Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This Is Spooky

This is like Twilight Zone material here.

If you recall yesterday I screwed up on making the cabinet door. For some stupid reason I wrote down the wrong measurements and I made the door exactly 6-inches too short. I didn’t want to make it over again so I added a drawer above it and hilarity ensued as I attempted to attach the dividing rail between the door and the drawer.

So today on my way home form work I stopped by Stafford Glass to see what was available in the way of obscure glass for the doors. Originally I was going to do raised panels but I switched to glass front doors. I didn’t want clear glass because I don’t want to have to look at a toilet brush and a nasty plunger all the time. Who would?

Stafford Glass is a small husband and wife shop that deals mainly in custom glass work and stained glass restoration. The last time I was there was to get some old wavy glass for the Frankenstein Hutch in the kitchen. Three of the 4 panes in the hutch were original, old wavy glass with flaws and bubbles and I needed a 4th piece. It was kind of an odd coincidence thing at that time too, but not on the same level as this time.

Ideally what I wanted to get was Florentine glass. This type of obscure glass was used extensively back in the 1890s and would be very period appropriate for the bathroom. I walked in to Stafford Glass and asked the woman about obscure glass for cabinets and she pointed me to 40 or so samples they had on display. All of the pieces were 4X6 inches and it was all clear glass with either some type of design etched in to it or some type of embossed pattern on it that obscured the view through the glass.

She pointed out to me a sticker on each piece showing the maximum dimensions of the glass, and she also made a few comments along the way and pointed out her favorites and what might work well for a bathroom cabinet. I scanned the group and quickly spotted the Florentine glass. It was the only sample that didn’t have a sticker on it. I pointed to it and said, “That’s it. That’s the one I want.” She said something like, “Oh yes, the Florentine. That’s very Victorian”. Then she paused a moment and said, “Hmmm, you know, this could be a problem”. Not what I wanted to hear.

She went on to explain to me that the Florentine glass is made by a specialty glass maker in Oakland and it was the only glass they got from that maker. If they didn’t have any in stock it would be absurdly expensive to ship one piece of glass from Oakland and she couldn’t even tell me how long it would take, or even if they could get it.

We walked out to the shop where her husband was working and she asked him if they had any. They chatted for a moment and decided they might have a few scraps. They asked me about the sizes I needed and then spent a good 5 or 10 minuets hunting through racks with dozens of pieces of all different kinds of obscure glass in them.

Eventually they found 2 pieces of Florentine glass. The smaller one was 8X25 inches. The larger piece had a nasty break at the top and so while it was long at one end the short end was only 28-inches. This larger piece was 18-inches wide. I got excited and told them I thought that might be enough but I would have to go home and measure.

I went home and measured the two cabinet doors to see what I would need. The piece of glass for the small cabinet needed to be 6X23 inches. Their small piece was 8X25. Perfect. The large piece I needed was 15X25 inches. There large piece was 18X28 inches so it would work as well. Yippee! The weird thing is, if I hadn’t screwed up and made the door 6-inces too short I would have needed a piece 31X15 and they would not have had enough {Play Twilight Zone music here}. Is that just too weird, or what?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Adding To The Adage

We all know it well. The clever little saying, “Measure Twice & Cut Once”. It has a nice little ring to it and if you take it to heart and follow this age old adage you will rarely make a mistake. “Rarely” being the operative word for this post.

I decided to go ahead and make the doors for the two cabinets in the bathroom. Originally the plan was to do wood raised panel doors but I switched to glass front doors instead. I felt the small cabinet was too narrow for a raised panel. Since that cabinet would have a glass front I wanted both to have the same style front. I'm going to try and find some nice obscure glass so you won’t see what’s in them. Who wants to look at a can of Comet and a toilet plunger when you’re sitting on the can?

The first one went fine. I made the two rails and two stiles. I routed a rabbit to accept the glass on the back and I put a little bevel on the front to give it some detail. You can see from the picture above that the raised panel would have been very narrow. It seemed it would not have been much of a panel. Maybe it would have been fine, who knows.

Any way, on to the second cabinet. I don’t know how it happened but I wrote down the wrong height. I was off by exactly 6-inches. I don’t know what the hell I did. I measured that thing several times. I’m anal that way. It was 35 & 7/8ths inches, but for some reason I wrote down 29 & 7/8ths inches. There was no other measurement even close to 29 & 7/8ths inches on the cabinet. I just pulled that number out of my you know what.

I happily went about assembling the frame flush with the confidence I had from making the first one so well. It wasn’t until I took it in the house to try and fit it to the cabinet that I realized my mistake.


So let’s go ahead and update the old saying right now. “Measure twice and WRITE IT DOWN CORRECTLY YOU STUPID IDIOT and cut once”. Hmmm, doesn’t quite have the same charm to it, does it.

I actually screwed up the rails on this one and had to do them over. I guess I didn’t tighten down the router bit all the way (scary thought) and it rose up a bit while I was cutting the rabbit for the glass. So that mistake in the picture equals more work than it really looks like.

Once I took it in the house I had to laugh about this one. I mean, 6-inches isn’t even in the ball park. There is no sugar coating this one: I screwed up. The question then became, how do I fix. I could make another door, but I hate doing work over, and after I had the router mishap with the rails, this was a big do-over.

Instead of make a higher door, I decided to add a drawer. I’ve never made a drawer before and I needed the practice, so this was a good opportunity. Well, it turned out to be a major hassle. First off, it’s a corner cabinet, so that means a triangle shaped drawer. Actually, it turned out to be a sort of pentagram shaped drawer. I got it done though, and the drawer came out good.

The next sep was to add another rail to separate the drawer from the door below. This was a major, major hassle. Mainly it was a hassle for the way I went about trying to do it. I tried to use my handy-dandy little pocket screw jig and it just didn’t work at all. The pocket screws are great if you can clamp at least one of the work pieces to a work bench and then attach the other piece to it. I couldn’t do that with the cabinet because it was already built.

The other problem was trying to screw in the screws from the back side. If you tighten them down too much you can rip out the pocket. I couldn’t really see what I was doing and the cabinet is too small for me to get in. I ripped out the right-hand pockets with the first rail I tried to attach. That should have been a clue that this was not going to work.

With the second attempt I was able to attach the rail with out ripping out the pockets but the rail was far from flush with the rest of the face frame. This is why you clamp one piece to a work surface. This should have been a second indication that it was not going to work. When I tried to use clamps to bring it flush I ripped out the screw from the pockets. The only fortunate thing so far was that I hadn’t damaged the cabinet, only this new rail.

My third attempt….what’s that old saying about repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results….yea, I was pretty much going insane at this point. The corner cabinet was hard enough to build and now I was getting close to butchering it because I was bound and determined to use the pocket screw jig. It wasn’t going to work but it took me three tries to figure that out.

I finally ended up using glue blocks and brads to secure the rail to the rest of the frame. It took all of about 2 minutes to complete. I’m not exaggerating. I spent 2 minutes cutting two 4-inch long blocks, slather on some glue, and firing in 4 inch and a half brads. This after I spent several hours cutting and re-cutting, and drilling and re-drilling rails to use with the pocket screws. There’s a lesson here somewhere, but I’m too pissed off about the whole thing to think of it.

Tomorrow I’ll make some guides for the drawer and then try and forget about this whole ugly incident. Oh yea, and the drawer turned out to be so small that it will be all but useless.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Driving Traffic

I’ve recently jumped on the advertising bandwagon. I had the Google AsSense on my site for a while last year and then I dropped it because it was generating a whopping 20 cents a month. It seemed like a waste of space. And then there’s the whole thing with me being anti-ads in general. Our society is driven by marketers Brad Pitt and advertising. It does have it’s benefits, in that we get things seemingly for free because they are paid for by advertising. Still, it seems that Paris Hilton you just can’t escape it even for a second.

