Not the Plan, But Necessary

I long time family friend has a concrete business, which I know means he has access to the equipment I need to move dirt from my yard to the area around my porch to raise the soil level.  He came out Sunday to access the situation and has agreed to help me.  Last year I started digging to to connect my downspouts on the left side of my house to the original drain in the rear of house.  The left front drain is on the porch and with the relocation of my downspouts my plan, last year, was to trench along the side of my house and connect the front to the rear drain.  I knew I couldn’t do that by hand, so I stopped to find someone that knew how to operate a trencher.  I got no showed three times, it turned cold, project stopped.  Here’s the blessing in my City citation.  It was confirmed, in writing, that I could daylight, allow the gutter water to run into the yard.  I had been told differently previously.  That meant no trenching for the front downspout.  I only needed to re-connect the rear like I had done with the opposite side.

My dirt moving help can come as early as next week, so finishing that connection became priority, otherwise he’d refill a partially dug hole and I’d have even more dirt to move later.  Last year I removed an approximate one foot section of pipe.  I covered the exposed opening with a large rock to prevent things from falling into the hole.  I’ve noticed with some of our recent heavy rains my basement was leaking again, something that hasn’t happened since fixing the gutters.  Well it’s because mud seeped in under my rock and that pipe had become completely blocked, so water was just pooling in that area.  I was going to remove another section anyway, but now it was absolutely necessary.

Once I got that approximate two foot section out I laid on my stomach and used my hand to dig out as much mud from the pipe as I could.  I got down to my elbow and mentally prepared myself for another plumbing bill.  If I couldn’t get it cleared I’d have to call in 20200405_191444Zins Plumbing.  My basement drains were filled with debris when I bought the house and I used my shop vac to clean them out, so I thought I’d give that a try.  No pics of this as I was a hot, muddy, mess by now.  I had a 8′ section of metal conduit and I used that to stir up the mud created when I filled the hole with water.  I sucked up rocks, glass, wood chunks, mud for two hours.  The extensions on my shop vac gave me approximately 4′ reach.  I had reached my capacity when finally water started flowing through instead of backing up.  Plumbing expense SAVED!  My reward for that day’s hard labor……..an Epson Bath Soak.  I soaked through sunset listening to jazz.

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The next day I ran to Home Depot to pick up the appropriate PVC plumbing fittings.  I needed a flexible coupling, two 45 degree fittings and 3″ PVC pipe.  I could see roots at the bottom of the hole, so I added some root kill before I connected the pipes.  I used the short section of clay pipe as my vice to hold the PVC pipe while I cut it with my reciprocating saw.  I had the connection made in about an hour.

When I finished that project I finished the primer coat on the foundation and windows.  The window primer I had tinted Uncertain Gray, so now I am 100% certain that is the right color.   I wish I had gone that route with the foundation primer as I’d have a stronger visual of my final house.  That will have to wait a few days as rain is in the forecast.

My reward for that day’s labor was a 45 minute steam shower where I did a deep conditioner of my hair with the scent of eucalyptus in the air.  I can’t wait for the outside of my house to reach the level of the inside.

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All I Needed Was The Right Jig

A jig‘s primary purpose is to provide repeatability, accuracy, and interchangeability in the manufacturing of products. It is a tool used to control the location and/or motion of parts or other tools.  My father set up jigs throughout the restoration.  We had a jig to cut insulation, I jig for all the wall and outlet switch heights.  Having the right jig will make a task easier and faster to complete.

20200216_163335My vision for the top box of my headboard was a waterfall affect, the top corners joined at 45 degree angles.  Kendall helped me accomplish the cuts, but he didn’t clearly explain the ramifications of that decision.  Given the weight of the wood and the end grain glue up that would be needed, he felt some type of additional anchor support would be needed to hold the two sides together.  Glue alone he felt would not be enough.  What he didn’t provide was the clear cut method on how that would be done.

If he had explained in advance the difficulty of the waterfall I could have altered my vision and allowed the corner to overlap at 90 degrees and used my Kreg jig to create pocket holes that could have been plugged.  I reached out to the Kreg company about this dilemma and they confirmed that their product could not be used.  The angle produced by their jig would be too shallow of an angle not leaving enough wood for the threads of the screws to grab.   I had to figure something out or start this portion of the project over.  I have enough oak to create a new top and the original top could be cut to make the new sides at the lengths that would allow for anchoring at 90 degrees.  Covid-19 isolation gives you time to think, so I pulled another MacGyver and developed my own jig.

First step was finding the angle that would allow the screw to enter the thickest part of the angle.  That was accomplished with my angle tool.  I transferred the angle to my miter saw and cut the block of wood that was my outlet jig.  I thought about buying the Kreg micro drill bit, but for practice purpose used my existing 3/8″ Kreg bit.  I drilled a small pilot hole, just deep enough for the tip of the Kreg bit to fit in.  I took the depth collar off the Kreg bit and laid it flat against the angled side of the piece of wood I cut and carefully drilled a hole through the block of wood.  The end result was a “jig” drilled to the angle I needed.  From there it was trial and error as to where to place the block on the board being drilled and where to set the collar on the Kreg bit so that only the tip broke through the top piece of wood.  I realized quickly I needed to clamp my jig in place, so I flattened out the top on my miter saw.  Once I got a combination that worked I took a piece of 3/8″ oak dowel rod and practiced plugging the hole. That worked like a charm.  The large Kreg bit also worked fine, so I decided to forgo buying the micro bit.

Now it was time to go live.  Kendall felt that I only needed screws in the front because the insert for the back of the box would support the back angle.  However now that I’m working solo I’m not building the box in the same order we did the dry run.  The insert will be the last piece I install as I will do it as part of the final assembly in my bedroom.  I need to keep the pieces as light as possible if I have any hope of carrying them upstairs by myself. For that reason I drilled four evenly dispersed holes on each side.  Everything was working as practiced until I got to the last hole and the collar on the Kreg bit loosened and I drilled completely through the board, which meant there wouldn’t be a shelf for screw head to rest on.  Not to be deterred I moved my jig over a bit, re-tightened the collar and drilled another hole.

Now I was ready to glue and screw the angles together.  When I was trying to find an example on how to attach mitered corners I stumbled across a video from the Woodworkers Guild of America that showed how to make strong mitered corners by using a process called sizing.  I followed the video precisely, diluting my Titebond III glue 50/50 with water.  I brushed it on, let it dry 2-3 minutes as instructed.

Once dried enough I applied the full strength glue and inserted my biscuits, which were there just to help with alignment.  Months ago I had bought Bessey angle clamps.  I used one to hold the top corner together and then proceeded to put in the screws working my way up from the bottom.  I used 3/4″ Kreg screws for hardwood.  I was going to call it a day, let that side dry before tackling the opposite end, but it went so well that I did the other side immediately.

Once I had let it set a bit, I smeared glue in the holes, put more at the end of the piece of dowell and inserted them in each hole.  I came back about an hour later and cut off the excess.

At that point I should have called it a day and let the glue up set over night, but I was on a roll and the bright light at the end of this project tunnel was starting to creep in so I decided to insert the bottom shelf.  During the dry run, Kendall had me connect the bottom to the sides first, followed by the back, and then the top.  It went in easily, so easily I forgot to snap a pic.  I was going to let it go for the day, but at about 10 pm I returned to the basement and proceeded to sand and stain it.  I am elated with how this is turning out.  Having the box completed made me realize that I like the look of the polycrylic bottom shelf better than the sides and underside of the top that I treated with Danish oil, so I’ll now apply the polycrylic to the entire piece.  I’m being optimistic that I can actually have the piece finished by the end of the weekend.

 

 

Covid-19 Is Rocking Everyone’s World

No, I have not been infected nor am I paranoid to the extent that I’m wearing mask in public.  However it did make me to remember to use my mask when I’m sanding, something I generally forget to do.  I haven’t made a post in awhile, so this will be an update on the two projects I’ve been working on, my dining room table and headboard.

Filling the holes/cracks in my walnut boards of my dining room table is my new skill set.  The first step was taping the underside anywhere epoxy to could seep through. 

20200301_141537I used TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy Resin, Slow Hardener.  This was a very easy product to use.  I bought the quart size that came with metered pumps.  One pump of resin dispensed the five parts to the one pump of hardener, 1 part.  Mix for at least two minutes and then you have about 20 minutes to work with it.  I was amazed how much epoxy went into small cracks or holes.  I made three trips to the Manufactory before all the holes were filled.  I definitely will have some clean up to do as I applied too much in some areas.  I’ll do better on my next project.  

The only other thing I accomplished on the table was rejoining a set of the boards I split when I first started this project.  The center of the table will be the board I bought from Urban Edge Wood Works, but I wanted a wide board to rest on each side of it.  Only one of my boards was left uncut, so I needed to rejoin at least one. I chose the one on the left.

No pics of the glue up process, but it didn’t come out very well.  The board is barely over an inch thick and I’ll have to plane it more as the seam didn’t line up through the entire length.  I’m hoping I won’t lose the board altogether as my target width of 38″ is dependent upon using it. The joined board has the tape measure next to it in the picture on the left. Shown there is approximately 50″ in width of boards.  I don’t want sap (white of boards) in the center of the table, so once that is cut away I have about 42″ in width.  The picture on the right were the worst of all my boards and still in their original state.  Hopefully they will make the skirt for the table.

The Governor of Ohio has locked down the state, so today was the last day until April 6th to work at the Manufactory.  Just as well as it relates to the table as according to Kendall I’ve taken it as far as I can with him and the Manufactory.  I’ve brought my boards home where they will stay in my living room until Covid-19 has passed. I’m hopeful I can work with Adam at Urban Edge Woodworks to complete the project.  I need access to equipment he has to complete the project.

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Most of the headboard project has been in my basement waiting for me to do the staining, so with the dining room table on hiatus the headboard has my full focus.  My workbench was my first 100% solo build and it will be the perfect surface to assemble the top of the headboard.  The Manufactory let me borrow their biscuit joiner, the only piece of equipment I didn’t have at home, but needed to complete the project.

With my slots made I turned to sanding the inside of all the pieces, so I could finally tackle the stain, hence the mask.  I applied the same custom stain I used on the side shelves.  The color looks perfect against my beadboard section.

I’ve decided to apply polycrylic to the bottom of the top shelf since it will be a surface that items will set on it, three coats.

The rest of the oak pieces will have Danish oil.  I’ll let it rest overnight and the tomorrow I’ll tackle building the box, which brings me closer to the finish line of this project.

 

No Sweets for this Sweetheart

I didn’t come close to finishing my headboard, so I thought I’d share the progress reached by the end of the Valentine’s Day Weekend.  I got the side boxes stained and coated.  I had planned to use Zar Early American stain, as I did on the upstairs moulding, but 20200208_192240Sherwin Williams no longer carries it.  After trying Minwax’s Early American and General Finish Mahagony, neither were even close on the Aspen wood, I returned to Sherwin Williams to have them match the color of the doors I’ve converted to pull out tables.  They are now selling Minwax Performance Series Tintable Stain.

Per the can’s directions I sanded my surfaces with 120 grit sandpaper and applied one coat of stain, which I let sit for about 10 minutes per the clerks recommendation to get a darker finish.  I let it dry overnight and then applied three coats of Minwax Polycrylic.  I really like the ease of use for this product.  I sanded, lightly by hand, between each coat with 220 grit paper.

After one coat of poly:

After two coats of poly:

After the final coat of poly and letting them sit overnight, I returned with my parts to the Manufactory to put them back together:

With the side boxes finished it was time to tackle the oak top shelve.  I started by taking the pieces for the side to the WoodShop to use their joiner and biscuit cutter.  I brought the pieces back home to glue and clamp.  This was my first glue up and it was spot on!  Several guys at the Manufactory complimented me as the seam of the two pieces is barely noticeable.

Now it was time to tackle the top and bottom.  This headboard is going to be heavy.  The oak wood is dense and in hindsight I should have detoured from the original plans sooner and used 1/2″ plywood instead of 3/4″.  I can bet the designer didn’t think someone would use old wood, which weighs much more than the modern 2×4.  Anyway, to try and reduce a smidgen of the weight the bottom shelve is only 12″ deep.  Once the back piece is in place I’ll have a 10″ deep shelve, perfect for my bible.  The top has to be the same width as the sides, so it’s 17″ deep.  To reach the depth I needed I had to join two slabs together.  My boards weren’t the same thickness, so I had to run them through a planer.

The bottom, per Kendall’s suggestion I routed out a 1/2 groove, because I wanted the sides to cover the top of the side boxes.

