Fireplace Freestyle Fiddling #4 It’s Mantle Time

I know this is a long drawn out series – but there’s more components than average to this build, due to the flanking bookcases.

1-checking-the-taperThe tops of the bookcases are slightly sloped intentionally – and because of this the side panel will need to be tapered. First a level is placed on top and the gap is measured for the taper. This is how much we will remove from the bottom to make the top level.

2-trper-jigI use a tapering jig, but you can use a homemade version just as well. This will add a slight taper to our side pieces.

3-squaring-the-sideOnce we have the pieces cut we then need to square the sides to the window casing. I used a framing square and shim out the side piece so everything is now square.

4-tapered-sideA piece is cut for the side top reveal.

5-side-paintedAn additional piece is cut to wrap around the front of the marble top. It is then painted before attaching.

6-mantle-roughNow we’re ready to make the mantle. This is a 5/4 (1″) X 10 clear white pine board. I just set it up to get an idea of the overhang.

7-back-band-cutI decided to make a back-band to go at the back of the mantle. I used a router to add some detail to the top and then cut the three pieces. Here I’m test fitting the cuts.

8-mantle-sides-joinedThe three back-band pieces are glued and nailed together, I then joined the front mantle to the side pieces with a biscuit and glue.

9-mantle-glue-upThe mantle and back band were all assembled as a one piece unit to keep everything flat and straight.

10-test-fit-mantleThen the assembled mantle was test fit into place.

11-painting-back-bandThe back band is finished and a hole was drilled in each side leg of the mantle. I made the side mantle top slightly narrower to make the joint easier to finish and not have to be concerned about the joint separating.

12-mantle-wiringWiring from a wall switch is run under the mantle to both sides of the fireplace for the final test fit.

13-sillite-receptaclesThe wires were for these. Called Sillites, they will allow us to plug in Christmas lights or other decorations on the mantle.

14-attaching-the-mantleOnce the wiring is run we can finally glue and attach the mantle.

15-mantle-in-placeTime to start sanding and finishing.

16-fireplace-side-detailOne more detail is added to the side of pilaster to mirror the design in the sunroom.The paint is BM Ice White in Impervo enamel.

17-shell-detailI’ll sand and paint this a total of four times. I start will 100 grit and finish with 400. It is tedious, but when it’s finally done you can feel the difference.

18-sillite-receptacleThe Sillites have a cover when not in use.

19-finish-paintingSo you think we’d be done – but nooooo – we still have to finish the original details on the bookcases – and slide the fireplace in there.

One more post on this thing and I’m outa here – promise.


Fireplace Freestyle Fiddling #2 Design Fail

First I want to thank you for your kind comments – it’s encouraging to hear from some of you who follow along this 6 + year renovation – my,  you sure have long attention spans.

Remember that anyone can do what I do – it’s not difficult if you take your time and be precise in measurement and cutting – or build in some wiggle room in the design like I have on this project. If I hadn’t put in the daddo (groove) in the back of the legs on this fireplace but instead built it on a flat surface – it just would not have worked.  One other thing – be prepared to make changes in the design – especially if you have no clue as to what you plan to do –

See Below

So we left of here.

6-start-of-fireplace-designThe two side legs (pilasters) are removable and the crosspiece is loose. I’ve built small square boxes attached to the front of the pilasters – now we start to figure out our design.

2-fp-designFail # 1 – This seemed like a good idea on paper, but when I glued these on the fireplace I knew I made a mistake. Waffles anyone? I was trying to tie in the design of the cabinet doors.

3-fp-designFail #2 – OK, so maybe if I just move the center element to make a central rectangle and use a simple molding under the mantle.  Nope.

4-fp-designFail #3 – The fluted pilasters are the original pieces that will go on the cabinet frame. So maybe we could make a wider version to fit the pilaster. Still trying to salvage my waffle, I thought maybe I could place a center square of some kind of design. Not feeling it.

5-fp-designSemi Fail #4 – How about making the waffle go away and add a square design element? The flat fluting has got to go away. This thing looks too square.

6-fp-designFail #5 – So let’s put a rounder element in the mix. I had a couple of stair balusters, so why not add these. It will soften the look of all the sharp corners. No, no, no.

7-fp-designGetting warmer – Let’s just get back to basics. I cut some cardboard and mocked up the design elements – we’ll figure out what they are later. I want three elements to mirror the three Ginkgo leaves in the stained glass windows. Also in the photo I’m in the process of adding rock wool insulation up the chimney. This high-heat insulation will help keep the cold out. This is a direct vent fireplace, so the two silver pipes are for venting.

