Monday, January 26, 2009

Kitchen Remodel II

I am about finished with the finishing touches on the kitchen (finally!).
Talk about alot of work.
I think I have touched just about every square inch in that room.

So since the last post I have finished painting everything, tore up the old linoleum and had a tongue and groove Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) floor installed. I was going to install it myself but after tearing up the old floor we found that there was maple flooring underneath. So we had some flooring guys come out to strip, sand and refinish them but were told it was going to be hopeless to save. So I had them install the Jatoba flooring that I had bought about 5 years ago.

The day after the install, we expected them to return to sand it and apply a finish, but they never did. So I fired them! First time I ever did that too. :-)

This last Saturday I got down on my hands and knees and finished the floor by hand. Well not without my random orbit sander, a Porter Cable 7335 (pictured above). I had some 40 grit, 80 grit, 150 grit and 220 grit discs along with a shop vac based dust collection setup.
The sanding process went like this:
  • Start with 40 grit, every 18 inch square of floor start sanding to blend all the height differentials. Pay special attention to the plank ends, where the height differences are most notable.
  • On large differences, tilt the sander slightly and apply pressure to the area to bring it down, while moving in a back and forth and small circular motion. Do this for 3-5 seconds, then place the sander flat and aggressively sweep the surrounding area to feather it in.
  • Feel the floor constantly to see where more work needs to be done.
  • This 40 grit smoothing took me about 3.5 hours to finish 135 sq ft. I wore ear protection the entire time.
  • After the 40 grit smoothing, take out the scratch marks using 80 grit. I used a slow, uniform and linear row-by-row pattern, going with the grain, back and forth across the entire kitchen. This step took about 30-40 minutes to do the 135 sq ft.
Now the floor was sanded well enough to apply a finish.
Since it is the dead of winter here, I was going to use a water-based polyurethane so avoid the toxic fumes of oil-based. After some research, I found that it is an excellent and very hard coating but definitely lacks in the color richness department. This is where a sanding sealer comes in to play. A sanding sealer is typically a de-waxed shellac. When this is applied it seals the surface grain and allows light to reflect off of the wood surface, giving full color and grain presentation. Follow this with a water-based polyurethane, which dries perfectly clear when properly applied, and what you see with the sanding sealer is what you get. It is important to only use a de-waxed sanding sealer with a water-based poly, since wax and water-based finishes do not mix!

I used a Zinsser Bullseye Seal Coat, 1 quart was enought to cover my entire 135 sq ft.

For a water-based polyurethane I used Varathane Water-Based Diamond Floor Finish

I also purchased the special broom handle mounted applicator pad, mineral spirits and some painters rags.

The finishing went like this:
  1. Vacuum and wipe down the newly sanded surface with mineral spirits, let dry and ventilate.
  2. Using a wide brush, brush on the sanding sealer. You will be instantly gratified at the gorgeous color. Let set up for about 45 minutes.
  3. Using a random orbit sander or by hand, sand the seal coat with 150 grit or finer until smooth and uniform.
  4. Vacuum and wipe down with mineral spirits, let dry.
  5. I then wiped on by hand an additional thin coat of the sanding sealer, and let it try to the touch. The finish was still very smooth and the color was lustrous.
  6. Carefully apply 3 coats of water-based polyurethane. Each coat needs to dry for 1-2 hours in between coats. Some tips: pour only a little at a time out of the can on the floor and spread it out using the applicator in the direction of the grain. There should be no white streaks, if there are keep smoothing it out. Work fast, it starts setting up quickly (3 minutes or less). Work only a couple rows at a time and smooth it out uniformly.
  7. After the 3rd coat had dried properly, I used the random orbit sander and 220 grit to smooth it out completely. Use a hand to feel the surface and get all the bumps and dust out.
  8. Vacuum and wipe the surface clean using mineral spirits, and let dry.
  9. Finally carefully apply the 4th coat of water-based polyurethane and let setup for 1-2 hours. This is the final coat and should turn out nice and smooth.
  10. Wait at least 24 hours before moving stuff back and walking on the floor wearing more than just socks. If you wear wool socks, be careful it's slick!
I am very satisfied with the results. The finish is beautiful and was carefully applied by my own hands. There are a few minor trim details to finish off but for the most part this project is done! Cheers!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kitchen Remodel I

Well I have finished that Roycroft shelf, just haven't documented it yet. But I did start the kitchen remodel project. It wasn't a complete overhaul, but there were some fairly involved changed like new countertops, new cabinet configurations and all new doors and drawer fronts that I constructed here in the shop.

