My Vision, But Not My Hands Alone

The romantic notion of building my own dining room table from walnut slabs harvested from my back yard did not become a complete reality. I got the project started (see post: The Real Work Started This Weekend and Covid-19 Is Rocking Everyone’s World), but after hosting another dinner on a folding table I decided to let an experienced shop finish it utilizing my new found stimulus check money. I’ll have to save the romance for my office desk and the mulberry slabs also cut from a tree that was in my backyard. Hopefully I learned enough to pull it off.

So the biggest thing I learned, if I’m ever presented with an opportunity to have slabs cut for me again is to leave them over 2″ thick. Randy Wipert, the gentleman I gave all the walnut logs to in exchange for cutting and drying enough for me to make my table, asked me how thick I wanted them. I really didn’t have a clue, so I told him my finished thickness of an inch. He cut my boards under 2″ thick as a result. With the mistakes I made and the natural warping/twisting of the boards, the shop that finished my table ended up milling my boards down to a finished thickness of just under an inch. My mulberry slabs are also under 2″, so it will be interesting to see if I can pull off that project.

Clearly Randy kept the boards with less knots and less sap (the white areas are the sap wood, the wood closer to the bark of the tree) or since he had more wood to work with he was able to eliminate his sap wood. The shop that finished my table told me that two of my boards were too twisted/warped to use, so if I wanted a minimum of 36″ in width, I’d have to keep the sap. In the beginning of the project I did not want any sap. I really didn’t know what it was and I had never seen a mass produced table with it. You don’t know what you don’t know. Everyone at the Manufactory that saw my boards said I was crazy to eliminate the sap. I guess I better grow to love it since it’s staying. I was able to provide input on board placement before they were glued. I will have just two strips of white.

I was at a friend’s house and the woman next door was being evicted and these vintage cast iron table legs were sitting in her driveway. She was a professed flea market flipper. I offered to buy them, but she gave them to me. This was over a year before I bought my house. When I saw them I immediately thought what an awesome table I could make with them (I was equally fixated on HGTV/DIY’s Fixer Upper and Flea Market Flip at that time). I had a vision before THE vision for my house. With the cast iron wall sconces in my dining room and the gunmetal chairs I bought, I knew I’d want to get the rust removed and returned to the silver color of new cast iron. A & B Deburring Co. in downtown Cincinnati sandblasted them clean for me. The shop finishing the top sprayed them with a sealant that should prevent them from rusting again.

When I dropped off the legs I was able to see my table glued up for the first time. They had just put on the first finishing coat. I must admit I was taken aback when I saw it. I’m still grappling with the sap wood since it was not in the vision I had for the table. The thinness of it and the curved shaped (I fashioned the shape of it after the dining room table I grew up with, which was a mid-century modern design) gives it a refinement, but the knots and sap makes it look rustic. My house isn’t rustic. The movement in the wood is not like anything I’ve ever seen, so one side of my brain thinks it’s super cool. This was growing in my back yard. Those knots are signs the tree was sprouting new limbs to grow and thrive. Those knots can be my symbol to embrace the new career choices Covid-19 is forcing me to make if I expect to continue to grow and thrive. The other side is still stuck on the image of mass produced products. It makes me wonder if an experienced wood craftsman would have ever considered my boards for a table and if the foolish romance of making my own table clouded good judgement. It wouldn’t be the first time “the romance of” has made me make poor decisions.

I thought the corners were too sharp, so I did request that they be rounded a bit more. Due to the final thickness they will have to attach a skirt/apron underneath my table to provide structural strength and support. Just three days later my changes were made and the table completed.

My friends Kyle and Bethany helped me pick it up and bring it home and my neighbors Paul and his visiting father helped us carry it in the house. Not 100% by my hands, but it is as seen in my mind’s eye (well almost given the sap wood). I’m grinning ear to ear. Another vision complete.

Don’t Take a Knife to a Gun Fight

Well this most certainly will be a Memorial Day weekend we all will remember. No BBQs for me even though I have my prized grill with me again. I just didn’t feel like firing it up for a solo meal. Instead I decided to tackle the metal flashing that goes around my house. About a month ago I tested scrapping an area to the left of my back door. I used my paint scraper with a carbon graphite blade and a heat gun for about an hour to get that area cleaned. I thought I’d tackle a small area each evening, but then the sheshed project got all my attention. Good thing as my favorite Jack of all trades, Tom Milfeld, stopped by to see the project and he told me to use my sander with 60 grit paper to eat through the paint.

