Saturday, October 29, 2005

More Slate

Several months ago I was walking through the local home improvement center and I saw they just got in two pallets of black slate. These were 1X2 foot pieces about ¼-inch thick. I had never seen slate offered here before and I thought it would be great to go under the 1890s cast iron stove.

I ran home and took some measurements of the stove and the area in the kitchen where it would go and went right back and bought enough slate to cover the area. The woman at the store told me they had only gotten this slate in once before and it moved fast the last time. I didn’t want to miss out. As it turned out she was right. The next time I went in a few weeks later there was only about a half pallet left.

Months went by and I eventually put in the floor and then laid down the slate, and several weeks later I installed the stove. My focus at the time was everything but how hot the stove would get and how much clearance from the wall I would need. I realized after everything was in I did not get enough slate.

I went back to the home center and both pallets were long gone and they hadn’t gotten any more in. I was to trying to come up with alternatives like a tile boarder or adding something to the back. I was in the tile area of the home center looking at what was available when I saw stacked in one corner 8 pieces of slate. It was the very last of the 2 pallets. I was saved. I quickly snatched up enough to expand the area under the stove and today was the day I put it in. As it is I’m waiting for glue to dry.

I had to pry up the 1/4-round boarder, re-cut new boarder, and then lay the new slate. The slate is not a uniform thickness across all pieces, or even across a single piece. For this reason I put down stone dust first to level each piece separately.

Next I need to paint the new 1/4-round and then dismantle the stove and reposition it. This stove weighs a ton - not an exaggeration - so I will need help for that.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cautiously Optimistic

As usually is the case at this point in the project I’m starting to think about other ways I could have done this. I can’t say for certain whether these “other ways” would have been better ways so I’m trying not to exert too much brain power dwelling on them. Still, the thoughts do pinch the back of my brain as I move through this project.

The project in question is the counter top for the cabinets I made. I ranted about going with redwood a few weeks ago in another blog entry and that is exactly what I’m doing. Definitely not my first choice, but with certain budget constraints that come at the tale end of a long and expensive project like a complete kitchen make-over, I’m forced to cut some corners. Ideally I would be putting in marble. Ideally I would be excessively wealthy, 20 years younger, and sleeping with leggy, blonde twins. I don’t see any of those things on the horizon so redwood it is. I do still have hopes for the twins.

I really stalled the last few days on the counter top. On Monday I had glued up the two panels that will go on either side of the sink. I decided to let them “cook” in the clamps for 2 days because of the damp weather we’ve been having. Wednesday I should have been back to work on the rest of the boards but I discovered a slight problem. A month or so ago when my table saw was down for repairs I had gone to a friends house to use his band saw to split some 2X10 joists. These split joists make up the 2 panels on either side of the sink. At that point I had not built the cabinets yet and I didn’t take in to account that the total counter top will actually be wider than the 2 cabinets and the sink. The total width of the 2 cabinets plus the sink is 90-inches but the total width of the counter is 99.5-inches. The panels are several inches too short (pinch).

I’ve come up with a work-around but it is not an ideal solution. I won’t go in to it now, but I will bring it up again in a few days. I also had some problems edge-joining two of the boards because of their length. A proper glue joint should be straight and even with no gaps. This means that you need to make cuts that are very clean and straight. Not too difficult with the panels that are 30-inches wide but these 2 panels are sandwiched in between 2 boards that are about 100-inches long. These long boards make up the very back and the leading edge of the counter. It was hard to keep them from moving around while I worked with them on the router table. If I had ever done this before I would know whether what I did was suitable. As it is, only time will tell. I think I’ll start saving for marble.

Cooking In Clamps

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When Is 2.5-Inches Not 2.5-Inches

When you are working on a low end Craftsman Router Table.

99.9% of the time when I am working on the router table I am routering (Is that a word?) on the edge of the piece of wood so I’m not really paying close attention to the exact off-set of the fence to the center of the router bit. In the case of the face frame under the sink I needed to mill a groove in the center of the 5-inch wide board. Fortunately, or so I thought, the fence has a maximum depth of 2.5-inches. Perfect, right? 2.5-inches is exactly in the center of a 5-inch board. Well, it isn’t. At least not on my router table. When the fence is set at 2.5-inches it is more like 2.4-inches.

