Friday, May 30, 2014

Plumb Done!

When I ordered the replacement faucet from Amazon, it told me the estimated arrival date was June 10th - June 15th since it has to be shipped from Korea. Well evidently it got the speed boat over because on May 17th it arrived and on May 18th, I had to make another dreaded trip to the store for fittings because of course, it didn't need the same fittings I put so much time and effort into finding for the first faucet. I dreaded the trip to say the least.

But I had to make a trip to the ATM first and decided that since I was only a few blocks from the small family owned hardware store I would give them a try. I have stopped there several times in the past but they either didn't have the fitting I needed or only had one when I needed two. The big box store always has enough and the fitting I need but sometimes it takes me hours to figure out just where it is. This time I walked into the small family store and hooked a left into the plumbing fitting aisle. Seconds later an elderly gentleman asked if he could offer me some help. I showed him the supply line for the faucet and said I need to go from this to 1/2" solder connection and about one second later he had the proper fitting in my hand. I told him I needed two and in another second I had another fitting in my hand. Needless to say I was a happy camper and thanked him profusely for his help.

Back home I quickly soldered up the threaded ends to a small length of pipe to a valve so that I could shut them off in the future as necessary. The old valves I had removed during demo were old and badly corroded due to being really cheap valves and so anytime I redo a sink, I correct that problem. So all I had to do was cut off the capped copper lines and solder the valve assembly to the head of the pipe. Due to my past troubles, I knew that getting the lines very dry first was the key to success so I made sure to thoroughly dry out the lines before soldering.

I soldered both joints and turned the water on only to discover a pinhole leak in the solder joint on the bottom side of the right hand valve seen below. I tried again only to have a leak in a different place. This time I got my head way down in there and inspected the situation. The cast valve bodies aren't at tight a fit as regular copper solder fittings and the gap kept opening up. So I carefully soldered it a third time with my eyes inches from the area and a flashlight trained on it and after several attempts, thought I had a good solder joint. I turned on the water and had a pin leak on the backside where I couldn't see. So I cut off the whole thing, soldered is upside down in the garage so that the solder could puddle at the joint instead of running down the pipe with gravity and soldered a sleeve fitting at the end of the pipe stub. As I said earlier, it has a much tighter fit and when I slipped it down on the pipe stub under the sink, it soldered completely on the first go. So the moral of the story is, when soldering cast valve bodies into your system, solder them using gravity to help the solder puddle on the joint first even if it means you then have to use a sleeve fitting to connect it back to your lines. Because someone else has done some connecting before on these lines, I now have one sleeve on the left side and two sleeves on the right but none of them leak and that is what matters to me. About 15 minutes later, I had the faucet in place and the supply lines hooked up and was in business as you can see below. This whole sink was a battle for me but in the end, I won and hopefully I don't have to fight another plumbing battle anytime soon.

So with my mother-in-law still in the air on the way back to her home country for the summer, I finished the bathroom project in the nick of time. Now I have to cede it back over to my wife and the bathroom downstairs now becomes the man shower. After my wife got everything set up in the new bathroom, I took a few pictures to show the completed thing. Now I'm going to take a few days off and move onto something else for a change.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Upgraded to Modern Times

While watching a home improvement show a few weeks back, I saw them install one of these in a kitchen. It hadn't even occurred to me that such a thing even existed until then but now that I knew, I had to order me a few of them. I got this one which is all USB jacks to replace an outlet that we use to charge all our electronics. We have this little marble topped side table that we bought at an auction years ago for pennies, where we place everything needing charging. I had a power strip plugged into the outlet behind it and sitting on top of the surface with a bunch of power adapters plugged into it followed by a myriad of different cables. It was cluttered looking for sure and took up lots of real estate on the side table.

When I went to replace the standard outlet that was in there, the 1970's era metal box was way too small to fit the USB transformer on the back and the three sets of 10 gauge bromex wire leads that had been connected to the outlet so I had to cut it out with a sawsall which is why their is some chipped paint on the left edge that I will have to patch up. I replaced it with a retrofit single gang plastic box that was much deeper with today's standards and all is well. I cut a piece of scrap wood and puts some slots in it and screwed it to the back of the side table so that all the cords can now slip into place when not in use. Now there is about 33% more side table to catch other things and a power strip that I can use somewhere else when needed.

