Monday, February 27, 2006

Miles 1890 Home

Miles 1890 Home: Why can't I read your blog? Is it just me? There seems to be a problem with your Blogger Script.

Kitchen Island Drains 101

I recently discovered that the drains on kitchen island sinks present a unique problem because the island is in the middle of the room. Normally a sink is against a wall and it is easy to run drains and vents. Vents are an important part of a smooth running drain. Think of a two liter bottle of water. If you turn it completely upside down the water drains out of the bottle unevenly and there are frequent “burps” as air forces it’s way in to the bottle to replace the water that is draining out. On the other hand, if you tip the bottle only half way air is allowed to flow in the top part of the bottle opening while the water flows out the bottom half of the opening. The water flows smoothly because air and water are displaced simultaneously and at an even rate.
Download in the Play Store

Because the island is in the middle of the room you can’t run the vent straight up in the air and out the ceiling of the kitchen. Instead you use the drain pipe as a vent in a “loop vent” This was all explained to me on Sunday when I went over to my neighbor Gary’s house to talk with him about plumbing the kitchen island. Gary’s garage is stocked better than any hardware store or plumbing store in the area. If I don’t go to Gary’s for free plumbing parts I am admonished by him for going to a hardware store and buying plumbing supplies. I feel kind of funny about imposing on him all the time so I go over and ask a simple question first. “Hey Gary, should I run inch and a half or two inch for the island drain”. Inevitably, within a matter of minutes, we are out in Gary’s garage laying the entire drain and water system out on his floor. That is exactly what happened Sunday and I left a half hour later with enough parts and equipment to do the whole thing twice. The policy is always the same. “Take 2 of everything and return what you don’t need”. Here’s what I got on Sunday. What’s not in the picture is the 15-feet of ABS and assorted segments of half-inch copper.

All of this is leftovers from past jobs so Gary has no problem giving it away for free to friends and neighbors. It is incredibly helpful to have a highly skilled plumber who is a heck of a nice guy with a well stock garage living right across the street. You just have absolutely no idea.

Anyway, back to the drain. Here is what it looks like under the cabinet.

You can see that there are 2 drain pipes that go in a loop. The pipe on the left is 2-inch ABS and acts as the real drain. You can see the spout I will hook the sink up to towards the bottom. The pipe on the right is inch and a half ABS and acts as the vent. Notice how at the top it is pointed and not just squared off. This is important to meet code. You use 2 45-degree elbows and 1 90-degree elbow to achieve this.

Here is a drawing to show how the drain works under the floor.

Just like the bottle of water that is only tipped half way, the horizontal drain is only filled half way with water. The top part of the drain pipe allows air to flow back to the drain preventing gurgling sounds and a slow draining sink.

So now that everyone is an expert on kitchen island sink drains it’s time to learn some plumbing parts slang. If you’re gunna walk-the-walk, you gotta talk-the-talk. So, the little do-hicky in the picture below is used to support half-inch copper pipe under the house. The slang term for this thing among plumbers “Flying Butt-Hole”. So now as homework for the Kitchen Island Drains 101 class I want each and every one of you to go down to the hardware, go back to the plumbing supply area, and with a clear and confident voice announce to the sales clerk, “Give me a half a dozen flying butt-holes!”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Yet Another Island Update

I really made some progress today. I went back to the antique store where I bought the first set of cabinet doors. If you recall I was not able to use them because they were too tall. I got lucky because they had a single door that was the perfect size and it was less than half the cost of the pair of doors I bought 2 months ago so I got some money back (Wooo-Hooo!). The new door is a single panel door and is very early. I could see the original finish where the latch had been removed and it was faux grained oak. The same original finish my kitchen had in 1895.

I got the walls all sheathed and got the door hung. I also got the box for the electrical installed. I went under the house and measured for plumbing and electrical. It is going to be pretty straight forward to hook this thing up. There is a 2-inch drain very close by that used to be used for the bathroom that used to be a part of the kitchen. Also, I had originally planned (eons ago) to have the main kitchen sink on another wall. When I re-plumbed the house I ran copper for that sink that never happened. I ended up just capping it under the house and it happens to be right under the island.

Tomorrow, with luck, my neighbor Gary The Plumber will be around to help me cut holes and hook up the drain. I’ve already talked with him about it and I think it really wants to help. I thought about doing it myself today but I really think Gary likes to help and give advice (and tools and parts). So, who am I to disappoint him.

Here’s where I’m at. You can see the “new” door and the double gang box for the electrical. There will be an outlet and a switch for the garbage disposal. If I can get together with Gary tomorrow I will run plumbing, if not I’ll start on shelf and the bottom of the shelf area.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Island Progress Report

Because I decided to do the interior shelf I ran out of stripped bevel board and had to strip another 10 pieces! Not the end of the world but it was something I hoped I wouldn't have to do. I thought maybe I would be short 3 or 4 but not 10! The important thing is I got it done. The island is completely sheathed in bevel board. I do still need to come with an new idea for the one end that will have the cabinet doors for under the sink.

The next step for woodworking would be to put the bottom in where the shelf and sink will be. Before I do that, though, I need to run electric and plumbing, so that gets moved to the top of the list. Here’s where I’m at.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It Was A Little Embarrassing

A few months back I overheard a conversation between two of the bookkeepers at work. One woman was talking about how she had just had new vinyl windows installed in her old house. She went on and on about the expense and the crew that installed them and how much of a mess it made. Naturally talk of window replacement on an old house got my interest. I eavesdropped and eventually I heard her complain about all the old sashes they left behind. After the expense of putting in new windows she was now going to have to pay to throw away the old sashes. It was time for me to be a butinsky.

It told her I would be happy to take the old sashes off her hands. I even told her I would drive out to her house to pick them up. She was thrilled. The next day she said her husband was eager to get rid of them and he would bring them in to town and deliver them (They live in a small farming community about 15 miles outside town). I said great, have him toss them in my truck in the parking lot. Sure enough, the next day when I got off work the back of my truck was filled with old redwood window sashes. Some had some really nice Florentine glass and others had a different kinds of obscure class. The sashes were in beautiful shape. Not a hint of rot on any of them. They don’t fit my house, but that’s OK. They didn’t go to the dump and I can use them as barter at a salvage yard some day.

Anyway, the next day I made a point of thanking her for the window sashes. It was a win-win situation. I got these great old sashes and they didn’t have to pay to dump them. Of course, the house was the big looser in all this but there is nothing I can do about that. After I thanked her she told me that if I like old window sashes her sister-in-law also had her windows replaced and she has a barn full of old sashes I could have. Here sister-in-law lives in Ferndale, the land of old Victorian homes. I was very much interested in them and I told her so. She gave me her sister-in-law’s phone number and said to give here a call but not until after the holidays.

Today I called the sister-in-law. It turns out she lives right across the street from some friends of mine in Ferndale. And she lives in an 1898 Victorian. The potential was very high that these would be the classic one-over-one, tall Victorian windows just like my house has. Most of my windows are in good shape structurally (lousy shape functionally) but I would still love to have them for future projects or for bartering. We set up an appointment for 3:00 this afternoon.

I drove out there today and sure enough the house was a late Victorian Queen Anne similar to my own. The windows looked identical to mine own. I went to the door and we exchanged pleasantries. She is retired and in her late 60s. A very pleasant woman. We went out to the barn and sure enough there was a king’s ransom in old Victorian redwood window sashes with wavy glass. Not all were the classic one-over-ones but there was a lot of them. I gushed a bit over how they would be perfect, even though I wasn’t really sure if they were the right size for my house.

Anyway, after a few minutes of chit-chat I finally said, “OK, let me pull my truck around and I’ll get these babies loaded up”. She paused for a minute and then said, “Well, aren’t you going to offer me anything for them?” I stammered a bit and felt very awkward. I had just assumed that this was the same situation as with the bookkeeper at work. I assumed she just had windows replaced and was eager to get these out of the barn. I assumed I was doing her a favor. That wasn’t the case. She had replaced her windows 12 years ago and was expecting money for these old sashes. She expected me to make an offer on them.

I should point out at this time that I am a full-fledged member of the cashless society. I rarely have more than $10.00 in my pocket. If her barn were equipped with an ATM machine I might have been prepared to haggle, but as it was I had about $2.00 in my pocket and $2.00 would have been an insulting offer for 30 or 40 sashes. I explained to her as polity as I could that her sister-in-law had given me the impression that the sashes were free. I told here that I was obviously mistaken but that I was not prepared to pay for the sashes right then. I’ll take just about anything old and Victorian house-part related for free, but when it comes to paying for something I normally only buy things I need or will need in the not too distant future. I didn’t tell here that in so many words but she got the point.

We finally agreed that I would take a few of the sashes and see if they will work for me and if so I will buy some or all of them. She mentioned a price of $3 or $4 a sash and that seems fair to me. Even if they don’t fit my house I am planning on someday doing a glassed in side porch (suck in those BTUs) where I removed the 2 story addition and the windows would be perfect. If they fit my house I’ll take all I can get. Some of mine maybe be in worse shape than I know. If they don’t fit, I’ll just buy 4 upper and 4 lower sashes for the future porch project. Even if I pay $5 a piece it’s still a great deal.

Oh, and I almost forgot. She had three Eastlake doors in the barn as well. I asked if she wanted to sell them and she said no….but it was a slow no. If I swing a deal on these windows I’ll make a good offer for the doors and maybe she’ll bite. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Almost Committed

I framed the island today but stopped short of bolting the whole thing to the floor. I’ve positioned it in the place I think it will go but I’ll spend a few hours with it in that location today and tomorrow before I commit to the spot. It actually takes up less room than the kitchen table that was there. The table was 48-inches in diameter and the island is 64X36 inches. The 64-inch length is fine because there is still more than 4-feet in front of and behind the island. However, I did pick up 12 crucial inches on the sides where all the traffic will flow.

It is coming out pretty good but I did discover a major design flaw today. The salvaged cabinet doors I bought a few months back will not fit. The doors are 31-inches high and the island is 38-inches high, but once you account for counter top, feet, and trim there is only about a 25-inch high opening. Because the doors have 2 raised panels I can’t cut them down. I haven’t decided exactly what to do about it yet but there is still plenty of work so I’m sure some solution will reveal itself soon.

Aside from that it’s looking pretty good. There are a few minor things I would do differently if I had to do it over but they are very minor. The big problem today was putting the whole thing together by myself. Last night I flipped the base over and painted the feet and the center box. The box is off-set 7-inches under the island and painted dark green. The idea is that even if you see it it won’t be noticeable. It should look like the island is supported only by the Queen Anne legs.

Don’t tell anybody but the box is made out of plywood. This is my first use of plywood in the house. A friend had dumped off a piece of cabinet grade plywood that I had thought about using as a temporary counter top but it was not large enough. Instead it ended up underneath and out of site. The box serves three purposes. First, it acts as a secondary support so all the weight is not on the little Queen Anne legs. Second, it will hide plumbing and electrical which will come up from under the house. And third, it will secure the whole thing to the floor.

Here is where it will sit in the kitchen. The cantilevered counter is at the far end and the sink will be at the closest end. The painted boards are temporary and were used to hold things square while I put it together. Tomorrow I will bolt it to the floor and begin to sheath it with the previously stripped bevel board.

I also wanted to point out that I showed a little restraint with today’s blog entry. I had planned on writing about how I had erected something in the kitchen and despite the difficulties I had beaten the odds and mastered new skills. I was going to add that the whole experience was orgasmic, but in the end I decided that wasn’t appropriate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Where The Elite Meet To Eat

Tomorrow night is another meeting of The Splinter Group. For those of you who’ve forgotten, The Splinter Group is a local group of Old House owners who get together on a regular basis. We meet each time at a different member’s house and have a pot-luck. We get to see the results of some project, whether completed or on-going. Some people talk about their house’s history or something else pertaining to the time period. Others don’t do much at all. Regardless, there is always a home tour involved.

I guess I’ve been a member of the group for almost 3 years now. The group has been on-going in some form or another for more than a dozen years. I sort of stopped going for a while but then got back in to last year. It’s fun to see other peoples homes. To see what they’ve done. And of course, eventually it is your turn to host the event. Sometimes, though, it seems little more than a cocktail party held on a Wednesday night and I’m just not in the mood.

Tomorrow night it will be at Jeff & Michelle’s 1914 Craftsman home. It is still a work-in-progress (aren’t they all). I’ve been to Jeff & Michelle's before but never for a Splinter Group meeting. They are doing a very nice job with the house. It is a very pleasant mix of contemporary and period styles.

What will really make this intersting is the recent problem with my neighbors. Jeff is a member of the City Council and he was the one I asked for help in dealing with my neighbors. I didn’t expect a lot and I got almost nothing from him. It’s not a real big deal but it was a little disappointing. He said he would talk to someone at the planning department and give me pointers on my letter of complaint and, as far as I know, he did neither. We haven’t spoken since the beginning of January when he said he would get back to me.

I’ve already decided I’m not going to make a big deal of it, and I won’t even bring it up, but I’m sure Jeff will. He is a nice guy and I genuinely like him but he is the consummate politician. Jeff will always want to smooth things over and find a middle ground. Really, in some ways, the members of The Council are little more than figure heads. The paid city staff is the engine that runs the city. The council just gives direction. I’m not sure that there is anything Jeff could have done. It’s just…I don’t know…he should have gotten back to me.

One of the big topics on tomorrow’s agenda will be getting new people. One couple just announced they would no longer be attending. They were a very pleasant lesbian couple that had been in the group for years. Apparently they just recently “divorced” after being together for 9 or 10 years. There are some people I don’t connect with well at the gatherings and others I do. For what ever reason I liked these people and they will be missed.

So we’re looking for new blood for the group. If any of you old house types out there want to make the trip to Eureka on a monthly basis, and don’t mind hosting the group once a year or so, drop me a line and we’ll talk.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Island Sweat

Boy, it seems like I haven’t posted in a week. I’ve really been getting a lot accomplished, though. First off, as for the design, I’ve decided to go with Design Idea Number 3, “Open shelving on both sides with a common back in the center”. Thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on this. Everyone made good points and if I could I’d incorporate all the ideas, except the garbage can idea. John made a good point about why that is not a good idea. At any rate, Number 3 won out for simplicities sake and because I think it will be the most useful and flexible desing in years to come.

Now on to the work at hand.

I finished stripping all the fir bevel board pieces but I think I might need more. The shelves will need sides and backs. I think I have enough for everything except for the common back so I may just go with flat stock for that. Otherwise I would have to do enough for both sides of the back so it would look right. The bevel is only on one side of the board. If I only strip enough for one shelf back the other side will be flat wood. Not the end of the world, but if you’re going to do something you might as well do it right. Right? We’ll see if I feel this way in a week.

Butt Nekid!

I also got the brackets painted. I decided to use spray paint so I wouldn’t have brush strokes on the metal. There is something that is just not right about visible paint brush strokes on metal objects. The big problem with spray paint is that you have a limited pallet to chose from. Green and off-white is the color scheme for the kitchen. The woodwork on the island will be the same off-white as the rest of the woodwork in the kitchen. Naturally then, the cast iron brackets should be some shade of green. I’ve notice that lighter colors tend to show detail better because the subtle shadows are more visible on a light background than on a dark background.

With this in mind I decided I wanted a light green color on the brackets. Unfortunately, as I said before, spray paints come in a limited pallet. I chose the lightest color green I could find with out slipping in to Day-Glo. It’s not my first choice but I think it will work.


I also made good progress on the frame of the island. I made the bottom and the top. Because the island will be 64X36 I will need to do most of the assembly in the kitchen. If I put it together first it would never fit through all the doors.

The Queen Anne feet I chose proved to be difficult to work with. Had I simply chose to build this as a box on the floor it would have been much easier. However, I think the end results will be worth the effort. I like the idea of a kitchen island, and in my case it is very practical. Still, the term “Kitchen Island” screams 1990s not 1890s. The Queen Anne feet on the island will make it look more like a piece of furniture than a “Kitchen Island”.

I won’t bore you with all the details of how or why the feet caused problems. Just try and imagine a large work space with plumbing and electrical, stuck in the middle of a kitchen all propped atop 4 delicate little Queen Anne legs. Just writing that sentence I can picture the thing crashing to the ground. There were other issues with the bevel board siding and the cantilevered counter. To be honest, I’m sure tackling little problems like these is the sort of thing “The Pros” go through everyday, so it’s not that big of a deal. It’ll work. I hope.

Here’s what I’ve got done. It doesn’t look like much now, but this represents many hours of work.

Island Base – Lap Joints Aplenty

Island Top – Yet More Lap Joints

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Seeing Things From A Different Angle

The paint stripping is moving along at a blistering pace. I am 63% complete after 3 days and I got very little done yesterday. This is good and bad. It is good because this means I should finish up this weekend. This is bad because I still have not completely finished the design of the island.

Last week I flipped the position of the island 90 degrees on the kitchen floor. This solved a lot of problems with traffic flow and the over all stability of the island. However, this caused some problems with certain aspects of the original design. Here is a picture of the original design, and the second picture is where I’m at now.

Original Design

Current Design

You can see I moved the cabinet doors from the long side to the front and the cantilevered counter was moved to the back. This means the corner shelf I had planned on will no longer work. There are no usable corners left. I don’t want a shelf under the counter because I don’t want to encourage people to put their feet up on it. So now I have this cube of dead space in between the sink and the counter and I’m not sure what to do with it.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about what to put there and I start to get these great ideas of complex shelves and cubbies for spices, cutting boards, maybe a garbage can (think kitchen apothecary table) and I start to wonder if I can pull it off (Yes, I’m at that stage again). So far the cabinets I’ve built have been pretty straight forward boxes. I haven’t done anything too elaborate. There is also the issue of making spaces that aren’t really functional and will end up being wasted space. I’m leaning towards something simpler.

So for more realistic ideas I’ve come up with these.

1) A garbage can behind a door and have a hole in the counter top to throw things down.

2) A simple pass-through shelf that will extend from one side to the other.

3) Open shelving on both sides with a common back in the center. The more visible high-traffic side could hold cookbooks, while the other side could be for chopping boards, spices and what-not.

4) One side closed (the high-traffic side) and a deep shelf on the other.

5) Pull-out bins with hinges on the bottom front face like the kind on old Hoosier cabinets for flour and potatoes.

6) Do nothing and just leave it as dead space.

At this point in the whole never-ending kitchen project number 6 is looking really good. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Here's a winter time photo some might be able to relate to. There are 2 legs underneath the two fur balls.

Leg Warmers – (C)Old House Style

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Back To The Basics

I have 3 basic tasks to complete this week. I need to strip some paint, I have to do some paint stripping, and I need to remove some wood that is stuck under some paint. And if there’s still time I want to perform some wood/paint separation. I’ve found that if I break the big jobs up in to smaller tasks like this it makes it easier to get everything accomplished.

Here’s what I’m starting with.

That is 46 pieces of 1X4, T&G fir that came out of the now infamous 1922, 2-story addition I removed. Each piece is 47-inches long. The first job was to cut them down to 32-inches. Each has a little damage at each end where it was nailed to the wall so this will also clean up those bad ends. Then the fun begins. Hour after hour of joyful paint stripping. Yep, it doesn’t get any better than this.

I know everyone is going to be at the edge of their seats waiting for updates on the paint stripping. I can imagine that with so many people logging on to The Petch House Blog wanting to see the progress it could cause some problems with Blogger’s servers. I’ve taken the initiative to contact the good people at Blogger and alert them of this impending increase in traffic. I think if we all work together here people we can avert a catastrophe.

In other news totally unrelated to stripping paint off wood, I finished removing the paint form the cast iron brackets. They were too big to boil on the stove so I soaked them in a lethal mix of water and TSP for 4 days. After 2 days I took them out an hosed them off and then added more TSP and soaked for another 2 days. Yesterday I removed them from the caustic brine and hosed them off again. They look just like the day they were made. There are 2 brackets and they will make up part of the supports for the cantilevered counter.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Island Design Review

I had some last minute major changes to the kitchen island design. Here is the first design of how it sat in the kitchen.

With that design the base is 20-inches wide and 5-feet long. With the cantilevered counter the top it would be 36-inches wide. This always kind of gnawed at me because with the 20-inch wide base the design seems unstable. Even with it secured to the floor with screws I can see this maybe coming loose and tipping over after a few years. It would be a natural habit to put your weight on the counter as you sit down and stand up. Also, if I do a concrete top this thing will definitely be top-heavy. And let’s not forget this is earthquake country.

The main reason for having the stools on that side was because the TV is in the eHutch. It’s not like I’m in there watching TV a lot, but I do turn it on while I’m cooking, and in the mornings over coffee to catch a little news. It seemed logical that if you were going to put the stools anywhere they should be in a position that you would have a clear view of the one thing you are actually going to be staring at in the room. It’s not like I’m going to sit and contemplate my existence while staring at the stove. Or who knows, maybe I will. Regardless, when sitting at the kitchen island, if the TV is on it will be the focal point and I should have a clear view of it.

That was the logic behind putting the stools on that side but it just won’t work. Not only because of the 20-inch base problem but also because of traffic flow. That side of the kitchen where the Frankenstein Hutch is located is the main walking lane in the kitchen. All of the light switches and doors are on that side of the kitchen. With the stools there, when someone is sitting at the island that space could be reduce to nearly 24-inches. I can’t shift it any further towards the eHutch without it both looking cramped and maybe even preventing the doors from opening. There is only so much room to work with.

Instead, here’s what I’ve come up with.

As you can see I’ve moved the stools to the side of the island towards the cabinets I built. This now gives me a 40-inch unimpeded walking lane on one side and 34-inches on the other. The sink will be positioned in a way that you will use it from the stove side. So there will be no reason for a body to be planted in either one of those lanes going passed the island. TV viewing is not as good from the top of the island as it was on the side but it is still doable, and really, people won’t be sitting there watching hour long shows or anything.

The most important thing I’ve gained here is the better sized base. The base will now be a solid 3-feet wide and 4-feet long. The 16-inch cantilevered counter will be added to the 4-foot long dimension giving me a total length of 5-feet 4-inches. This still leaves more than 4-feet at either end, and it won’t tip over no matter how top-heavy it is.

The one draw back to this is the width of the counter where people will sit. At only 36-inches wide it is kind of narrow for 2 people to sit there for any length time comfortably. Two children could sit there and eat lunch fine, but two adults would be cramped I think. But, hey, that’s why there is a dining room, right? When all is said and done it will most likely be a few more inches wider. I can make the base 36-inches wide and then hang the counter an inch and a half over each side. That won’t really affect traffic flow and will bring the counter space to 39-inches. Also, the counter is mostly open underneath so a stool can be shifted to one side slightly and it should be fine. I think. I hope.

I made a small mock-up of it with boxes and electrical tape and so far I think this will work. Before I can start construction I need to get 46 pieces of bevel-board out of the attic and (ugh!) strip the paint off. That is easily a weeks worth of work so there is still time to change things.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Finally, the last of the 3 doors is up! I can now move on to the kitchen island. I think I have, or have chosen all the main ingredients for the island. Now it’s just a matter of adding water and stirring for a few minutes. Then pop it in a 350 degree oven and when the toothpick comes out clean the island will be ready!

Oh, if it were only that easy.

Here is a picture of the last door. It is the one in the center. These doors are just a bitch to strip the paint off of but the end results are worth it. There is a wet paint sign on it because I’m having some friends over tonight and the paint might be a bit tacky. In the picture, the door on the right is the 80s Porn Closet and the one on the left goes to the dining room. You can see the slant in the roof right there caused by the back stairs. I still need to put the hardware on but that is ready to go.

Not only does this mean I can start to work on the island but it also means I can heat this room pretty good now. And I can keep the dirt and dust out while I work else where in the house. A very big deal.

As for the island I have chosen to go with the first copper sink that I spoke about in a recent blog entry. The last two things I need to decide on are the faucets and the counter top. I need a good durable countertop. As much as I love the wood countertop on the cabinets I built, this island is going to be the work horse of the kitchen. I want to do marble and I will probably go that route. Cost is going to be an issue so at this point I think I will finish the top in plywood as a temporary surface until I can scrape together enough change to plunk down on the marble.

That’s the plan at this point….

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Island Sinks

I need to make a decision on the sink for the kitchen island. The dimensions of the sink will have a big impact on the dimensions of the island. I really can’t start building the island until I’ve decided on the sink.

I made the rounds yesterday to look at the meager offerings locally. There wasn’t much to chose from. The two criteria I started with were: 1) Not stainless steel. 2) Under-mount sink. I found exactly zero sinks that met both criteria. There was a Kohler 15X15 cast iron/white enamel drop in sink with faucet holes for $195. They could order the same sink without the holes and as an under-mount for $269. Strange but true.

