Saturday, December 31, 2005

In Between Storm

I only have 32% battery power left on my laptop so I thought I’d make one last entry.

We’ve been with out power for about 7 hours now and it is pretty much the whole town. A neighbor heard that a sub-station was flooded and it could be 2 days but I don’t think so. The Ferndale sub-station is near the Eel River but know exactly where the Eureka sub-station is and it is no where near a body of water that could flood it.

I had some more flashing leaks and tried to go to a hardware store to get more roof cement but every place is closed because of the power outage. Just with-in a few blocks of my house I saw 3 big trees down, a power pole in the street and numerous fences blown over. As I drove around to 3 different hardware stores I lost count of the number of fences, trees, and billboards blown over.

My neighbor Gary went down to where he works and borrowed a 10,000 watt generator. I few neighbors have hooked up to it to keep the refrigerators going but I’m across the street. However, because I’m still using my little mini-fridge I was able to carry it over to his garage and plug it in. Fortunately my heat, stove, and water heater are all natural gas so I can cook, clean, and stay warm. It could be worse.

The house held up well. I did have a half of tube of the roof cement left so I was able to patch the leak. This time it was on the back porch. While I was up there I noticed I had a clogged rain gutter so I took care of that as well. I had to pick up about 20 shingles out of my yard. They didn’t come off my house but someone close by has some serious problems.


We are absolutely getting blasted by a big storm right now. Power is out but the laptop has battery life and the phone is still working. The wind is just howling outside. This is the worst so far. Me and the piglets are hunkered down and I’m hoping I don’t lose any thing more than a few trash can lids. The neighbors weren’t so lucky.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Curtains My Friend Are Blowin’ In The Wind

We got spanked by another big winter storm today, and there is another big one coming in Sunday, and another one on Monday. The storm door is open, as they say. Also, there were more slides that closed down Confusion Hill today.

There was an article on the front page of the paper on Wednesday about the plans to reroute that section of Highway 101. Early Wednesday morning was when the first slide closed the highway. Rerouting will require the construction of temporary access structures, the building of 2 new bridges, and the excavation and removal of 300,000 cubic meters of the mountain! That, my friends, is a lot of dirt.

My house seems to be weathering the storms well. No leaks but quite a few rattling windows and doors. Occasionally you will feel the structure shudder a bit when a big gust of wind hits. There was a storm a few years ago where we were getting 90 MPH gusts. It feels like a truck has slammed in to your house when one of those babies hits.

The wind just howls at night and sleeping soundly through the night has been difficult. If you let it get to you, you could really freak yourself out with visions of things that go bump in the night. This place would make a great setting for a horror movie right now.

Rainfall totals for December (Not including today’s storm)

Month To Date: 10.92”
Normal Month To Date: 5.95”

Season To Date (7/1/05): 22.04”
Normal Season To Date: 15.49”

And it ain’t over yet.

13 second video of the curtains blowin'

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Rare 2nd Entry

I usually don't post more than once in a day but I wanted to show some of you this.

Imagine that you've just purchased your brand new 1930 Bungalow. It has been appointed with all the latest in modern conveniences. You go into the kitchen and you see the stove...

The Moore "Bobby Shaw AutomatiCoop"

Island Design: Round 2

The basic shape and size have not changed but there have been some changes. First off, the feet. I went back to the salvage place where the bun feet were and I didn’t like them as much.

I then went to Van Dykes Restorers site to see if they had anything. I had bought 4 Queen Anne, ball & claw feet for the eHutch at Van Dykes last year. They were a discontinued item and I got them for $8. The funny thing is, they still have them on their web site for $14 each. I’m not sure if they really were discontinued and they just haven’t updated the web site, or if they are carrying them again. I’m going to call tomorrow and find out if they are available.

Van Dykes Queen Anne Feet

The Van Dykes feet would put the island 8-inches off the floor just as the salvage bun feet would so I will still need to build a recessed box under it. The box would serve two purposes. One, it would hide plumbing, and two, it would give me a way to anchor the whole thing to the floor. With plumbing and electrical hooked up you don’t want this thing to move if you accidentally bump in to it too hard, like say in a middle of the night in a drunken stupor. Not that ever happens…cough.

I went down and looked at cabinet doors again too. The first design had a single, raised paneled cabinet door (I already found) and three drawers (I would make). I’ve decided I don’t want the drawers. As I said in an earlier blog entry, the kitchen already has 12 drawers. I really don’t need anymore. Either that, or I’m in denial about making drawers. Either way the drawers are out.

While looking, I found two pairs of 1905 cabinet doors that were a good size but had some damage. They came out of a department store that was torn down a few years ago. They could probably be repaired, but, you know, why go to the trouble. They were $30 for the 4 doors w/hardware, and I could probably get them for $20. Still, it seems like a lot of work.

I found 2 other pairs of cabinet doors that have potential. The first pair had two raised panels each. They were in pretty good shape. I forget the price, but they would work fine. The other pair were not as nice but they had glass fronts. The glass was plain, clear glass but a few weeks ago I was give about 20 old window sashes and some of them had some really cool obscure glass.

Obscure Glass

I over heard a woman I work with saying she had just put vinyl windows in here home. I asked her what she did with the old windows and she said they were in her garage and she wanted to get rid of them. The next day her husband brought them in to work and tossed them in the back of my truck while I wasn’t looking. She also mentioned that here sister, who lives in Ferndale, had a “barn full” of old redwood windows she wants to get rid of. I’ve got the sister’s number and need to call here. I’m probably going to give all these windows to the woman who owns the salvage place who got me the pocket doors.

Anyway, back to the island. I love the idea of the obscure glass doors but I’m not so sure about having them at knee level. I’m worried someone might break them and cut themselves, you know, in a drunken stupor…cough.

Which ever way I go – glass or paneled doors – that still leaves half the of the island where the drawers were going to go. Ideally I would have found more matching cabinet doors that were in usable shape, but I didn’t. I’m now thinking about open shelving down there. The whole corner would be open with shelves that face both the front and side.

Current Rendition

First Draft
Kitchen Floor Plan

End Round Two

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


We get rain like Buffalo gets snow. It has rained pretty much every day for the last 13 days and there’s no let up in sight. The only good thing about this is that temperatures stay in the 40s, 50s and 60s day and night. Other than that it’s a pain in the ass. There are 6 big rivers in the area and all are at or near flood stage. It is nothing to worry about too much. This sort of thing happens a lot. I think it was last year or the year before that we had rain every day in the month of April except one.

This morning there was a landside that shut down Highway 101 at the ominously named “Confusion Hill”. The 101 is our only real link to The Bay Area. So many of our every day goods and services come up from The Bay area it is noticeable almost immediately when the road is shut down. Most newspaper stands are empty except for the 2 local dailys. Big chain grocery stores start to run out of dairy, meat and produce.

I can only imagine what it must have been like 100 years ago. At that time most goods came from The Bay Area just as they do today only they came by ship. As it is now there is regular dredging of the opening to The Humboldt Bay and it is still a treacherous crossing! I can imagine that there were months at a time when a ship couldn’t cross the bar. I wonder if I can find out how bad it was. To the Library!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Island Design: Round 1

After letting ideas percolate for a few days I’ve come up with the first of what I’m sure will be many designs for the kitchen island. There are 2 elements that must be in every design. There must be a sink and there must be a place to sit. Originally I wanted to avoid stools but this design incorporates them. I think the look of stools is too modern for the kitchen but in order to have the most available work space it seems the way to go.

If I don’t do stools then there will be a working level (38-inches) and a sitting level (28-inches). It would break up the counter space and leave a lot of it (the sitting level) under utilized. Below are two pictures. The first one shows the kitchen where the proposed Island will go and the second is the Island itself.

Not To Scale

The 8-inch feet and the raised panel door I’ve already sourced at a salvage place in town. The corbels or brackets that will support the over-hanging counter have not been found, and the 3 drawers will need to be made. I’ve never made drawers before, but how hard can they be (famous last words). The kitchen has 12-drawers in it already so I really don’t need more. What would be good is 3 matching raised paneled doors and just make it all cabinet space underneath. I’m keeping my eyes peeled. The body will be salvage bead board which I already have.

The 8-inch feet I found are nice wooden sort of “Bun Feet” I guess you’d call them. I like the look but there is always the issue of having to clean under this thing, which I don’t want to have to do. There will also be plumbing and electrical coming from underneath so that will need to be hidden. I’m thinking a box under it that would be recessed in about 4-inches. This would hide everything and create a toe-kick. The feet would only be decorative. The other option is to take it all the way down to the floor. If it sits on the floor, of course, there is no toe-kick.

