January Round Up – the good, bad and ugly.

Greetings fellow renovators. I thought I’d drop by and post a quick update on what’s going on at the MisAdventures renovation. There was some good, some bad, some ugly and some plain stupid.

1-feet-upWe’ll start with the ugly – as in my shoes my wife tries to throw away, but I keep fishing them out of the trash. Hey, they’re my lucky shoes, OK? You can see a peek in the Kitchen over my chop saw – but that’s for another post. But I did get the paint on the ceiling and all 22 lights installed in there.

2-top-view-tv-cabBut we’ll focus on that cabinet in the sun room with the retractable screen. Here’s looking down on the plywood top we want to cover with a nice piece of local hardwood. So I made a cardboard template and took it to a local craftsman that has a sawmill.

3-cherry-top-startAnd he popped out a nice Indiana Cherry top, complete with a hinged door for the TV lift. The front is 6/4 1 1/2″) stock, the back part and the hinged lid is 3/4 stock. Great.

4-top-installedNow the stupid part. I needed to get this wood sealed right away  – to keep the twisting to a minimum. No problem – I just grabbed a can of Waterbased clear coat and gave it a good seal coat on all four sides. Done – not so fast, stupid. (That’s me, not you)

5-first-finishYou see, a waterbased finish on cherry is like motor oil on a hot fudge sundae. It might look good from a distance, but you’ll notice something’s not quite right when you get a little closer. The waterbased finish left the cherry looking bleached out and flat.

6-paint-stripperSo we prance right out and get some of this stuff. It works great, and much less toxic than traditional paint strippers.

8-sanding-the-topA couple hours off my life, and we’re back to bare wood. No fun.

9-more-sandingBut no, it doesn’t end there. I laid on a coat of wiping oil made from boiled linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits – and it looked great! Well, except for all of the scratches my scraper left behind. So this is the second full strip and sanding job. I then made another mess using some fast dry varnish – so another sanding job was needed. I finally ordered some wiping varnish from Rockler called Arm-r-Seal that lots of guys seem to use on YouTube – we’ll see how it comes out when I try my 4th attempt. I’m too old for this stuff.

10-tile-instalSomething did go right in the month of January. I finally got the tiles that I had made installed in the pilasters of the bookcase.

11-tile-detailThe stoneware tiles have a Lupine flower design and were made by Terra Firma tiles. This plant was native to Indiana, but you don’t see them very often here. I plan to have these in the garden outside the sunroom eventually.

12-rh-light-boxNow here’s something that went bad – and then good for a change. I had ordered a pair of Restoration Hardware Library Sconces to go over the windows in the bookcase. I ordered these in 2014 – but they were never checked. So the first of January  I decided to get them out to install. The box said it had a Polished Nickel Double sconce inside.

But I got one of these instead – A table lamp? Well, the package was a different shape than the other one. OK, let’s open the other one.

15-broken-library-lampAnd of course it’s the right one – but broken. Well, that’s just dandy. I have a Restoration Hardware shipment that was sent in 2014 that has one broken light and one table lamp. It is now 2017 – you do the math. But I have a Trade account with them so I sent an email and explained what I did (and didn’t do) and what do you think happened?

16-rh-library-double-sconce-installedThey picked up the original packages and sent replacements within 3 days! No charge! So these are now installed on the bookcases.  Now you know why I have so many RH lights in this house.



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.

Mid June Roundup Still Stuff to Do

Happy Summer to all you fellow renovators! I only have one pretty picture to show you on this installment of MisAdventures.Lots going on, just not much that is picture-worthy. Sometimes I forget to snap a photograph, but most of the work has been tedious stuff like drywall finishing, painting and trim work. We’re closing in on finishing the basement project. More yet to do,  but almost livable. I’ll do a proper before and after post when it’s all done. But here’s were we are as of this morning.

1 basement ceilingI’ve got the basement ceiling in and all the drywall done in this room. It’s all painted with BM Moonlight White. I’ve got the 9 wall and ceiling speakers in and all of the led recessed lighting. The system is set up for a 70″ TV. As everywhere else in this house, I’ve got more than enough light. There are 32 hardwired light fixtures on this level.

2 basement electrical panelI still have to wire the final kitchen circuits and close this area up. I’ll figure some way to hide these boxes behind artwork or a chalkboard or something.

3 egress windowThe egress window is trimmed out and cased with PVC trim. I’ll add a one piece sill on the bottom and finish trim this window.

4 small basement windowThere are two small hopper style windows that are also trimmed in PVC. I like this material around windows. If it gets wet, no big deal as it’s 100% waterproof. No swelling or paint problems. I still paint the window’s trim with BM Impervo acrylic enamel in a white match which is the same color as the sunroom trim. The little door hides the whole house water shut off.

5 basement towards stairsLooking back towards the stair, there’s a little utility closet to the right of a small TV mount.

6 AV cabinetThe AV cabinet and all the wires. Just testing the lines with some old equipment before I start putting in the cable terminals and final set up.

