Closing Out January

So January is coming to a close – and what a cold one it is! I hope you, your loved ones and your plumbing pipes are all safe and warm. A warm up is in our future, so hang in there. Here’s a little recap of the shenanigans over at the Misadventures project – we’re getting closer to the finish – if that’s possible.

We’ll start with a small problem. When I drew up the kitchen island design, the cabinetmaker missed this little detail. I needed some extra room next to the dishwasher bay to add the receptacles and switches between the upper and lower countertops. I thought I could get away with these shallow switch boxes – but nope, not gonna work.

Looking at the back of the dishwasher bay, you can see a boatload of electric that needs to find a home and these little metal boxes just aren’t quite big enough. Oh the pains of free-style design.

I fabricated a 3/4″ panel to attach to the cabinet side to give me a little more depth for the electrical boxes. I changed out the metal boxes for these – the blue boxes have a little more room for wire wrangling.

So with a little persuasion we have all the wires where they belong – and the dishwasher fits as well.

Another little misstep. I thought the white controls and receptacles would work – but no. I’ve changed out these eyesores to black. The two receptacles are gfi protected on two circuits – just as code requires. The others are a speaker balance control and a 3-way switch for cabinet lights.

I was trying to get everything done before the countertops went in – it makes life so much easier when you can work from the top. I’ve plumbed the main sink and dishwasher and run electric for disposal and dishwasher.

Final work to get ready for the countertops I bought back in 2010 – Time to get rid of my cardboard counter you can see in the background.

Steel plates were glued and bolted in place to the counter overhang. I added a 14″ overhang at this end for a small seating area.

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Of course, the countertop install day had to be one with a rainstorm that wanted to tag along.

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So after a couple of hours the quartzite counters are in place, ready for me to start on the finish plumbing. I bought these stone slabs so long ago I had forgotten what they looked like. You can read the post about the counters here. The kitchen is 27′ long and opens into the 16′ wide sunroom, which makes for a 43′ long sightline – it creates a very open and bright workspace.

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The upper sink area is a standard 36″ with the lower level at table height (30″). The modified galley kitchen design with central island allows traffic to flow through the kitchen to any other part of the house without passing through the working side of the kitchen. Which is a good thing when someone is in there with a hot stove and sharp knives. The lighting may seem a little overboard, but since I do lighting design as part of my day job it was designed to create a shadow-free work area. The centers are 3″ MR-16 LED and the others are 4″ led recessed lights. The aisle lights are a schoolhouse design. Since the trim on the lights are the same color as the ceiling, they minimize the Swiss cheese effect of all those ceiling light holes.

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The little wine bar area is almost finished with the exception of the tile backsplash and the glass shelves. And the plumbing of course. Looks like my wife is already finding a home for her flammable liquids.

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The small deep prep sink by the stove will have a instant hot water dispenser. The tile backsplash and single shelf also will need to go in. Since my wife is Filipina, she likes to have one or more girlfriends over to cook together. The kitchen accommodates three in the kitchen to prepare food.

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Instead of hanging pendant lights, I opted for these schoolhouse style lamps that would have been used in the 1930’s. The lights allow for a multi-directional light to complement the directional recessed lights. 

The upper level cleanup sink is a single bowl with the dishwasher to the left. The lower drawers on the island are for dinnerware and serving pieces. This position makes it easy to load and unload the dishwasher. The island is 30″ wide, a little narrower than standard, but the 9′ length of the lower counter makes up for the width. My wife likes to work off the lower level, especially when rolling dough and preparing some of her more complicated recipes, as she has room to spread out. 

So onward we go, mare details and cabinets to build, but at least we’re getting to the pretty stuff. I promised some bling – it’s just taken nearly 10 years to get here. Stay warm and see you soon.

 

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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.


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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

A quick update

Greetings fellow renovators and spectators! Sorry for the delay in posting. I haven’t given up the ghost, or finished the MisAdventures project – just yet. As I have a real job (besides doodling around here). I’ve had projects for the last few months that have taken up some of my sawdust making time. So I’ll just post a couple photos of an art display project that I haven’t had time to finish.

