From Pinterest to Reality – Part 2

With the dresser inserted, I was eager to get the trim around it.  I would use the original trim that went around the door, but it would need to be cut down.

The first task was finding it in the mass of bundles.  There are two other short closet storage doors and of course I found the trim for those before finally finding the bundle for that area.  I had labeled them Master Closets 1, 2, and 3.  Honestly at that point I couldn’t remember which was 1 or 3.  2 was easy because it had graffiti on it and my before pictures showed me where it went.

Outside of the graffiti this trim was in really good shape.  Since I found all three bundles I decided to prep and hang them all.  Literally all they needed was cleaning due to all the dust, which I did with a bucket filled with Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I was prepared to do my denatured alcohol/Restore-a-Finish routine, but I only used the alcohol on the outer edges to remove paint and on the top plate of door 2 to remove the graffiti.  I did use the Restore-A-Finish in these areas, but what really brought these pieces back to life was the Howard’s Feed and Wax.

The obstacle on this project was cutting the trim down to fit the dresser and I was nervous about this.  There are no do-over opportunities.  That trim design isn’t made anymore and aged wood with the patina I had can’t be store bought.  I seriously thought about calling Tom Milfeld, but I put on my big girl pants and decided to do a trial run with some scrap wood first.

Forty-five degree miter cuts is rookie level, piece of cake.  Measuring the right length, especially for the last piece is my struggle.  I cut the left side first, followed by the top, which I intentionally made long.  When my first angle met up perfectly I cut the right side of the top and then the right side.  I failed, falling about a half inch too short.

That one practice run gave me the confidence I needed and I proceeded to cut the actually trim, SUCCESS!!!!  But now what to do with the gap at the bottom????

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I had always planned to cover it, which is why adjusting the front legs was crucial in Part 1.  I think I’ll have extra of the original wall trim because I won’t need to reinstall any in the bathroom area, but I wouldn’t know that for awhile, so I decided to go to my favorite salvage store Building Value to see if I’d get lucky and find some wide, old, trim.  I hit the jackpot by finding an old window apron (part that rest under the sill) in the exact color and with an outer moulding that was almost a dead match for mine.  All I needed to do was rip it down to the right height, 6″; right width, “29”; clean with soap water, and rub with the wax.  It fit and blended in like it was always part of the house.

I forgave myself for the poor paint job when I saw the finished product.  As with my mirror project, what I saw in my mind’s eye became a reality.  I am so stoked to find the rest of the trim and get it installed.  While searching for the door trim I did find the trim for the landing at the top of the stairs, so I cleaned it up too; water and wax.

In installing the top of the stairs I discovered once again the difference between drywall and plaster thickness.  The boards needed to align with the stair rail (I think that’s what that part is called), so I made my own shims from some thin pieces I had to build out the ends that needed it.

If all the trim cleans and hangs as easy as these pieces did I’m going to be one happy camper.  I’m hugely motivated to tackle more of this project.

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From Pinterest to Reality – Part 1

Some females have wedding books, saving clippings and photos of ideas to create the perfect wedding.  I had an electronic house book, links and photos to things I’d put in my

first house.  The idea to recess a dresser into the eaves space that was once a short closet was born from this picture I saw on Pinterest.   I was starting with nothing in regards to furniture in my master suite.  I really don’t like a lot of furniture, so this was the perfect solution to utilizing the empty space created when I relocated the door to this closet to my master bath linen closet.

It took several months before I found a salvage dresser that would fit in the dimensions, 20190605_205930but I finally did on Nextdoor.com for $50.  A beautiful, five-drawer dresser with dovetail drawers made by the West Michigan Furniture Co. of Holland, MI.  I couldn’t find any before pics, but it was a beautifully made dresser; solid and heavy.

The first thing I needed to do was trim the overhang from the top and bottom sides.  I’ve had this dresser for at least 9 mos, so I made the cuts with my circular saw before I started working with Tom Milfeld and taking classes at the Wood Shop.  I butchered that dresser.  Some areas I cut in too deep, some not far enough.  It’s a good thing the bulk of the dresser would be recessed in the wall.  I could have let it go, but I filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded down the high areas just to get it ready for paint.

