Sep 132007

We got the doors back from SprayKote Shop Finishing and installed them. The laundry room is now 100% d-o-n-e. Finally. We’re very happy with how it all turned out, but more than anything it’s just nice to be able to do laundry indoors, away from the dust of the garage/woodshop. It’s also nice to have finally checked something off the todo list, so many of our projects have been lingering.

Sep 032007

I finished my first architectural column this “holiday weekend” – hey there must be a reason they call it “labor” day. We are really happy with the look of the finished column, and I think it should last for a few decades with all the biscuited construction. However!!! It took me 4 days (a few hours each) to finish this one column, and I have 8 more to do in the back, 2 of them only being 3 feet tall, 1 being 16 feet or so. So, I desperately need to speed things up. I’m considering eliminating the biscuits in favor of stainless steel finish screws and Gorilla Glue, rather than biscuits and Tightbond III. The screws will keep the joint clamped tight while the glue dries – less clamping is a time saver, the Gorilla glue will completely cure in 4 hours – rather than overnight, not having to install the biscuits will also save some time. The Gorilla glue will also expand, filling any irregularities in the joint that I had to fill with putty in the biscuited version. The drawback – I _HATE_ working with Gorilla glue…. everything comes at a price right?

Aug 262007

So after months of deliberation, I finally decided on an architectural and construction design for the column wrap for the post on the front porch. The wrap is made up of 4 identical pieces of 5/4 finger jointed clear cedar. Each has a chamfer with a radius stop, and slots for biscuits on one edge and one side. I assembled three of them into a U shape in the garage with some help from Vernon and Mary Lou helped me install the last of the fourth after I installed the partial box around the post. The last board had to have both sides done at once, a total of 14 biscuits. If you haven’t worked with biscuits before, they expand on contact with wood glue, leaving you only seconds to get the joint clamped up, or they’ll never go together (or come apart for that matter). Fortunately we had prepared for the glue-up quite well, and all went fairly smoothly (big Thank You! to Mary Lou – no way I could have done that on my own!). I still have to install the 3/4″ think mitered base up to the 11″ mark and then add the base cap and crown to finish it off. That might be a few days, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing something other than that 4×4 PT post sticking out of our front deck.

Aug 212007

After several months spent framing decks, decking decks, and finishing off the laundry room – the ceiling over the back deck remained unfinished. I wasn’t at all excited about installing the tongue and groove cedar planks anyway, since it would require scaffolding, and a lot of up-and-down the ladder work. So I caved and invited my contractor back to finish it off. They picked up the lumber, setup, installed, and were out of here in 1 day. It would have taken me a LOT longer. We used pre-finished boards from the supplier, so all I have to do is touch up the raw edges of a few specially cut boards (trim around the skylights, etc.) The ceiling really helps finish off the space. I should be installing the lights in the next couple days.

Aug 122007

The doors to the laundry room turned out to be quite a project. The opening is only 57″ (rather than a standard 60″), so I had the choice of getting custom made doors, or saving a few (hundred) bucks and modifying a stock size door. I chose the latter. I had to rip the doors down to width, and add an inch to their height.

The narrow laundry room posed another problem though: standard bi-fold door hardware doesn’t open wide enough to allow access to the machines’ controls and detergent trays (that and it’s tinny, cheap, and generally unpleasant to use!). Instead we chose Johnson full access bi-fold door hardware, and used standard 3.5″ oil rubbed bronze door hinges (rather than the cheapies that came with the kit). The doors now have hinges that match the rest of the house. Since there is no rickety track and pivot hardware, the doors can rise floor to header, without the need to add extra trim to hide the hardware! Since the doors open 180 degrees, they lay flat against the wall (giving some needed space back to the hallway).

Aug 012007

After much dilly-dallying, the washer and dryer are finally installed in the new laundry room. It’s truly amazing how many little steps are involved in completing such a space. It occurred to me, however, that the hallway in general was a very complex little space: at only 165 square feet it has 10 corners and 9 doorways! The laundry room has vinyl cove-base which I coped on the inside corners. The shelving is just stock Closet-Maid fare – one of my favorite organizational products – the track and standards system is easy to install, with minimal hole drilling – two thumbs up. Because the room is so shallow, I did have to vent the dryer through the floor (directly under the machine); this complicated installation, but wasn’t too bad considering. The bifold doors are next, we’ll be using full access hardware from Johnson so the hinges will match the rest of the doors in the hallway and we’ll actually be able reach the knobs and trays on the laundry machines :-)

Jul 152007

Over the last two weeks I’ve only had an hour or two a day to work on the house, so progress has been slow. Still, a little bit at a time and things do finally come together. The front porch decking is finally complete. If you look closely, you can see the bungs that I used to fill the screw holes on the last two boards. I also made some progress on the laundry room: the electrical connections are done, the wall plates are on, and the shelving is installed. The doors should arrive this week, and once they’re in, I’ll finally be able to trim it out, install the machines, and run the dryer vent… man, still seems like a long list!

Jun 202007

Since the new laundry closet now opens to the existing the hallway, I had to handle the transition from the existing hardwood to the new vinyl. I also wanted to avoid seeing an edge of the vinyl when the new doors are closed, the the transition had stop halfway under the new doors. I didn’t have enough scrap jatoba flooring (brazillian cherry) to make the piece, and my supplier only sold it by the bundle, so I picked up a piece of four-quarter jatoba and custom milled the transition piece. I took measurements from a piece of scrap to get in planed down just a hair thicker than the flooring and cut the groove and kerfs on the table-saw. The final bit was the lip to cover the edge of the vinyl – this took some trial and error fitting with a scrap piece. When I was finally happy with the fit, I transfered it to the final piece and rounded over the edge with the router-table. Finally, I wanted to make sure this piece didn’t move after installation and create an edge, so I predrilled five holes, screwed it to the floor over a light bed of construction adhesive on the subfloor and caulking under the lip. I cut some plugs from scrap jatoba to fill the holes, cut the plugs flush with the Fein (yeah yeah – overkill!), scraped the edges flush with a razor blade, sanded it smooth with 120 and then 220 grit paper, and finally applied two coats of the Glitza top-coat. I’m very happy with the result so far. In hind-sight, I would have liked to have made all the headers and frames in the floor with screws and plugs, and have used ebony or maple for the plugs – maybe in the next house :-)

Jun 182007

My neighbor David spent most of Saturday with me framing up the front deck (he even dug two of the footings – what a guy!). We got the ledger, footings, and beam laid out and installed. The next day I got the joists cut and hung in time for a visit from my in-laws. I learned a couple things in the process. First, concrete bits wander like mad. The holes were off by enough that I torked the heads off a few of the 3/8″ lags trying to thread them in at an angle. Rather than using lag screws and lead anchors I’ll be using the drive-in-wedge-ended-bolts that you tighten up with a nut if I have to do this again. Second, since PT lumber isn’t particularly consistent in dimension and will shrink over time anyway, you are better off to install the joist hangers just a bit low and then hold them flush as you drive in the toe-nails. In time the wood will shrink and it won’t be resting on the base of the hanger anyway. Since I tried to be super precise with them, I ended up having to take my hand plane to several of the joist to flatten out the connection from joist to beam – not a big deal, but not something you should have to do.

May 292007

I love holiday weekends, plenty of time to be with family, relax, AND work on the house without feeling guilty or rushed. I finished decking the rear deck, cut the tails to length, and rounded the perimeter of the deck. How many power tools does it take to edge a deck? Wow, it surprised me to :-)