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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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