Friday, December 19, 2008

The whirlwind has passed

Dad headed down to Sacremento today after a three week marathon of home projects. We did a lot of stuff that I can't remember, but here's a quick recap.

We emptied the laundry room and installed the underlayment and vinyl flooring. We also ran a 30-amp 220V circuit for the dryer and installed the dryer vent.

The washer had been shaking like crazy even after we leveled it, so we built some feet out of leftover hardboard and sheet rubber. We used a holesaw to cut the feet, then used a Forstner bit to create the pocket, and put rubber in the pocket and on the bottom of the feet. This all but eliminated the shaking and keeps the washer from walking during its spin cycle.

On the two non-rainy days we had, we finished installing the weather barrier and gable siding on the addition and shed.

We had a mysterious appearance of water above one window to the left of the slider. We couldn't figure out where it was coming from because there was no sign of water in the attic, and it appeared to be coming in from the eave (and then under the moisture barrier onto the window).

Because we've had some pretty major rain showers with no leaks since putting the roof on, I'm guessing this is just condensation. This assumption is based on:
  1. We used a 19" overlap on the roofing tarpaper, which makes it nearly impossible for water to get under the paper.
  2. The roof vent and skylights were papered, shingled, flashed and sealed pretty darn well.
  3. The water only appeared when the weather dropped below freezing this past week.
  4. Some parts of the ceiling were not insulated at all because I was waiting to finish a little electrical.
To test our theory, and to check a big task off our list, we rented an insulation blower from Home Depot and blew in 30 bags of cellulose. It's a messy job, but I liked it a lot better than dealing with fiberglass batts.

This morning, as we were packing up the blower, we noticed that the door to my Jeep was open. Apparently, some poop-butt punks tried to jack my ride last night and left me with a broken window. Just something else to fix, I guess. =)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Concrete, trim and lights

I was planning to dive this morning, but Holly bailed on me. Instead, I finished up the last chapter of Diving into Darkness and mixed up some more concrete samples.

Previously, we just used gray Portland cement and some Sakrete pigment. This time we used a 1:1:3:5 mixture of white Portland cement, quartz, sand and pea gravel. We mixed up one square with no color, then one each of brown and charcoal. The mix was much thicker than before, so I vibrated it for a lot longer to get the air out.

After making a run to Home Depot to get some underlayment for the laundry room, more trim and the remaining pendant lights, dad resumed working on the window trim.

I climbed up into the attic to cut the holes for the pendant lights above the kitchen island. After installing the ceiling boxes and poking wire into them, I went back to the kitchen and hooked everything up.

I think that might actually be the last of the electrical (besides a tiny bit in the shed). I was afraid the pendant lights might seem obtrusive with our low ceilings, but they actually look great.

Tomorrow, we'll mix up some more concrete samples using fine quartz instead of sand and install the laundry room underlayment. Then we'll hit Home Depot again for the gable siding and rent a roller for the vinyl. With any luck, we'll have the laundry room and alcove all done tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A few more tasks completed

To prepare for installing the home theater cabinet, we ran some coax, CAT5 and speaker wire into the wall behind the TV. It all terminates nicely into a configurable wall plate:

Because our TV fits so snugly into its space in the cabinet, we decided to rip open a hole in the back for air flow at the last minute:

The two supervisors assigned to coordinate the installation, Jen and Thora, kept a watchful eye on us to ensure everything went according to plan:

The new cabinet really cleans everything up, despite the junk we have all over the room. I just need to treat, stain and finish the drawer faces, and then I can install the two large drawers in the bottom of the cabinet.

Today we bought a whole bunch of trim, then came home to run the 30-amp 220V circuit to the new clothes dryer location. After that, we installed the shower door in the new bathroom:

We hung a chandelier over the dining room table last night, but I don't have a photo of that yet. Our next big task is to build the concrete countertops. We're quickly running out of time, so we need to decide on the type of aggregate to use and then build some more samples.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The dovetail jig

I've always wanted to get a dovetail jig because I love the way dovetail joints look on drawers and boxes. I finally had a reason to buy one yesterday, and Rockler just happened to have a Christmas sale on theirs for $99.
Warning: This post is really more for my benefit than yours. The instructions for the jig were sort of cryptic, and it took a while to figure out what I was doing. This is my attempt at creating something I can refer to later. =)
I decided to use through dovetail joints because the front of the drawer box will be covered by a framed face. Otherwise, a half-blind dovetail joint would be preferable to hide the ends of the tails. Illustrations can be found on Wikipedia.

The first step was to create a "clamping shim." This is basically a piece of material about 1/4" thicker than the stock you're cutting, and its purpose is to raise the template high enough so your router bit doesn't cut into the metal jig. The manual greatly overexplained this step and caused a lot of confusion.