The other issue is the width. As you can see, the space between the Frankenstein Hutch and the eHutch is about 9-feet. I’m thinking I need at least 3-feet in front of each or it will seem crowded. That leaves about 3-feet for the Island. I estimated I need at least 16-inches for the over-hand to be able to sit at it. That leaves 20-inches for the main body. It seems narrow. There is also the issue of a sink. The thought on the sink is that it will be a small sink, like a bar sink. The size of the sink rough-in will really determine the width of the body. So I guess sourcing a sink should be the first priority.

There is room to play with these measurements. The doors on the eHutch are only 21-inches wide and the path in front of it is a secondary walking space in the kitchen. The path in front of the Frankenstein Hutch is the main walking space in the kitchen. I could move it closer to the eHutch and widen the base to 24 or even 26-inches and it should be fine. That is approaching standard cabinet depth.

End Round 1

Monday, December 26, 2005

A New Weapon

I’ve been very slowly scraping one of the doors for the kitchen. I need to get one side down to bare wood because it will face the dining room. I need that side to be a clear finish so it will match the other trim in that room. I hunted around in The Door Room to try and find a door that was originally shellacked because we all know that it is much easier to scrape wood that was originally shellacked, as opposed to scraping wood that was originally painted. I thought I had found a good candidate but now I’m not so sure.

I think I’ve spent 3 or 4 hours on the door and I’ve gotten a good 90% off but that last 10% is going to be a bitch. Here’s where I’m at so far.

In the close-up shot you can see that there is a lot of tricky detail that is tough to scrape. I’m sure all you Craftsman and Bungalow types out there are having a nice little chuckle right now with your nice flat trim and your simple paneled doors. I’m definitely paying a price here for having a fancy Victorian home. No since crying over spilt paint though, right. I love my home and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Normally, if I were scraping wood that had been shellacked my tried & true method would work. I just use a slightly dulled, 4-inch scraper with a medium stiffness, and the trusty heat gun. That still worked fine for most of this door, but for the narrow channels along the edge of the panels and the bevels it just wasn’t cutting it. I’m sure some of you are wondering at this point why I don’t use Peel-Away or some other “wet” stripper. I won’t go in to that now, but I will say that the next step in the process will mostly likely be Jasco Semi-Paste paint stripper, but I always start with the heat gun.

Anyway, I went out and bought “The Scraping System”, or at least that’s what the marketing company that designed the packaging thinks it is. Here’s what I bought.

You can see The Scraping System comes with the handle and a series of different blades with different profiles. It works well but it is taking a little getting used to. I worked with it for about 45 minutes today and it sort of feels like I’m trying to write with my left hand (I’m right handed). It’s just sort of unnatural. In the picture below you can see how I normally scrape paint. I hold the heat gun just in front of the scraper and push the 2 along together in one constant motion. I can make quick work with a nice flat piece of wood, or even wood with some detail to it.

The Scraping System is designed to be pulled not pushed. When I first started using The Scraping System it didn’t work well at all. I was trying to lead it with the heat gun like I did the other scraper and it just wasn’t working. As you can see in the picture below it is awkard to lead The Scraping System with the heat gun.

After scorching some wood I switched to a method where I first heat a small area of painted wood and then scrape. It works but it goes much, much slower. The other problem I had with it was that the blades of The Scraping System are a lot sharper than my 4-inch scraper. I like it to be slightly dull so I don’t gouge or shave wood. This is redwood and not hard oak. It is easy to mar the surface with a sharp scraper, and I did at times with The Scraping System. It was nothing too bad but it just meant I had to be more careful, and that meant work even slower. I don't like slow. Slower is not better.

I hope tomorrow to start in with Jasco, steel wool, and sand paper.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Does It Make Sense

Does it make sense to use AdSense, or more importantly, does it make cents to use AdSense, and if it only makes cents then does it make sense to add to AdSense to my blog. In other words, is the addition of annoying ads to my blog worth the annoyance if it only makes a few pennies.

I didn’t read all the fine print of the AdSense agreement so it is difficult to tell if I’m going to make 100 pennies a month, 100 dollars a month, or something in between. Most likely the latter is true. One thing is for sure, I’m not supposed to click on ads on my own blog to try and generate funds. My first thought was, how the heck would they know. Then I remembered that I’m dealing with Google and their massive computer systems that seem to know just about everything and seem to be getting smarter everyday.

So I won’t be clicking on my ads because that would be wrong. Nor would I encourage other HouseBloggers to click on my ads only to generate ad clicks for me. That would be wrong. I would never, ever click on the ads of another HouseBloggers site with the sole purpose of trying to generate ad clicks for that person. That would be wrong. I would never, never, ever to that.

Let me repeat: I would never click on the ads on another HouseBlogger’s web site with sole purpose of generating click-throughs for the ads listed on their site, and there by increasing the revenue paid them by the company that supplies those ads. I would never, ever do that. I wouldn’t expect others to do that for me.

I hope I’ve made myself clear.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Too Much of a Good Thing

As far as Holiday Seasons go, this has been a pretty good one, I guess, but I’m ready for it to be over. I had a happy little rut going in my life and I’m ready to get back in it. I’ve got one more event to attend tonight, and then I’ve been invited to a New Years thing, which I’m going to skip, and then it will all be over. Whew!

They shut down my work place on Friday this week so everyone could have a 3 day weekend. That sounds good, I know, but what it meant for me was that I had to cram 5 days worth of work in to 4. I’ve been in this alcohol and food induced haze it seems all month so I’m pretty much spending most of the day flopped on the couch. I’m determined to get out to the garage and work on one of the doors for the kitchen, but so far it doesn’t look good.

We do have actual sunshine today, which is good. We’ve been having rain for the past week in Biblical proportions. Yesterday was just unbelievable. The only positive aspect of it is that rain and clouds means warmer temperatures most of the time. We been having daytime highs in the 60s and at night it usually stays in the 50s, and that means I haven’t had to turn on the heater since last Saturday. Two weeks ago temps where in the 30s.

On Wednesday I did have a small water fall in the foyer. At first I thought one of the cats pee-ed on the floor. They have some bad habits, but peeing in places they shouldn’t has never been one of them. The front porch has a flat roof on it. When the POs put a new roof on 7 years ago the people who did the work did a good job with the flashing. Then I kind of screwed it up when I removed the asbestos siding and now it has become a maintenance issue. The water was trickling through the header door casing and made a small puddle right in front of the front door. There is a second story window over the porch so it was easy enough to climb out there and goop it back up with a tube of roof cement. Very nasty stuff. If you get any on your skin it is there for a week.

And finally, if you missed yesterday’s post about the Panorama software and the panorama shot of the kitchen, here’s another one. This one is an outdoor shot taken from half way up Trinidad Head. Trinidad is a small, picturesque fishing village about a half hour up the coast. The harbor is dominated by a large, large out-cropping of rock (a small mountain?) called Trinidad Head. A few years ago my brother and I were doing some hiking and he took these photos and made the panorama. You can see that it works much better for grand, outdoors vistas.

Trinidad Panorama

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Renovation Rants posted a panorama today and reminded me of some free software my brother turned me on to a while ago. I had forgotten all about it. The concept is the same. You take a series of photos and the software stitches them together and makes a panorama of the photos.

The software my brother showed me takes it one step further. It takes the stitched together photos and puts the output in a Java applet that lets you easily post it on the web. The applet has controls on it to let you scroll through the image. You can download a free copy of the Junior Version of the software at Albatross Design Group’s web site. Look for “ADG Panorama”.

This works best for outdoor panoramas. I did one of my bathroom once that didn’t work well because the space was too small. I’ve posted one here of my kitchen, which I just did tonight. This room was large enough that it worked well.

Very cool stuff. This is great for showing off backyards or other outdoor areas. If you try it be sure to resize the pictures first. The kitchen one is made up of 15 JPGs. Loading them all at high resolution makes the software a bit sluggish. I resized them to about 400 pixels square and then made the panorama.

I had trouble getting it to load through Blogger. It seems to have something to do with pointing to the Java Class that is on my server. Not sure what it is. Anyway, click on the link below and you can see the panorama.

Kitchen Panorama

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hanging Around

Today I started the first tentative baby steps towards hanging three doors in the kitchen. I am really dreading it. For me hanging doors has to be just about the hardest thing to do. There are just so many ways to screw up. They are heavy, and If they don’t close properly because they aren’t hung properly it will drive me nuts forever.