This project was all about salvage, recycle, so I did not purchase the primer paint recommended by the Sherwin Williams sales clerk.  I had over a 1/2 quart of their White Synthetic Shellac Primer left from the fire damaged door I bought, so I used it instead.  He told me that would be over kill and he was right, as I discovered.  I’ve always felt spray painting is the best option for painting furniture.  Rolling/brushing creates too thick of layers if you’re not an expect and I am not.  At the end that’s exactly what I got, but I’m jumping ahead.

Once the primer dried my first, bone head amateur mistake was revealed.  I was in such a rush to get this project done, I did the cardinal sin in sanding.  I started with 80 grit and never went higher, so my surface was rough, especially on the drawers.  In hindsight I should have sanded at that step, but my first inclination was more paint would hide it, NOT.

My walls in my master are Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, so I purchased a quart of their All Surface Enamel (recommended by the clerk) in that color and he recommended a Mohair Blend roller, which I also bought.  I applied two coats of paint and at that stage absolutely hated that I had ruined such a beautiful dresser.  I called my friend Joan who has a relative that paints furniture all the time.  She uses scrap paint and sands lightly between two coats.

Even though I had three coats on already (primer plus two color) I decided to try the sanding in hopes it would get rid of the rough spots that were still visible.  I only sanded the drawers.  It helped and the fourth coat actually looked pretty good.  So good I decided to drain the end of the quart can of Polycrylic.  I had enough for just one coat, but at this point that dresser had five layers on it, which would come back to bite me.

The craftsmen that build that dresser left zero margin in the drawer openings.  My five 20190609_131153layers were thicker than the original stain, so when I went to test a drawer it would not close all the way.  I intentionally painted the top edge of the drawer, but the bottom lip was just overage, so between the drawer edges and the opening overage I had too much build-up.  I used my new chisel set to scrap the bottom of the drawers.  I was hoping it would create a clean edge and it did.  I thought scraping the bottom would be enough, so the next task was getting the dresser from the basement up to flights to my master.

Earlier in the week I had asked my neighbor if he’d be around on the weekend to help and he was willing, but when the day came I had the epic feeling of not wanting to fail with an audience.  I didn’t know for sure if the dresser was going to fit and I didn’t want witnesses, so I tackled getting it upstairs by myself.  I had the full on Jane Fonda burn working in my already too tight calves when I hit the top landing, but it inserted like a glove.

I tried the drawers again and same outcome, still too much paint, so I bought a paint scraper and scraped the paint from the top of the drawers and top/bottom of the opening.  That did the trick, but it looked awful, so I decided take some dark stain (Minwax brand, but color unknown as I had poured the remnants of several different colors in one can) and stain the top edge of the drawers.  That amazingly did the trick.

The next obstacle were the two front legs.  I had to remove all four legs to trim off the bottom overhang.  I reattached them to their original location.  What I discovered was that my opening wasn’t square and the floor not level.  I had used wood glue with the original screws and I needed to push the front legs back about an inch. I used my draw saw to cut through the glue and mini crowbar to left them off.  Amazingly no damage.

That helped with the bottom alignment, but not the top.  For that I removed the original nail-on sliders and installed adjustable, which would allow me to set the heights on each leg differently.  Turned out I needed the entire dresser to tilt forward, so I made the back legs higher than the front.  I also needed the front right side to be lower than the left, which meant the left rear had to be even higher to stop the dresser from rocking.  Sometimes I amaze myself when my mind can sort through fixes like that.

The last step was replacing the original wood knobs with the Amerock Classic Cabinet Knobs Clear/Golden Champagne I found on Amazon.  They are 8-points, just like my glass door knobs on the first floor and the bases were a perfect match to my other brass accents. 

With that part 1 of the project was complete and I could finally empty the last box and bin in my floor.

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Humpty Dumpty

20170729_161028Stained glass frame was nailed to the wall
Stained glass frame broke into many pieces when removed prior to wrecking ball
All of Venus’ skills and help from Wood Shop Scottie
Helped put stained glass frame back together again.

The picture to the left was taken prior to demo.  I was able to get the stain glass out for repair without removing the frame, but when it came time for drywall I had no choice but to remove it also.  I started with a crowbar and the dried wood started cracking immediately.  I then pulled out my reciprocating saw and didn’t fair much better.  End result about 15 pieces.