Left side of rear door, hand scrapped

Saturday I got started and I selected my belt sander to work with. I bought 50 grit belts and started on the right side of the door. It worked awesome, in the beginning. I got about 10 feet done before I needed to change the belt. I only bought one pack, which comes with two belts. The rain brought an end to the project, so I went to my computer with the intent of ordering more belts for in-store pickup, but an idea popped in mind to look at grinder accessory. The belt sander worked great on the vertical side, but not so great of the top near the house and I thought my grinder could get closer. I found exactly what I was looking for, a flap disk. At this point I have about 3 hours into this project and about 1/4 of the house complete.

Sunday, with more rain in the forecast, I turned my focus on my yard. Last year I seeded the right side and what I call nappy grass took over. It died out over the winter and my first lawn treatment of the seaosn should insure it doesn’t come back, but I had a lot of bare patches. There is a family flipping a house across the street from me and the husband is a landscaper. He stopped by and gave me some great ideas. I want to plant one tree and I’ve been considering a River Birch (grew up with that at my old house), a Star Magnolia (ode to Fixer Upper), or a Canadian Clump Cherry (also planted at my old house). He suggested an Eastern Redbud and recommended Bzak Nursery, so I decided to go out there for bags of top soil, seed for the lawn, and to see in person all the plants he recommended. They had everything, but the Redbud. Rhonda, who works with DIYers tweaked his suggestions a bit, so I can’t wait to turn my attention fully on the flower beds. I got the top soil and seed down and half the yard cut just as the rains started to fall.

I really didn’t want to deal with a big box store, so Monday morning I called the Ace Hardware in Clifton to see if they had my sander belt size, they did so I bought 32 and 40 grit. I wanted to get more paper in case the flap disc didn’t work of if they didn’t carry it. They did, so I bought two 36 grit GatorBlades. On a scale of 1 to 10, hand scrapping was a one, belt sander a five, grinder with the flap disc TEN!

The only drawback was I’d blow through a battery about ever 6′. I have three batteries, a rapid and regular charger. I was burning through batteries faster than they could charge, so I stopped to finish cutting the grass and to throw down a couple more bags of top soil I also bought at Ace and more seed. I got from the blue section of the back, all of Stock Ave side, and the left side of the front sanded. Skies turned black and wind picked up, so I thought rain was coming again. I stopped and ate lunch while watching another episode of a new Netflix series I’ve gotten hooked on, Blood & Water. I also read the can of Sherwin William’s All Surface Latex Enamel Primer I bought to apply to the metal once all the paint and rust was removed. It stated that bare steel must be primed the same day. I noticed that some areas I had scrapped the day before had rusted again with the rain, so I re-sanded that area and decided to apply the primer to all the areas I had already scraped.

What a difference it makes. I wanted the primer to be tinted to Sea Serpent, but that couldn’t happen because the base is white. This color is 50% of that.

Before calling it a day and weekend I decided to try the GatorBlade on my prized stain glass window frame. Regardless as to who I select to paint the house, I’m handling the stripping of that window. The disc is getting pretty worn, so I thought it would do less damage on wood and I was right. I’ll probably put the new one on to complete the metal flashing stripping, but I’ll use the worn one to finish the window.

What is a Plinth?

Merriam-Webster provides these definitions:

1a: the lowest member of a base SUBBASE b: a block upon which the moldings of an architrave or trim are stopped at the bottom 2: a usually square block serving as a basebroadlyany of various bases or lower parts 3: a course of stones forming a continuous foundation or base course

Why am I posing that question? Thanks to CenterBank and their Vice President, Manager, Doug Barnaclo, I’m going to be able to move forward with painting my house!!!! With earnest I’ve been obtaining bids from painters and one asked me what I planned to do with my second floor trio of windows, one located on each side of the house. They are the only windows on the house that have “plinths” and they are in really bad shape or missing entirely.

Stock Street side of my house. 2nd from left plinth is half missing; 3rd is just a chunk of 2×4
Neighbor side of house. 1st from left is a chuck of wood, 2nd I took down and will show later, 3rd half missing

I’m going to work on the neighbor side first as I can reach these from inside my master bedroom. The Stock Street side is the master bath and the two smaller windows don’t open. I have a crappy extension ladder, so I may invest in a new one or at least purchase a ladder stabilizer. I didn’t intend to remove the original completely, but it didn’t put up a fight as clearly the piece was already broken and poorly attached with just caulk. I learned what these were called during a chat with Architectural Depot representative Sam Pease. I found this company on the internet over a year ago when I was looking for something to create a round effect at the top of my dormer windows (I talked about that problem in my post 2nd Floor Windows Finally Complete, Sort Of). I sent him a similar picture and he sent me a link to the products they carry. The closes I could find in the width I needed was the Ekena Millwork PB06X09X01DI 6 1/4-Inch W x 9 3/4-Inch H x 1-Inch P Diane Plinth Block, which I found cheaper on Amazon.