I had my mind fixed on a mitered seam at the top and that posed a challenge because my top and sides were too wide for the miter saw.  After setting the back in place, I was able to mark my lines to locate the miter cut and use the table saw to cut the miter in the side panels.  I used my Kreg jig kit to make pocket holes for attaching the back to the bottom, sides, and top

The top was too long for the table saw, so my only option was a circular saw.  I should have called it a day and returned with my own circular saw, which has a much nicer blade, but with Kendall’s help I carried on and got the cuts made.  I’ll need to do a little sanding to smooth out the edges.  I made the first cut, but let Kendall make the second as there was only about an inch of waste.  I beat myself up too much when I fail and I wanted to end the Valentin’e weekend on a high note.  Kendall went for gold and cut right on the line to make it one and done.

The challenge now is how to screw the mitered edges together.  Glue may not be enough to hold the seams perfectly aligned.  In retrospect I should have routed out a groove like I did on the bottom.  A normal beginner woodworker would have taken that easier road.  But like Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict says, I’m not normal.

 

 

 

You Can’t Replicate It, So Save It

My featured image is the undeniable proof as to why you salvage old wood.  The top piece is a side view of a piece I cut from a shelf that was in the original upstairs closet; I’m using it for the headboard shelves.  Look at how tight those rings are.  The tree that produced that was probably 75+ years old.  That’s quality slow growth pine.  Conversely the piece at the bottom is a modern pine 2 x 6 that was probably injected with steroids to speed its growth and cut before hitting the legal age of 21.  Kendall took another piece of scrap from my shelve and used a bookend cut it to create this awesome cool pattern.  He’s making heirloom quality wood boxes and can incorporate it into the lid.  More proof for salvaging old lumber.  Look at the natural chevron pattern the rings created.

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I turned my focus onto my headboard this week.  I think having the table and headboard completed by Valentine’s Day is a pipe dream given I can’t work on it full-time. The table alone would be ambitious.  The headboard, given the back is already complete is doable, so I started building the boxes this week with Kendall’s assistance at the Manufactory.  Boxes are simple and in my mind I had all the steps laid out, but Kendall had me slow my roll, which was a good thing.  He’s a numbers to paper guy, I’m a image in my mind gal.  Images waste wood and that is something I can’t afford to do when it comes to the reclaimed wood I’m using on this project.  It can’t be replicated if I run out or mess it up.

Scotti from Headboard Sketchthe Wood Shop gave me the idea to add the side boxes when I told him how I wanted to modify the design I had purchased from Jen Woodhouse.  I don’t like a lot of furniture, so I wanted to add a shelf above the headboard.  Since that shelf would push the bed from the wall, creating dead space, he suggested filling it with side shelves also.  Here is a sketch he did to help me visualize what he was talking about.  Love it, but it meant buying more wood.

I could have purchased birch plywood sheet for the shelve boxes, but I didn’t have a way to haul a full sheet.  Instead I went to Menards and bought, pre-cut Aspen boards in 4′ and 6′ lengths and 12″ and 16″ widths to reduce cuts.  Slightly more expensive, but time savings was worth it.  I took the four pine floor joist I had been given to the Manufactory to get them planed down because I decided I wanted my headboard to be primarily reclaimed wood.  If you remember from my post “From Toilet Surround to Headboard” I had bought oak boards for this project.  The look of the pine aligned with the vision I had for the project, unlike the oak.  I wish my blog had smellavision, so you could enjoy the aroma of pine I smelled as we ran the boards through the planer.

At the end of  that same post I made this statement “So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?”  Betting window is now closed.  It’s going to be the Paxton oak.  Those pine boards are too beautiful to waste on my headboard.  They are true 2x12s and I would need to plane almost half the board to get it to the width I need.  It would break my heart to waste such beauty, so they will sit until I think of another project for them.

Kendall worked with me to build the first box and left me on my own accord to build the second.  I tweaked Scotti’s idea a bit further by adding a pull-out shelf at a height equivalent to a night stand.  There was half of a dutch door that separated the kitchen from the hall in my house when I bought it.  I held onto not knowing what it could be used for.  Now I know, the pull out shelves.  The boxes are just screwed together, my dry run, to make sure everything functions.  I’ll take them home, take them apart, and stain them.  I’m feeling like the headboard will be complete by next weekend.

 

 

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.

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 Kendall Glovercapacity 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 hope I’ll be able to 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.

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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.