Why I waited months after it came down to start putting it together I don’t know, but I didn’t start gluing pieces together until just weeks before my move.  The base of the frame was originally in two pieces; a right and left half to create the oval.  The outer trim was originally in four pieces, a top and bottom to each side, so basically my goal was to get back to 6 pieces and then down to the two halves.  I glued small pieces together first and used my pin nailer to hold them in place.  In the final stages of the project I regretted my over use of nails.  I should have invested in more clamps.  

With relative ease I got all the smaller pieces back together and I felt I was ready for stain, which I did before nailing the trim to the base.  On side the trim stayed in tack with the base except for a section where the base and trim had broken off.  The other side the base basically shattered, but the two pieces of trim stayed whole.  With the shattered half back together I was ready to reattach the trim and the top was a perfect fit.  The bottom trim did not and I assumed the weeks of separation and improper storage caused it to warp.  I did days of online research about bending wood, but ultimately decided to clamp it and slowly tighten.  When the trim met the base I filled it with nails and held my breath when I removed the clamps.  Initially huge success.  I turned my sights to the other half.

It appeared I had lost a small slither of would, so I got the brillant (NOT) idea of using 2-part epoxy to fill most of the void and then used a product called Quickwood, on top in hopes it would blend with the wood.  Quickwood is a putty epoxy that looks like a tootsie roll with the flavor in the center.  You cut off the amount you need, kneed it until the two colors are thoroughly mixed, and then press it into the area of repair. Once it was hard I sanded it down until it was smooth with the original surface.  The experiment worked and I had two halves ready for hanging, but they no longer lined up.  One side was about a half inch longer.  Time to take this project to the Wood Shop and ask Scottie for help.


I had to remove the trim again, which brought into realization that I used way too many nails.  Nails are a detriment to some tools in a wood shop so I had to work to get as many out 20190406_154320as possible.  Of course I broke a perfectly good section of the outer trim in the process.  Also the initial huge success I had with clamping and forcing the trim to bend created a stress crack on the base.  This project was taking many steps backwards.

Scottie decided my best option was to make the base one piece and had me go to Home Depot for mending plates which we screwed and glued to the back of the frame.  We also took a very sharp chisel and removed my epoxy experiment.  Turns out I probably had not lost the piece.  We used the stress crack and the re-separation of my epoxy mend to make sure the two halves met and secured the plate with screws and Gorilla glue at the seam.  He advised that I should let that sit overnight, so this project was going to take another week. 

Turns out at my next wood shop class I was a solo act, so we got to focus on the frame.  With the two sides meeting properly the next tackle was making sure the trim would fit.  Scottie has a great eye and was able to see if we shaved a little bit of one piece with a jigsaw and sand another part with the belt sander that everything would meet.  I did everything he suggested and we used two more mending plates and wood glue to secure my former epoxy spot and the new stress crack I created.  Another overnight drying period, so the finish would need to wait for open shop.

Everything dried and I finally had a complete frame.  I was good to go home and stain, but Scottie saw and knew that I could make it better by using the Quickwood to fill where I had slight separation at some of the mended spots and to fill the original and new nail holes I created.  He showed me the proper way to apply it, so I wouldn’t have to spend as much time sanding.  The trick is moist fingers to help smooth and push it into the crevices you’re trying to fill.  I was fearful of breaking it again, but I took his advice and spent the bulk of open shop fine tuning.

Once back home I added the Quickwood to a few more areas and sanded it more.  After sweeping away the heavy dust, I used a Gerson TACK cloth (my neighbor Bill hooked me onto these) to remove all the fine dust.  I applied a coat of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (mainly because I had it and thought it couldn’t hurt) and then applied the custom Zar color stain, again.   I just stood back in awe, it was beautiful.  I decided to add a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic too.  I love working with that product and can’t wait to tackle my built-in.

While that dried it was time for me to deal with the drywall around the window casing.  It protruded beyond the casing, which meant I’d have a gap between the wall and the frame.  This situation is with most of the windows in the house.  Plaster could be spread to fill where it was needed, so some areas were thicker than others.  Drywall doesn’t give you that play, so I have some windows where it protrudes and others where it recesses. 

