Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drawer front and door how to.

I wanted to do this all in one piece but the garage is frozen and it will be a while before work can continue. The following covers the building of 4 drawer fronts.

First the wood needs to be cut to length.

Next is putting the horizontal pieces (rails) through a dado blade to produce a cut that is as deep as the vertical pieces (stiles) are wide and 1/3 the thickness of the boards. The jig I made to help keep my hand away from the blade is blocking some of the view. This creates the mortise.

Then the rough tenon is created with a bandsaw. Bandsaws don't have the cleanest cuts so a little chisel work and sanding is needed. This could also be done on the tablesaw but I like having both set up and not switching back and forth.

After some sanding fit all of the pieces together and mark where the center of the corner is. Drill 1/4" holes (it hasn't been done yet in the picture) where the lines cross at the end of the mortise pieces. Then put in the tenon piece and mark the center on the tenon. Make a second mark about 1/16" or even less away from the end. Drill on the second mark. This will cause the 2 pieces to be sucked tight when the hole is pegged. Because of this trick I made the first several without any glue.

I'm tried something new with this set and used a plug cutter to make the plug. Before I was making dowels out of small pieces of walnut and that was just plain tedious.

Next will be the glue up, routering the back for the panel and putting in a panel. Last will be stain and varnish.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

floors and trim

The floor is done. The trim would have been done if I didn't keep cutting in the wrong direction. All that is left is some touch up paint, the transition strips and grouting the tile around the fireplace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The GFs (soon to be BM) brother used to have a job installing floors so he stopped by to help. It took a lot of the worry off having more than a wild ass guess in answer to issues that came up. The only floor I had installed before was a small room that was pretty square and I didn't really care that much about how it turned out. Unfortunately the floor stapler had to be returned before the job was done. It is surprisingly cheap to rent though so it isn't a big deal to get a stapler for half a day next weekend. The tile around the fireplace got finished as well, only have the grout left. I'm thinking about using all that cool stuff I learned in the natural finishes class and making a mortar out of clay and sand. More on that later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh the anticipation

Hiding behind a new coat of mud is the worst drywall job I have ever done, even ever seen. Knowing that it will be covered with tile and hating drywall the way I do there was just no way to muster anything resembling craftmanship. It's pretty amazing what drywall mud can cover though. I might stop trying all together when hanging drywall. If I've been livin' right the new floors will be in on Monday and I'll be able to start and maybe finish that next week. A little more tile work, the floor, some trim and buying a couch is all that remains between me and a day off guilt free laying on a couch reading. It is getting chilly out so a cup of tea and a fire in the background might be put in that picture. Last week the inspector gave the okay on the new fireplace and he didn't even mention that the rest of my house looks like a construction zone. Glad that bit of stress has passed. The fireplace works great and it doesn't take much wood to keep the front of the house toasty. The thermostat is a little to close to the front so the rest of the house stays pretty chilly unfortunately. Clearing out some of the scrap wood that I've been saving for the fireplace has already made some room in the workshop. All this effort and we are talking about moving with the kid on the way and all. Maybe the school district will turn out better than it seems on the outside.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All of a sudden

Last week I put tile on the hearth and the paint elfs (my parents) stopped by to help with the living room. Once the inspector gives the okay for the fireplace the wall around it can be finished with tile and all that will be left is the floors. Well, and the door trim, and the french door needs some work, and the cabinet doors are still in progress, and the breakfast bar hasn't been started. Well it looks a lot closer to being done anyway. Put the order in for the maple floor today. The day of having a living room is near.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Nothing has been done on the house lately because I just spent three days doing something much cooler. The pictures are from a 3 day class called Natural Finishes. The class went over interior and exterior building finishes. Day one (and picture 1) earthen finishes. Earthen finishes are basically clay, sand and water. Straw, animal hair, cotton tails, etc. can be added as filler and to improve the structural qualities. My yard is mostly clay so I'm looking forward to making a greenhouse or cold frames covered in this. Day two (and picture 2) covered lime plasters. Lime plasters are similar to what you can find in most houses for drywall but have some additional qualities and some drawbacks. The biggest drawback in my mind is the cure time which can be several months for a thick coat, only a few days though to get painted or plastered over. An earthen finish coat covered in a thin lime plaster makes a durable exterior finish. Day three (and picture 3) covered paint like finishes. From milk based casein paint and clay based coatings that can be made at home to commercial products that can be ordered.

On the left the underlying earth coat can be seen and on the right is a topping earth coat with some iron oxide for color. The middle is a lime wash, also known as a white wash.

This is a lime plaster with a thin coat of pigmented water added before the outside of the lime cures. That is how frescoes are made.

This is a small square of sheet rock with a clay based paint.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Other peoples work.