Problem number 2. Earlier in the day I had been doing some edge joining on the router table. To do this you set one side of the fence at the front edge of the router bit and off-set the other side by an eight of an inch or so. (This must be like Greek to some. I’m sorry) Well, wouldn’t you just know it, I never reset the fence. What all this means is that I could have made the most accurate measurements in the world and that groove would have never been centered on the board.

I started to redo the face frame board today and after I got a fresh piece of wood (Long process: See yesterday’s post) I made the center cut after careful measurement and it was off again. I couldn’t believe it. This is how I discovered the problem with the fence. Very frustrating. I decided I would try once again.

Failure No. 2

This time in order to get the groove centered in the board I had to run it once and then flip the board around and run it again. This gave me a centered groove but it is about 1/4-inch wider then it should be. A little disappointing. However, now that I had a centered groove I could reset the fence and do the outside grooves and they would be equal distance from the outside of the board and the middle groove. Symmetry at long last.

I then decided, though, that having the center groove so much wider than the outside grooves was less than aesthetically pleasing. I reset the fence once more by about an 1/8-inch and ran the outside grooves again, thus widening them just a hair. All around it is a less than perfect solution, but at this point I am willing to settle for less than perfect. Not something I’m proud of, but something I’m finding I must do more and more due to both my skill level and my tool selection.

Finished Product

Even more troubling is that after I removed the old board and nailed the new board on to the cabinets I came up with a solution to center the groove on the board. I could take off the stupid fence all together and just clamp on a scrap piece of wood that is exactly 2.5-inches off-set from the center of the router bit. I would need to get a board that is very, very straight, which is easier said than done, but it is doable. At this point, though, I’m not going to tempt fate. After one test cut and three actual cuts, if I did it again and it didn’t come out right the router table might just end up in the bay swimming with the fishies. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

Blog Entry Addendum

I was just about to post the above entry when I decided it was getting late and I wanted to rent a movie and go to the store. I figured I run some errands and post when I got back. As I was driving around I couldn’t help thinking about the board. I also thought about something Patricia W from The Folksy Lady had said. She mentioned that maybe it wouldn’t be noticeable once the counter top was on. It is true, it might not be to some, but it would be to me. It would drive me nuts for ever.

However, Patricia did hit on something. The difference between the center long groove and the two shorter ones would be noticeable. I don’t think, though, that the overall symmetry of the three grooves on the board will be noticeable when the counter top is on. In other words, the middle groove does not need to be centered, but the relationship of the two outer grooves to the middle groove is what is important.

When I got back home I went back out to the shop and grabbed my second attempt (Failure No. 2 above). On this board I stopped after I discovered the middle groove was not centered. I never milled the two outer grooves. I went ahead and milled the two short grooves. This time however, I did not concentrate on their relationship to the outside edge of the board, but rather their relationship to the middle groove.

What I ended up with was 3 grooves spaced evenly from each other but off-set by ¼-inch from the top of the board. They are shifted slightly towards the bottom of the board, but all three are shifted the same. Once the countertop is on, not only will you not notice the off-set, but it might actually look better because you will no longer see all of the top of the face frame board.

Success at last!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Sore Thumb

I started to think after yesterday’s post that it is probably not a good idea to tell people there is a problem with the cabinets that is bugging me and then let them scrutinize the picture looking for it. If you look long enough at just about anything you can find a problem with it. Maybe I shouldn’t encourage people.


So I’ll just go ahead and tell you what is bugging me in case you didn’t already see it for yourself. If you look at the top board of the center face frame – the horizontal board just below the sink – there are 3 grooves milled in to it. The middle groove is not centered properly. It just drives me nuts to look at it. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do it over. The board is in there pretty good and the sink is all hooked up, so I’m a little hesitant to. What makes matters worse, at least for me, is that I cut a test piece first and the test piece has the same off-center middle groove – Grrrr! Why didn’t I see this?!?!

