In late February, while we were making dinner, a glass of chocolate milk slid right off the table. What. The. Fuck! The grain of the wood caused the table to become extremely cupped with seasonal changes in humidity. When checking it against a flat edge it’s easy to see how much the wood moved.
I looked back at the original pictures and you can see the wood was already cupping.
The maker agreed to do a new table top and I’m grateful. It took forever, but it was finally delivered and attached to the base. It’s much flatter than the previous top and still far from perfect. As a maker myself I wouldn’t feel right delivering something with some of the mistakes made here and it was a year between deliveries! I won’t be recommend him to anyone.
Last month we remodeled the small bathroom on our main floor and we’ve been living without some important things in the room, toilet paper and towel holders. The roll of TP has been sitting on the floor and a towel has been draped over the edge of the sink. Time to change that.
When I remodeled the living room, I bought some railroad spikes with the plan to incorporate them in to some designs. I didn’t use one. As we talked about ideas for the bathroom we thought it might be neat to use some of the spikes. Brandi found these examples on Pinterest for inspiration.
Of course I would make my own versions, especially since these cost $98 and $104 respectively! When I milled up the black walnut for the ladder, I did a second board to make these holders. To see the grain I had rubbed some water on the pieces.
The big challenge was attaching the spikes to the wood. Since I like to learn new skills I wanted to see if I could bolt them together. I cut the spikes to length and sanded the ends square-ish. Then it was over to the drill press to put a 13/64 hole in each end. Things weren’t perfectly straight, but the spikes are far from straight anyway, so it was fine. I finally got to use the tap wrench I received for Christmas a few years ago, which was just big enough to fit a 1/4-20 tap. It worked and I was so excited!
I used different bolts with washers in the final assembly but didn’t get a picture. After cleaning them up the spikes with a wire wheel on a bench grinder, I drilled some holes in a scrap piece of wood, mounted them, and spray painted them black.
I drilled a hole near the heads where I used epoxy to put in a pin which would keep the rail in place. I didn’t get a picture of this, but I do have one at the end of the post to show how the TP holder works. Meanwhile, I had cut all of my pieces of walnut, drilled holes for mounting and assembly, rounded the edges on my router table, and sanded through the grits.
Several years ago I thought about making a ladder to hang blankets on next to the fireplace. Then last month Brandi asked if I would make a ladder she could also hang our Christmas stockings on. I’ve had some black walnut on my lumber rack for a couple of years and this seemed like a perfect project to use some. I hadn’t done much woodworking this year, so it was also a great project to over-engineer the design and try some new things. Here are some pictures taking during the build.
The feet of the ladder are cut at a 10° angle, which provided the opportunity to experiment. In order for the rungs to have the option of also being shelves, they needed to be attached to the sides at this same angle as well as have the long edges cut at a bevel. For strength and ease of assembly I decided to cut dados in the sides of the ladder at that 10°. This was all new to me and the method I used produced amazing results.
First I used an angle gauge to mark lines on each side for the top of each rung. Then I clamped a straight board down, put the rung up against it, and clamped another board snugly against the rung. From there I was able to pull the rung out and use a router with a pattern bit to hog out the dado. All 10 ended up so perfect that I had to use a rubber mallet to disassemble it after my dry-fit.
After a ton of sanding and the glue up, the ladder was plenty strong enough, since it would never be used as an actual ladder. I knew I didn’t want to add screws to the joints and even though I didn’t need to, I decided to add dowels for the practice and the look of the contrasting oak. I made a little jig to line up and drill out holes in to the edge of each rung. Everything got finished with three coats of Minwax Wipe-on Poly and a coat of Linseed Oil & Beeswax Polish.
This turned out to be one of the nicest pieces I’ve ever made.
Last week I binged the Disney series Light & Magic. It was phenomenal!
LIGHT & MAGIC is a six-part series that tells the story of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company George Lucas founded to make Star Wars. Through personal interviews and never-before-seen footage, director Lawrence Kasdan pulls back the curtain on ILM’s most iconic effects, while delving into the fascinating backstories of the artists and innovators who created them.
Since we had watched all of Star Wars in chronological order earlier this year it was good timing for me. I enjoyed learning how they did a lot of the visual effects for the first movies and seeing how creative the teams had to be in order to do things which had never been done. It was very inspiring and came at a time when I was just getting back in to my basement workshop. Watch for some project posts coming soon!
During the pandemic I bought a sheet of dry-erase material that I stuck on a piece of hardboard.
