Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meanwhile, outside the jobsite

Since I'm getting married in three weeks, I have switched my focus to the upcoming wedding.  Much like the occupy site, this is another DIY production. Notice a theme?

Before we got a tree outside of the house, I never really thought about how much water a young tree can consume.  In the summer, I give this guy about 15-20 gallons every other day.  In filling up my bucket every morning to water him, I began thinking about installing a rain barrel on my downspout from the roof.

In South Philly, nearly every row home has a flat roof.  All the water usually drains down one pipe which is directly tied into your sewer line.  Our back slab is also all paved, at a slight grade, which drains into a floor drain into our sewer line.  Surprisingly, the home itself is a pretty self-contained unit.

About a year ago, I began watching craigslist for 55-gal food storage containers to collect the roof water.  I feel like I came in a little late to the rain barrel game, as they were kind of expensive (I thought these would be free!). Then LOMO and EPX hosted a rain barrel workshop (thanks guys!), which I believe was an initiative started by ECA and the Philadelphia Water Department.  The workshop was really just a quick presentation, and then I signed up to have them install a rain barrel... FOR FREE!

The workshop happened back in October.  The installation happened this morning.

will this water smell better than the water I drink every day?

Even though I'll have to lug the bucket through the house, I'm excited to be watering this dude with the  water collected from the roof.

happy tree

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Error handling

Sometimes Most of the time, things don't exactly go as planned.  Take for instance, removing this classy trim around a door.

Ultra-level door between master bedroom and middle bedroom

I always take the time to do it right.  I score all the painted trim, then carefully pry the trim away from the jambs and plaster so the trim separates cleanly.  In this case below, I had a sticky spot up top that I was watching closely, which caused me to ignore a spot that I *thought* had already broken free from the wall.

(Believe it or not, I used another four-letter word when this actually happened)

Brutal.  I wasn't planning on doing any drywall today.  Good thing I have giant sheets of every size and denomination laying around the house (ugh)!

First, I need to fur this thing out so that a drywall patch will be co-planar with the existing plaster disaster.

Aren't I resourceful?   Using some of the lathe that I just ripped out

Cut a few pieces to the right size will give some decent nailers. Reduce, reuse, recycle


Some of these gaps are still pretty filthy.


The result after first coat of mud.


After third coat

Sanded and feathered into the corner mud.

The result isn't so bad.  A small setback, but this is something I have grown accustomed to in this house.  Nothing is straightforward.  Every job will take 3-10x longer than you think.  I have learned to have patience and appreciate the process.  If I have learned nothing at all during my tenure on Wolf Street, I have become a decent sheetrocker at least.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Wiring the baseboard

Hi loyal reader! I have not had much time to post here, so I will grab something from the archives, aka last week.

You may be wondering: why would I wire the baseboard? On a party wall, I don't have many options.  The walls are plaster on brick.  Meaning, that if I want to wire that wall, I either smash a giant channel into my wall (through both brick and plaster), or I cut an elegant hole in a piece of wood.

Although I do have a strong affinity for doing everything the hard way, I'm going to cut the wood this time.

My neighbors love when I dangle a 16' board out into the street

It also conveniently doubles as a "long walk off a short pier", should I need one

Talkin bout layouts

The key here is figuring out where the outlet cover will lay, in relation to the 2nd piece of shoe molding and in relation to the top cap.  Draw those lines on a piece of baseboard, then find your layout in the center.

Always good to double check 

I need to write instructions for my own concoctions

Then I have to check each time to see if it actually fits. 

I actually use that jig all the time to draw the outline for cutouts in existing walls.  I draw the lines, score it, jigsaw a hole, and keep my fingers cross that I don't destroy the wall in the process.  For those of you who own old houses, you know that destroying the wall is an inevitable part of this process

I'm trigger happy with the camera today

Drill holes for jigsaw

get jiggy

oh yeah!

Now that we are all centered in ready to go, let's cut the board to length and test fit it.

Looks decent, new Romex dangling out

When the old work box is set into the baseboard, the box hits the back of the bricks.  Now the real fun begins...