I had Britney Spears these visions of my blog being an ad free oasis on the internet, but that’s kind of silly. I also Angelina Jolie noticed that the blogs look kind of cool with ads on them. It gives them a sense of legitimacy. However, if you Lindsey Lohan go too far and put too many ads on Oscar Night your site then it just becomes a pointless Paris Hilton blur. I would think that Brad Pitt the number of ads on a page should affect the cost of those ads. How to Britney Spears track such a thing is another Justin Timberlake issue that I will happily leave for someone else.

The other thing that sort of looks neat on blogs are the little buttons. In Justin Timberlake the last dream makeover of my blog Brad Pitt I added a lot of colorful Paris Hilton little buttons. Honestly, Lindsey Lohan a lot of them are Jessica Alba kind of pointless and others just don’t seem to make any sense to me. I understand the Britney Spears concept of Jessica Alba streaming and feeds, but why Paris Hilton are there so many? Does anyone ever Justin Timberlake click on those feed buttons? I never have.

And then Jessica Alba there are the advertisements. I’ve expanded Britney Spears my Google AdSense ads and I’ve joined the HouseBlogs Ad Network. I’ve also negotiated a deal with Subway Ceramics to exchange ad space on my blog in exchange for a discount on the tile. This is the one I’m really excited about. Not so much for the money I’m saving for the tile, that’s great of course, but really because I’m advertising a great product. I know I’m sarcastic a lot on my blog but I mean that sincerely about Subway Ceramics. A small company that does high quality work in a sea of mediocrity Britney Spears Paris Hilton christina aguilera Lindsey Lohan Justin Timberlake Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie fits me like hand in glove.

So now christina aguilera I have to drive traffic to my site. The ads Britney Spears are only good if people click on them and those click-throughs generate traffic Brad Pitt to the advertisers Oscar Night site. So I’m going Lindsey Lohan to have to step up the Paris Hilton quality of my content. No more Brad Pitt posts about transvestite cabaret singers or pictures of my stools, and Mort's out as well. Oscar Night

No, it’s top Paris Hilton notch all the way now. I need to Oscar Night make some life style adjustments as well. I’m Jessica Alba not sure that christina aguilera advertisers will Justin Timberlake be flocking to a site written Justin Timberlake by a reclusive single man Britney Spears working mostly with salvage and used Brad Pitt material on an Angelina Jolie 1895 Victorian. I need to find a wife who already Britney Spears has 2.3 children Oscar Night and a mortgage on a newer home. Because other Justin Timberlake than that, I’m not sure christina aguilera of any Angelina Jolie other way to Lindsey Lohan drive more christina aguilera traffic to Jessica Alba my Angelina Jolie site. Can Paris Hilton you?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Ebay Goodies

I got two packages today for the bathroom. First there is a pair of Peck Brothers faucets. Peck Bros. & Co of New Haven, Conn were a high-end plumbing manufacturer in the 19th Century. For all I know they’re still around, or maybe they got gobbled up in a merger decades ago.

A friend of mine has an 1896 Peck Bros. catalog and they produced some absolutely eye-popping bathroom hardware. Most things in the catalog are offered in three finishes: Brass, Nickel, or Gold. That would be real gold plated bathroom hardware. Like I said, they were high-end.

The other item was a telescoping mirror. This was sort of an impulse item. I stumbled on to it minutes before the auction ended and I snagged it for $33 w/ shipping. The plating is good on it, and it’s in very good shape except for one little dark spot on the beveled mirror. There is a manufacturer’s hallmark that I can’t make out.

Now I’ll have something to use when I put on my makeup in the evenings. Oh, everyone does know that I’m a transvestite cabaret singer in my spare time? I require a good shellacking of makeup before I hit the stage in the evenings to sing Broadway show tunes and old torch songs. You don't want the 5 o'clock shadow showing. Hmmm, maybe that should have gone in to the Five Intersting Things post.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Official Grind Tester

The head of production where I work is a heck of a nice guy. We are polar opposites when it comes to politics, and to a less extent when it comes to social issues, but we have found common ground in enough areas that we get along very well. Our conversations mostly stick our common interests, and that is the main reason we get along so well. Those few times when we do venture off in to politics or social issues, it is very interesting that we can often agree on what the problems are with this country, but it’s the solutions to those problems where we differ greatly. Sound familiar?

Anyway, wood working and tools are a common interest, and we are both self-reliant and self-starters. He doesn’t really care much about the fact that I’m restoring an old Victorian –he lives in a 70s Ranch Home, but we both have a passion for working with old redwood and building things. He makes the most amazing wood puzzles you have ever seen in your life. Other things we have in common are reusing old stuff, we are both appalled by waste, and we're both cheap bastards. Oh, and we're both Ebay junkies.

When I mentioned that I was getting all the old tile out of The Oberon Saloon it wasn’t the fact that it was 100 year old tile that peaked his interest, it was the fact that I was getting $1000 worth of tile for free and all it took was a little hard work. That’s the cool part.

He is in his early 60s and every year his sons give him tools from Christmas. He probably has the most complete shop of anyone I know. Last week I was talking about The Oberon tile again because I had started to clean it. I mentioned that the tough part was going to be getting the grout remnants off. I mentioned that the advice I was given was to use a dermal tool and he kind of muttered that the dermal tool would take me forever.

He asked me to bring in a tile for him to fool with so I found a really bad one that had several thick clumps of grout still on it. I brought it in to work on Monday. He brought it back to me on Tuesday and it was spotless. Not a hint of grout on it. The tool he ended up using was a disc sander.

He said it took a matter of seconds to clean the grout off. Obviously I’m going to be trying this method and I thanked him profusely. He then asked me to bring him in 10 more tiles – really bad ones, because he wants to try some other things. He’s going to try several different grits of sandpaper to see which works best, and try some other tools in his arsenal. I have no doubt that on Monday I’m going to have 10 cleaned tiles and several solutions for cleaning them.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The New Flush Valve Came Today!

And then I promptly sent it back to DEA Bath because they forgot to plate it in nickel. Oh, and they also sent it FedEx, which I expressly asked them not to. It was just by a very bizarre coincidence that I was home when FedEx came by. I was here for all of about 2 minutes when the truck pulled up and I was on the way out the door. If I hadn’t been here that would have meant me driving around the city hunting for the FedEx truck. If that had happened, I might have just continued driving all the way to Murphy’s, CA to pay a special visit to the good folks down at DEA Bath. I really don’t want to do any serious jail time, so it’s a good thing I was home when FedEx tried to deliver.

The good thing is, I now know I can use this flush valve to hide the damage I caused to the oak tank when I tried to install the wrong flush valve. The nut that tightens to the valve is larger than the hole I made. Once I fill in the hole to the proper diameter for the new valve you won’t see the repair. Whew! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if that would not have worked. Of course, I still need to get the valve back plated in nickel, so I’m not out of the woods yet.

I was going to call DEA Bath and tell them that I was sending the valve back, but I thought it best that I not do that. Instead, I packed both the new valve and the return valve in to separate boxes and then packed both of those boxes in to a larger box. Taped to the front of the individual smaller boxes were printed notes with simple, clearly written instructions. I printed them up in 32 point font..

Etc, etc

On the other one it said…

Etc, etc

You think they can get it right? I think they can so long as it’s Tim’s day off when the box arrives. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bob Was Right

Entertainers, is there anything they don't know? I should wear a WWBDD bracelet: What Would Bob Dylan Do. I bought a gallon of Queen Anne’s Lace paint today and that will be the color of the trim in the bathroom. I spent zero amount of time thinking about it after my initial thoughts on paint colors for the bathroom. I dislike choosing colors so much I think it’s better for me to just to act on impulse. As the old saying goes, if it feels good, do it!