As you can see in the picture there were a lot of wrinkles because the sheet wasn’t very good. It worked alright for over two years, but it was time to make an upgrade for the garage gym. A few weeks ago we picked up a 2×4′ Dry Erase Handi-Panel (Menards) for less than $10. I didn’t want to put any holes in it, so today I finally made some simple brackets.
The three bottom brackets have rabbets for the panel to sit in. These were screwed in to the studs. The smaller top pieces were simply pin nailed to the 2×6″ already on the wall.
Markers work much better on this new board too. Very quick project, but will be a big improvement for fitness time.
After the kitchen project I needed a break. With fall arriving it was time to dive back in to something and the small bathroom was next on our list. It’s the last room on the main floor to get a facelift. Look at that lovely style!
Over the course of a weekend we:
Took the door off its hinges
Pulled all of the trim
Removed the towel and toilet paper holders
Moved out the toilet
Tossed the vanity in the trash
Installed shut-off valves on the sink’s water lines
Took down the mirror
Pulled up the tile floor, mortar, and a layer of subfloor
Tossed the light fixture in the trash
The flooring and wallpaper made for a very long and exhausting Sunday.
It was nice to have a blank slate. We scrubbed the walls to try and remove any remaining wallpaper glue, which took about an hour and a half. Then I worked on repairing drywall. The old toilet paper holder was inset, so I had a pretty large fix there. In the above picture you can see all the glue left on the wall from the backslash. Sanding glue never really works, so I took a blade to cut around the area. Then I used a putty knife to take off some of the drywall paper. After that I sanded a bit, applied primer, and then several rounds of drywall with sanding in between. I learned this technique in the kitchen when some pretty large areas of drywall paper peeled off. Works great!
We primed the walls. While painting Brandi had a good idea to do the ceiling, which made it much easier not having to cut-in. We painted two coats. I cut 3/4″ plywood for the subfloor.
The toilet flange was sticking up above the old floor and while removing the tile and mortar I must have jostled an old leak in the drain pipe, which I figured would happen. I tested by pouring some water down it was definitely dripping. Good time to fix both issues while the floor was gone. After buying some PVC parts I got home and realized the lower piping was 3″ thin wall (Schedule 30) PVC. Of course that’s a different outside diameter than standard 3″ Schedule 40 PVC and needs a special coupler. Nobody carries that part anymore so it’s a special order. They do carry a 3″ Schedule 30 to 4″ Schedule 40 coupler though, so I got one, a length of 4″ pipe, and a 4″ toilet flange. Check out the old $1.00 price tag on the coupler I cut out!
Things went pretty smooth from there. I wired in the new light (Menards) and ordered brighter LED bulbs (Amazon). I installed the same Sam’s Club flooring I had used in the living room, kitchen, and hallways. Then I was able to attach the toilet flange over the top of the floor as it should be. We installed the vanity and sink (Home Depot), hooked up the new faucet, and reinstalled the toilet. After only 8 days we were happy to have a functional bathroom again. It was two exhausting weekends though!
Over the next several days I picked away at the remaining items:
New switches and outlet
Peel & stick backsplash tiles (Menards) with caulk around the edges
Refreshed the stain on the door trim and nailed it up
New prefinished floor trim
Hung the mirror
So much cleaner and no longer cramped. I’m going to make towel and TP holders with shelves in a couple of weeks.
A few weeks ago I noticed a wet spot on the ceiling below my bathroom toilet. It turned out that I was able to lift the toilet right off the floor because the bolts didn’t have any washers! The wax ring was almost nonexistent as well, which must have been causing a slow drip. It could have been much worse. So I figured I might as well tear up original linoleum and the cheap stick on tiles I put down five years ago. Here’s how those layers looked.
With the trim removed and old flooring pulled out, I noticed the subfloor was pretty rotted from old leaks of some kind. Also check out the old wallpaper I found under the trim!
I removed a layer of subfloor and replaced it with new plywood. Recently when cleaning out a closet I found nearly a full box of flooring Dad and I installed in the kitchen back in 2013. The whole master bathroom and closet need a major remodel so I figured I might as well use this to buy time. After a bit of maths I thought I had exactly enough for this little area. I couldn’t afford to make any cutting or measuring mistakes and it worked out. I cleaned and refreshed stain on the trim and gave the register fresh coats of primer and white paint.
I also bought a LED light strip that can be toggled between activation manually by a button or automatically by motion. It’s the perfect solution for trips in the middle of the night.
Last month, during an Automattic trip to Cancún, I took a guided tour of Tulum.
Tulum is the site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city which served as a major port for Coba, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The ruins are situated on 12-meter-tall (39 ft) cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. By the end of the 16th century, the site was abandoned. One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is today a popular site for tourists.