I did buy two more USB outlets that have two USB outlets and the standard two 3-prong electrical outlets that I am going to put somewhere where I might use both USB and electrical plugs. I'm thinking one should go in the bedroom somewhere since I keep my phone close during spring and summer severe weather times because there is 'an app for that' which lets me know when severe weather is upon my area. Before I've had to stay up to charge my phone enough to make it through the night because I didn't have the foresight to do it earlier. Now I can go to bed earlier and sleep better not worrying that my phone ran out of battery. Better living through technology!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Commando 450

Seinfeld aficionados will recognize the name of this post as the black market high flow shower head that Kramer buys after the city starts limiting sales of shower heads to low flow models only. In my last post I was complaining about the weak nature of my new shower head and thinking about finding another better one. I searched and searched but all models seemed to be limited to 2.5 gallons per minute for a flow rate. Some touted their shower heads as being high pressure but still low flow but they were all small spray patterns. In essence, the smaller the spray pattern the higher the pressure, the larger the spray pattern, the lower the pressure. So what do you do if you want a large spray pattern and higher pressure?

During the course of my google search for a high pressure shower head, I came across an article that suggested that there may be laws preventing manufacturers from producing high flow shower heads. To compensate, manufacturers put flow restrictors inside their shower head that is adjusted to meet this requirement. This got me to thinking.

I took off my shower head and sure enough, there was a plastic flow restrictor inside that required a special tool to adjust or remove. As luck would happen, I dropped my shower head and if fells squarely on a running drill which popped the flow restrictor out and I couldn't figure out how to put it back inside. You can see it resting on the lower left part of the shower head in the picture above. So I just had to put my shower head back up without the flow restrictor. Dang. Now my shower has a very satisfactory shower head experience again. Darn my luck.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Finished... For the Most Part

With two days to spare before the mother-in-law leaves for a summer in her homeland and I return to being a full time child behavioral modification therapist, I finished the bathroom. Technically I still have to drill a hole for the faucet when it arrives and then plumb it into the copper pipes, which as you all know can mean a lot of trips to the hardware store for a plumbing challenged person like me. However, the faucet is being shipped from Korea and won't be here until mid June so I have some time to wait for that.

After getting the drawers in the vanity, I started attaching hardware for various bathroom items like towels and toilet paper. I painted and stained trim and nailed it in place around the door and window. I did some caulking and hung the door. The latter took about a half dozen trips to the garage before I successfully hung it but I got it done. I had to trim a little off the bottom due to the increased height and the threshold that I made to transition for the bedroom carpet to the marble tile. I was worried that because marble if fairly soft and has fault lines that someone stepping right on the edge might break off a chunk and so the threshold should prevent that. With the door height correct, the door still would not shut. Evidently during all my construction and painting, the door would not clear the jam now. So I broke out my planer that I had bought last year and never got to use before it got cold and after four more trips to the garage, got the door hung.

By now I've had a chance to use the shower and I must say, it is nice. The shower head which had rain shower in the title is very weak for my tastes though. It is about like standing out in the rain, a nice gentle rain. This is good if you are outside enjoying rain but when you are in a shower with a head full of shampoo, it isn't necessarily the best thing. So I may have to find something a little more appropriate. (More on this in my next post.) The body sprays however are the cat's pajamas. It makes me wonder how I got along without them all my life. The thermostatic valve worked fine right out of the box with no adjustment needed. I haven't tried taking a shower while someone else is hogging the water supply to see if it functions correctly but with a house full of females, it is only a matter of time. You can also see the new shower head arm I got which now allows the water to point down instead of towards the back wall.

