Greengate Ranch Remodel
Remodeling a Daylight Ranch in Oregon

Friday, November 23, 2007

Building a Book Table

My DW had plenty of help in the kitchen for Thanksgiving, so I decided to spend a couple of hours in the garage. She has been wanting a book table, and I had some extra pine from the closet organizer.

Building this is pretty simple - its a basic bookcase with the trim pieces applied. It is constructed with finish nails and glue, plus a few screws to make sure it stays solid. The screws holding the bookcase in place are located under the "X" pieces.

I primed this with my paint sprayer (brushing would have been quite a bit of work). My DW is going to paint this - I am suggesting black, but she is still deciding. Here is a link to other painting she has done.

A good resource for this type of furniture is Ballard Designs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Table

Here is a picture of the table I made for Thanksgiving. My DW needed to seat 16, and we wanted to do it all at one table, which is set up in our living room.

The table is 12 feet long by 4 feet wide. It's made of 2 sheets of OSB (each cut to 5 feet) with furring strips screwed around the underside of the edge to stiffen it. This is sitting on top of 3 small plastic tables.

My DW put table cloths and runners to togther to set it up.

Detail on how to build this on eHow...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Basement Work

We are creating a second family room in our basement, hoping to create a space where our teenage kids can hang out with their friends. Here is am image of the plan...

The square area is about 16' x 16', which will give plenty of room for the kids.

Here is the new entry to the kids bedrooms and bath. As shown in an earlier post, this takes away the need for the long, dark hallway. The doorway is thick, since this wall holds the main house drain and central vacuum system.

The built-in bookshelves will go into this hole (82" high x 92" wide). The sheetrock around the inside perimeter of the opening is only there to deaden sound coming from inside the wall. I will hopefully be building the bookshelves this weekend.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Walk-in Closet #4 - Done

I finished the dresser cabinet and other details in my daughter's walk-in closet. As shown in the photo, we decided to go with a light maple top, which contrasts nicely with all the dark ebony wood.

At the bottom of the picture, you can see my DD's shoes. We decided to make the toe space under the cabinet 9 inches deep to allow for shoe storage. I could have made this deeper (all the way to 24 inches), but it would have become a black hole for junk. This depth seems about right to be useful, but not a pit.

I still need to set the door, then do the trim - but that should be pretty simple. I have 5 other doors to do as part of our basement remodel, and I am planning to do them all at one time. I have a very simple (almost fool-proof) method of setting pre-hung doors, which I will post when I install them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tool Review: Small Angle Grinder

One of my favorite tools for remodeling is a 4.5 inch angle grinder. Mine is from Harbor Freight Tools and cost $15 on sale. A package of 10 grinding wheels is $10 - so you can get set up for $25.

What do I use this for?
  • Grinding off nails that I can't pull out
  • Removing nailed-in electrical boxes and fixtures
  • Grinding the nail-heads off when removing a window frame (I don't like banging hard around big sheets of glass!)
  • Cutting pieces of metal
  • Touching up or regrinding screwdrivers, nippers, etc.
  • Under cutting door jambs or trim (it burns, but works)
  • Re-edging shovels and hoes
  • Minor cutting of cultured stone and brick to fit
Once I started using one of these, I found it to be indispensable. I pulled a stud out of a wall and had the nails sticking up. I couldn't find my reciprocating saw right away, so I gave the grinder a try - it worked great.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walk-in Closet #3

I finished installing the drawers and shelves into my daughter's walk-in closet. Here are a couple of pictures. Of course my daughter needed to hang at least one thing in there for the shot.

These drawers are 24" deep, giving quite a bit more space than a typical dresser.

All I need to do is build and install the cabinet tops - hopefully by the end of the weekend.

Here is a tip on how to easily install tight-fitting shelves...
  • I have found it hard to cut shelves that sit on pins exactly right - they are either too tight and get damaged, or too loose and rattle a bit.

  • Cut the shelf 1/4" inch less than the width of the box or cabinet they need to go into. This will give plenty of room for pins and an easy fit.

  • Apply a piece of protection felt to each end. This is the self-adhesive felt used to protect hardwood floors from furniture feet. These are about 3/16 thick, but can compress.

  • The felt allows easy install and removal, but the shelves are tight when in place.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Walk-in Closet #2

Yesterday, I was able install most of the closet organizer I built for my daughter. She wanted the thing stained dark black, and I have to admit that it looks really good. The pictures here aren't very good - its hard to get nice photos through the doorway.

The wood used here is laminated pine, stained with Minwax ebony color, and sealed with Minwax Polycrylic.

The picture below shows the built in dresser frame. I still need to install the drawer slides and top. Tha small cabinet will have a single drawer, and leave space above to hang long dresses.

