it up once, but could only get two sections wide – so down it came and this configuration went up. That took about 2 1/2 hours of my life. I’ve got the center and right hand fascia in place, temporarily fastened with cortex screws.

2 eave panelThe 2nd problem is the main roof dives into the sunroom roof. I made a panel of
Azek that rests slightly above the roof surface. The panel is removable when the sunroom needs to be re-roofed. Black roof caulking covers the small gap between the Azek and roof surface to keep any water or insects from getting in.

3 soffit instalI’m using Quality Edge TruVent  hidden vent aluminum soffit. It has no visible holes and looks more like the original type of soffit that was on this home.

4 eave problemProblem #3 is because there was no plan when I started building this place. The siding and trim detail are going to be a problem here.

5 eave problem closeupHere’s a close-up of the problem. We’ll have frieze trim below the soffit and we’ll have another trim piece right above the mudroom roof surface. If we leave it as is, it will have tiny pieces of siding on the wall here.

6 eave side panelSo my solution is to make an Azek panel to span this roof area under the eave. I made a plywood template to make sure I got all of the angles right. The original roof is a 7/12 and the mudroom roof is a 6/12, so this panel had to taper to fit the odd angles. Also the upright elements had to be plumb when in place to make everything look like it’s supposed to.

7 fascia damageI used the original fascias on most of the house as backer for the new Azek trim – but this piece had to be replaced – as did all of the original fascia on the patio side of the house.

8 panel installI fastened the panel in place with removable cortex screws. The panel then had to be wrapped around the corner with more trim pieces to meet the eave soffits. I’ll detail that in another post.

9 eave side panel other viewLooking from the other way, the side panel ends at the roof ridge. This will allow the siding to terminate here instead of having those tiny pieces under the eave.

10 fascia installationNow to put the other 15′ fascia board up. Working alone has it’s challenges, but the good thing is you can go as slow as you want.

Hang in there fearless renovators – we’ll get through this together – even if I’m doing all the work.

Exterior Azek Trim #2

The winter winds are moving in and I’m not ready. But we will carry on, as I gotta get the siding up – hopefully this year. It would go quicker if I would quit making up fancy do-dads for the exterior trim.

For instance

1 fasciaI started by getting some fascia wrapped around the sunroom. When the roof was put on I used a spacer to make sure I could get the Azek trim under the gutter apron. That’s a nice, normal trim detail.

2 old house eave repairNow it gets more difficult. There are discussions all over the web about ‘pork chop’ or ‘mutton chop’ eave returns. That’s the blocked out ends of the eaves that almost every new home has, but most don’t like. This house had them originally – but then this was a low budget house when built.

3eave electricalSo my solution is to make a semi-recessed return.  I’ve never seen it done, but why would that stop me? These are on the old part of the house. The roof overhang is 16″,  which made these guys pretty big. I made them like cabinet panels using 3/4 trim stock for the frames and 1/2″ sheet stock for the insert.

4 eave boxI used super blue remodel boxes in a couple of locations. 110v power to the left and a cat5e cable to the right with an approved electrical divider in between. Just in case I want to add a Pan,Tilt & Zoom security camera later. Just planning ahead.

5 eave box finishedA weather proof cover keeps everything dry. The original fascia boards are in really good shape, being covered with aluminum for many decades. We’ll scrape them and use them as the backing for the new Azek 1X10 trim stock.

6 down lightsI used these fixtures for the down lights. They are available on Amazon – a pair costs less than 20.00. I used these because of the small junction boxes on top. They come with a 50w halogen bulb which I replaced with a 6.2w LED to reduce the heat. I used 10 of them and it lights up the whole perimeter of the house – using only 62 watts.

7 sunroom eavesThe sunroom side has eaves at about 11″, so they are a little smaller. Here you can see how I integrated the light box panel to the hidden vent soffit detail.

8 sunroom eave boxHere’s the back of that same box. You can see the recess back from the fascia – so this will take a little fancy cut work to trim out.

9 table sawThat’s why we drag out the 10″ table saw with a built in Triton router. We’ve got some fancy cuttin’ to do…

10 trim piecesDang, that’s the trim pieces that go around each of those light box/eave return things. Looks like the Azek dust will be flying – glad I’m doing this outside.

Stay tuned …

Sunroom Ceiling – continued

We have the main part of the ceiling up – but it’s trim time and confessions. Yep, there were plenty of mistakes on this project. But being the freestyle project it is – we’ll fix them as we go.

ceiling light installFirst was cutting the holes for the recessed lights. The one on the left was the 1st one I cut – as a circle. It looked a little off, so I went hunting for the ceiling light paperwork.

light templateAnd right there on the paper that’s inside every fixture it says do not cut a circle. OK.

ceiling light round holeThe trim ring still covered this, but it was mighty close. So I mixed up some water-based wood filler and built up the circle back to the recommended oval. I always add a little tight bond glue to the putty – it makes a very strong material that sticks to the wood.

side beam buildHere is the construction of the side beams – these will go below and above the cross beams.

side beam assemblyThese are glued and clamped and shot with a few 15ga nails. These are 8 feet long. Long enough for the top and bottom beam.

saw side beamEven though I have a pretty big blade on my saw, I still needed a handsaw to finish the deep cut for the angle.

side beam test fitA test fit on the beams to make sure the angles were correct. This shows the upper beam – they’re just stuck up there to test – that’s why the front right one is droopy.

side beams paintedNext we paint and finish them all up. Short ones go above the beam, the long ones go below.

side beam mounting blockThe side beams go over the 2X4 nailer. Additional plywood goes on the nailer before the side beam is attached. The side beams are fastened using 15ga nails nailed through the face of the beam.

side beam install startThe side beams fit between the relief of the main cross beam. The bottom angle is cut to fit flush with the side wall.

