Monday, June 29, 2009

I Wish I Were Taller

If I were ten feet tall it would be perfect. As it is, I come in at a relatively shrimpy six foot four. If I were ten feet tall I could plaster the ceiling without needing a ladder or scaffolding. When I did the kitchen several years back I used a ladder and it was very hard. Lots of up and down, not only to reload the trowel, but also just to work the plaster.

The ladder in question is an old wooden ladder – one of 2 ladders that came with the house. I found that I could straddle the ladder with one foot on the back-side brace and one foot on the 4th rung and the height was perfect for working on the ceiling.

I have spent countless hours on this ladder standing just like that. It worked, but like I said, lots of up and down. Now, I’m going to be working on the dining room which has the largest surface area of any room to date. Not only that, but next will come the foyer and then the 2 parlors, which are even bigger than he dining room. I needed something else.

I could rent a section or 2 of scaffolding, but that would put me too high. I need to be just three and a half feet higher. The ceilings are ten and a half feet so having my head at ten feet is perfect. So I decided to make my own scaffolding.

For about $60 worth of lumber, fasteners, and casters I get a 4X8 foot platform that is the perfect height and can roll around the room. This should work well, not only for the ceiling but for any part of the wall over 7-feet heigh. I’m actually looking forward to doing the plaster work now. Of course, I still need the trusty ladder to get up on the platform, but once I get myself and a big batch of plaster up there I won’t need to come down for a while.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Ok, so I panicked. I realize that now. Still, with everything in the news these days about The Swine Flu, you can’t be too cautious.

As I was walking through the dining room with my first cup of coffee of the morning I thought I spotted a Swine Flu virus on the floor. I quickly dumped out my coffee and slammed the cup down on top of it. I then preceded to isolate the room from the rest of the house.

After I sealed the room off and got plastic sheeting over everything, I donned my homemade biohazard suit and with a can of Lysol in hand I carefully lifted the coffee cup off of the “virus”.

Well, it turned out to be an ant. A very confused and angry ant at this point, but an ant none the less. No, there was no Swine Flu in my house and I was completely safe after all.

Boy, isn’t my face red.

It wasn’t a complete waste of time, though. Now that the dining room is sealed off from the rest of the house and all of the woodwork is covered in plastic, the stage is set for plaster wall repair. The plaster is largely intact and structurally sound. The first step will be to clean the walls and get rid of any remnants of wall paper. I stripped off the 7 or 8 layers of wallpaper years ago, so this should not be too difficult.

I will then patch the minor nail holes and small divots. Once that is done I will paint the entire surface with Weld-Crete. Weld-Crete is a masonry adhesive made by Larson Industries. Its purpose is to help the new skim coat adhere to the 100+ year old lime plaster. They also make a product called Plaster-Weld, which would be more appropriate for this application, but the local supplier only carries Weld-Crete. They are essentially the same thing, only Weld-Crete is designed for exterior, industrial applications.

After the Weld-Crete is applied and has had time to dry I will skim coat with Diamond Finish plaster. After that I will paint, which brings me to my most feared and hated job of all…

Picking Out Paint Colors

This hideous and disgusting process started today.

Because I already have the dado in the room I will be doing a traditional “tripartite” wall where the wall is divided horizontally in to three parts: The dado, field, and frieze. This is a style that was popular from about 1870 to about 1910 and was championed by critics of the time like Charles Eastlake and Clarence Cook. When selecting colors of paint or wallpaper it was suggested that the frieze should be light in color, with the field darker, and the dado the darkest. The ceiling will be the same color as the frieze.

I’m leaning towards a red field and a gold frieze with a picture rail where the two meet. The dado, of course, is the burl redwood raised paneled wainscoting that is original to the room. So far the first round of color selection includes Sherwin William’s Bolero (7600) for the field and Humble Gold (6380) for the frieze and ceiling. If history repeats itself I will decide I don’t like these colors only after I have painted the entire room.

Another hair-brained idea I have is to paint the ceiling sky-blue and sponge on large, fluffy white clouds. I think this would only work if I applied a heavy cornice where the frieze and ceiling meets and chose something else for the field and frieze. Given that I have 2 green rooms in the house and the exterior paint is a monochromatic green color scheme, any shade of green is out of the question.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eighteen of Eighteen

For all intent and purpose I am done with these cabinets!!!! I finished and installed the 18th and final door this afternoon.

Door Goes Open

Door Goes Closed

There are still a few things to do, but the carpentry portion of this never ending project has finally come to an end. I need to putty a lot of holes and everything – and I do mean everything, not just the cabinets – is covered in sawdust. There is also a little painting left to do on the butler’s pantry side. I should be able to finish all of that up mid-week next week.

Oh, and then there’s this…

The shop is covered wall-to-wall in 3 to 8 inches of saw dust. I'm hoping to find a few lost tools under there.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trim Marathon

I had a late invitation yesterday to a Bar-B-Q out in Freshwater. I had every intention of going, but it looked like rain in the morning, so I started in on the trim for the middle section. As it turned out, the clouds cleared around 1:00 and it turned out to be a spectacular day. By that time I was committed to the trim and there was no looking back.

The Bar-B-Q would have been nice, but now I’m glad I stuck with the trim. It took about 12 hours to get it all done, but it is done!

Before I could even start the trim I had to frame out the little door in the middle section. Then it was on to mind-numbing repetition of measure, cut, cut, router, router and install. Then the next piece. That’s if I got it right the first time. I rarely did.

Each piece took a minimum of 2 cuts on the saw and two passes on the router. If it is was off by as much as an 8th of an inch it was another cut on the saw and another pass on the router. There are 62 pieces of wood total. To make it even more interesting, I was afraid of running out. Below is all there is left from that big pile of trim I cut.

I also milled and installed the trim just under the marble. It is a two part bead and cove trim. When the fabricators came to make the template for the marble I suggested an inch and a half over-hang. I was planning on just doing a ¾-inch cove under the lip. The guy making the template told me that 2-inches is standard, so I said OK. God forbid I should not do what is standard.

For the next week after the marble was in place I cursed the 2-inch over-hang every time I saw. I was too much. It was sticking out so awkwardly. I decided he suggested 2-inches because most people do a laminate edge these days. That is were they take an additional piece of stone and glue it to the underside of the over-hang. They then finish that off and it looks like you have 4-cm thick stone when it is really only 2-cm.

In the end it worked out. I did the 2-part trim and it looks fine. All of those sleepless nights were for nothing. So now it is on to the little door in the middle section. I’m going to see if I can find the time to work on it this week and then install it next weekend. After that I will be officially done with this cabinet!

I looked back through the blog and found that I started them in September of 2008. Really, though, I first mentioned this project in November of 2005.

Three And A Half Years Ago!!!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Count Up

The sanding of the marble has officially started. I hope to finish by the weekend so I can start in on the wooden trim in the middle section. Here is the progression so far.

Factory cut

Router bit

100 Grit

150 Grit

220 Grit

So far all of the sanding has been done with the random orbital sander, so it goes fast. I plan on going to 600 wet sanding, so at some point I will switch to sanding by hand. The top has a polished surface, but I’ve decided I don’t like that. I polished the marble in the bath, and I was planning on doing that here, but I’m rethinking it. It just looks too new and modern. I’m leaning towards doing a final sanding with 600 grit over the entire surface to given it a dull, honed looked.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Shwing! Marble’s Here!

There was a message on the machine last night when I got home, but it was too late to contact them. At 10:00 this morning I got a call saying it was on the truck and ready to go. I met them at the house about 10 minutes later. Installation took them all of 5 minutes because it was pretty much just drop it in to place.

I had them leave it hanging about 6 inches off the edge so there was room for the router.

It is pretty much just a rough, saw cut edge when I get it, so the first thing to do is run the router over it.

The router bit has a bearing on the bottom that rides along the edge as the blade cuts. This ensures a even depth of cut. In the kitchen I did a quarter inch round-over and was able to do it in one pass. This time I went with a 5/8th inch round-over and it took several passes. Note the vacuum hose on the router. This is am absolute must.

The first couple of feet were very nerve-wracking. After a few minutes though, I got in to a groove and it went quickly. I would work on about a 1-foot section at a time and keep running the router over it until the bearing bottomed out.

Here is what I’m left with. From here I’ll work on it with the random orbital sander, starting out with 100 grit and working my to at least 300. I’ll probably finish it up by hand with some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then polish it out. It is just the edge, so doesn’t take too long.

As it turns out, the slab they ended up getting was over 9-feet long. Even they couldn’t explain it. What this means is that there was no need for me to shorten the width of the middle section. I brought the sides in 3-inches on either side so it would be less than 8-feet. Not much I can do about it now.

Because I bought the whole slab they have a huge piece left over. Originally, the plan was to store it in the garage, but based on the size of the “remnant” (There is more left-over than I used) they talked me in to leaving it in their yard. I think I have a plan for it, but more on that later.