Friday, January 31, 2014

Wainscot: 7 or 9?




The only difference is

7 = less material

7 was the original design.  But now that I've abandoned the column and decorative beam

{{soulful sigh of discontent}}

I have gained some space back on this wall.  Only about 6 5/16", but still.. the panel spacing is getting large.  Now that I gave this a quick sketch, the 9 is starting too look pretty appealing.

I'm shooting for "elegant and stately" but for some reason thinner panels seem more feminine to me.  I don't know.

Who knows.. I actually admitted to myself yesterday morning that I was going to bail on this part of the project as well due to time constraints... but its really not that hard once this is laid out.  Get a cut sheet giong and go to town.


Face Time with the Built In

I don't know if I ever wrote about this.. but a common thing to do is stick a newspaper in a wall or ceiling when you are renovating.  Its a really cool thing to do.  How do I know that the previous owners did a major renovation (re: drop ceiling) in August of 1977?  A newspaper.

So, I always continue the tradition.  Sadly, newspapers are likely to be obsolete when some jerk comes and tears down my built-in in the year 2051 to make a parking spot for his hover car or a new hologram television.  Regardless, the jerk will look at the artifact and really be awed by how primitive we really are, without hover cars or smellivisions.

Since I'm basically the last of the big spenders, I just stuffed today's South Philly Review in the framing of the built in since it was sitting on my doorstep when I got home from work.  While I do love the Sunday New York Times, I honestly think the SPR is my favorite newsprint publication.  Its free and awesome.

I mean come on: the cover story is about the idiots who think its okay to save a parking spot with a cone, chair or trashcan.

Hopefully hover cars won't have that problem

a little after work progress (face framed the bottom, frieze on right side and a couple styles thrown in

Face frame, misc power tools

I woke up from a brief night of sleep ready to give up on this project.  And I sort of did: its not possible to get everything that I want done by Feb. 17th. But, I came home from work and had a pretty productive thursday.  I've gained some steam. Let's hope I have some tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Scoreboard

House: 3.5 years of my life
Me: 0

There's no way that I can talk myself out of this one tonight

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Built-in Counter Top: built and installed

The last five days have been... well, what day is it again?

I scored some reclaimed oak from some barn wood.  Spent most of yesterday planing it, and most of today squaring and gluing it up.  I really hoped trim the whole thing out considering I had to call out sick the last couple days just to even receive and mill this lumber... but nothing goes according to plan.

Anyway, despite the clock ticking and money running out-- the project is making progress. And with all the hand work I put into this thing (yes, I hand planed most of it to smooth out the seams of the glue-up), the counter looks pretty freakin good.

flip phone: reclaimed oak counter top. 
Built in: cabinets finally installed in final position.

The good news is that this counter went in without a hitch.  All that time I spent plumb/square/leveling this thing on Saturday did payoff today when lifting the final product in.

Milling this oak was HARD.  We worked four (4) 15' boards about 9" wide of 2 1/8"+ depth down to about 1 7/8".  It may not sound like much, but with this old growth oak on a bench-top planer in 15 degree weather out on the sidewalk... it was an all day affair.  These boards were about 150 lbs a piece.

I'm sure my neighbors are psyched about ~20 contractor bags (in volume) of oak chips that are frozen to their sidewalk/snow drifts on my block.  I tried to clean it up and do a good job, but I wasn't exactly anticipating the wood chips freezing to the ground.   Live and learn. I'm sure the entire block hates my guts at this point in the renovation.  I don't blame em.

I should get back into doing this kind of work full time. I might actually know what I'm doing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Built in: trim order

Burning the midnight oil. Lumber yard first thing tomorrow morning.  

Lumber list for face frame, trim, crown, and whatever else

This is a sprint, not a marathon.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How much art can you take?

Built in; the design

I honestly was drawing this up 5 minutes before I went to the lumber yard.  I'm on very tight deadline here.

Right now, I am just waiting on some wood for the counter. I may just cover up that corner of finned tube radiator that I have wrapping under the built in on the right hand side.  Its going to be buried about 18" deep.   If I do all the work to try to create a situation that will help draw out that heat (notch the framing both top and bottom, and build a wood radiator looking thing in front it).. will any heat actually come out?  If anyone knows the answer, its me.  I did thermodynamics and heat transfer to phd level.. and I have no idea.

My first thought is: no way.  Honestly, any system that combines copper finned tube with traditional cast iron must have been eating lead paint chips as a kid: those two systems require entirely different flow rates from the circulator pump in order to work properly.   Thus, I'm stuck with a crappy heat system at this place until I cut this copper finned tube out (which is the last thing I want to do, really).

