Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shopping for Salvaged Materials

When we remodeled our house last year, we had intended to use quite a lot more salvaged building materials. But, it turns out, the city permitting process makes it pretty difficult. You can't just change a window size based on some excellent salvage score you've just found, because changes have to be reviewed by the Permit Dept. And it's not easy to find a salvaged item that is exactly the dimensions that you've drawn into the plan.

Therefore, in order to submit detailed drawings showing all the components of the building, we have to have all the salvaged items before we finalize the drawings! So, Sharon has been hunting around trying to locate and acquire the important salvaged materials for the garage project.

She actually found a nearly-new garage door in Eugene that was nearly identical to the one she had been contemplating ordering new! So, now we may be trekking down to Eugene on Friday to purchase that for our garage project.

We also went out to the Rebuilding Center and sifted through their doors. When we found more than one good option, we couldn't decide and didn't buy either. Now, though, we've picked which door and we're hoping it will still be there when we return tomorrow.

The windows are an especially difficult challenge. Most salvaged windows are white vinyl. We're trying to match the house and the house has green mullioned windows. We've read that you can paint vinyl windows, but you shouldn't paint light-colored windows with dark-colored paint because the vinyl breaks down under the heat of the sun. So, more than likely, we'll just end up ordering the same brand of windows we purchased for the house.

Or, if somehow we manage to find a pair of old single-paned windows that are close to the desired size and still have the frame on them, we'll go ahead and use them and paint them green. But we're still shopping around; we don't expect to get that lucky!

Update on Saturday: Here is our new garage design updated with our salvage finds! Now we just need to find windows, or resign ourselves to ordering them new.

Door Paint Stripping

Sharon did a quick pass this morning with chemical stripper on the guest bedroom door. This is where she started after the stripping with the heat gun.

This is how it looks with one quick coat of chemical stripper that was brushed on then scrubbed off with a steel kitchen scrubby.

She wanted to clean up more of the details, but while she was working outside the wind picked up and the weather turned quite cold. She actually had to put on mittens under the chemical gloves and she was quite underdressed for the project. So, she only got one pass finished on each side of the door before ducking back indoors to warm up.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Garage Dreaming

Sharon has been having fun playing with garage designs in SketchUp. Jeff designed the roof bracket, which made the process much easier. (He actually crawled out onto the roof and took measurements off the bracket by our bedroom windows so he could scale the new ones closely.) This is getting close to what we'd like to build!

We had surprisingly nice weather today, so we managed to get the second coat of stain up in the master bedroom. It was quite a chore, but we're getting there!
We still have to shellac. And we still have to repeat the whole process over again for the doors and shoe moulding.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Playing With SketchUp

Our garage is a disaster. It seems like it has more rotted boards than good boards. You can see light through the walls and it leaks. There has been a squirrel living out there the last couple of winters and it does no good to keep the doors closed up, because the squirrel fits through the gaps in the siding (and Sharon is too much of a softy to kill it). Finally, the garage has no electrical outlets so no power tools can be plugged in, making it a lot less useful as a workshop space. Right now, we're mostly using it to store salvage and garden supplies.
We've been putting off dealing with remodeling it because of the expense, but we ran across an under-employed carpenter who can help us. We're a little hazy on what permits we need to remodel our garage; we think only electrical. However, besides fixing the bad wood, we're also planning to add a gable roof to replace the flat roof. So today we spent several hours trying to learn how to use SketchUp so we can go to the city and see what permits we need to pull. This is Sharon's first attempt at drawing out the existing garage.

Sharon is still working on drawing the post-remodel garage design. It's nearly done, but we're still trying to add all the fidgety details like roof brackets and door and window trim. SketchUp is a pretty fun tool.

We are rather overwhelmed with projects right now, so we aren't going to rush this one, but we did want to get the permit process started, if there is one. And our weather has not been cooperating with our plans to finish the staining. We've got another storm front coming in and possibly more snow tomorrow. It's too cold to pull the windows—rain or not!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rain Gardens Planted

Last weekend, Jeff picked up another native plant order; this time from the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District. He spent several hours planting these plants in three of our four rain gardens. We got quite a lot of ferns this time...

Most of the plants from this order were for the backyard rain garden. That rain garden is tough because it's mostly in the shade so we have to be fairly careful about the plants we select; they have to be able to tolerate wet roots and full shade.
The shrubs are still mostly sticks, but they'll look a bit better when they leaf out again in a month or two.

As an aside, for folks in the Portland, Oregon area who are looking for edible plant starts for this coming year, the Multnomah Master Gardeners are having an Incredible Edibles Plant Sale. Though the pre-orders closes today, you can also purchase plants on the day of pick up—May 5th. Jeff is helping out with the sale this year.

And because we seem to be keeping track of a number of spring sales, there's one in Marion County on March 9 and 10 in Gervais, Oregon by Marion Soil & Water Conservation District. They have an impressive list of natives for excellent prices.

The Friends of Tryon Creek is having a Native & Hardy Plant Sale on March 31 through April 1, 2012.

Finally, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District is having a Green Gardening Fair and Spring Native Plant Sale on April 28, 2012.

On that same weekend (April 28 & 29), the Audubon Society is also having a Native Plants for Native Birds Sale along with three education sessions on the use, design and care of native plants.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Small Projects

Sharon seems to have gotten her act together this week and is finally managing to work on more home projects during her days.

This morning she finished recoating the smaller master bedroom closet. We hadn't really been planning to recoat the whole closet, but we had an extra tub of joint compound and the walls were very rough. Sharon thought the paint job would look much better once the walls were smoother. It is an interesting joint compound that goes on pink and then turns white when it dries.

Then this afternoon, since the weather has been so unpredictable, Sharon decided she may as well start a new paint stripping project that could be done outside under cover. Right after we finish our master bedroom, we're planning to strip paint in the bedroom we plan to set up as a guest bedroom. We usually have the doors dipped, but it costs around $140 each, and we have more time than money at this point. So we've decided to strip the doors ourselves for this last room.

This paint has been particularly tough to remove with the heat gun; perhaps it's the cold air outside. In our earlier attempts, paint has stripped off a bit faster. After 5 or 6 hours of effort, she got only one side of the door mostly stripped. There is still several hours of chemical stripping needed to clean up this one side of the door.

Our ultimate goal for this door is to stain it, so we'll be spending many hours cleaning it up over the next week.

Update on Saturday: After another half-day of work, side two looks the same.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Despite the bad weather forecast, when Sharon spied a sunbreak she rushed upstairs to continue the staining project! The weather was a little scary when at one point there was a few sprinkles, but luckily the sun stuck around for the three hours this project required.
Though, now we need another sunny day to apply the second stain coat. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky in the next several days.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Staining Progress Delayed

Our rainy weather has called a halt to our staining progress. We stained all the woodwork in the master bedroom but the windows.

We need to remove the window sashes to stain them; luckily they pop out fairly easy which is a nice feature. But we can't remove the window sashes if it's raining. The roof angles down right outside those windows, and the rain is likely to splash onto the freshly-stained woodwork and damage the finish while the windows sashes are removed and drying. Here's hoping for one day of sun — soon please!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sneak Peek

It has begun...
This first can of stain is awful! It is thin and runny and keeps dripping and making huge messes. We were planning to repaint, but now repainting is a sure thing!

Also, our disposable gloves that claimed they were for staining, kept "melting" when we got stain on them. They, needless to say, were not terribly helpful.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Effective Sanding Tools

Sharon bought some new sanding tools yesterday at her local woodworking store.

There were so many crevices in the woodwork that were nearly impossible to sand that Sharon went casting about for solutions. She brought these tools home yesterday and they pretty much did the trick for those last few stubborn spots! So, she thought she should share the info with any others who might be struggling with the same challenges.

These are called contour sanding grips. You wrap the sandpaper around the shaped edge and can hold it in place while you sand. These did the trick for getting into the crevices and profiles.

Sharon also struggled to get the wood picture rail sanded right up into the corners. Sanding sponges were too squishy. This tool did the trick because it was stiff and the sandpaper could be pushed right into the corner. It was also narrow enough to fit into the flat portion of the moulding. She's not really sure what this tool is called, as it didn't come in a package, but it did the trick for sanding into those stubborn corners.
So now, we can begin cleaning the wood for staining. We have to vacuum it down and wipe it down with a tackcloth. Then we're going to apply pre-stain wood conditioner followed a while later by the first coat of stain. And we're hoping to start this weekend.

But today, Jeff is going to pick up more native plants for our rain gardens and many of them are bareroot. And therefore—today—we must deal with plants.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gearing Up To Apply Color!

Sharon went off today to buy pre-stain wood treatment!! Sharon has read in a number of sources that softwoods, such as douglas fir, stain more evenly when first treated with some sort of pre-stain. Sharon picked up a gallon of the pre-stain today.

(In our finishing class, we learned to use hide glue, but unfortunately we don't remember the proportion or the exact details of how we applied it, and we were not provided with any kind of handout. Which, BTW, was a pretty significant disappointment after spending $800 EA for that class!)

Also, Sharon wanted to find a paint that would fairly closely match the stain. Here are the color samples Sharon picked up at Sherwin Williams today:

The color choice was obvious, once we laid it up against the woodwork. We're buying the paint for both patching up those little white spots when staining the master bedroom and also for finishing the basement bathroom.

At the end of the remodel, here is what we were left with on the doorways down in the basement. We apparently had not realized they planned to finish that bathroom area "paint grade." That wood, by the way, is douglas fir. And even though it is paint grade, it looks fairly good. EXCEPT, of course, for that stupid MDF molding piece. (And those one-panel primed doors don't match anything in this house.)

During the remodel things were happening so fast, we didn't notice the MDF until the woodwork was installed. Since, we're not prepared to replace all that woodwork, we're just going to paint that white piece and door and stain the rest of the wood. Which should do for now...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Slowly Prepping for Stain

Sharon and Jeff have been slowly preparing the master bedroom for staining. It seems to be taking forever!

Sharon patched cracks and holes in the plaster. Then, Jeff went through and filled holes in the woodwork, of which there were many—especially on the header of the windows.

Then, Sharon followed behind, the next day, and sanded down the excess wood filler which smeared onto the adjacent areas. And we continue to sand the woodwork to try and remove all scrapes and tool marks.

Sharon has also been spending time detail sanding the three doors.

It seems like we're finally getting really close to being able to start staining.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quilt Top — Done!!

Sharon's still debating about what to do for the backing, but the pieced quit top is done! Alas, we really don't have any piece of floor large enough to lay it out, so there won't be a good picture of it until after it's quilted and bound.

This was a really fun project. I enjoyed making all these squares that dated from 1913 and earlier.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Another lucky score!

When Sharon's stepmother was here, they went cruising around to a number of thrift stores—for kicks! It's often fun to see what you can find. Well, Sharon made a lucky score! A tapestry cushion for $5!!
Sharon tried today to exactly date the design. It sounds like it may have been designed by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones who worked with William Morris. But, in any case, it was certainly designed by a designer at William Morris & Co. in the late-1800s. It is half of this tapestry design.
Sharon's been poking around for cushions like this for a while, but most of them are over $50 for just the unfinished panel. Though, now she may have to consider buying the mate.

It seems our decor is going to continue to go more in the direction of William Morris rather than Gustav Stickley. =)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Historic Quilt Layout

After spending a while working on the master bedroom, vacuuming dust and patching the plaster in preparation for staining, Sharon decided to spend some time this afternoon working on her quilt. We have a layout.

Update on the next day: All assembled. Now it's time to get to work on the borders.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Basement Bathroom

Sharon's father, Lloyd, helped us install the new toilet in the basement bathroom.

We're considering this a temporary install because we haven't gotten around to finishing the wood or installing the flooring. But this will work out for a while for those midnight emergencies. And we can also get an exact measurement for the sink cabinet shopping.

Jeff and Lloyd also installed weather stripping on a couple of exterior doors.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Door Disassembly

When Sharon's father visits, we typically manage to undertake "scary" projects. Taking apart cabinet doors qualifies as "scary" in our book.

Carefully prying off wood moulding
Carefully prying off wood moulding

Success! Moulding saved and glass removed.
Now that we've removed this leaded glass panel out of the cabinet door, we can determine what size Y-channel lead caming to order for making our replacement panels. Ordering these is nearly the last impediment to getting started on this project.