Greengate Ranch Remodel
Remodeling a Daylight Ranch in Oregon

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Picture Wall #1 - Building the Shelves

Both my DW and I were impressed with the walls of picture shelves we saw in a couple of the PDX Street of Dreams houses. We immediately decided we wanted something similar in our house. This picture shows the one of the examples...

We thought about doing this in our basement family room (as in the show houses), but finally decided to locate it on the stairwell wall. The stairs are on our entry, and we want a comfortable and informal feeling as we come into the house.

The picture above shows the blank wall, and the altered one below shows the concept. I did this in Microsoft Visio to get an idea of the layout and proportions. I still need to replace and trim out the window on the right. The picture rails will line up with elements in the header and sill to maintain clean lines on the top and bottom. The two rails in the middle will be evenly spaced.

If you have woodworking tools, this is a fairly easy project. Note that my DW just painted the wall - its much easier to do before installation.

I made the rails in two parts - the shelf that attaches to the wall the and front trim piece. I decided to use hemlock, since it's easy to work with, takes stain well and is available at Home Depot in 10' lengths (this space is 9' wide). They are shown below with two coats of stain applied.
Things I have learned about staining wood:

  • Take time and sand everything well with 220 grit.
  • Get rid of all the dust possible. I use a stiff wisk broom and then a cloth rag.
  • Mix up the stain with a stirring stick. Keep the stick in the stain and mix it each time you put the rag or brush in it. This keep the solids from settling on the bottom of the can, which can cause the color to become inconsistent over time.
  • Stain the wood twice - it gives a more consistent result with deeper color.
This color is used in our kitchen and on our fireplace mantle as well.

I will attach the shelf pieces to the wall first. Since these are installed between two end-walls, I cut them about 1/4" shorter than the wall width. I will split this to have about 1/8" gap on each end.

The front trim pieces are then attached with glue in the dado and blind nailed. These get cut about 1/8" short to give a 1/16" gap on each end, which is basically invisible against the painted wall.

Here is a diagram of how the assembly will be mounted. The small pieces attached to the bottom of the rails help support the shelf and keep it perpendicular to the wall, and give it a craftsman feel.

As the diagram shows, the shelf piece gets attached to the wall with 2" finish nails (16 gage) that angle slightly downward. These are put at each stud. You could use screws here as well. I am also going to put a small bead of wood glue at each nail.

The front rail gets attached with glue in the dado, then nailed from the backside at an angle, so the nails are hidden. I will use an air nailer for this - hand nailing would not work well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Garden Shed #32 - Finished the Windows and the Shed

I finished replacing all the glass in the windows with plexiglas, which worked much better. Each window (these are 2' x 3') cost about $10 for the plastic.

Here are a couple of pictures of the windows installed. I am very happy with "cottage" look they provide.

With these installed, I am officially calling the garden shed project finished. There are a lot of other things to be done around the shed, but I am waiting until spring to start working again. I will spend the next couple of months building furnitire and working on small projects.

Craft Closet #3

My DW had the opportunity to start outfitting her craft and sewing centers. The pegboard works really well, giving her a lot of flexibility in how she sets the areas up. Here is a picture of the craft closet...

I took extra care to hang the pegboard with the holes lined-up horizontally, so we could use it to mount adjustable shelving in the 1/4" holes. Since the pegboard is fairly thin, I added a few support screws the shelf brackets to make sure they were sturdy.

Here is the sewing closet. My DW is just in the process of setting this up.

I need to add some task lighting under the shelves this weekend to keep the shadows off of the work surfaces.

All craft center posts

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Garden Shed #31 - Finished the Stairs

We had another nice fall Saturday in Portland (cloudy & foggy but no rain), and I was able to get the stairs done on the garden shed. While building these was straightforward, making sure they won't be damaged by water over the years requires attention to detail.

I added 2x4's as strong-backs to the stringers, as suggested in a recent Fine Homebuilding article. These are glued and screwed in place.

