Of mystery lumber and a large dose of Irish luck

I knew I would need a bottom shelf for the workbench and I could tell that there had once been such an animal. But it wasn’t anywhere on the premises. My intention was to build a shelf that would not only stabilize the structure, but add storage. I found these mysterious beautiful boards in the garage that looked like they belonged to a really, really long table. Like seven feet long. (I’m trying to imagine a seven-foot table in this house.) Of course, I didn’t care what they looked like, since I would paint the shelf white.

Until I saw this. I guess I need a closeup, but the bottom shelf here is a piece of dark wood (mahogany?) that fits perfectly between the legs of the table and sits on the cross pieces. While it’s a bit worn, (character) it’s beautifully rounded on the front edge. And straight as a string (wait. it will warp now that it’s living indoors!) So, I just stuck it there and put some pots and bowls on it.

I was kind of ready to see some of the decor that’s been living in my mind these past couple of weeks. I can’t install the upper shelving until the paint dries 🙁 so I decorated the lucky-found shelf.

This episode: Doing dishes or Cup in the sink

The the bottom of the top. This is the underside of the kitchen counter. Note the 1×3 bravely trying to straighten the terrible bend in those beautiful boards. You know how you see carpenters put in one screw and think to yourself “What the hell is he doing? That will never work.” but then the screw sucks those two boards right together with nary a crack of daylight between ’em. Well, I’m not a carpenter. Those screws didn’t even consider sucking up that warped board. This also gives a view of the little toggles that held the table together. They fit into grooves in the “apron” of the table. They are attached with really old flat head screws which tells me the thing was built awhile ago.

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Personally, I prefer to lay claim to a new style. So the new fashion in kitchen counters is The Cup. Apparently that’s the term for when a board warps sending the edges skyward while the middle stays earthbound. I called it a dish in the board until I read a few woodworking forums. Regardless of terms there’s a bend in the counter. It’s a big bend and there’s no hiding it. So, methinks, I’ll just put the clips on the sink and pull that baby straight. Nope. For now the sink will remain cupped.

Paper towel and electrical tape to protect my scraped knuckle. Note to self: put band aids in the toolbox.
Adventures in Plumbing.
Plumbing is like puzzles. You take all the parts from the package and make sure they fit together. And don’t leak.
In my humble opinion, getting water IN is a hundred times easier than getting it OUT. Course it goes without saying that fresh, clean incoming water is much more pleasant than the stuff you’ve already used for. . . whatever.

See the towel? It’s gone now. Meaning that there’s no leak.

Watch this!

Bravely running water in the sink. Hip. Hip. Hooray for running water. Double hooray for the fact that it leaves the house without getting the floor wet.

If you are the person. . .

. . . who invented berber carpet, you are hereby on my What-Were-You-Thinking list. The good news is that the bedroom is the only one that’s carpeted. The bad news is that it’s berber. The badder news is that there’s a substance stuck to the hardwood. Glue? Paint? Oatmeal? Baby Pablum?* Egg white? Whatever it is, it has no intention of breaking off its attachment to the hardwood.

The honeycomb pattern was left by the foam rubber carpet pad.

Unlike regular carpet that has short little tufts, berber is constructed of loops created from one incredibly long piece of whatever carpets are made of. Unfortunately, when you cut it, the loops come up in what looks like strands of ramen noodles. Yards and yards of tough curly strands totally resistant to cutting. And, I suspect that the loops harbor all the debris they could collect over the past 20 years.

But I digress. The most fun of the day was this:

Ready for prime time. Don’t worry. I moved the fridge. It’s in the living room. Very handy.
Yay.

Who can resist a clean shiny white floor?

*When I was growing up, we fed babies a Gerber thing called pablum. The baby of the moment seemed to like it ok. If not, you would mix in a bit of applesauce and he/she would gobble it right up. It was made by pouring from the cardboard box via the little tilt-out metal spout a bit of flaky substance (think instant potatoes), adding warm water until it was the consistency of, well, maybe porridge. You would then feed it to the baby. However. Woe the baby feeder who did not wash the pablum dish immediately because if it dried on the dish, it would require a hammer drill for removal. Best toss the dish. But even WOE-ER the baby feeder who did not have a wet cloth at the ready to remove said pablum from the cheeks of the baby. Pablum dries to the consistency of concrete. I am sure that on the rare occasions I see my youngest brother, I can still detect bits of pablum among the stubble on his cheeks.

PS. I’ve heard that the Great Wall of China has lasted all these years because there may have been egg used in the mortar. This is just speculation, but could it be. . . baby pablum?

