The Real Work Started This Weekend

Saturday I took all the aspen (type of wood) boards for the headboard shelves to the WoodShop to have them prepped and ready for Sunday, when the real work on my dining room table would begin.  I am going to work the table and headboard at the same time as when one project is drying from a glue up or epoxy fill I can work on the other.  The board prep was simple; drill my pilot holes and shelve holes.  Drilling the pilot holes was the priority as I knew the WoodShop drill press had a table with fence that would allow me to measure once, set the fence,  and then drill all my boards.  I’m using #6 screws, so needed to drill a 3/32 pilot hole.  From Amazon I ordered a shelf pin drilling jig, so that I can make my side shelves adjustable.  I took it with me and got those holes drilled too.  I intended to stain at least the insides, but didn’t get to it.

I met Kendall at the Manufactory Sunday.  Based on our discussions from last week the goal for the day was to begin the milling process of the boards  and start filling the cracks, holes, divots, with epoxy.  I’m going to love learning from him.  He brought a large piece of cardboard, which he cut at 7 7/8″, the maximum width of the Manufactory joiner.  My desire is to eliminate all the sap edges (white part of slabs), so that the table is all dark brown walnut.  This cardboard template would allow me to mark the boards appropriately and see how much waste I’d have.

While the boards are beautiful they aren’t completely flat and as I’m quickly learning you loose a lot of the thickness in your boards in creating flat surfaces.  The three boards with worst bow or cup or twist we decided it would be best to cut in half and then join them back together after their surfaces were flat.  For cutting we used the band saw.  I was introduced to this piece of equipment in the class I took at the Wood Shop, but haven’t used it much.  I used the cardboard to strike a line in the center of each board.  Kendall gave me tips on safety and for working alone.  He held the cardboard when I struck the first line, but showed me the weights to hold the cardboard if I were working by myself.  Now it was time to cut.  He didn’t cut the first one as an example; he lined me up and said go at it.  I was so nervous.

From our very first meeting Kendall has talked about letting the wood acclimate.  Once cut the boards would move and I did not get what he was saying until I made these first cuts.  He was able to show me how the center of a board I had just cut had already moved/retreated.  The ends touched, but a gap had formed in the center.  This is to be expected and shows the importance of not rushing through your projects.  I’ll be able to fix that later, but it was the perfect example to clarify what he had been stating about wood movement.  I was able to stay on the line fairly well on all three boards, except when I hit a knot in the wood.  I should have taken these areas slower.  I could feel the board fighting me and the saw band made a funny noise when I hit those areas.

I’ve got 6 total boards. The one most severely cupped we had already decided would be used for the skirt.  After splitting the three in half I became concerned that after removing the sap (white) wood I may not have enough to reach my target 42″ width.  The two boards we left whole were 10″ wide and had the least amount of sap, but I would loose 3″ to make them fit the joiner, so Kendall stated it’s a shame they didn’t have a wider joiner.  With that statement I called my former neighbor, Dusty (the person that got me started in woodworking) and asked if he knew anyone.  He connected me to Adam Jacobs, owner of Urban Edge Woodworks, who happened to be working in his shop on a Sunday.  We spoke and he allowed me to bring the two boards to him so he could make a flat surface on one side. 

As soon as he examined one of the boards, he was able to determine I would loose too much in thickness because it was more severely cupped than we thought.  He asked if I was married to those boards.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, because the story of making my own dining room table out of trees that came from my back yard is so cool.  No, if it meant I’d have to sacrifice size.  He showed me a slab of walnut he thought would work great with mine.  He said he thought it would be perfect as the center of a table; I agreed and bought it.  He ran the second board through his joiner to create the flat surface I needed and then ran it through his sander just so I could see a somewhat clean surface of my board next to the one I bought. 

We headed back to the Manufactory where we had approximately two hours left before they closed.  We knew we wouldn’t get to epoxy, but we got the six split boards in the joiner to create a flat surface on one side.  Kendall did the first run through to set the example.  He is awesome at not taking over the project.  This is a real student/teacher learning environment.  I haven’t felt my brain pistons firing like this in years. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

With flat surfaces created we headed to the planer.  I fed in and Kendall handled the out take to help me minimize snipping (weight of board causes end still in machine to rub too log in one spot causing a rut) the ends of the boards. We’ll start filling with epoxy later this week, but in the meantime Kendall provided me with some great articles to read to help be get ready for future steps in the process.  I haven’t had a magazine subscription in years, but I think I’ll be getting this one.