So you understand, these are not doors that I removed a few months ago when work started on the kitchen and now I’m re-hanging them. These are doorways that didn’t not have doors when I bought the house. For what ever reason the doors were removed at one time. I found many doors in the attic and in the garage and others I have picked up over that last few years at salvage yards and garage sales. It is going to be like a big puzzle to get all the doors re-hung. Stripped screw holes will need to be fixed and hinge mortises will need to be filled and/or re-mortised. I’ve only done one to date and that was the bathroom. That one went ok.

Maybe I’m making too big a deal of this. Once I get rolling I’m sure it will be ok. The big job, as always, will be stripping the doors. Only one side of one door needs to be stripped to bare wood. The other 5 sides (3 doors X 2 sides each = 6 sides) will be painted. The one side that will be shellacked will face the dining room so it needs to look good.

I call the back bedroom The Door Room. This is where I store all the doors I’ve scrounged over the years. I have 18 Eastlake doors in there in varying states. Some have been drilled for modern doorknobs so they have an extra 2.5-inch hole that will need to be filled. Others have minor cracks or major dings that need repair. All have way too much paint on them. I think I need 14 or 15 doors for the house so I may have a few extras. Tonight I went up to The Door Room and started hunting for a 32-inch door that has shellac under the paint. I think I found a good one.

Eastlake Door

Even though it seems like I have extra doors I may not. My house was designed with 6 different widths of doors. The first three were unique. There is the 60-inch double front doors, the 80-inch double pocket doors, and the 24-inch door to the 80s Porn Closet. After that all the other doors are standard doors in 3 widths. All bedrooms and most major doorways between downstairs rooms are 32-inch widths. The 5 closets in the house are all 30-inch doors. The 2 back doors and the door from the foyer to the dining room are 34-inch doors. So you can see that there is a possibility that I may have more than enough 30-inch doors but I could be deficient in the 32-inch door category.

It’s just one big wacky puzzle.

Monday, December 19, 2005


As promisedI’m sure you’re all at the edge of your keyboards waiting – I’m posting pictures of the Humboldt Club key chains I’ve been working on. There were a few setbacks, some disappointment, and some design revisions, but I am generally pleased with the end product.

The first problem was with the rubber stamp I had made. It looked fine but I didn’t think it was big enough. I gave them a sample of the wood and I just said I want the text to fill the space. I’ll take some credit for this because I should have told them explicitly what point font to use. I could have printed something out at home and taken it in.

At any rate, I went ahead and used what I got. It’s not really the end of the world. So I stamped the wood and put on a coat of shellac. After it dried I added the keys, and chain I picked up at the hardware store. Here’s what I ended up with.

I was really not happy with it. The chain was all wrong and the lettering still bothered me. I decided I needed to do it over. The first thought was to re-cut new wood and make it smaller. I then decided to look for another stamp that I could use to boarder the existing text.

I stripped off the shellac, and because I had oiled the wood I could easily sand off the exiting lettering with steel wool. The ink did not really penetrate the wood. I then re-stamped the wood and shifted the lettering towards the top. With a second stamp I add some “scrambled eggs” to the bottom. Sort of Victorian-esque, I guess.

After that I but on a single coat of shellac. I didn’t want it to be any darker than it already was. I decided to use steel beads and died hemp string instead of the chain. I felt I was reverting to some proto-hippie state and I added the beads and hemp string. In away the hemp and beads are a nod to the present Humboldt County, if you know what I mean, while the old-growth redwood and skeleton keys are a nod to the areas past. Below is what I ended up with. They look odd in the pictures, but I think they came out alright.

I ended up making 8 of them because that is how many keys I got off EBay. I vacillate back and forth as to whether this is a good gift or not. If it were me I know I would like it, but I’m not sure how others might like this sort of thing. I’ll still picture a reaction like, “Oh, it’s nice” {fake smile} “What is it?”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Island Hop(p)ing

Dinner was a big success. Thanks to the rain the temperature outside did climb in to the 40s so the house was relatively comfortable. I ran the heaters non-stop all day, and while the cats were in heaven, I’m sure I’ll get a budget-busting PG&E bill next month but it was worth it. It has been a while since I cooked dinner for 6 people so there were some last minute runs to the store for extra supplies but it came out very good.

In one of my past lives I was a cook, a Sous Chef to be exact, but I never felt comfortable with the title. It was for a large banquet facility and my skills were really more managerial in nature and not so much as a cook. I don’t really have a passion for it and you really need that to be a good cook. I’m like the painter who is proficient and can paint something to look like what it is but I will never be a great artist.

I’ve cooked several meals in the new kitchen but this is the first time I’ve done any real cooking, if you know what I mean. Cooking dinner for 6 and having everything ready on time takes a little effort and I’m a little rusty. I really got to use the kitchen and I noticed some short comings in the design. The design flaws were always kind of in the back of my mind. I’ve spent enough time in kitchens that I know what needs be where in order for the flow of cooking to work and I knew as I was putting it all together that this design was a bit awkward.

The main reason I did the kitchen the way it is was because of my over all philosophy about working on the house. Rather than go to great lengths to change the house to the way I want it, I try and use existing space as it is and modify my design to fit in the space. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but it is never a complete disaster. I mean, it’s not like flames are shooting out of the stove because of a slightly less than perfect kitchen design. It is not so much that it is really bad, it is just not as good as it could be. Really, the only problem is the relationship between the stove and the sink. You can it see in the picture below.

Not To Scale

As you can see I have all the kitchen elements you read about in the design magazines. There is The 80s Porn Closet, The Frankenstein Hutch, The eHutch, The 1890s Cast Iron Stove, The 1934 Magic Chef, The Alcove Cabinet, The Dumb Waiter Style Door, and of course, The Cabinets I Built. There is also a round kitchen table in the middle of the room. I love to sit in the kitchen and eat and read and so the table was mandatory in my design. This table is causing the problems, though. It was supposed to pull double-duty as a work space, but it’s not really cutting it. What I need is an island with a sink. This would give me work space and a sink closer to the stove.

A few of the early kitchen designs had an island but the table won out in the end. I know you can make and island that you can also sit at, but it’s just not the same. I also had a design with a second sink where the eHutch is located. In fact, I plumbed new copper and had a sink hooked up there at one point. I got rid of the sink for a few reason but mainly because I needed more cabinet space.

I can see now that I need the island, though. I need the sink. I need more work space closer to the stove. The trick will be to make a kitchen island that has a sink, work space, a place to sit comfortably, and one that doesn’t completely dominate all the space in the center of the kitchen. I think I can do it.

Just when I thought I was going to be done with the kitchen it pulls me back in

Friday, December 16, 2005

It’s A Magic Month

You probably think I’m talking about the holidays but I’m not. Back in my 20s I lived for magic months, and then my position in life changed a bit and they were less important. Now, with my finances the way they are (you know who I am) they have become more cherished.

If you get paid every 2 weeks, and you budget based on that, then there are 2 magic months a year. Here’s how it works. There are 52 weeks a year. Divide that by 2 and you get 26 pay checks. There are of course 12 months in a year and if you get 2 paychecks a month that would only account for 24 paychecks a year. So 2 months in every year you get 3 paychecks. December is one of those months. This month paydays fall on the 1st, 15th, and the 29th.

My finances were a lot simpler when I was 25 so I would pay all non-rent bills with the first paycheck in the month and then rent would be paid with the second paycheck in the month. When those magic months came along it was like a had a paycheck that was unaccounted for in the bill paying scheme. At 25 that meant one thing and one thing only: Woo-hoo! Par-tay!

My finances are more complicated now but I’ve decided to treat this as a good old fashioned Magic Month. As I write this I’m feeling a little guilty that I didn’t go out and lavish friends and family with Christmas gifts. Instead I spent it on myself. I’m having a dinner party for a few select friends tomorrow. It is a way to showcase my fabulous new kitchen. After reading Minor Adjustments “Helpful Tips On Proper Party Throwing” (Oooo, I need ice!) I felt I was sorely lacking in a few areas. Actually, three areas to be specific: Plates, glasses, and heat.

The big problem with my plates is that there just aren’t enough of them. If I threw everything I had together I could come up with enough dishes, but I mean, I have this new kitchen. It’s just not the same. Six month a ago paper plates would have been acceptable….but the kitchen, come one….I had to. The same holds true for glasses. Jam jars and plastic cups just don’t cut it anymore. So I went out and bought service for 6 in both departments. That was after drooling over the turn of the century Lamoge service for 12 with all the bells and whistles that I saw on Ebay. Someday.