8-fireplace-design-1Fail #6 – My first thought was to use some type of flower to to tie in the leaf theme of the windows. I found a great wood shop out in Oregon that makes stock carvings that I thought I could incorporate. The company is Heartwood Carvings. This was nice, but too far from the arching design the Ginkgo leaves have.

9-fireplace-design-2Fail #7 – We’re getting closer. The palmetto flower had sort of the design I wanted, but I really liked the central scallop shell design.

10-fireplace-final-designI’m tired, my head hurts – let’s just go with this. I found matching scallop shells in a square block and thought that they mirrored the Ginkgo leaf design. My wife was from an island and she eats scallops – so why not?

11-wood-carvingsSo I put in my order and in a few days I got these. Two carved pilasters 4″ X 36″ – Two 5″ square corner blocks and a 5″ X 12″ center block.

12-wood-pilastersTime to get busy and build this thing.

More to come – stick around.

A Week at the (mis)Adventures project

I usually don’t post until I have something done – but as the weather gets better it seems projects are happening in the basement, first floor, upstairs and outside at the same time.1 new lightIn the living room I debated what light fixture to use in the center of the room. I had this 25″ stained glass lamp in my present home so I popped it in here to see how it would look. I also added a ceiling medallion that is the same diameter.

14 door handleThe bead design in the medallion matches the detail in the door plates.

2 living roomThe fixture has white and green stained glass with clear cabochon jewels. I like the fact that the shape of the shade and colors mirror the ginkgo windows. I’ll put whiter LED bulbs in the fixture. I looks yellow because of the old tungsten bulbs. But not 100%  sure. What do you think? Should I keep this or go with a traditional crystal chandelier?

3 sub panelDown to the basement – I added a new sub panel for the basement circuits. I’ll wire all the basement electric to this panel. The original just didn’t have enough spaces for the steam shower and other stuff down here. Also the egress window is shown ready for installation – as soon as I cut the window hole in the foundation. And that black cast iron waste pipe is gonna go too – as soon as I dig a pit for the pipes outside. It’s always something…

4 roofing in progressAnd the one rain free day (yesterday) the old roof was torn off.

6 New RoofAnd the new roof went on. Finally the roof is on and I can start on the final details and siding outside.

5 Alpha Omega ContractingI have worked with a lot of contractors on this project. I do most of the work around here – but have sub contracted the plumbing and foundation work in the past – some with not too great results. For the roofing for my home and the Gallery, I chose my friend Bill Combs with Alpha-Omega Contracting to do my roofs. I want to highly recommend him for any project. I think those that follow along will know how particular I am with everything dealing with this house, and Bill was even more demanding that every element was well done. I should know, as I was on the roof too. I can’t thank him enough for putting up with my specific demands of my special copper chimney flashings and my newly installed Azek trim shows barely a scratch. When the crew was done you couldn’t tell they were ever there. So a big A+ for Alpha-Omega Contracting.

Lets hope the rest of this renovation goes as smoothly.

Living Room #5 Ginkgo Leaves

It looks like we’re finally getting to add something visual to the space – and make a bad view go away as well.

1 original window view

Here was the problem – the two windows on either side of the fireplace have sight views that look directly into the neighbor’s building. So when we were renovating this part I replaced the old double hung windows with new Marvin Ultimate windows that had fixed glass.

2 stained glass window back

To illustrate how long this process is taking – I had these stained glass windows made in 2010! Here is the backside showing the strips of wood that hold the window into the frame. A thin foam strip was added to keep the panels from rattling.

3 glass in frame

I removed the cabinets to make it easier to work on the windows and frames.The stained glass was made by my friend Jules Mominee at Mominee Studios. The design is a popular arts & crafts motif that I modified to fit my windows. I thought the square and rectangular elements in the windows mirrored the original cabinet doors. I had the ginkgo leaves made with bright jade and apple green glass – to make it a happy window.

4 glass in place

I built the frames that hold the glass to fit into the casing opening. A simple square stop was added and nailed in place.

6 window stop detail

This piece is removable if I need to take the glass out for repair.

7 led cabinet lights

Now to make the cabinets a little brighter, I put an led cabinet light from Pegasus Lighting 32″ long and 10W

8 cabinets lit in place.

Cabinets are in, lights are in, windows are in….we’ll just keep marching along.

Living Room #4 Random work

So it’s been some time since my rant about Rehab Addict. I’ve been staying busy – so busy that there’s no time for TV – that will keep my frustration level down to a manageable level.