The Manufactory – Where My Ideas Will Take Shape

I need projects.  My house is too quiet, too still, too empty without projects to keep my mind from going negative, so I’ve joined The Manufactory, a 17,000 sq. ft. membership makerspace located on Mosteller Road in the northern burbs of Cincinnati.  This place is the Camp Washington WoodShop on steroids that I stumbled across on the Internet when I was searching for a larger planer to use for my headboard project.  I’ve joined for a month, so I’m on the clock to complete my headboard, make my dining room table, office desk, and master suite beverage station.

Kendall Glover

I spent a few hours there on MLK Day with the goal of just planing all my oak boards for the headboard shelve and trim.  My plan was to use the Manufactory’s larger capacity planer, but build it at the WoodShop.  I got the planing done and was comtemplating over using their joiner or waiting to do that at the WoodShop when another member, Kendall Glover asked if I needed any help.  He may regret ever asking.  Kendall has been a woodworker for 20 years and his woodworking business name is Conjure Craft Woodworkers, but woodworking is not his day job.  This picture is a beautiful dresser he made.  Looks like he could go full-time to me.

After about an hour of conversation my whole plan of building at the Woodshop had been nixed.  What I love about the “creative community” is they are willing to share their knowledge when they come across people that are sincerely interested in learning.  He convinced me to leave my oak slabs for the headboard there vs. lugging them back home.  We discussed at length my dining room table, so before they closed I decided to retrieve my walnut slabs from my storage locker.  He agreed to help me prep my walnut for the dining room table, so he suggested that I allow the wood to acclimate to their space.  So, now on top of my membership I am renting two cubbies to store my wood.  Sista Girl w/ Skills is getting ready to elevate to a whole new level.

The beauty of the Manufactory is they are open 7-days a week.  I would be very hard pressed to get my projects done in a timely manner at the WoodShop when their open shop hours are limited to Wed 3-9p and Sat 12-5p.  I often have work conflicts on Wednesday.  The other thing I love is the community atmosphere.  I met Kendall on Thursday night and he introduced me to other avid woodworkers.  All welcomed me and offered assistance if needed.

I brought with me more wood; the wood I needed for the headboard shelf boxes and before he left, Kendall helped me lay out a revised plan (he gave me some great feedback that I will incorporate) for building them out.  We also discussed the game plan for the dining table, which we’ll start working on Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t have much time to work, Serena was playing at 9p, but I got the top, bottom, and side pieces for the two side shelf units cut.  I did bring them home as I want to stain the insides and drill the holes for the adjustable shelves.

If all goes well I should be gifting myself for Valentine’s Day (give to yourself if you have no other sources) a dining table and headboard.

It’s a Wrap

All repairs to the walls/moulding damaged while trying to install the office door were corrected and the final moulding around the inside of the room was installed.  This marks the completion of the final room in my house.

In addition to completing the office, I was able to take extra door trim to dress the basement exterior (not doing anything to the basement side of basement door) and kitchen exterior doors.  All of the closets have been dressed, except for the kitchen pantry and guest bedroom closet  (intentionally left off) with floor and inside door moulding.  This means the inside restoration is a wrap.

I held a Birthday Open House to celebrate the occasion on Saturday and was amazed by the number of people; colleagues, clients, friends, family, that came to see the work that had been accomplished.  Approximately 40 people braved the torrid rainfall and gusty winds.  It was a proud moment.  I absolutely loved showing her off and I was overwhelmed by the 100% positive feedback I received.  It was humbling, but my inner soul was enjoying the praise.  The flow of people was constant throughout the 3-hour event and I was so busy giving tours that the only picture I have as evidence of the wonderful afternoon is the haul of gifts received.  Also overwhelming; I haven’t had that many gifts to open at one time since undergrad graduation.

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I was asked what is my favorite room in the house.  It is the hallway leading to and including the guest bedroom, all done in tribute to my mother that I so wish were alive to share this moment with me.  She’s been gone almost 20 years and the void her death left is still strong.  I adorned the hallway with pictures of her from childhood through early adult and the guestroom walls are filled with more items in tribute to her.  I am my mother’s only child and because I made the conscious decision to not have children I wanted her pictures and awards to have life.  Once I’m gone I don’t know if anyone else will care.

The furniture was hers, she loved the Victorian style.  I remember her joy when it was delivered.  The quilt on the bed is one she purchased during a trip we made to Gatlinburg, but barely used.  It was on her bed when she came home from the hospital for the last time, but she had me take it off when her meds made her vomit.  She feared ruining it.  I’ve stored it for the last 20 years.  It falls a little short on this modern thick mattress, but I don’t care.  I’ve saved it for this very moment.