Next, center your stock in the template, ensuring that the outer tails (i.e. the top- and bottom-most tails on the drawer side) are far enough from the edge of the stock to allow room for the pins. Adjust the side stop to mark this position for the other sides.

Now hold a piece of the front/back stock perpendicular to your drawer side, up against the template, and make a scribe line on the piece to be cut. Set the router on the template and adjust the depth so that you will remove the scribe line. I used the 8ยบ bit and brass guide bushing included with the jig.

Cut all the drawer sides first. The manual stated that the outside of the drawer sides should be facing the jig, but I couldn't figure out how this would make any difference.

The only thing being cut in this photo is the vertical piece.

The tails cut into a drawer side.

When all the sides have been cut, switch to the straight router bit and replace the tail template with the pin template. Mount your stock vertically in exactly the same position as the drawer sides -- do not adjust the side stop.

Adjust the template to position "F" for the first cut. This will almost certainly create a fit that is too tight, and you will need to adjust the template backwards, one mark at a time, until the fit is perfect. Then you can make all other cuts without further adjustment.

Cut the fronts and backs with the inside of the drawer facing the jig. Unlike the sides, this cut is not symmetrical, so the position is critical if you have routed a channel for the drawer bottom.

Here's a shot of the assembled joint, prior to any gluing or sanding:

We didn't want the drawer bottom channel to be visible from the sides of the drawer, so we routed a channel in all the drawer pieces prior to cutting the dovetails. Using the router allowed us to stop the channel about 1/4" short of the ends of the drawer pieces.

Here's a shot showing the router set up in the plunge base with a 3/8" straight bit and fence adjusted to put the channel about 1/2" from the bottom of the drawer sides.

When assembled, the channel on all drawer pieces aligns and is ready to accept the 3/8" bottom piece.

Custom home theater cabinet

We started work on the cabinet to hold all the home theater stuff the other day. It has two upper spaces to hold the front speakers, two side spaces below that to hold the stereo equipment, two large spaces for drawers, and two center spaces for the center speaker and Xbox. We used 3/4" birch veneered plywood and birch edge tape.

First, we made the outer box:

Then we built all the inner pieces and glued/nailed them in place:

Here's a shot of the cabinet with a couple coats of ebony stain. Later that day we added a coat of satin polyurethane.

Then we headed to Rockler to get a dovetail jig. More about that in the next post.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A day of distractions

We were planning to grout the bathroom tile first thing in the morning, but we decided to get a second grout float so the two of us could work at the same time. So, after taking care of a few hours of business, we headed to Home Depot to get the float and the materials for our TV wall unit.

When we got back, we decided to clean up the garage to make room for the plywood and tools. The plywood was going to temporarily lean up against the garage wall where the hot water recycling pump was plugged in. To get the outlet closer to the pump, I reconnected the circuit for the old electric water heater that the previous owner must have removed.

To make room for the plywood, we had to move all the scuba gear and remaining pile of flooring inside. After that, we were finally ready to start mixing grout. Neither one of us had ever grouted this kind of tile before, but it went fairly well.

Using the floats, we worked the grout down into all the nooks and crannies of the tile stones, trying to remove as much off the top as possible.

After finishing the grout, we let it sit for about 20 minutes and then started sponging the excess off the top. Two hours later, we used cheesecloth to scrub each stone to remove the grout haze.

Here's a close-up shot of what the tile looks like:

The grout is supposed to sit for three days, and then we need to seal it again. In the meantime, we'll be working on building that TV wall unit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rolling right along

Today was pretty productive, and things went fairly smoothly. We started by hanging the final cabinet above the fridge. This one was tricky because it had to line up with the utility cabinet on the left and a full-height panel on the right. However, we had a 1/2" gap to fill, so we added some spacers to both sides of the cabinet.

When we pushed the fridge back in, the dang water line coil got wedged. Fortunately, I'm well practiced at cramming myself into small spaces.

We used the fridge to help support the cabinet while installing it. With all our spacers in place, we screwed it all together.

Then we took a lunch break and dropped off the Humane Society "Donate Some Pet Food" barrel over in the Highlands. When we got back (and before I slipped into a yakisoba-induced coma), we decided to install the end panels on the island.

That may sound very simple, but it also required installing an electrical outlet at each end of the island. Which required me to finish running the wire inside the cabinets. Which is something I've been quietly avoiding for some time.

At any rate, we got the end panels installed, and even slapped in some toe-kick veneer. We'll probably run to Home Depot in the morning to get some black 20-amp outlets and covers to finish up the island.

Here's how the kitchen is looking tonight: