Shameless Plug

My End Grain article is feature in the upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine as indicated here.

I’m kinda pumped it’s in the same issue as the Traveling Tool Chest.


Carry on…

Posted in General Philosophy, Toy Chest | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Another Weekend of Work

I returned home from work on Friday to find a whole bunch of cabinets installed.


My wife and I also tackled painting in the living room. Remember, we weren’t planning to do anything to this room but we couldn’t resist. After two late nights and several dose of Advil, the fireplace and ceilings are done. Here’s a video showing the process for white washing. The one area of caution is to make sure you do a test sample. My wife wishes she’d thinned out the mixture more. Ce la vie.

My wife rocked it on the white washing

You’ll likely note the sloppy job on the beams. Like most of the trim in the house, they are the ugly shade of brown we hate. Slopping them up helped got me off the ladder a little faster but more importantly, it means I now need a solution. One idea is to take them down and remove the ugliness with my Rotex (planing seems too difficult). I’d likely mimic whatever I decide with the mantel but it’s still TBD. Another idea was from my contractor, who recommended getting some weathered barn boards and then just facing the beams. These beams are 16′ long apiece and I’m not sure if I can score pieces that long – I’m not interested in putting up smaller pieces. Any ideas? Please leave me a note.

Finally, I’ll leave you with the picture below. It was a much needed moment of comic relief late on Saturday night. In the middle of painting the ceiling, I realized I needed to remove the ceiling fan blades. Sigh… But, here’s what I found on the opposite side of the blades.

Really? People used to opt for this?

Really? People used to opt for this?

We’ve toyed around with re-installing them to show this great bit of 70s faux character.

Posted in The Big Reno | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Week 4 Begins

The drywall was hung and a few coats of mud were put on this this week.

Then the tile went down and was grouted over the weekend.

Plus I was able to get some woodworking incorporated. I removed the mantel and planed it down. Here is where the Festool Rotex came in handy. I don’t use this tool much but it took off years of stain and muck in a few minutes. I’m going to research some methods for putting on a dark stain on pine. I’m not thrilled but it’s “free” at this point. If I don’t like it I’ll probably mount it and then look for something better down the road. If you have any thoughts on staining pine please put let me know in the comments below.

Last up for the weekend was to put a coat of Kilz on the walls where the wallpaper was up. This was based on a request from our drywaller. He’s going to skimcoat some time this week. Let’s hope it works.

Posted in The Big Reno | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

For Jim

I read a blog post from my internet woodworking buddy Jim recently.  It reminded me of the term Gumption Traps from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I too suffer from these episodes. Currently, I’m not going through this phase of the journey but I was a few weeks ago. So Jim, this is for you.

I’ve been chopping dovetails for the better part of two months (off and on of course). It’s required me to keep my chisels sharp. My lack of a sharpening station is best described by Dave over at Less Ordinary. I have an idea for the ultimate sharpening station but instead of opining about it or feeling guilty for not chopping dovetails or cutting grooves for the drawer bottoms I whipped this up over the course of three or four hours in the shop.

IMG_9645It’s made from pressure treated pine used to hold up my sister’s college loft during the Reagan administration. The top is what I’ve been carrying around to sharpening my tools for years. It’s sturdy, the right height, ugly, and allows me to keep my sharpening stuff out while working. Of course it needs blah, blah, blah…I’ll save that for my next bought with Head Trash.

Posted in Shop Stuff | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

We Get Ambitious

Living room after clean up.

Living room after clean up.


Livable but blah

We couldn’t just stare at our living room with no furniture, ugly wallpaper, and outdated paneling. So after getting back from a week of travel and getting settled into the chaos, my wife and I decided to tug at some of the wallpaper.

The first pull resulted in one big piece leaving the wall. We were shocked – especially since we’ve (well, mostly my wife) took off miles of wallpaper at our old house. We shared a glance and said: “no way, the rest won’t be this easy.” Seven minutes later all the paper was on the floor and it all came down in a series of full pieces.

Thank you DIY gods. We’ll take it.

Friday morning we took down the paneling. It wasn’t as easy as the wall paper but it wasn’t bad. The ghetto cable guy drill thru the baseboard and return vent was the only thing that slowed us down.


Really? This is your craftmanship?

This room will most likely just be some paint. I might, eventually, replace the bookcase doors and do something with mantel or beams but I’m not sure. Given how hard it would be to get it started after the future returned we knew we had to just take the plunge. Plus it would look lame if the adjoining room (the kitchen) was brand new and this was dingy and old.


Here is the current state.

And mad props to the electricians working my project. I asked for advice on the ghetto cable job and they were happy to help. They were pushing to finish up the rough electrical for inspection but gave me some quick advice. I cut a line and it must’ve killed more than just the line to the living room. It also affected the other room’s feed. We had to leave for the weekend but when I told the electricians they immediately said they’d take care it. This wasn’t part of our contract, it wasn’t even in a area of the house they need to do any work. I returned home Sunday to find the DirecTV back up and running and a much neater, cleaner wiring setup in the basement and outside. Outstanding.

Posted in Living Room, The Big Reno | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Living in Disorder

Here is how I spend my mornings with my four year old.

When we were planning this renovation my wife was keen on figuring out a make-shift kitchen and I have to hand it to her. She’s done a bang up job. We reconfigured our spare room/office/project area into a nice little spot to eat and prepare food with the girls. It ain’t perfect but it gets the job done and let’s us eat at home.

The demo is coming along. Here is what it looks like after clearing out and putting a hammer to things.

I’ll take it.

Posted in Mudroom, The Big Reno | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Reno Begins

This week marked the end of the old and beginning of the crazy.

For the next eight weeks or so we’ll be living in a make-shift kitchen without access to the majority of our first floor. Luckily, I will have access to the shop but I will also have a honey-do list a mile long as I’m responsible for the mud room lockers, mud room counter top, new siding feature in the three-season room, and the dining room table.

Having everything moved out of the place makes me want to tackle other things like painting the fireplace along with the adjacent built-in bookcase. Plus if I do the bookcase it needs new doors – I’d make those as well. And I want to rip out the paneling…and I want to redo the mantel and the over head beams…and I want…you get the idea.

Part of me wishes I had the artistic talent and patience to make my renovation look like Frank Howarth’s but I don’t. If you haven’t checked this out, please do so. It’s a great way to spend four minutes.

So, here is what everything looked like last weekend.

Here are the plans from our designer.

Wish us luck and hopefully it comes out looking pretty close to the design.

Posted in Living Room, Mudroom, The Big Reno, Three Season Room | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments