Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fun with Glass in the New Garage

Samples Jeff made during class
Now that the garage is done but we haven't moved all our stuff into it, we had a magic opportunity to use the space to hold a class in lampwork glass bead making.

We had a beginning class in the morning and an intermediate class in the afternoon with six students in each class. The instructor demonstrated several techniques then we would get a chance to experiment.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Garage Progress

When he wasn't busy with agility training, Jeff managed a fair amount of progress on the garage this week. He found it easier to fit the rigid insulation in between the trusses by cutting down the pieces another 1/4-inch. (Just for the record, we used Rmax Thermasheath-3 in the 2" thickness; sold at Home Depot.) He still needs to finish filling in the lower edge, as the sheets were 8' long and there is about a 3' gap at the bottom.

It has already made a big difference in the temperature in the attic—almost 20 degrees!
We're still debating about whether we should install a second radiant barrier over the top.

For now, we decided not to sheetrock the garage as it's so much easier to move the electrical outlets and lighting while the wall framing is accessible. Once we get the shop set up, we will probably insulate and sheetrock the walls the rest of the way.

Jeff also spent a few hours installing tool hanging technology.  He installed the scrap of pegboard leftover from the workbench project on the short wall and I bought him a bunch of pegboard hooks so he could start organizing his hand tools.
Jeff also got our large tool hanging racks hung on the wall. We've been storing our garden tools in a garbage can for several years, so it is nice to finally get them hung up and organized.

I guess we can finally start moving stuff back into the garage from storage.

On the paint stripping front, I totally lost motivation to work on it this week. But this afternoon I managed a bit of forward progress, by working on sanding the new linen cabinet doors.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Insulating the Garage

Before we fill up the garage with stuff again, Jeff said he wanted to insulate the attic first. We don't want to put up a ceiling because we want to be able to easily access the attic space for storage. So, we decided to try insulating up in the rafters instead.
Jeff bought the rigid insulation the guy at Knez Building Materials recommended then crawled around in the trusses and measured the gap between each of them. Then we spent a couple hours slicing it up into pieces that were supposed to fit between the trusses.
I thought it would be a quick little project—and take maybe an afternoon or two. The reality has proved otherwise.
Monkey Jeff crawling around in the trusses
Jeff has already spent quite a few nail biting hours crawling around in the trusses. (I'm the one doing the nail biting, not him.) And despite his hours up there, he's only managed to stuff insulation into about seven of the 20 bays between the trusses.
At this rate, it will probably take him the rest of the week to finish this project. Poor guy.

Though, this afternoon, I did go buy some heavy duty plywood to insert in the floor of trusses. I'm hoping it will increase Jeff's speed and reduce my worry about him falling.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Still Stripping

I've sort of lost count of how many days I've worked on this tedious project, but I try and work on it every day, at least for a couple of hours.

I've mostly finished stripping everything with the heat gun and the first pass with the chemicals. Jeff spent a couple hours helping me strip the high areas I couldn't reach.
I've done a bit of sanding of the pretty parts, like the newell post and balusters.
Stripping the wallstring has not been fun; the tools just don't seem to reach into the back corner because of the overhang of the tread (called the tread nosing, I think). 

So far, I've resisted the impulse to strip the risers, though it's been difficult because there is some nice looking wood under there. I clearly have a problem . . .  =) But I'm thinking the white paint will provide a good contrast from the stained wood when climbing the stairs in dim light.
We also finally finished a tiny project—hanging our house number. I actually bought them about a year ago, but didn't hang them on the pillar as I originally planned when I realized they would get covered over by the wisteria. So, this was plan B. I had to make and paint a wood base for the numbers because they were too tall to install directly on the beveled siding.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Entryway Paint Stripping

I got back to work at stripping paint in the stairwell and entryway. It's slow going and actually pretty difficult to get into the nooks and crannies, but I'm making good progress. There will probably be a lot more touchup with paint in this area.

Today we finally masked the entryway to protect the refinished oak floors. It would be sad to mess those up.

On a positive note, I did discover our Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool we bought last year will sand between the balusters and some of the other hard-to-reach spots. There will still be plenty of sanding by hand, but this will hopefully reduce the time by quite a bit.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We Built a Workbench

It's funny how we get distracted by projects that zoom right up to the top of the queue. Somehow I decided we needed to build this neat storage workbench from a pile of old timbers sitting in our yard. This is going to be a great place to store salvaged wood and sheets of plywood.
This is our very first woodworking project—without help from someone else.

It's not actually done yet—it's supposed to look like this. (We found the inspiration at the Family Handyman website.)