The really weird thing is, I may actually start some finish work in the bathroom today or tomorrow. I’m hoping I can finish sanding the ceiling today, and if so I will primer today and maybe paint tomorrow. I want to get as much painting done before I lay tile in the room. It’s just less to worry about.

I will paint the beadboard ceiling, the two built-in cabinets, and the medicine cabinet. The only thing left to paint after that will be the window and door trim, which won’t be installed until after the walls are finished. Still, it’s a start. Actual finish work.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Part of the Job I Hate

Ceilings! I don’t care if it’s paint, drywall, plaster, or beadboard. Anything to do with a ceiling, whether you are putting something up there or taking something down, is always going to be more work and more awkward. I started working on the ceiling in the bathroom today and it is no fun.

I was supposed to start yesterday but I put it off because I was dreading it so. I actually went and cleaned tile instead of sanding the ceiling. I did get one box of tile cleaned, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I would have done more but the second container wasn’t quite ready. I’m soaking 6 or 7 sq ft at a time in bleach. I used a discount brand of bleach in the second container and I think it was mostly water. And since when did a “gallon” of bleach start only being ¾ of a gallon? Why hasn’t Andy Rooney complained about this?

Anyway, today after much foot dragging I started on the ceiling. It is amazing how much time I can waste when I don’t want to do something. I mean, how often do I really need to check my email? If there’s no email waiting then it just spirals out of control because it then becomes absolutly necessasry that I check the server to make sure it’s running fine? The logic is that that could be the reason why I’m not getting any email. Then I think that I should increase the size of the mail box. If I do start getting a lot of email I want to be ready for it. While I’m at it I might as well check in on EBay. There could be a Buy it Now item that I will absolutely die if I don’t get it. I don’t want to die! I could never work on the ceiling if I die! So checking Ebay actually helps me work on the ceiling. And since I’m at the computer I might was well check in on the bottomless pit of blogs over at HouseBlogs.Net.

And on it goes until I’ve eaten up a few hours.

Eventually I did make it back to the bathroom to deal with the ceiling. I’m keeping the original bead board ceiling in there. It’s not too bad. There are only a few layers of paint and the beads are still very will defined. The only problems are that the top layer of paint is flaking off a little, and there are numerous holes from nails when they put sheetrock over it. I’m sanding off all the flaking paint and filling the holes with putty. It’s messy, noisy, and awkward but in a few weeks or months when I’m NOT putting up sheetrock or plaster, I will think back fondly on the work I did today. Tomorrow I think I can finish the sanding and then primer. Then there is the even more dreaded chore of picking a paint color. Queen Anne Lace is still at the top of the list.

A few years back when I removed all of the sheetrock from this room I found it so hilarious that someone put fake wood grained sheetrock up over real wood. Is it just me or is that sure sign of insanity. Shimmed in one of the corners was a torn piece of the front section of the local paper. I suspect it was from the 1950s but there was no date on it.

The headline said something about Commie spies testifying in Washington about Red Espionage. Now, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but if this was a recent newspaper and not from the 1950s then that means the Commies are at it again. Fortunately, if the Commie threat is true, I happen to know that the CIA has been keeping Ronald Reagan’s brain alive in a Mason Jar 5 miles beneath Langley, Virginia. He can be brought back in a moments notice to once again do battle with the Commies. So sleep well tonight America.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Making of Miss Marble Vanity

Just like with Miss America, a lot goes in to making Miss Marble Vanity. I mean, with Miss America, sure they start with a reasonably attractive woman, but that’s only the beginning. There is the tweezing, blow drying, shaving, collagen injections, gallons of makeup, hair die, colored contacts, binging and purging, and the liberal use of masking tape and Vaseline. And then there’s the talent portion of the event. Let’s not forget about that! No, the making of Miss America doesn’t happen all by itself, and it was no different with the bathroom vanity.

When I ordered the pieces of marble for the apron I wasn’t exactly sure how this thing was going to go together so I ordered them a little long. As it turned out I did need to cut about and inch off each piece and I had to miter the corners. I also had to drill several holes for fasteners and notch two of the ends so they would fit in to the brackets. It was a lot more drilling and grinding than I thought I was going to have to do.

Here’s a shot of it again {siiiigh}

Because of the way it’s put together there are no visible fasteners. It’s actually quite clever and it sort of reminded me of the way the big 1890s cast iron stove in the kitchen went together. With that thing there was only two screws for the whole stove. All of the other dozen or so parts use gravity to be kept in place. Most of the parts just sort of hang off the main body of the stove. With the vanity, it is the weight of the top that does a lot of the work of keeping it together.

The first pieces of the puzzle are the two wall brackets. These get mounted to the wall with two screws. There is a half inch high, 3/8ths inch diameter post on the top. The side piece of the marble apron was notched to fit in to the bracket. Nothing secures the marble in the bracket.

Next there are the front legs. As you can see in that first shot the legs have a double off-set. I’m sure there is some formula by which I could get the angle of the leg and measure the distance between the angles and figure out what the off-set is. I just took a few guesses and figured out it was a 3-inch off-set towards the inside, and a 3-inch off-set towards the back. There is a post at the foot of the leg that fits in to a hole on the floor.

The post is hollow and threaded and will receive a ¼-inch bolt from underneath. This keeps the seemingly delicate and graceful leg from being pulled or accidentally kicked out from under the vanity. The legs themselves are cast brass and weigh about 5 pounds each.

At the top of the leg, the 5-inch high right-angle pieces that receives the marble apron has another threaded post to receive a screw. You can see how a mitered the marble. I did this with an angle grinder fitted with a diamond blade. That worked very well for shaping the marble. The perforated piece of angled steel I bought at the hardware store. It is secured with a bolt to the back of the leg. I then drilled some holes in to the marble that correspond to holes in the angle steel. The holes only go in to the marble about 3/8ths of an inch. Right now there are wooden dowels in there but I will eventually secure bolts in to the marble with epoxy. They probably originally used lead. The bolt will have a nut and washer threaded on from the front to secure the apron to the legs.

You can see how the angled steel sits a little proud of the marble apron. This serves the same purpose as the posts that stick out on the top of the wall brackets. This angled steel piece, of course, is just something I made up. I would imagine that originally, back in the 1890s, the legs came with factory made brackets that had posts on them. Who knows where they are now. Regardless, it servers the same purpose. Both the posts on the wall brackets and the angled steel that sits a little high will fit in to grooves and holes on the under side of the vanity, as you can see in the pictures below.

Grooves for the front

Holes for the back

The top weighs well over 50 pounds even without the sink and faucets. Once that is placed on to the legs with the apron, and all of the peices are fit together the vanity becomes very rigid. Even without the top the legs and apron are reasonably firm, with the exception of where the apron meets the wall brackets. I’m considering drilling another hole on the inside of the wall bracket, and a corresponding hole on the apron and adding a dowel there. There is no way to do a bolt there. I’m not sure it’s necessary though, because the final piece will be a marble backsplash that will keep the back part of the top firmly on the wall brackets. The only way to get it off the wall would be to break the stone.

After I was satisfied with everything I took it all apart. The wall brackets need to get plated and I needed to clean the top. That came out well. I also tinted the apron pieces a little so the color more closely matches the top. That came out pretty good too. The plywood frame that you see in the first picture will act as a template for when I do the final installation. Who knows when that will be. This bathroom is really dragging on.