My favorite handyman, Tom Milfeld, just happened to see me in the yard, so I had him help me trace a line around the areas with the gaps and he suggested I use my Ridgid JobMax tool to remove the drywall and that is exactly what I did.  It actually created the perfect ledge for the frame to rest in, so hanging it by myself was really easy.  After getting the frame up I also put the back boards back around the built-in bench.  I can’t be more pleased with how this turned out.  Humpty Dumpty back together again.

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Feeling Overwhelmed

This journey of restoring my first house has been an absolute roller coaster ride, but last week when I came home and found this yellow sticker on my door I truly felt overwhelmed for the very first time.  I’m a one woman show now and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for me to make big head way.  So many labor intensive projects left to do and clearly I’m not getting them done fast enough.

I have not kept living in my house a secret.  My permits are still hanging in the window as I have not gotten any final inspections done yet, which are required to get the occupancy permit from the City.  I have been in communication with the plumbing and electrical inspectors and knew I needed their final inspections, along with HVAC, before I could get my final building inspection for the occupancy.  I just failed to keep the building inspector up to date.  Corrected that, so I was allowed to remove the sticker and continue living in my house.

20190217_175136The first project I tackled after getting the sticker was painting and hanging the attic access panel frame and door.  What in the world was I thinking letting that project linger. OMG what a difference a door makes (BTW, front door arrived to Hyde Park Lumber Wednesday).  During our arctic cold temps I slept under three quilts, with sweatpants, flannel socks, flannel robe, and a long sleeve t-shirt.  That’s how cold my master bedroom was.  Well no wonder given the cold air that was plowing in from the roof vents.  I’ve turned my thermostat down 4 degrees since installing that door.  My upstairs is so comfortable now.

With the first floor bathroom complete (minus doors) I was able to schedule the plumbing inspector this week, Tuesday, but I knew without the master bath tub and shower completed it would only be a partial passing.  Sadly I learned that my original inspector has been assigned to another territory and won’t be around to see my journey completed.  The new inspector found two things I’ll need to correct, in addition to 20190219_113756finishing the master bath before I’ll get his final approval.  Both corrections are easy.  All tubs and showers must have a hot temperature range between 110 and 120 degrees.  My first floor bath is currently 128, I need to turn it down.  I also have an improper fitting on my hot water tank.  This pipe needs to have metal threads, not plastic.

The electrical inspection I expect to pass and receive the final approval as I was not 20190220_222926going to schedule it until everything is complete.  My awesome electrician Mr. McGhee came and put the electric panel door on and walked through the house.  Everything must have a cover and be in working condition including my LED mirror that mysteriously fell off wall.  Fortunately the replacement parts were easy to install.  Gravity helped me get it off the wall for repairs and Mr. McGhee helped me re-hang and reconnect.

20190221_092639The one thing still not working is the Ring Cam Flood Light.  I’ll need to buy a new light that can work from high distances from the ground.  After contacting Ring I learned their unit is not designed to work above 9′.  Seems they feel having it at the height a burglar can reach with a baseball bet is more effective.  I think Ring products have to be the most under performing product as compared to their commercials I’ve ever dealt with.  VERY disappointed and sorry I wasted my money.

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Top board sanded, bottom not

With the door now just a couple of weeks away from installation I’ve turned my focus on the window moulding on the first floor.  Outside air has not only been pouring in from the front door, but from around the windows too.   I got all of them stained, remembering the sanding lesson I learned from my visit to Homestead Furniture.

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I used a tack cloth to remove fine dust before sanding

Before staining I wiped each down with a tack cloth.  My former neighbor Bill hooked me on to these.  They are a sticky gauze  that really captures fine dust. The stain is a custom color mixed for me by Sherwin Williams.  The brand is Zar and it’s a gel stain.  I took a piece of the original moulding to them to match.  I’m anxious to see how close the new and old match once hung. Once they dry I’ll apply a few coats of poly for protection.

I am bound and determined to do a little something every week day now.  That yellow sticker was literally sticker shock.