We've got the rest of the pieces—but we ran out of day. We worked until 9PM this evening, but didn't quite get it finished and I'm too impatient to actually wait until we finish to post about this project.

We're really pleased with ourselves. We built this from old timbers from the torn down garage. It took quite a bit of time to remove the nails, and then we worked around the nails we couldn't get out. (We bought a metal sensor at the recommendation of my woodworking class teacher last year.) Yesterday we worked on de-nailing and cutting the wood.
Then today we got to use our router to make dado joints! Another first for us.

And then we assembled the pieces. We needed to build four of these frames. This wood is really—what do you call it—rustic. There are rot spots, tons of nail holes and splitting throughout the boards. But it feels really good to be able to reuse part of the old garage. And I think those blemishes add character.
For the countertop, I bought a beech slab from IKEA earlier today because it was actually close to the price of a piece of good 3/4-inch plywood and it's definitely much prettier. I'd never been to IKEA before—what a wierd store. I'm not addicted.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hinge Binge

New ball tip brass hinges
As we've been slowly putting the house together we've found the brass plating has worn off the door hinges. Also, in the past a few of them were replaced so the different halves don't always fit together. And, of course, we didn't always keep the halves together because quite often the door half was painted to the door and went in with the door for paint stripping.

Anyway, as we're rehanging doors, the hinge parts don't always fit together. It can be frustrating trying to dig through the box of old hardware trying to find matching sets. And I'm thinking some of the pieces may have gone missing as we don't seem to have enough pairs.

Sure, we could pull all the hinges and lay them out and get them all matched up again, but I really wanted to replace them anyway. So, last month I went looking for the best brass ball-tip hinge deal I could find. The Old House Online website had a list of hardware suppliers and I found a mention of Taamba Heirloom Hardware, which is the brand I ultimately ended up buying.

I found their 3½-inch ball tip hinges at on sale for $11.32, then with a 10% coupon code I got them for about $10 each. They claim to be solid unlacquered brass ball tip hinges, but the first one I opened had a small defect. (I contacted the company and they said they'll replace it, but I'm going to wait until I've opened all the packages.)

The small brass hinges are for the new cabinet doors for the linen cabinet and they came from (Solid Brass Hinges with Ball Tip.) We're also going to go ahead and replace the cabinet door hinges on the main floor because the guys doing the staining covered them with red stain. They didn't look good to begin with, so this provided an excuse.

I do like my shiny brass hardware . . .

I also bought brass-colored closet rods and flanges, but they're still in the box. I'm so hoping we can also get the closets finished by the end of the year . . . We have so many projects in the works right now, it's a little overwhelming.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sealing Garage Floor

I decided we'd better get going on some of our outdoor ToDo list items before this summer ends... The weather is already getting cooler outside and the rains will return soon. One of the things I wanted to do was to seal our concrete floor in the new garage.

I spent hours researching online for a product that would protect the concrete and wouldn't need to be reapplied every couple of years. We bought one product from Home Depot but when I went and looked at the reviews, all their products seem to eventually peel off. This is really a one-shot opportunity for us. It is highly unlikely we'll ever be willing to move back out of the garage to clean and reseal the floors.

Based on reviews, I ended up buying a product from RadonSeal. I called them and they recommended DryWay. I still don't know if this was the right product, but if it doesn't work, you're sure to hear about it later. =)

The product came last week, so today Jeff and I worked on clearing out the garage so we could finally get this project finished. It was sort of amazing how full the garage had gotten in the month since it was finished.

It took us several hours to get it cleared out. Then we had to pull up the paper protecting the the floor. Finally, we went through and thoroughly swept and vacuumed the concrete.

Since it was still light out, Jeff decided to just go ahead and apply the sealer tonight rather than wait until tomorrow. It really only took him about a half-hour and now it's done! Hopefully enough of it penetrated the cement, because he didn't need nearly as much as the package said it would take.
And now we should finally be able to start moving back into the garage. I'm pretty eager to get out of storage because that is definitely a financial drain. Hopefully we'll be out by the end of the year.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Shasta's 4th Birthday

Shasta had a big day today—she got to run in her very first agility competition. Today she ran in two events: Novice Tunnelers and Novice Jumpers.
We got there early because Jeff offered to help out during the event so I was on dog-sitting duty most of the day. Shasta and I spent several long sessions playing fetch over by a horse corral and the rest of the time we just hung out watching the rest of the competitors.

I think they did well for the amount of training Shasta's had; she's in the third of four classes available in the group we're playing with.