Next up: The bead board ceiling.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

There she is, Miss Marble Vanity

There she is, your ideal
The dreams of a million Vanities
Who are more than pretty

May come true in The Petch House
Oh she may turn out to be
The queen of vanities

There she is, Miss Marble Vanity
There she is, your ideal
With so many beauties
She'll take the bathroom by storm

With her nickel legs and marble top
And there she is
Walking on air she is
Fairest of the fair she is
Miss Marble Vanity

Friday, February 16, 2007

The One Where My Head Explodes

I had another go around with DEA Bath today. A week ago on Monday – that’s 12 days ago – I called to get a new flush valve for the high tank toilet. I had received the wrong flush valve about 3 weeks ago and just needed the only other valve they sell. They only sell two flush valves. That’s it – 2.

So, a week ago Monday I called to exchange the one I received and get the different one. My DEA Bath nemesis Tim answered the phone. Tim is the person who screwed me around last December when my odyssey with DEA Bath began. I had a bunch of vintage plumbing parts I was going to trade with DEA Bath for parts for the new bathroom. We also spoke about store credit for advertising on my blog.

I worked with the buyer at DEA Bath and we agreed on prices for my parts and I was then handed off to Tim to place an order for new parts and the whole thing fell apart because of his complete ineptness. After weeks of frustration of dealing with Tim I told them all to go to hell and I found some of the stuff I need in other places. The problem is, there are some things I just can’t get anyplace else. The flush valve I need, for instance, is custom made in-house by DEA Bath. If anyone else makes it they don’t have a web presence that I can find.

So fast forward to about a month ago and I called DEA Bath once more and placed an order for about $900 worth of parts. I spoke with Jim this time. For the most part Jim is a capable person and seems to know the inventory well – for the most part. One of these items that I ordered at that time was the flush valve. I won’t go in to WHY I got the wrong flush valve – remember, they only sell two – I just got the wrong one. So after I butchered my antique oak high-tank trying to install the wrong flush valve I called and found out that I got the wrong one.

At first I was so pissed about getting the wrong valve that I did nothing. I thought I might be able to make it work. After a few days though, I cooled down a bit and decided to order the correct valve and fix the tank, and after I fixed it, once again all would be right with the Universe. That was 2 weeks ago Monday.

I called DEA Bath and my nemesis Tim answered. I slammed down the phone out of instinct. A few minutes later I called back and Tim answered again. I figured all he had to do was put valve in a box and mail it to me. This is trained monkey territory we are in now. I had already made the order and this was an exchange. Tim had all my information on file. He didn’t need my address or credit card info. Just walk back to the storeroom, grab a valve, and put it in a box. How hard could that be. This is starting to sound like a poorly written sit-com, so you can probably guess ahead and figure that that was just too much for poor little feeble brained Tim to handle. You think I’m being cruel here, but I’m not.

I peppered Tim with a few questions about what shipper he was using. I didn’t want FedEx. I asked if it was OK that I wait to send back the wrong valve until after I get the new one. He said that would be fine. Finally I asked when it would ship and he said it would go out on Tuesday. I paused for a second and then asked, “Do you mean tomorrow”, and he said yes. Everything seemed a go for flush valve delivery. The only thing left for Tim to do was to actually put the valve in the box and address it.

A week went by and no flush valve showed. DEA Bath is about an 8 hour drive from my house. By Monday of this week I was getting a sinking feeling in my gut that something was not right. I dreaded calling DEA Bath. I didn’t want anymore excuses. Finally today I called and I got Jim this time. Jim is the one who seems to know what he’s doing. I asked Jim about the flush valve and he knew nothing. I asked he could confirm that a valve had been shipped to me and he couldn’t.

I told Jim that I had spoke to Tim two weeks ago and Tim assured me that the valve was shipping on Tuesday. Jim then told me that “Tim sometimes forgets things”. That’s right, “Tiiiiiimmmmm sometimes forgets things”. I went ballistic. I unloaded on Jim about all the weeks of crap I went through with Tim last December. Jim was quite on the other end of the phone. He assured me he would look into it and let me know why it didn’t ship.

When I got home from work there was a message from Jim. He said there was a note on my original order about a washer being too big and no slip nut. These were Jim’s own notes from when I called him the first time about getting the wrong flush valve. I was livid. I could feel the blood boiling in my veins. This just happened today.

I called back and got Tim the slacked jawed yokel. I asked if Jim was there and he said he was but he was on another call. I almost hung up but I decided I would venture once more in to the depths of Tim’s brain and try and find out what the hell happened to my flush valve. The conversation went something like this.

Greg: You said you were going to ship me a flush valve two weeks ago, what happened?

Tim: I don’t know. I don’t have any record of it. Do you still need a flush valve

Greg: Yes, I still need one. I need the 24-FV4.

Tim: OK I’ll send that out to you.

At this point I lost it. I went off on Tim for a good 3 minutes about the pointlessness of sending another valve if we don’t know what happened to the first one. If you’re still with me at this point you probably have half a brain and you can see what I’m talking about. Tim agreed to try and find out what happened with the other valve and he would get back to me.

He called me back about 15 minutes later and said he found the order but that he didn’t get the information for the return of the wrong valve and so the order was never shipped. I asked why he didn’t call when he realized the order was incomplete and he was unable to answer that.

He then asked if I still wanted the new valve and if so he would have to charge me for the new valve and then credit my account when I return the old valve. At this point my nerves are just on edge from having to deal with such incompetence. I’m half yelling in to the phone with a high pitched voice, “Yes, yes, just send me the stupid valve! I don’t care when you credit me for the other valve. I just want the right stupid flush valve!”

Finally, I asked when it would ship…..

wait for it…..

wait for it……

Tim: We don’t have any in stock right now ‘cause we have to make those up special. It might ship next week.

BOOOOOM!!!! My head exploded.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I’ve Decided To Find It Charming

Thank you everyone for the comments about yesterday’s post. Everyone made very good observations about the painting. I think had I commissioned this piece myself I would at least talk with her about trying to fix it. One thought was maybe adding a shrub in front of that lower bump-out corner that is going askew. I’m not sure if it would completely hide what’s behind it and it may just make things worse. I’ll leave it as it is, though. Once it’s framed and hanging it will become just like one of those little quirks that the real house has that I no longer notice.

Most of the little quirks of the drawing don’t bother me. It does have a folk art quality to it that I really enjoy. It reminds me of illustrations in school books I would read in the 1970s. I doubt I would be able to think of the name of the book if my life depended on it, or even what subject it was for that matter, but there was a book I remember that had water color illustrations very similar to this.

On the broader topic of art, I didn’t “Get” art for a long time. I tended to only judge things by whether I would hang them on my wall or not. I think I have fairly narrow tastes about what I would hang on my wall so a lot of art, paintings in particular, never appealed to me at all. When I started judging paintings on how they affected me on a more emotional level though, I started to see things differently. Now I’ve found that I can appreciate a lot of different styles of paintings and still not be willing to hang them on my wall. Is that odd?

When I was a kid my parents regularly subjected me to museums and other things of high cultural. Mostly I floated through them with the dazed look one almost always finds on the face of a preteen. If I had any interest in it I wouldn’t dare show it. It wasn’t until we went to The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in So. California that I had a sort of art epiphany. Specifically it was Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy.

The Blue Boy is almost known as much for being a pop icon as it for being a masterpiece by a great artist. When I saw it in person I was blown away. The thing is huge, to start with. It’s about 6-feet high and almost 4-feet wide. Beyond it’s size, it’s just a beautiful, beautiful painting. Later, I became captivated by Vermeer’s paintings. About 10 years ago I stumbled upon one of those oversized coffee table books with several of Vermeer’s paintings in it. It was at a book store and couldn’t put it down. At the time I couldn’t afford the book either so I never bought it. Every once in a while though, when I would be in that book store I would search out that book and spend some time with it. Vermeer’s Girl With Pearl Earring is probably his most famous painting, especially since the movie with Scarlet Johansson came out a few years ago.