Now I'm going to take a break and catch up on some other things for a couple weeks until the faucet arrives and perhaps by then my wife will have a window covering picked out. With the deck right outside the window and clear glass shower doors, anyone on the deck will have quite the view until I put that up. I'm very happy with this project and it was well worth it. It took a dungeon of a bathroom and turned it into a room where you might want to spend some more time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Here is a pile of drawer parts that I cut out using my box joint jig and table saw. All told I had about 15 minutes in setup and about 45 minutes in cutting out the box joints and grooves for the plywood bottom. The hardest part about the whole process was just keeping the pieces straight so that I could cut them correctly. Because I am putting a face on the drawer, I didn't worry about any square holes that might be showing though I did put them so that the face would cover up the front facing ones. Later as I was test fitting everything, I did discover two pieces that had incorrectly cut box joints. One had the right spacing but the grooves for the corresponding fingers to seat in were too shallow. I must have gotten a chunk of debris underneath the piece as I was cutting it. The other one had the spacing off from the beginning so I must have had a chunk of debris between the piece and the stop block. So I had to put my dado blade back on, fix the one part and make another part and all was well.

Forgive the messy garage. It needs a good cleaning when all this is over with. In this picture I have everything glued and assembled. The clamps were to tweak the drawers a bit so that they were all square. Because I don't have nearly enough clamps to hold everything until the glue dries, I tacked the drawers together with my brad nailer just to hold the pieces in place while I got all the pieces put together. That worked pretty well. The left and right drawers are the top two drawers that go around the water lines and the p-trap drain assembly of the sink. The middle one is the bottom drawer which just has to go around the incoming water lines.

This picture just shows the top two drawers and how they are notched around the p-trap and water lines. I think this setup will make the vanity much more space efficient than a comparable one that you can get at a furniture store which typically has two or three small drawers on one side and a large open bay taking up most of the room. At least in our bathrooms, the large open bay has a myriad of stuff strewn across the bottom and nothing above it all the way to the sink.

Here I am beginning to install the decorative face plates onto the drawers. I just used a wooden paint stir stick as a shim and put some double sided tape on the drawer front. I then held the face plate up in place with the proper gap and pushed onto the double sided tape. I then opened the drawer and put some clamps to hold everything securely while I drilled and screwed the face on from the inside of the drawer. Everything lined up well and I am pleased with the results.

Here is a picture of the completed vanity complete with drawer handles. I am very happy with how things turned out. Other than plumbing the thing, making the vanity has been pretty straight forward with no real problems. The handles that I used were evidently some cheap ones from China because the threads were horrible. I know this because the screws they sent were too short and I had to go get some longer ones. Although I found some 8-32 screws in the right length, they wouldn't thread into the handles despite the thread pitch being identical. I checked 4mm metric ones and they didn't have the correct thread pitch so I know they were 8-32 threads. So I had to buy a tap and chase the threads out and everything went together smoothly.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Plumb Ignorant

I finally got the sink drain plumbed in so that I can measure for the drawers and begin to make them. Despite making two trips to the store for proper fitting that I blogged about already, when I started this job I realized that the adapter that I had bought to go between 1-1/2" and 1-1/4" plumbing was actually to join 1-1/4" drain pipe with 1-1/2" house pipe which is not the same as 1-1/2" drain pipe. Sigh. So I made another trip to the store and found an adapter that goes between 1-1/2" and 1-1/4" drain pipe. Back home, I put the adapter on but then realized that I would end up with to unthreaded ends of 1-1/4" pipe butting together with no way to connect them. (Insert a string of curses here.)

After my fourth trip to the store, I finally found a different type of adapter that can join either 1-1/4" or 1-1/2" drain pipe or one of each. Four trips to the store and probably around $5 worth of useless adapters, I finally got the drain hooked up and working. Now all I have left for plumbing in this bathroom project is to hook up the faucet to the copper supply pipes that you can see in this top picture. It however, is on a slow boat from Korea so I'm waiting for it to arrive before I see if I need to return the fitting I already bought for the faucet we ended up returning because it just didn't look right in the space for it. One of the problems of buying things sight unseen on the internet is somethings things look different sizes than their pictures. In the case of the first faucet, it looked like it would work fine but when it arrived, it towered over the basin sink in our bathroom and I'm sure would have splashed everywhere. When I reordered, I made sure to google installation diagrams first to verify the fit this time around. I don't want to do multiple soldering jobs if I can avoid it. I just struggle when it comes to plumbing and I can't wait for this round to be over.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hippy Children

We had a visitor who wanted to check out the hippy cult that lives in our former town of residence so we obliged by giving him the full blown tour. As part of the tour, we stopped at their store to see all the hippy products he could buy if he wanted. Since he works a 9 to 5 job under a boss and for a company that does drug screenings should he ever injure himself on the job, he didn't purchase any of the hemp bars above. Nor did he buy any of the multitudes of herbal quack pills that lined the shelves seen below.

