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May 2008
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Fireplace Freshen 6

The Fireplace door has arrived. Took longer than anticipated.(something about mining the ore, making the steel…)

It does look nice. It came out better than I thought.

Here is another view with the valance lights. I will have to get an evening shot.

Construction Notes:
Here in the Southwest, fireplaces are relatively common. That is where the commonality ends. Everybody builds them differently,materials, sizes, locations. So when you are going to remodel yours, be advised that you will probably be buying a custom door. Make sure that your opening is finished.

There are a hundred manufacturers of doors with glossy brochures, showing you finishes, materials and styles to make your head explode.

Before getting a quote,(understand that these are items that they whisper the price in your ears, and after they revive you with smelling salts, add tax) Make sure that your opening is finished.

Take your time and select wisely. These are not the sort of items that you can do over.

The New Temporary Workshop V2 (beta)

Last summer I won some money on the lottery, which allowed me to make some improvements around here. Block Fence, Driveway, Refrigerator Alcove/Utility Room. One of the things that I was able to build was a new temporary workshop. The old one was in the media room. The end game is a 18×36 workshop in the back.

The Table Saw

Here is the table saw in it’s position. It is on wheels so I can make cross cuts as well as rips.

The extension table

The extension table is recycled from a temporary frame I built for a countertop. The deck is a leftover piece of the original T-1-11 siding. The cabinets are recycled from the Master Bath Project. On the back side I will be building a drop leaf for the miter saw. It is on wheels also.

The Far Side

The other side of the NTW has a couple of cabinets for storage of what not. I really need to get rid of those doors. I will be making a run to Habit for Humanity next week to get a bunch of stuff back into the recycling pipeline,

Storage of materials remains a problem with the hallway acting as my storage depot.

Now you see why I want an 18×36 workshop?

Fun with Plywood

Having decided to build my own cases for DVD’s,I built another one. I realize that I will need to build some book ends or some other sort of end as my collection builds so they are not flopping around.
Plywood DVD Cases
I am not a knick knack person so I don’t have a large collection of figurines or other weird stuff to act as blocks for partially filled shelves. Besides. I am doing this because I already have a dust problem.

18mm plywood note:
The 18mm plywood has a paper thin veneer which chips when you cut it. There are ways to minimize this. Beware, or plan the face sides. I used to work in an architectural millwork company and ran a Holzma Panel Saw. It had a scoring blade as well as a main blade for just such a deal. It had computer controls, air tables for moving material, and could cut 3” of 5×10′ material. Yes they make it that big.

I build my first paperback case the other day. I used 3/4″ 7 ply A-C sanded plywood. It has a much thicker face than the 9 ply. Same deal with the shelves being a 1/2″ smaller than the width of the books. 9 shelves. I filled this one up with the loose books floating around. I still have boxes I have not unpacked yet.
Plywood vs Particle board
Next to it is a standard birdshit particleboard bookcase. The plywood case is lighter, stronger, and fits my books better. I will be running the old cases to ReHabitat so somebody can use them until they build their own cases. I just happen to have one about a mile from the casa.

It’s a dry heat. Tales of the Anti-Destination League.

Phoenix had it’s first day over 100 yesterday. This week is looking to go down in the record books in triple digits.

I have mentioned before that remodeling is biblical in nature. One project begats another. Your idea is simple, replace some drywall and install a sink. Removing the drywall points out that the plumbing needs work, fixing the plumbing needs to have some carpentry, which means moving the electric, and so on. You get the idea.

The star player and cosmic trickster in remodeling is the Anti-Destination League. This occult organization is the single largest reason that time and budgets get blown out of the water. The ADL does things like making you have to go to the parts store 10 mins. before they close, and gives you red lights all the way. The material you have been looking for is mysteriously out of stock. The phone rings when you are on the ladder with one foot on the ladder and both hands full. You get the idea. Murphy is an agent of the ADL.

Of course, the Anti-Destination League had other plans. First up was the A/C unit which did not fire up. Good News! It was a thermostat. Second up was taking the herd, Flo the slavering jaws of death, Walnut, and Blackie to the vet for shots. What should have been a couple of hours, turned into an all day marathon of shots and surgeries, and prescriptions. Why the hell can’t they make dog meds liquid?

Moving on…

Having gotten my tax refund back, and having a little breathing space between Projects for Others, I am hoping to work on the casa.
Specifically the movie room. The movie room has been framed up since 2005.

The west wall is where I am mounting my 42” HD TV. The window will be getting a stained glass panel. This is also the room where I am installing a ‘coffered’ ceiling. I am still not sure if I am mounting the TV to the wall or if I will build a popup cabinet to hide the TV that will cover the window when the TV is raised.

The north wall is probably going to be bumped out a couple of feet and the archway made opened up a bit, and the DVD Cases built in to the walls. The other day I designed and built a DVD case. I need at least 2.

I still need to figure out what I am using for a door or drape for this opening. Plus I need to run the speaker wire for the surround sound.

The hall wall will get a pocket door, solving that problem.

Meanwhile I am looking at a solar tube for the kitchen, since putting the workshop on the back, the kitchen is almost as dark as a coal mine.
I am also learning how little space 10′ really is, when you have a table saw and are cutting and ripping 4×8 sheets of plywood.

Guest Bath 5

The Guest Bath is painted and ready for tile, fixtures and trim.
The shower area is not primed or painted by direction of the tiler. The tiles are 6×6” in Kohler white which will go from tub to ceiling. The window opening is a little less than 6” so that at the most the tiles will only need a light trim.
The towel shelf is complete, but the plastic is staying until the tile work is finished.

The door was sticking originally. Once I installed shims (there weren’t any) and re squared the opening, the door didn’t stick. I had to replace the entire trim set as the original molding was no longer available.

Fireplace Freshen 5

While the Guest Bath Project is moving along, we have also done some more work on the fireplace.
Behind the valance panels of the fireplace we installed lighting. But it was a little unfinished.

The Bracket Problem
The decision was made to re-install the vertical blinds. The original brackets got lost in the shuffle. Not a big loss as they were a little cheesy. However the company that made the blinds was sold to another company, which was sold to another company, and as a result of this, finding the original style brackets was doomed.
The style of blind is available, but the details and materials have changed, and not for the better. The new style of bracket is even cheesier than the old ones. Stamped steel with low budget spring clips for holding the fixture in place.

Let me digress for a moment. Back in the 70-80’s big draperies were all the rage. Large things made out of materials you needed two people to install. Brocades, velvets, etc. The problem with these was not the design, materials or locations. It was in the damn walls. Typical window construction has a king stud next to the trimmer stud which supports the window header. Nobody who swings a hammer for a living thinks past the minimum amount of framing necessary to get paid. Getting openings square is a challenge in a lot of cases, especially in ‘developments’.

When these drapery sets are used, the rods extend beyond the windows, so that the drapes can be opened completely exposing the entire window. So now the problem is in anchoring the ends of the rods, which take a lot of stress in holding up the draperies when they are opened. There is hardly an even space on either side of the window that you can depend having a stud to anchor the ends.

Adding blocking between the studs on either side of the header takes only moments and the materials are already laying around the jobsite. Repairing walls that have had thousand dollar drapes collapse makes folks crazy. Trust me.

Solid Backing
I built backing out of 5/8 and 3/4” plywood. I used the 5/8” plywood for the valance and screwed it into the 3/4” plywood that has the light and the track mounted to it. After putting it in place and leveling it, I put a 3/4” cleat on the back wall to hold the back end of the backing in place. You will have to pull down the fireplace to get these to move.

A little caulk and a couple of coats of white paint.

It should be real dramatic at night.

Cornerbead Finishes

Cornerbeads are the metals that protect and define corners in your spaces when working with drywall. In remodeling as well as new work, intersections where beads meet, can be tough to blend. Case in point is the Guest Bath Towel Storage opening.
Here is the raw opening for the towel shelf. Because the wall already has an existing texture and the back side of the opening is rough, I will use 5/8” ‘J’ bead to frame in this opening.
Raw opening for towel built in
Here is the opening with the bead in place. It looks smooth, but the corners are not perfectly flat in relationship to each other. Because there is no backing behind this opening, I elected to glue the beads in place with PowerGrab, the best construction adhesive ever.
Here is the 'J' bead inplace

To eliminate the elevation difference problem, I prefill the corners with mud, at a 45 degree angle to the corner.

Note: Here is where 5 minute speed set shines.

Starting from the inside of the opening and mudding onto the wall, I now have a smooth corner for the next coats. What is not shown in the photo is the mud that gets trapped on the bead inside the corner that you must remove.
Here is prefill on the corners to help with the next mud coats
Fill Coat
Here is our opening with the tape and mud in place. Using USG Dust Control mud, our new best friend in remodeling. I now have a flat face and a smooth inside corner without any ridges that would make this look bad. I am a bit anal about this because regardless how straight your walls are, how well you taped, having twisted, ridged, beads looks bad.
Metal bead fully coated and ready for sanding

Here is our opening with the texture applied prior to painting. It will look great.
Sanded, textured and ready for primer and paint
You can do this yourself. A little time and care, your house will look like a million bucks.

DVD Storage

I own lots of DVD Movies. Storage is an issue for me. I don’t like what passes for storage in the stores. So I decided that I would build my own. I measured my DVD’s which are taller than paperbacks, shorter than VCR’s and have their own widths.

This unit is 83” high, 23 1/2” wide and 6 3/8” deep. 9 shelves, it holds 324 single DVD’s. 38 singles per shelf.

It took 1 sheet of 18 mm. 8 ply birch faced plywood, 1/2 sheet of 3/8” sanded ply for the back.

The sides are 6” wide, the shelves are 5” wide. The DVD’s stick out beyond the shelf edge by about a 1/2 inch. Finger tip access. I did this so that I have very little horizontal surface for dust to collect. I have three dogs, two double dog doors, and a lot of dust in my hood.

It is raw and unfinished. It is a proof of concept. The production units will be dadoed so that the back is flat to the sides. 50 bucks in materials. 4 hours to build. It is screwed together with 1 1/4” deck screws. I drilled pilot holes with a countersink bit, to prevent splitting. I have two 5 inch rips for shelves, one 6 inch side, and a complete back left.

I will play around the width to see if a 30 inch unit will use material better.

Guest Bath 4 Towel Storage

The Guest Bath is a little bit awkward, as they built a storage closet in the hallway, which ‘notched the floor in the bathroom. We decided to incorporate some open storage for towels, as a design element and to provide a soft surface for absorbing sound. Having folded and measured towels, we decided on a three shelf box whose top would be inline with the top of the cabinet, and wide as possible taking into account the sconce fixtures that would bracket the medcab.
We ended up with an 11 1/2” wide shelf.

Having framed the walls for the medcab, I opened the wall to see what was behind the drywall.

The closet side was already no mystery. It was a relatively useless space having too close deep shelving. I measured and plunged my trusty drywall keyhole through the wall to establish a rough cutting guide in the closet, and let me know how many shelves to remove.

I drew the lines on the bath side and cut the hole. This opening will be trimless so I will be using ‘J’ bead for the drywall opening. The shelf unit is made out of 12” poly shelving from the home improvement store. I could have made it out of raw particle board or plywood, but by the time you added in finishing, priming and painting, pre-finished shelving was faster and cheaper.

Here is a view from the closet side. the hole is larger as the front of the shelf unit will butt to the back of the drywall and ‘J’ bead.

Note: Because of the texture and the rough edge on the drywall. I am using 5/8” ‘J’ bead. 1/2” bead will not fit without more problems than you want to think about.

Here is the unit installed and bagged. I bagged it as we are bring the Anderson’s back to texture the walls. Clean up is much easier this way. I am all about easy….

I am not a fan of texture on walls, but Rich and Cody are magicians when it comes to texture. Folks in Phoenix can have their walls done, the rest of you are out of luck.

Guest Bath 3 Insulation and Backing

In working on the Guest Bath, insulating the walls was a given. Bathrooms are neck and neck with kitchens in being the noisiest rooms in most houses. In opening up the walls, we decided early on to replace the drywall on the back wall of the bathroom. It shares a wall with the guest bedroom, and is across the hall from the master bedroom.
The bathroom has three distinct wall thicknesses. The wet wall is 2×6, the long tub wall is 2×4 flat on the slump block, and the bath/guest bedroom party wall is 2×4.

The wet wall is 5 1/2 fiberglass. the dry wall is 3 1/2 fiberglass and the long wall is 1 inch styrofoam.
The Styrofoam at 1 inch leaves a small air space, but compensates for the uneveness of the slumpblock and the mortar joints that were not cleaned up. Trying to flatten walls that have foam that is higher than the stud plane is a recipe for disaster. Not only will your fasteners ‘pop’, but your walls will not be flat. Since this is going to be tiled, this is really important.

It is already very quiet. We are also replacing the window with a dual pane slider unit.

Bathrooms get more abuse than almost any other room in the house. It pays to install backing for cabinets, fixtures, and towel bars. This photo shows 3/4” plywood as backing for a shelf above the the toilet, and backing for the back of the pedestal sink.
Backing installed to provide secure area for screwing bars and fixtures
We also installed backing on the dry wall for the towel bars. I made the backing wide and tall to give the client latitude for the shelf and to have enough for bolting the sink to the wall.