I found a really cool old copper sink on Ebay that would have been absolutely perfect for the house but it was a little bigger than I wanted (16X25) and had a 1.5-inch drain on it. That means no garbage disposal. I bid on it anyway because I liked it so much and was out bid. My max bid was $221 and it sold for $224. I think it’s just as well.

This did get me thinking about copper sinks, though. I had considered a copper sink for the cabinets I built but I couldn’t find a sink that had both apparent quality and an affordable price. You can get these hammered Mexican copper sinks that are pretty inexpensive but they don’t tell you how thick the copper is and they all come in Oil Rubbed Bronze finish. I just get this feeling that they are hammered too thin and they will start to split in places after a few years. I’m also not a big fan of the oil rubbed bronze.

However, I found two sinks that have potential. They are both bar/prep sinks. They are both 16 gauge copper. They both have 3.5-inch drain holes. They are both under-mount. They both come in finishes that are not oil rubbed bronze. And the most important part (drum roll, please) they don’t cost and arm and a leg.

The first one is here. I would get it in the Natural color and it goes for $225, shipping included.

The one here is $244 with shipping. I’m not sure how I feel about the pattern on it. It looks nice put I wonder if it will be difficult to get little specks of things to go down the drain. Will I spend half my life with a sprayer trying to get the sink clean of debris?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Door Progress & Idiot Antic Dotes

Door progress has been slow. This is the last of the 3 doors for the kitchen. I lost a few days dealing with the idiot neighbors, and then, of course, Sunday was The Super Bowl. The NFL is the one and only sport I follow so I had to watch. I was in a $1000 Pool (100 people put in $10 each) at work so I was hoping to make a little money but that didn’t happen. Regardless, it was a good game, or, at least it wasn’t a bad game.

So back to the door. I finished stripping the paint today. I will then give it a whirl with the old denatured alcohol and steel wool. You don’t want the natured alcohol. No, it needs to be de-natured. I’m hoping I can finish that up by Wednesday and put the first coat of paint on it on Thursday. I can then hang the door on Friday and maybe even get a second coat of paint on. I have some friends coming over Saturday and with the rain clouds gone for the week (Whew!) the temperature has gotten noticeably cooler. With all three doors up I can keep some heat in the kitchen.

Now on to the idiots.

After Sunday of last week you would have thought someone dropped a Neutron Bomb over there. Buildings standing but not a soul in sight. Not even the Mom seemed to be around (I kind of feel sorry for her at this point). It was amazing, the boys just packed up and left. I had a feeling of “Why didn’t I do this sooner”. There was also the feeling of, “It’s quite over there. Maybe a little too quite, if you know what I mean.” I keep expecting the other shoe to drop.

Thursday was payday and I went to the bank to deposit my check. I go to a very small branch of the County Credit Union. They usually only have 2 tellers open – unless it gets busy, then they go to 1 (ba-dump-da-tish), but seriously, folks. Seriously, though, there are only 4 teller windows and there is rarely more than 2 tellers at a time. There is a supervisor that sits at a desk around a corner and when the line gets long, or if you can catch her eye, she acts as another teller. This is what happened to me on Thursday. When you are sitting at her desk you can’t really see the rest of the small branch. The place is very small. I would say 20X50 feet.

Anyway, I’m at the desk chatting away with Kelsey and I didn’t notice that one of the idiot brothers entered. It was really odd because I can count on one hand, with a few fingers left over, the number of times I’ve ran in to either of the brothers in town. I got up to leave and there was only one other customer in the credit union and it was one of the idiot brothers. He was covered in dirt and had on knee high rubber boots (no joke) and I didn’t recognize him at first. As I walked past him he was looking at me and had a sort of smirk on his face. I figured it was someone I knew from a hardware store or market or something. You know how is when you see someone out of context that you sort of know and there is a familiarity about them but you can’t quite place where it is you know them from? That’s what it was with him that day.

Anyway, I saw the smirk and it seemed odd. He looked kind of goofy with all the dirt and the rubber boots. I sort of made the obligatory smile and nodded to him, not knowing who it was. As I passed his cell phone rang and he whipped out and answered, “Idiot Brothers Grunt Work” (not the real name of their business, of course). Naturally, I immediately knew it was one of the brothers and I just kept going without turning around. In hind sight, this was probably really good thing. It made me seem cool, calm, and collected to just walk by him and smile and nod, as if to say, “You mean absolutely nothing to me and you don’t intimidate me in the least”.

After I left I went to get gas and as I was pumping the gas I started to think about that smirk on his face. It sort of had a look of superiority about it. I couldn’t figure out what he could possibly feel good about. I mean, let’s tally up the score here. In his column, there is the dead rat and corned been hash on my truck. In my column, his Mom is in trouble with City Hall, he has been forced to move out of an un-permitted dwelling, and he had to move his business. Maybe he thinks he won some sort of moral victory because he didn’t move until the city made him move. It wasn’t me, it was the city. I always suspected these people were dim witted, but know I’m sure of it.

Then after a few more days of zero activity on the property the idiot brothers pulled up in front of my house Saturday evening. One was driving a pick-up and the other was driving the ugliest, most beat-up circa 1975 flat-bead truck you have ever seen in your life. Behind was a 20-foot trailer. Both the truck and trailer were filled with debris. They parked it on the street directly across from my house. They both got in the other truck and left. The only benefit to this was that their beat up truck made my truck look great in comparison.

