Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dying Camera

This is the detail overhead when you come down the stairs to the first floor

A slightly better photo of the new shelves in the kitchen

I managed to coax the lens out on our dying camera today to take some semi-okay quality photos. At least they are better then the grainy photos the iPod takes when the light is low.

I finished a little playful detail over the stair of steam-bent maple that forms sort of a swoop from the second floor down to the first. Quality-wise it is a little rough, but I like the effect. I may re-do it sometime.

Besides that I got a bunch of the last pieces of trim poly-ed and I'll be throwing some quills in those tomorrow and that'll be that for trim.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shelving unit

I've spent the last day or so building a shelving unit that mounts in the opening in the mudroom/pantry closet. It went together smoothly and today I installed the trim around it and the door right next to it. Because of the way the two trim casings meet it was some work to make it look like it makes sense, but the end result of having the whole thing in place is very satisfying. It finishes an area that has been rough and undone for months. What's more it gives us an important and useful place to put stuff.

We're actually thinking this particular shelving unit will be a trial-run for a more finer piece that would be a bit more elaborate and considered. We'll see how this works and decide what we think over time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Sunday Times by the woodstove after a ski

The gang chilaxing

Our first official meal. Hooray!

This weekend we had the privilege and the pleasure of hosting our first house guests in our "new" house, and it was a terrific experience.

Michael, Anu, and Scott arrived late Saturday morning for a lunch before we all headed out on either a back-country ski or a walk. The weather has been blustery and cold and after a few hours out, coming back from the surrounding hills we found house was as welcoming and warm as we could ever dream. A small fire in the woodstove and warm-up shower thoroughly defrosted as needed.

Anu cooked us an excellent Indian diner and the kitchen served us well. There's still lots of organizing and such to get in place, but the basic experience is solid.

In a really neat twist of fate, Michael and Anu were some of our first guests when we moved into the yurt almost eight years ago. We were glad to have them here again celebrating with us.

This week I'll continue working on the various small projects required polish things off for the final inspection from the appraiser. This includes a shelving unit in the kitchen, some finish work over the stairs, a cap on the railing and some trim work around the t.p. holder/storage cubbies in the bathrooms. Oh yes, also I'll be working on light fixtures.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Keepin' warm

Sunlight on cabinets

The stair railing

The thermostat control

Today we decided to turn our thermometer down to 50 degrees--effectively turning the heat off. It's been in the back of our minds to do this for a while but with our efforts concentrated on just getting the house done it's been easier to let the boiler/radiant system keep the place warm. With the wood stove hooked up and a little more available attention to spend on our wood supply and lighting a fire as needed we thought we'd nuke the back-up heat and see what happens. Mind you it's been unseasonably warm the last couple of days, but it's supposed to cool back down again tomorrow and stay that way for a while. I'm fascinated to see how the house performs.

I got the railing mostly built today. There are some odds and ends to finish up and the whole thing needs a finish railing cap to top it off, but it came out pretty well. To do it again I might make the triplets of balusters a little closer together to accentuate the groupings, but basically I'm happy with it. Moreover, it's great to have a railing in place to do it's job of keep us safe.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Furniture and such

You can see the yurt through the window from whence this furniture came. Its a little bittersweet to be moving out of the yurt, but wonderful to be in the house

The kitchen up and running. We still need knobs for the cabinet doors

Close up of the cabinets

Making parts for the stair railing

Starting to fit it all together

We've moved bits of furniture into the house bit-by-bit over the last week or so. You'd think we were done or something!

I've spent the last couple of days working on the "temporary" railing around the stair opening on the second floor. I say temporary because I was unsure of what I wanted to do here and at some point decided I'd just do a quick black-metal pipe industrial solution that would allow me to feel out a nicer option with some more time to think about it, and that is essentially what I'm doing. That said, its' turning into a reasonably time-intensive project and might really end up being the foundation for the permanent version--we'll see. I guess I'm pretty distrustful of anything that is done as "temporary" or "for now" because quite often it becomes what stays for a long long time.

