Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Insulating, Wiring, Sheetrock

My good friend Joe stopped in (twice) to help me strap the ceiling, insulate, and sheetrock. His help was invaluable. In fact, this the first time someone has shown up to help out on the site. It was a great two days of progress. I owe him.

On to the stats:
The old ceiling was 2x3s on edge, 24” o.c. It sagged about 3” in the center, mostly from the creep of weight over time. It also had significant water damage from a leak around the chimney.

I reframed the ceiling by finding a low point in the center and shooting a laser line around the room, then notching and cutting 16’ 2x6’s in the same direction as the previous ceiling joists. Technically, they are sistered; but they are also load bearing, spanning between the existing entry wall to the master bedroom and a new wall I built in front of the exterior.

Since this still leaves me with roughly 24” spacing between ceiling joists, I decided to strap the ceiling with furring strips at 16” o.c. perpendicular to the joists. Not only does this allow for closer screwing on the ceiling sheetrock (I was worried about 1/2” rock spanning 24” without sagging), but it also creates a nice catchment for the insulating.

I went with the conventional pink stuff for the ceiling insulation. Owens Corning R-38. These puff up pretty big. I decided to go with the max that the home stores carry. Blown in would be nice, but I decided it is not worth it at this stage since I still have live knob and tube at the end of the house that I can’t cover up yet. For about 220 square feet of coverage, it didn’t seem to make sense to rent the giant FORCE-3 machine and make that level of mess. I don’t even know if that machine would fit in my house!

It is amazing how sheetrock can transform a room. It’s a big milestone.

2x6's sistered to the original 2x3 ceiling joists.  Once I got a level plane, I then strapped at 16" OC since the spacing of the original joists were uneven.  This allows for easy installation of sheetrock.

Joe is trying to escape.  But there is no escape from the site! MUA HAHAAHA

Where have my morals gone? I should buy stock in Owens Corning

Who wired this mess?

I asked for a push broom for xmas, and all got was this Rollie Fingers guy.

First level surface in the entire house.  Was it worth it? Who knows

I have a good support system

Look at the foreman lounging on her cushy comforter.  I can't wait until I get into management.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Building walls, installing the built-ins, wiring

I insulated the first of the double wall with (2) two pieces of 2” Rigid, yielding a total R-Value of R-20. In hindsight, I should have just used the conventional paper backed stuff. Rigid is expensive and a real pain in the ass to cut (I cut on my back slab, then walk it up. Usually I make a giant cut-list for all pieces… but it still takes forever even when cutting with a circular saw with blade reversed)

Used a laser to help me plumb/square/level my shelves. They are turning out decent. Even though I think they will only hold smaller books, I think they will add a nice accent to the room.

This piece of wall is clamped to the ceiling joist. It didn't really look good in that position so I decided to move it.

Just another few feet

This place needs a ton of help

If only this laser could cut the wood for me too

How did Owens Corning actually buy the rights to this loveable guy? Oh yeah, with cash

The conventional level comes in handy is well.  Stabila is the only way to go.  I clamped those straightedges up there to help establish a plumb line.

oooh ahhhH!

 I like to swing the laser left and right and pretend I'm Knight Rider

How many bundles of shims can I throw at four shelves?

I had to go up to the MarketPlace Design Center to pick out this fancy light fixture.  Those are hand-hewn, free range pieces of lathe from long grain pine that have been tastefully re-purposed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Putting the boxes together

I am building four shelves into the wall.  Sort of a modern look.  Originally, I wanted to simply do sheetrock shelves and paint them; but I decided I was better at cutting wood than mudding/taping.

The shelves are simply Birch ply from the lumber yard.  I'm going to pseudo face frame them with oak; so I used a wood conditioner then stained them with and medium color oak stain.  Then a few coats of poly. 

I honestly don't know what I'm doing with stains and polys.  I took to the internet and felt pretty overwhelmed quickly.  All I want are some shelves that look half decent for my working class house.  So, upon recommendation from my friends on the interweb, I went over to the Sherwin Williams store at 10th and Washington to check out their product line.  The dude there was pretty knowledgeable.  The store is small but a lesser evil then homeyD or blowes. 

4' pipe clamps are a bit of an overkill, but I'm working with what I got

Just look at at that grain detail

These things are pretty tall

Pocket screws rule everything around me

Radiator cabinet

Most of this wood will never be seen

Getting taller (so is that pile of empties)
I have never really worked in a production cabinet shop before.  After laying out these cuts, planning my table saw settings, and working to maximize the useful pieces out of the sheets of ply... I can see how people could get into building cabinets.   Once you get in the groove, things can move fast.  I love setting up jigs and standardizing cuts.