Storage Closet #2

I installed the shelves into the storage closet today. We have had fantastic weather here in Oregon, and I wanted to take advantage of it by setting up the tablesaw and router out in the driveway. I have a feeling the rain is coming...

I still need to install the support brackets, set the door and trim it out to call it finished. I am not sure if I need the brackets to keep the shelves from sagging in the long-term, but with it being low cost and effot, it makes sense to put them in. I agree with Holmes on Homes - taking the time and care to make sure things done well is the only way to go.

Here is how the storage crates are going fit:

Allowing a little space at the top makes getting them out much easier, especially on the upper shelves.

Finally, the space between the shelves is critical. You need to have enough room to comfortably pull the crates straight out. There is 40" here, and it seems to be plenty of room. I think 36" would be too tight, and anything over 42" is not needed.

I'll post the final pictures one the closet is loaded with stuff.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Storage Closet #1

As part of the basement remodel, we are adding a storage closet. This will mainly hold crafts, holiday items and clothing.

As you can see in the diagram to the right, the foot print of the closet is 4' x 7.5', with a door in the center. This layout allows for a bank five 4' x 2' shelves on each end. I will also make a rolling storage cart that fits in the center.

I wanted to make stout shelves that look reasonably good, as well as keep the cost down, so I chose OSB and 1x3 furring strips as the materials. This plan requires 3 sheets of OSB at about $7 each, 22 furring strips at $1.25 each, and ten 12" shelf brackets at $1.50 each - totalling $65.

I cut the furring strips to go along the back and sides of the shelf. Notice that I bevelled the side pieces, which gives them a more finished look. I attached these to the wall with poly glue and 18 gage finish nails (using an air nailer) for simplicity, then affixed them with 2.5" deck screws into the studs.

Here is a picture of all five sets. I put the OSB shelf in place and a crate show how it all fits.

Here is closer shot of the shelf. It is a piece of 2' x 4' OSB with a front edge attached for looks and strength. I ripped the furring strips so they could be assembled back into an "L" that would cover the front and give support.

Each of the shelves will hold 3 of these crates. Including the floor, which has a bit more space, we can put 18 of these on each side of the closet, or 36 in all. For our needs, this is a lot of storage space.

Here is a shot of the "L" strips from the underside. They butt into the side strips mounted on the wall.

Once I have glued and nailed these shelves into place, I will put the support brackets in to make sure they never sag.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cool Site: The Garage Journal

As I was looking for shelving plans, I came across a pretty good site: If you like spending time out in the garage (who wouldn't), this site is worth a look.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Basement Remodel Plan

The diagrams below show the changes to the basement we are planning. The top picture is the "before" floor plan. This shows about 1/2 actual floor space we have downstairs.

Things we don't like about the basement:
  • The soffit shown above hangs down about 12 inches from the ceiling. Part of it is camouflaged by the hallway to the kids' bedrooms, and the rest "hangs" in space.
  • The hallway is long, narrow and - a perfect throwback to the 1970's. The outer wall is also the central load-bearing wall for the floor joists above, so removing it out of the question.
  • No storage - none, nil, kein, geen, arimasen ...

Here is the "after" plan, currently in process:

Changes that require major structual modification are expensive, so we devised a plan that is built around what is there.

Changes we are making:

  • Adding a walk-in closet and a storage closet at the left end of the bonus room.
  • Changing the access to the bedrooms and getting rid of the hallway
  • Turning the hallway and much of the area under the soffit into storage. Some of the hallway will become one of the bedrom closets. This will allow us to use the existing closet in that room for expanding a cramped and akward bathroom (later phase of the remodel)
  • "Hiding" the soffit, by putting walls in (shown in orange). This also make a landing area at the bottom of the stairs, creating a much better transition space into the basement.
  • Adding a sewing closet for my DW. This will be a space where she can leave her machines set up and have the main stuff always available. It will hold a desk-top and have outlets.
  • Adding built-in bookselves (7" x 8")
  • Adding central vacuum plumbing and inlets

This requires that only two short headers be installed, plus a modest amount of framing.

More Resources on Building Closet Organizers

I found a fairly good on-line magazine: Extreme How-To. After I got over my personal prejudice against the overuse of the word "extreme', I found the publication to be OK (and free is a good price)

I just received the current version yesterday, and its has an indepth article on building your own closet organizers. There is enough information here to get you through the entire project.

It details how to layout, assemble and fit the pieces into your closet. My general estimate is that if you DIY this from basic materials, you will save 50% of the cost. Even if you do buy a kit and install it yourself, the techniques shown here will help you be succesful with it.

One thing I really like about the magazine is that you can either look at it online or download an executable file to read it off line. Since I travel quite a bit, I download it and save it for an upcoming flight.

See my article library on eHow...