The kitchen is functional and we're really enjoying it.

Our first house guests arrive tomorrow. Before they arrive we'll be cleaning up and trying to get the house in shape for entertaining rather then building.

(Camera woes again: the lens is messed up on our camera, so I'm relying on our fallback which is the lower quality iPod Touch camera. I'm glad to have a back-up but look forward to getting our otherwise trusty Canon back in working order. Sorry for the sub-quality photos.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Signs of domesticity

I completed the countertops today and that pretty much finishes off the kitchen for the time being. Phew! In a matter of hours Nancy and I were slicing up hors d'oeuvres and making diner in our fancy new kitchen. It feels so good. After dinner I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned up while Nance made a little fire in the woodstove and we shared a little Valentine's Day treat for dessert while we got all sleepy from the fire. We are feeling a lot of gratitude for such a comfortable home.

I'll be working on the stair railing tomorrow.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

About that spider...

So, I led off the last post with a suggestive title about a spider, but didn't explain. I was pretty bushed when I wrote it and decided I get back to it later.

Here we go:

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, sometime around 3:00am, Nancy and I were fast asleep when we were jolted awake by the piercing wail of the fire alarm. In a flash we'd opened windows in case there was an accumulation of CO (which our units detect, along with smoke). We didn't smell any smoke and couldn't sense anything suspect in a quick survey. The alarm stopped in a few seconds.

We then spent a short time locating the written directions that we'd stored away. Nancy rooted around out in the yurt and found it. Upon examination we discovered it was the Spanish edition. Caramba! No sign of the English version.

Next up we found our model on the Internet and we're able to understand the blinking red light next to the "smoke" label. A push of the button cleared the unit back to green. While up on the ladder examining the detector I noticed a small brown spider perched in one of the small openings to the interior. Nancy had read through the various possibilities for a false alarm and among them was the presence of insects. It seems this little critter was the source of our troubles.

The electrical code requires hard wired alarms on each floor of the house and there is a battery in each unit in the event of power outage. Because we have a boiler and propane gas cook top in a very tightly built house we had Felton install CO/smoke alarms on each floor although the requirement was something less, perhaps only a CO detector in the vicinity of the boiler and smoke alarms in other areas.

I tried to get the spider but had no luck. As far as we can tell, he or she is still there and I'm not sure what we're going to do about it. This event got me wondering if there might be a fine-mesh screen around the alarm that wouldn't interfere with it's function. I'm going to write the manufacturer and ask about that.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We had a spider

Morning light on the stairs

A few more small parts and we'll be done for the short term in the kitchen

Another view of the stairs

Hooking up the sink and dishwasher plumbing

My efforts have continued in the kitchen the last few days, mostly hooking up the plumbing, making a back splash for the counter and enclosing/installing the dishwasher. Once the dishwasher was in and a last little bit of cabinet filler was installed on it's right side, we were able to move the refrigerator in from the yurt and finally have all our major appliances and fixtures in and operating. It is not much short of a miracle once again to be able to get water, heat it, make coffee and have refrigerated cream all right in one place and easy to access. I know it's normal and all that, but we've lived for a long time with water out of buckets and all that and now it's just so easy; it almost feels like some sort of embarrassing luxury.

One more coat of finish on the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and we'll call the kitchen "done", at least for a short while. I'll be building an island as soon as we are finished with our obligations to the bank, which should be soon.