The parlors are nice and toasty thanks to the spectacular new pocket doors, but we’re not eating in the parlor. We’re not eating in the dining room either because I don’t have a dining room table at this point (I’m getting there!). We will be eating in the kitchen because that is where the table is. Not exactly an ideal dinner party setting, but that’s OK. Actually, now that I think about it I may drag the table into the dining room. If not, I will be cooking so that will bring some heat but there needs to be more. The chimney for the ultra-hip 1890s cast iron stove does not go out the roof yet, so I can’t use that.

So anyway I went out and bought the largest oil filled radiator heater I could find. When I was buying it the kid at the register kept telling me to be sure to crack the window because these things put out a lot of heat. I assured him it would not be a problem. He would say, “Oh I don’t know, my apartment gets pretty hot”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I live in a 3000 sq ft unheated and uninsinuated home. I’m not even sure if this thing is going to make much of a dent. As it is, I think the only thing that will save me is the rain that is expected tomorrow. Rain means clouds and clouds mean warmer temperatures. With any luck it will be in the low 40s tomorrow.

The last thing I need to buy for the kitchen is pots and pans. There were other purchases included in this Magic Month check that I won’t go into, but pots and pans didn’t make the cut this time. I had already planned on making Jambalaya (1 pot), Cornbread (1 pan) and green beans (1 pan) so I’m just barely covered in the pot and pan departments, but I do need pots and pans. The stuff I’m using now I actually found in the woods about 10 years ago. I’m not kidding.

I was playing Frisbee Golf with some friends and one of my shots went off the course – to put it mildly – and in to the woods. While searching for the disk I found a box of pots and pans and utensils. They were all priced with little pieces of masking tape like you would for a garage sale. I guess some cheap bastard didn’t want to pay to throw it away so he dumped it in the woods. At first the plan was to take it all to The Salvation Army but when I got it home I discovered that it was actually better stuff than I already had. So I kept it all and dumped all my stuff in the woods. I’m kidding.

Anyway, again – to put it mildly – I need new pots and pans. Hmmm, let’s look at the calendar, when is the next magic month….

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Idea Factory

Well, the whole stencil idea is not going to work at all. I mean really, really not going to work. It is so far away from working that I am going to deny I ever had the idea in the first place.

“Stencil!?! Oh, God no, that would never work! You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. What is this, amateur hour?”

The stencil idea, which I’m not saying I had, works like this. You first use your favorite word processor and print out the words in the font and point you want. The stencil paper, which is a translucent plastic paper with adhesive on one side, is applied over the print out. The adhesive is similar to the adhesive used on Post-It notepads in that you can easily peel it off and stick it again someplace else. You then take an Exacto Knife and cut out the letters while at the same time cutting through the stencil paper. You are left with a stencil of the words. You then peel off the stencil and apply it to what ever you want.

The problem I had, if I had had this idea in the first place, which I’m not say I did, was the letters were too small. The space I had to write was only 1.5X2.5-inches. Even at 40 point font, which is huge for normal every day printing, it too small. There are just too many places where the letters go down to razor thin lines. On top of that you have the letters “b”, “d”, and “o” that have the center hole. If I had the hands of a surgeon and a magnifying glass I might have been able to do it. But I don’t, so I couldn’t.

This was actually the third idea I had, or didn’t have, depending upon who you ask. The first idea was to have it engraved. No one engraves on wood. I found a place that would engrave on key chains they supplied for about $15 each, including the cost of the key chain, but they only had key chains in the shape of lightening bolts, dog tags, and broken hearts. Not exactly the look I’m going for. The other idea was stick on letters. They make zillions of these in all kinds of different fonts. Still, the stick-on letters just wasn’t it.

After the failure yesterday of the idea I never had I was really stumped about what to try next and then it hit me: A Rubber Stamp. There is a place in downtown I’ve driven by hundreds of times and it’s called, of all things, “The Rubber Stamp Company of Eureka”. They cater mostly to the business set, selling stock rubber stamps, and they make name tags, and all kinds of things like that, and they also make custom rubber stamps.

So for about $15 I’m getting a custom rubber stamp exactly the size I need and it will be ready on Friday. They had a whole slough of fonts to chose from. They pretty much had all the same fonts that come with MS Word so of course they had the exact same font that I was, or was not, trying to make the stencil out of. There was some concern that it might not stamp well on wood but I happened to have a few extra of the redwood key chains made and we were able to do a test stamp. It seemed to work fine. I was able to leave the key chain with them so they will make it fit in the largest font possible to take up as much room as possible. Pretty damn cool, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Crafty Little Devil

About 100 years ago there was a group of movers and shakers of the city that gathered regularly on the second floor of the building located at 531 Third St in what is now Old Town. The group was known as The Humboldt Club. They shot pool, drank, smoked, talked politics, and probably bad-mouthed a few people along the way. One hundred years later The Humboldt Club has been reborn.

There is a small group of people, me included, who get together a few times a month, usually on a Saturday night. It is odd that I’m normally not that social of a person, or at least I didn’t used to be. It is fun, though to get together with a small, informal group. There are 6 of us and we meet at a different person’s house each time. The person who hosts the night makes dinner and others bring desserts or maybe a salad. Cocktails are served and after dinner we sit and talk for hours. It is a small town and everybody knows somebody. We talk about local politics, architecture, art, history, current events, and whatever. It is very civilized but it does get bawdy at times. One evening someone in the group, I forget who, decided we were the resurrection of The Humboldt Club and it stuck.

It was decided last week that we would get together once more before Christmas and gifts would be exchanged. When I say “decided” I mean that I was told this is what would be happening. Now, I’m not against gift giving. I love giving gifts, but I am a selective gift giver. I don’t give gifts that will end up in the back of a closet before Easter and then be sold at a garage sale in 2 years. I give 2 kinds of gifts. The first kind is something that can be enjoyed immediately and then it’s gone. Something like a nice bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, or maybe some smoked salmon. The second kind are gifts that are well thought out and meaningful.

In my gift giving scheme, members of The Humboldt Club sort of fall in a gray area. It seems odd to serve them dinner and all the free gin & tonics they can hold and them give them a bottle wine in pretty paper. At the same time I’m not going to go out and spend big bucks on nice, well thought out gifts on members of The Humboldt Club. Instead, I’ve decided to make gifts. This has the potential to go over like a lead balloon.

In reality the gifts are not completely hand made. I started by buying a set of eight old, nickel plated skeleton keys off Ebay. I then went to the woodshed to find a nice old piece of redwood. The piece I eventually picked was a piece of blocking used between two joists to keep them from twisting. I spent a few hours in the shop coming up with some nicely shaped…well ok, they’re key chains. But wait there’s more. I’m then going to make a stencil that says “The Humboldt Cub”. I’ll stencil that on the ornately cut piece of redwood and then shellac it. Then the skeleton keys will be attached with a nice piece of chain and waa-la. Keys to the non-existent club for all the new members. A nice gift – I hope. I don’t expect anyone to actually use it as a key chain. That is not really the point.

I really hope this is not going to be one of those, “Oh, this is nice.” {fake smile} “What is it?”. I haven’t finished them yet and I’m fully prepared to ditch the whole idea and go buy 5 bottles of wine if they don’t turn out nice. I think this may work though. This is a crowd that appreciates history, and things made from old-growth redwood and shiny nickel plated trinkets screams history in these parts. It’s funny how much redwood is appreciated here. Especially the really nice stuff. Before I moved here I never thought of redwood being used for anything but decks and fences. The old dead guys really did some nice stuff with it way back when.

I have heard that even back then redwood was considered a second class wood. If you had the means you shipped in oak or mahogany. Few had the means and redwood was used for everything. Even in the wealthiest of homes, the homes of the Lumber Barons and Ships Captains of the late 19th century, you could find furniture and some interior millwork made of burl redwood. Today people speak of old-growth redwood in hushed tones and a sense of reverence. It’s kind of funny, and I guess it’s really a local thing, and if that’s the case you can count me as a local because I really love this stuff. Redwood is a softwood no matter what the age, but the old stuff has a heft and character to it that you just don’t find in the second and third growth wood. You can’t duplicate in 100 years something that took 2000 years to create.

So with that in mind I’m hoping that my old-growth redwood and skeleton key key chains emblazoned with The Humboldt Club logo will be appreciated by the newest members of The Club. I’m normally not a crafts person so this is the extent of my craftiness. I don’t think there is any chance I’ll be found hanging out down at The Scarp Book Get Away anytime soon. If the key chains turn out good I’ll post some pictures, if not I may need some suggestions for nice gifts for The Humboldt Club.

Oh, and this time I seem to have gotten the comments working properly.

Some Redwood Millwork In My House

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Nuke The Whales

Hey, you gotta nuke somethin’, right?