Here are some before shots, well technically some things were already done like the new paint. The kitchen used to be the orange color as seen on the backsplash but now is cream. But the photos give you an idea of the cabinet state, rabbeted plywood doors, gross pinkish white paint and mismatched pulls. Also the drawers used to just slide on wood and were quite awkward for storage, not too mention things were a bit undersized in the cabinet area just to the left of the sink.

We chose the following for the remodel:

New paint that transitions from the living room to the kitchen and belonged to a classic American Arts & Crafts palette.
Granite tiled counter tops
Inset frame and panel, flat panel doors and drawer fronts with simple hardware.
Classically styled yet modern fixtures.

Kohler Langlade Smart Divide sink

Kohler Brushed Nickel Duostrainers

Kohler Forte Pull-out Faucet

Then I went for it and tore out the countertops and gutted an impractical cabinet. The cabinets were weak and I spent a good part of a day adding reinforcements to the cabinet in order to support the granite tops. A pocket hole jig and screws was an invaluable tool for this, not to mention my miter saw!

Notice in these pics the new doors have already been built, painted and installed, also note the lack of support framing in the cabinets, especially around the sink area where a heavy cast iron sink is to be installed!!!

Anyway, this website was my best friend during the entire countertop project.

Granite Tile Kitchen Countertops

I was going to build my own drawers, and if this was a furniture project I would have for sure. But being that this is a kitchen cabinet retrofit, and I view the kitchen as a place that needs to function efficiently, I looked into other options and discovered that I could get nice sturdy steel drawers on ball bearing slides with soft close dampers for about the same cost as it would have cost me to build them out of poplar, minus the labor! In this case, the Ikea Rationell drawers came in very handy and only required a bit of fine tuning to the cabinet face frame to fit. I also had to add some cleats to the inside of the cabinets to mount them properly since the Ikea drawers are designed for faceless European style cabinets. I basically needed to add cleats to bring the drawer slide mounts flush with the inside edges of the face frames, not too bad as long as you have a thickness planer and a miter saw and pocket hole screws.

Here are pics of the countertop, sink and faucet installed. Also all the drawers mounted and drawer fronts fitted (but yet to be painted).

Lastly, yesterday I finished the base cabinet that I had gutted. It now has nice big roll out racks, and just needs a couple doors to be constructed.

Next is the wood floor installation, probably after New Years.

Cheers, happy holidays. Patrick

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Roycroft Magazine Pedestal

what: #080 Roycroft bookshelf
dimensions: 14" sq. top / 18" sq. base / 63" h.
deviation: produce scaled version with open back and plywood sides and shelves
materials: maple plywood and solid cherry
considerations: complete as quickly as possible without compromising strength and construction integrity and style; modern methods allowed.

I'm building a crosscut sled right now since it is basically a necessity of a shop to have. But after that is completed I plan on using it immediately on this project to build a Roycroft bookshelf. This1 is the actual Roycroft ad for the piece that they published in 1904.

It's called a magazine pedestal and is designed to hold a years worth of 5 periodical subscriptions. That's cool, but I will use it as a general purpose bookshelf and decorative display case. I bet some magazines will even end up on it. At the request of my wife, the piece will be made with an open back and wedged through tenons. Sure, make me work.

Anyway, that's what's coming up. Hoping to finish Labor Day week sometime.

ok. pk

1. ISBN# 0-89538-011-0, pg. I.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stickley Slat Side Prairie Settle Project

Officially completed Sunday August 17, 2008 around 10:30 AM.