I won’t try and give you any detailed analysis of Vermeer’s work because I would only end up sounding like a fool who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Not that that every happens to me {cough}, but there is something about his paintings that really have an effect on me. There are a series of paintings that deal with sort of everyday life that I really enjoy. They usually have a woman or young girl doing something very simple and almost always standing or sitting by a window.

Here are a few of my favorites. If anyone has a few million dollars laying around and you wanted to buy me a gift, one of these paintings would be perfect. Only the original will do.

Girl reading a letter at an open window

A lady writing a letter with her maid


Young Woman with a Waterpitcher

Officer and Laughing Girl

Woman in Blue

A Girl with a Pearl Earring

And the best of all - Woman with a Balance

The other style that I really enjoy are the animal paintings done by itinerate painters in the 18th and 19th century. I guess people really loved their horses and dogs and would have portraits painted of them. They have that kind of folk art quality to them that is similar to the painting of my house, only I think they are done much better. Those paintings are supposed to be realistic representations of the animal. It is a very pleasing style. Feel free to buy me some of those paintings if you happen to think of it.

Of course, there is also that up and coming young artist out of Arkansas that is all the buzz these days. Now is the time to buy his paintings because I’m sure they’ll be worth a fortune some day. His name is John something or other….I think there’s a Devil in his name, or maybe it’s Queen. Oh, who can keep track of these sorts of things. Just go buy his stuff.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Artist Delivered

The woman who did the water color portrait of my house stopped by yesterday and delivered the final product. As you may recall I was given a gift certificate for a 5X7 pen & ink water colored portrait of my house for Christmas.

First The Artist came by and took some photos of the outside and then we met and picked out the best shot for the rendering. At the time I asked here to add a picket fence to the front and later I was going to call her and ask her to add the two cats to the front walk instead of the fence. A few days passed though, and I didn’t want to call after she had already started working on it.

I am generally pleased with it, but there is one thing that bothers me. The Artist seems to have gotten the angle wrong at the bottom of the square bump-out on the right side of the house. Every time I look at it my eye is drawn to it. It looks like it’s going in at the bottom and out at the top.

She called yesterday and said she was sick and going out of town on Thursday and wanted to swing by to drop it off. She didn’t sound good on the phone and she was at my place for all of about 3 seconds to drop it off. I’m not sure if I should say something. It was a gift, so it’s not like I paid her for it. Is it noticeable to you? Do you think I should say something?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Flakes, Losers, & The 1%

I’ve been in a bit of a bad mood lately and when I get like this it doesn’t take much to tick me off. I start to divide the world in to three distinct groups. Forty Nine point Five percent of the people I come in to contact with seem to be flakes. Another 49.5% come off as losers. The final 1% are the normal people who don’t have their heads up their ass. And just to be sure, all House Bloggers and anyone reading this blog right now falls in to the last 1%. Everybody else better stay the hell out of my way.

It’s not just my bad mood that makes me think this way, but it’s my bad left foot as well. I’m having some minor and temporary problems with it and I can barley wear shoes. By the time I get off work my left foot is killing me and I can’t wear shoes for the rest of the day. All I can do to keep it elevated. It really sucks, and it’s doing nothing to help me see the world in a better light. I am taking red wine for the pain.

The people who occupy these different categories are not fixed in their place. They can move from category to category in a matter of seconds. Also, a person can be both a flake and a loser at the same time, but if they are in either of the first two groups they can’t at the same time be in the normal 1% group. I don’t make this stuff up people. This is one of the basic laws of the universe.

Here’s an example of how someone can be a flake one moment and then quickly move in to the 1% group.

On January 2nd I blogged about finally getting the marble vanity for the bathroom. I talked about how I needed to get some marble pieces to do the skirting around the base of it. The skirting is made up of 3 simple pieces of marble. Each one is 5-inches wide and about 2 feet long. There is no special milling that needs to be done and the edges don’t even need to be polished. Just some simple cuts and it’s done.

I went back to the shop where I got the slab for the kitchen island because I knew they had some remnants that would be perfect. I figured I could get one piece that was 5-inches wide and 6-feet long and then I could cut it to size when I go to set up the vanity. I imagined I would walk in and tell the guys what I needed and walk out with a piece of marble. I mean, how long could it take to make one cut? Well, it turns out it took almost 6 weeks.

I don’t remember exactly when I went in to the marble place but let’s say it was January 4th, 2 days after I got the vanity. This is probably pretty close to being true. I told the guy what I needed and we went out to the yard to looked at the remnants. We found a piece and discussed it for about 30 seconds because it was really a simple order. The remnant was close to the door and maybe only 15-feet from the saw. I expected him to pick up the remnant and cut it as I was standing there but instead he said, “I can get it for you in about 2 weeks”. I tried not to look shocked.

I sort of murmured to myself, “Hmm, two weeks, uh?”. He asked if I needed it sooner, and I decided I really didn’t, so I said that two weeks would be fine. It could be months before I install the vanity but I do want to set it up first to test how all of the pieces fit together. There is the vanity top, the 3 piece skirting, 2 legs, and 2 wall brackets. The legs will need to go in to small holes drilled in the tile floor and the wall brackets will be mounted with screws in the tile wall. It’s a one shot deal to get it right. The plan is to set it up some place else first and make a template before I start drilling in to my new tiled wall and floor. Even so, there is plenty to do and there is no rush at this point. The only other option is a monument maker in town, but I’ve never dealt with them. I’ve dealt with these guys and I know they have exactly what I want. I can wait two weeks.

More than 3 weeks later I called to see if the marble was ready. He told me they never got to it. This is one cut. That’s it. Just one lousy 6-foot cut with a saw. I played it cool and asked him how much longer it would be. He said they were in the process of moving the shop and wouldn’t be able to get to it for “a while”. I asked how long “a while” was and he said another week. I told him I would call back in a week, which would have been a week ago Monday. He said, “Better make it Friday”.

I called back on Friday and it still wasn’t done. He gave me some sob story about the forklift breaking and the new shop still wasn’t set up. I’m screaming to myself, “It’s one fucking 6-foot long cut of marble!!!”. Again, though, I kept my cool. He assured me it would be done on Monday.

Yesterday I got a call that the marble was cut, so I went down today to pick it up. As I was writing the check he asks, with a sort of dim witted drawl, “So, are you going to be needing anymore marble”. I wanted to look at him and say, “If I did, I sure as hell wouldn’t come back here”. Instead I didn’t even look up at him and just said, “No”. He continues, “’Cause if you needed more we still have this piece here we can cut from”. It was a piece of white marble about 6-feet long and a foot wide. I assured him I would not be needing anymore marble. So finally he said, “Well, do you want this piece then”. I looked at him surprised and asked, “You mean I can have it”. He went on to tell me how they didn’t want to move odd sized remnants and I could have it if I wanted it. I said sure and he carried it out to my truck.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but when you have a lot of friends who own old Victorians you can never have enough white marble. Although I don’t think the marble guy is going to be switching categories any time soon, for one brief moment he sort of drifted from the flake camp and in to that 1%. I can’t be sure how long he stayed there, but I suspect it was a short visit.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Medicine Cabinet

I got the medicine cabinet all stripped. It was pretty straight forward because it was shellacked originally and then had just 2 coats of paint on it. Really, it was more like only 1 coat of paint because the top coat was practically already off. I’d never seen anything quite like this. The paint was lifting off in sheets even before I hit it with the heat gun.

I think it had something to do with the fact that it was a 100 year old medicine cabinet in a flea-bag hotel. When someone went and did the every-50-year-paint-job-whether-it-needs-it-or-not they didn’t bother to clean or sand or anything, they just slapped more paint on right over all the grunge and filth that one would expect to find on medicine cabinet in a turn of the century hotel turned flea bag hotel. Here’s what I started with….

I would say it took me about an hour to get to this….

The hinges and the little catch for the door were boiled for about 20 minutes and they came out looking like this….