Of course no tour of the cult would be complete without visiting the Capital of the Global Country of World Peace seen below or the Tower of Invincibility which I have shown on here before but didn't take a picture this time around. This cult believes that if they get the square root of 1% of the world's population meditating at one time that world peace will ensue and thus they import pandits from India to help achieve this goal. The pandits are housed in a jail like fenced in compound on the outskirts of town where they meditate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until their visas expire and they are forced to fly back only to be replaced by incoming pandits. Their meditating for world peace evidently isn't working well because a few weeks ago they rioted and destroyed a cop car before they were subdued again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


As you can see, I was able to get the vanity into the bathroom and tiled the countertop with leftover floor tile. Since we have a basin that sits on top, I put the small pieces of tiles and grout lines in the center where they will be covered up. As soon as I get the grout lines sealed up, I need to drill the hole for the sink drain and get to plumbing. Unfortunately the faucet has to be shipped over from Korea so it may still be a few weeks out. Fortunately, I really don't need it to get started on making the drawers which will be my first step once I get final locations for the p-trap assembly.

Taking a step back, I am showing in the photo above my illustration stick that I used to determine where the drawer bodies, drawer faces and drawer slides will be located along with the gaps. I am using this stick to hopefully get everything accurately located so that the drawers work properly. My drawer faces will be flush with the front of the vanity so I need for the gaps to look nice.

Here is a photo showing the finished treasure chest I made my daughter and showed how I made in my box joint post. Somewhere along the line I over sanded the top or cut the side pieces a little bit short so it didn't overlap perfectly but it will certainly work for what my daughter will use it for. All I am missing it the combination lock for it to prevent the riffling of the contents by unauthorized visitors and it will be done. I want to make another thinner one for myself to store my wallet, watch, pins, etc. that I have in my closet but I'm not sure I'll get that done until fall. Right now I'm racing a deadline of mother-in-law leaving for the summer and child getting out of school for the summer. Progress on everything will certainly slow down after that.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Almost Avoided Madness... Not By Choice


As long time readers know, every year about this time of the year I go crazy. I leave my life as everyone knows it and begin wandering aimlessly through the woods ranting about Mushroom Machines, pulling off ticks and occasionally chittering like a little school girl as I dance here and there pulling fungi up off the ground and stuffing it in a mesh bag while looking around me to make sure nobody is watching. I can't help it and neither can about half the population in this area. Drive around the roads on a weekend this time of year and you will see hundreds of cars abandoned along side of the road near woods, streams and brushy draws. It is the time of the morel... or more accurately, was the time of the morel.

The first morel mushrooms up here surfaced about two and a half weeks ago. There were just a handful of tiny gray mushrooms and then nothing. We had a very harsh winter, to put it mildly, and a very long winter, to also put it mildly, so many thought that the ground was too cold for them this year. Morels come up at about the same time every year if the conditions are right. If there is enough moisture in the ground and enough heat in the ground, we will have a bumper crop of them. If one of those things are lacking, we won't have many at all. If the conditions are right, we will have mushrooms growing for two, perhaps stretching into a third week and then they are gone for the rest of the year.

Because the first weekend available, there were only a handful to be found, I didn't go mushroom hunting. I instead working on a bathroom that my wife keeps saying she really needs. The following weekend family obligations completely blotted out the weekend free time. Then planting season got going strong and there was no time during the week. There is also the fact that the mother-in-law/daycare provider for our youngest is here until this weekend and then flying home for the summer so I have a deadline to get the bathroom finished. All this conspired against me until I sincerely believed that this would be the first year in nearly 35 years that I have never found or ate a single morel mushroom.