It doesn't look like anything to brag about. The new fireplace was installed yesterday. That means that the wall can finally be finished. In the upper left corner there is some paint visible from where the south wall and part of the west wall was textured and painted last weekend. The fridge got moved into the kitchen in the process. Now that is something to celebrate. Before I can use the fireplace and inspector needs to come and sign off on it. The next project will be to build a hearth and clean up for the inspector. Hopefully I'll be buying hardwood floors by the end of the month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The thing about grout is that once you start there is no stopping. Even two hours into it when you don't think that you can hold your arm up anymore there is no break because there is a time limit. Once the grout hardens it better be where you want it to be. I tried something new, it was a sealer that got added to the grout instead of water. It had very specific instructions on not adding more liquid but the bottle didn't have enough liquid for the grout mix. The thicker grout is mixed the more difficult it is to get it in the gaps between the tiles. All that is past now and there are only a few minor problems that will get fixed by the matching caulk that came with it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wood stain

There are a number of finishing pieces of wood that will be ready to install in the kitchen next week. This one will cap the island wall. It was a shame to stain this piece of wood, it was so beautiful. The wavy cross lines are still visible but they don't glow anymore. If it was up to me all of the wood would be just sanded and varnished. Sundays goal is to grout the tile and by Tuesday I'm hoping to have 4 more drawers in. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


There is even silverware in them! 8 more drawers and 12 cabinet doors to go. But it feels good to have something look done. The counter backsplace can be seen in the picture too. There is just a couple feet of tile left behind the stove and the grouting can be done. Then it'll be like a kitchen, a kitchen with no cabinet doors.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sans picture window

After two days of work the old 8'x5' picture window is gone and a 6'x4' window is in it's place. I think the new window looks more inline with the style of the house. Not that you can see that in the rather utilitarian pictures. The trim needs some touch up paint (and the house needs painting) but the outside is basically done. The inside only has the first coat of drywall mud though. The only major living room construction left is the fireplace. The a wall of drywall and tile grouting. Then the wood floors and presto, a living room slash kitchen. It has only taken 11 months to get to this point...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cabinet and tile progress.

In my typical style a little of everything has been worked on with nothing finished. Some of the face frames have been stained, varnished and installed. It is hard to tell be the cabinet on the right has a face frame. The tile back splash design was finally decided on and almost half of the tile has been laid. The kitchen might actually be done by the end of August, yay! The big project for Saturday is to replace the 8'x5' living room window.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Peas, zucchini, green beans, carrots, dill and spinach have been harvested so far. There is something very satisfying about walking out to the garden to gather some veggies as the start of making dinner. In case you are wondering about the title it is Spanish for 'kitchen garden'. The other morning I had a zucchini and carrot omelet with a tsatsiki like sauce. This place is about more than just remodeling houses, it is about making things and breakfast is a thing. So here is the tsatsiki-ish sauce recipe.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
1 branch of fresh dill, tsp or so dry.

Garlic, lemon, olive oil and salt can also be added. It's good with hummus too.

In other news the yard is just barely looking better if you glance at it sideways. Some of the cabinet staining actually worked, some has to be redone. More kitchen tile has been laid. The front window is being replaced after all. The swamp cooler keeps coming up with creative ways to get attention. I might have solved the garage ceiling problem, more on that later. The garden sprinklers were completed with the addition of a pressure regulator.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Completely lazy

Well, not really but it feels that way without the kitchen looking much different. Started staining the face frames for the cabinets but I'm not at all happy with the results. Here is a picture of the pea harvest instead. It is the third such harvest and zucchini have been harvested as well. Beans will be ready soon too. Nothing else exciting from the garden for a couple of weeks. The lack of visible kitchen progress prompted me to do some tiling on the island, that's what is under the peas. Now I'm off to lament the poor staining job.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An oven

Dinner last night was made with two, yes TWO, burners! The hot plate has been retired. Time for some tiling. The face frames are about ready for staining, just a little more work to strip the first attempt.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

phase 2

It's an island! Some day there will be an oven and a breakfast bar too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I've still been working on the kitchen but there has been some distractions in the garage. After reading about how to make a hollow mast for a sailboat I wanted to try it so I decided that the tile table that has needed a base for years would be perfect. It's called the bird mouth method. Take eight strips of wood and slide them through a table saw with the blade at 45 degrees then flip them over and do it again cutting out a 90 degree notch on one side. First I tried with a 90 degree router bit but they didn't come out very clean and well routers just aren't my favorite too. When done the strips will have a V notch in one side. This picture kinda show what they should look like.