The celebration did not end with the Open House.  I had about an hour to clean up for a 6 pm quaint dinner party with five friends that were joining me for the Najee concert at the Ludlow Garage.  Najee was my go to study music in undergraduate school, so when I got the email that he was going to be right up the road I thought that would be a great birthday activity.  His Najee’s Theme LP was one of the first vinyl records I played once I got my sound system set in my master suite, so I took the cover with me to the concert in hopes of getting it signed.  Thanks to Robbie Todd, the promoter that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since the World Choir Games, it was signed, “To Venus.  Thank You Love Najee”.

Reaching this moment is bittersweet.  I’ve been an emotional wreck all week (damn menopause).  My heart is heavy, the tears have flowed.  This project has consumed my life for two years.  Almost every vision I had for the house from my very first walk through with Joe Gorman, Executive Director of Camp Washington Community Board, have come true.  The two areas that are a disappointment, the kitchen floor and spa-like function of the master shower, are correctable.  I should be elated, but this milestone sadly coincided with being confronted with the reality that a person I held in significance and had envisioned enjoying this house with will never be a part of it.  I’ve restored a beautiful house, but now struggle with figuring out how my house will become a home.  She deserves to be filled with sounds of laughter and joy, not hollow solo footsteps and TV noise.  I hope I’ll be able to replicate January 11 many times moving forward.  It was a special day I’ll cherish for a long time.

I was also asked what is next.  I know I can and will fix the kitchen floor.  I’ll add a steam unit to the master shower.  I will finish my master bed headboard, make my dining room table and office desk.  Hopefully by spring a loan from a bank would have come through and I can enjoy watching a contractor paint the exterior and then start Phase Two of the vision, the detached garage.  With a slight tweak of the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage, skill, patience, finances, to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

I was still cleaning up things minutes before the first guest arrived, so I did not have a chance to hang before pictures in each room allowing people to see the transformation.  Enjoy this before and after slideshow.

What Doesn’t Kill Ya Makes Ya Stronger

I was not in the right mental frame of mind to hang the last door of my house.  I had asked and paid Scotti to do to this door, what he had done for the basement door, but with the holidays and his having family in town he returned to me a door slab and jamb; basically what I gave him in the beginning minus the lock was installed.  That got the project started on the wrong foot because I knew I would not be able to hang by myself without the hinges set to the right place.  Annoyed, but not deterred, I purchased a Milescraft HingeMate kit from Woodcraft and took the door to the WoodShop around 2:30 pm Saturday (one of only two open shop days) because I’ve allowed Scotti to use my router and table.  I also hoped he’d help make sure I had the markings in the right place.

I’ve said it before and will repeat again, I’m not proficient, which means I’m not efficient.  It took me 3 hours to route in the 3 hinges.  I got the first one done and decided to put it back in the jamb with the hinge pin in to make sure the other marks were right.  Well I cut it about 1/8″ to high on jamb, which made for a tight/close fit at the top of the door.  Good thing I did the fit as that made my marks for the remaining hinges off and they appeared to be way off anyway.  It was 4:45 pm at that point and the shop closes at 5 pm.  Scotti helped me make the correct marks and I scrambled to try and finish by 5, hoping now that I had the process it would be fast.

Well with the second hinge, I put my jig on the wrong side of door, which meant the cut was reversed.  I was in tears by this point, so Scotti chiseled out the piece of wood that should have been on the opposite side.  Really not a big deal, but a mistake I was mad I made.  The salvage door turned out to be slightly, 1/4″, smaller in width than the original door as recessing the hinges created too large of a gap at the opening.  This is something Scottie could have corrected when he had the door for three weeks, but fortunately he made the correction now, so I could work on the third hinge.  I left around 5:30.  No pictures from any of that work as I was just frustrated at myself.  The kit worked beautifully, so glad I purchased.  Here’s a company video so you can see what I did.

Once home I ate first (hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast) and then got started hanging.  This was the fourth door in jamb I installed by myself, so I really was expecting this to go quick. Oh so wrong.  My house slopes, so the opening was not level and it created a gap at the top, right side of door that I just could not figure out.  My mind kept saying cut the jamb on the high side, but my inner voice said don’t do it.  I turned the top of the jamb into a pin cushion with so many nail holes from multiple attempts.  I took a chunk out of the top of the door; I crushed my mother’s lamp, damaged the moulding on the closet door, and gauged the wall when I lost grip and it fell inward; and I cracked the drywall which will need to be repaired and painted before I hang the inside moulding.  At 4:12 am I went to bed with more tears, dejected and defeated.