1 new entryWe start by finishing the original entry casework and drywall. Here you can see the entry in relation to the future wine bar and the sunroom.

2 entry detailThe previous owner had sheathed the window wall with drywall with the original lath – so this made the door a little thicker than usual.

6 door spacer

So plywood spacers were added to get the framing level with the drywall.

5 trim stockAs with all the new trim in the house I use #1 poplar trim – it’s a little more expensive, but paints beautifully.

7 door casing detailThe top and side casing is routed – this creates a stronger joint that is also easy to keep square.

11 door casing pocket screwsAs I’ve done more trim, I’ve gone to pre-assembling the face casings with pocket screws.. This keeps the joints together and allows for very good finish joints.

12 door casing bandingThe back banding was cut from the stock and then trimmed to fit the face casing.

8 paint color 1Before the cabinets were installed I wanted to put the first coat of paint on the walls. I used BM 2125-70 Wedding Veil. Bad move. It was so white that is was blinding. So let’s just call this a primer coat.

9 paint color 2Second attempt was BM OC-18 Dove Wing. It’s a warmer, almost putty color white – but not too yellow. The trim was done in BM 2123-70 Ice Mist in  satin Impervo. It’s a blue – white but works well together.

Next time we’ll get those cabinets installed and add some personality to this room…

Living Room #3 Fireplace Fiddling

Firstly these recent posts are real time – finished just a day or two ago. The weather and waiting for a plumber keep other projects from advancing.

We’re still in test-fit mode here at MisAdventures. I may not have a plan on paper, but it’s up here in my head somewhere. Even through formal plans are non-existent I just don’t run roughshod willy-nily with stone and wood – no, I do a lot of “what-if” test fits.

1 gas lineThe cabinet boxes had to be smaller than the face frames to allow gas pipe and electric to be run to the fireplace. This side will have the gas – the other side will have the electric. This pipe has to go up and into the firebox. No – that valve will not be at this position. Originally, this valve was inside the fireplace – and that’s allowed by our local code. Not a good idea in my opinion, so we will have a shut off valve under the floor with a key next to the fireplace. We’ll know the layout when my plumber shows up.

2 fireplace 1st fitThe first test fit of the fireplace insert. It’s a Regency L390E Direct Vent gas – and I already see a problem. The specifications show the width without that little box attachment on the left side. It’s an optional remote control module and it doesn’t allow the fireplace to sit centered.

3 fireplace notch start So out comes the diamond saw and we start making some more brick dust – and I thought I was done with this dirty stuff.

4 fireplace fit after notchAfter the notch I thought I might be done with the saw – but I think I’ll have to notch the top a little more because I have a new hearth going in over the original limestone hearth. Why would I cover up this vintage hearth you say? Well, I wanted to keep it – since I added limestone outside. But the hearth is pretty poor in the craftsmanship department. The right side is 1 1/2″ wider than the left side. It has pretty poor joints and really filthy stone. I sanded some and thought about taking it up and resetting it. But really – it looks like concrete.

5 fireplace with surroundBut after thinking about the big picture I have decided to add a honed black granite hearth to match the matte black fireplace surround. I’ll build a mantle and wrap the corners with casework. (Those sticks of wood are my substitute for a CAD drawing). The surround between the fireplace face and those vertical sticks  will be white marble and the tops of the cabinets flanking the fireplace will have matching marble tops.

6 living room at nightSo this is where we are right now. You see I used the original cabinet doors for the design theme for all the exterior windows in the house – all 24 of them. This room is 13’X18′ and the 9′ ceiling has 8 low voltage recessed lights.The wall color will be white – another white on white room. There is a lot of art going in here so the lights are fully articulated to effectively light the paintings. A vintage chandelier will go in the middle.

So as I wait for the plumber to fit the fireplace and get the stone guys moving -hang in there we’ll get this room semi-finished and move on to the next.


Living Room #2 Fireplace and Cabinets

The original cabinets on the sides of the fireplace were 9″ deep. Since I have bookcases surrounding the windows in the sun room I thought I would use these cases to display some art pottery or glass.

1 cutting cabinet sides Because I had the space, I made the cases 16″ deep. Here I’m set up to cut the case sides to length after I ripped them on the table saw to the proper width. I’m using 3/4″ birch plywood that has a UV finish coat on both sides.

2 frame and cabinetThe face frame layout with the cabinet box in the background. The face frames are a little more than 3/4″ longer because a trim piece fits under the doors and is a stool for the decorative pilasters – you’ll see.

