The Dining Room Built-In: So Close to Done I Can Taste It!

January 28, 2018

I really hoped this post would be the grand reveal, the final post in what seems an endless stream about one single project.  That just didn't pan out.  Yesterday, the paint on the bookcases had cured enough that I felt comfortable putting books and stuff on them.  The plan was to do that, then finish the baseboards.  But...once again my body reminded me I'm not as young as I once was.  Carrying big boxes of books (there's a lesson there - when packing books, use small boxes!), my back gave out - remnants of an old injury.  Nonetheless, some work got done, and here's a couple pictures!


That's Gramma's clock on the mantel - one of my cherished possessions!


So that's it for now.  With any luck, this project will be in the bag by the end of the week!  That means maybe two last posts to come.  I've done post each step of the way, so that means there'll probably be one about the baseboards, and then - finally - the grand reveal post!  Hang in there friends!

The Dining Room Built-In: Glazing Done!

January 22, 2018

Last week, painting of the built-in was completed, except for the base.  


The other night I primed and painted the base, with the next step - glazing.  As I mentioned last week, the dining room table, hutch and a plant stand were all painted with Valspar's Polar Star (using Behr paint - one of those oddities of convenience), then glazed with Valspar's Antiquing Glaze.


But you know what?  I only had half a bottle of the Valspar glaze, and it turns out Lowes discontinued that line, and replaced it with a different glaze.  On reading the reviews, it seems the new glaze tended to have a brownish look to it, and with everything else in the dining room having a blackish glaze - well, you know.  So the search was on!  I tried Home Depot, but the lady there said they didn't carry glaze anymore, and suggested I go to a craft store.  I dunno, that was a little off-putting, as in my mind's eye I pictured little bottles of glaze to put on little ceramic projects.  This built-in is anything but little!  So, after reading lots of reviews on Amazon about a number of glazes, I settled on General Finishes Pitch Black.


Turns out, I'm glad I found this glaze!  After a little practice it was really easy to use...the key there is practice!  This stuff dries very fast, so much so that I almost messed up badly!  I tried to cover too large an area, and had to work like crazy with some very wet rags to salvage the job!  After I got the feel for it though, it went on nice, and looked great!  Here's a shot:


I'll save other pictures for later.  I love the way the glaze helps highlights some of the architectural details and adds depth to the whole project.  The next step is to install baseboards around the base - this thing is almost done!!

The Dining Room Built-In: Painting Done (Almost)

January 15, 2018

The painting is done!  Well, not done done, but kinda done.  All that's left is the base:


I don't know what my hesitation has been with the base, but the fact is, it's time to just get to it.  In the meantime though - the rest of the painting is done!  


There's a couple more steps to go still, and believe-it-or-not, they're slow, tedious steps.  I say that because this project is already at the 8-week mark!  


And a final shot for today:


With what I have planned, that applique will really stand out!  The whole project will get the same treatment as the dining room table




and the plant stand!


Getting anxious to see the final product!!

Special Edition: Happy Birthday Dad!

January 14, 2018

Confession:  I am terrible about knowing how old someone is.  I always have to do the math.  But for some reason, I can never remember the years my parents were born, so i never know old they are.  Sometimes, people at work will ask me how old they are and they're always incredulous when I say "I think somewhere around...".  Such is the case today.  I always know peoples' birthdays, and today is dad's!  Don't ask, I don't know how old he is.  I know it's 80-something (and if it's younger than that I'm gonna hear about it!).  In honor of this day, 173 submits this Special Edition:  812 - the Home!

This is house where everything started for me.


Kinda your classic, All-American house isn't it?  This is the house of my childhood!  Kinda.  You see, we moved into 812 in 1971, and in 1971 the house looked NOTHING like that!  I don't have many pictures, but let's see what I can put in here to give you an idea...


I know it's a bit faded and fuzzy, but you get the idea.  A few things to note - first, I believe that gentleman is my grandfather, dad's dad!  I haven't seen many pictures of him, and it's great to see him in this one!  The next thing to note, that window on the second floor.  That was my room (shared with my brother later, but still - my room!).  Just to the left of that window was my bed.  You can probably tell that the window reached almost to the floor, so from my bed I could watch the street outside, which came in handy when I was grounded, which was more often than I'd care to admit!  I could also lay on the floor and watch the weather come in from the west, fretting if those clouds meant the baseball game might be cancelled, or watching my friends playing in the street when - you guessed it, I was grounded.  And that brings me to the other point of interest...the porch.  Mind you, I was a kid, but the porch was so narrow, that even then I couldn't sit with my back against the wall and put my legs out straight (at least that's how I remember it).   Remember I said my window faced west?  Well, in the winter whenever someone opened the front door, those winter winds would whip through the house.  So, about 1978 dad decided to do something about it. Dad tore the porch off and built a little foyer on the front!  Check this out:


Looking in the window on the left, it's clear dad got a permit for this project!  As a matter-of-fact, I remember dad waiting for the inspector to come to check the footer depths or something.  