Sunday wasn't promising to be very good for mushrooming either. We went to church and then I grilled a feast for the mother in my family and helped her celebrate her day. I turned over the keys to the bathroom (figuratively) so that she could move back into it. It is done except for a faucet but I offered to fill a bucket of water next to the sink for her. Severe storms and tornadoes were forecasted to blow through our area in the afternoon and evening. But my wife gave me the look and said lets go mushroom hunting anyway. So the two of us with our oldest daughter hopped in the car and about an hour later we were roaming through the woods, mumbling about mushroom machines and giving hoots and hollers to let each other know that we had found a mess of mushrooms.

We only found some drying yellow morels that were probably three or four days old and a few grays that were well dried up. The season up here ended three or four days ago and we were just mopping up the last ones to arise from the earth. We found quite a few mushroom machines which for the uneducated are recently dead elm trees which produce a toxin in the soil that causes mushrooms to sprout at their base in abundance. All told we probably walked away with about five gallons of cleaned morels soaking in water, half of which you saw in the picture above. The rest I left with my parents who are still toiling away in the fields trying to get their crops planted for the season.

We did get sprinkled on and later got some quarter sized hail. Several tornadoes passed within a few miles of our house and as we pulled up to it upon our return, the tornado sirens kicked on and started howling. My wife shouted that we should get in the house. I did but not before popping the trunk and rescuing the mushrooms. If I was going to die in a tornado, I wanted the mushrooms with me. The madness is that strong.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Shower.... Check!

The semi delivering my shower door finally arrived and a very friendly driver helped me offload it into my garage. He asked me why on earth I ordered it delivered through Fed-Ex instead of going to pick one up at the big box store across town which could order just about any door I wanted. I told him that I had looked at theirs and they had a cheaper made version of what I wanted (with thinner glass) but not one that would fit my odd sized shower. It also would cost quite a bit more than the one I had bought online delivered right to my door. He asked if I wasn't worried about the glass being broken and what I would do if it was. I was worried about the glass being broken because earlier I had a mirrored medicine cabinet delivered that was all busted up and had to have it sent back and a new one shipped to me. I told the driver that I've had pretty good luck on getting replacement parts on big items shipped to me if they were broken and that most manufacturers would do it free. He seemed satisfied with my answers but probably thought I was still a french fry short of a happy meal.

Fortunately when I opened the box the shower doors were intact and everything seemed well packaged. I was able to install the entire thing in a little over two hours with not much trouble. I hadn't thought ahead when the walls were open to put studs behind where the frame would go to give me something to screw into and I didn't know if one would be there by chance or not so I had to buy a small tile drill bit to drill into the tile first and see. If there had been studs I could have just screwed the side jams to the walls but as it turned out, there were no studs behind either side. So I had to get a package of molly bolts at the big box store to anchor the jams to the wall. (Two clerks there that I asked didn't know what a molly bolt was but I eventually found them on my own.)

I like the look of them and am happy with them thus far. The similar one at the big box store had a metal support in the middle as well which is another reason I went with these. I had hoped to not even have a metal header on top but couldn't find any like that. I think because they are glass, they just need to be top supported. So at long last, we now have a functioning shower and a functioning toilet. (Notice I got another shower head arm so the shower head can point down instead of at the back wall.) Now I just need a functioning sink, complete about a million little details and I can have a finished master bathroom again.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Hate Plumbing

On a trip to the big box store to pick up some polyurethane, I decided to stop by the plumbing department to pick up the necessary stuff to finish plumbing in the sink which is a step rapidly approaching. I hadn't pulled the faucet out of the box so I didn't know what I needed to attach the water supply to my 1/2" copper piping but I thought I could guess. I also needed a trap assembly to connect the drain to the outlet in the wall. I picked out the proper copper fitting and an 1-1/4" P-trap assembly and went home. The fitting I had picked out was way too big for the faucet connections. The stopper tube in the sink drain was 1-1/4" but I noticed that the connection to the wall was 1-1/2". So despite my planning ahead, I was still no closer to hooking up the sink than I had been before.

