Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beach House Doors - Solid Wood but Inexpensive

I decided to replace all the doors at the beach house.

We have everything from an old solid three-panel door to a super cheap slab from the 70's - and none of them are the same. Since all the doors need to be custom sizes, and on top of that I don't want any hollow-core doors, making them myself is the only option.

So my wife and I decided on the requirements:
- Solid wood
- The same theme for the doors, but have some variation
- Don't break the bank

The best option I could find was to use 2x6 tongue-and-grove kiln-dried pine decking and 5 mm underlayment plywood, both from Home Depot. A 12' decking board costs $9 (I need 2) and plywood cost $14 (I need 1/2 a sheet) - so the doors themselves will cost $25 each.

I started by rough cutting the decking to length:

I ripped the boards, removing both the tongue and grove sides, then I ran them through the jointer to get them straight and smooth. After I cut them to exact length, I cut slots to accept the plywood panels - it took two passes on the table saw with a regular blade. I also slotted the ends of the top and bottom pieces:

Once the slotting was done, I verified the panel sizes I needed, then cut them:

I glued the panels into the slots with Titebond. In some areas of the country this would not be a good idea, due to wood expansion and contraction. On the Oregon coast this is not a problem, since the temperatures don't vary that much and the humidity is always about the same.

I cut plywood splines to join the frame.

The assembly went OK, but it would have been easier if the glue didn't dry so fast. I may investigate something with a longer open-time for the next doors.

I pulled everything tight with pipe clamps:

All the doors will be made the same to this point, then I will put various patterns on them.

They will all have the top panel as shown below. We're going to put chalkboard paint on these so we can do fun artwork. From there, the bottom section will change throughout the house.

Here are some of our ideas:

The two doors for the basement and small bathroom are built, and mortised for hinges. I will do the jambs this week - which should cost about $20 per set.

Three hinges per door cost $10.

The door knobs were really cheap at $1.50 a set, and they are nice ones - brushed nickle. I bought them at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They had 100's of sets and where trying to move them.

So the total for each door fully installed will be about $75 including trim and paint. To order the doors, since they are custom sizes, would be about $250 to $300 each. I need to build 8 regular doors, 2 sets of bi-fold and a 5' wide slider. In the end it will be around $1000 and some work, but I think it will be worth it.

Door Horses

I'm building a number of doors for the beach house, and I wanted to avoid the problem of not holding them solidly while I routed for the hinges. In the past, I've clamped them to my workbench or regular saw horses, but they still moved around a bit.

I looked online for door holders, and most of them were too complex. They have clamp assemblies or wedges at the bottom, which seems to be overkill and too specialized. Here is an example:

You can hold a door with that thing, but not much of anything else.

I decided to go a simpler route, making heavy duty T-shaped stands - door horses - and they work great.

The bottom's are 4x6 and the posts are 4x4. These were leftovers from the shop build that have been sitting in the corner for quite a while. They are joined with dado's, glue and a few 4" deck screws.

I need to do a post on my "dado machine" - an industrial 1950's Dewalt radial arm saw with a dedicated dado blade on it. It makes it very easy and quick to cut slots and dados.

Theses are fairly heavy and hold the doors really well. I could have just as easily make them from 2x4's glued and screwed together. It would have taken three or four 2x4's - about $10.

I hold the doors with clamps at the top and that's plenty of support. If needed to, I could move them to the ends of the door and clamp the bottoms as well. I could also hold full sheets of plywood this way.

I thought about drilling holes so I could put dowels in to raise the door up, but I don't think it's needed. If I want the doors higher, I can cut a couple of blocks and clamp them to the posts.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Crosscut Sled Safety Label

I just built a new crosscut sled for my table saw. This must be number 10 or higher - I use them all the time. Sometimes my kids (late teens, early twenties) use them as well, and I'm kind of fanatical about their safety (and my own).

So here is my safety label, using red paint:

It might be a little graphic, but it has caught everyone's attention immediately when they set the sled on the table.

I may also put a wooden blade guard on the back of it, but I want them to be thinking about safety regarding the blade when it's doing the cutting in the body of the sled as well.

I might write DANGER on it...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beach House Bathroom - Almost Done

All the tiling is complete, wood walls installed and plumbing is done.

We painted behind the sink and toilet so we could get them installed an usable, I needed to head home and go back to work, and those incremental steps are important. 

The sink is the one from 1936 that I restored. I ended up keeping the original valves and knobs, but replaced the drain. It was missing the tail piece and I couldn't get it to stop sticking.

The toilet is small (1.0 gal per flush), which fits well in the space.

So what's left?
- Shower walls and door. I bought a Delta corner shower set from HD.
- Paint the rest of the room.
- Make and install the door. I will build a three-panel solid one - and do a post on it.
- Trim the door and window out
- Add shelves, hooks for towels, etc.
- Put in the lights and hook up the venting fan.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beach House Bathroom - Shower Tiling

I'm currently working on the corner shower in the small bathroom of the beach house.

Here is the result of day one:

I plumbed the shower, installed the wall board and started the tiling - not bad for a vacation day.

Now that I have the mosaic lines installed on the left, I will cut out the space for the niche on the right. I already rough-framed in the niche a bit larger than I needed, then will add blocks to get it exactly to the right location and size.

The earth-tone tiles are actually large, but cast to look like small tiles. They are 18" x 28" and a bit hard to handle. They need a lot of mortar, and require support to stay in place - hence the clamps at the bottom. They are high-quality porcelain that I bought from a company that went out of business for $1.50 a square foot. They are surprisingly easy to cut on the tile saw of I do it free-hand.

I'm not a big fan of Harbor Freight squeeze clamps, but these work great as spreaders. I got them for $3 each with a coupon. I don't think they sell these exact clamps any more, but they have comparable ones.

Day Two: I added the niche, waterproofed it, and set the rest of the tile.

Here is niche with the fiberglass tape in place:

I used Redgard for waterproofing. It goes on like a gel, and thoroughly seals the surface after two coats. It's pink when it's wet and turns darker red once it's dry.

I decided to do the entire niche in mosaics. I really like it.

There's an optical illusion in the mosaics - they look like they are waving up and down. They area actually dead straight and level, but for some reason they don't look it. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thrift Store Task Lighting

I like to have task lighting at all the big tools in my shop. It makes the work a lot more comfortable, especially after a long day of working out there.

Unfortunately, lighting is not cheap. A flexible workstation light from Rockler is about $50. Even simple flexible desk lamps from Walmart or Target are about $10 each - and they aren't very robust.

Fortunately, there are a lot of thrift stores in the Portland area, and you can buy a good quality flexible shaft desk lamp for about $3, if they have them.

For most of the tools, I removed the lamp from its base and mounted it to the tool itself or the cabinet over it.

Since I'm left-handed, I prefer the lights on the right side, so I don't bump into them.

For the radial arm dado saw, I just left it as is - no special mounting required.

The best find so far is the long neck industrial lamp I mounted above my table saw. It cost $7 at Goodwill, but would have probably been around to $100 new. It's heavy duty, so it should keep it's position over time. It significantly brightens the area of my table saw where I use the sliding cut-box.

All lights are either direct-wired or plugged into outlets that are on the main light circuit. They are CFL, so there is minimal power going to them. All five lights are about the same as one incandescent bulb.

This whole project took about $20 and a few hours of my time. I'm still on the hunt for a couple more lights for my drill-press and disk sander.