November Ramblings in the Mis-Adventure House

Well, another month has gone by and I made a personal goal to stop and post about the projects – interesting and uninteresting – at the close of November – so here you go. It’s a long one.

Let’s start here. I’ve posted about this staircase a lot over the years, and one day it’s going to be finished. Not today, but some day. We’ve got the handrail in place and I’ve painted the skirt boards and polished them to a nice 800 grit sheen. I’m not sure why, but I like a highly polished skirt board. It’s a quirk in my personality I suppose.

I’ve also painted the risers as well. The center area of the stairs get a carpet runner, but the paint on the risers has to be uniform nevertheless. Now to attach the majority of the treads I’ve decided to use pocket screws from underneath.

I figured out a way to do this by myself. You just reverse a bar clamp’s jaws and now it’s a handy Kreg jig holder.

So the calculations are 108 Kreg holes need to be drilled in the stair stringers – 9 total for each tread. The bad news is that each hole needed the Kreg jig re-positioned and clamped. And the positioning of each hole had to be done above the stairs, while the drilling of the holes needed to be down below. For each hole it was up the stairs – reposition the jig and clamp, then down the stairs and underneath to drill the hole. Then back up top to reposition and down again to drill the hole. The good news is I only had to do that 108 times – it took awhile.

Now that we have all those holes drilled, it’s time to finish the stair treads. We trimmed these to size and fitted each to the stair in an earlier post. Now it’s time for finishing.

The stain color is a mix of Golden Oak and English Chestnut on white oak. I added and subtracted the ratios until I got a color fairly close to the floor color.

So we dive right in, after opening the grain with a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water.

Now the one thing I miss the most about the renovation is that I can no longer stand in the middle of the living room and flail away, making mounds of sawdust. Nope that will never happen again, sadly. But I still can use our old house’s living room as a drying rack for my stair treads.

So while the stair treads are being finished we hop back over to the Reno house and do some plumbing. I know the younger set like that fancy plastic pipe (PEX), but us old dudes like to get out the torch and live a little dangerously. After all, you can’t burn down your house with that plastic pipe.

This is a closet the opens under the stairs and is the back wall of the kitchen. I left this open so I could run all my plumbing and electrical. This is what I have to work with. Drain beside the two water supplies. I cut out a wall stud and added a header here to give me more space to work.

After a few cuts and fiddling with some fittings, we have everything in a more conventional place. 

Getting bored with plumbing, it’s time to start clearing out the space for the kitchen.

I’ve built all of the cabinets and vanities in the house, but on this I hired it out to some Amish cabinetmakers. I wanted to build them myself, but my wife wanted them done within her lifetime. I can see her point.

A large Amish community is about an hour away, so after a few trips and drawing out my designs the kitchen finally starts to go in.

The sun room opens into the kitchen with the living room off to the right. Handy when I need a snack,

The wine and coffee bar cabinets go in. I still have lighting and tile work to do, but it’s progress just the same.

Within a few hours the cabinets were in and they were on their way home. Now I have to take over.

The two level island is just a bank of drawers on the lower side. This is table height, so a standard dining room chair will work as seating on the end. The island is about 17′ long overall.

I’m test fitting the appliances before I finalize the water connections. Still a lot to do.

Floating shelves, under cabinet lighting, tile work and lots of little details to go. I like to make shadow lines and break up the depths of the cabinets to make it a little more interesting. 3 sets of cabinets have lighted glass uppers and three sets have solid doors with mullions to match the glass doors.

The cardboard mock-up really helped to visualize where everything should go. Several changes were made during this process. But I won’t know until we have the counters in place and it finally becomes a working kitchen.

So there you have it – the going-on in November – we’ll keep marching along, one step at a time.


Advertisements

A Handrail’s Tale

Well, that’s about all that this post will be about. I’ve been missing in action again, but have been working like the dickens behind the scenes. When the house starts coming together and there’s pretty things about – it’s hard to make sawdust in the middle of the living room.       ~ Oh, well onward we march~

1 hand rail brackets

We start by figuring out where we put the handrail. Code says 34 – 36″ above the stair nosing, so we figure that out and mark the wall. Putting the brackets in front of wall studs for strength.

