Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Wallpaper!

I just found this yesterday and had to get it up immediately.

You can click here to see a full size view of this. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?

Oh, and in case you haven’t figured it out by now, this is my new computer screen wallpaper. While I will miss Rita Hayworth, who wouldn't want a little marble cottage by the sea?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trim Tint

A friend of mine who seems very knowledgeable at times told me that 2 parts Red Mahogany stain and 1 part Walnut stain would be a good mix for tinting the light colored redwood to match the darker stuff. Well, it was more like 10 to 1, but since I started with the 2:1 mix I now have a lifetime supply of tinting stain. Even after adding a lot more Red Mahogany I ended up thinning it even more with 1:1 ratio of BLO and turpentine. I really, really have a lot.

In the end though, it worked out. Here is the before shot. You can see how the left and right casings are much lighter than the other wood. As I said the other day, the wood is really nice tight grained old-growth wood. It is just very light for some reason. The header casing on the door at the right is cut from the same piece of wood and so has the same problem.

Here it is after tinting. I did the door header first and was concerned it was too dark. That is the mix prior to adding the BLO and turpentine. Then I diluted it even more and did the other two. In this picture they still a look a little light, but in real life it is a pretty good match. I may go over it once more though.

Staining the wood is not like doing a traditional stain job. Normally, I would use a brush to apply liberal amounts of stain and then let it sit for 5 minutes before wiping it off. Here, I just wanted to darken the color a little bit. I worked with a folded up paper towel that was dipped in the stain and then rung out well. I then rubbed the paper towel on the wood. There was usually no excess on the wood at all. Any amount that was on there was quickly wiped off. The stain was applied so lightly that I never once had to change paper towels.

Today I was able to get most of the trim installed on the butler’s pantry side. There is not a lot to it, really. I also needed to build a false wall behind the center panel on the upper section. On the butler’s pantry side that will be shelving and I wanted to hide the backs of the burl panels for protection as much as for aesthetics. So the wall is built and three shelves installed.

I can’t do any more on the butler’s pantry side until the center section is trimmed out on the dining rooms side. I need to build a little door jamb for the pass through door before the rest of the trim can be done on the butler’s pantry side. Before I can do the center section trim on the dining room side, I need to get the counter in. That means Monday I need to call about marble or the whole project could grind to a halt while I wait for some stone guy to return my call.

I can move forward with the drawers though, so that will be the next project: 7 Drawers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Is Risen

This is a second coming of sorts, I suppose. It is the resurrection of the cabinet. Even so, I’ll stop there before I offend anyone. I’m talking about the dining room cabinets, of course. They have taken full shape and the trim is on. It went smoothly except for a few issues.

First, some before shots for perspective…

This is June of 2005 from inside the kitchen. That is the fireplace in the dining room through the gaping hole. This large opening was originally a door which was widened in the 20s to accommodate a Murphy Bed.

Again from the kitchen side, here is the wall rebuilt.

And just to finish that series, here is the finished kitchen side.

Now at long last I have finally finished the dining room side. Only the far right-hand pair of panels on the dado are original in this shot. The other 6 panels, along with the rails and stiles are reproduction. The dado goes all the way around the room like this. Everything else in the room is original to 1895.

Here is the other gaping hole as of August of 2008.

And here it is today

One of the issues is painfully obvious in the last photo. The two pieces of vertical casing are way too light. The header casing on the smaller door is cut from the same wood and has the same problem. I’m not exactly sure why they are so light in color. They are definitely not second growth wood. In fact, the growth rings are so tight on them they are difficult to count. They are really very beautiful pieces of wood, they are just very pale.

I’m must fix this problem, but it will need to wait. All of the trim was oiled moments before this photo was taken. I’m going to let it try and then tint some BLO & turpentine with red mahogany stain and see if I can even it out. I have a few scraps I can test with.

The other issue is on the right side of the lower cabinet the trim does not fit tightly near the top. It has the same problem on the left side, only not as pronounced. I’m not sure how I can fix this at this point. That cabinet is nailed in there so tightly that if an 8.0 hit right now the only thing I could be sure was left standing was that cabinet and the two walls on either side. I’m going to need to come up with something to make it less noticeable.

All said though, I’m relieved with the way it is coming out. Next up is the upper face-frame on the butler’s pantry side.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Upper Two In

I think this is one of the few times in the history of this blog that I am actually on schedule! Last weekend I said I wanted to get the second upper cabinet installed by Thursday and I actually did it. It’s a Petch House Miracle!

Originally the plan was to build the uppers as one giant cabinet (4X8 feet) and then get a few friends over to muscle it in to place. In the end though, I decide to build it in sections because I can get each section in place by myself. Right now they are both just tacked in to place. Tomorrow I will get them level and flush with the lowers and nail them in to place. I think I can also get the center panel installed tomorrow, as well.

Then on Saturday I can put in the plinth blocks (behind the hammer), casing (to the left leaning against the wall), and head blocks (not in picture). This is a really big deal because immediately to the right of the cabinets is the wall leading in to the kitchen, which I rebuilt years ago. This wall was where a Murphy Bed was put in back in the 1920s when the house was turned in to apartments.

They removed the door and widened the opening leading from the dining room to the kitchen and installed the Murphy Bed. At the same time they removed some of the raised paneled dado and closed off a dumb waiter style door used to pass food from the hot stove to the sideboard.

All of this was rebuilt 3 or 4 years ago when I did the kitchen, but it was never trimmed out on the dining room side because these cabinets needed to be installed. So now – FINALLY – The wall has been rebuilt. The dado repaired. The doors reestablished. The plaster repaired. And NOW, after so many years, the cabinets are in place and I can trim out this wall.

It is like one giant 113 year old puzzle.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Milestone

I just noticed that The Petch House Blog went over the half million mark in page views today. I’ll be the first to admit that this is miniscule by internet standards, and probably even by House Blogging standards. Still, it’s something….

What’s the old joke…

“Hey Boss, I just found out our web site is the number one non-porn site on the internet! That makes us 10-billonth over all!”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Up-One Down

I got the right side upper cabinet made and installed. It is really just tacked in to place right now. Once I get the left side built and up there I’ll make sure everything is square, plumb, and level and then secure it in place.

In the photo, the center panel is just sitting there right now. Once the left side is in place I can trim it to fit and then nail it in. I’m still not overly thrilled with this panel. I think by itself it looks fine. I’m just not sure how it works with the cabinets. Regardless, it is going to be installed either way.

I have 2 of the panels glued up for the left side, and today I’ll glue up the other 2. After the glue sets they get trimmed to size, sanded, and oiled. Once that is done I can start assembling the left side. I’m hoping to have it assembled and installed by Thursday.

Once the left side is in I can permanently install the center panel. Then I’ll do the butler’s pantry face-frame and then trim out the dining room side with the casing, plinth blocks and head blocks.

Once all of that trim is in the width will be defined and I can start to look at counter tops. I will be doing white marble. The marble needs to go in before the middle shingle scrap section can be trimmed out. After that, it is just doors and drawers.

Right, just doors and drawers….

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Me Wanty

This is the style wallpaper I want for the parlors...

This is another Shorpy Shot. I'm going to go for an eclectic mix in my design choices. The fabric of the house will be period (lighting, wall coverings, woodwork) with everything else being an eclectic mix of contemporary and other decidedly historically inaccurate pieces. They will be mostly second-hand and span decades. The only prerequisite will be no synthetic materials.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What To Do About Doors

I’ve been pretty much ignoring this issue for a number of reasons. I think the only time I have mentioned the doors is when I lamented the shear number that I need to make. I need 18 doors in all. It just seems like it is going to take forever.

For me, the two big challenges with door making are the mortise and tenon joints, and making the panels. Ok, aside from hinges and latches, that is pretty much the entire door. Oh, and did mention that I hate doing hinges as well? As for the latches, I’m fairly indifferent towards them.

The other issue with the doors is the material. Even though the butler’s pantry side will be painted, you will see the inside of those doors from the dining room side. Especially on the uppers, because the doors on the dining room side will be glass.

The face-frames on the dining room side are, of course, all made from the curly redwood. I don’t have anymore of that for the doors. Even if I got more, which I’m sure I could if I really wanted it, it would not look the same as the face-frames. With this in mind, I’m probably going to do plain redwood, of which, I have an abundant supply. I’m not sure if that will look odd, though, to have curly redwood face-frames and plain redwood doors.

Then there are the panels. Lots and lots of panels. Eighteen of them, to be exact. That is a lot of damn panels and a lot of wood. I will need a lot of nice wood too. I need a lot of 12 and 16 inch wide panels. I have found that I am not the best at gluing up panels. I can do it, but sometimes my seams show.

So I’m thinking obscure or stained glass for the butler’s pantry side uppers. The dining room side uppers will be clear glass with some subtle etched design around the edges. The idea is that one would display their assortment of fine china in the uppers to impress their guests. If I did a stained glass on the butler’s pantry side it would look very cool with the lights on in the butler’s pantry. The inside of the cabinets would be bathed in a colored light. Very Victorian and a nice alternative to having lights on the inside of the cabinet.

I’m not thinking any kind of designed stained glass in the traditional sense. Rather, large panes of colored glass in place of solid wood panels. Glass size could become an issue. Most glass makers, except Kokomo Glass, make glass in either 12 or 24 inch wide pieces. I’ve been trying to calculate the width I would need, but my brain has seized up. If I had to get it from Kokomo Glass again, then that means another trip The Bay Area.

Plenty to think about and plenty of time to think about it.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

So the politics has run its course, at least for the next 2 months or so. How about a little religion before we get back to the cabinets.