I broke down and bought a microwave. I haven’t owned one since the Reagan Administration but everyone tells me I need one, so who am I to not do what everyone tells me to do. Wait, I never do what everyone tells me I to do. So in a way, I’m bucking the trend by doing exactly what is expected. That’s odd.

I was doing some more work on the 80s porn closet and decided this would be a perfect spot for a microwave. This is the closet under the back stairs in the kitchen. This is also The Phyllis Petch Memorial Closet because it was behind the false wall at the back of this closet that I found all the hidden treasures left behind by Mrs. Petch back in the Teens or 20s.

I had to add an outlet in there so that meant another trip under the house. It’s been a few months since I’ve crawled around there in the dirt and cat poop. That is something you never get tired of folks, let me tell you. Once again, installing the lights and electrical outlets under there really paid off.

I also installed a light in the closet. Because of the way the door opens it blocks the light from the ceiling fixtures in the kitchen. Because the closet is small with a sloped ceiling I don’t think there is a way to put a light in there and have it meet code. I was trying to come up with a way to have the light turn on and off automatically when the door opens and closes. Honestly, I didn’t try too hard at this. It was really just more of an idea that didn’t go anywhere because I didn’t put much effort in to it. I may revisit this at some point. I ended up putting a simple pull-chain light on the wall just inside the door. I will just use a 40 watt bulb in it.

The closet also still has the redwood floor in it. Because the idiot I bought the salvage fir flooring from doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing I did not have enough wood to do the inside of the closet. I put in a small fir threshold to hide the transition between the two woods. The redwood was then sanded, oiled, and the next time I shellac something I will shellac the floor in there.

The closet has 2 shelves in it. One is a wood blank and the other is a piece of plywood. The other very intersting thing about the shelves is the slats nailed to the walls that the shelves sit on. These are pieces of millwork from the exterior of the house. It is a 1X2 board with a bead detail. This is the same profile that goes all the way around the house at the base of the frieze. The frieze runs just below the soffit and has a series of repeating carved stylized flora designs on it. It was back in the teens or 20s that they put up the 2-story addition. When they did this they removed the details that stuck out on the frieze so the addition would fit snuggly up against the house. It was at this time that they also put up the false wall in the closet thereby hiding the tattered remains of Mrs. Petch’s shattered life. They must have used scraps from the frieze to install the shelves. Waste not, want not. As someone who loves to use salvaged material I have to admire this, but if it were all the same, I would rather that they not have torn the millwork off the house in the first place.

Please read A Comment On Comments.

A Comment On Comments

Let me start by saying I’m an idiot. I’m embarrassed to write what I am going to write, but it’s just a blog so it’s not really writing. Right? As some of you may have noticed comments have not been showing up on my blog for the past few weeks. This was partially on purpose but mostly out of stupidity with a dash of childishness thrown in. Here’s what happened.

For some reason there is a fried circuit between my brain and my finger tips. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the decades of drug use and is simply the result of some mutation in my genetic code. Regardless of the reason, I make a lot of odd little mistakes in my writing. Here are some favorites:

I write “of coarse” instead of “of course”

My brain knows the difference between “there”, “their” & “they’re”, but when I’m typing I can never be sure which one is going to come out the end of my finger tips.

In my mind “i” and “e” are completely interchangeable.

I have misspelled the word “panel” every single time I have ever written it. You would think I would get it right occasionally, but no, it never happens.

“no” & “know” and “new” & “knew” are some other fun ones. Of coarse, I no the difference but my fingers don’t.

“attic” and “addict” is another classic.

I rarely use a question mark.

Commas, apostrophes, and semicolons sometimes seem strange and mysterious.

Then, of course, there are the really horrendous spelling errors and the occasional malapropism. The spelling errors get picked up by the trusty spell checker. The rest of it makes it to the blog. It really doesn’t bother me until someone corrects me. If someone corrects me before I make a blunder cutting a piece of tile or wood, they’re my new best friend. When it comes to the blog, though, I don’t want to hear about it. I know there are mistakes but I don’t really care. It’s not really writing. I’m not going to hire an editor or spend a lot of time poring over every sentence. I just want to write an entry, reread it once or twice, and hit “Publish”.

So a few weeks back someone corrected me on my writing and I guess I was having a bad day or something and I just said screw it and I turned off the comments. Then a few days later Deb over at Kensington Bungalow left a very clever “Message in a Bloggle” and I turned the comments back on – or so I thought.

What I did was accidentally turned on “Comment Moderation” but I did not give an email address for the moderated comments to be sent to. All of the comments have been stored on Blogger and have been waiting for me to OK them. Up until today I had no idea they were there. I have not seen any of the comments for the past few weeks. Sure I thought it was odd that comments came to an abrupt halt, but I really wasn’t sure what to make of it. I never attempted to post a comment or I would have seen they were being moderated.

Today I got an email from Nick over at Pigeon Point Project asking me why I had turned off comments. Of course, I thought I had turned them back on weeks ago, and in a way I had. I went to Blogger and clicked about for a few minutes and eventually stumbled on to the 68 comments that were waiting to be moderated by me. I posted them all and then promptly received 68 emails letting me know about all the comments. Boy, did I feel stupid. There is a lesson in here some where but I’m not going to dig in to it right now. I’ll just finish by saying that the comments are back on, I’m not moderating them, and I enjoy comments. I apologize if anyone was under the impression that I didn’t think your comment was worthy to be posted to my bog.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hot & Bothered

Yesterday I got both doors hung. The second one went much faster and smoother than the first. Last night I was warm. I was more than warm at one point, I was actually hot and had to turn the heater down! The two parlors that are closed off by the pocket doors make up a space about 14X30 feet. At one end of this space is the only heater in the house. This heater is only temporary. It is a vent-free natural gas heater (Not legal in California. Don’t tell anyone). Last week I could have run that thing for 12 hours straight and never heated these parlors. All the heat went right out the opening where the doors now hang and right up the main stairwell in the foyer.

Even though all of the heat went upstairs it really didn’t heat the upstairs because it just kept going in to the attic and out the top of the roof (No insulation in the attic and an open stairwell to the attic. It’s on the list). In short, running that heater was a colossal waste of energy and money, and so I never ran it. Now that I can close off the parlors I can contain the heat in that room. The rest of the house will be an iceberg but at least I can be comfortable in the evenings. Maybe I’ll build a little fort in there and camp in the parlor on really cold nights.

Last night I cranked the heater up to 5 (the max) and in no time at all I was stripping off layers of clothes. After a little while I turned it down to 1 and was comfy the rest of the night. This is like a dream come true. Now, if I can keep from killing myself with the vent free heater everything will be great! (The room can draw fresh air from the chimney and I have a CO detector). Now for the part that is bothering me.

There are 2 problems with one of the doors. I didn’t notice it until I got the doors hung but one of them is a half inch longer than the other (Never cut old wood!). I guess I never measured both doors. I measured one, figured I needed to add about 6-inches, and never really checked to see that they were both exactly the same height. I just assumed they were.

It is only a half inch but they don’t line up at the top and it bugs me. I trimmed the wood I added, so the “new” doors are the same height, but when they are closed the lines don’t match up where the top rails meet. The door that is a half inch longer has another small problem. It hangs slightly out of plumb. When the doors come together they match at the top but by the time you get to the bottom one is about 3/8-inch off. Again, not major but it bugs me. More importantly, when I add the locksets you won’t be able to lock the doors without fooling with it because the lock faces won’t match up. I may not want to lock the doors a lot, but if there is a lock there it should work. It is a matter of principal.

I think the door doesn’t hang plumb because the wood I added is not perfectly straight up and down. I’m thinking I should do it over. If I cut off the wood I add and do it over I could solve both problems. This door that is not plumb is also the one that is too long. This is also the door that I broke two blots off in the door when I was adding the addition at the top. This is also the door that I had to remove several times and trim wood off the top. This is also the door that was caked in dirt. This door has been nothing trouble.

If I remove the piece I added I can trim the extra half inch off the door and then add a new piece of wood, this time making sure it’s straight. I hate to do things over but I think it will be worth it. I have to remove the doors again anyway to add the locksets and pulls (whenever I get them) so I will have the doors off. Now that I’ve done this a few times it should go much faster. The one big problem is this is the door with the 2 broken bolts. These must come out before I can add new wood. It should be a challenge.

I’m not going to be doing this right away. I want to get back and finish work on the kitchen. For now I will just enjoy the doors and be Hot & Bothered. It beats the hell out of being Cold & Peaceful.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It’s All So Frustrating

Yesterday I pissed away most of the afternoon doing almost nothing of any importance what so ever. Finally around 4:00 I started to work on trying to get the doors hung. I got one of them up and it was too long. I knew it was going to be long but I thought I would be a little closer.