The only other thing to do besides picking a paint color is to fix a crack in the panel that supports the back of the mirror. It’s shouldn’t be too much work to putty it and sand it. After the crack repair I just need to paint and reassemble and that baby will be done.

Oh, and here’s a gratuitous cat shot of Mortimer waiting to attack me at the top of the stairs. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: He’s a vicious, mean spirited little cat.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bathroom Paint Colors

I stripped the paint off the old medicine cabinet yesterday and now I’m thinking I might go a head and paint it while it’s all taken apart. It could be months before I paint the rest of the bathroom and I don’t want to loose any of the screws or catches.

With that in mind I swung by Sherwin Williams yesterday and started to look at paint chips. Oy! There are just so many choices to chose from. I need to think of colors for two rooms. There is the little mud room that sits between the kitchen and the bathroom, and then the bathroom itself. The mud room will be all beadboard walls and ceiling and then some window and door trim. The bathroom will be a lot of tile with plaster above and then some wood trim and cabinets.

There is only an opening with no door that separates the kitchen from the mud room. When you’re in the kitchen you will be able to see the painted wood in the mud room at all times so I want the colors in the kitchen and the colors in the mudroom to compliment each other. I don’t want any garish contrast between the two rooms. I think there should also be a similar transition between the mud room and the bathroom. Because of the design of the house these three rooms make up their own separate space from the rest of the house.

So the kitchen has Majolica Green walls and Honied White wainscoting, trim, and cabinets. My first thought is that I wanted to avoid green in the mud room & bathroom because I just painted the house green and I don’t want it to appear I have some sort of green fetish although I may secretly harbor one. Only years of intense psychoanalysis will tell me whether I do or not. Although, the only other room in the house I’ve painted is the upstairs bathroom and that was painted blue, so maybe I only have a mild green fetish.

All of the tile work in the bathroom will be white, so I need some color in there. The only window is a stained glass window and I won’t be doing any window treatment on it. That leaves the walls above the tile, and the trim around the door, window, small cabinets, and medicine cabinet. Both the mud room and bathroom are relatively small spaces and can easily be over-powered by too much color. Also, I don’t want them to seem dark and cavernous so I want light colors.

I’m leaning towards a neutral color for the plaster walls in the bathroom. Without giving it too much thought I came up with Crisp Linen or Muslin. These are SW colors. The bead board in the mudroom I could do in the same Honied White I did all the woodwork in the kitchen. This would visually tie these to rooms together. I could then do both the trim in the mudroom and the trim in the bathroom in the same color. At first I was leaning towards something from the blue pallet. I know, I already painted to upstairs bathroom blue. Maybe I’m afraid of color. After I get the green fetish thing worked out I’ll start to work on my fear of colors.

I have a paint chip card with Topsail and Tradewind on it. These are nice shades but after I looked at them for a while they start to look like something that should be on the set of Miami Vice. Maybe not, I don’t know, it’s a first look. The other color I really like is Queen Anne’s Lace. It is a very pale green and I like it for a few reasons. First it’s a shade of green and we all know about my well documented green fetish. Second, I really like the name – Queen Anne’s Lace. It has a very pleasant sound to it, doesn't it. Also, I do live in a Queen Anne Victorian home. Third, there is the line from a great Bob Dylan song that goes"

Purple clover, Queen Anne lace,
Crimson hair across your face,
You could make me cry if you don't know.
Can't remember what I was thinkin' of.
You might be spoilin' me too much, love,
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

That alone is enough to make me want to paint my whole house in Queen Anne’s Lace, but when you consider that the song, You're gonna make me lonesome when you go, is on what may be one of the best musical releases of all time I can’t see that I have any choice. I mean, it’s Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks! This is a top five deserted island music pick for me! It has such masterpieces as Tangled Up In Blue and Shelter From The Storm. How can I not go with Queen Anne’s Lace. I think the logic is rock solid on this one people.

Of course, I could also see if there is a Purple Clover offered by Sherwin Williams. Quick! To the paint store!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tile Cleaning

Finally, being lazy and forgetful is paying off!

The first day I met the owner of The Oberon Saloon building to see about getting the 1902 encaustic hex tile he gave me a tour of the building. It’s not too big so it didn’t take long. Even though it was a short tour it lasted a lot longer than I would have liked. I was really only interested in the tile.

The floor did not look good the frist time I saw it. The tile was dingy and gray and there were some really bad spots where the tile was almost black where cabinets and counters had been. The owner told me he had tried everything to clean the floor when he first bought the building and nothing worked. He even mentioned a diamond disk on a orbital floor cleaner. I was leery from the beginning as to whether this salvage tile operation would be a big waste of my time but I decided to try anyway.

After I got as much tile as I could I started thinking about ways to clean it. Bleach immediately came to mind, along with things like TSP, Oxyclean, Zud, and Bar Keepers Friend. I decided to start with bleach and go from there. It is the cheapest by far and there was a lot of tile to clean. No matter what way I went it seemed like it was going to be a lot of work. It’s 2-inch hex tile so I figured 36 tiles per sq ft. I salvaged about 100 sq ft so that works out to around 3600 tiles to clean. This was not going to be fun.

Anyway, I started with the bleach. About 3 weeks ago I grabbed one of the worst of the worst tiles. This is pretty much what it looked like.

Now, a lot of that is surface dirt that can come off with a little elbow grease, but remember there are 3600 tiles. I filled a coffee cup with undiluted bleach and dropped in the tile. I put the cup on an out of the way table in the dining room and pretty much forgot about. This was supposed to be the first in a series of carefully planned tests to see what was the best way to clean the tile. Well, I started working on the plumbing in the bathroom and never got back to the bleach test.

Yesterday I finally remembered about it and I went and grabbed the cup. About half of the bleach had evaporated and at the bottom of the cup was pretty nice looking tile. I set the cup in the sink and ran water over for a few minutes and when it was done this is what I got.

No scrubbing or anything. Just soak in bleach and rinse. This is the kind of cleaning job I like. I have two big plastic tubs with lids and tomorrow I’m going to go buy a couple of more tubs along with 10 gallons of bleach. I just fill up the tubs with tile and bleach and put them out in one of the garages to soak for a few weeks.

The other issue is the grout but if I use black grout in the bathroom I will only need to worry about getting the really thick chunks of grout off. Fixer-Upper did the white tile with black grout in their bathroom and I thought it looked pretty good.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Gag Gift

I got a cheap, plastic set of mirror and 2 wall sconces as a gag gift for Christmas this year. This is just about the tackiest, most hideous thing you have ever seen in your life. I’m not sure which is more disgusting, the fact that somebody produced it in the first place, or the fact that someone bought it. My friends found it at an estate sale.

The friends who gave it to me are coming over on Saturday so I mounted the set on the dining room wall and I’ll see how long it takes for them to notice it. Here is the mirror and sconce set mounted and the box it came in. This is unbelievably bad molded plastic crap. Even the “mirror” is plastic.

Oh, it’s soooo Victorian!

I wonder how much I could get for it on Ebay?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

After & Before

I was able to save the little cabinet, which is good because I hate doing things over. Both cabinets are as done as they’re going to get done at this point. I’ll wait to make cabinet doors for them later. I need to buy a panel bit for the router and milling tool for the table saw that will put the Eastlake style beads in the panels. This is not a good month to be buying more tools

Here is the cabinet in it’s native habitat. The space between the door and the wall is only about 8-inches but because I made the false wall in the bathroom that sits 6-inches in front of the real wall I can make the cabinet 14-inches deep. Once the tile is up and the wall is finished it will look like a narrow cabinet but it will actually be much deeper. This will be for towels.