7 door to utility roomHere is the extra deep door to the work room / utility room. This wall is a support wall dividing the woman cave from the work room. The concrete block wall was 8″ wide, plus two 4″ wide walls with spacing makes this about 18″ deep. I needed this door to swing in to the work room and have the widest possible opening.

10 doors to spa and pantryDoors are in for the bathroom on the left and the pantry on the right. I used single pane doors with  obscure glass on the doors to match the rest of the house and give it a vintage spa feel.

8 pantry cabinetInside the pantry area I built this removable storage cabinet. It has to be removable to get access to the bathroom inline fan. The little switch above the door is used to override the fan circuit that automatically comes on with the light in the bathroom.

9 well under stairsThis is the access to the well pump and sump pump under the stairs. I’ll be adding another tank to the pump system to add more capacity for watering the garden. The pipe stub outs are waiting for me to plumb in a utility sink and vanity.

11 spa door and shelving unitsInside the spa area I’ve built two cabinets – the one on the left will get a mirrored door and the one on the right gets open shelves for towels and baskets. All of the trim in this room is PVC.

12 spa vanity areaThe vanity wall has a medicine cabinet on the wall right of the sink. It’s placed here because the sink wall is a below grade exterior wall and it wouldn’t fit. We’ll see how this works out.It doesn’t really show, but the bathroom is painted with BM Italian Ice Green in their Matte bathroom paint.

13 spa steam showerThe steam shower is ready for tile. The tile guy will be here in a few weeks to finish this room and the pantry.

14 whirlpool tub surroundI’ve built the whirlpool tub surround panels. Again, made from PVC to make them waterproof. All the panels are removable to access the pump and plumbing. I’ll finish trim these when the tile is installed.

15 sunroom chandeliersAnd finally one pretty picture. I needed the space in the garage that these chandeliers were occupying, as they were in 4’X5′ boxes. I decided to go ahead and install them over the weekend, along with the wall sconces over the windows – since I’ve had them here waiting for this day since 2013.  This is a pair of Curry & Company Raintree Oval Chandeliers. I think they’ll make a good contrast to the medium valued wood floors when they go in. I love layering light, so I planned seven different light sources in this room. Recessed over head, Chandeliers, Two circuit track lighting, wall sconces, Bookcase accent, table lamps and window light. It is a white valued room, so the light sources will add texture and interest to the space. Or – that’s how I figured it.

We’ll see…. 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 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.

Sunroom Window Trimming

Now that we are back on the ground we can trim out the big windows in sunroom. We have 7 in here and all will get the same design treatment – except the two on the end wall that will be wrapped with bookcases.

1 jamb jointFirst we rip the jamb stock to size – just a little wider than the surrounding drywall. These will be painted, so I’m using poplar – a very good wood for projects like this because of it’s easy workability and tight grain to make that Oh-so-smooth finish. You see that I have a routed joint – it will make your life so much easier when doing window jambs, as it keeps the joint perpendicular.

2 router spacerI always make as many jigs or templates to make the job go quickly. If you have more than a couple of anything – this is the best way to speed things up. Here I have a spacer that is exactly the width of the router base to the straight edge jig.

3 router jigHere’s a picture of a jig setup for routing the bookcase around the windows – but it’s the same idea. The template rests against the straight edge jig and is lined up with the marks where you want the joint to be. I’ll get into detail in the next couple of posts.

4 stool cutI assemble the three sides of the jamb – the top and sides. So you have a ‘U’ shaped piece glued and nailed together. I then make the stool – the sill of the window. I shim this at both sides of the window and set the ‘U’ on top.

5 loose stoolI shim and nail the ‘U’ in place and add the side casings to the windows as well. Here you see the window trimmed but the stool (sill) is removable. I do this because it’s easier for me to get the proper reveal on the sill this way. Most will set the stool first and work off of that. So I’m different – deal with it 🙂

6 tight stoolStools in place and fastened.

7 casing blockAs mentioned earlier – I use templates and whatever to make things go quicker and more accurate. I use this block of wood to get the reveal the same all around. Make the block flush with the jamb and you have a uniform reveal. The clamp comes in handy when the side casing might be a little bowed. A little pressure on the clamp and it will straighten it out.

8 octagon jambsThe octagon window jamb was easy. I had made two when I installed the same window in the upstairs closet.

9 octagon casing cutThe eight pieces are cut for the casing – looks like it’ll work.

10 pocket screw jigTo assemble I make one pocket hole with a Kreg tool. Only one is needed, as it’s mainly used as a way to clamp the pieces together.

11 finished octagonThe finished casing glued and ready to put up.

12 bookcase wallThe casing up and all the windows have been trimmed and back banded – all but these two, which get bookcases built around them – that I haven’t designed yet. Nothing like waiting to the last minute. But I have my yellow pad there…

12 window casing with back bandHere are the two big boys – 8’6″ each. All trimmed out with back banded casing. (That’s the piece that ‘picture frames’ the side and head casing) and the apron below the stool (sill).

13 waspAnd all the time this guy kept me company. I think it was his uncle I was swatting at when I fell off the ladder last year.

This time I left him alone – lesson learned.