Monday, April 20, 2015

Kitchen Remodel, part 2

Ok, sorry this has taken too long. This is a continuation of the previous kitchen remodel post, Kitchen Remodel, part 1. When I left off, we’d just finished the floor, so today I’ll show off some cabinet construction. Below are pictures of Gavin and I assembling the cabinets. I decided to build a frameless style cabinet, because they’re a little easier to construct and they give you more space (the front face-frame on a cabinet actually makes you lose about 15-20% of your space, especially with drawers).

After we’d built the cabinets, we got to stain them. After that, we installed a bunch of really nifty feet onto the bottom that make it a million times easier to level the cabinets (the cabinets have to be level, especially with granite countertops, or they will crack). These feet just have a little screw in the front of the cabinet that adjusts the height of the foot up and down. Once they were stained, we got to put the cabinets in place:
And once they were in place, I got to play around with the level to make sure they were all aligned properly:
And then once the cabinets were in place and level, we had a bunch of burly guys come and carry in our slab of granite and put it into place. We then got to put in a stove and a sink!
Unfortunately, at this point we now had functional cabinets and drawers, and the urgency of the project then disappeared. It took me over a month past this point before I finally got the upper cabinets put up:
And once again, at this point there were several months of delay before we got the cabinet fronts installed. In part, this was because my toolkit needed some additions in order for me to tackle this project. Notably, in order to do the cabinet fronts, I built a bandsaw and a router table. That being done, we started putting doors together. I got to have fun creating a neat design for them in Sketchup and then cutting them out on the bandsaw. It was a frame and panel design, so there were lots of curved surfaces that had to line up fairly precisely, so I ended up cutting a template out of plywood in order to trace onto the pieces. I then did a rough cut with the bandsaw and got my final surface using a tracing bit on my router. Then I cut the groves for the rails and stiles and glued them all together, and Kristin and I stained and lacquered them all (she’s generally driving the camera, which is why she doesn’t show up in as many of the photos).
Then after etching some glass, glueing and staining a bunch of door/drawer fronts, and screwing a whole bunch of hardware on, we finally had (mostly) a finished kitchen! And Kristin will tell you, that summing that up in one sentence really doesn’t do that step justice, since it took several months. But hey, let’s be honest you all just want to see pictures:




That last photo, looking through the window at the dining room, is right where the ugly white fridge used to be. So at this point, feel free to go back to the beginning of the first post to see what it looked like before we started. It’s been a lot of fun, and a lot of patience, and there are still a few small things that need doing, but we’re enjoying our sense of accomplishment. I hope you all like it, and let us know what you think in the comments section!

Monday, April 6, 2015


Well, I always hate to put up a new post before anyone comments on the previous one, just because I worry that nobody will get to see the previous post. So if you haven't seen the previous post about the kitchen remodel, go check it out. I'll probably post a new one in a few days (it's going to need at least a few parts.
So this one is just to show off Easter. We went Friday night to the chapel to die easter eggs with the Gailey's - they're friends in the ward who work at my clinic. Fun and pizza were had by all:

Saturday was spent between shopping for easter, getting household to-do's done (like any Saturday), and listening to Conference. Kristin went to go buy things for Easter baskets in the morning while I worked in the woodshop. It's a fun excuse to get the kids new Sunday outfits:

Sunday morning was of course fun to watch the kids all run around looking for Eggs, and especially watching the girls going and pointing eggs out for their little brothers to come and find.

All in all it was a wonderful, restful weekend spent together, listening to the words of the prophets. I was able to work on some cool things in the woodshop and feel accomplished. And it was finally warm enough that we could enjoy some time in the swing out on the porch.

The only thing notable that I got for Kristin was a copy of the new movie, Into the Woods. I'll have to admit a little bit of self-interest - Kristin has known the musical well since high school and she frequently listens to and sings it, and I've never seen it before. So last night we stayed up late and I got to see it for the first time. It was awesome, and I totally recommend it to anyone. Although part of me really wants now to go back and watch it four more times and pick it apart, because it's so full of meaning and symbolism.

Anyway, hopefully the next post won't be too long in coming.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kitchen remodel, part 1

So as promised, I’m putting a few pictures in here to try to share what we’ve done to our house in the last 10 months since arriving here. I suppose first off, we have to show what it looked like upon arrival:

Ok, not an awful kitchen, but nothing to shine about either. The linoleum was fairly new, but the appliances were 30 years old. The dishwasher and stove were a little bit frightening, and the fridge was small and missing all its shelves. This whole project began when we decided we would have to get new appliances, and in so doing we said, “what the heck, lets move the fridge and the stove. Makes more sense to have them switched.” Then somewhat apprehensively we decided that I would try cutting a hole in a wall for the very first time, taking out half of the wall behind where the fridge was to widen the window into the dining room and open up the room a little.

So once we’d gotten rid of the fridge and were cutting our initial hole in the wall (above is the front and back, before the hole was cut), we decided there was this other little area that had a wall which really didn’t make sense. For some reason they’d narrowed the walkway into the dining room with this little 14 inch stub wall. So we said, “Heck, we’re taking walls apart, lets see if we can do that one too!"


So I started cutting into the drywall to disconnect and re-route the electrical. Eventually it got to the point where we were ready to start major demolition. I opened up the wall above as much as I could and was comforted to find that both sections of wall had a solid double 2x4 beam running all the way across.

Combined with the fact that it’s a vaulted ceiling above, I had little worry that the walls were load bearing. Of course, I still was very nervous to cut anything. Even after some nervous phone conversations with a contractor, and texting photos of the wall segments that had been cut, I was still very careful. Oh, I’ll also add that when we cut up above that little stub wall, we found that for some reason they’d added a 14” drop down from the beam, just to make the doorway a little shorter - who knows why. So we knocked that out as well, to raise that doorway into the dining room a bit. After some fun moments with a sledge hammer and a circle-saw, our kitchen looked much different.

We had to angle the corner to accommodate for wires, but in the end it didn’t look so bad. Once it was all secure, we got to slap on some trim and spackle and try to make it look good again.

And then of course we said, once again, “But wait, there are these funny little sections dropping down from the ceiling. Why on earth did they put those there - they just take up space. Lets open them up too, while we’re at it!” So of course, we did. There was a long strip over the sink that we got rid of, just to raise it all the way to the ceiling, and there was another shorter but much taller block that we got rid of over the space where the fridge had been. Of course, we had to get rid of all the cupboards first, but then we got to have more fun with a sledge hammer and circle-saw. . .

And then of course I got to mutter some more about the crazy people who built this place. When they were wiring it, apparently they decided that they didn’t need to run the wires through the studs up in those places, since they were closed, and they were just happy running them on the studs, or even just letting them float loose in those hollow spaces (which they did in that space above the fridge, and which was a lot of work to fix). Of course, this created an obstacle to putting new drywall down, since it can’t be placed when there are electrical wires sitting on top of the studs, so I had to cut into the walls down by the outlets to disconnect and re-run those wires through the studs. Eventually all of the drywall came out. . .

It really makes me wonder about the shoddy work you get from professionals! I mean, I’ve only been trained by google and youtube, and even I can tell you that this is crummy work. Anyways, after gutting and re-wiring my entire kitchen, we were at last able to put up some new drywall here as well. Just for perspective, Kristin is standing where the dishwasher used to be, right next to where the sink goes.

Now that the walls were all finished, we decided that before putting cabinets in we were going to tile the floor, since we’d done it in our last house and it wasn’t that hard. The first step was to cut and put down cement backerboard, make the wooden subfloor more rigid and reduce the risk of the cracking.

After that, I got a decent tile saw from harbor freight and planned out a spiffy design mixing three types of tile, and we started cutting:


After laying them down dry, Kristin helped me mortar them in and then clean up. We then put down grout, and after cleaning that up and sealing it we had a nice new floor, a much more open kitchen design, and we were ready to put in appliances and cabinets. But I’ll put that in another post, since this one’s long enough.