I love hardware stores. And the people who work there.

Wednesday had me in Spooner for a meeting so I took my two jigsaws (Eugene had one here + mine) into Ace Hardware, where my favorite Hardware Guy – Al – helped me pick out a couple of new jigsaw blades. Al has probably retired from something very useful which makes him even more useful as a Hardware Guy. Last summer he helped me plumb my shower. As a matter of fact, he saved me from buying 10 feet (yes, feet) of 1/2-inch pvc to completely replace every stick of plumbing in that bathroom. He showed me this little pvc connector that allowed me to do the job with around 10 INCHES of pipe. It’s been True Love ever since.

So, Al said the blades I already had in the jigsaws were plenty sharp, but I think the trick was using a reverse cut blade. I have no idea why. Physics isn’t my strong suit. It also helped that I planted my hand on top of the saw to keep it from rattling my brains out. It cut pretty well after I eliminated that bouncing.

Although cutting that top was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve done, apparently I didn’t take any pictures of my foibles. Good thing there’s a large lip around the sink to cover up the crooked cutting. I did a lot of measuring and thinking because I was afraid the sink would be too deep from front to back, but it fits perfectly.

There’s one of those little clips in the foreground. Just watch me try to reinstall them. HAHAHAHA

A zillion cuts later, it finally fits. I trimmed off slivers of maple until the saw went on strike.

And now for the booboo of the week. See that minute crack in the top on the other side of the sink? That minor split came completely apart just as I finished the cut. Waaahhh. Yes. Yes, I swore.

My version of fixing this mishap was to take a couple of pine 1×3’s and reinforce the top from the bottom. Does that make sense? Sure it does. Screw a couple of boards to the bottom spanning the crack and presto! your split will go away. Nope. That didn’t even THINK about working. I couldn’t hold the two top pieces together tightly enough to make the crack go away. If only I had four arms. (That has occurred to me many times recently.) I also spent a good deal of time looking for screws that would penetrate both pieces, but not go through. Difficult to wipe off a countertop with screws sticking out. So, I bought some long clamps and glued the thing together and left it overnight. Overnight is a good thing. Not only does glue dry in that time, but when you’re ready to toss the entire thing out the window — or better yet jump up and down on top of the project in question and yell (this leaves boot prints on the future kitchen counter, by the way) — overnight works miracles.

It worked. The piece stayed together and seems to be ok except for a notable dish in the middle. I think those old boards have wanted to warp for years, but were restrained by the toggles. We’ll see how that warp acts when I clamp down the sink.

So, today I painted the wall for the last time, painted the floor, painted the cat. Oh. No, I didn’t paint the cat. I painted the future shelves that will go on the wall.

Found this in the basement. Long enough for two shelves. Almost too beautiful to paint, but alas, it needs to match the rest of the kitchen.
Former cabinet drawers will be shelves above the stove.

And, I painted what will be the island.

This is the Ikea table I bought the other day. It has adjustable legs so can be a coffee table, a bar or, I hope, an additional kitchen counter since this kitchen has a dearth of counter space.

And finally, I used a different color! I know. You’re sick of white, right? Well look at this!

The bookcase is blue. But just on the outside.

And here we are at the weekend already!

What a week

Man, the week went fast. Fast and fun. Here’s the last of the cabinets. Since there’s no shut-off at the sink, I need to turn off the water throughout the house, which means no shower. Or even washing my hands after handling the sink drain gunk. :/ So, I finally got the nerve to shut everything down. Unhooked the water supplies, undid the drain, unscrewed the teensy sink clips that hold the sink to the countertop. This means squeezing myself into the space under that cabinet — made more challenging by the fact that there’s a vertical post in the middle of the opening — and lying on my back, in the twilight that reigns under most sinks, find and unscrew the pesky little things. There were about a dozen. One fell on my forehead and left a mark.

Presto. Sink comes out. Formica counter comes out. She-man breaks it in half (with my foot) and drags it out to the garage. Countertops are weak where the sink is cut out. Besides, they’re made out of cardboard and glue. Don’t give my foot more credit than it deserves.

 

Note the wall around the stove. That had formica glued to it. The formica came off with no problem. The glue? That’s not going anywhere. Nothing that Magic Zinsser can’t cover, I’m sure.
After I removed the upper cabinets (well. . . helped them fall off the wall), the lower ones went on strike. Here you can see one of the cabinets marching out the door. See ya!

Here’s the way the floor looks under the cabinets.

Yipes. Cabinets hide a world of ick.