Test Cut

Because I’m such a cheap bastard and refuse to pay for new wood, when I need a board I go to The Big Pile and dig something out I can use. What this means most of the time is if I want a board that is, say, 5X36-inches with no nail holes in it I usually end up digging in the pile for 5 or 10 minutes to find the right piece of wood. You don’t want to get anything too over-sized and waste wood, and of course you can’t use anything under-sized at all. Inevitably the piece is several inches wider and longer than I need and it takes several more minutes to cut off the ends and trim the sides where all the nails are. Then sometimes I may have to strip paint off it, and maybe send it for a few trips through the planer. What I end up with is a beautiful piece of old redwood that would cost $10.00 down at the lumberyard. Ten dollars isn’t a lot, but it adds up over the course of a project. It adds up quickly.

By the time I have the right size board I’ve invested a lot of time in it. When it comes time to do something other than a straight cut I’m hesitant to just go for it on the “new” board I’ve invested so much time an energy in. Instead I grab an even worse off piece of wood and do a test cut first. And this is what I did with the top part of the center face frame. And I screwed it up anyway. Very frustrating.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Cabinet Update

Big day! I have a working sink for the first time in months! Yea! I got cabinets in and painted and I got the sink drain, dishwasher, and garbage disposal hooked up and all is working fine. Aaand it only took 2 trips to the hardware store and there were no leaks with the first test. That could be a record.

I haven’t been able to test the DW yet because although the water is hooked up to it I don’t have a kitchen faucet yet. If I turned the knob under the sink I would have a geyser where the kitchen faucet should be hooked up.

I am generally pleased with the cabinets. It is a first attempt at cabinet building so I’m trying to go easy on myself. Still, there are a few things that bug me. There are one or two joints that could be tighter, doors that could be straighter, and one little problem that I won’t tell you about, but if you look at the picture it should be obvious. At least it sticks out for me like a sore thumb.

I still need to build the center doors and trim out the edges, but next up is the counter top. After I get that on I can get the faucets on and have a working kitchen! It has been a long time coming.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blow Back

I had a little run-in with one of the sons today. It wasn’t physical but it did get heated. To be honest, I don’t handle confrontation well. I really don’t like it. I was walking from the shop to the house when Amanda and her son walked over. The conversation started nice enough. He asked a few questions about why I was doing what I was doing. I tried several times to explain to him about the agreement I had had with his brother but he kept interrupting me saying things like, “That’s between you and my brother. I don’t know anything about that.”

I tried to explain to him how this agreement was the issue. I finally asked why he came over here if he was going to repeatedly interrupt me. I told he if he wasn’t aware of the agreement I had with his brother then he didn’t know what was going on. I was finally able to talk a bit about how I had agreed with his brother that I wouldn’t report them to the city for operating a construction company in a residential neighborhood and the illegal buildings if he didn’t park things in front of or next to my house.

It was during this little monologue that my dislike for confrontation showed. My mouth became as dry as a desert, my voice quivered slightly, and I showed a bit of fear. I hate this about myself. I regained composer but it was an opening for him. He became more belligerent.

He kept telling me that he had no control over his brother and he couldn’t do anything about it. I kept telling him that wasn’t my problem. Things went down hill quickly. Me, the son, and Amanda all began to shout and talk at the same time. The son was yelling at me I was yelling at him and Amanda was really trying to calm us both down. I started to walk away a few times but he would say something and I would get back in to it.

Finally he asked if I got permits for all the work I did. I said yes, and I do get permits. I’ve gotten six permits in the last 3 years and all have been singed off on. He then tried to tell me that the buildings on his Mom’s property were grand fathered in. I began to tell him how I had already been through all this and he was wrong. I tried to tell him how building code was established in this city in 1969 and they have a big map book down at city all. They inventoried all structures in the city at that time. If it ain’t on the map it is built without a permit.

I got about half way through telling him when he started to walk away saying things like, “You wait, I’ll find something on you”. I said, “Go for it”. He then said, "Oh yea, I’ll get you. You wait.” I was back in my shop by this time and I could hear his Mom saying, “No David, come on. Don’t be like that…”

I’m sure I’ll have a visit from brother number 2 very soon. He’s the one I really don’t like.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cracking Heads & Taking Names

I was on a roll today. I’ve had a long simmering dispute with a neighbor across the street and today I read them the riot act. This goes back a few years. The woman who owns the house – a 1920s bungalow – is actually very nice. Her sons are another story. In her back yard on the alley there is an illegally built MIL unit, carport, and garage. Her son operates a construction business out of it. There are always cars, trucks, and tailers filled with debris and what-not parked up and down the street. Lots of noise and congestion. It is a major pain.

It started with her other son. I won’t bore you with all the details but you who live in older neighborhoods know that parking can be an issue. After trying several times to get them to leave enough parking for me and my two tenants I finally had enough of it. I went down to City Hall and found out that the MIL, carport and garage where all built without permits, and because they did not build them to code and with the proper set-back requirements they can’t be brought up to code. I told them if one more car, truck, tailer or anything else ever ended up on the frontage of my house I was going to log a formal complaint with the city and it would all get bulldozed. This worked for a year or so.

The first son eventually moved out and she got some nice tenants. Everything was fine until about 6 months ago. The other son moved in and it all started up again. He is a partner with his brother in the business. At first they didn’t park anything along my street frontage but about 2 months ago things occasionally showed up. They would be moved the next day and I really didn’t want to be an asshole about it so I let the little things slide. Not any more, though.

Two weeks ago the first FedEx Freight tailer showed up. This is a large semi tractor trailer. FedEx drops off the trailer and picks it up a few days later. I guess it has inventory or something. It has really compounded the parking problem. Last night the trailer showed up and the son comes home and parks his full sized pickup with a 14 foot trailer next to my house (I live on a corner). This is on top of the tractor that was dropped off earlier in the day. This is an actual farm tractor that some guy – one of their workers - parked on the street next to my house after taking it off the brother’s truck and trailer. That was it. That pushed me over the edge.

Today on lunch I came home and saw Amanda’s car out front (She is the Mother). I went over and told her it was over. All bets were off. Both sons had to have all of their crap off the street and the business needed to be moved out of the neighborhood or I would do everything in my power to see that the MIL unit, carport and garage would be demolished. At first she said she would talk to them about parking once more. I explained to her again that this had moved beyond parking. It ALL had to go. The business, the trucks, the employee’s cars, the tailers, and the noise. It was over. It was through. I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.

Like I said, Amanda is basically a nice person. She is a mild mannered school teacher in her late 50s and she is being taken advantage of by her sons. I really don’t want to get her in trouble with the city. I told her I would give her son until the end of the year to get it all out (Now I wish I had said a month). After that all bets are off. I told her if there was even one trailer or anything having to do with the business on the street I would contact the city. I think she understood.

I’m expecting some blow-back from the sons this weekend. One of them is a real loud-mouthed arrogant prick. I’ve already decided I’m not going to take any crap from them. If one of them so much as shoots his mouth off to me once I’m not going to give them until the end of the year but I will go straight to city hall. I’ve had it.

After all this I was really in a bad mood. It dawned on me that the flaky woman who rents 2 garages from me still hasn’t paid rent for September. She is a legacy tenant from the previous owners. My house has a 1926 Mission Revival 6-car garage building in the back yard. Most of the garages were rented out when I bought the place and I really needed the money so I didn’t kick anyone out. One woman still rents 2 of them. She is a flake. Always late on rent and a real pain. When I got October’s rent check I realized she had never paid September’s rent (I really don’t want to be a landlord). I called her and asked where it was and she swears she mailed it. Yea, right! She said she would get another check in the mail and I still haven’t received that check, now 2 and a half weeks later.