The problem with this plinth, is it’s thinner than the original wood piece. It’s longer too, but I can cut away the access length when I cut the needed angle. This plinth is also a little more decorative than the original. I’ve already worked through my mind how to solve the thickness issue, so stay tuned for a future post on that.

What I’m still wrestling with is how much of the ornateness to keep. Clearly I will cut away the majority of the bottom of the Diane plinth, but I could also cut off layers from the top. I’m leaning towards option 2, which means I’ll have a opening at the top of this plinth. I’m thinking that shouldn’t be an issue as the opening shouldn’t be exposed as this piece is resting under the pilaster and I could use caulk to fill the space. I’d love your thoughts as I plan to finish the headboard project before jumping into this. Also I’ve only ordered two of these plinths, since I’m pulling another of my famed MacGyver tricks to deal with the thickness issue. I’ll order the other 6 if it works. If anyone knows of a thicker product, other than a custom milled piece, let me know.

The Last Time. The She Shed is Ready

I retrieved my lawn mower from a storage locker for the last time, the shed is complete.  The only items left were installing the soffit and front side trim.  I thought 30 minutes top.  The soffit went fast, the real work with that was already done.  The plans called for attaching with 2″ 6d nails, but screw that.  Nailing upwards bites, I pulled out my mini gun and shot with 2 1/2″ 16 gauge nails.  My fit was almost perfect.  Where it wasn’t I put a bead of caulk.

I ran into a snag with the trim.  I followed the plans, but there was a gap at the top.  I looked over the plans and really don’t see what I missed.  Maybe they intended for there to be a gap, but that just invites bees and birds to find a home.  As with the soffit I needed to notch the front corner trim.  Unfortunately I had already cut one side, so I installed it and as I did with the back, added a filler piece.  The opposite side I notched.

More caulk, touch up paint and the shed project was practically complete.  The missing t-hinges for the doors came in, so I added them.  I also added about a 3″ wide strip of scrap T1-11 board, painted yellow on inside of one door to cover the gap between the doors.  At the bottom of that same door I added a surface bolt latch, so the side stays closed until I pull the latch.  While I was building the doors constantly blew open and shut and I figured that couldn’t be a good thing over time.  Those last two steps was just me over achieving and so are the tool racks I will make out of the scrap 2x4s.  I did one just to see if it would work, it did.  You can’t tell by the picture, but I cut the back side at a 20 degree angle.  I knew the upward tilt would help keep them in place.  It does.

People have commented to me, why not just buy a shed.  I could have, but I’m so thankful in this stage of my life that I have the skill set and physical ability to build something of quality myself, ESPECIALLY, given these trying times we’re in.  This project gave me something positive to focus on when the world is filled with negative thanks to Covid-19.  I built that…….from scratch.  There is nothing I can’t do when I put my mind to it.  I need these projects to reaffirm that I am essential because the world is telling me I’m not.


She Has A Roof

Gazebo Roof 1This is not my first shingle project.  In 2010, my father helped me build a new deck with a gazebo at my old house.  He worked for 19 days before needing to return home.  I had to finish the shingles and all decorative trim myself.  That’s me in the picture.  The shed is a piece of cake compared to the gabled roof of the gazebo.

I bought Owens Corning Oakridge shingles, color Driftwood, from Menards to match the shingles on my house.  The plans called for two packs and I did not want to run short.  In laying shingles the first row you actually lay upside down, it’s your starter row.  Remembering that I went to the Cincinnati ReUse Center and spent $2 on 4 loose shingles.  With the starter row in place all you really need to do is follow the installation instructions on the shingle packaging.  My mother always told me if you can read you can do anything and she was 100% right.  The instructions called for six courses, starting from the left  after row 1 that started with a whole piece; the next 5 had to be cut 2, 6 1/2″; 3, 13″; 4, 19″; 5, 26″; and 6 32 1/2″.  A scrap piece of the roof sheathing was a perfect cutting board, becoming the perfect jig.  I only got half done before the rains came, which was fine because I needed to go back to Home Depot and get a different drip edge.

It appeared I had already gotten the widest drip edge, I kept what I had, but also bought 10′ roll of 6″ wide aluminum flashing.  That covered the gap at the top and I was able to attach the drip edge.  With that complete I laid my felt paper and continued with installing the shingles.  When I got to the last row, which I knew wouldn’t have strong nail contact, I applied roof cement caulk.