Then line the strips up into an octagon. I wish I'd taken a picture of the glue up since I had such a hard time figuring out how to clamp it all together. Some places I saw used hose clamps but most places just didn't mention how. I ended up wrapping string around semi-loosely and then twisting sticks in the string to tighten it. After the glue up the corners that are sticking out need to be planed down. In the end you end up with a pretty beefy nearly round chunk of wood that is not only lighter but stronger than if it was a solid slab.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cutting tile and cutting corners

The kitchen came with some decent tile. It's one of the few things in the house that was not torn out at some point. When planning the new kitchen configuration I just assumed that I'd be cutting through the tile for the island wall floor plate. Cutting through tile turned out to be not that easy and it made a toxic awful smell. Seriously, I think my life has been shortened. And so enters the cut corner. I found where the floor joists were and drilled through the tile so that the floor plate can be lag bolted to the joists. A previous owner put the tile under the old counters so I put the new counters on the tile too. I feel sorry for anyone that will try to take out that tile.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cabinets, new stain and a bumper crop

My parents came up again and helped me install the wall cabinets. It turns out that I wasn't happy with the stain I had gotten for the face frames. It would have been nice if I decided this before staining all of the bottom cabinet face frames. I bought and tested (testing really, still putting varnish coats on them) several stains and the Ace Hardware Colonial Maple stain seems to have won the contest. I really like just the varnish but it doesn't go with the wall color.

The tall nettle there has grown even more since the picture was taken, it is now taller than the 6' fence behind it. Many of the prickly weeds got removed from the lawn yesterday but I just couldn't bring myself to take that one down. Couldn't figure out where to start... Speaking of growing things, the peas are doing great but every thing else has started to drown in the near two weeks of cloudy/rainy days we have been having.

Monday, May 11, 2009


The garage now has gutters which means it has soffits (and new fascias) which means that it is less drafty just in time for summer. Really it means that the garage is one step closer to being closed in with insulation so that it can be heated in the winter without just throwing money away. My job is an extra day a week now and I'm looking to buy another house so very little progress will be made on the homestead in the near future. Having to work 5 days a week makes me feel so defeated and downhearted that I've lost all hope of ever finishing this house. I know, whine whine whine. The plan was to get a couple of rentals going once this house was done so that I could quit this job. The plan is now to just get a couple of rentals going.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

2 short

Ran out of mastic with only two tiles left to install. Big milestone though. My parents were by today to help and we got the island moved out. Time to cut into the floor tiles to get the new island going. This time done right...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Minor stuff

Things have been happening, just nothing that seemed complete or worth writing about. I've felt like the ADD poster child the past few weeks. Ten minutes into doing something I goto the garage for a tool, find another project and start working on it but then start to clean up the garage when I can't find something only to find another project to work on and evenutally I come back inside to get some water and realize that I forgot the tool that I went to the garage for in the first place over 2 hours ago. Perhaps it is time to get back to making lists.

The yard has 4 rasied beds and the sprinklers are mostly done for the garden and trees.

There are more cabinets in the kitchen but it is still lacking tile on the counters. That weird shape on the wall is test paint. The color was too dark but experiementing with painters caulk has proved the stuff to be well worth the effort.

I fixed a friends chair, built a bow and a cabinet on wheels in the garage. Spent several hours organizing the garage. Not that you'd notice in the picture. Much dirt has been removed as well, the 4 yards of topsoil that was delivered is now less than 1 yard. Next is to get gravel delivered so that the driveway will be less of a mud pit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nothing spectacular

Jury duty ate up my Tuesday to work on the house. There was still enough time to move cinder blocks and dirt till I was worn out though. These days that isn't to hard though. It might actually snow this weekend so planting the garden is off but the raised beds are pretty far along and will even have a drip watering system. Once the garden is planted I can go back to working on the kitchen. The plan was to buy a rental house by now. Damn day jobs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh my there is a lot to do back there.

Here is my very sad looking back yard. The tree is a cherry and off to the right out side of the camera view is a pear tree. The concrete blocks are the functional and rather unstylish vetetable garden to be. There is about 3 yards of dirt still to move once the sprinklers are repurposed for drip irrigation. The triangle support things were once the legs of a trebuchet but the novelty wore off and now they will be the legs for a composter. The seeds were planted indoors last week and it looks like the nights in the low 30s are about over. Some of the fence blew over in a wind last month and some of the yard doesn't even have fence. Once all of the fencing is taken care of the doggy jail back in the corner will be removed and that space will become garden as well.
Boy is there a lot planned for this summer...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Got the tile for the kitchen counter. Haven't really made much progress, I've been distracted. But I did get a pear tree, a cherry tree and a black berry bush. As soon as the snow melts I'll be able to plant them too.

Edit 4/09: What the hell is pseudo suppose to mean?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kinda, but not really

It's not really green. I swear. So far I'm pretty happy with the way it is turning out. Just wish it was going a little faster. One of the wall cabinet carcasses is done as well. Still need to pick out the tile. Better get on that...

