Well, it all started just a couple weeks before Christmas. I knew it was coming but didn’t appreciate the impact it would have. My girlfriend, Heather, and I decided that we wanted to live together but I didn’t want to leave my living space because it’s in the building I work in and I always wanted that warehouse living experience before I decided to truck it back out to the country.
When I moved into this 500sq. foot shed-within-a-bigger-shed it was a nightmare. I knew that and was cool with that but it was not acceptable for a woman to live in. Not to say she couldn’t….just wouldn’t. Basically, there was a toilet in front of a wall with no door or ceiling and very dirty. I liked it because it was very rough and industrial and Heather did enjoy staying with me on weekends but it just couldn’t handle two people. So we decided to renovate.
It started out with some grand plans but when we got the design done (on google sketchup) we realized we couldn’t afford most of the materials. So what does a poor man do in times of struggle? Improvise and get creative! So, drywall turned into chipboard which will be painted and sealed to stop that fume smell which dissipates over time. Part of the nasty floor will turn into glossy finished sub-floor and craigslist offers up a cast-iron tub that I re-finish and anything else to save money without compromising structure. The entire kitchen is built from salvaged wood and left over 2×4’s and sub-floor and cost less than 50 bucks. But wait, before you roll your eyes you need to see it.
I milled the spruce down to 1 1/4 by 2 3/4 and it looks incredible. The ply was sanded and used in a basic frame and panel construction with a water-base gloss floor varathane. Looks fantastic. Top that off with strategically placed screws plugged with 3/8 walnut plugs and exposed dadoes and rabbits and suddenly you have a project worth talking about.
I’m a big believer of reusing and doing work with materials that fit the criteria. The spruce is more than adequate for cabinet construction and looks beautiful and the plywood may not be exactly what I would use if I had lots of money but it works and is stable.
The kitchen counter is an interesting experiment as well. I made if from 3/4 pine mostly salvaged but filled in 80 inches with some pine from home depot. I bartered its acquisition for a few lessons on spraying a water-borne lacquer. I finished the counter top yesterday and today but first I had three glue ups to perform.
This is thin stock and not very adequate for a counter top but what the hell. I glued up the salvage parts to the store bought parts and matched the grains etc. Turned out well and it was workable within 2 hours. I glued up the additional length separately and anticipated an end-to-end glue the next day.
After the two initial glue-ups I was looking at one board approximately 84 inches long and the second panel about 48 inches long. I decided on an 1 1/2 lap joint across a 30 inch wide expanse. With each rabbit 11/32 deep it would be a cinch. Well, I lucked out and with a little table saw magic it worked. I did the glue and let it dry a whopping 2 1/2 hours and then shaped it all. The rest is basic stuff. When the finishing processed arrived I decided to finish both sides equally and to be sure to get all open edges sealed. This will help with limiting wood movement and also keep moisture at bay once the sink is in use.
Today was the the day for counter stuff and it’s complete. There are 5 coats of sprayed water-based varathane on ether side and all edges including the sink cutout. Looks good and should last awhile. The experiment aspect is the end-to-end glue-up and how movement will react to it and the floor varathane as a viable finish. Cutting boards will have to be used obviously to limit heat and cutting damage. We’ll see how it stands up.
The rest of the reno is not really woodworking related but I may describe some of the process later on. It truly is an adventure in creative building.
Wow, for my first blog ever that was pretty fun. I guess I could go on but I’ll wait. My next step are the drawers and doors which will be made entirely of salvaged cedar from a huge deck that some crazy client decided to throw out because the wood had grayed from the sun. After some initial milling I determined that the wood was untreated and perfectly good for cabinet use. Cedar, as most readers will know, can be quite colourful and oils to a rich finish that can show off the beautiful and often tight and shapely grain.
I’ll get some pictures up to help with the documenting process.