My first thought was this is noticeably aggressive behavior. They are doing this with the sole purpose of antagonizing me. Maybe they wanted me to run out the door and start yelling at them. I’m not sure but I figured I’m not going to put up with this crap. Everyone tells me I should call the police when they do crap like this, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Besides, I was watching Smallville and Clark was just about to beat up some thugs who were bothering Lana, so I couldn’t be drawn away. I figured Sunday is The Super Bowl so if it’s still there Monday I’ll deal with it then. When I left for work Monday morning it was gone. Another moral victory for the idiots.

Then finally today I was upstairs in the back bedroom stripping the last of the paint off the door. This bedroom is right across the street from the MIL unit and garage that the idiots lived and worked out of. I had a few windows open to air the place out while I stripped…the paint. I heard a diesel pull up and it was one of the brother’s with some friend of his. This was the same one I saw in the bank. I turned off the heat gun and went over by the window so I could listen. It was mostly your average, empty headed twenty-something guy BS. After a while though he started talking about his “new house”. He was trying to convince his married buddy to come by later. He just went on and on about how the move was good and he should have done it long ago. There was no hint of him being forced out by me – excuse me, The City. The whole thing was the same typical macho BS these two idiots have kept up since day one. Just unbelievable.

All I could think was that I should have never given them a second chance. I should have gone to the city and complained 3 years ago. Basically, what we have now is that the two bother’s have moved out and the Mom is left to deal with the mess left behind. These guys are pathetic.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Only My Home Builder Knows For Sure

The question is about hinges. Are they real or are they replacements? Maybe they’re Maybelline. When you think 1895 Victorian you think fancy, you think Eastlake, you think anything but plain. In my mind I’ve always had the image of an upper-class Victorian home where every detail had a profile, or filigree, or some incised design. When you look at catalogs of reproduction hardware you get the same image, right down to the hinges. Everything was over-the-top and no detail was left out.

My house has about 15 interior doors in it. Only one of the upstairs doors was still hanging in it’s original place, and downstairs I had only 4 doors still in their original place. In other places I had only half of the hinge left on the jamb side and the door was gone. All of these doors had the same hinge pictured below. The ones from the kitchen are nickel plated and the rest are plain brass.

That is hardly the typical hinge you would expect to find in an upper middle class 1895 Victorian home. Yet there it is. Plain old boring loose pin hinges. If I had only found one or two of them here and there I would say they were replacements and the originals would have been much fancier. The other door hardware – doorknobs, lockset faces, back plates, and strike plates – are all fancy cast brass covered in detail. So why not the hinges?

It doesn’t seem possible that all the hinges failed and were all replaced with the same exact hinge. Hinges don’t all fail at the same time or even in the same year or the same decade. And then there is the paint build-up (a lot in some places) and the lack of new screw holes. If they are replacements, is it possible that all the mortises were exactly the same size and all the screw holes matched up exactly. I don’t think so. The only logical explanation is that these are the original hinges.

Maybe it’s not so strange. Maybe the image of the classic Victorian home is an image that doesn’t match reality. Maybe this is the sort of thing that separates Real Victorian from Victorian Revival. A hundred years from now they will probably say that all Americans at the end of the 20th Century drove big gas guzzling SUVs. Many do, but a lot don’t.

What ever the case – real or replacement – I do have to replace the hinges because many of them are simply gone and I want all the hinges in the house to be the same. A few years back I came across a supplier that was having a close-out on reproduction Victorian hinges for $6.00 a pair so I snapped up a whole house worth. I had this looming whole house project hanging over my head and I really didn’t feel I could justify spending a lot of money on fancy Eastlake cast brass hinges out of one of those catalogs. Here’s what I bought.

They are reproductions of an 1888 cast iron hinge. They’re nice, and I’m reasonably pleased with them, but sometimes I’m not so sure about them. I’ve always wanted to do an honest restoration of the house. I do want modern amenities, and I want to upgrade the sub-systems of the house, but I’ve always felt that if I discover something about the house that was original I will restore it to original. So now I’ve got all these fancy 1888 hinges that pre-date the house and I’ve discovered that my house actually had very plain hinges. It’s hardly something to loose sleep over, and I won’t. Still, it kind of bugs me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Island Treasure

I think I’ve purchased 6 cast iron things on Ebay and 4 of them have arrived broken. Cast iron is notoriously brittle. This begs the question: Why didn’t I get insurance on the last cast iron thing I bought which arrived broken yesterday? It probably has something to do with the price and the size. They were only about $20 with shipping and they weren’t very big compared to other cast iron purchases. I just had to save that buck, didn’t I.

The broken items in question were a pair of cast iron brackets for the kitchen island that I hope to start building in a week or so. I had wanted old wooden corbels like you see on the frieze of old Victorian homes, but I either couldn’t find anything I liked or anything I could afford. I found very little locally and the ones on Ebay were really expensive. Van Dykes carries some, along with other similar suppliers, but nothing caught my eye.

