Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Patching a Friend's Floor

So my friend Devin decided recently to rip-up the carpeting in his living room. He knew there was hardwood under the carpet, and it was one of those "we'll eventually fix it" projects, but since he has a baby on the way, he's decided to tackle a bunch of projects NOW.

So he sent me a message a few days ago with a few photos and asked me if I could give him a hand.


Since this used to be two rooms, there was part of a wall that had been poorly patched up. Originally Devin just wanted to fit some boards in there across the grain, but I told him that would look like crap, and that we could probably steal some flooring from one of the closets and just patch it in.

When I got there on Saturday afternoon however, the entire household was in a panic because there was a pipe that had burst in the basement. He and his parents were in the basement most of the day cleaning up and inspecting the damages. Luckily the pipe hadn't leaked for very long.

As this was going on, I made the discovery that our plan was NOT going to work.

If you look at the photo above, the shop vac is in a tiny hallway that leads to the bathroom, with one bedroom on the side, and one small closet in the hallway. To the front lower left of the photo is another bedroom (with a closet that buts up to the one in the hallway). When I checked the closet flooring in the hallway, I found that it was 2 1/4" wide birch boards, which are a half inch too wide (the flooring in the living room is 1 3/4" birch). Same in the two bedrooms and all 3 closets. Because of this, I made the executive decision to pry up a small amount of flooring from in front of the bathroom door (the span of the hallway). I made a quick calculation with Gen (who was taking it easy on the sofa - because she's pregnant) that the patching I'd need to do would only require about 7 floor boards from the hallway (which works out to about a 1 foot section of flooring. We could install new wood here, and it would be much less noticeable than in the middle of the floor in the living room.

With this decided, I spent probably an hour just trying to carefully pry-up that first board or two without breaking too much of anything. A few boards did snap into pieces, but I was able to reglue them at home and use them.

On this side (sorry for the blurry pics, they're all I've got) there was a section of wall as well as a heating grate hole (plus the cold air return near the wall).


I started with this section. All the boards had to be cut to make a random staggered pattern. Once the boards were trimmed (using a multi-tool with a wood cutting blade), I then carefully cut and installed each section one board at a time. This it tedious since you want a nice tight fit. If it's too tight, you risk chipping or cracking the edges of the boards, and if it's too loose, you get unsightly gaps. I spent about 7 hours on this the first day (Sat), and finished this section and the other side on Sunday.

It looks kind of terrible right now, but once it's all sanded and the odd nail holes are filled, it should all virtually disappear.


On this side I had to groove into the sub-floor to bury that electrical wire.


I think I must have done about another 6-7 hours on Sunday, too. I went in around 11:30 and didn't get back home until supper time. Maybe 5pm or 6pm?



Overall it turned out pretty good. I did end up running a bit short on wood, and taking up an 8th row, but the overall section to replace will only be about 15" x 38".

The seams in the floor overall are very tight, but I suggested to Devin that he should putty these gaps (there aren't that many). I'll probably give him a hand to sand next weekend.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring Cleaning (and a bit of a rant)

If you're the kind of person who dumps a bunch of trash on somebody's lawn...


Or you're the kind of person who thinks it's totally fine to just take the shopping carts home with you and randomly ditch them somewhere...


I have news for you: you are a GARBAGE human being! Seriously. What's wrong with people? Who does this?

As if I didn't have enough trash and dead branches to pick up in my yard. Anyhow, today I finally did a big post-winter yard cleanup. I picked up all the trash (cups, bits of plastic, water bottles, and various wrappers and papers), picked up 2 full trash cans full of dead branches (which I had been piling next to the house all through winter), and I also raked-up two full leaf bags of dead leaves, more bits of dead branches, dead grass, and bark chips.

By the time I was done, I was too exhausted to mow the lawn, but it will need to be done in the next few days. Half the lawn is barely an inch tall but the other side is already about 4 or 5 inches tall in some spots.

Luckily those 2 carts were picked up and I didn't even see them get scooped-up.




Friday, March 31, 2017

Too Many Chairs

I had a conversation at work today with my boss where I eventually ended up uttering the comment: "I need more chairs like I need a hole in the head".

This prompted me to actually go through the house tonight and COUNT all the chairs.

Apparently I have 38 chairs.

38 chairs is TOO MANY CHAIRS. I mean, seriously, that's insane. Now I should mention that I counted everything that could be considered as a chair. What I mean by this is that I included "chairs that can't currently be used", like antique chair frames that need upholstery, and broken chairs that need repairs or refinishing. I also counted junk pieces like the busted-up chair I keep in the garage just out of convenience (it's covered in paint and the original seat was changed to a piece of painted plywood long ago), and other oddballs like my computer chair, a small bench, as well as chairs like the fancy wing chair in the living room, and the deteriorating "papasan chair" in my front porch (which I want to get rid of).

