Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kitchen Update November 30

We started this week with a bit more dry walling. I cut out the crumbly dry wall around the top of the window, put in a new piece and mudded it. We just did some rough sanding afterwards because it's going to have tile over it soon.

Calvin saw Caroline with her white dusty hair and said "Mom, you look old!"

I also decided that I'd better box in the vent. It has been bugging me to see the sheet metal which was at an angle to get past the joist in the ceiling and which has a 1/2 inch gap behind it. I just knew stuff was going to get stuck back there and it wasn't I had to box it in.

Next up was the board that spanned the area between the cupboards above the sink. Caroline thought the design looked too dated, and wanted something cleaner. We bent a PVC pipe to make a smooth curve, traced it and then cut it out.

It's not quite as smooth as I'd like, but Caroline says she's happy with it, so I guess that's good enough.

Tuesday night Tyler came over and he and Ryan and I planed the counter tops. Ryan and Tyler were both great workers and we made a huge pile of wood shavings. After a few hours we had nice flat counters and tired arms.

We still had some time left so we started working on putting the trim back up.

After nailing up the first two boards we realized that since the floor is higher now we had to cut we took them down again, cut them and nailed them back up.

When we first glued up the counter we only clamped from the top because it was too heavy and unwieldy to get clamps underneath without dropping all the glued up boards. Clamping from just one side makes your surfaced cupped since the clamps aren't 100% lateral force.

We intentionally walked and knelt on the counter top while planing it and cracked it in a couple places which helped it lay flat.

I spent several hours on Saturday evening hunched over the belt sander making the counter tops smooth (the planing made them flat, the sanding makes them smooth). I only used the 80 grit because after the initial sanding I wanted to glue the cracks we made while planing.

While planing I collected a bag of wood flour (fine saw dust) which Caroline and I mixed with wood glue to make wood putty. Once the counter was glued and clamped (top and bottom this time) we mushed the putty into all the remaining cracks and holes.

Once it dries I'll do a round of 120 grit with the belt sander, then some 120 grit with the random orbital sander to take out the streaks the belt sander leaves behind.

We went through several revisions determining how to hold up the drop leaf. We decided that we wanted it to be sturdy and we wanted it to be the full height of the cupboard. In the end we went with this. These two panels will fold flat against the side of the cupboard under the drop leaf when it's not in use.

To use the drop leaf we'll flip it up, then pull these panels out in a V shape. They'll extend almost the full width of the drop leaf, they'll be solid, and they'll provide front to back support.

We decided to use a piano hinge along the full length of the panels. Unfortunately piano hinges don't close flat. Turns out that how flat the sides of the hinge close is called "swage" (pronounced swayj). 

Piano hinges are not swaged. We wanted something that could fold completely flat: either both leaves half swaged or one leaf full swaged.

You can see in the picture that the hinge forms a triangle because it's not swaged. 

We didn't want to wait for a custom hinge to come in, so I used my vice and swaged the hinge 4 inches at a time.

It's not as good as a machinist making a custom hinge could do, but it's better than it was...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kitchen Update November 23

This week Caroline was a painting machine. Several friends watched our kids on different days, and Grandma came and watched them for part of Saturday and Caroline painted, painted and painted some more.

We're very happy that we sanded instead of just painted over the existing paint. You couldn't see the grain on the doors at all before, and now you can. We both think it looks pretty awesome.

The other big thing was the counter tops. They're still not fastened, but we took big steps.

After hours of research on the internet I now know about drying oils vs mineral oil, tung oil vs Minwax Tung Oil Finish (hint, not real tung oil), spar varnish vs spar urethane, spar urethane vs polyurethane...

Basically there are three choices:

1) Film finishes - Epoxy, polyurethane and others cover the surface and leave a film on top. Some films are more durable than others, but if you use a film finish you shouldn't plan on cutting on your surface as the film will scratch and chip.