The brackets I bought were made to hold up small marble sink vanities in bathrooms, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. They are probably similar in age as my house, and they have the paint to prove it. I guess they also could be used for shelves. They stand 16-inches high and they stick out from the wall 12-inches. At any rate they are big, fancy cast iron brackets and they should be perfect for the island. What I really liked about them was the small sunburst motif in the corner. The exterior of my houses uses this extensively.

The brake wasn't life threatening and I didn’t get insurance so I decided to just keep them. I emailed the seller and told them of the problem and suggested they pack better in the future. I’ve had some success with a product called J.B. Weld. It is an epoxy designed for metal repair. Surface prep is important I’ve found. I decided to repair them immediately instead of waiting until after I stripped the paint. I figured the fewer impurities the better. Next I’ll need to get a pan large enough to boil them so I can strip the paint off.

The other island purchase I made was 4 Queen Anne feet from Van Dykes. I think they are 5-inches high, which is a good height for a toe-kick. There will be a box just beyond the feet under the island that will hide plumbing, electrical, make easy to sweep around, and help to secure the whole thing to the floor. I’ll paint the box dark green just as I did the toe kicks on the cabinets I made.

This is one of the brackets and one of the feet.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Big Brother Petch Is Watching

I think this will be my last post on the neighbors for a while unless anything bad happens. I really want to get back to regular house stuff and not dwell on this. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions yesterday. I have been taking notes and photos. Everything up until the dead rat on my truck has ended in the letters to the Planning Dept. so it is all on record.

I called the Police Dept about reporting the dead rat. They do a mail-in report for this sort of thing. An officer takes down basic information over the phone and then mails me the report. I fill it out in more detail and then send it back. She did ask if I knew who did this and I said I was sure it was one of the idiot sons next door. As a side note, I was on hold for 17 minutes when I called the Police Dept. I usually don’t have that kind of patients but I was reviewing the security tape.

That’s right, I said security tape. Last night after I posted to the blog I ran down to Radio Shack and got a camera. They only had one available and it was on sale and with a rebate. How could I say no. I think I paid a little over $100 for it. That was money to buy a small sink for the kitchen island, so that kind of sucks.

It irks me that I found out a few days late that the neighbors had been contacted by the city. I would have loved to get the dead rat incident on tape. Now I’m sort of torn between wanting to catch them in the act of something, and also hoping that was it for them in the vandalism department. I have this image in my head of one brother throwing the rat on my car and then both of them high-fiving or something and saying to themselves, “Yea, we got him alright!”

The camera is cool, though. It is color and has some night vision. It broadcasts to a receiver which is plugged in to a VCR, which is plugged into a 14” TV. A T-120 tape will record 6 hours at SLP speed. The camera itself is weather proof and can either be run off a 9-volt battery or be plugged in.

The camera is about 2X4 inches. I mounted it to a board and then placed it on the porch roof. I have easy access to the porch roof from an upstairs window so it is easy to set it up and move it around without even getting out on the roof. I get a picture of the whole street, both sidewalks, and a bit of my front yard and the yard across the street. Of course, my truck is centered in the picture.

It takes such a nice picture I would like to get another one for the other side of the house. I would then also need a VCR and another TV. Kind of a lot of trouble. It is funny that these guys go after my truck, which I don’t give a shit about, and not the house. My big fear is that they do something to the house. That would really suck.

I also worry about the 2 piglets. They stay in the house these days. The weather is bad so it’s not too bad for them. The problem is, when I leave them in the house while I’m at work I can’t set the alarm system because they will set off the motion detectors. I could lock them in a bedroom with food, water, and poop dirt but Mortimer would probably shred poor little Sadie half way through the day. They get along ok, but Mort needs his space or he gets nasty.

Someone yesterday commented about the possibility of bringing a law suit against them. I spoke with a member of the City Council about this a few weeks back. He said there is a law on the books for suing a homeowner for monetary damages when there are repeated problems in the neighborhood. He said this was mainly for drug houses, though. That doesn’t mean it can’t be applied here, but it is not a given. Anyway, that is a last resort.

When I reviewed the tape today I just fast forward through it to review it. It took about a half hour, which kind of sucked. I did about half of it while I was on hold with EPD. Nothing happened to the truck while I was at work so I didn’t expect to find anything. I was just curious. A dog peed on the back tire about noon today. Naturally I called the police. They sent out the SWAT Team and the dog was hauled away. His tire peeing days are over.

The other interesting thing was that I saw one guy who walked slowly down the sidewalk and stopped at my truck, the truck in front of mine, and the car behind mine. At each vehicle he stopped and looked inside for a very long time. It was not someone I recognized but it made me glad I don’t keep anything in the truck. I only saw him from the back too so it would be hard to ID him if cars got broken in to soon.

The other funny thing about this is that I actually locked my truck for the first time in forever. After work I went out to get in and the door wouldn’t open because it was locked. My first thought was that someone had screwed with the truck. I must have tugged on that door for 5 or 6 seconds before I remembered I had locked it. The paranoia is setting in just a bit. I can’t wait until this is over. The idiots are moving out more equipment as I write.