2 rail start

Of course nothing goes smoothly at the MisAdventures project. Looks like the floor guys have the stair nosing out too far.

3 rail layout

So we have two choices here. A- I can move the rial out farther from the wall and miss the nosing, or B- make it more challenging and make some sawdust. OK – B it is. We mark the path we think we need for the handrail.

4 rail cut

Then we make our first cuts with an incredibly dull chisel. Wow – looks like we’ll need some wood putty here.

6 rail cut out finish

But we were lucky and it just needed a little noodling with some sharper tools to make a nice snug fit.

7 rail angle

Now it’s time to calculate the angle that we need to make the horizontal transition to the stair angle. So, being crappy at math – even thought that my brother was a math teacher – we’ll do it the easy way. Determine the angle of the stair and mark the angle on a piece of paper. Add another line the thickness of the handrail. Run a bisecting line through the angle points and set an adjustable angle thing to match and transfer it to your chop saw. No math.

8 rail cut

To get the horizontal 90 cut I used my tapering jig and clamped it in place. I set the blade angle using the previously illustrated angle thing.

9 bolt kit

To hold the joints together I got one of these contraptions.

10 bolt installed

Of course you have to be very accurate to use this type of fastener. I was extremely accurate – I mis-read the instructions and drilled the holes off by 3/8″. It was a nightmare. I got it to work after an hour of fiddling with this thing.

11 rail angle start

Of course with that much time wood-wrestling things didn’t look too pretty at this point.

12 rail angle finish

But with a little sandpaper and a lot of time, we got things back on track.

13 rail AC support

Since I do all of this stuff by myself my monster AC units came in handy as a handrail holder while I wrestled this 16 foot specimen through the bathroom window for multiple test fits.

14 rail test

It took 8 trips through the window until I got the trimming just right.

15 rail paint

So another issue arose as I was attaching the top bed rail to the iron panels. The color of the handrail was too opaque and didn’t show the wood grain. Out the window we go again to strip off the newly applied finish.

16 rail clamps

While that was going on the top handrail was PL glued to the bed rail. You can never have too many clamps when you work by yourself.

17 paint test

While the glue was drying I started refinishing the handrail and oak surround.

18 paint sanding

The floors are white oak and the railing and surrounds are red oak. It took some color adjustments to get the red oak to look like the flooring. The left side shown is after the color coat is applied and then sanded to reveal the grain.

19 rail finish

A paint wash was used to match the red oak rails to the white oak floors. This takes several steps to keep the red oak from turning pink.

20 fail angle close up

The new finish shows off the grain of the wood and gives it a white cast to match the floors. After the final face sanding of the joint, this handrail is finally ready to be attached permanently.

21 rail finish

Well, and there it’s done – a long post for a long and tedious project. How I miss the days I could whip out my belt sander and make some sawdust in the middle of the house.

Hang in there – we’ll add some stair treads next.

 

 

And the changes continue – with some stair stuff

As the renovation at MisAdventures continues and the sawdust making elements diminish, I have to entertain myself by continually moving stuff around. Mind you, the kitchen is still not in – I made some last minute revisions just this week and changed out the range venting. The cabinet makers probably are not used to an old man with OCD- but these are easy going Amish folk who seem amused by my attention to detail and constant ‘what if’s”.

So on we march – one step forward, two steps back.

You may recall I ended up at the close of my last post with this arrangement. Well,..

I’ve noodled this arrangement as of today – but no guarantee it won’t change.

This was my original selection for the living room – I was happy with this.

Until I came home and this subtle hint was waiting for me. The artist is the same, so I guess I can take the hint. The original selection is a local hardware store, the new oil painting is a Cathedral in Sienna, Italy. I think it’s a girl thing – I’ll find a place for my hardware store somewhere.

Other changes – This lamp in my wife’s office was nice, but she wanted something with a little more style. OK.

This is what happens when you leave an old electrical box in the plaster ceiling – not a problem unless your wife selects a light that’s not compatible.

Three hours later, the new box is in – with plaster ceiling intact. The things we do for love – and to stay out of the dog house.

And 20 minutes later her new light illuminates her makeshift bed sheet curtains. One project at a time dear.

And the lamp from her office makes it’s way upstairs the the master bathroom. Will it stay? Hard to tell.