The rollers have adjusting screws on them but they are really more for leveling and not so much for moving the doors up and down. At most the screws will move the doors a total of 3/8 of an inch. Even if the doors were too short that wouldn’t accomplish much. When I got the rollers on the doors I was – as I estimated at the time – about 3/4 of an inch too long.

By the time I got the door up and discovered the long coming, as it were, it was well past dinner time so I called it a night. Today the plan was to fix the first door and hang the second door. Unfortunately the holidays reared their ugly head and I was forced to fly about the city searching for gifts that probably no one really wants anyway. They say, “It’s the thought that counts” and I seriously believe that this time of year it is only the thought that counts for a lot of gift giving because most Christmas gifts really aren’t that spectacular. There is a whole Land Fill category that may make up about 50% of all gifts given in the next 3 weeks.

So again I didn’t get to the doors until late in the afternoon. I took down the door and removed the rollers. I then trimmed off 3/4 of an inch from the top of the doors. This is wood that I added so I won’t be going straight to hell for cutting off this wood. Technically it is old wood because it is salvaged old-growth redwood, but it is old wood that I added. Maybe I’ll just get a high fever or stub my toe or something. I then reattached the rollers and re-hung the door. It was absolutely perfect. In fact, it was too perfect. The rollers were resting firmly on the track and the bottom of the door was resting firmly on the floor. Grrrr!! The damn thing wouldn’t budge and inch. I had tried to cut it too close. Very, very frustrating.

Again, I was suffering from hunger pangs by the time I got the damn thing up there and realized it was still…well, not too long, but not short enough either. So now TOMORROW I will take the door off again, remove the rollers again, and trim some wood off again. The one good thing about this is that now I know how much wood I need to trim off the doors so the second one should go much faster. With any luck tomorrow I will be able to say…

Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close. Doors roll open. Doors roll close.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

For those of you not keeping up, the past few weeks has been spent working on the “new” and stupendous “Pocket Doors”. I put Pocket Doors in quotations because they are not really pocket doors, but at this point I’m not going to quibble over details. I got the doors, they’re spectacular, and that’s that. You can go back if you want and read the harrowing tale of their discovery. There is a fair young maiden involved, some deception, and a triumphant ending. A bunch of Hollywood so and sos are vying for the movie rights as I write.

Anywho, I’m generally pleased with the way they are coming out. Today, if luck holds, I will be hanging the doors. There are 7 pieces of hardware needed to hang the doors properly. There are 2 rollers per door, one guide per door, and a wooden tack in the wall that the rollers roll on. The guide is screwed to the floor and there is a groove on the bottom of the door that moves along the guide. It just keeps the door from swinging back and forth and banging in to the trim.

When I opened up the wall and discovered the pockets with no doors I only found a half of one roller and only one guide. With the exception of some small wooden stops the tracks in the wall were complete and in good shape from what I could tell. I’ll know for sure once I hang the doors (fingers crossed). The missing stops are simple wooden blocks and should be easy to duplicate. On the half of roller I had was the name “Ives”. The hunt was now on for the missing pieces.

I checked Ebay religiously but also contacted any other site I could find that dealt in antique hardware. Years went by with no luck. It is very odd that I could find literally dozens of locksets and pulls for pocket doors on-line, but there were fewer doors, and the rollers and tracks were almost non-existent. Do a bunch of people remove pocket door locksets and just throw the doors and tracks away? It is very perplexing!

Finally, after more than 2 years of searching a set of 4 Ives rollers came up for auction on Ebay. I sprang in to action and bid an absurdly high amount of money on the rollers. I was determined to win the auction at any cost, well, almost any cost. I’m not made of money. Regardless, I bid high. In the end, after many sleepless nights, I was the only bidder and I got them for about $50.00. At the time I didn’t notice it but there was a 5th piece in the auction. It was one of the guides. My missing guide. How odd, I got exactly what I needed.

When the rollers arrived I found an 1888 patent date on the bottom. They were an exact match to the half roller I had. They were in good shape but needed a cleaning and they were missing two of the adjusting screws. Fortunately the powerful machine screw guilds on the 19th Century imposed thread standards and it was easy to get two new screws at the hardware store. Now it’s just a matter of slapping them on the doors and hanging the doors. It’s all so exciting. For the firs time since 1926 my parlor will have a proper set of pocket doors.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

For those of you not keeping up, the past few weeks has been spent working on the “new” and stupendous “Pocket Doors”. I put Pocket Doors in quotations because they are not really pocket doors, but at this point I’m not going to quibble over details. I got the doors, they’re spectacular, and that’s that. You can go back if you want and read the harrowing tale of their discovery. There is a fair young maiden involved, some deception, and a triumphant ending. A bunch of Hollywood so and sos are vying for the movie rights as I write.

Anywho, I’m generally pleased with the way they are coming out. Today, if luck holds, I will be hanging the doors. There are 7 pieces of hardware needed to hang the doors properly. There are 2 rollers per door, one guide per door, and a wooden tack in the wall that the rollers roll on. The guide is screwed to the floor and there is a groove on the bottom of the door that moves along the guide. It just keeps the door from swinging back and forth and banging in to the trim.

When I opened up the wall and discovered the pockets with no doors I only found a half of one roller and only one guide. With the exception of some small wooden stops the tracks in the wall were complete and in good shape from what I could tell. I’ll know for sure once I hang the doors (fingers crossed). The missing stops are simple wooden blocks and should be easy to duplicate. On the half of roller I had was the name “Ives”. The hunt was now on for the missing pieces.

I checked Ebay religiously but also contacted any other site I could find that dealt in antique hardware. Years went by with no luck. It is very odd that I could find literally dozens of locksets and pulls for pocket doors on-line, but there were fewer doors, and the rollers and tracks were almost non-existent. Do a bunch of people remove pocket door locksets and just throw the doors and tracks away? It is very perplexing!

Finally, after more than 2 years of searching a set of 4 Ives rollers came up for auction on Ebay. I sprang in to action and bid an absurdly high amount of money on the rollers. I was determined to win the auction at any cost, well, almost any cost. I’m not made of money. Regardless, I bid high. In the end, after many sleepless nights, I was the only bidder and I got them for about $50.00. At the time I didn’t notice it but there was a 5th piece in the auction. It was one of the guides. My missing guide. How odd, I got exactly what I needed.

When the rollers arrived I found an 1888 patent date on the bottom. They were an exact match to the half roller I had. They were in good shape but needed a cleaning and they were missing two of the adjusting screws. Fortunately the powerful machine screw guilds on the 19th Century imposed thread standards and it was easy to get two new screws at the hardware store. Now it’s just a matter of slapping them on the doors and hanging the doors. It’s all so exciting. For the firs time since 1926 my parlor will have a proper set of pocket doors.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Almost Ready To Hang

I did no work on the doors yesterday and very little today. I’m back to the strange behavior of mine that if I don’t do the work, then I won’t screw up, so I never do the work. I finally got started again. I got the first door sanded and stained. Both tasks were kind of tricky.

I left a minute amount of wood on the addition pieces because I new I wouldn’t get them to the exact thickness before I attached them to the door. The idea is that I attach them to the door and then sand them down to the final depth to match the thickness of the door. That, and also because there is always some glue residue that needs to be sanded away. The tricky part is because I don’t want to sand any part of the door itself. Trying to match the new wood to the old is hard enough, but trying to match new to old to old that has been sanded would be even harder. At least it seems that it would. That part came out good.

Next I had to match the new wood to old in color. I took the advice of a friend and used Red Mahogany stain to do the color match. Just putting BLO & turpentine on to the new wood doesn’t do it. The old finish on the wood has deepened with age. Even though I stripped off the shellac it still has a much deeper color than new wood that is finished the same way. I’m not sure why this is.

I stated with BLO & turpentine and then added the stain to that. I did a test piece and I thought it came out good but once I tried it on the real thing it was too light. I ended up adding a lot more stain to the mix but it seems like a good match. The doors still have a subtle sheen of shellac on them, and the new wood is dull with just the oil, so to me it still looks odd. I’m trying not to panic. I’m going to work on the other door tonight and then let them both sit overnight and reevaluate tomorrow. I may even call in a second set of eyes for another opinion.

Still With Glue Residue

As It Stands Now

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Door 1: Resting

I think what I thought the problem was was not the whole problem. Today I tried to get the half of bolt out of the addition piece. As I turned it with the wrench the nub sticking out the other side did not move. This means the bolt broke off in the board and did not strip as I thought.

The bolt was counter sunk 3 inches in to the piece of wood and when I looked at it in good light I could see the bolt was not complexly seated. This means it broke before I wrenched it all the way in. The only thing I can guess is that I did not drill the pilot hole deep enough. Grrr! It is possible that had I drilled the pilot hole deep enough it may have worked ok the first time. Either way, I decided to go with Plan B and drill out the holes on the addition piece so the bolts were loose.

Since I had little bits of the broken bolts sticking out I had to get the grinder out and grind off the bolts. I then drilled new holes for 2 new bolts. This time I made sure everything would bolt together well before I put on any glue. I then took it all apart, added glue, and reattached the boards with the bolts. As I tightened the last few turns I saw what I needed to see: Glue squeezing out of the joint as the boards came together.

The door is resting peacefully now. I'm headed to a Holiday Party now so tomorrow I’ll start on the other door.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I Don’t Know What The Hell Is Going On

I tried to put the first extension on to a door tonight and it didn’t go well at all. I guess I shouldn’t say that. It did go well up until the very final step. Now the wood is stuck on, but not well, and I can’t get it off.

The extension is about 6-inches wide. It is designed to go at the top of the door and add 6-inches to the height. I cut and planed these two pieces for two doors and they came out very nice. I paid special attention to wood selection and everything looked good.

Because I don’t have clamps that are 8 feet long the plan was to use lag bolts to bolt the new pieces to the doors. This should hold everything secure while the glue sets. The bolts would also add extra strength. I used four 6-inch lag bolts per door and counter sunk them 3-inches. There would be 3-inches of bolt in each side of the joint.

I clamped the boards together from the sides to make sure everything matched up well. I then pre-drilled all the holes. I took it all apart and glued up the joint. It all seemed to be a very good fit. The problem arose when I got to that last little bit….

Ok, I just got it off. While writing this I realized what the problem was. I had to cut two of the bolts off with the sawzall to get it off, but it had to be done over. The gap was small but it was just big enough to get a sawzall blade in. The problem arose because the bolt is threaded on both sides of the joint. It will never get any tighter than it was when the first thread was cut on the opposite side. I don’t know if that makes since.

In order to draw two things together tight with a bolt only one side can be threaded and the other needs to be able to move freely. Since both sides were threaded if you didn’t have a perfectly tight joint to begin with you would always stay the same distance from the other piece. The trick is to have the threads only on the door side and not on the extension side. Another way to do this would have been to clamp everything tight and then drive the lag bolts in. As I already said, I don’t have 8 foot long clamps. (I need pipe clamps)

I think I’ll be able to salvage the addition I cut. What I will need to do is drill out the hole for the bolt so the bolt moves freely in the hole on the addition piece. Then as I thread it into the door side it will be drawn closer. The reason I couldn’t get the old bolts out was because I tried to tighten them too much to close that last 1/16-inch gap and I stripped the threads. You would think that with stripped threads the bolt would just come out, but no. It merely turns in the hole and there is enough there to keep it from coming loose. I could have gotten a pry bar and tried to separate the two and force the bolt out but I would have most likely damaged the door.

Luckily I got it off before the glue set, otherwise I would have been totally screwed. In a way this blog really paid off this time. By sitting down minutes after it happened and writing about it, I went through everything again in my mind and discovered the problem. Thank you Petch House Blog.

What a drag this whole thing has been. Chalk this up to inexperience, I guess. Norm wouldn’t have made this mistake.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Staph Report

I’ve been sick as a dog for the past few days and work on the doors has come to a halt. I’m convinced I have the Asian Bird Flu but those lap dogs down at the CDC are no longer returning my calls. This is all part of a huge conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of Government and Corporate America. I’m sure of it. My doctor says I’m paranoid and delusional from the fever and is trying to convince me that there is no conspiracy and it is not the Asian Bird Flu. Obviously they’ve gotten to him and he can no longer be trusted.

If all that weren’t bad enough, I also have a Staph Infection on my – um huh – right cheek. Picture a giant pimple about 3-inches in diameter that sticks up 3/8 of an inch and is filled with you-know-what. Oh, and did I happen to mention that it is maybe one of the most painful things I’ve endured in years? This has the potential to get even worse and is sort of house related.

About a year after I moved in to this house I got my first lovely Staph Infection. This one took the form of a huge, disfiguring growth on my left forearm. I didn’t have a regular physician because I hadn’t been to a GP in about 15 years, so I just went down to the County Open Door Clinic (That was a surreal experience in and of itself). They cleaned out the ping-pong ball sized growth on my arm - without and anesthetic - gave me a shot of penicillin, wrote me a prescription, and sent me on my way. The next day I got a call from the clinic. It turns out the strain of staph I had was immune to penicillin and I would need another prescription. Fortunately I hadn’t filled the other one yet.

Eventually my arm healed and I thought things were ok. A few weeks later another infection showed up, this time inside my nose. Unbelievably painful. This time I decided to use the medical insurance that all these companies I’ve been working for all my life have been paying through the nose for. I opened up the phone book and called the first doctor I found. Dr. Adams was able to squeeze me in that afternoon.

I was at the office for maybe an hour and I never saw a doctor. Most of that time was spent filling out paper work or sitting by myself in a little room. For about 10 minuets I saw a Physicians Assistant (PA). Apparently this is the way a lot of doctors offices are run these days. The PAs see the patients an then report back to the doctor who is squirreled away in an undisclosed location. I told the PA about my adventure at the clinic and he pretty much dismissed everything they had told me. We were going to start from square one.

After talking with me briefly the PA was sure I had gotten this from my house. He thought it was from my claw foot tub. I take baths exclusively in my ultra-hip 6.5-foot long, 1895 claw foot tub. He was not a big fan of old houses. At one point, when we were talking about my neighborhood, he said, “I wish that whole area would either gentrify or get bulldozed, one or the other.” He said he would write a prescription and give me a series of 3 shots over the next 3 days. When the nurse came back in to give me the first shot I asked her what it was. She said penicillin and I refused the shot. She said if I was going to refuse the shot I would need to wait to see the PA before I left. I told her I was done waiting and he can call me if he needs to talk to me. I don’t think the PA listened to a word I had to say about what the doctor at the clinic had told me.

The next day I got a call from Dr. Adams office. It turns out the stain of staph I had was immune to penicillin type antibiotics and I would need a new prescription. You can imagine my surprise. I got the new prescription and the infection healed. A few weeks later a new one showed up. This time on the back of my hand. This one did not come through the skin but stayed sub dermal. The left side of my left hand swelled up to about twice its size. I had found a new level of pain.

I went back to the doctor, excuse me, The PA. He said he would write me another prescription and I said that I wanted to talk to someone else. He agreed and made an appointment with a Doctor of Communicable Disease. An actual, real live doctor. Seeing this doctor was actually a nice experience. I only sat in the little room for about 5 minutes before he showed up. The first 15 minutes of the appointment he just asked questions about me, my lifestyle, my family, ect. There was actually a since of curiosity about him. He then looked at the scars and blemishes left from the past infections and told me that the strain of staph I had was becoming more and more common. He said at one time it was mostly associated with prostitutes, drug users, and prison guards. How pleasant. I told him I didn’t know any prostitutes, drug users, or prison guards. He had already guessed as much because he had actually listened to the words as they came out of my mouth. He said now days most people who get this particular strain are not associated with those types of individuals.

I asked him if it was possible it could have come from my house because it was at one time a feculent hell hole filled with prostitutes and drug users. He said he doubted it but he wouldn’t rule anything out. He seriously doubted I got it from the claw foot tub, either. He told me that 8 out of 10 people are probably walking around with some form of staph infection in there body and it is mostly kept in check. He said I had probably had it for a while and it could be all the work and stress of the house may have played a part in it, but there was really no telling. He gave me three prescriptions but said there was no silver bullet for this. He warned me that I would probably get more infections before it cleared up. He was right.

Over the next 6 months I got a new infection about every 6 weeks. They became less and less painful and lasted for a shorter and shorter periods of time. Up until this lovely little thing showed up on my butt I don’t think I’ve had one in more than a year and a half. I really hope this isn’t starting up again. I’ve got way to much to do. Some of these things can really put you out of commision for a week or more. Today is the first time I’ve called in sick to work since my hand swelled up with the other staph infection. I’m really not accustomed to being sick. I don’t deal with it well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Yes, I’m at that point in the door project. I started to plane down the wood to add some height to the doors. I need 5 more inches. I didn’t have any of the big joists left with enough clear wood to get two 40 inch pieces. Instead I’m using two 2X4 pieces that I will glue together. I’m paying very close attention to wood selection so that the grain will look the same. If I do it right I’m hoping it won’t be noticeable.

