Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Island Countertop

This stone wall is on the ridge between our house and the brook. It is a very pretty spot.

Another shot from outside - Karen was out taking pictures one day.

This is the butcher block slab for the island. We will end up with two sections for the island countertop. They are too short and too wide for our application, so we will trim them to length and width with the circular saw. As carefully as possible.

The bare island. No sink, no faucet, no countertops.

Measure twice, cut once. We measured twice, then clamped the level in place as a fence against which to run the circular saw. I'm pretty smooth with the circular saw by now, but the fence is even better. Yes, I made Karen hold the extra bit until I came back with the camera. :) There are some dark spots on this slab - because we are cutting it upside down, and the bottom of the butcher block is not as polished as the top. It surprised us when we opened the first box, but then we saw the big stamped letters that say "Down". We cut it upside down to minimize any tear-out of the wood as we cut.

The first section cut to length and width. The length on this first slab doesn't matter too much - we just needed to trim the rounded end off so it will have a square edge to butt against the other slab. The width of these tops is 39" or so, but we only need 34". The extra 5" will be trimmed again, and will be used as a backsplash on the non-island countertops. We tried a few methods for an accurate template for the sink cutout, and cardboard was one of them. The sink cutout proved to be the most difficult part of this, but we knew that going in.

Both slabs cut to length and width. But no sink access. Hmm, we'll have to fix that.

The sink cutout is done. The camera exaggerates the differences between the slabs, and the tops are not installed here, just set in place.

A close-up of the sink cutout. We cut a few templates out of cardboard until we had the fit that we wanted, and then we traced that edge onto the slab. If it came out great, then great! If it came out bad, then we planned on sanding for awhile. If it came out terrible, well, we would have looked for a top-mount sink that fit the hole. Fortunately it came out pretty well. Some finish sanding, and we were good to go.

Another spot of the cutout.

Last shot of the cutout. The faucet is not reinstalled yet, but that will be simple - it's just a 1 1/2" hole drilled straight through the top. The top will be caulked to the sink, screwed in place, and then coated with Waterlox. It's expensive, but seems to be the best finish we can find for this application. We don't want to risk water damage, so we will treat the wood well before we even reinstall the faucet. No sense risking the temptation.

So how do you do dishes with no kitchen sink? That actually turned out pretty cool. I washed, and Karen rinsed and dried. There is always a way to make things work. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Non-island Countertops

These are the french doors that used to be for Andy and Mindy's bedroom. We seem to change the name for this room every other day or so, but in any case, the doors are painted and installed, and look pretty sharp. Karen painted all of the doors in the house the same color, and with the matching color and matching doorknobs, really ties things together nicely.

This is another picture of the spot under the stairs in the basement. Karen did this, too. She said it was her first time cutting angles, and that she is now one with the table saw.

This is the area above the basement stairs and below the loft stairs. Dad installed the quarter round trim here. Covering up the rough edges feels good. The lines on the wall are spots that weren't taped or sanded very well before the paint went on - that's on the list to redo. But the list is long, so don't look for that anytime soon.

Karen took a few pictures of the snow from the last week of February. Piled high and heavy - the whole week was wet snow that didn't compress at all. It was just solid moisture. Chris used the tractor for awhile to clear some of the snow away from the house. It seemed to fall closer to the house this year than last year, though we aren't sure why. The house sure hasn't moved.

More snow.

Ahh, home sweet home.

Amid all the snow, summer tires for the Miata showed up. Soon... :)

Karen painted the surround for the hearth a charcoal grey that blends with the rest of the hearth. Looks sharp, though it spends a lot of time covered in wood chips and dust.

We bought some butcher block countertops for the area next to the stove. The original plan for the countertops was to pour our own concrete tops, but the combination of time, energy, and reality intervened. The butcher block feels and looks wonderful after being so accustomed to painted plywood.

South of the stove. There is room for expansion in the back, and a backsplash will cover the gap.

Chris' man cave. With all the screws I used, this should stay really solid... Ha ha. No, Dad, I didn't just screw it in place through the plywood. I used brackets that will allow the countertop to move with changes in humidity.

Both sides of the stove installed. You can see a big difference in the face frames - the one on the right has a coat of oil on it, the one on the left does not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Driveway

We had a relatively easy winter here in the Northeast. Some of the mid-Atlantic states had record storms and huge snowfall totals, but not us. We were spared from many of the largest storms... until the last week of February. The last week of February we had just over 30" of snow and 2" of rain, which is about double the entire rest of our winter season. The snow just kept coming, and eventually I ran out of places to put it. The driveway kept getting more and more narrow, and the snow piled on the house reached the kitchen windows.

This video is from Sat, Feb. 27, and begins about 100 yards South of our driveway.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Doors

We have been busy on a few fronts over the last few weeks. One of those fronts involved the doors downstairs - as untreated pine, they soaked up more than a few fingerprints over the last year or so since they were installed. They have been sanded fresh, re-primed, and painted. Also, door knobs have been installed on most of the doors. This door is looking into the downstairs bathroom, which has been repainted a reddish-brown. I forget the name of the color, but the name is the usual paint company hyperbole.
Karen sanded the french doors downstairs, and then primed and painted them with Mom. She found a good solution to the inevitable dust from sanding. Now there is a lot less mess to clean up afterwards. We like over-built and over-engineered, so a 3" shopvac hose on a 5" orbital sander? Sure, why not?!
This is one of the staging areas for the kitchen cabinet doors. These pieces are cut to length, width, and thickness, are sanded, and are stacked by size waiting for the router table.
This is the other end of the shop. Dad was cutting some quarter round trim, so the miter gauge on the tablesaw and the chopsaw are set up for that. The router table is set up to go, just pushed to the back of the bench for now.
Karen finished up the area under the stairs this week. We aren't quite sure what to do with this space yet. I'm sure something good will come to us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just a few pictures tonight. This one is old news, but was a little hard to see in the earlier picture. These are the stairs to the basement with most of the trim in place. The last piece is angled to fit flush with the ceiling - that was done with the jointer set at an angle.
This is the door for a cupboard in the mudroom half bath. I thought it would be good practice before I started on the cherry for the kitchen cupboards. This bathroom door is made from pine that was left over from the interior sheathing boards. In how many ways can one material be used? More than I ever thought! This entire door is made from 3/4" material - even the floating panel. The frame is 2" wide. The long sides are called stiles, and the short sides are the rails (rails being horizontal). The frame was cut using the router with a specialized rail and stile bit that allows the two pieces to mate properly at the corners. The interior panel is roughly 7" x 17", and is a full 3/4" thick, except for the edge, where it was trimmed down to 1/4" thick to fit into the groove in the rail and stile frame.
This is looking at the end of a stile, and is probably better at explaining how these work than any of my blathering. It's a fun process - cut the wood to length, rout the ends of the rails, switch bits, rout the side of the rails, rout the sides of the stiles, and assemble. It's good stuff.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Face Frames Again

Karen and I were away in Utah for awhile since our last update, but we still have a few new pictures. All of the face frames are built, and all but one are installed. That last one will have to wait another week or so, just until we have the drawer slides in place.
Yes, we took pictures without cleaning up dinner first. :)
Karen is writing down shipping info for some stuff that Mindy sold on ebay, and Christopher is walking around taking pictures.
We also built a frame for the hearth. This is re-purposed flooring that has been ripped, jointed, and fed along the router table. Our friend Dave helped with the hearth bit, too. When we grout the seam between the wood and the slate, we will also finish the grout in the mudroom. Might as well get dirty just once, right?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Face Frames

A lot has changed in the house during the past month or so. Andy and Mindy decided to move to Arizona, and the boys' old room has been re-purposed into a shop. As a shop, it isn't ideal, but it is better than working outside or in the dining room with all the dust.

This is the south wall of the boys' old room. The SW corner has been insulated and finished, and the wood that is stacked here is being dried for use as ceilings and trim work in a few places. This room was the first to have a new ceiling installed. Roger and Robb came over to help cut and screw the ceiling in place, and we had a good work day. The view changes slightly with the new surface, and for the better. Instead of having the light from the window and fixtures caught between the floor joists, the light now reflects off the ceiling and lights the room better. The two light fixtures and the smoke detector are flush mounted.
This is the original ceiling. Apparently I didn't take an after picture, but you can see the new ceiling in one of the photos below. We originally thought of painting the ceiling white, but sealing the natural wood like we have upstairs is also an option.
The new ceiling is visible here, along with a whole new mess. Trim will be installed where the ceiling meets the wall, and that 1/2" gap will disappear. The table saw, jointer, and Dad's planer are here now, along with a workbench and various other tools. Mom and Dad came out to the house for the weekend to help get started on the cherry for the kitchen. They make a good team, and though they look pretty serious in this shot, they had a good time helping plane and joint the boards for the face frames, doors, and drawers for the kitchen.
This is the joint of choice for the face frames. Pocket screws are awesome, and they have become a favorite solution of mine for joining boards around the house. The trick is to start with square stock, of course. If you do, the end result is a square, solid joint that is invisible once installed.
Add up a few more joints, and you have a face frame. While Karen and Mom sanded and poly'd the carcasses upstairs and Dad jointed rough cherry, Chris measured and cut the stock for the face frames. He spent a lot of time running up and down the stairs looking for his tape measure.
More face frames... the single frame on the dining floor was too large and awkward to take up the stairs, so it was assembled in the dining room. The pocket holes were drilled downstairs, and since there is no dust or mess made during the assembly portion, it worked out fine.
Dave came over to help a few times, too. He helped install the cabinets above the fridge, the solid sheet of ply on the east side of the fridge, and he drilled the pocket holes in all of the face frame stiles. The section below will have two large drawers on the left, and four graduated drawers on the right. We will build a rolling cart with a butcher block top for the middle section.
We did a lot of this - holding the face frames in place to see how they look. It reminded me of working on models as a kid, because the first thing I did was pull out the body and hold it above the wheels to see how it would look when I was done. The piece below wasn't quite done - it needs two rails installed where there are shelf divisions. The cherry ply on the end of the island has received one coat of oil/urethane mix. In the background of this picture you can see under the stairs - we put a ceiling here to finish off the area. Well, almost finish. It needs some quarter round to be really complete. The quarter round is downstairs, and we'll get to it later.
This was a very awkward piece to face. Nothing is quite as square as we'd like, so that makes everything that much harder to true up and finish properly. I guess that's the end result when you try to build a furniture-grade product with a circular saw and in semi-darkness. Lesson learned, and next time we'll do better.
Installing this face frame was a two-person job, at least until the first few pocket screws were in place. We screwed the face frames on from the inside of the cabinet, so there are no mounting points visible from the faces.
The installed face frame. The insides of the cabinets have two coats of polyurethane, and cleaned up nicely. We will continue to install the face frames until they are all up, and then comes the work of assembling the cabinet doors and drawers. The drawer slides and the door hinges will be next after that. Lots of fun work coming up!