Hercules the plant stand also made a move from the sunroom up here as well. I think this is where he’ll stay.

Enough of musical chairs, let’s get back to building something.

I decided to use stepped oak rails to bring the iron panels up closer to code. The rails were assembled and screwed to the floors. The rails were drilled and lag bolts were used to attach to the oak. The bolts were rust treated to match the rail finish.

As usual, I put the piece in place to figure out what to do next. Freestyle design takes a little bit of trial and error.

Vertical Oak rails were added to the back and long lag bolts attach the railing into the wall studs.

I had built a pair of pine square columns, but decided these oak newel posts off the shelf were a much better design. I like the scale and keeps the railing compact.

The posts are marked and a newel post bolt is used to secure the post to the floor. The bolts are screwed at an angle into the floor joists below.

The posts are drilled and fastened to the floor.

I had some railings from the old house that I will use for the caps. The top rail height is now fully compliant to modern building codes.

I’ll use an oak base rabbeted on both sides to fit the top of the panel and also to hold the top rail in place. The newel post is scribed and cut to fit the cap to the post.

Clamps hold everything in place until the design is finalized. Still a long way to go…

Come along – pretty things to come.

January Update just some stair stuff

Greetings for the New Year! I’m just getting back to the MisAdventures project after our busy Holiday season. Since I have a real job and have a retail business, it’s taken awhile to get back over here and get to work. I hope everyone made a NewYear’s resolution – and you haven’t broken it yet. My resolution is to get moved into this place in 2018 – so fingers crossed that will happen. Now were was I? Oh, yes the header says something about stairs. Yes, that’s it!

But we’ll start with the master bath and the stereo speaker is added to the ceiling. This will be linked to the Bluetooth AV system so music can be streamed from my wife’s phone while see lounges in the bathroom.

We left the newly constructed staircase like this. (That was in 2013) I stopped with the addition of the skirt boards on either side and the risers cut and fastened. Time for some new stair treads.

The risers are 3/4″ poplar the three lower steps extend past the left hand wall.

The 1st tread in place. These are 1″ solid white oak treads. I looked for a local supplier, but found only one here and pretty expensive. I found a fabricator not far away in Tennessee that made them for half the locally quoted price. The Blackford & Son web site is here: http://www.hardwoodstairtreads.com/

I picked up this tread tool at Home Depot to make measuring the treads more accurate.

The tool consists of two plastic end pieces that clamp to a piece of 1X3 lumber. You clamp the end pieces tight against the skirt boards and the riser and you have an accurate template.

Place the template against the riser (these are the longer ones in the mudroom). Mark the ends of the template and cut. Simple and fool proof.

Three cut and 12 more to go. These are only placed in position. They will be removed and stained by the flooring guys before final installation. I wish I would have had this tool to cut my risers. It would have been more accurate and I wouldn’t have to caulk the riser/skirtboard joint. Live and learn.

The last three steps require a little more cutting. I ordered three treads with left hand returns to fit the exposed end treads.

The left hand returns have a finished lip that extends over the side of the stair. This has to be field cut and fitted to the return trim on the wall.

The treads are marked and cut to fit. The finish and quality of the treads was very good.

So that brings us up to date. Right now we’re in the middle of a snow ‘event’ with temps dropping from 60 degrees this past Wednesday to a -6 coming mid-week. Ah, life in the Midwest.

Stay warm and I’ll see you soon.

 

Wednesday one shot

photo

Since I usually sell art, not make it – I thought I’d share my only artistic creation. This is looking up from the bottom of the Woman Cave stairwell. See? I told you there were lots of drywall corners. Happy Wednesday everyone.

Woman Cave – Finished Staircase

Well, there you have it – a project finished. Mmmm, maybe not completely, let’s just call it a photo-finish.

1 stair well

I’m not going to bore you with the tedious, multi corner drywall finishing. I counted 28 outside corners and 11 inside corners for the stairwell area. Why so many? Bulkheads and plumbing runs will make that happen. You’ll get glimpses of all the angles – the memories are too painful for me to show just how many there are in one shot.

2 wall insulation

The walls were finished and painted before the final stair goes in. The area under the stair stringers was framed with 2X4’s and was insulated with spray foam. Drywall was then placed to finish.