Refurbished wing chair (free - found at the road, but I redid all the legs and changed the shape of the back):

Lovely antique straw and kapok stuffed chair found at the road:

Out of the "incomplete" ones, I was donated 3 chair frames. One is a completely disassembled Victorian chair in a box (it needs repairs, refinishing, gluing together, and complete upholstery), and a pair of beautiful inlaid French or English tub chairs (just the bare frames, these will be GORGEOUS but need a bunch of work, too). I need to take a photo of those chair frames. I also have a fairly plain bare frame with springs from a roadside find that I picked up probably over a decade ago.

Plain bare chair frame (roadside find) with a solid elm frame (an old photo from back at the apartment):
 photo FreeChairFrame01.jpg

Then there are the full set of chairs for the dining room (8 of them), and the chair and bench that go with my walnut bedroom set. Aside from these, all the rest are random finds. Some were bought from yard sales, one came from an auction, and several others were free or nearly free. Pretty much all of them are antique, or at least 60 years old.

Dining room chair set (mahogany):

Gibbard furniture set which has one chair and a matching bench (shown in the next photo):

Old (vintage?) chair with fancy arms and turned legs (yard sale find):

I do have at least a dozen that I want to get rid of. Obviously the majority of these are piled in the basement right now, so they aren't being used in any way.

So yeah, it's not like I'm hoarding chairs or anything (not purposefully anyway!), but I definitely have WAY TOO MANY.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Finished Shop Hutch

This post is almost a year late by now, mostly because I wasn't happy with how the photos turned out (poor lighting and many with a yellow hue), but I decided not to retake the photos and just post what I have.

The hutch has been an on-and-off project since I started building it some time in 2012. Here are the relevant posts I was able to find about it.


To recap the project just quickly and generally: this is a large cabinet I decided to build entirely out of scrap materials. I spent almost no money on this build. The only expenses were hardware (13 wood knobs at about 20 cents a piece, plus several inexpensive brass hinges), and paint. A lot of it was built from scrap 2x4s, scrap 3/4" thick pine (lots of which was already coated in old paint and full of nail holes), and scrap plywood removed from the house (sub-floor and other bad repairs). The upper doors were made from salvaged basement windows (found frequently in the trash). As mentioned in the last post above, the hutch was finished last summer.

For the longest time, the part of the hutch I was avoiding finishing was building the drawers, and fitting the lower doors. The lower doors were made from the painted plywood doors from the old laundry room cabinets upstairs (demo'd sometime in 2010 or 2011). I decided that fake tongue-and-groove doors would look a lot nicer than flat doors, since I was going for a 1920s look, so I routed grooves into them. The drawer runners and spacers were also finally installed (all junk wood), and I cut the drawer faces to size (also from the old plywood doors). Once these elements were done, all the exterior parts were ready for paint. They look painted already, but it's all old existing white paint.




I decided to prime all the raw plywood, since I knew it would suck up too much paint if I skipped that step. I also puttied most of the holes, and put acrylic caulking along the crown and in any wide gaps or holes.


Note that the interior (top part) had already been painted with "sand" colour oil paint (a few years back). There's also some of the replacement pieces of glass in there for the doors.

It took me a while to pick a shade of green, but I ended up picking something very close to the green in the room upstairs "Olivine". This was custom tinted oil paint. Why green? No specific reason, but some woodworking tools tend to be painted a similar green, and green tends to look nice next to raw wood and white (walls will eventually be just white).




I think I only did one good coat of the green oil paint.



The doors and drawer faces had to be done one side at a time, because it's just too sticky and awkward otherwise.



Doors were painted on both sides. It's always better to start on the backs, and finish with the fronts.


A bunch of the brass butterfly hinges were bought on sale, but I also found some at the Re-Store (Habitat for Humanity).


At this point, I hadn't built the actual drawer boxes yet, so these were just mocked-up for show.


I really like wooden knobs on furniture. They seem to have largely fallen out of style though. Most people prefer metal ones.



Fast-forward a few weeks, and I had built the drawer boxes, and also installed some shelves in the upper left. You might get a vague idea of the size from this photo also. The hutch is just shy of 98" tall (just a hair over 8 feet), and the countertop area is 8 feet wide exactly (I made it so that the top could be made from a sheet of plywood). Countertop is about 3 feet high, and 23" deep.



The shelves hold tools like my router, hand planes, and some sanding items.


The other half holds a lot of my larger hand tools like my saws. I have a few hooks on the right for ear protection and more saws.


I still want to add a shelf on each side of the base.



The drawers are just simple plywood boxes. They currently hold things like chisels, router bits, and a few other odds and ends.


I want to stress that while the cabinet looks great, and I'm super happy with it, it's really nothing fancy. I can do precision master carpentry, but this is just a very rough piece that is 90% nailed together. There are a lot of crappy saw cuts, several crooked lines, and rough parts. Some pieces are thicker than others, some have cracks, dents, and broken bits. There are also two cracked panes of old glass that I left alone (the missing ones were replaced).