Sunday morning I was awakened at 8a (so four hours of sleep) by a text alert on my phone that turned out to be a you can earn $130 by completing this survey from Amazon scam (I really hate that our text are now being invaded in the same way our emails are with these scams).  Tired, but in clearer mind, I decided to skip church, turn on my Pandora Yolanda Adams station, eat some bacon and toast, and climb back on the bull that had thrown me a few hours earlier.

What I needed most was another set of hands, so I went in my basement and got three pieces of lathe from a pile I kept and screwed them to the jamb.  That gave me something more substantial to hold and kept the door in proper alignment.  It also allowed me to step back, without fear of the door falling inward, and clearly see where my gaps were and their size.

The slope of house created large gaps on the upper right, bottom left and small to no gaps on bottom right, upper left.  The large gaps were too big for normal door shims, so I headed to my basement for the scrap wood pile and proceeded to build out the opening in the areas needed until I could get to a point that normal shims would work.  In just 2 hours and 45 minutes the door was hung.  I had to plane a little off the side of door near top as it rubbed slightly, but the door was in.  I’m not sure if the original door’s knob was in the same place as this one, but I was amazed how the knobs of the closet and door stacked, so they would never hit together; a great turn of events from a door that truly kicked my ass.  I thought hanging this door would be my final post announcing It’s a Wrap, but I have to repair the damage I caused first, before I can hang the inside moulding.

Everything must be done by Friday as I’ve scheduled a Birthday Open House on Saturday, so no rest for the weary.  I tried to send all my local followers an invite, so if I missed you, but you’d like to see her in person, send me a message.

Rent A Heat Gun

I’ll never use stripper again.  I bought a heat gun from Home Depot when I needed to strip the paint off my 1st bathroom door.  It didn’t put a dent in the layers of paint.  The scraping tool that connected to the end of it actually bent.  The paint never came to a blister.  I returned it and bought stripper, hence my post The Battle of the Strippers.  Assuming all heat guns are created equal when it came time to start stripping the office door I found at Columbus Architectural Salvage I immediately planned to buy Citristrip, but I also remembered a conversation I had with Britt Sang, the guy who painted my door when he came out to give me a quote on painting my house.  He said he’d use a heat gun to remove the paint from around the windows.

I decided to try a heat gun again, but this time I was going to rent a professional one.  Unfortunately the door was returned to me too late to rent one last Saturday.  I had already lost 8 days when it was not returned on the 21st as communicated by Scotti at the WoodShop, so instead of doing nothing until Monday when the rental store opened I ran to Lowe’s and bought Citristrip.  It took two gallons of Citristrip and two days to get one side to the state you see in these pictures.  The fine grooves in the two vertical panels still had paint on most of it.

Frustrated by the slow process (I swear it worked better previously) Monday I headed out to Schuloff Tool Rental for a $12/day heat gun.  Before leaving the shop I asked for tips on using.  He said to heat an area, put the gun down and scrap.  He recommended using a 5-in-1 tool, which I wasn’t sure what it was so he sent me to a Beck Paint and Hardware Store 20200106_083406down the road from them.  When I saw the tool I then knew what it was because I had two of them.  I asked the clerk about getting paint out of the grooves and he recommended the Hyde Coutour Scraper.  You get a handle and six different attachments.  I used the one you see pictured.

Heating an area and then scraping did not work.  As fast as it bubbled up, without the heat it cooled down.  Remembering how the attachment from the one I bought worked, I put my scrapper down and held the gun inches above it and once the paint started to blister I pushed the blade..  The paint came up like butter.  I was amazed.  In about 5 hours I had the door completely stripped.  The Hyde tool worked fabulously in the grooves.  I was so focused on that area that I didn’t take any pictures.  As you can see from the pic on the left I singed the door a bit, but wasn’t concerned due to my dark stain.

The bad thing about paint strippers is that they do something to the molecular nature of paint, as when I turned the door over to use the gun to clean up the strip side, the heat just made the residual paint gum up.  When I tried to focus on the grooves I unfortunately held the heat gun to the plastic handle of the scraper and it melted the mechanism that held the attachment rendering it useless.

I decided to just sand the door and then apply the stain.  I knew the next day that I had not sanded enough. I could tell that the lighter areas still had residue of the paint/stripper.  My sanding pad gummed up quick and instead of changing it I used it for the entire door.  Once gummed up sanding pads are not effective.  I decided to sand the lighter areas again, but instead of using my belt sander I used my orbital.  I went through 3, 80 grit pads, which means there was a lot of paint residue on that door.  I used the orbital on the heat gun side too.  In comparison I used one pad and it never gummed up.