Today was a bad day for me to realize I haven’t received the check. I called her and got her voice mail. I told her if she was ever –Ever – late on rent again it would be an automatic 30-day notice to vacate. I told her she had to do what ever she had to do to get me the check on time but that I would take no more excuses. I don’t care if we are in the middle of WW III and the monetary system has collapsed she must pay rent on time or she would be out. No excuse. No questions asked.

So, anyone else got a problem with me today? Uh? What’s that? Are you talking to me? I don’t see anybody else over here. You must be talking to me…

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Its not much to look at but it was surprisingly difficult. Well, maybe not difficult, but time consuming. Yes, time consuming and, well, difficult. What ever it was, it’s done. The sink is hanging safely between the 2 cabinets and all three are resting peacefully.

Tomorrow I will trim out the front and then take everything apart and start painting. If I can finish painting by Saturday or Sunday then in theory I could have the dishwasher hooked up and running on Monday some time. Won’t that be exciting. I still need to buy faucets. Those aren’t too expensive are they? A couple of bucks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Back To Plan 9

I got the doors hung and the latches on today. Except for the counter top I officially have complete and working cabinets. I thought I had a potential problem with the cabinet that houses the dishwasher. I had spoke about it in a blog entry a few days ago. A reader named Neil commented on it and came up with what I thought was a great solution to the problem.

In a nutshell the solution was to have the cabinet door open down just like the DW door. I went to the hardware store and bought some “Friction Lid Supports” that would assist the door on its way down (The doors are surprisingly heavy) and a magnet catch that would go on the inside and keep the door closed. I just happened to have one extra cast iron bin pull that matched the others in the kitchen. The idea was to use a the bin pull and have the cabinet look like an old flour bin.

However (There is always a However) when I started to try and put things together I discovered a fatal flaw in the plan. On the old pull-out bins they use a small surface hinge that mounts completely on the outside of the cabinet. They do this because you can't use a butt hinge because that would be driving screws in to the end grain of the wood. End grain will not hold screws in the long run. Because I have toe-kicks on the cabinets there is no room for these style of hinges. If the cabinet went all the way to the floor I could use surface hinges. Major bummer. So it was back to the original plan. Or one of the original plans. This assumes there was a real plan to begin with. We'll just call it Plan 9 From Outer Space.

As it turns out there was just enough room for the DW door to clear the cabinet door. Whew! All of my fret and worry was for naught. There is not much room but as it turns out a little is really all you need. It is the inside corner of the door that I was concerned with. I do only have about a half inch but that is OK. Once everything is secured and fixed in place it can never be less than a half inch. Had I made the cabinets any narrower it would have been a deal killer. I got lucky. Very lucky. I’ll take it.

Both Cabinets In Their Native Habitat

DW Cabinet Closed

DW Cabinet Opened

Next up: The Kitchen Sink.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Let’s Play A Little Game

I purchased a small antique item today. I’ll give you a series of hints and you try and guess what it is. If you guess right you get a Gold Star.

Hint 1: It is Not bigger than a bread box.
Hint 2: It is Not smaller than a bread box.
Hint 3: It is exactly the same size as a bread box.
Hint 4: It goes in a kitchen.
Hint 5: It is made out of redwood.

Here are two pictures of the mystery item. Bare in mind it needs repainting. At least I cleaned all the spider webs out of it.

Hint 6: The oval on the door used to have a piece of glass in it. I’m going to replace the glass and have the word “Bread” sand blasted in to it. Can anybody guess what this mystery item is?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Exacting Measurements…Almost

I got the “Face Frames” on today (someone corrected me that “cabinet fronts” is incorrect) and I got the doors cut to size. Over all I’m happy with them but there may be a problem. Before I get in to that, here are some pictures. Now, keep in mind that these still need putty, sanding, and paint. Also keep in mind that I’m not Norm Abrams and this is still new to me.

Here are the 2 cabinets with the doors just fitted on. There are no hinges or latches yet.

Base Unit 1

Base Unit 2

Without the door

I am proud of the toe kicks (is that the right term?). I actually screwed up when cutting the first one and there was a little dip in the middle. The dip was well centered so I decided to keep it and I duplicated It on the other one.