If only there wasn’t asbestos under those layers of vinyl, I would rescue that hardwood floor.

Pipes are terrifying.

Yike.Well, now that the water is off and I’m all gunky, I’m committed to the kitchen sink project. I bought this incredible invention at the hardware store.

I literally stuck these things on the tops of the hot and cold copper water supplies coming from the basement. Then trotted downstairs and turned on the water. CHARGED back upstairs to save the kitchen from flooding. But to my surprise there was nary a drop. I mean not even damp.

At 77″ long, the workbench allows the stove to be on an angle so it’s not quite as awkward to use the oven.

AND, with the water turned on I was now able to shower and wash my hands. Both of which I needed badly.

I went to the lumber yard and bought a 4×8 sheet of underlayment (quarter-inch plywood) and since it wouldn’t fit in my car at that size, a nice young man cut it into 17″ pieces. I laid this down over the hardwood butted up against the vinyl. Is it level with the vinyl? No, that would be a miracle. But this part of the floor will be under the new cabinets. Trust me. This will work.

Quarter-inch plywood fits over the hardwood between the wall and the vinyl. All three layers of vinyl, the bottom one probably being asbestos.
I love covering up scary-looking things.

Now I can finally get to priming and painting the little section of floor where the sink and stove will be. But first I needed to prime and paint the wall behind them.

Hopeless.
Primer covers all kinds of mysterious stuff. I’m not really sure what that brown gook is.

Wall is primed and painted, baseboard installed and floor painted.

Baseboard is just 1×6 pine. Whoops! I forgot to factor in that wall to the left. So, I’ll need to grab another board for that.

Next I need to cut a hole in the workbench top for the sink. This is a mighty task as the workbench is made out of some hard wood. Hardwood. I suspect maple. And my little jigsaw doesn’t really like hardwood.

Monday, Monday. Can’t trust that day

Huge oops when I realized I’d put the workbench back together wrong 🙁 Came apart again easily enough and I pushed (and pounded) it back together the right way. That was after working for 45 minutes at putting it together the wrong way — which is why it wouldn’t go together easily. Sheesh.

So I primed the whole thing with the Magic BIN primer that covers everything on earth including grease stains. Not sure how that works, but I love it. Besides, it’s made for impatient people since it can be recoated in 45 minutes.

Primer to cover up all the stains
Those towels? They’re protecting the wood from the c-clamps that are holding that broken leg together while the glue dries. Unfortunately I neglected to prime that part 🙁
Went together better when it was upside down. Note the mallet. Yes. Yes, I beat on the furniture. The kitchen looks kind of messy. Huh.

 

Ready for the second coat tomorrow.
The ugly truth about kitchen sinks. They’re all kind of icky.

No shutoff valves at the sink, so I’ll need to shut off the main to install them.

Spruced right up with a coat of paint.

Time warp times two

So every now and then you have a day that things just get done. It seems it contains more hours than the typical day. Between those days are typically 364 days during which things don’t seem to progress at all. Well, yesterday and today were BOTH time-warp-more-hours days. Yesterday, the workbench got itself upstairs and started getting cleaned up. Then, since it wasn’t snowing and/or 20 below zero, I decided to make a Spooner trip, as the Restore there is big and usually full of good stuff. I think my Buy of the Day was this sink:

$35 and still in the box. SO glad I measured the bathroom before I left.

I won’t say what I was THINKING about doing for the bathroom sink. But this was too good to pass up. I also got a great Ikea table with adjustable legs — it goes from coffee table to bar height — that I’d like to use for a kitchen island. And lights. A few ceiling fixtures that will fit nicely — one for the kitchen and one to replace the broken light/fan in the bedroom.

Still looking for a vanity light for the bathroom. The current one has a switch and they’re hard to find. I may need to install a switch in one of the lights I have.

Since I was down that way, I stopped at Libby’s to pick up some stuff. I had a nice navy shower curtain languishing there that will look nice here. Also wanted my circular and jig saws. I finally grabbed the speakers for my desktop. Difficult to watch YouTube videos without sound, so how would I learn to put a switch in a light or install a shut-off valve in the kitchen?

AND. . . I got my car stuck. It snowed quite a bit this past week and since my driveway isn’t plowed, I use Marie’s next door. Well, there’s a SOLD sign on her house and an unplowed driveway, but I have 4-wheel drive. I parked on the level part just in front of the big garage, but alas, I got stuck turning around. Tried to get out, then went for help to Merle and Linda Knott’s. Merle and his brother-in-law, Bob managed to pull me out with their little vehicle and a rope. It was nice to see the Knotts who were quite surprised to see me mid-winter.

