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June 2010
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Storage Space Recycling

Having completed the Storage Project, I had a bit of used material left over, like the pocket door, and the old shelving. So I mounted the door to the wall.

So it could hide the shelving. The left side has a fixed shelf, the right side has adjustable shelves.

The shelving unit is mounted on the wall with a ‘french’ cleat. Basically a piece of 3/4”  plywood that has been ripped on an angle,  having one piece attached to the wall and studs, and the other piece attached to the cabinet. Gravity holds it in place. I also attached a piece of plywood to the bottom back and ran a couple of screws into the studs.  So if it ever needs to come down or moved, 4 screws and away it goes.

French Cleat Detail.

Closet Office 5

In a previous posting I explained why I built the deck and the support cleats the way I did, I showed the trash shelf side, but didn’t go into detail on the other side.  I cut the deck short on both sides deliberately.

The first reason is it is  a whole lot easier to install it especially when your walls are not square or flat.

Secondly is wire and cable management. Look at your desk right now. You probably have wires all over. If you have pets they are probably getting fuzzy.

Here is the left side of the desk.

At the top center is the DSL modem for the internet. The day before yesterday there was a cable modem and a cable router.

Below that is an 8 port D Link hub for the network wires we added in other areas of the house. Behind the Fax machine is the phone lines for the modem and Fax machine. There are still a lot of business that requires faxes.   Also not shown is the cover plate for the network and CATV cables.

Here is a closer view of the tower and the surge suppressor. Don’t connect electronics without one.

The tower box was built out of leftover material from another project. I attached it to the underside of the deck to keep it off the floor and make it easier to clean around. Plus keeping the cables off the ground. On the left is the surge suppressor,(I use Belkin) which has everything plugged into it. They can reach the plugs if they have to change things as well as adding new stuff.   This has the switch pointed out so that when they are not going to be using the office they can shut down the entire system saving money without having vampire drains on the electric system. You would be surprised how much electricity these things use on standby.

Yes I still need to clean up the cables, but it will be easy. I like easy.

Storage Project 6

The floor is finished and the last of the installers are out of the attic and the shelves are in. 12 feet wide, 6 feet high and 24” deep.

It wont take long to fill up.


Storage Project 1
Storage Project 2
Storage Project 3
Storage Project 4
Storage Project 5

Pop Quiz

What’s wrong with this picture?

Closet Office 4

There was a push to get the components up and running for the Internet install as the clients were bundling and changing providers. So there was a mad dash to get the stuff installed and connected. Mission accomplished.

Not shown but behind the LCD display is the 2 1/2” grommet for passing cables under the deck and out of sight.

Note: The deck is 29” off the floor. This allows you to slide a 2 drawer file cabinet underneath in case you want to.

A 2 1/2 ” grommet is standard and  can be found in the big box stores. So is the hole saw. Back in the day I used to install computers with parallel cables. They fit through this size. You don’t want to know what you have to do to customize a 2 1/4” grommet.

On the right is the trash shelf. I recycled the material from a shelving  unit from another closet. The slot on the bottom allows the client to collect trash for shredding and recycling. The slot was cut with a 2” hole saw and a jig saw was used to connect the two holes. I used blue tape on my cut lines to minimize chipping as I cut,

Checking Internet connectivity.

It works.

I will get some better pictures once we get all of the crap out of this room.

Cause all the stuff that was in the closet is behind me.

Closet Office 3

We are doing a lot of recycling in the closet office. Here is a progress shot of the current state of affairs.

The deck is salvaged from the old bedroom where the current office is. The shelving unit upper is the old closet shelf. The dividers are scrap 2×4’s from the Storage Project
The shelving unit bottom is salvaged from the old storage room. A note about the cubbys. They are 11” deep and 9” inside. the 2×4 dividers are 10” deep. This allows the client to store various papers in them as well as having easy access either from the top or either edge.

The arrival of the paperless office is a premature announcement.

The deck is shorter than the space available, by design. Home offices have a lot of cords, plugs, and paraphernalia around them. The cleats for the deck look like this.

The back cleat is screwed into the studs with 3” deck screws. The arms are screwed into the front and rear cleats even with our opening. This allows a space on the left for running our phone, internet, and networking cables as well as the various boxes they connect to. The right side will have a small shelving unit made from left over material from another project and will have a slot with a trash can underneath for trash and shredder materials.

Here is our closet office with the light on.

The light is deliberately placed so that the desk area has task lighting and the wall between the cubby unit and the deck does not have direct light. This translates into no glare on the monitor and soft reflected light on the walls. Which is why we painted this BEHR Ultra White. The down side to this is all the White outlets and plugs look grey. I am not an advocate of painting cover plates or outlets.

Quick note on the cubbys. The next person who paints them will swear a lot. Me, I painted before assembly.

But no day on this project would be complete without a trip into the attic. But we have a fax line and pre wire for a phone line.

Taping Carpets for Paint

So you want to paint and have carpet. Here is a quick guide to taping carpets for paint.
You need some blue painters tape and a 2” putty knife. Blue painters tape adheres very well and does not leave residue like masking tape does.

First vacuum the carpet around the baseboard.

Start your tape on an angle like this photo, so you have a small trough, about the size of a pencil or ball point pen,(this depends on how high the pile of your carpet is) lightly smoothing down the center of the tape with your finger to start. Only work about 2-3 feet at a time.

Next use your finger to tuck the tape over the edge of the carpet. Your finger is acting as a wedge to tape the edge of your carpet and keep it away from your baseboard. If you find carpet fibers in your baseboard as you are taping, they did not use these directions.

Next take the putty knife to gently press the tape into the edge of the carpet.

Next use the flat of the putty knife to gently press the tape into the carpet fibers.

Use the putty knife as a cutter as you go along so not to rip your tape loose.

You can add another strip overlapping this one or use a drop cloth.
When your paint is dry, use the corner of the putty knife to separate the tape from your baseboard. Trash the tape, fluff the carpet and you are done.

Closet Office 2

In our last episode we had done the demo, run the electric, built a deck/ceiling frame, and done some taping.
The taping on the cornerbead is done the texture is matched, and it has been primed.
Upper Storage
I have also installed the plywood floor for the upper storage area.

Note that I taped the ceiling and wall to limit the mess as I finished the face of the closet office. I pre-drilled the plywood and screwed it down. It is a two piece installation as there is a wing on both sides. The plywood in front comes even with our drywall and is covered with a 1×6 MDF trim board.
Here is a longer shot.

I extended the trim to the wall on the right and an equal distance on the left. This allows the homeowner to attach curtains if that is their choice. The work top will not extend beyond the sides of the closet so the ability to install bi-fold doors is also open.

In addition to screwing the MDF to the header in front, I also screwed it to the plywood using a thinner screw known as a trim head to stiffen the deck and the corner.

I used quick clamps to align the trim and deck as I screwed it together.

Closet Office Ceiling
The first thing here is installing the electric box and blocking. This is the box recycled from the ceiling in the storage area project.

The placement of the box was decided by the fixture I am using, which in this case is an switched 18” flat florescent. Because of the mounting holes for this fixture I installed a 2×4 backing strip on the left. Because the back wall is next to the garage I caulked the hole where the romex came through, (despite the fact the wall is insulated, it gets moved and bunched up when you run wires through it) and stapled the romex in place which is just good technique. This will provide general lighting on the work surface. The box allows the client the ability to change the fixture in the future if desired.

In measuring the closet it turns out that it is not square. No surprise here. My first sheet goes from 22 1/2” on the left to 23 1/4” on the right.

Here is a trick for cutting small angles. I took my drywall square and lined it up with my measurement marks and used a couple of quick clamps to hole it down as I cut the sheet.

This works fine for small angles, larger ones require either a chalk line or a straight edge.
After cutting and buffing it, I trial fitted it to see that it would fit without breaking any corners or edges.

The light box is in this sheet so I made my measurements and used a circle cutter to make my outline. I used a keyhole saw to cut it out.

Here is a tip for cutting holes. When cutting close to the edge of a sheet, start your cut at the narrowest point to the edge and cut away from it. The chances of breaking the sheet go way down when done this way.

I taped the ceiling box with blue tape to avoid crap in it. Having hung the drywall, I masked the wall and mesh taped all of the seams.

Next up is taping.

Flat taping into corners like this is more art than science, as you have to cover the tape and yet not so hard into the corners that you telegraph the wall texture into your mud. It leaves ridges at right angles to the line of your mud. Sand or fill. If needed your second coat can run from the wall edge to the feather edge to fill in those ridges. Depending on how picky you are. As you can see taping the ceiling box closed was a good idea.
After sanding, I removed the masking paper, ran a small bead of caulk into the corners and primered.

Leave the tape on the box until your painting is done and you are installing your light.

Next up will be shelving and decking.

Closet Office 1

This is a typical closet in a ‘modern’ home. Around 2 feet deep, 7 feet wide and on the inside 8 feet tall.

This design is cheap and fast to build and keeps the bi fold and slide-by door industries alive. It is also the whipping boy and training center for young drywall hangers and tapers. Closets are the last things to get hung and taped so they are usually not the best finished inside.

We will turn this into a home office. We will need to install electricity, cabling for network, telephone, space for the cable modem, router, hub, a desk surface, shelving and storage. We are not changing the basic exterior dimensions as the window on the right side limits depth expansion. But I will grab every bit of space I can.
The area above the header on the inside is awkward as a closet as anybody who has been smacked on the head is probably nodding.

We are going to create storage here. First up after removing the rod and shelf,(leaving the cleats as we will be reusing the shelf) we run a band of 2×4 around the interior of the closet above the door opening.

This will serve as the ceiling for the office as well as the deck for the storage above. I placed these above the opening in front to flat tape the ceiling and not need to skim coat the walls.
After completing the deck/ceiling I opened up the front of the closet from the top of the header to the bottom of the top plates. There were no cripples above the header, which is just a 2×4 flat with a 2×4 nailed to it in front for nailing and hopefully to keep the opening level.

I also pulled a power leg from the outlet I have already run to power the overhead light.

After cleaning up the opening I corner beaded it on both sides and mudded it.

Tip: In spaces like this, finish the mudding before installing the floor and ceiling. You may also to paint it also.

Next up, rough in and taping.

DIY Utilty Knife Blade Sharpener

One of the most useful tools for the remodeler is the Utility Knife. The blades are sharp as hell for a little while. When they get dull you replace them. To extend the life of the blade here is a little trick.

Find an old porcelain cup, like this.

You can tell it is porcelain because the unglazed bottom is white. It makes a great sharpener for your utility knife.
Take your utility knife and draw it across the unglazed portion at a slight angle on both sides for just a few strokes.

This will add quite a bit of life to your blades and is a cheap alternative to a sharpening stone.