Anyway, both events had a mistake, but she finished and they both had fun, which is really the most important part. Good job Shasta and Jeff!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paint Scraping Tools

Since I try to enable people to restore the natural wood in their homes, it has always felt a bit inadequate to just say "I used dental tools and paint scrapers."

I was lucky and found my dental tools at a local army surplus store. I bought one of most every shape they carried (about 20 or so) and not all of them were useful. Dental tools with thin wires were not useful; the wires bent too easily. It's better to stick with steel tools with stout tips. Of the tools we bought, these were the most useful.
The most useful paint stripping tools from our set
While I was lucky to find a good selection of "dental tools" at my local army surplus store, it really doesn't help anybody else who doesn't live near Portland. So, I went searching for them online and I think my favorites must actually be carving tools. If you do a search on "clay carving tool set" or "wax carvers and spatulas" you're likely to find quite a few. Here is a link for one nice looking set: 12 Piece Wax Carving and Pick Set.

As for the larger profile scrapers, we own quite a few. One of the more useful was this Allway scraper with interchangeable blades. And while the ergonomic handle was comfortable to use, it was inconvenient to stop and change blades. I might have liked it better if I bought more than one so I could have had them set up with different blades.

Oval Paint Scraper
The tools we most used were like these. Almost all of our paint scraping was done with the Oval Paint Scraper and the Triangle Paint Scraper. We also occasionally used the Round End Panel Blade Paint Scraper, but we surely could have gotten by with the first two if we hadn't had the last.

During my slow progress scraping the entryway staircase, the most useful dental tool is the one pictured at right. It fits between the balusters and does a good job at scraping off the softened paint. Though, progress is slow. It took me six or so hours to clean the majority of the inside edges of the balusters with KleanStrip. And there is still plenty of detail work needed, digging paint out of visible corners.

Today, I did a bit more paint stripping with the heat gun. I'm almost done with the first pass on this side, I just need some help from Jeff at getting to the woodwork near the ceiling. Though there is still stripping the wood base trim, the inner string, along the left side of the staircase—and the two windows. We still have at least a couple more days with the heat gun.
Paint Stripping Progress - Day 3

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Progress Report, Day 2

I spent many hours today stripping paint in the stairway. I continued to work my way around the newell and then started up the second side. Then, this evening, Jeff joined me for a couple hours to work on the higher portions. (Thanks Jeff!)
Paint Stripping Progress - Day 2
While Jeff was using the heat gun, I started working with the chemicals. I focused my energy on experimenting with removing paint between the balusters. Unfortunately, the only scraping tools that fit in between the balusters are dental tools, so this is going to take a while . . .

The grain on this wood is very fine. It would be a tragedy to lose any of it. This piece of wood is only about a half-inch thick; I'm counting 19 growth rings.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Glutton for Punishment

Since I totally wasted yesterday goofing off in pinterest, I was determined to actually manage some productive work today. I guess I just didn't feel like staining my closet. Instead my motivation drew me in another direction...
Paint Stripping Progress - Day 1
I had planned to strip this woodwork next year, but I just kept thinking about how it made a lot more sense to refinish the stairs at the same time as the floors in the upstairs bedrooms. And I'm really not going to be thrilled about tromping through a construction zone next year when we're living upstairs again. So today, on a whim, I got started. 

Most of the paint is coming off pretty well. The hardest part is the ½-inch gap between the balusters. None of the paint scrapers are skinny enough to fit in the space. Though, Jeff discovered we could get most of the paint off with the heat gun and our 6-in-1 tool. 

It's going to be a challenge to strip this staircase in place. It is possible we'll pull the pieces, strip them and then reinstall them. But I'm terrified we'll break some of the wood and it really is gorgeous old growth douglas fir so that would be a tragedy. Therefore, I'm trying to see if it's possible to strip in place.

I do need to race through this project, though. I have to have all this woodwork finished, the floors refinished, and the rooms furnished by December. Even though it seems like plenty of time, we also have a bunch of other projects outside that need to be finished too (like the gutters).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Closets Painted!

I worked about 10 hours over the weekend trying to finish priming and painting both closets. I finally finished this evening.

Jeff decided he wanted his closet painted in Sherwin Williams' White Hyacinth (SW0046)—the same color we painted on the ceilings throughout the house.
The guest bedroom closet got painted with Hubbard Squash (SW0044), like the rest of the room. I also shellacked the woodwork over the paint. Now it's shiny like the stained woodwork in the rest of the room.

Next up, Sharon's huge closet.