There’s lots of fiddling to do before we can put away the ladders.


Wood Slinging – T & G Ceiling

Now we have the plywood base up there it’s time to put up some character. First up is wrapping the collar ties with pine. I’ll make a 3 sided box like this:

beam wrapThese slip over the bottom of the collar ties and will allow me to wire up the track lighting from the top.

joint detailsI used a routed joint with a 1/4″ reveal for the boxes – this makes a strong joint and adds some detail.

beam wrap in progressThe beams are wrapped first before the main body goes up.

saw angle blockThe top angle of the beams were more than 60 degrees, so I used a cheater block to get the proper angle. This sits flush with the fence to add more angle.

saw angle viewThis makes it possible to repeat the angle cut past 60 degrees.

side beam nailersThe side beam nailers are placed next. These will be wrapped with pine as well.

whitewashed woodI’ll use 8″ tongue and groove pine with a whitewashed finish. I have a lot of experience with this type of finish, as I did my art gallery fixtures this way 20 years ago. Just take any flat latex paint and thin it to about 50%. The piece on the right has an even coat of thin paint. The one on the left has been sanded down. Want more grain to show through? Then sand a little more – less grain? Put on a little more paint.
Then coat with a layer of Diamond Clear Varathane floor finish and you’re good to go.

wood ready to go inOf course you have to finish 600 lineal feet for the ceiling…

wood startThe individual planks are butted to the side beam nailers and it goes pretty quickly.

wood finishAnd before you know it, the first phase is done! Lot’s more trim work to do before we can put away the ladders.

Stick around – we might get this room done yet.


2013 in review

I just wanted to send a short note to all to say, yes – I’m still alive and will be back to my regular bumbling remodeling project in 2014. To say 2013 was less than a stellar year for me would be an understatement. A simple fall from a ladder not more than 6 feet off the ground has kept me off the Misadventures in Remodeling project for more than 6 months. But on the bright side I did get a shiny new knee joint out of the deal!

Wishing you all a happy and safe New Year and I’ll see you real soon – we’ve got a lot of work to do to meet the 5 year remodeling deadline!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 24,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Renovators are Born, not Made

As those that follow my little adventure know, I’ve been sidelined for several months now with some gravity induced injuries. Because of this I have time on my hands…lots of time. To keep me occupied, I have been going through boxes and boxes of old photographs.

Looking back through these old photos I realized that I was a born renovator.

As a child I took every clock, watch or anything else that had screws apart. I couldn’t get it back together – but I sure could get it apart.

My first car.

Back when I was young getting your first car was a big deal. Not a car you borrowed from your parents, but a car you picked out and paid for – you had ownership. If you were a guy in 1972 you would probably think this was pretty cool.

article-72caroftheyear-page1and2But what would yours truly pick?

ford41930 Model A Ford

Just look at that baby! Now she didn’t look this bad when I found her. I just can’t seem to find the picture that showed she did indeed come with fenders and a back door. This was a shot a week later – the back door sort of fell off – something about no hinges. For the record, it’s a 1930 Model A Town Sedan. Just think of the possibilities!

This optimism translates to home renovations. You know who you are. You walk into a house and you see the potential – your spouse sees leaky ceilings, dilapidated floors and basically a train wreck with a roof. You see a house that will one day grace the pages of Architectural Digest.  You are born with this optimism – it’s genetic. You can’t help it.

If you had the forethought to renovate a car – knowing in the future, some 40 years later you would renovate a home – you would buy a car that needed not only a mechanic, but a carpenter as well.

ford8Like this car – it’s fate I tell you.

ford3And the inside would have floors made of wood as well.

ford1So I got to work, like any 18 year old would do. Notice the new wood roof and door parts – and new wood floorboards too. This was the last project I got to work on with my dad. His father was a pattern maker for the Murray Body company – one of two companies that provided Ford with the Town Sedan bodies for these cars.

ford2Of course being me it had to be a frame off restoration.

ford5Now any teenager would make this into a hot rod – no doubt about it. But just look at that 4 cylinder flat head powerhouse!

ford7But not me – I’ll make it 100% stock.  Here you see all of the drum brake parts – everything brand new or machined from scratch. Oh, and if you happen to have a Model A and you need your brakes adjusted – stop by – I still have my brake wrench.

ford6Here’s a breathtaking view of some running board brackets.

ford frontThings going back together. The radiator shell was stainless steel.

ford9My mom always said I would never get it back together – she must have been remembering my take-apart-a-watch years. But 4 years later it was ready to roll.

ford10Here it is all done with super fancy wheels, cowl lights and a top speed of 60 mph.

But, like any renovator – once you reach the finish line it’s time to move on. So I sold the old girl a year later and got this pair.

tr6 corvette1Because that’s what a normal 21 year old would want.

Once a renovator – always a renovator.