Adam finished up a few days ago and now I'll be on my own finishing up the last few projects before we call it good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fun stuff

The sink looking all tidy with fixtures and an mineral oil finish on the counters. Note plumbing pieces in the cabinet underneath--water will not be flowing until tomorrow

Fitting the counter and creating necessary openings

This is the counter upside down--making the cut away that goes over and around the lip of the sink

Shaping the opening for the sink. The curved piece in back is a template that I used to router the curved edge

The last two stairs in place. Adam did a really nice job here

I've been working hard on the counter top project, which naturally leads into installing the sink, plumbing the supply lines, and hooking up the dishwasher. It all dovetails as the work progresses.
Shaping the counter tops was careful work and took some time, but it's looking excellent and fitting really nicely, so I am quite pleased. I spent most of today on the plumbing work and tomorrow I should have it all operating. Having our sink, stove, diswasher and fridge all hooked up and running will be monumental.

Adam came back yesterday evening and started up again today. He installed the last two stairs and they look great. Signs of finish everywhere!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday stuff

I was the recipient of an iTouch for Christmas and today I downloaded a free paint app. This is what I came up with

The counter top complete. Next up sanding and final shaping for installation

Messing around with railing ideas

Some of the cabinet doors Nancy is working on

Today was sort of a half-hearted effort on my part as I was sleepy and in need of a nap so I didn't get too much done. Nancy on the other hand has been powering through finish work on the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and cabinet frames. It's all looking really nice. Particularly with stuff like the doors its a lot of work to sand between each coat, but she's making good headway and should have it all ready to go in couple more days.

I completed the counter tops last night and today started in on sanding them down to smooth. Its not so hard as it is a matter of patience just sanding sanding sanding. They're gonna look good when they are done.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Checking for square

The first two pieces joined

There's a lot of clamping, drilling, gluing and screwing in this process

Checking for square. You can see the overlap pattern at the corner. You can also see the first counter section that I built sitting in place on the cabinet--it still needs to be trimmed and sanded before installing

This is my little sketch that sort of shows the plan. There's a gap where the sink will be

The work at the end of the day. I should have the rest built up tomorrow

Today I started building up the second section of maple counter top. This one is a little more complicated then the one featured in the last post, since it encompasses the corner of the cabinetry. Usually, counter tops that turn a corner and cut at a 45 degree angle and joined. In our case we are going to build the corner into the counter as a unit. Adam had the excellent suggestion to "every other" the pieces coming in from each angle and sort of make a weave pattern at the joint.

It's important that the whole thing maintain a nice 90 degree angle so it'll fit into the corner well when its done and I'm glad to say that seems to be working out pretty well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maple counter, Cherry landing

Scraping glue drips off the maple counter top

The glue-up process

Adam admiring his work having just put down a coat of poly on the stair landing floor

Today I built up the first section of maple butcher-block style counter top. The process requires drilling out the pieces one-by-one with two different size bits, putting in an anchor screw, taking the screw back out, gluing both boards and then putting them together with screws--about eight holes to a strip of maple. It took quite a long time to build up the section I made today, but that's how it goes. I'm very happy with the result. All that's required now is to trim it to fit and install it.
Tomorrow I'll be working on the section that goes around the sink and turns the corner on the cabinets. It'll be a little more complicated, but after today's work I'm feeling confident about it.

Meanwhile Adam installed the cherry floor on the landing located halfway up the stairs. They look great.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day by day

Envisioning how I be fastening the maple pieces together for the countertop

The ripped stack of maple

The arced bottom step. The next one up will be similarly arced, although you can tell that from the photo

Adam cutting the radius on the bottom step

Adam is at work shaping the last couple of steps coming down the stairway. These are distinct because the leading edge is curved and they have curved risers underneath coming up to meet them. It took some effort but now they are off to the paint shop (a couple of sawhorses upstairs) for their finish work and then they'll go in soon to finish off the stair project.

I've been working on the counter top project and am making good headway. I took a bunch of 2" x 8" x 8' maple boards, planed them to smooth and then ripped them down into 1 3/4" x 1 3/4" pieces that again had to be planed. The next step is to cut them roughly to length and start gluing them into counters. I'll be doing that tomorrow.

A sign of near completion? Today the technician from the gas company came and hooked up our gas cooktop. We can now cook in our home. Whoo hoo!