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?