I wish I had a picture of Libby’s thigh-deep in snow. Very pretty. (Like I don’t already have a thousand pictures of Libby’s thigh-deep in snow.)

Even after all that, I still got back to Hayward before 4 pm.

Then today turned out that way, too. I woke up at 5 am and couldn’t wait to keep going with that workbench. So, I coffee’d up and started slathering on the stripper. My intention was to just get off the damaged finish and places where it was painted for some reason. I ended up taking it down to bare wood in most places. The wood is nice — either oak or maple, but it’s pretty beat up and despite the endless farmhouse/distressed/reclaimed furniture on Pinterest, to me it looks like old beat up shit. So I spent a great deal of time compulsively removing the old finish, then washing it all down with tsp (substitute).

Meanwhile, I made an early-morning run to Walmart for curtain stuff — I bought the only white twin flat sheet and the only pack of 8 grommets. So, we’ll see what I can do for curtains (about which I’ve been obsessing).

THEN, to L&M where I found everything I needed to make my day complete. Steel wool, f’rinstance, which I needed to clean up the workbench.

This is the one leg that came apart. The “4×4” is hollow — so one 1×4 came undone. I’ll have to glue it.
It’s a really well-made piece.

And here it is leaning against the wall all cleaned up and ready for paint.

It was still early afternoon, so I took the green shelving unit off the bathroom wall.

It’s green.
And fits just about anywhere
Friends with the fridge
and leaves a nice open space in the teensy weensy bathroom
Is that. . .? OH NO!!. It’s wallpaper.
Then I found this sweet thing in the garage. Buried in cobwebs.

A coat of paint and it’ll be great. Besides, there’s no bottom shelf and it fits perfectly over the heat vent and still allows the heat into the room.

And I still had enough time left to take a shower, process all these photos, pet the cat and write all this exhilarating stuff. Definitely a time warp.

But wait, there’s more

Here’s the rest of the basement. Talk about a man cave. This is just a cave. With rocks and everything.

Yep. It’s a basement.

Coke and Judy — who were somehow roped into attempting to clean this cave — are having nightmares looking at these photos. It’s worse in real life.

The rock gives it character.

See that workbench? That’s a future kitchen counter.

It’s a bit untidy, but nothing the shop vac can’t take care of.

Magic Workbench

Amazing. I just pulled the workbench out from the wall in the basement (shop vac comes in handy to destroy creepy cobwebs) and at first glance it looks like it comes apart. Built to be disassembled. Yay. Can’t see very well, so need to crawl under there with a flashlight. (the shop light goes on, but keeps blinking like a strobe light — worse than no light at all.)

Typical workbench — lots of stuff on it.
Cleaned off — look at the potential!
Hmmm.

Yes! It was carefully built with no screws or nails so it could be disassembled. The 4×4 legs are made from four pieces of oak glued together. I know this because one came apart. The bottoms of the legs are a bit water damaged so I’m going to buy post bases (I never know the Official Names of things) to cover the damage. The top was held on by little wooden twisty things that tuck into a groove. (What are these called?)

So I pulled it apart and brought the pieces upstairs where I laid the top on the counter top and began scrubbing with TSP. Some stains were raised — like paint cans sat there — so I grabbed the CitriStripper and that comes off very easily. There’s a dark finish that’s kind of crackled, too, so I’m stripping that in prep for Zinsser BIN Ultra Stain Blocker. This hid the water stains on the 130 apartment floor.

Well. I’ve seen worse.
Stained and pretty grubby

I debated for awhile whether to paint it white or create a “reclaimed wood” look that’s all the rage. I’m opting for paint for a cleaner look. After the primer I’ll use porch and floor as the top coat.

crazy
Of course I never stop to ask myself why. Why? Why am I doing this?

27 Below

Whoa. The little digital thermometer in the back foyer said 27.1 below this morning. I still see those tiny tykes walking to the school down the street, though. Hearty little people. One little guy was skipping — like it’s summer or something.

I’m using bright sunny days with light-reflecting new clean snow to work on the kitchen. Late morning is a good time to really see where I missed snippets of wallpaper backing. So I finished with the TSP cleaning and had j-u-s-t enough Zinsser Bullseye Plus primer to finish the three walls. The sink/stove wall is going to need the heavy duty primer as there’s formica glue, mold and other substances that need covering.

The lower cabinets got lonely for the upper cabinets so they staged a walkout. I helped them along to the garage, where they’ll have to stay until I get trash service (which I finally ordered today).