Monday, March 9, 2009


Re-did the plumbing for the hot and cold to the kitchen sink cabinet. I almost got away with reusing all of the parts for the new hot/cold lines but the tool for taking off the old PEX rings didn't fit into the fittings. Then after installing the cabinet up against the wall I realized that the cabinet actually needed to be a 1/4" to 1/2" an inch away from the wall on that side to due to a dip in the wall. Not sure how that is going to happen now. At least the valves are compression joints instead of soldered on. So tomorrow I get to spend half the day reworking what I spent all of yesterday doing. Well not all, I goofed off a lot yesterday. The other thing I've got to figure out is how to keep the wash tub that we have been using for a sink connected. Once the plywood for the counter is put on there isn't a whole lot of room. Maybe the sink will have to be hooked up after putting the plywood and cement board down in the same day. Wow, it's time to pick out the tile for the counter!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kitchen ho!

The dishwasher isn't really green, that's just the protective cover. The cabinets are progressing pretty well. So far I've about $350 invested in the cabinets. I'll need about $100 more to finish them. Maybe even less since I already bought all of the hardware. A lot of time will be invested in the project though. Just staining the face frame for the cabinet that is in has taken almost an hour and the job is only half done. I really don't want to be shopping for a house in the summer. I'm hoping that the kitchen will be done 'enough' soon so that I can start shopping for a rental.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


For some reason the spell checker thinks that soffit is spelled wrong. The gf uses it casually so I thought it was pretty common knowledge since it refers to something she has no interest in. However, she has informed me that she learned the word through listening to me. Despite the spell checkers ignorance there is now a soffit in the kitchen. Two of the cabinet carcasses are ready to install as soon as the drywall is done. The dishwasher is patiently waiting in the other room for its chance to excel. The last time I live with a dishwasher other than myself was 16 years ago so it's kind of exciting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


One of those finishing touches that seem to take for ever. The window sills aren't done yet. The cat has a nice place to look out the window now though. They are made of pine with a stain named pecan that has polyurethane mixed in. The stain is a little messier than regular stain but I'd use it again.
The first base cabinet for the kitchen was finished yesterday. It was a learning experience, as in mistakes were made. Thinking about doing the face frames in maple since it comes pre-dimensioned at the depot. Tried staining some scraps of maple and I didn't like how any of it turned out. Maybe some more coats of stain will make a difference. This weekend the soffit for the kitchen cabinets will be going up. Happy V-Day, hand me that hammer...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ta Da!

Look, drywall! There is even insulation behind it. Need to make soffits and start on the cabinets. That room might just be a kitchen some day.

Monday, January 19, 2009


The kitchen remodel is in full force. All of the counters are gone, 90% of the drywall has been torn out and the two windows have been replaced. There are a couple of wiring anomalies that made me glade to have torn out the drywall. Not only will the walls be insulated but the chance that the house will burn down has been reduced quite a bit. Live wires going nowhere, uncapped wires in metal boxes, joined wires without a box, old wires, etc... The mice should be blocked out by the time I'm done too. I bought a tool for crimping PEX and fixed a leak under the kitchen "sink". The quotes, of course, are to designate that the sink does not exist. Between the leak and just plain age there was a lot of mold behind the kitchen counter. The new wall will have some of that new mold and water resistant yellow drywall for the bottom 4' behind the sink and dishwasher. It sure will be exciting to have a kitchen, it's been well over 5 months now since selling my last house.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why French?

A lot to report and as usual the pictures will be late. The hall closet is done and more stuff got to be unpacked. Had an electrical scare. There was 2' of old wire between two sections of new wire so I replaced it. The breaker would flip when ever the lights that were connected got turned on. Turned out that the wire I replaced had no ground so when I hooked the ground up it revealed a short in a light. Bought a used french door that needs a little work but saved $300 and got the door installed so the poorly insulated addition that has no heat ducts is isolated from the rest of the house. The great room is much warmer now, 4-6 degrees. Also got an insulation blanket on the hot water heater and sealed up cracks in the duct work. The gas bill should go down considerably. Most happily I also got to spend several hours in the garage organizing and cleaning up. Perhaps fondling my new table saw too. It's so quiet, and accurate and big. It's going to be a great help when it comes time to make the kitchen cabinets. Speaking of the kitchen tomorrow is the official start of working on it. Time to rip things out. Oh and a new hall light to boot.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Table saw and some progress

It has come to my attention that life just can't go on without a decent table saw. Just how can I live under these conditions? How have I lasted so long? Well not having a place to put a decent table saw and having an extremely crappy table saw has been the impetus (impeti?) that lead down this road. So to solve that I've decided on this,

It has gotten great reviews, in fact I can't seem to find a bad review. It's cheap as far as table saws go. It'll do %99 of what I need in a table saw.

The hallway just needs some paint on top of that primer and the closet door needs to be centered. It could use a light fixture that isn't ass ugly too. Here's a picture from about two weeks ago and one from today.