Dad saved enough shingles to put them on the outside so it looked as if the house was built that way!  I don't remember ever seeing written plans for this project, but I do remember dad getting that window from the local hardware store, and it pretty much snapping into place, with barely a shim!

That's how it has always been with dad, he wanted the house to look good, he wanted it to fit his growing family, and he wanted to do it himself.  And that was what inspired me here at 173.  I helped dad quite a bit when I was a kid, and learned things that I remember to this day.  Of course, I was a stupid kid, and didn't know then how much I would come to treasure those days.  I usually grumbled, wishing to go play army or baseball with my friends.  Pouting when I had to hold things for him because he only had two hands.  But that's okay, it's all part of the lore, part of the memories I think about when I'm doing things at 173 that just aren't that much fun.  I think about dad working at the factory all day, coaching my ball teams (to multiple championships by the way), and still finding time to do all these projects!

That's dad all the way to the right!  

The funny thing is, like I said, dad's in his 80s and he isn't done!  Just a couple years ago he remodeled the kitchen!  Leveled the floor, put in all new cabinets, plumbing, I mean a total remodel!  And he loves his yard!  My siblings and I got him a new cart for yardwork for Chrsitmas last year (maybe the year before, told ya - I'm terrible at timeframes!) - 


Oh, and that's inside his garage, that he added onto his workshop...all of which he built!  There are so many projects, that I've decided to add a page to this blog called 812 - The Home!  I'll get as many pictures from mom and dad as I can, and post special editions of 173 honoring 812, and chronicling as many projects as we can cobble together!  It'll be fun, and you can find the link at the top of the 173 home page!

So, happy birthday dad!  However old you are!

The Dining Room Built-In: Endless Prep

January 10, 2018

In the last post I mentioned all the sanding that had been done, and all the sanding I still had to do.  Well, the sanding is done!  However, the tedious stuff is still not done - now comes all the prep work...caulking, priming and re-priming.  Before I could start caulking though, I had to soften the sharp edges of the all the wood.  Here's a shot pre-caulk...
After a good cleaning, I got started on the caulking.  For most people this would probably take no time at all, but I'd say I spent a good 5 or 6 hours caulking!  But when it was done, the whole project began to look like something!  Here's my favorite post-caulk picture:
I love how it's starting to look like a real piece and not just a bunch of boards glued and nailed together!  I'm giving the whole built-in two coats of primer because there's a few knots here and there and I hate bleed-through!  When I did the dining room table and the hutch, I used Zinsser's Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer.  It worked pretty good so I figure I'll stick with what works.  Here's just a piece primed:
 And the whole fireplace surround primed:
There's still a long way to go, but I'm still just taking my time!

The Dining Room Built-In: The Tedious Stuff

January 5, 2018

Maybe it's an attention span thing, or just a need for immediate gratification, or just sheer excitement over the thought of seeing this project complete, but whatever it is - this stage of any project is tedious.  It's the really fine details...filling nail holes, and sanding them.  And speaking of sanding - this is tedious sanding!  And sanding, and sanding.
I have big ol' sausage fingers, so filling a tiny nail hole near all these grooves invariably ends up with wood filler in very inconvenient spots, spots very difficult for these old tree branches to get into, even with tiny strips of sandpaper!  I'm also sanding to round over all the edges on all these boards - tedious!
I also filled nail holes, sanded, caulked and primes the crowns for the bookcases.  I think they're going to turn out pretty good.  Then there was the electrical access grommet...
It's already been useful, but I rethought it a little, and decided the grommet really needed to be recessed.  I'm telling you, it seems like I've used every tool in my workshop for this project, and this was a task for a tool I've actually used very few times, my drill press circle cutter...
I think this is the scariest tool I own, even scarier than the old table saw of death!  I started recessing the hole with that tool on my drill press, but the mantel shelf was just too awkward, so I ended up just using my chisel.  Took a little longer, but it worked out fine.
I also got started on - you guessed it - filling nail holes, sanding and priming the removable shelves:
And that's it...subarctic temps this weekend will probably keep me in the house, so who knows how much will get done!  Of course there's still more sanding to do............

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