Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crystal door knobs

Time to switch out some hardware on my beat up old doors.


I got these from a job out on the mainline where I had to switch out all their original crystal knobs with some boring contemporary ones.  You have to love consumerism.  Their loss is my gain.  Suckers!

My "original" knobs

Swapped out.

So far so good... aside from one of the latch being faulty and getting locked out of the basement for like an hour!  Ahh, so that's why the homeowners wanted to toss their door knobs!

I'll take the lockouts.  Honestly, I can probably find some replacements latches at homey d.  Worst case scenario, I buy ten new latches.  Sounds like a contractor pack to me!

Oh boy.

Looks like I have some work to do.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rewiring the Basement


And again.

And again.

The occupy basement is a place where even the strongest-willed human being can develop a severe anxiety disorder.

The challenge: make something like this:

Holy sh*t.

Look like this:
Tonight's first achievement. Basement backroom new light switch and grounded outlets.
I bet you didn't think I could do BX cable... well think again my friend.

It's a tall order, but an order that I must fulfill nonetheless.  Albeit begrudgingly.

With dangling hot wires abound, my basement is like one of the Hellraiser movies.  Only Hellraiser would be rated PG if my basement was made into a movie back in the 80s.

Perhaps this photo is worth 1,000 words expletives.
This needs a little clean up

My personal favorite DIY junction box that I inherited.

It is a long road, loyal reader.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Freehanding a template

I'm not going to even attempt to summarize what happened here, but somewhere along the way I winded up with a bunch of pieces of romex dangling out of the frieze of my bookcase

Occupy archives: Note romex popping out on the four (4) common bookcases

In short, I have to use pancake boxes.

Surface mounting pancake boxes and trying to hide them under a fixture is pretty brutal.  And unless the fixture has a stamped cubic inch number inside it, I don't think its NEC that you can stuff more than one 14/2 wire in there.  All of mine are 12/2, and I also have two wires for three of the bookcases (they are daisy chained).

What's the solution? Fire up the router and plunge in 1/2" and try not to hit the romex.  The best way to do this is clamping a template to the frieze so that I can use a top-bearing flush cut router bit to trade out the 1/2" crater.

Its going to mess and hard (I have a cabinet grader router.. its 19 lbs).  Fun!

Let's move to the layout.

Easy enough, trace it

Now, set up a super ghetto work station out on the back slab.  All my sawhorses are spoken for doing other tasks lately.

That's it.  Now I just freehand the routing.  I waste about 1/8" of wood on each pass.  I'm simply using some 3/4" PPFJ because its what I had laying around and it was a good size for the task.

That was easy.

Test fit. Drops right through. Perfect.

Its hard to show in the picture, but this hole is less than a 1/16" of play on all sides.  The fixture I want to use has basically zero tolerance.

Let's test all four, because I don't trust that these terrible made pieces of junk are the same size.

They all fit.

Next up, routing the bookcase. Ugh.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Back Bedroom: Post Paint

Loyal reader,

I know you have been sitting on the edge of your seats, glued to your computer monitors waiting to see how the back bedroom paint came out.  I apologize for the delay.  Hopefully all four of you still read this blog,

When I last left writing about this room (in July!) it looked like this:

Its amazing that I ever come home at night.
I finished this room within a few days of that last photo.  Unfortunately, I worked until the last the second before we left for vacation (literally, I wore my site clothes up on the trip!) where we strategically left the Occupy Site at 8PM so that I could drive us through the night and wind up in Vermont at sunrise.  What a magical family moment.   Ah, the things parents do in order to get infants to sleep.

So, my excuse for the late post is that I finished painting and drove straight to Vermont.  Then, I just forgot to follow through.

However, it was a momentary lapse of reason.  I'm back and here is the paint and very conservative color you have been patiently waiting for.

Ladies and gentleman: The back bedroom.

One coat of oil primer, all surfaces.  It does a pretty good job... while only shaving maybe half a year off my life on average.

I definitely had the wife and baby out of the house for the week when using the oil primer.  The fumes are so nasty from it that the house becomes respirator-only territory.  Its brutal.   I feel like I crack open the 5-gallon drum of oil primer and environmental footprint goes from a baby's foot to Sasquatch level in a split second.  Unfortunately, this is the best way to seal up the original, unfinished plastered walls.  The walls are so thirsty that water based paint is just a joke.   It would probably take 3-5 coats to do what oil primer can do in one.

Fortunately, I don't really think that I'm even coming close to the charts when it comes to the high quality of South Philly air.

From Passyunk Post

Thanks refineries (culprit map).  The good news is that at least my toxins don't smell like cat urine like the rest of South Philly.  [The name of the tag in that link is priceless].

*** Sigh of chronic disillusionment ***

Let's get back to the pictures

Welcome to the land of neutrality.
For now, this room is an "office".  That is a term that lovingly describes this reality: "A room where a bunch of cloth diapers air dry".
How does the vac end up in both pictures?  Clearly, I'm not a good at photo documentation.

No vac.

The floors look great. My paint job looks solid (hint: I sand between coats.. even primer).  New electric.  A bunch of new outlets. New ceiling framing and ceiling.  It may not sound like much, but it's actually a long process to even just do a mild room transformation.

Let's just take a look at the "before" pictures so that I can have a moment of reflection and feel like my life has some sort of nano-sized meaning.

Previously, the ceiling was wall-papered like every other surface in the house.  While it had a charming effect on the overall ambiance, it did little to hide the fact that the ceiling was collapsing from all the water damage the house had.  The plaster was literally detached from the ceiling framing.  And I use the term "framing" loosely.   I do not consider 2x3s, on-edge, 29" to 35" on-center "framing".

Water damage.  Keep your eyes peeled.. this room is just hammered with water damage.

Accent wall.  Daring interior design move.

And here's a real gem:

From when I first looked at the house.
I actually went to my bank, and then purchased this house.  Somebody pinch me.  

Now that I see that "before" picture, I realize that I really didn't transform much in this room.  But, I definitely did something back there.  It feels different. And you don't get shocked when you try to use the outlets anymore.  And there is electricity in the overhead light (future post).

I guess now that its almost three months later, I should think about moving this computer that is in my dining room back in to this bedroom.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Off Site Doors

Now, this isn't on the Occupy site, but this is just a neat aspect of major renovation I am working on at a friends place.

These were originally exterior doors in a different location in the house. I have no idea how old they are.  This particular house dates back to around 1830.  I don't think they are original... but they are pretty old.  I'd say they can't be newer than 1930s because they appear to be made of long leaf pine.

We had the windows reglazed, but then I was left with two very tall (almost 8') and very skinny doors to build a jamb for inside some wonky plaster walls. Fun!  Jambing out a door and cutting hinges for 100 year old doors (that are clearly bowed) is not exactly easy.  Particularly in this case, because the two warped doors need to match up and latch

Anyway, they turned out pretty nice.  No binding, No problems.

Well worn paint which will give a shabby-chic look

Your admin in action

Doors close.  I made it a 1/16" gap between since they were already very well worn.  They wound up fitting perfectly with no binding

Hardware shot

Voila.  I may not be "Johnny Doors" from west of Broad Street (I'm not joking.. there really is a guy named "Johnny Doors" that does doors), but I bet I can give him a run for his money.

Now, I just need to build those twelve (12) doors for base cabinets of my living room built in.

I wonder if Johnny Doors is looking for work?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pancakes for one, part III

Back in January, I got a hold of a 16" long, 3/4"dia masonry bit and piloted a diagonal hole through the front of the house, through two courses of bricks, to a wall that divides out the foyer from the living room.  The hole wound up being about 14" long, on an angle.  I tried to ace the hole from the bricks out front, into the interior wall.  I'm a known master of acing drill holes; I figured this should be a piece of cake.

Pre-Occupy archives.  4'+ Auger bit that I needed to ace into a 2" diameter hole, at an angle, about 40" from entry point.  For those of you that know augers, this is a commitment from that starting gate.  Aced all 18 rafters on a finished product.
Well, my track record and resume is very solid, but apparently I'm a little rusty.  I missed this one by about 1/2".  I did actually hit the wall, but it peaked out into the living space a hair (technically, it didn't because after sheetrocking  that wall with 5/8" rock, the hole was invisible).  Let's just say for the sake of keeping my ego inflated, that I aced this hole as well!

Unfortunately, I cant' dig up any pictures.  Tons of digital archives were lost when I left my last job.  They may be on a backed up DVD somewhere, but for the sake of getting this post moving.. I'm going to give up looking for now.

Here's the best I can do:

Drill hole site

Plan view of living room: angle at which I had to drill 14"

Anyway, that's the situation.  Since January, I've had a small coil of romex sticking out of the exterior wall just waiting for a building inspector to stop by and ask me to undo all the wiring in my house.  My only attempt to disguise it was wrapping some electrical tape around it for "camouflage".

This brings us up to date with these other related posts.  Burying a pancake box in the shroud of a lighting fixture is really difficult, which forced me to get into some 'custom' trim work to help facilitate my dirty electrical work.

Today, I finally got out the hammer drill and tapcon'd this ridiculous piece of azek into the front wall.

Thankfully, this was pretty easy... you never know with crumbly 100-year old bricks

I'll spare you the details of the actually wiring.  The short and narrow is: I wired a switch inside the foyer for this, which daisy-chained off the main 3-gang switch box I have in the living room (I thought four (4) switches in my living room was a bit excessive for a house this size).   This new lamp is powered by living room circuit #1.

The placard which I spray painted actually blends in half-decently.  This won't get me to the cover of fine woodworking, but  think it gains me at least 1 or 2 points of street cred.  If you use your imagination, it actually look like its part of the fixture.  Use your imagination very hard.

And...A few hours later...

It works.

A much-needed successful day.  Our section of the street is particularly dark because its about halfway between two street lights.  Add the tree that I planted into the mix, and you have one pretty dark and shady house entrance.

Not anymore.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Occupy Archives: The Old Bathroom

In response to my last post about painting the bathroom... Here is what it used to look like:

Any questions?

Class dismissed.

Bathroom: paint

Well, file this one under more grandiose ideas with little-to-no backing whatsoever.

The bathroom.

Let's dig into the Occupy Archives (aka the land of broken dreams).  I once had some great vision for this room.  Then I found a pipe diverting sewage into my exterior wall... and...


I gave up on the bathroom re-design and rushed to fix the leaking pipes.  Instead of getting a new bathroom, I got a refreshed view on humanity.

Occupy Archives: Ariel view (this is the re-design... no, I don't have a pedestal sink)

Wow, three years sure does go by fast.  And, there's nothing like time to slowly erode all hopes and aspirations.  I have since revised my standards of getting a new bathroom to: let's get some electricity in here and maybe some walls if I am lucky.

It hasn't been a total loss.  I did insulate, re-wire, re-frame, and sheetrock.  But the bathroom, for all intents and purposes, is still exactly the same.  Was it worth it?  Not really.  We've been living in here with what I like to call "sheetrock-chic" walls.  Its time to just give up and paint this thing.  It will make the house feel more like a home, and less like a site.

At this point I don't even care about picking a color.  Let's just grab some semi-gloss bright white left over from all the woodwork downstairs, and get to work.  I'm ready to cross something off my list.

Oh crap.  I forgot about tall the small details to close out the room 

Not so fast with the paint. I need to trim out a bunch of gaps, mud a ton of gaps, squeeze a few tubes of caulk into every crevice, and case the door.

Let's start with the door.

Cased. That was easy.

Why did I decide on older Victorian style?  Well, I only had about 3" inches between having a decent jamb reveal and the start of the tiles on both sides.  And, I had some of this stuff in the basement (at this point, I don't even remember why).  Anyway, I think it looks pretty good in here.  Simply and classy.

How did I scribe this? To tell you the truth, I don't remember.  I did all this work about a month ago in a 4-day work binge while the family was out of town.  Check out that mini-plinth.

Other side
 Now, I need to fill another gap.  I'm not going to over think this one.  I just have to cut a weird wedge piece.  I'm too lazy to lug the table saw out of the basement, so I'm just going to freehand this one on the jigsaw with an old blade.

And there you have it.

I've definitely seen worse.

I also had to fill A TON of gaps around the top of the bullnose tile.  It was ridiculous.

Tape and plastic

Oil prime.
Oil prime.

The good news is: I'm painting trim, ceiling, and walls all the same color.  This is classic git-r-dun in its highest form.

After one coat

Two coats.

And that's that.  One thing that I've notice on this blog is that I never post the cleaned-up final pictures.  That's because I basically never fully clean up.  Its almost a month later and I still don't have the screens in those windows above and the screwdriver is still on the window sill.

Oh well.  I'm working on gathering some more final pictures.  Have patience loyal reader. Until next time...