Even though the stringers are pressure treated, I didn't want to set them directly on the footing blocks. The cinder block will wick moisture up to the wood - and over time it will take its toll in our wet climate. To help mitigate the this, I am putting asphalt shingle between the wood and concrete. This minimizes the contact area, and helps stop the water from wicking. I used poly glue on both side of the shingle to keep it in place.

I also put flashing on the top surfaces of the stringers, which have exposed end-grain. Adding these details costs almost nothing, but it takes extra time and planning.

Here is a picture of the finished product...

Once Spring rolls around, I will put the retaining walls in for the raised beds.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Garden Shed #30 - Window Glass Breaking

The glass kept breaking in the window frames I built for the shed. I had a number of the panes split or crack overnight after I had the windows assembled and caulked. This picture shows one of the cracks (poor photo)...

I think the picture frame glass is too thin. While it only costs $1 per pane, it does not look like an economical option. I think that over the next few months more will break, causing a lot of maintenance.

This glass looks to be about 1/16" thick. I checked at Home Depot, and the replacement panes look to be about double that at 1/8". For now, my plan is pull all the glass out and replace it with Plexiglas. It will cost a bit more, but will be robust over time.

If I had this to do over again, I would have just done one window and installed it to make sure the glass would work. In the end, I lost about $30 on this experiment - not great, but my only mistake on the shed project.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Garden Shed #29 - Installing Window Glass

My DW completed painting the shed windows frames, so now it's up to me to put the glass panes in. The picture below shows all the needed materials.

As I stated in a previous post, the panes of glass come from dollar store 8.5 x 11 picture frames. These are mounted in place with neoprene-backed washers and #8 x 3/4" screws. 

Here is a detailed shot of the mounting hardware...

Tip: I start the screws with an awl pushed in about 1/8".

I used my grinder to make the awl out of a screwdriver with a broken tip. This thing not only comes in handy for starting screws, but also marking for cuts snd prying up staples.

Quick and Dirty Ski Rack for the Garage

After putting new lights in the garage, I figured I might as well get everything else organized - starting with the pile of skis in the corner. I designed the rack shown at the right loosely based on a number of wooden ones you can buy on line.

The skis are held by 8" long, 3/4" diameter dowels, with pipe insulation on them. I choose to use the insulation to help grip the skis, so that if bumped, they wouldn't move. 

The boot shelf above is made of 1x12 pine, with the shelf brackets mounted on the top side.

The rack and shelf took a about two hours to build and install, with most of the work in drilling the holes for the dowels and mounting them. I drilled the holes about 1/2" deep with a 3/4" Forstner bit, glued the dowels in place and screwed them from the back. I used polyurethane glue, which will hold the dowels tight since it expands on drying.

Cost of the project:
- Three 3/4" dowels (4' long) - $7
- A 12' pine 1x4 - $5
- A 8' pine 1x12 - $10
- Six shelf brackets - $10
- Pipe insulation - $2.50
- Total $35

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fighting SAD for better DYI

Actually, I don't really have SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) - but, I sometimes find it hard to put out very much effort on dark winter evenings. With this in mind, I realized the garage lighting was terrible and needed to be improved.

Right after we moved in, I installed three 48" economy fluorescent fixtures, which did increase the amount of light. Unfortunately, the light is harsh, and over four years time all three fixtures failed.

I have decided I don't like 4' fluorescent tubes either. They are hard to store and dispose of, the light is harsh, and they buzz. On the other hand, I really like CFL's - which now give off soft light, have become inexpensive, and are much easier to recycle. 90% of our house is now on CFL's.

To make the garage a place I would want to go work in, I extended the circuit from three lights to ten. With 14W (60W equivalent) bulbs, the garage is now lit up bright as day. I like the 14W ones, since the have dropped to just over a dollar each at Home Depot, and with 10 of them, there are now no shadows.

A quick rundown of the cost per fixture:
- Oldwork electrical box: $2
- Plastic fixture: $1.30
- Bulb: $1.20
- Wiring, etc: $1
- Total: $5.50

My next activity is to get the garage clean-up and organized.
See my article library on eHow...