Project Info

Project Timeline: Late June - Mid August
Project Duration: 100-110 hours including research and design
Total Material Cost: ~$700
Material: Cherry with chenille upholstery
Project References:
  • Comfortable Sofa - Arts and Crafts Furniture
    Peter J. Stephano, Wood Magazine
    Published by Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2006
    Pages 59 - 74
  • Build a Prairie Settle - Fine Woodworking No. 199
    Kevin Rodel
    Published by The Taunton Press, Aug. 2008
    Pages 40 -47
  • No. 220 Prairie Sofa -Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture
    Robert Lang
    Published by Cambium Press, 2002
    Pages 44 - 47
About the project
I actually started off planning to build a Morris chair out of walnut, but after finding one on Craigslist for a reasonable price I shifted my attention to the sofa. It was the last piece of non Arts & Crafts / Shaker furniture in our living room and need to be replaced to complete the feel. I was attracted to the prairie settle because of its wide arms. Now I know that most people would cringe thinking about putting drinks on their wood furniture, but to be that is a main design requirement. I wanted something that fit the architecture and style and also provided built in side tables. The prairie settle was it.

I then began studying all the plans and photographs I could find, and picked and chose design elements that I felt needed to be part of mine. Traditionally, these sofas were either frame and panel or spindle style. The frame and panel seemed too closed in and made the piece feel more substantial. Our room is small and I didn't want it to feel overpowering. The spindles seem kind of busy and I wanted something simpler looking. So I compromised and chose to use a wide slat, as I had seen slats used in other types of Stickley seating.

I then moved on to plan the construction and estimate materials needed. I studied two full plans, one was a spindle type and another (FWW 199) was a wide slat, and got a feel for the general milling and construction process that would be required. I didn't follow either plans exactly because they deviated from the original L. & J.G. Stickley dimensions quite a bit. Instead, I created my own plans based on the spindle plans, wide slat plans and original plans to try to keep many of the original's dimensions. One newer detail that I did adopt was to cut a very slight curve at the bottom of each of the bottom rails. It gives the piece a more elegant and less boxy look.

I sourced locally grown rough cherry lumber from a guy that is starting his own mill. It was a good purchase and cheap, but the lumber was lacking serious figure that was looking for in order to embellish the piece. Craftsman furniture is all about the lines, joinery and natural wood figure. So additional figured pieces were purchase to use for the front rail and arms, these were very nice and also from Minnesota grown trees.

I milled and milled the rough lumber to produce boards, for hours and hours. This is a task that is tricky and time consuming without a jointer. But I made do with my table saw and thickness planer. After the milling and rough dimensioning, the joinery is all mortise and tenon. There are 60 mortise and tenon joints on this piece and 14 of those are pinned with dowels. I used walnut dowels to pin the rail joints, and provide some contrast against the cherry.

Just before construction I finish sanded all the pieces in a painstaking fashion. I power sanded using 80, 150 and 220 grit, then hand sanded with 320 and 400 grit. The assembly started with the two side frames and legs, then I assembled the rear panel and connected it all together to produce the frame. After the frame was setup I added the corbels and attached the arms. The finished result is an extremely rigid structure with reinforced joints. It's an all wood construction, everything is solid cherry except for the walnut dowel pins, and oak dowels that align and secure the arms to the corbel tops. Even the seat cushion frame and cleats are cherry.

After construction, I finished it with an oil-poly wipe on mixture. 1/3 tung oil, 1/3 boiled linseed oil and 1/3 wipe-on polyurethane. During the oil finishing, I totally closed the pores on the arms and front legs and rail by using 1000 grit sand paper to rub the oil in. It basically produced a fine oily paste with the fine dust it produces on the surface, and this slurry gets pressed into all the open pores of the surface. The surface it produces rivals that of polyurethane table tops, but maintains a more natural look and feel. This finish is perfect for using the arms as a side table.

The upholstery was an additional adventure that I had never attempted before. With the help of my wife Alpa and my friend Charlie, we wrapped the foam and batting and produced some nice looking cushions. The thing I like about the back cushions is that they are built on a plywood backing, which gives them a ridgid back surface. Well, combine that with proper dimensioning and you get a nice press-in panel that gets press fitted between the seat cushion and the bottom of the back rest. They look very tailored and I was very happy that they turned out even better than expected.

This was the first one, and possibly the last one I will build. But during the project I thought about how I would go about mass producing these. There are some fixtures I thought through and sketched up that would need to be build, and I also had made some templates for the rails and corbels. If the day ever comes, I could be ready to manufacture these.

This prairie settle is dedicated to my wife and unborn daughter, and will be an heirloom piece that will see decades of use. I am very excited about the new addition to our home.

Cheer, Patrick