The Jehovah's Witnesses came by today. Two very pleasant, elderly woman stopped by and wanted to talk with me about The Bible. I thanked them politely and then informed them that I was a devout Atheist, so I wasn’t really interested. One woman’s eyes bugged out and she said, “Atheist!”. The other one looked at me and asked what does “devout” mean. I said, “You know, ‘devotion’. I’m devoted to my belief”. She then looked at me puzzled, placed her hand on her chest, and replied, “But I’m devout”, as if to imply if she was, then how could I be.

The other woman quickly changed the subject by commenting on how tall I was. I was covered in red sawdust and they asked if I was the one doing all of the work on the house. The conversation turned pleasant again, but by this time I was ready for it to be over. I inched the door shut while I smiled and thanked them for their compliments on the house. Across the street I could see a small group of men in crisp blue suits knocking on my neighbors door. The Jehovah's Witnesses come by a few times a year. Sometimes it irritates me. Sometimes it doesn’t.

The cabinets continue to rise, albeit at a very slow pace. I got the sub-counter on and the middle section attached. The sub-counter is made from small scraps of siding from the 2 story addition. I had a lot of pieces that were 3-feet long or less. I ran them through the planer to get them to a half inch and then nailed them on. Some of the boards had cupping issues that the planer won’t resolve. I had to do a little hand planning once they were on.

I also put on the butler’s pantry finish counter. It is only 5.5-inches deep, so I ripped a piece of the old casing that was put on during the 1920s when the original cabinets were removed. It is actually deeper than the original back counter from 1895. To maintain symmetry on the front side with the shingle scraps, the front counter top can only be so deep. I put on the back counter now because I needed to get the finished back of the middle section on. The counter goes under that. It is finished with a simple bull-nose and there will be a piece of cove molding under it to hide the sub-counter.

The back of the middle section is made up of these 3/8th-inch thick, tongue & groove boards that are about 6-inches wide. These I got from my neighbor. He had dozens of them in a garbage can in his backyard. The garbage can had filled with rain water and he figured they were ruined. They are all made from really nice old-growth redwood, so all I had to do was dry them out. They are stamped Simpson Lumber on one end. I think these were originally made to be used as the backs of medicine cabinets.

The main reason I need to get the back on is so I will know the finish depth of the middle section. This will determine the finish depth of the upper cabinets. The final number is 18.5-inches. That should do nicely. So the next step now is the upper carcasses, which is really just sides and tops since the back will be another face-frame on the butler’s pantry side.

This means gluing up panels. I need 4 sides, 2 tops, and 2 bottoms. I have enough clamps to do 2 at a time. Normally I would keep them in the clamps for 24 hours, but since it is raining now, I will probably do 48 hours. The dining room face-frames are finished but I still need to do the butler’s pantry side.

The real tricky part in all of this is going to come when it is time to install the uppers. They are going to be 48-inches tall and 8-feet wide. I need to get them up on top of the middle section. I’ve never asked for help with this sort of thing in the past, but this may be the time to ask. With any luck, that will come next weekend.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Remember Pete…

"With great power, comes great responsibility."

That’s what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker on the night he died. If I could, that is what I will tell Barack Obama tonight.

Having said that, "Its a beautiful day!"

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Revolutionary Vote

New York circa 1917. "Calm about it. At Fifty-sixth and Lexington Avenue, the women voters showed no ignorance or trepidation, but cast their ballots in a businesslike way that bespoke study of suffrage." Shorpy.Com

Tomorrow is a day for another revolutionary vote.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Less Is More

When this is all said and done I think these cabinets will less represent fine cabinet making and more represent folk art. It looks nice, but you if get up close you can tell I’m not a trained cabinet maker. Don’t get me wrong, its reasonably straight and level, and it should be very presentable, but its far from perfect.


Lower-Bottoms w/ Stiles

I have made more progress, though. I finished the upper-center section and I put in the bottoms on the lower cabinets. I also made the face-frames for the uppers (not shown), and I had just enough left over to add the center stiles on the lower cabinets. This means that each door will get its own cabinet latch on the lowers. On the uppers, each pair of doors will share a latch. This was always intended to be that way.

I am really cutting it close on this wood. The only thing left longer than 6-inches from the two big slabs of curly redwood are two end-cuts. The end cuts were the last pieces that were not full thickness. One side looks good and the other is sloped and slanted and varies in thickness from inch and a half down to 3/8ths of an inch.

These last two pieces will be used in the final assembly as almost veneer for the small inset area on either side of the upper-inset panel. I treat them like rare treasured objects which are the last of their kind. They've both been moved to a secured, undisclosed location in one of the garages. I could tell you where I put them, but then I’d have to kill you. We wouldn’t want that.

Tomorrow I’m going to put in the drawer guides and add in a bunch of glue blocks in the corners to strengthen the lower carcasses. I’m also going to glue and brad thick strips of wood behind the longer rails and stiles of the lower cabinets to strengthen them. The undulating grain pattern of the curly redwood means that you some times get grain that moves almost back to front instead of across. This makes for some very weak parts in the wood. The strips of wood attached to the back with glue and brads will add some much needed support.