 

 

 

Feeling a Little Crafty

Stripping doors is boring, rewarding, but boring, so I decided to take a break and do something on the DIY craft side utilizing the porcelain knob and tubes connectors and insulators that I’ve been pulling from my house.  I wish I had listened to @NicoleCurtisRehabAddict and not thrown these things away when I first started demo.  Turns out there is a market for them and I even found a really cool coat rack project that I decided to try.

The project I saw only made it from the knob and tube (rack on left), but I also made one out of the long skinny insulators (rack on right).  The wood is reclaimed floor boards that I got from my friend Joan.  That color is the true patina of the wood.  I just rubbed the board with denatured alcohol to clean it up and rubbed it with linseed oil to give it a shine.

The knob and tub design utilized the existing nail to adhere them to the board and I used epoxy to force the gap to stay expanded and adhere it to the board.  The nail extruded slightly through the back of the board, so I used the grinder to remove the excess.  For the insulator version I used 5 inch (only needed 4.5 inch, but Home Depot and Lowes did not carry that size) galvanized carriage bolts with a lock washer and nut.  I thought the dullness of the galvanized worked better with the old porcelain.  Warning, if you try this yourself don’t crank hard when tightening the bolts.  I cracked the first one I attached.  I counter-sank the nut in the back with the help of my neighbor’s drill bit machine and cut the excess bolt with my grinder.

The boards were already cut to that length (why I chose them for the project, too short to use for floor repair) and are about 32″ long, give or take.  I used keyhole fasteners on the back and placed them at 16″ on center, so that HOPEFULLY a stud can be hit when it is time to install.  The knob and tube board was longer, so the fasteners are at the end.  On the insulator they are 16″ apart from the center of the board as it is shy of 32″ on length.

I think the insulator tubes would make a great mug rack, but I would need to bore a hole at an angle, so the tube can be attached at an angle.  The process to make that happen is above my skill set and tools.  My neighbor could probably make that happen, but I’m actually trying to ween myself off his help.

I only had to come out-of-pocket about $10 for the bolts and fasteners, as everything else is recycled or should I say up-cycled.  Given the cost overruns on this project I may be cranking out more and selling them to help generate some funds.

This was not my first craft project, just the first one I’ve done since starting the blog.  All my others I posted on my Facebook page or made a video about it.

Here is a link to my first commissioned project.  My friend Vicki asked me to create a frame to go around a mirror in her hall bath:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10213184592195787.1073741894.1424896347&type=1&l=bd2215cbbe

My first woodwork project was a flower box for my deck (not counting the deck and gazebo my dad and I built).  It will stay with the house when it sells.  I called myself working with scrap cedar that had been in my garage since the deck project, but I got very carried away on the size and probably spent another $300 on wood and the dirt to fill it: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10209323426469057.1073741888.1424896347&type=1&l=3c63e8b7d8

My second woodwork project was making a monitor riser for my desk.  I called it the Goldilocks Project because I bought and returned two sit to stand desks before making something that was just right.  although it took to tries to get it that way:  Goldilocks Take One and Goldilocks Take Two.

One of my favorite projects came about after watching another one of my favorite DIY shows, Salvage Dawgs.  In each episode they do some up-cycle project, that “you can try at home”.  This one I bit on.  They turned a trunk into a bench, so I took my college trunk and did the same.  This currently sits in my entry foyer.  The Welcome sign never gets seen, but was placed there to hide a crack in the top of the trunk.  It also anchors the top cushion in a way that will allow the fabric to be changed if/when needed.  This was my favorite project and probably the start of accepting I love working with my hands.  I may be selling this as part of my downsizing.  There is a built-in bench in my entry foyer and I haven’t visualized a place for it yet.

The last project I will share is the work bench I made.  With most of the projects above I did not have a proper work surface, unless I was at my neighbor’s garage/shop.  I was using mop buckets, 4′ folding table, and garbage cans as cutting surfaces with power tools.  I had purchased my first large cutter tool (a miter saw) and I was a freak accident waiting to happen, so I decided to make a work bench before pulling it out of the box.  Instead of following the plans I decided to make the bench larger as I had the space in my garage.  Well my future workshop will be the basement of my house, so this puppy is going to have to be deconstructed to get it down there.  This was my first project using my own Kreg Pocket Screw gig and no help from my neighbor, which gave me extra pride.  This called for a video:  Venus’ DIY Workbench