Monday, November 10, 2008

Finally finished (mostly....almost)

Back in August of this year, I posted about remodeling a kitchen. At that point this project was nowhere near completion. Well, it's been a long time coming, but I can finally say it's done. Well, kinda sorta. Just a few tweaks here and there anyway. Everything is in place and functional. Let's take a look.

This is a shot of the right side of the kitchen. The doors are raised panels that were a learning curve in themselves. First hinges first. Little did I know that the hidden Euro hinges come with different overlaps. Overlap makes a big difference on door size. Hard lesson, but learned well. The handles were all hand made, by me of course. Originally, they were going to be store bought stainless bows (like the microwave handle) but it was decided they would look better made of wood.

And here's a shot of the left side.

A look at the lower cabinets by the stove. If anybody was paying attention, they might notice the drawer fronts are different now. I decided to make the fronts raised panels just like the cabinet doors. Just looks neater and matches better.

And the lower cabinet under the sink.

Here is an earlier picture of the mobile island pulled out to the middle with the drop leaf raised. The doors have been added since this was taken.

The pantry beside the refrigerator had shelving added to the inside of the doors to go with all the shelves already there. Fill this sucker with food and there is enough to last through a nuclear winter.

Under the sink, I added a small storage area for stoppers, strainers and such. It was just wasted space, so I used it.

A little shelf to get my coffee and stuff off of the counter.

And here's a little spice rack I put under the upper cabinet. It hinges up and stays inside the bottom of the cabinet when not in use.

When I got it all done and in place it was decided (not by me) that the dining room table didn't fit very well. It's too big. Besides, it won't fit into the breakfast nook going in the far right corner of the dining room. SOOOO....

I made a table. It is 30" wide and 48" long (with the leaf). Made of oak to match the drop leaf on the mobile island, the desk and door handles. The pedestal is hexagonal with 3 legs (feet?). This was made with rough cut lumber from the mill with the bark still attached. This was 2 boards. I don't know how many hours I have tied up in this table, but I'm guessing close to 100. Probably 30 hours of sanding. This picture was taken in the shop because it only has 5 coats of polyurethane on it. It needs at least 6 more coats to be sealed enough to last as a dining room table.

Without the leaf, it measures 30" wide and 36" long.

Here's the table with the leaf out to show the slides. I bought them because it was giving me a headache trying to figure out how to make them.

Of course, right next to the kitchen is the den. In the den is a fireplace that looks really bad. The brick is old and stained and generally looks disgusting. The firebox is about 5" off center. A close look at the right side will show where I extended the fireplace to even it out.

I covered it with tile and granite. Around the firebox and on the hearth, I put granite. The rest is travertine tile to match the countertops. Looks worlds better.

Here it is finished with the fireplace screen in place.

As I stated at the end of my previous post, the lessons learned in the complete remodeling of a kitchen are many. This has been a very difficult venture but very rewarding in terms of what I learned and how the finished product looks. I have been told by those who have seen this that I should do it for a living. I think I would enjoy that, but wonder if I have learned enough lessons yet. A word of advice for anybody wanting to completely remodel a 35 year old kitchen from the studs out......Be prepared for anything. You have no idea what sort of problems you will run into. Trying to make the new fit the old is sometimes a severe problem. But with patience and perseverance, you can make it fit.
I hope you have seen something here you liked. I have put a lot of work and pride into it and think it turned out pretty good.

Friday, August 1, 2008

kitchen remodeling...NOT for the faint of heart

Over the last several months (yes I said months) I have been remodeling my kitchen. It started out innocently enough. We were going to just remove some upper cabinets that cut off the kitchen from the den. Little did we know that the upper cabinets were all that seperated the kitchen from the attic. The soffets that were above the cabinets had nothing above them but rafters. What a mess. SO...we fixed it. The plan was to just re-hang the cabinets in another location along the wall in the dining room,which is right next to the kitchen. Those cabinets, however were such crap, I didn't think them reusable. After much discussion, it was determined that I would build new ones. Of course, I had to build new wall cabinets and base cabinets. We ended up tearing the whole kitchen out (in phases) to the studs and starting from scratch. It ended up being a whole hell of a lot more than first thought. For some reason I didn't think to get pictures of the kitchen before we started, which I regret a lot. But I have pictures of the kitchen as it is today.