On the cabinet for the dishwasher the toe kick is attached to a little box. The box is secured with a few screws. The idea is that I can install the dishwasher and then put in the toe kick. Then in 3 years when the dishwasher breaks down (“Durable Goods” – yea right!) I can get it out easily.

Now for the potential problem. This potential problem is all theoretical at this point because I haven’t hung the door so I can’t take accurate measurements. The dishwasher is going to be completely under the cabinet hidden behind a door. The dishwasher is 24-inches wide and the opening to the cabinet is 26-inches wide. It seems like there should be plenty of room, right. Well, there was until yesterday.

The first problem arose because the cabinet is in a corner. In the picture below you can see that when the wall cabinet door opens it only opens a little over 90 degrees. The floor cabinet for the dishwasher will open about the same. This means that the opening is reduced by 1.25-inches because the door can’t get completely out of the way. Now the opening is going to be 24.75-inches. Very close but still some wiggle room.

However, because I made the doors out of 1X4 T&G boards I felt they needed a little more strength. I added 2, .75-inch thick slats to the back of the cabinet door (see picture below). In theory this will take up the remaining wiggle room I had. Now I may be reduced to a 24-inch opening for a 24-inch wide dishwasher. Way too tight.

Everything is glued and nailed together at this point so I don’t want to take anything apart. The plan is to get the doors hung tomorrow and take more measurements. I can grind and cut away at the slats to gain back some room. One way or another I will get this to work, but it would be nice it I didn’t have to fudge it so much.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Base Unit 1 to Base Unit 2...

...Come in Base Unit 2, over.

Well, I got the new drain plug for the compressor today so I’m back in business with the pneumatic nailer. I was able to get both base cabinets put together with the exception of the fronts and doors.

Tomorrow I will start on the rails and stiles and work on gluing up boards for the doors. The last big creative thing to do is come up with some sort of design for the toe-kick apron. It can’t be anything too fancy because you do need to get your toes under it. This is new territory for me. Up until now everything I’ve done has been pretty much straight cuts.

Base Unit One

I will make one stationary shelf for this cabinet. It will basically be for pots and pans. The redwood is in pretty good shape so I think I’ll leave it unpainted. Maybe a little BLO & Turpentine.

Base Unit Two

This one will house the dishwasher. I’ve never measured something so much in my life. I had (have) this huge fear of making it too small. The toe-kick piece at the bottom is screwed in not nailed and glued. I can remove it, install the dishwasher, and then put it back in place. This one will get a matching apron just as the other. The idea on the apron is that the two cabinets will look like pieces of furniture. Think of the apron at the bottom of a dresser. That is what I hoping to accomplish. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cabinet Test

I got everything cut to size but I’ve decided to wait on assembly until I get the compressor working. I’m still waiting on the new drain plug. They said it would be here by the 10th but it still hasn’t shown.

The reason I want the compressor is so I can use the nail gun. These are the floor cabinets so I feel very secure with glue and 1.5 inch finishing nails from the nail gun. It will really be so much easier to get them fitted with glue and clamps first. Then I can make sure everything is square and then I drive in a dozen or so nails to hold it together while the glue sets. I can then remove the clamps and do the other cabinet.

Here is the first one dry fitted. There is more to it, of course. There will be a toe kick at the bottom but I’m going to make it look kind of like a decorative skirt. In the picture it is a solid piece of wood. I need to come up with some sort of design and then cut it out with the jig saw. Behind this skirt will be the real toe kick that won’t be seen. I don’t want stuff to get back under the cabinets. The other one is ready to go as well, but I only have so many clamps.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Your Mission, Mr. Petch…

Should you chose to except it, is to create a series of base storage units.

First you must infiltrate this highly fortified garage complex.

Inside you will find a pile of what may appear to be garbage. This garbage is in fact a pile of wood that you and your selected team highly trained MI agents will use to build a pair of sophisticated base storage unit.