My original idea of renovating this house was to have a place to display my collection of art and antiques. So this project is to get this up on the wall. This is a large wood and gesso Tang Style horse that was made in the 1940’s for export. It is my Chinese Zodiac sign and was the second antique I ever purchased when I was 17 years old – that was 46 years ago.

So the plan is to get this old horse to stay way up there where my cardboard cutout now resides. When I have time, with a little experimentation and some construction, we’ll have him hanging around. It will be nice to have this old horse displayed for the first time in nearly half a century.

I’ll be back here full time soon to finish up the inside of this now nearly 9 year project.

What’s that? 46 years to display an antique, 9 years to renovate a home – perhaps I’m a little slow – but then again, that’s all relative. Stick around.

 

 

The Pointy Closet #3 where we are as of today

Here is the final post for the pesky pointy closet. As I write this, I’m still working on this space. The final floors will go in soon on the second floor, so all is ready for this final step. So let’s finish this up, shall we?

We left off from post #2 looking like this. Well, it’s pointy enough, but this is a vintage house built in 1935. Seems like it needs a little more character than just drywall everywhere.

So since I have several rooms with wood on the ceiling and walls, let’s panel the front wall with a little board and batten. We’ll cover the surface with plywood and make it look and feel authentic. OK.

Once the front wall is done, we might as well do the back wall as well….and what the heck…

Let’s just panel the whole room. This will give it a little more of the vintage feel – and will take a couple more weeks to get to this point.

And we just keep covering the wall/ceiling with 1/4″ plywood and rabbeted wood battens. I added a light block to the front wall and a little wall sconce above the window.

In my mocked up design I’m planing to add a shelf along each side over the ‘wings’ that protrude out from the sides of the closet. I contemplated a painted shelf, or some type of wood. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the shelves. They’re 10′ long on each side.

So I went to Menard’s and looked through the lumber section for some ideas. I came up with some cedar that I thought would work, but it wasn’t wide enough.

So I went through the whole stack and found 2 pieces of 1X10’s and 2 pieces of 1X6 that were nearly a perfect match. I glued them up and sanded then down and they look pretty good. You can see the seam running down the middle.

A test fit to see if the shelves are the right width. I made these 12″ wide. The closet is not very practical, so we’re going to make it as useful as possible. I thought the shelves would be slightly helpful.

Having the shelves test fit out of the way, we can add a little finish to the sanded shelves. A mixture of boiled linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits give the grain a little depth before the final finishes go on.

While the shelves are being finished, the board and batten details are added to the lower sections of the closet. We had to make a little do-dad detour around the vent as well.

The finishing is going on. A mixture of 50/50 latex paint and water. This is put on to allow the grain to slightly show through.

A few coats of wipe-on polyurethane and we have the shelves ready to go in. Now we just have to finish the walls.

The white washed walls are finished. The openings on either side of the wing area will get fitted drawers and shelves – something I haven’t made yet.

All of the whitewash is on the ceiling/walls. So now we’re going to add a little color.

And what would be better than a nice coat of Tiffany Blue.

The first coats go on to give the room a little color.

All of the surfaces get a good sanding to 220. This lets some of the grain show through.

This is why I paneled the whole room. The wood panel grain showing through is the vintage feel I was looking for in this pointy little closet.

The high gloss finish on the shelves enhance the grain of the cedar. Also the bottom of the shelves are recessed. I plan on using blocks of cedar that are removable that can be recharged with cedar oil to make this a cedar closet.

As usual, I looked for a long time to find this little light fixture. I thought it had a vintage, almost Scandinavian design. It has a frosted glass shade which I also like. I’m thinking this light will be used as a night light when everything is finished. Also, this blue was antiqued and over-glazed several times to give it a texture of a wall that had been painted many times over the years.

Six foot closet rods are added between the wings for hanging space.

One on either side will give us 12′ of usable hanging space.

8 coats of satin Varathane clear coating is needed to get a uniform sheen, with sanding between coats and finishing out at 400 grit. Does it take time? Yep, but that’s what this art project is all about. I modified the two pendant lights to make them fit the space.

So that brings the pointy closet up to date. I’m waiting for the floor guy to come back and finish installing the floors. And to make this space even more impractical all of the floors on the second floor are white.

Stay tuned, no telling what’s going to happen next.