This is a view coming in from the garage and entryway (otherwise known as the mudroom) The first thing you notice is the lack of cabinet doors. That's because I haven't made them yet. That will be the last step and will be very time consuming. A couple items of interest in this shot, the doorway on the left was enlarged and re-trimmed, and the window over the sink was removed and trimmed out for an opening into what is to someday be the dining room. Notice the coffee pot under the glass cabinet? Yes, it's built in. Water is plumbed to it and I just have to put coffee in it and push a button. I LIKE it. Plus it doesn't take up any counter space. Sweet thing wanted granite counter tops. However the $4500 price tag very quickly changed her mind. So we looked at a lot of different counter tops and she settled on theis 24"x24" travertine tile. She didn't want any grout lines, so I butted the tiles together and sealed them. The cabinets are about 25" wide so we had to do something to fill the extra space. That's where the small dark strip came from. The result was a look that she is very happy with. Not granite, but nice nevertheless.

This is another shot taken from the same spot, looking toward the dining room. At the far end
are 2 pantries that provide HUGE storage space.

Here is the other side of the kitchen. The upper cabinets were all made a little different from standard cabinets. Standard is 12" deep. For a little more storage room, I made them all 14" deep. Doesn't sound like much, but it makes a big difference. Instead of glasses 3 deep, they can be stored 4 deep. At the far end you'll notice a cabinet that's a different color. That is a mobile island that is still under construction. It hasn't been stained yet. The cabinets were all painted the same. A coat of primer, a coat of paint, a coat of wipe on stain and 2 coats of polyurethane. The mobile island is on wheels and has a drop leaf cutting board on the left end. The tile work on the wall was a challenge also. I have done tile work before, but never so extensive.

Here is a closer look at the pantries at the far end. The one on the left has the shelves in the front that are mounted on piano hinges and swing out to allow access to more shelves in the back. The one on the right just has shelves. Both of these are 30" wide, 24" deep and 8 feet tall. Between the pantries is a desk for a space filler and also to have a place to do undesirable things like write checks to pay the bills and stuff. A little later a charging station for phones and stuff will be built in.

Here is an older shot right after installation of how the pantry opens to allow access to the back shelves. I saw this on a cabinet at the store and figured I could duplicate it. Makes for a lot of storage in a small area.

This shot is looking from the dining room. Notice the cabinet on the right side of the dishwasher.

The small storage shelves pull out and swing out of the way to allow access to the drawers built into an otherwise almost unuseable space. Still needs a little tweaking, but it works great. I also saw this in a cabinet at the store and figured I could build it too.

This is a shot looking down the full length of the kitchen showing all of it. This has been a major undertaking and turned out to be a whole lot more work than expected. But that's what happens when you remodel a kitchen as old as this one. It probably hasn't ever been done and this house is 35 years old. The floor is natural bamboo. That stuff is so hard it is almost impossible to scratch. I tried. The lessons learned on this project are too many to try to list, but they were well learned. Overall, this has been very rewarding and we think a very good job.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Journey - from scrap to art

While browsing on some woodworking sites about turning wood, I ran across one site that really piqued my interest. On this site were many very beautiful goblets turned from wood. The author of the website, Bob Pritchard, was nice enough to put step by step instructions on the making of a staved goblet. It looked like something I could do, so I tried it. The following is a pictorial of a goblet being made. Actually this is the second attempt. I didn't think to get many pictures of the first one in process.

First, I had to cut all the pieces that were to make the parts of the turning. I started off with nine 3/4" x 3/4" x11" squares, 4 walnut and 5 cherry. These were then glued together in a checkerboard pattern. Then I added the outside of 3/4" x 4" x 11" spalted oak. These were glued on the outside and allowed to dry overnight. I didn't get any pictures of this process, but this is the resulting cube. You can see the different elements put together. This was all scraps that were really not any good for anything else. This works out well for me because I have trouble throwing away anything that might be useable some other time.

Here it is with the corners cut off to make it closer to round. That saves a lot of time and material that doesn't have to be turned off.

The next step is to center the ends and mount it on the lathe.

Now the fun starts. The first step in any wood turning (after initial preparation) is to get the piece round. Here you can see the blank turned into a round tube. Now it's ready to go to work on.

After the initial rounding it's time to form the top of the goblet. The shape is formed at this time and all else follows from this. Also at this time a smaller round is formed at the bottom (I didn't think to gat a picture) to remount into a set of jaws that will hold the form on the lathe without the tailstock center in the cup. The tailstock is the part of the machine holding the end of the blank as shown here. That is done so the inside of the cup can be hollowed out.

Here the outside of the cup is sanded smooth. This and hollowing the cup have to be done at this time, because if the stem were cut for this process, it would surely break from the pressure applied. Look at the light shining on that smooth piece of wood! Lots more sanding to follow of course. All of the tool marks will be removed in final sanding.

Now we move the tailstock that is holding the cup end and hollow out the cup. Notice the black lines in the oak around the cup. That is spalting, a fungus that is the first step of wood rot. Anytime a woodworker finds a spalted piece of wood there is excitement for the possibilities inside that piece.

After sanding the inside, it's time to turn the stem. Much care must be taken becaues it can break if too much pressure is used, and send your hard work to this point flying off in all directions. That would be aggravating, to say the least. Not to mention hazardous to your health. If you look closely at the right end of this picture you can see the tailstock back in the cup. I have a socket on the tailstock to keep from making a small hole in the bottom of the cup. The tailstock helps give more support to the piece for the cutting of the stem.

After some more sanding, and some more sanding and ...I think you get my drift, it is ready to cut off. Just a word about sanding. I start out with an 80 grit sandpaper on a 2" disk installed in my drill. This gets rid of any major tool marks left from turning. Then I use 150 grit on the drill. At this point I change to hand sanding for a fine finish. I use 180, 220, 340, 0 steel wool and 0000 steel wool. As you can imagine, this takes some time, but the finish is what shows the quality of workmanship.

And finally, I wiped on 4 coats of Tung Oil with a light sanding between each coat. This gives a nice finish to the piece and hardens into a shiny coat. It also makes the natural colors in the wood pop out.
As a beginning woodturner, I learn something every time I turn my lathe on. Anybody who has turned wood for a while would probably cringe and run away at some of the techniques I use, but being self taught, I have had nobody to tell me what not to do, so I do what works for me. As I go forward, I will learn proper techniques and get better and faster. Again I would like to thank Mr. Bob Pritchard for being kind enough to put a picture tutorial on his website to help aspiring turners learn another aspect of the art.
This concludes my rambling. I hope you enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


We all have diversions for those times when we have to get away from real life. Most are happy with one, but I have two. When the weather's nice, chances are I'll be on the road somewhere on my scooter.

While I was in the Navy I saw a very large part of the world (mostly the wet parts). I have ridden for about 35 years, but after I rejoined the civilian world, I decided to see the Good Old U.S. of A. What better way to do that than on a Goldwing??? I've been riding this baby for 3 years now and have seen quite a lot. The picture at right was taken at Bald River Falls on the Cherohala Skyway just outside of Tellico Plains TN. I look forward to several more years of exploring and seeing this great country.

My other main interest is working with wood. I have piddled with it for several years and got pretty good with the limited amount of stuff I tried. However, I recently bought a wood lathe. I am finding out I have a little bit of artist in me. I know that sounds a little strange for those who know me, but it is what it is. When I put a piece of wood on my lathe and begin to work it, I am amazed at what I find in each piece. Even 2 pieces of wood from the same tree can come out entirely different. It just amazes me.

Here are my first attempts at goblets. I was very pleased with them. Apparently some others I showed them to were also impressed (or were trying not to hurt my feelings). They are made from spalted oak, cherry and walnut pieces glued together and turned on the lathe.

And here is a bowl I turned recently. The main part of the bowl is made of bodock and the rim is cherry. I have a cherry base ready to go on it but had to order a new attachment for the lathe to finish the bottom.

Here is another bowl that I made from just strips of bodock, cherry and walnut glued together. After gluing and drying, I cut the resulting board into circles and stacked them to turn. I thought it was a good experiment. A learning adventure at least. Here it is still attached to the lathe with out a finish on it. The shine on the wood is the natural shine from a VERY slick, smooth sanding job. It took more time to sand it smooth than to turn it.

Here is another small bowl I turned. It is made out of a piece of catawba. It needs some more work, so it will go back on the lathe for more sanding and finish

I have even gone so far as to name my woodworking shop (very presumptuous, don't you think?). It took a while to come up with the perfect name for my place of play, but finally it came to me. I asked myself ,"Self, what do you do best?" The answer was simple and obvious. The thing I do best is make sawdust. And lots of it. So the natural name for my workspace was The Sawdust Factory. A very fitting tribute to my skills.

As I move forward with my diversions, I will update periodically. Back later with more.