Due to budget cuts, the only thing you or your agents will be allowed to use is a shoddy assortment of used, scratch and dent, bottom of the line tools that have been haphazardly thrown together over the last 5 years. As always, if you or any of your agents should create junky storage units any knowledge you, your agents, or your mission will be disavowed.


Name: Sadie
a.k.a. Ms. Snuglepuss
Requires constant attention.
Sleeps and eats too much.
Refuses to do what she is told.
Has no redeeming value for the mission

Name: Mortimer
a.k.a. Fat Butt
Prone to violent out bursts.
Sheds a lot.
Roams the neighborhood too much.
Has no redeeming value for the mission

Good luck Mr. Petch. This blog entry will self destruct in 5 seconds.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Salvage Gloat

My neighbor a few houses down the street just became the proud owner of a bouncing baby antique & salvage store. Actually the store has been around for several years, but it is new to her. We don’t get those great salvage yards like you find in big cities. You know the kind where they have a half dozen claw foot tubs sitting in front of a dozen fireplace mantles which are holding up a few hundred old doors. Around here they are smaller and mostly have antiques, a lot of which is from out of the area, a lot of junk, and then a little salvage. You really have to be on top of things if you want the good stuff.

I make – or try to make - a weekly trip to the two places that have any real salvage. The place in question recently changed owners and Sheri, my neighbor, is the new owner. She had worked there for many years and recently took over the business. I stopped in on Sunday and Sheri and Rose (Be still my heart), the old owners daughter, were working the store.

I stopped and chatted with both for a while and then made my way around the store. This place is actually pretty big. It is in two neighboring buildings, both over 100 years old, and covers 3 floors. Mostly furniture. In the back on top of a desk I saw an old oak high-tank toilet tank. It was marked $49.00. As I said there isn’t a lot of this sort of thing in this town and when it shows up it doesn’t last long.

I’m not going to be doing the downstairs bathroom for several years but you’ve got to get it when you find it. I told Sheri I wanted to buy the tank and she feigned shock and dismay because I rarely buy stuff but I look a lot. I told here it was marked at $49.00 so I would have to come back for it. She asked me how much I had in my pocket and I pulled out $36.00. She said that’s close enough and the tank was mine. It is a good thing I ate lunch before I stopped in or I would have paid $41.00 for it.

All The Parts Are There And I Already Have The Old Bowl
There Is Oak Under That White Paint

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Old Time Shelf Hanging

Now days, of course, shelves in cabinets are hung off little brass tabs. The tabs are stuck in to a series of holes that are spaced evenly along the sides of the inside of the cabinet. There is nothing wrong with this method but I wanted a different look (Yes, I’m that obsessed).

In days of old cabinet shelves where hung from wooden stays that fit in to notched wooden strips that were secured in the corners of the inside of the cabinet. This method required a little more work but it was actually easier, given my meager workshop, and, of course, it costs less. Always watching the bottom line.

So here is how it works.

I started with a pair of 1-inch X .75-inch strip of wood.

I then cut a series of triangle shaped notches. The spacing wasn’t important but they had to match on each piece of wood or the shelves will be crooked.

I then split those in 2 to get 4 matching pieces.

The shelf has notches at each corner so it can fit around the thin boards with the notches.

Small slats the same depth as the thin boards are cut. They have a triangle shaped end that fits in the notch of the thin boards.

And Tada! Shelves hang. Note that the shelves are a meaty one and one eights inch thick. You’ve got to love old salvaged wood. At least I do.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Less Is More

I got the floor cabinets built and installed and it only took one day! This Less Is More philosophy is great. Uncluttered. Simple. Streamlined. Of course, it doesn’t do much for storage.

Unlike other projects I’m actually trying to do a little planning with these cabinets. The tolerances are tighter than I'm used to working with because of the sink. The sink is made by American Standard Radiator & Sanitary Co. and it is dated 1932. It a single basin sink, 18X30, cast iron and enamel. Even though it is not real big it still weighs about 75 pounds. It is an under-mount sink and the idea is to hang it between the 2 cabinets and then lay the counter top down over it. If the cabinets are too wide or too narrow there could be problems.