I knew after one coat the heat gun side was going to look better, so thankfully that is the side of the door that faces the hall and will be seen the most.  When I thought I would have the door back before Christmas I decided to hold a Birthday Open House, so the eight days I lost stopped me from spending more time cleaning up the detailing.  Perhaps one day when I’m bored and I get another Hyde Contour Scraper handle, I’ll go back and clean up the grooves.  For now it will just have to work.

New MO for Final Four Doors

Happy New Year!  Hard to believe a new year is here and the journey that started in 2017 of restoring my house has carried over into it.   I spent the bulk of the day, including the strike of midnight working on the final four doors, but I did take a short break to join a friend at their family tradition.  On a piece of paper they write down the negative things from 2019 they want to leave in the past and then burn them.  Then they write down the positive things they want to have happen in 2020 and place them in a pot they pour water over to symbolize nourishment to help them grow.  I had one significant one I needed to burn and one prayer I need to see manifest in 2020, so I thought this was worth taking a break.

The floor moulding clean up, specifically scraping to remove all the paint gave me a revelation for cleaning up the three guestroom and hall closet doors.  I had cleaned/restored the previous eight doors using the method outlined in the video How To Restore a Wood Door.  I have followed that video religiously, but one thing I did notice is that during the denatured alcohol stage the finish became slurry and goopy.  I went through several pieces of steel wool with each door and had to work hard to make sure I had a uniform level of clean before applying the Restore-A-Finish.

Remembering that scraping the moulding did not lighten the color of the stain, I decided to scrap the surface of the doors before cleaning it with the denatured alcohol.  Scraping just left a pile of dust, which I probably should have worn a mask as I had coughing spells for a few days following.  Scrapping took maybe 15 minutes, far shorter time than trying to clean up the slurry mess I had with the other eight doors.  Once scrapped, I used my shop vac to remove the dust and then cleaned with the alcohol, which seemed to be the first step in resurrecting life into the wood (see bottom right pic).  Using this process I used only two pieces of steel wool for all four doors.

Once the alcohol dried I applied the Restore-A-Finish and here is a new tip, let it dry to a dull haze.  I put the product on some pieces of moulding and had to leave before I wiped it off.  When I returned the pieces had the haze, but like buffing a car that had been waxed, a firm wipe down revealed the shine.  After the doors were hung I rubbed them down with the Howard’s Feed and Wax.

Hanging the doors brought out new stumbling blocks to deal with.  The guestroom closet 1, hall closet, and hall safe doors had jambs that either recessed or extended to far, which would not allow the moulding to sit flush.  I had to cut the jambs out, but that in turn made the doors easier to hang as at that point they became pre-hung doors as I attached the hinges and door before putting it back in place.   The “safe” lock I’ve taken to a locksmith in hopes they can recreate a key for it.  I also got the floor moulding inside the hall closet.  Guestroom closet 1 I’m intentionally not installing the floor moulding as I may need to remove the drywall for a future project.

Closet 1 also needed a hole patched.  I’d love to know what a prior owner was storing in that closet that caused the need for a padlock to be added.  To fix the hole I used a piece of the wooden clothes rod from the original master closet.  I drilled a hole in a scrap piece of wood first, which I clamped over the hole.  I paddle bit, which I knew would jump around if I didn’t have a guide.  I used a 1 3/8″ bit.  I hoped that the old clothes rod was the same diameter as new because their diameter are 1 5/16″, which was just an 1/8″ smaller than my drill bit.  That minimal gap would easily fill with glue and I rubbed saw dust on the excrement and immediately applied stain before the glue set up.  I slightly over cut the plug, making sure the outside was flush by clamping a piece of scrap over it while it dried.  I learned from the WoodShop that glue does not stick to wax paper, so I had no corner with the block sticking to the door.  Not a bad patch if I must say so myself.

The two doors where the jambs were aligning with drywall turned out to be the more difficult doors to install.  Both doors needed to be planed down due to tight fits.  After stain was applied you’d never know they were shaved down.  While I could have left it alone, I also decided to replace a chunk of the jamb for the entry door.  That door had obviously been kicked in as the area for the lock strike plate was really compromised.  I have extra jambs in the basement so I cut out a chunk from one of them and spliced it in.  I removed the damaged area with my JobMax tool.

I am now the outer kitchen door moulding, office entry door and the top landing for upstairs moulding (lost what was originally there, so need to create something) from being complete with all the original scope of work listed in my building permit.  Honestly I’m fearful about having so much time on my hands.