The crown was a donation from a guy down the street who saved them for me (a few different lengths). They were going to the garbage. You could easily just make a 45 degree crown or a cove crown cut on the table saw instead. There's also always places like the Re-Store that sell all sorts of crown for a few dollars per piece.


A lot of it is also cheap plywood, so you can see all the rough texture of it. If you had more money for better plywood (or MDF, or solid wood), a hutch like this could be made much nicer.


All that said, I have maybe 50-60$ in this, but obviously LOTS of time. I am really happy with it. Eventually I will also restore that giant Victorian countertop cabinet (with the 15 drawers) and a bunch more of my tools will go in there too.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dining Room Ceiling Part 5 (Done!)

I could have divided this into two parts, but in the end I didn't want to. This was a pretty big job, especially since there was "nothing wrong" with the drywall ceiling, but I have no regrets. The painted wood ceiling is a million times better than the drywall, especially since it was already there and didn't cost me anything to install.

Here is the list of previous posts for this project:

The only expense for this project was 1 can of Bin shellac sealer (25$ for a quart), 1 can of white paint (a gallon on sale for 20$), and a 2.50$ tube of acrylic silicone. I should add that the paints were bought with gift cards and points, so the total cost of those was only about 10$.

As I said in the last update, I picked at the ceiling for what seems like an eternity until I reached a point where I just had enough. There were a few strips of tongue-and-groove along the back wall that looked fine (no chipping or loose paint) so I left those alone. I also left a few of the stubborn areas alone.

Next step was to move out the sideboard, tarp-off the buffet, and protect the floor.


I used a bunch of old cardboard from when I painted upstairs, and plastic table cloth covers.


Before installing the crown, I had to patch all the top edge of the walls where the crown was before.



I also did a bit along the line of the baseboard, and later (not shown) I also fixed around all the plugs.



Crown reinstalled. This was easy since all the cuts and joints were already done, haha.


Caulking and nail holes puttied.



Shellac sealer/primer. This is the most important step, and the likely reason why the previous paint job failed. This is a semi-transparent, and sort of beige sealer coat. It is made with shellac, and because of this, it's VERY messy, and you can only clean it off using alcohol (methyl hydrate in Canada). It is great, however, at blocking stains, oils, odours, varnishes, and it sticks to pretty much anything (including glass, and metal).

I decided to do the shellac primer BEFORE puttying the old screw holes in the ceiling from the drywall. This is because they were just too hard to see against the dark wood.





The white shellac also helped get a feel for how the finished ceiling would look, and it highlighted any of the flaws I might want to fix or patch before the final paint coats.



Overall I was pretty happy, but there were still a LOT of places where I went back over and nit-picked at for hours. Some spots were original flaws like cracked knots, but there were also the screw holes, and many little chippy paint bits along the edges of boards. I also had to blend-in some of the patched repairs and I used drywall compound for that (it's the easiest to sand).


Once I was "happy" with the ceiling (or gave up and said it would be good enough). I started the first of two coats of white semi-gloss paint. This is not the same white trim paint I already have, because I think it's being discontinued. This paint is actually an exterior paint, but that just means it's made to hold up better to extreme weather and temperature changes. Indoor use id fine. It's a bit shinier than the rest of my "semi-gloss" trim paint, but I don't really mind.




Looking pretty good.


I did not fill any of the cracks or gaps in the ceiling (just to see how it would turn out), but after the first coat was done, I had just a few spots like these where I did go back and fill with acrylic caulking before the second coat of white. There were only about 10 spots that needed gap-filling. I wanted some thin cracks so that it matches the other ceilings on the main floor.


You can really see how much difference there is between the shellac sealer and the white paint. If you wanted to, you could also do a regular acrylic primer over the shellac sealer.



I think this was during the second coat of white. It's hard to tell the difference in the crummy lighting.




Depending on the light (angles) you can still see all the thin chippy areas, but 90% of the time it doesn't show up.





If it's anything like all the rest of the "glossy" paints I've used, it will dull down over time. For now it's nice and shiny, which actually helps reflect the light much better.



It was SO NICE to finally move everything back into the room. It's been a month and a half that I've had dining room chairs in the living room, and clocks all over the floors in the office and living room. I did move around a few pieces. I shrunk down the table (removed the leaf) and I moved that pine cabinet out of the room. I also got rid of the bench with all the plants in front of the window. The lemon tree was moved to a sunny window upstairs.

I still don't know what colour I want to paint the room. I want a light colour. Green would look good, but I already have 2 green rooms. Same for blue. I wouldn't hate pink, but it's not my favourite colour either. I've toyed around with yellow, but none of the shades I sampled were any good. I'm open to suggestions.