3 first fittingThe boxes and face frames are test fit into the space. The cabinets have a space between the walls to allow for a chase for electrical on this side and gas pipes on the opposite side. The face frame is not attached to allow the proper placement of the boxes which are then marked for reference.

4 hinge jigOriginally the doors had surface mount butterfly hinges. I wanted to use an original style hinge but didn’t have enough room because the fireplace will now have a surround that takes up the space needed for this type of hinge. So I opted for a euro style hinge that is inset and concealed. Here is a jig set up to bore the 35mm hole for the hinge cup and the sample test to the right in the picture.

6 hinge profileThis view shows the hinges installed to the doors and the face frame brackets attached. These are ‘clip top’ hinges – meaning you can easily remove the doors from the cabinet by depressing a clip. They are also adjustable 3 ways which is great for original 80 year old doors.

7 hinges onThe hinges are installed and fit to the space to make sure there’s no clearance problems. The face frames are not attached to the boxes yet.

8 face frame fillerThe face frame is exposed on the inside of the cabinet and that little pocket screw hole tucked up at the top of the cabinet would be visible – if you laid down on your back inside the cabinet and looked up. But being anal retentive it had to be filled. Here is a tapered dowel glued in the screw hole.

9 face frame sandedA little sanding and it disappears – I feel so much better now. The top one is outside the cabinet box.

10 inside face frameThe inside frame is finished and the hinge plates are screwed to the frames.

11 box to frameFinally the face frames are attached to the cabinet boxes with Kreg screws on the sides and top. The bottom gets part of the base that is glued and screwed as well. The back was finished with a 1/2″ plywood backer that was finish painted before installing.

12 cabinet componentsHere is the finished cabinet ready to instal. I cut the front of the floor base down so I could attach the cut off piece on the bottom of the cabinet box for support. Sometimes you have to improvise – especially when you make things without any plans.

Hang in there – the doors will be hanging shortly….I hope.


Living Room #1 Floors and Fireplace

We left off with hopping from the 2nd floor master bath to the 1st floor living room. After moving a room full of clutter and exterior insulation panels, we’re ready to tackle some new projects.

1a Old roomSo here’s the basic layout. Originally a painted brick fireplace with original cabinets on the side. Looks good, but lots of problems with windows, sloped floors and a drafty open fireplace.

1 floor shim startSo we cleaned it up, ran vents for a direct vent fireplace. Cement board was attached to the brick with modified thinset and tapcons. The walls were drywalled and new windows added on either side of the fireplace.These are insulated units that don’t open, as stained glass windows go here to block the scenic view of the brick wall.

2 floor shimThis area of the floor had a 3/4″ slope for some reason. The floor in general is flat and pretty level. The house being 80 years old this year, I guess a little droopiness is to be expected. So to fix this I added shims before the new 1/2 CDX plywood underlayment was screwed down.

3 sheathing  The first sheet goes in and checked to make sure its level. The plywood is screwed through the original 3/4″ pine floor into the floor joists.

4 levelAnd it is flat and level.

5 floor viewThe flooring is added and shimmed slightly to keep the floor flat. It’s pretty level, but little dips and uneven areas could be shimmed when the finish floor goes in. I’ve made 2X6 bases for the new cabinets and set the doors on top to visualize what to do next.

6 cabinet pieceI kept a piece of the old cabinet frame to use as a guide for the new face frames. These cabinet doors are about the only old thing left in this place, so I want to duplicate the design.

7 face frame layoutEverything you need in life is right here. No time to eat, I have my Diet Coke and some crackers for lunch while I figure out these cabinet face frames.

8 face frame figuresI ran out of yellow pads, so plywood scrap will do. Each side of the fireplace is different, and each set of doors is slightly different as well – so it looks like I’ll need both sides of this plywood to do some cypher’n.

9 door mock upThe doors are not square – they actually flair out at the bottoms slightly. If you were hanging around on the same hinges for 80 years you might have a wider bottom too. We’ll square up the door later – right now we need to make sure the door frames are just a slight bit small to allow us to shave the doors down just a smidgen.

10 kreg jigEven though I have some pretty nice tools – I still use this bottom of the line Kreg screw kit. It still works great, even though you can get some fancy newer models.

11 face frame glue upOnce I glue and screw the frames, I usually clamp them down on a flat surface. Sometimes the screws make the frame joints ‘rock’ slightly and cup the frame at the joint. This seems to help.

12 face frame fittingThe face frames in for a trial fit. The rails closest to the fireplace is wider than the ones next to the walls. This is to compensate for the thickness of the fireplace mantle sides. (Which I have yet to design).

Stick around – we’ll have a nice fire going – around August I suspect.