That was a joke. The last thing I want to do is chisel out brick.
After I make an enormous mess and get a nasty cut on my knuckle, I am ready to install the box (finally)

View from the back

Romex stripped

Fix wires to their designated areas


... and ...


The end result isn't pretty, but we have an outlet now tied into the new circuit.  Truth be told, 8 days later I still don't have this board nailed up.  I had to open the millworks back up and finish some pieces with good weather

Stay tuned for more fun and excitement.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wolf St. Millworks

Yesterday, we told you about upcoming milling of baseboard here.

Ignore that opening sentence; I couldn't hold myself back

That's the mock-up for the 2nd piece of shoe moulding (I have no idea what to actually call this) above.

The process took a couple hours (we had a rain delay).   Basically, I clamped two 1x4s together then routed both sides on edge.  Flip, repeat.  Then, I ripped the board to height (1 5/8"); then depth (1/2").

Lots of saw dust

Mat with some finely pared off cuts

Final product

Is this an overkill? Probably.
Will it be satisfying to say I milled my own trim? Maybe.
Will anyone care? Probably not.

But, at the end of the day, I got one of my good old friends to come over and lend a hand.  We got the job done, and it actually made the day go a lot easier.  Heading out for beer and pizza afterword certainly didn't hurt (Philly Beer Week!)

Keep your eyes on this trim as I begin install this week after work!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Adventures in Baseboarding

Loyal readers,

Remember this quote from this previous post about the baseboard upstairs:

First of all, I'm not even going to try to get that bottom piece of moulding.  I think a standard quarter round at the bottom will be sufficient enough.  The real showpiece in this baseboard configuration is the top cap.

Please observe "that bottom piece of moulding"

Well, take a look the west wall before the headboard bump-out below:

Dummy baseboard thrown up there, take a look at that tape

it just gets worse as we move to the left

It turns that that there is a about 1" of gap before the actual finish floor starts.  Crap.  I thought this might be a problem in this one spot, but installing the baseboard was a long ways off (I'm into like 8 months here!).  In the olden days, there were true 1x's, so things where a little thicker.  Also, they had a four piece baseboard originally in this house.

Well, guess who's still going to have a four piece baseboard?

So, I pulled out the router and rummaged through the bits that I had.  I'm not really a router guy, so my router bits consist of a bunch of straight cutting bits to cut rabbits and dadoes.  Re-creating this base shoe is going to be difficult.  I don't really feel like going out and buying some special bit for this operation.  Let's see what we have here:

Quick pass on a piece of Azec I have laying around.  Router  riding on the upright  (top) side of board

The above actually looks half decent.  If you refer to the top picture, its not that close... but its not that far off either.  In the end, I actually think this might look better that the original stuff

The hashed part is the keeper.  1 5/8" tall by 1/2" deep

My friend Mat will come over tomorrow to help me route and rip these boards.  16 footers are no joke, so I will need some assistance.

Anyway, let's move on to today's install.  I started in the back of the room, as mention in this previous post. Unfortunately, the baseboard was a little proud of my radiator cabinet when i put it up for install

You can't really see it here, but trust me. Its about 1/8" proud of the cabinet.

Now, you know I spent some time in Vermont when I pull out a framing chisel to pare down the back of the trim in order to fit the piece

This thing cuts through wood like a hot knife through butter

I can't say enough good things about that chisel.  I've built some amazing things with it.  But, what could be more amazing than a 13" piece of baseboard in back corner of a bedroom in a crappy South Philly row home?

A serious improvement. So serious that the camera has no idea.
dead nuts

Installed.  Man that east wall is hammered!  Notice that piece of drywall I glued to the wall as a spacer.  Absolutely  filthy.

Continuing to the left in the room with the first piece of the baseboard

North wall, radiator cabinet in the bottom right corner

Rounding the corner
Making some progress. Tomorrow will be a big day as I will be custom milling some pieces of trim.  After that it should be full speed ahead, god willing.

Late night on the occupy site, followed by an early rise tomorrow.  I have about five back posts to make. Hopefully I can squeeze a few in this week.  Time to hit the sack.