My shower door finally arrived and I knew I would need some drill bits for going through ceramic tile but I waited until I could open the installation directions before buying them. So with the sizes needed written down, I grabbed all my plumbing fittings from the sink fiasco and headed back to the big box store to return them and get the proper ones. I also pulled out the faucet installation directions and saw that I needed to go from a 3/8" female compression fitting to my 1/2" copper pipping.

The fittings area of the big box store is utterly depressing. I almost want to shoot myself every time I have to stare at that huge wall of fittings in individual plastic bags. There are many reasons why:
1. They are always mixed up so if you find what you are looking for, you often can't find another or if you find the tag, the product hanging there isn't what is labeled on the tag.
2. There are piles of ripped open bags and loose fittings everywhere because people like me can't determine what the writing on the bag means and have to rip open the bags to verify the thread type. They have a handy dandy thread gauge hanging up right next to the fittings to try them out but you have to rip open the bags to do so. The thread gauge also had compression sizes, flare sizes and universal sizes, male and female connectors glued to it for you to check with. However, not one little bag ever says compression, flare or universal. Instead it says 3/8 male to 1/2" female. It is up to the consumer to figure out which of the three thread types it is referring too.
3. I had three clerks look at me standing there and hurried on by before I could ask them for help. Two others weren't so fast and I asked them for help. They just scratched their heads and stood in front of the massive display looking at it blankly for a polite amount of time before wishing me luck and hurrying away. None of them had the slightest idea what fitting I needed. One actually had four fittings going from 1/2" copper to PVC to metal compression fittings but couldn't find anything simpler.
4. The racks are arranged by sizes and not types of fittings which makes it twice as difficult to find things. If you are like me going from 1/2" to 3/8", you have to check both size categories because the fitting you be in either of them. Once you find the right size, you have to wade through many dozen different types of fittings for a myriad different thread types, situations, etc.

I'm sure I could think of many more reasons but I'll limit to those heavy hitters. I spent about an hour grabbing this and that, ripping it out of the bag, checking fits with other fittings and at times just staring up at the mass of fittings wishing for some sort of divine intervention. I was just about ready to give up when I finally found the fitting shown at the top of this post. It was labeled 3/8" OD x 1/2" SW. The SW stood for solder weld which is what I needed and there was nothing saying what type of thread the 3/8" side was. But after tearing open the bag, I was able to see that there was a copper ferrel and compression nut so I'm pretty sure if I throw those parts away, the male threads should fit the 3/8" female compression fitting on the end of my faucet. A complete solution in one fitting! But when I went to grab another so I could do both the hot and cold sides, I saw that it had been put on the wrong hook and the fittings behind it were completely different. So I spent another ten minutes looking over the hooks and sorting through bins before I finally found another one.

Finally I went to the p-trap section where there were a myriad of choices for various 1-1/4" and 1-1/2" configurations but nothing that I could see for someone who wanted to go from one to another. I almost fell to the floor and just lay there until someone ran me over with their shopping cart and put me out of my misery but after about fifteen minutes of looking and one useless clerk who didn't know anything later, I finally found a rubber adapter with clamps an aisle over made for going between 1-1/4" and 1-1/2" p-trap pipe material. Not an elegant solution for sure but if it works, I'll be the happiest guy I know.

So I got my new fittings home and tried everything out and I think it will all work. But the way my luck goes, I will have the water shut off and going to hook everything up when I discover that the fitting wasn't quite what I needed and I will have to make yet another trip to the store or just break down and call a plumber.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finishing the Finish

I had planned to finish the vanity in place in the bathroom but since I am building the 'treasure chest' for my daughter at the same time, I decided to do both in the garage on the workbench. That has pretty much been a mistake but it is too late to change course. More on that later. As you can see above, I didn't go with any beading on the right frame and panel. Instead I found some decorative wooden trim (not sure what the technical name is) that I've been moving around for about ten years now. It was left in the previous house we bought and I just kept it thinking I might find a use for it. I guess one use was this vanity but I still have three or four 10 feet sticks of it left to use up sometime in the future.

I accidentally used a piece of poplar wood for the wide trim on top instead of the oak I'd planned on using. I had bought the poplar for the drawers and for some reason, didn't have enough oak to cut up anyway so I'm not sure what I was thinking. Anyway, by the time I noticed, the glue was dry and I wasn't going to change it out. Because poplar stains a little darker than oak, it stands out a bit but I don't think it will be so noticeable when everything is in the bathroom and the dark floor tile is in place as a sink counter. Added character I guess. I went with some dark walnut stain that I had leftover from a previous project.

The mistake of doing it in my garage came in applying the polyurethane protective coatings. Normally the stuff takes about 4 to 6 hours to set up enough to sand down with steel wool and apply another coat. But the week I was doing it was the week the midwest was given one rain storm (and occasional tornado too) after another all week long. Instead of the 4 to 6 hours, it took about 48 hours to cure hard enough to sand. That really put a delay in that project but fortunately, my shower door finally was delivered to my door (and intact!) so I was able to work at getting it installed while waiting for finish to dry. I also did lots of touch up painting, painting the door and making a couple trips to the hardware store to get the right fittings to hook up the sink plumbing. Once again I managed to buy a faucet with weird connections and my drain connection in the wall was an off size which necessitated more fittings all around.

Below is a picture showing the drawer fronts of my to be built vanity drawers and the treasure chest I'm building my daughter. Once the polyurethane dries on it, I can attach the brass hardware on it and call it done. It is turning out nice though the inlay I put in the lid doesn't really stand out as much as I'd hoped.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Post For Ron

Ron from For Lack of a Better Plan asked me how I did the bottoms of drawers and so I thought I would do another post showing what I tried to explain in the comment section of my last post. This shows the tablesaw method that I use to cut a dado on the bottom of the pieces. The piece on the left will be the drawer front and the piece on the right will be the drawer side. I make sure that I put the dado in the bottom finger of the box joint on the drawer side. When you put them together seen below, you will be left with a small square hole on the drawer front and back. Since I will attach a larger front onto the drawer to hide the drawer slides, the two square holes on the front will be covered up. The two square holes in back will never be seen unless you pull the drawer completely out and look.

For decorative boxes like a jewelry box or the treasure chest I'm making where the holes will be visible, I use a different method. If I make a dado, I have to use a plunge router and properly sized bit and stop short of the end so that the dado doesn't show on the ends. This is a strong joint but requires a plunge router. An alternative is to cut a rabbit joint with a regular router and stop short of the end also. This is a weaker joint but doesn't require a plunge router. An alternative to using a router is to do the joint on the table saw like what I showed in these two pictures and just cut a wooden plug out of the same material and glue it into the holes. This takes a bit of fine cutting strips on a table saw and then sanding them to size or using a pocket plane etc. I have done this method before I got a router but it takes a bit of time to get the square holes to disappear.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Easy Box Joints On the Tablesaw

While waiting for the glue to dry on my vanity project, I started a side project for my oldest daughter and thought this would be a great time to show how I'm going to build the drawers for the vanity. For any boxes or drawers, I love to use the box joint because it looks beautiful like its cousin the dovetail, it is so simply to make compared to traditional dovetails, can be made using a cheap crappy tablesaw like the one I have, and has lots of glue surfaces so it a very strong joint. To make the jig you need, I glued a small strip of wood to the bottom of another scrap piece of wood to act as a ledger to support my work pieces over the large throat opening of my tablesaw. Because it is a cheap tablesaw, I really can't make anything to fill the opening when working with my dado blade set so this helps improve safety. Clamp the wood to your miter slide and cut a notch in it with the dado set you want to use for your box joint. Fill that notch with another scrap piece of wood which will help you set the gauge for make all the rest of the notches. Slide the wood over and more permanently attach it to your miter gauge using a piece of your same notch filling material (that should be the exact width of your dado set) to gap the piece you filled in to the dado blade. The jig is now ready to go.

This picture just shows how I bolted my jig to my miter gauge so that I can reuse it on other projects. I also wrote what blades I used in my dado set on the jig face so that I can be sure to set it up the same every time.

To start, you lay the piece down on top of the ledger board on the bottom of the jig and raise the dado blade height so it is just slightly taller than the thickness of your material plus the ledger board. This will ensure that once you do a little sanding, everything will be nice and flush. Then you but the first side of your work piece to the glued in notch stop and make your first pass.

Place the notch you just cut on the notch stop block and make your second cut. Repeat for the width of the board and then flip the board over and do the other side making sure you begin on the same edge of the board on both sides. This way if you end up with a partial finger on one end, things still line up properly.

To cut the side pieces, you take your first piece that you cut and turn it around so that the first full finger is now between the notch block and the blade. You then slide your adjoining piece up next to it and cut your first notch as shown above.

Now you can set that notch on your notch block and repeat down the board like before and flipping it end for end to keep the sides the same like before.

In the end, you should end up with a project like above that I was able to complete in about a half hour from setting up the jig to the test fitting shown above. Note there are two boxes sitting on top of each other.

My daughter has a step stool box that she used when she was younger to be able to reach the bathroom sink to brush her teeth and wash her hands. It has a lid on it that she can open up and put things inside the upper step. When she outgrew it, she moved it into her room and uses the storage space to store her 'secret' things which are little doodads and mementos she has collected over the years. I know enough to respect her privacy and not sort through her saved stuff but my MIL and her sisters who visit can't seem to resist the temptation to sort through it and throw stuff out that is not important to them but very important to my daughter. So in an effort to prevent more future tears, I am making a small chest for my daughter that she can lock up and prevent others from sifting through her things. An added benefit is that we can get the step stool back for our youngest daughter who will be needing it in the near future to reach the bathroom sink. I will show you the completed box when I get it finished in another post.

Friday, May 2, 2014

All About My Vanity

With progress in the bathroom waiting upon stuff to be shipped to my door and the weather being beautiful, I thought it was a perfect time for some garage time to build a bathroom vanity. You may remember some plans I posted on here awhile back and by in large, I have gone by them. Since I drew those up, we have decided to use some of the leftover floor tile for a vanity top and then put a sink vessel on top of that instead of a one piece unit or under counter top mounting one. To accommodate that and stay out of the way of the medicine cabinet door, I had to shorten it just a bit.

I used a sheet of 3/4" oak cabinet grade plywood and made a basic box which you can see in the above photo. The 'stains' that you see is just where I used a damp rag to wipe away glue drips so that the finish will go on well. I just glued all the joints and held things together with finish nails from my finish nailer. As it tends to do with plywood, I ended up with a few nails that came out at funny directions so I had to cut them off with my little dremel tool. They will all be covered up by the finish trim so it really isn't too big of deal. I just made sure that I erred on the side of the nail going out where it would be covered versus going to the finished side.

Once I had the box complete, I started applying the hardwood face trim that covers up all the plywood edges and makes things look nice. I glued it and temporarily held it in place with my 'new' pin nailer that I bought at the auction last summer for a song. It leaves a microscopic hole in the face that will never be seen and allows me plenty of time to get some clamps on things to hold it nicely. If everything was flat I wouldn't have bothered with the clamps and just let the pin nails hold it together until the glue dried but there were some small gaps so I squeezed those closed. I have all the front trim in place and deviated with it a bit from my plans. In them, I was going to make separate blocks to put underneath for legs which my wife wanted to show off the marble tile. Instead, I just ran the corner trim down to create the legs which I think will look better. You may notice a seam in the backpanel. I didn't have any scrap pieces big enough to do it with one piece so I covered it with two. It will be against the wall and with the drawers, it won't be seen anyway and since it really isn't structural, I went with it.

Tomorrow, I will put the last piece of trim on the right side and perhaps put some beading to soften the frame and panel look on that side. I then will give it a good sanding and can install it in the bathroom. I'm still waiting for the sink and faucet to be delivered so I really can't start on the drawers until I have them in place and know how much room I'm working with. I will probably screw the slide rails in before mounting the cabinet so that I won't have to do that while working around plumbing. At that point I can go ahead and apply the finish and tile top. By the time I'm done with all that, the sink should be here and I can plumb it up and then get started on the drawers. I plan to have three of them with at least one and probably two of them notched to fit around the p-trap of the sink and avoid the water lines in back to maximize use of the space. I have a nifty homemade dovetail like jig that I use on my tablesaw that makes incredibly strong joints that I will detail in a future post.