3 riser measurements

I’ve added the stair skirt boards and wrapped it around the tricky angled wall. The wall is reinforced for the stair tread supports.

4 all risers in place

All the risers are cut to the width of the opening.

5 stair tread template

Since this will be a carpeted stair, I used 1″ pine treads. Here is my handy cardboard template to figure the angle cut.

6 trim pieces

Speaking of angle cuts – these are the trim pieces I needed to fabricate to trim out the stair/wall junctions. Top Clockwise: 1st tread back trim, Bottom RH trim, Top RH trim, LH Top trim bottom block, LH Top trim.

7 buscit joiner layout

The bottom RH trim required a piece 14″ wide. So out comes the biscuit joiner. 1st we mark the biscuit locations.

8 biscut joiner

Cut the slots for the biscuits and glue it all up. The moisture in the glue expands the beech wood biscuits and makes for a solid joint.

9 finished stair

And that finished the stair – time to move on.

Time’s a wasting.

Basement Stairs – Getting to the Woman Cave

Welcome to spring my fellow renovators! As usual, I have a dozen projects going on at the same time – and most aren’t very photogenic – yet.

Let’s go down to the woman cave and get that pesky staircase built for the basement.

Here we go – watch your step. And a warning – this is  a longer post than most.

First we need a plan. Go to My Carpentry.Com for a really good calculator. You need exact measurements of the distance from one finished floor to the next to make a good, safe set of stairs.

1 stair plan

The items needed for laying out stairs is pretty simple. A framing square and some stair nuts, or some other means to make stops on the square to make consistent marks on the stringer. And for me, a life size cardboard template.

2 mock up

Calculating the proper size of the stair is easier if you use a template like this. Here the cardboard template is in place. The 2X4 wood in the foreground is a mock up of the bottom step height to make sure I have enough head room to meet code.

3 stringer template

Once I’ve gotten the stringer template made I’m ready to transfer to the real stringer. The wood for the stairs is typical Misadventures material. Most use a 2X12, but here we’ll use a LVL or Laminated Veneer Lumber beam. I like using laminated lumber on stair stringers for several reasons.It’s really strong, straight and won’t warp or change after cutting, which is something dimensional lumber will sometimes do.

4 stringer jig

Since I’ll be making 3 stringers for this project, I’ll make a set of jigs for the cuts. The one on the left is for the ‘run’ cut and the right one is for the ‘rise’ cut. I find it so much easier and faster to take a few minutes and make a jig if I have a lot of repetitive cuts to make. On stairs consistency is a safety issue, so make ’em right.

5 saw spacer block

One more jig and I’m done – promise. I also make a little spacer that is the width of the saw shoe plus the thickness of the saw blade. This will vary slightly from one blade to the next, so I made a new one to match this blade. You need this little block – so make it.

6 stringer end cut

Jig and block together – so sweet! The block is used to line up the layout mark on the stringer and then you butt the cutting jig next to the block. I screw the jig to the stringer to keep it secure.

7 sawing stringer

Then we cut the stringer stopping right at the intersecting line. No over cutting here.

8 hand saw finish cut

Then we take a hand saw and finish the cut. Over cutting will weaken your stringer, especially if you use dimensional lumber. I could overcut this LVL – but I would never do that – my OCD would never allow it. You can see how straight and square the cut is – that’s why you use a jig.

9 fitting first stringer

Now we check out how we did – we’ll check to make sure the rise and run are correct before we mess up any other materials. You can see how much longer and less steep the stairs are next to the original.

10 checking level

Check for level on the steps and I think we’re ready to make some clones!

11 tracing stringer

Take the finished stringer and clamp it to the next and carefully trace the pattern.

12 stringer end cut

The spacer block is also used to make the end cuts.

13 two down

Two finished and one to go.

14 three stringers together

Once all three are cut I line them up with the framing square and screw them all together.

15 sanding stringers

The three are then tweaked with a belt sander to make them all identical. Now – this is crazy precise for a simple stair stringer – but remember this is my hobby. It does show that taking a few minutes building a jig will make your project a lot easier to build.

16 old stairs

I think it’s time to say goodbye to these 81 year old stairs.

Hang in there – we’ll make something out of this place yet.