It was a cold, muddy, day, so I decided to call it quits after painting the foundation gray to match the house.  I also took the measurements for the soffit cut outs I’d have to make.  I must have read something wrong in the instructions because the top trim piece for the door was too high and it interfered with the soffit placement’; I would need to notch around it.  The T1-11 siding was to be used for this.  Luckily I had plenty of scraps thanks to my mis-cut of the door.  I got the right side spot on with the first cut.  The left took three tries before I got it right.  I drilled the vent holes, painted them, and applied the screen mesh, so they’d be ready to install.  I also cut and painted the front corner trim.  Unless something unforeseen happens the shed should be completed the next day I work on it.


Calling An Audible

Properly cut rafters I believe was the most important aspect of building my shed.  I messed up on my one attempt and gave up on trying again.  My former neighbor got the job done, but he wasn’t neat about the cuts.  I would have been.  He used a jig saw, all hand cuts.   I would have used my miter saw to at least ensure the lengths were consistent . They weren’t the same lengths, depths of cuts on the angles weren’t consistent.  It was noticeable to the naked eye, but not significant or so I thought.  He joked that its just a shed.  Well………I believe those imperfections were the main cause for my panels not meeting on the corners.  The gaps weren’t consistent either.  The plans did not call for any trim on the back of the shed.  I would have to add to hide the gap.

First step was putting the fascia boards on the front and sides.  When I did the front it revealed how crooked the roof sheeting was.  This would not have happened if the Voerhang plates had been installed correctly. The left side extended past the fascia, so since that was a small panel I decided to remove it and push it back.  Doing so narrowed the gap in the back that bothered me when I hung it with my neighbor.  The plan called for two 52 1/4″, 1x4s.  Since I needed to purchase more pieces for the back, I got 10′ lengths, so that could be one solid piece.  I couldn’t see why there was a reason for two pieces outside of the plan listed all 8′ length boards.  Putting the drip edge on top of the fascia makes total sense to me now.

The side fascia had more thought involved.  Adding the back trim meant I was extending the back of the shed, which I would need to account for.  It meant altering the length called for in the plan by the width of the trim board, 3/4″. I cut it an inch longer as the gap at the top was wider than bottom.  The plans called for a 67 degree angle, which is beyond the range of my miter saw.  After the rafter issue I bought a digital angle finder from Home Depot.  Worked like a charm, especially when I applied my straight-edge technique before cutting.

Adding the trim on the vertical sides would mean there would be a 3/4″ gap between the trim pieces at the top.  I wasn’t sure how that would impact installing the drip edge or shingles at the top, so I decided to add a horizontal trim piece as well.  I could have easily installed the 1×4 board cut to the right length, but I knew the slope of the roof was 23 degrees.  I decided to rip the side of the board at 23 degrees also (ok, I was showing off at this point, for who I don’t know).  Once I got the piece installed, it revealed how crooked my back panel install was.  This is where working solo was not wise.  No worries, I used my reciprocating saw to remove the excess with my 23 degree angle as my guide.

I had already cut the rear side trim per the plans, so that created another gap at the top that probably wouldn’t be an issue, but I decided to create to cap pieces to conceal a crevice I thought would make a great place for bees or hornets to nest in.  At this point I considered myself an angle master.  The top angle was 23 degrees, while the bottom was 67.

With the sun setting fast I wanted to get the rear drip edge on, so I could jump on the shingles on the next dry day, but the gap between the back siding and roof sheathing was wider than the drip edge.  More audibles would be in store and the shed project would carry over into another week.

She’s So Cute

Painting the shed in my house colors was brilliant as it confirms that my house is going to be gorgeous when I get it painted.

This will be a short post as I didn’t do a lot, but what was done was substantial.  I put the 1×3 trim around the door opening.  I painted it before hanging with Lowe’s Valspar Duramax tinted in Sherwin Williams’ Incredible White.  Lowe’s didn’t carry the Weathershild I bought for the shed in quarts.  I ordered the T-hinges from Amazon and stupidly only ordered two sets.  I needed three, so the shed won’t be officially complete until Monday when the third set arrives.

Hanging the doors was amazingly easy.  I pulled out my house jack again which worked like a charm.  I had both doors hung in less than an hour.  Rains are returning on Sunday, so tomorrow I’m going to focus on the roof, with hopes of having the shingles on by end of the day.  Even if I don’t get everything finished, with the doors it’s a functional storage unit and ready to store my yard tools.