These shelves brought to you by Hop Devil an Route 113 IPA.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Begin built-ins

Completed a cut list for all the built ins. Starting conditioning, staining, and poly-ing. Don't forget between all steps: sanding, sanding, and more sanding!

Obligatory site photo

The lumber stack also doubles as an entrance to the house

The downstairs portion of our palace

Most of the house is a lumber yard
Cut list 
Cut birch ply
I made myself a pocket screw jig.  I love it.



As always, I have the plans taped to the wall for easy reference.  Waiting for stain and poly to dry is like, well, watching stain or poly dry.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Adventures in hot water heaters

I like a good plumbers crack joke as much as the next guy.  This weekend, I came home late on a Saturday night and the joke was on me: a crack in the top of our water heater!

Water was coming out at a pretty decent rate.  Luckily, I must have caught it just in time as there was only about a half gallon on the basement floor.  Its a 40-gallon tank, so it could have been a lot worse.  I shut the water off to the tank, and decided to call it an evening.

I woke up the next morning and didn't have much choice other than head into homey d and try to find a replacement.

I thought hot water tanks lasted like 15 years (this one was 20 years old actually).  When you go into the store, you are basically up for a choice of 3, 6 or 9 year tanks.  Sometimes 12 years.  This seems pretty weak.  I opted for a six year tank, based on a combination of price and reviews.  This thing was exactly the same dimensions, so I was looking at a pretty easy install.

I drained the tank, which took basically the better part of an hour (40 gallons is a lot of water).  Then I cut the pipes to the tank and walked it out the way.

The hardest part of this job getting the new tank into my house and down the stairs by myself.  That will be my last time doing that.

New tank installed.

Anyway, to make a long story short.  I soldered everything ok, BUT, saw a bead of water around the cold supply (the threaded part, on the right above) when the job was complete.  I had filled the tank, and there wasn't really a leak, but I wanted to walk away from this job forever, so I cut into the pipe so I could tighten the leaky spot and re-solder a coupling.

When I was cutting, there was a quite a bit of hissing coming out of the pipe.  It was about 10:30 at night after a pretty long day on Sunday.  It did give me a moment of pause, but I decided "fuck it, I'm cutting this thing"

Big mistake.  Water started shooting everywhere!

Dorothy will probably never forget this moment.  As I started screaming and running around the basement like a lunatic trying to turn off every valve in the basement as water shot everywhere.  Nothing was stopping the water!  After what seemed like an eternity (about 30 seconds) the water stopped spraying.

I sat down and sulked for a bit.  I thought to myself 'how could this have happened??'

Well, it turns out that I filled the tank with water.  About 40 gallons of water.   What do you think happened to the 40 gallons of air that was in the tank?  It got compressed.  We must have pretty good faucets throughout the house, because no air was pushed out.  If I would have opened one of the faucets for a moment upstairs before that cut, all of that could have been avoided.  It was a classic "late in the day" mistake.  You learn something new everyday.

I gave up that night (for fear of making more bad decisions) and came home Monday evening from work and re-soldered the pipe with the supervision of a seasoned veteran.  I sweat the pipe like a pro, in about 5 minutes.

I took a hot shower that night.  It was awesome.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Master Bedroom: Demolition

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, we had a leak in the roof around our chimney.  That meant rain dribbling down the wall behind our bed.  Ugh.

Fortunately, every ceiling in every room upstairs was already badly water damaged, so I didn't feel so bad about ripping out the ceiling to see what was going on around the chimney.

Before the renovation, we had a nice peaceful office:

In my previous life, I was an interior decorator
Begin demo.

My best Peter Criss imitation
Cat-dude with wicked eye shadow and bullet bra

You can see the water damage down the left hand side of the chimney
as well as on the ceiling above


Dorothy, as she packs her bags to leave me

5 gallon buckets are your best friend when dealing with  plaster.

Its sad when this looks 100x better than the original

You be the judge




oh boy
The framing around the chimney is covered in soot.

Water-stains on joists

Above the ceiling joists, looking at the front wall (left) and the party wall (right).  Live knob and tube.

I want to re-state my goals, so I can come back to this about a year from now and lament.

1) Take out knob and tube
2) Re-wire
3) Insulate ceiling and front wall (still needs to be removed)
4) Build some built-in shelves in the front wall
5) Build a closet or some sort of built-in to carry our clothes
6) Build a bed
7) Just make the the place livable again

It took me two full days to clean this room out, and take about a big truckload of waste to the dump.  I went to dump in Lower Merion to throw out all the plaster (usually around $25 for a truckload), but I got turned down at the gate.  It turns out they got a fine from the EPA for taking non-burnable waste like mortar last summer.  So, I had to turn back around and take it to 61st and Passyunk anyway.   

I bet if Kobe Bryant came back to his home town, they would have allowed him to slam dunk a half ton of plaster down the incinerator shoot. Oh well.