2) Drying oils - Tung oil (including Waterlox), Danish oil and others soak into the wood and then polymerize (harden) in place. The polymerization process is exothermic. It is these types of oily rags which can spontaneously combust.

3) Non-drying oils - Mineral oil is the most popular non-drying oil. Non-drying oils need to be re-applied. Wax (paraffin, carnauba or bees wax) is usually also applied to help protect the wood from water.

Even if we don't plan on it, we'll end up cutting on our counter tops. That's just how we roll. So, film finishes are out.

Waterlox is expensive (about $100/gallon) and takes a long time to dry (recommended 4 coats with >24 hour dry time between coats) but it appears that ongoing maintenance is minimal.

Mineral oil and wax is cheap, locally available and familiar, but it requires periodic maintenance.

I'm leaning towards Waterlox, but I'm still trying to decide for sure.

We glued up the drop-leaf on Wedneday or Thursday and we did the big countertop yesterday. The big countertop probably took 2 hours to glue up. We worked in sections, starting at the hinge end and doing just the pieces to get to the next clamp.

We've always bemoaned the lack of counter space in our kitchen and I'm pretty sure that Caroline's dream house will have a breakfast bar.

So, I decided to make a drop-leaf end to our counter top to add some more counter space when we need it. Ideally it would have no cracks in the hinge when closed or open, presenting a nice 90 degree angle at the corner.

The hinge itself will be the maple strips with holes drilled in them. They'll alternate extending to the cupboard and pointing down to the floor. I made a little jig and drilled the hole for all of those on Wednesday night. The pin in the hinge will be a 1/2 inch oak dowel, sanded a little bit to give a tiny bit of extra wiggle room between the pin and the hinges.

Between these fingers that make up the hinge other maple strips will be glued in place. These other maple strips are the tricky part (to me anyways) in making a crack-less hinge. There needs to be some clearance for the point of the finger to rotate into, but the top of the strip needs to be exactly touching the opposite finger when the drop-leaf is either down or up.

I thought we'd need a circular hole the diameter of the square that moves within the hinge area. That sounded mathy, so I avoided actually figuring it out and just started drawing in Inkscape. Then I realized that I could just cut an angle to give the clearance needed with the same result. Here's a gif of the needed clearance. Ping and blue are the middle strips. Yellow and green are the fingers. Looks like a 45 degree angle should do the trick.

For both the drop-leaf and the counter top we did the glueing with the hinge in place and then tapped the pin (an oak dowel) out once everything was clamped, just in case any glue got into the hinge itself.

The drop leaf is going to reach all the way to the floor, giving us nearly 3 feet of extra counter space when it's extended. It's going to be awesome.

The hole you see in the middle of the big counter top is where the sink will go. We're going with a single-bowl sink which is big enough to soak cookie sheets and casserole pans in. We know we'll miss having a double bowl sink sometimes, but being able to soak large pans is a REALLY attractive option.

The sink will be under mounted, but its main support won't be that it's hung from the countertop. Here's the frame we'll use to support it. We'll cut those frame bars to the right length once the sink is positioned and the sink will hang in the frame.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kitchen Update: November 16

Well, one more week and a little more progress...

This is a hand plane I've been working on. Oak sole, maple sides. 

Double checking that we have enough wood pieces sanded to use a counter tops.

This is for the short counter top next to the stove. After arranging everything the way we wanted them I flipped them all sideways then used a paint roller to spread glue all over them. Then they got flipped back up right and clamped.

Once they were clamped one way we flipped the counter top over and clamped it from the bottom to prevent bowing.

Once it was dry I cut it with the circular saw and started sanding and planing. I need to finish the plane in the first picture so I can really get this finished up.

Once it's planed, sanded and fastened we'll finish it, so it'll be a bit darker than this. I'm not sure yet if we're just going to use butcher block oil or if we'll use poly or what. We're leaning towards poly at the moment...

Not kitchen related we also fixed up this old iMac my dad gave us a long time ago to be a kid media computer. Hannah has started poking screens so Caroline's laptop isn't a good option any more.

I configured the video to display upside down, then we drilled holes in the base and screwed it into the ceiling in the basement where it's out of reach of the little grubby fingers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kitchen Update: November 9

This week Caroline got a lot of stuff primed and some first coats of paint on the cupboards. We're considering making the bottom cupboard a bit darker. It needs one more coat anyways.

We're trying to get the cupboards painted a few weeks before the kitchen is done so that when we stick pans and stacks of plates in there they don't stick to the paint.

The big thing we got done this week was installing our window. The old window was an old double hung. window with wooden frames and cross-bars. It was very hard to open, especially when you had to lean across the sink to do so.

The weather was pretty nice, somewhere in the 50s, and my AnnaMarie took the kids for the day so that we could work. The old window lost quite a bit of space to framing, so we decided to install a new construction window.

That meant taking out the window to the studs, instead of just removing the inner tracks.

The outside of our house is stucco, and since we were installing a new-construction window we needed to break the stucco back to the boards. We traced the outer edge of the window flange then drilled a bunch of holes along where we wanted the stucco to break. Then we used hammers and chisels to crack the stucco and tin snips to cut the metal mesh under the stucco.

Here's the window frame with the stucco removed.

We cut a board for the sill so that it's slightly slanted so that if water gets in it will run out and then installed flashing around the whole frame.

We leveled it and screwed it in.

After dinner we framed in sides and top. We'll wait for the inside sill until we get the tile backsplash up so we can cut it just right.

Coming up this week: Counter tops and backsplash? Tune in next week to find out!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kitchen Update November 2

There was no kitchen post last week because we didn't very many things done. The one HUGE thing we got finished was the tile. Caroline grouted the kitchen floor and did a great job.

This week was more productive, things are starting to come together.

Our main goal right now is to get the stove/dishwasher/fridge wall all done. We're working on other stuff too, but that's the focus. 

This picture is old. That tall cupboard at the back left has always been a weird one. It's too deep to really keep organized or get things in and out easily.

Our plan is to turn it into a roll out cupboard. It won't be quite like this. Ours will actually roll on the floor instead of on tracks and be beefy enough to store mixers and #10 cans of food storage, etc.

Since it's going to be a roll-out, we wanted it to be deeper than it was. I forgot to take a couple of the pictures here, so you'll have to imagine a little bit.

I cut plywood sheets to the right height and width. You can't just glue or screw two edges of plywood together though, so I used a router and cut slots in the edge of the existing cupboard (below) and the plywood, and glued them together with a piece of wood in the slot (a biscuit joint).

Then, to add strength and to make the seam between the nice existing oak and the new plywood disappear I used very thin sheets of nicer plywood as a veneer, and glued it to the faces of the cupboard inside and out.

The cupboard is now as deep as our fridge.

On the inside used sections of PVC pipe to push outwards and hold the veneer to the walls while it dried.

Other stuff that we worked on inclued the transitions between the tile and other areas. We chiseled out the mortar and grout that overflowed where they were supposed to go. For the transition to the basement stairs we just put in a piece of wood and an aluminum cove.


For the transition to the living room I couldn't find a pre-made transition that was as wide as I wanted. All Home Depot has was a 2 inch transition. So I bought a 4 inch wide piece of oak and cut my own transition on the table saw.

The edge of the tile is a little jagged (it's one of the cut edges) so we're capping it with a piece of aluminum. 

There's always been an 8 inch gap between the fridge and that tall cupboard (or between the fridge and the dishwasher -- depending where the fridge was). We decided to scootch the dishwasher over and add a skinny cupboard between it and the stove. The inside of the cupboard is 5 inches wide, plus the inch and a half for the wood makes 6.5 inches wide, which leaves just enough room to get the fridge in and out. I still need to make the trim, drawer face and door.

Caroline finalized the color selection and started painting. This wall is still wet in the picture. It's not quite so shiny this morning.

Caroline also found baseboards she liked at ReStore. It was just $4 for all our baseboards!