Perhaps I just bury it then.  I don't know.  I'm torn.  I'll kick myself if I wall that up and the end result is a freezing downstairs.  The downstairs is generally pretty comfortable.

I can't tell with the mock-up installed if there is any difference with the heat. The cabinets are certainly getting warm at the bottom.  It does feel cold downstairs lately, but we are in the middle of some snow storms and what appears to be a cold front.

I make the decision tonight.  Loyal reader: I will definitely let you know how it goes.  Marathon weekend coming up (ahem.. standard weekend).  I hope Juan Valdez is working overtime.. I'm going to need all the coffee Colombia can produce.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Demo Daze (highlight reel)

Instead of getting all long-winded about what I'm doing and how everything is going, let's just observe the following photos (I put these together for a friend in an email the other day, when I looked at them again.. they made me laugh.  You know.. like a laugh/cry mashup)

This looks organized

Roof in tip-top condition

2nd floor on temporary wall

Is my wiring any better?

Floors after visit to Tan Quest

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Built in: mock up

The marathon work session continues

Another flip phone special.  Sorry guys, working with what I got here in the wee hours.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I built ten cabinet carcases this weekend.  They will make up a large built in I'm creating for the living room.

Here is the obligatory phone photo toward the end of Sunday night sometime.

Cabinets at various stages of development
I apologize for skimping on the pictures lately. I think my camera is at work.  Its honestly not at the top of my priority list.

Oh, there seems to be one more photo on my phone actually:

Earlier in the day Sunday:  Makeshift kreg jig set up...  I even lined this into a HEPA vac.  Nothing rounds out an impressive shop set up like a masculine"love" mug.

As always, I got the drawing handy that has my cut list.  The cut list went really well.  I picked up six (6) sheets of birch and only had a small handful of off cuts.  The good thing about making  your cabinets 12" deep (well, 11 7/8") is that your only waste cuts from a full sheet of ply is... sawdust!  I live for that kind of stuff.

I did make a layout error where I cut two "E"s instead of two "F"s.. so I had to cut into another full sheet. Bummer.  But the good news is: I forgot to include shelves for the bottom cabinets, so I will likely use most of that sheet anyway.  

Anyway... time to get back to my Monday morning work hangover.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Overall punch list - one month left

Let's quickly revisit the punchlist from a little over a month ago



  • Remove wallpaper
  • Restore walls and ceiling
  • Wainscot on west wall*
  • New trim
Back bedroom
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Re-frame ceiling
  • Strap ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical
  • Restore walls
  • Sheetrock ceiling
  • Crown molding
  • New trim
  • Built in over radiator?
Living Room / Dining Room
  • Cut out pass-through from dining room to kitchen
  • Re-frame ceiling
  • Strap ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical in living room and dining room
  • Restore walls
  • Sheetrock ceiling
  • Build new ornamental pass through, to divide living room and dining room
  • Build tall board and baton wainscot, east wall of dining room
  • Build radiator covers
  • Build cabinet + bookshelf in living room
  • Install at least three (3) piece crown, both rooms
  • New trim
  • Re-frame bathroom walls and ceiling
  • Rough-in new electrical, GFCIs 
  • Sheetrock walls and ceiling
  • New trim

I suppose things are making progress. I banged out the cut list yesterday for the built in; today I join the cabinetry.. and god willing, I will  build/level a base frame and frame the column and beam for the "ornamental pass through".

I should post pictures, but I don't have my camera.  Stay tuned loyal reader.. I will put some pictures up soon

*I'm bagging this wainscot.. its just not in the cards this round.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Living Room Built In - Cut List

Designing on the fly.  Going to the lumber yard in five minutes.

Here we go:

Birch ply seems to continue to increase in price like there's no tomorrow.  Forget hedge funds or mortgage backed securities: birch ply is your next big win on el casino de wall street.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hardwood floors - sanded

Coming out good so far

Please excuse my lack of witty things to say-- I am tapped out at the moment

Maybe I will wind up liking these floors after all?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Go Big

Or go home

This is actually pretty modest compared to my first couple configurations.  I'm trying to balance a lot of different sized elements in the two rooms downstairs.

This is very symmetrical, which wasn't my original intent.  However, it does flare out on the ceiling quite a bit.  I should probably physically put these pieces together before I put in the lumber order.. but there just isn't any time at all.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bathroom: re-wired, re-framed, and insulated

I took this picture with my flip phone at 6:19 am last night (this morning)

I don't even remember taking it; I think I'm delirious

I have the pink stuff around the stack pipe as well, then rigid

Another all nighter.  Its funny.  New Years is pretty loud and crazy in South Philly... but  it dies down around 1 am.

Back to work