The other issue is the dishwasher. The plan is to hide the dishwasher behind one of the cabinets. Again, if the cabinets are the wrong size there could be problems. So I made the simple mock-ups of the cabinets to get a real-world view of the size and scope of the cabinets. It was very helpful and I made a few minor changes to the basic design because of the mock-ups.

But cabinet building starts next week. This weekend the plan is to make 4 shelves for the wall cabinets. I’m going to use 2 pieces of fir that were used to trim out the wall when they removed and enclosed the pocket doors back in the 1920s. Because the wall for the pocket doors was extra wide they used extra large boards to trim it out the new, smaller opening. The boards are clear fir, 1.25-inches thick and 12-inches wide. I need to get 4, 30-inch selves.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Crossing “I”s and Dotting “T”s

Here are the requisite pictures of the finished cabinets. I am very happy with them. Because my compressor is still down I was forced to use a hammer and nails like a savage to do the crown detail on them. It wasn’t too bad, really, but I’ve become very accustomed to the pneumatic finish nailer that I was worried about hammer dings. There was one small one that will haunt me until the end of time, but it could have been worse.

To be honest they’re not completely finished. I still need to make 2 shelves for each of them. Shouldn’t be too difficult. I think I can pound them out this weekend. I will then paint the insides and it will be on to the floor cabinets. I’m hoping those will go quicker. Now that I have two cabinets under my belt this is practically second nature to me.

Note The Old World Craftsmanship

Note The Fine Attention To Detail

Note The Still Unfinished Interior

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Thomas (Petch) Crown Affair

It was close, very close. I almost did not have enough crown molding to do the cabinets. If I had screwed up just one piece I would have run short. This crown molding was left over from when I removed the 2 story addition. The house has a flare-out where the first story meets the second story. The second story shingles flare out over the first story lap siding. To fill the gap under the flare there is a run of crown molding.

Last November when I rebuilt the flare after removing the addition I used some salvaged 2X4s to get the missing crown molding made. At the time I just made extra with out any real thought as to what I was going to do with it. The wood was free so all I paid for was a set-up fee and knife cutting. After that the cost was the same whether the mill ran 50 feet or 75 feet. It was very lucky that I had enough.

As planned I made a 3 part crown detail. I’m very pleased with how it came out. It was a lot of work, though. The 2 other pieces, besides the 1X4 crown, I made using the table saw and router table and more of that ever present salvaged wood. It is fun to create stuff but some day I’m going to learn to plan things instead of just walking in to the shop and start cutting. I had several design changes along the way that resulted in more work than was needed. I guess this is why I’m not a highly trained professional.

Cross Section of the House Flare

You can see the crown molding

Here are the 3 pieces that made up the detail

If you recall I said the cabinets where a smidge too wide. I had to get creative around the corner blocks. Remember: Don’t Cut Old Wood!

The Right side has 2 parts and the left side has 1 part on.

I got it primed. Tomorrow the first of 2 coats.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Houston Control…

…We have lift off of the Petch House Cabinets.

I used a couple of saw horses and an old door to make a platform so I could be up higher. There were a few nervous moments but all in all it went well. No busted walls, windows, or bones.

The cabinets came out a smidge wider than I wanted so the trim is going to be tight on either side of the window. I started with the doors so that sort of defined the width of the cabinets. The rails (or are they the stiles) are only 2 inches wide and I didn’t want to make them any thinner for aesthetics reasons.

I could have trimmed the doors but that leads to other problems. You can’t only trim one side because then the panels are no longer centered. If I trim both sides I then have to do the mortise for the hinges again. Also, if you trim too much the latches look crowded, and I could always screw up. This leads to the issue of going against one of my basic philosophies of old house restoration: Never Cut Old Wood.

They also could use to be an inch or so taller. I made the cabinets tall enough but I didn’t mount them high enough. I will be able to over come this but it would have been easier if I had mounted them an inch or two higher. I’ll chalk that up to inexperience.

Preliminary Inspection

They're Up!

And Level! Whew!

Final Inspection

Doors & Latches On