Here’s a shot of both cabinets. The door will be in between the two of them with the doorknob on the right so it will open towards the taller corner cabinet. I’m not sure how that looks now with the lack of symmetry between the height of the two cabinets. I made the corner cabinet taller so it would be the same height as the tile on the wall. If I did it right the cap that separates the tile and plaster should continue just above the top of that cabinet and end at the door casing.

The shorter cabinet will have a few rows of tile above it and then the cap will continue around and end at the door casing on the that side as well. Both cabinets will have a 2-inch encaustic hex tile counter, which is the same tile that will go on the floor. I hope it works. (It finally rained today. You can see all the water I tracked in)

This is the before shot of the medicine cabinet. I’ve mentioned this before. I bought two of them several years ago from a salvage shop. I think I paid $19 a piece for them. They came out of a 19th century hotel in old town that is right across the street from The Oberon Saloon where I got the 2-inch hex tile. This will be painted so I just need to strip off the loose paint and reglue a few joints. I think I’ll need a new mirror for it as well. That’s the next project.

{Ugh! I just realized that I need to start thinking about colors}

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mr. Petch, We Have Good News

I was being a bit of a fuss-budget yesterday so I put myself down for a nap for few hours. When I woke up I had a juice box and some cookies, and I felt much better. After my nap I went out to the garage and inspected the crazy cabinet I built on Sunday. It was pretty hosed up.

I did a number of things wrong, starting with trying to assemble it in the bathroom. I assembled the larger corner cabinet in there and it went fine, but the space became even more limited once that cabinet was standing in the corner. I then tried to rush the assembly because the Super Bowl was coming on. That never works out.

Ultimately though, the problem had to do with the fact that the sides and the face frame were out of whack. The right side was 13-inches wide and square. The left side however, was 13-inches wide at the bottom and 13.25 inches wide at the top. It had a slight taper to it. I didn’t catch this because I was in a hurry to get it together. Then, when I attached the sides to the back, the right side was not sitting firmly on the ground. I think there might have been a nail or a small piece of wood under it when I glued and screwed it to the back. This made the whole thing list to one side. Because I was working in such cramped conditions I didn’t notice this at first either.

Finally, the face frame had a little bump out at one joint. One of the cuts may not have been square or maybe a little saw dust got in there. I noticed this but I was hoping I could pull it square once I started the assembly. Anyone of these things by themselves was bad but when you put them altogether I ended up with what amounted to a gangly, awkward teenager of a cabinet. If it could have spoken would have done so with a squeaky, adolescent voice.

After my nap I debated whether I could save it or not. The best thing going for it was that it is a built-in cabinet so most of it won’t be seen. I had pulled the face frame off a few minutes after I put it together on Sunday and wiped all the glue off. A few minutes with a hand planer took care of the extra quarter inch on the left side.

At the top and bottom the right side was not flush with the back and left side. It was lifted up 3/8-inch above the other parts. Because this is a built-in and will have a base molding around the bottom, and some trim under the counter, I was able to trim the bottom and top with a jig saw to even things out. If it comes out a little short I can shim it before I apply the base molding and no one will ever know.

I put an extra piece of 1X1 behind the slight bump-out on the face frame and then glued, brad, and clamped it in to place. The bump-out was very slight, so it should be fine once the glue sets and I remove the clamp. All in all it was a complete waste of time to try and rush through the assembly, but in the end I was able to save the cabinet. It’s still resting in the clamps, but by tomorrow it should be fine. A big sigh of relief here at The Petch House.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Frank Gehry Would Be Proud

The second bathroom cabinet did not come out exactly has I’d planned. I’m not sure if it’s something I can fix, or if I’ll have to start over. When I went to attach the face frame to the box it was obvious things were seriously out of whack. I tried to force in to square, but it wasn’t working. This was right before the Super Bowl was starting so I ripped off the face frame and left it where it sat.

I build the boxes out of the old 1X4 T&G bead board. I’ve built a total of 5 boxes this way, 4 in the kitchen and the first one in the bathroom, and the others came out fine. I’m not sure what happened with this last one but it is as torqued and convoluted as a Frank Gehry designed building.

If the truth be told, I’m having a bit of a crash & burn session over here at the old Petch House. First there was the toilet tank debacle and now the funky cabinet. These are hardly major set backs, but, it’s just, who knows….things aren’t moving fast enough on the bathroom. Even though I’ve made progress with all the rough-in on plumbing and electrical over the past few weeks, there is just not enough visual indication that things are progressing. The room looks pretty much as it did 4 weeks ago.

Also, the house is a disaster and I have no motivation to try and clean it up. It looks like a bathroom exploded in the dining room and other rooms aren’t doing much better. I’ve just gotten a little behind on a lot of things and there’s really no reason for it. I’m just in a bit of a funk.

I called DEA Bath today to order the correct flush valve for the toilet. I’ve decided to try and repair the tank and do it right. I was all set to give Jim a ration of shit for not telling me I was ordering the wrong part. It’s my opinion that somebody who works for a company selling things for a living should know their product and assist the customer in getting the right part. It’s not like we had 12 different flush valves to chose from. There were only 2 and my first question was about difference between the two flush valves. He should have given me better information.

Anyway, I was all ready to rip someone a new one over at DEA bath, and when they got on the phone the fire went out. I just ordered the stupid flush valve and quietly hung up. Ugh! I’m going to go take a nap.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vote For Your favorite Commercial

Wet & Sloppy. That pretty much sums up The Super Bowl game today. There were few surprises in this game but one of them was that Chicago was still in it in the 4th quarter. Sorry, Chicago fans, but the Colts dominated this game. If it weren’t for the opening play run back for a touchdown Chicago would have never been a contender.

The other surprising thing was the decent half-time show by Prince. I saw him pretty much booed off the stage back in the 80s once. It was before he was a big star and he opened for The Rolling Stones. It was Prince, The Clash, George Thorogood, and The Rolling Stones. It was me and 90,000 close, personal friends enjoying an itimate little show at the LA Colisium. When we arrived Prince was on stage and no one was even paying attention to him. He was wearing little more than a sock and I heard later that he was booded off the stage.

Anyway, what the Super Bowl is really all about is selling advertising. So here is your chance to vote in this official poll to pick the best commercial aired during the Super Bowl.

Best Commercial
Oprah & Letterman
FedEx Moon
Bud Lite Rock, Paper, Scissors
Chevrolet Music
Doritos Spicy, Crunchy, Smooth Marketing Sex
Coke Video Game
But Lite Stray Dog
Garmin Power Rangers Lemmings
Doritos Grocery Store
Chevy HHR Men Strip
Bud Lite Slap
GM Robot Dream
Coke Bottle History
Etrade Bank Robbery
Coke Machine Fantasy Land
Bud Lite Zoo Fight
Nation Wide Rap
Free polls from

Oops! Only room for 20!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Some Assembly Required

I assembled the first of the two bathroom cabinets today. This is the corner cabinet that will go behind the door. Here’s a shot of it.

I did kind of an angle thing with the front to give it a little character. If I had to do it over I would not have made the opening so big. I wanted symmetry with the two boards that make up the angles on either side of the cabinet. I couldn’t make the boards too wide or the cabinet would stick out too far. I think I’ll do a pair of doors that open in the middle as opposed to one big door. The plan is to do raised panel doors with an Eastlake bead detail down the center of the panels.

I’m not sure when I’ll make the doors. Right now I need the cabinets made because that will define where the tile will go. The other cabinet goes on the right side of the door. On both cabinets I’m using salvage redwood bead board for the backs and sides, and fir for the face frames. The fir is from old door jambs. I use the back sides of the bead board so I don’t have to strip the paint. I just sand it smooth and I will finish it with BLO and turpentine. The outsides will be painted. I want these cabinets to look like they were installed in 1895.

I used pocket screws to assemble the face frames. Brooklyn Row House gave excellent step-by-steep instructions for building face frames with pocket screws a few weeks back, so I won’t go in to that. I first learned about pocket screws from watching my hero use them on his show. I was going to buy a pocket hole jig and use it when I made the kitchen cabinets. At the time I didn’t look very hard and the only thing I found on-line was the Kreg Master Pocket Hole Jig System for $149. That’s a lot of money for something I’m not going to use very often, and we all know I’m one cheap bastard.

I’ve since learned that you can buy pocket hole jigs for much less. I found an issue of Woodworker’s Journal that tested 6 different pocket hole jigs. The cheapest one you can get at Sears for as little as $39, but you get what you pay for. I found one at Ace Hardware on-line that was $49. The good thing about buying at Ace or Sears is that I won’t pay shipping.

Then on Thursday I was at a local hardware store and I asked if they had a pocket hole jig and sure enough they did. It is made by SteelX, which was not one of the ones in Woodworker’s Journal, and it was the least expensive one I found. It also happens to work very good and seems to be well constructed.

It didn’t come in a kit like the others, instead you bought all the parts separately. I got the jig, which can adjust from 7/8-inch to 2 & ¼-inch, and I bought a 3/8-inch step drill. They had both a 90 degree step drill for pan head screws and a 45 degree drill for regular wood screws. Both the jig and drills are SteelX products. I also bought a set of 3 stop collars, a 6-inch long square drive bit, and a half pound of pan head screws and it came to less than $35. Not bad!

The best part is I love it, love it, love it. Building face frames has never been easier. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the other cabinet assembled before The Big Game. I’m in a Super Bowl pool and my best shot at winning some money is if it’s 7 to 7 at the half. I win $200!

Friday, February 02, 2007

You know the old saying….

You can’t uncut wood. Well, it turns out you can’t undrill it either. It also turns out I didn’t need to drill out the hole on the high-tank toilet tank. I did that yesterday and it was a complete waste of time. The problem was I got the wrong part.

Ultimately the responsibility is mine to ask the questions and make sure I’m getting what I need. However, some responsibility should lie with the person who is supplying the part. They know their product better than I do. I give an explanation of what I’m trying to accomplish and there are two parts that might be able to achieve the goal. The person who is supplying me the part should try and make sure I got the right one. This is often referred to as “Customer Service”. This didn’t happen.

The person in question was Jim from DEA Bath. I sincerely think he is very knowledgeable about the product he sells. They sell two flush valves for toilets. That’s it, just two. I had two to chose from. When I called up to order parts a few weeks back, at the top of my list were the part numbers for the two flush valves. I wasn’t sure which one I needed so I wanted to ask about this first. Two pieces of information were all that was needed by Jim to determine which was the right part: The diameter of the hole and the thickness of the tank. I only supplied him the diameter of the hole and not the thickness of the tank. Did I know that was an issue? No, I didn’t.

When he told me I would have to drill out the hole with the flush valve I was getting that seemed fine because with the upstairs toilet I also had to widen the hole just a little. Not as much as this time, but I did have to widen it. After I drilled out the hole yesterday I dry fitted the flush valve and it was fine. However, when the valve is fitted with the thick washer they supply not enough threads stick out the other side. I think I can get a thinner washer, so that is not an issue. I also noticed I didn’t get the slip nut. I thought this was included with the valve. It was for the last flush valve I bought a few years ago for the other high-tank.

I called today and talked to Jim again and he told me the nut was not supplied with the flush valve I ordered, it was only supplied with the other flush valve. The one I didn’t order. This was information that would have been helpful a few weeks back when I ordered. I probably would have mentioned it at the time and it may have lead to me getting the right part. He then told me it didn’t matter because the flush tube I ordered would need a spud reducer to work with the flush valve I ordered. Again, this would have been helpful information when I ordered.

Did it seem odd to Jim that I wasn’t ordering all the parts I needed. I ordered a flush valve and a flush tube, but no spud reducer. Did I know that I need a spud reducer: No. Did Jim know that I needed a spud reducer: Yes. If Jim had told me I needed a spud reducer I would have said, “That’s funny. I didn’t get one last time”.

At this point I started to figure out what went wrong. I realized I got the wrong part and I didn’t need to drill out the hole. I asked him again about the difference between the two flush valves and this time he explained it in perfect clarity. Unfortunately it’s too late. It’s not the end of the world, but it really bugs me when I have to pry information out people. Where the hell is the customer service? Just ask a few questions and try and help people out. The worst thing is, the part I needed was more expensive. They could have made more money off me and I would be a happier customer.

Here’s how it should have gone:

Greg: I need one of the two flush valves you sell for my old oak high-tank. What is the difference between them?

Jim: The threaded part of the flush valve is longer and narrower on one of them. What is the diameter of the hole and the thickness of the tank?

Boom! That’s it. The problem is solved and I get the correct part. Why didn’t that happen? I don’t know.

The other thing that is one of my customer service pet peeves is people who ask questions they know they can’t answer. Last night I called DEA Bath after Jim went home. A woman answered the phone and asked for Jim and she told me he went home. I asked if there was someone else there besides Jim who was familiar with the flush valves. She said, “Well, maybe I can help you. What’s the problem”. I launched in to the problem with the washer and the missing nut and told her everything. When I was done she said, “No, I wouldn’t know anything about that. I’d better have Jim call you”. Gee thanks. There’s 5 wasted minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

EDIT: I posted the above text about an hour ago and the more I think about the madder I get. It is so obvious that I was ordering the wrong part now and I’m kicking myself for trying to install it. I really should have paid more attention to it. One thing is for sure, if I sold this stuff for a living IT WOULD HAVE BEEN OBVIOUS TO ME THAT I WAS ORDERING THE WRONG PART IN THE FIRST PLACE. It is so irritating.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Resawing A Sawn Hole With A Hole Saw

Say that 10 times fast.

Here’s the problem: The oak high-tank for the toilet was originally intended for an 1.25-inch flush tube. The flush tube is the long tube that connects the tank to the bowl. I wanted to go to an inch and a half flush tube because I would save about $90 in parts, but also because I have an inch and a half flush tube on the upstairs high-tank toilet, and I wanted them to sort of look the same. Also, it just so happens that DEA Bath is sold out of the smaller flush tubes, so even if I wanted it I couldn’t get it.

So now I have to an existing hole on the bottom of the oak tank and I need to enlarge it. If you’ve never used a hole saw they are easy to use to make new holes in existing wood, but it can be tricky to widen an existing hole. Here’s a picture of a hole saw.

You can see it has a drill bit in the center. The drill bit centers the saw and keeps it from dancing around on the wood while you start the hole. The drill bit hits the wood first and sort of guides the hole saw down on to the wood. When you are enlarging an existing hole there is nothing there for the drill bit to drill in to.

This is probably one of those things where I think I’m very clever for coming up with a solution and a lot of people are out there saying to themselves, “Well, of course that’s how you do it! How else would you?” Be that as it may, I can’t be the only person who has struggled with this, so I’ll post my solution here so maybe some day it will help somebody else.

This is what I started with. The hole in the center is 2-inches wide and I need to go to 2.5-inches

This is the flush valve. Ideally the threaded part would fit in the hole. As you can see, it won’t. If I just put the hole saw on there and tried to drill it would be a bitch to keep in centered over the existing hole. Most likely the new hole would be off center and finish would be severely scratched up.

What I did was take a scrap of ¾-inch plywood and cut a 2.5-inch hole through it using the hole saw. I then centered that hole in the plywood over the hole in the tank and clamped the plywood to the tank.

The hole in the plywood acted as a guide and kept the hole saw centered over the hole. The results were a nice clean and well centered hole.

And there you have it, the new flush valve installed. I hope this helps somebody down the road someday. Now the only question is, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. I'm just curious.