This is of course more salvaged wood from the 1920s addition. The addition had a flat roof and the roof joists were all clear, 15-foot 2X4s. These 2X4s didn’t actually span 15-feet because there was a center wall. Still, they seem undersized. But the roof never sagged, so who am I to question the wisdom of a bunch of dead men.

The one thing I’m really concerned with is matching the new wood to the doors. In the past when I’ve glued up boards like this I’ve always had to do a lot more sanding than I liked. It was ok because I didn’t have to worry about matching an existing finish so I could sand away until everything was smooth and even. This time I don’t want to have to do any sanding after I attach the new wood to the doors. I don’t want to sand the existing wood on doors at all and go back to bare wood on them. I’m not sure how this is going to work.

In other bad news, I found out today that the doors are only 1.5-inches not 1.75-inches as I thought. I could swear that I measured them the first day I brought them home and they were 1.75-inches thick. Maybe I took off more shellac than I thought I did when I stripped them. Anyway, this could be a problem for the hardware. All the pocket doors I saw locally and the ones on Ebay were either 1.75-inches or 2-inches thick. The hardware is designed for those widths. I may have to go back to the edge pulls and that means my new $5.00 locksets may be of no use to me.

Man, I hope this doesn't come out looking like crap.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Diamond In The Rough

I decided the $425 Pocket Door Locksets were just not in the budget at the moment. Not a real surprise to many of you, I’m sure. Frankly, even if I had the money, that seems a bit steep. With a little effort and a lot of time I’m sure I could get a nice set on Ebay for half that. Not only that, but this Friday I have to go to the stupid County Building and pay my stupid property taxes, so I really don’t have the money. I think they should start holding elections the day after property taxes are due. I have a feeling a lot fewer bond measures would pass.

So the $425 set is out. I started last week looking on Ebay and nothing grabbed my attention right off the bat, so last Saturday I made the rounds of the local shops to see what was in store. I did not have high hopes and that proved to be wise. In the 3+ years I was looking for the actual doors I only saw 3 sets of doors so there wasn’t any real hope of finding locks for them.

There are really only 4 shops in town that would carry something like this. My favorite place, Empire Furniture, where I got the doors, doesn’t deal in small hardware items so I didn’t even bother going there. I first went to my friends Chuck & Wendy’s store. There stuff is always very nice and always out of my budget, but they have given me a discount the rare times I have bought from them so what the hell. They had one set but it was from about 1910 or so and was not really suitable for my house. I need Eastlake or Aesthetics design.

The next 2 places I went had squat. The guy at the second shop even told me the locksets are hard to find in this area. It seems odd because there are so many Victorian homes in this area. Victorian homes had pocket doors. This means that either the homes all still have their pocket doors or the stories I hear of big fires of ginger bread and Victorian trim during the 50’s when many homes were Eisenhowered are true. They just torched it all and slapped on asbestos siding.

The third shop I went in to, which I forget the name because I rarely go in there, I asked the owner if he had any pocket door hardware and he asks, “Is this for new doors”. Uh, hello! I’m in an antique store! He said he didn’t have anything and suggested I go to San Francisco. That’s only an 8 hour drive one way. It’s funny how none of them suggest Ebay. I can’t imagine why.

The last place I went to is a place I call “The Junk Store”. Again, I forget the name of it, but I actually go in there fairly often. I’ve mentioned this place before. It is one big junk pile. Literally, without exaggeration, a third of the store belongs in the dump. There is a large section of the store that is completely inaccessible because the junk is just piled up. I’m surprised the fire marshal doesn’t shut him down.

In the back there is a row of all kinds of tools and machinery parts and some household hardware. There was a wooden box about 1X2 feet and about a foot and a half deep. It was filled with old mortise locks in various states of disintegration. From what I could see on top they are all for standard doors but I figured, what the hell, I’ll dig through it anyway.

About half way down I found two unmatched of pocket door locks. One was small and had a broken face plate, and the other was absolutely caked in paint. I continued to dig. I had locks all over the floor and on adjacent shelves. Towards the bottom I found what appeared to be the mate to the one caked in paint. It was the same size and also caked in the same amount of paint. I could see no detail to them so there was no telling what era they were. I thought about them for a few minutes and then decided not to buy them. I threw them back on top of the pile and walked out.

Today at work I started to think about them some more. I figured I could get them real cheap. I decided I would go in and offer him $10 – take it or leave it. I was not in the mood to haggle over something that I may not be able to use, may not work, and may not even be a matching set. I went by there after work and they were still sitting right where I left them. They were worse than I remembered. Five dollars was now my top price.

I took them up to the counter and told the owner I’d give him $5 for the set. I could tell he was trying to think of a positive spin to put on them to see if he could get a few extra bucks but it was a waste of time. Both of us knew it. He talked about how I could take them apart and clean them up and I just kept saying, “Five dollars”. That’s what I got them for.

The pictures below speak for themselves. They turned out to be late 19th century, Eastlake, nested pocket door locks. It took 2 and a half hours to strip the paint off, clean and oil the guts, and put them back together. They look very cool and they are a great match for the house. The bail handles pop out when you punch the little buttons on the front. I don’t have a key for them but that’s minor. I would have to say this was the best $5.00 I’ve spent in a long time. I need to polish up the brass a little and after that they should really look good.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Four Sides Down – Zero To Go

Eight rolls of paper towels, 4 packages of steel wool, and a gallon and a half of denatured alcohol later and the doors are stripped. Whew! As I suspected in yesterdays post, the first side I did that was in really, really bad shape was in fact also finished in red tinted shellac. It was just so bad I couldn’t tell. That is one of the reasons it came out so dark. I think the darkness in the wood was also the result of exposure.

The good thing is, though, I have 2 sets of matching sides. The two that were tinted red are a little darker, but they are a good match, and the other two sides that were not tinted look as they should and are also a good match. The plan is to put the tinted ones facing the foyer and the good ones facing the parlor. I will probably see the parlor side a lot more, and the parlor has better lighting.

The Parlor Side

The Foyer Side

For the Foyer Side, the one on the right is the very first door I did. The one on the left was just oiled before I took this picture so it may be hard to tell, but that first one is a little darker. Below is what I started with.

Is There A Door Under There

It may also be hard to tell in the picture, but the panels have some subtle burl grain in them. I just could not be more thrilled with them. The next part of the operation is to add 5-inches to the height. I took a better measurement of the width today and they appear to be dead-on for the pockets. This means I may not have to trim the width any. I had thought they were an inch too wide. Maybe I won’t be going to hell after all. Wouldn’t that be nice.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Three Down – One To Go

I finished the third side today on the pocket doors. This one took the longest mainly because the finish was the most intact, but also because it was tinted shellac and instead of just plain shellac. I tried something new that I thought was working at first but then I changed my mind.

One Pass With the Heat Gun

On the flat rails and stiles I could use the heat gun to get most of the shellac off and then just go over it with the denatured alcohol and steel wool. The panels have too much small detail close together and it is hard to get the scraper in there. I was just using the alcohol and steel wool to scrub it off. Kind of a slow process. I thought that maybe if I hit it with the heat gun and then scrubbed it might go quicker. The idea was that the heat gun would loosen the shellac a bit.

I thought it was working at first but after finishing one of the long panels I wasn’t so sure. I think there may be a magical period of time to hold the heat gun on the shellac and a magical period of time that the shellac is loosened and it is easier to scrap off. Hitting it right on proved to be difficult. If the heat gun stayed on too long it seemed to bake the shellac on. If I waited too long to start scrubbing after I hit it the heat gun it didn’t seem to work too well either. It seemed like if I did a 6-inch square spot with the heat gun for just the right amount of time and then scrubbed quickly it worked ok. Getting all that right was not easy. Then there was also the issue of working with a heat gun and alcohol at the same time. I could have explosive results if I’m not careful. I decided to drop the whole idea and go back to just the alcohol, steel wool, and elbow grease on the panels. It worked.

Finished Product

The Messy Aftermath

The one on the left now has both sides scrapped. Notice how it is kind of dark just like the one on the right. The one on the right is the one I had problems with because of moister darkening the wood – or so I thought. I now think that both of these sides had the tinted shellac. The finish was in such bad shape I couldn’t tell at that point that it used to be tinted. If that is true then this last side I need to do should come out lighter and match the other door. Below is the last side to do. I think this one will go very quickly because the finish is in really bad shape. It does not look like tinted shellac either. Yippee!