Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Victorian Shed

 Another year gone, and I still don't have a garage... I figured I HAVE to build something though, and I needed the extra storage space. Plus what better way to practice building a garage, than to build a "small" version.  So here we have it, the "Victorian Shed".

From the ground up...  I started by digging down and setting 9 concrete pads. After that it is just a matter of framing the floor joists and getting everything level. I used treated 2"x8" lumber for this.

3/4" treated flooring is down, and now the walls can go up!

Things are really starting to take shape once the roof framing is started. I built this using a structural ridge beam. Meaning the large beam across the top is supported by each wall, and it carries the weight of the roof. This allows the shed to be wide open inside, with a cathedral ceiling. No joist ties are needed.

Next step after sheeting the roof and walls is to put up the soffits, drip edge, tar paper and shingles.

I replaced the front door on our house last year, so I was able to re-use the old one on the shed.


Lights are installed and siding about done.
I have to custom make the upper window.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Deck & Railing

I've wanted a power-washer for a few years now, and this last summer I finally bought one. After buying one, I found all sorts of fun things to clean. From cars, to sidewalks, to porches and decks. The deck on the back of the house was completely grey and was starting to grow black and green fungus on it. I think that deck is about 20 years old, and has probably never been washed, and for sure it has never been sealed or stained.

Here is what the deck looked like 8 years ago when we moved in... it was already grey and weathered. Notice the tiny child... he is no longer tiny!
Old School Deck and Miles
 After power-washing the deck, it looked pretty nice and clean, the wood had regained some of its brightness, all the grey was gone.  Next step was too protect it, and before I did that, I decided to give the railings an update. I took all the old railings off and made new railings using treated lumber that I routered an edge on, and black aluminum spindles.
New Railings and stain

This was also a good time to dress up the stairs. I put in riser boards and new railings on them as well.

BEFORE: (The treads are already stained in this picture)
DURING: (Taking the old railings off, riser boards are installed but not stained)




Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This last week we had a pretty bad windstorm in the middle of the night. Starting about 1am there was sustained winds of 30-40mph with gusts reported at 54 mph. It was a pretty scary night, the house was creaking and moaning. The winds were coming from due West hitting the front of our house. To the West of the house is pretty much open field for 1 mile, needless to say, the wind was hammering us dead on.  After a pretty much sleepless night, daylight broke and the winds calmed into the 20's. There was a sigh of relief, no damage to the house. Upon going outside there was another story to be seen. Unfortunately the barn next door didn't survive the storm.
The roof was torn off in giant sections, you can see this half laying on the ground, mostly intact.
It was sad to see the barn destroyed, it was such a cool old backdrop, and the last remaining outbuilding from our houses early years. There has been a silo, a smaller barn and a windmill that have all come and gone in the last 150 years. It seems like these giant old barns are disappearing faster than ever.
Here's how she looked before the damage. R.I.P.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Building a Formal Pond

 Now that the trees in the English Garden are starting to fill in a little, I figured it was a good time to add the water feature that I had planned on putting right in the center. The first step to building a pond is really simple, figure out where you want it and dig a hole! The next step for my pond was a little different, "formal" ponds usually are symmetrical, have sharp edges and are geometric shaped, in contrast to a "natural" pond with free flowing edges.  To accomplish a rectangular pond, I build a foundation out of concrete blocks. Next I put down a layer of sand to protect the liner.

After the liner was installed I put down a layer of stone in the bottom and began filling it with water. Once the liner was firmly in place, I finished the next couple courses of block.
The finishing touch was to add a spitting fountain to add more interest to the pond.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Building a medicine cabinet out of a vintage mirror

For our bathroom medicine cabinet we wanted something a little more unique then the standard rectangle with a mirror on the front. Also seeing how I needed the cabinet to mount into the corner of the room, the best option was to build it from scratch. At a garage sale we had picked up an old mirror from the 60's with a fancy resin frame that would be the perfect size for our cabinet. The first thing to do was build a cabinet that fit the corner of the room, and had a "face" the same size as the back of the mirror. After I built the cabinet, I took the old cardboard back off the mirror, you can see it laying to the right of the cabinet. I then used it as a template to create a new wooden back out of 1/4" plywood (laying on the left side). This new back is sturdy enough to support the mirror by the hinges I will be attaching.

Here is the mirror mounted to the cabinet on the wall. (Also notice the light fixture that my mom mosaiced with stained glass)

Inside view of the cabinet. You can see the screws holding the mirror to the new plywood back.

Nightime shot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marble Floor Tile - Entryway

My latest tiling project was the side entry floor. After doing the bathroom floor, I wanted to step it up a little and do something a little more intricate. This is what I came up with. It took awhile to cut all the tiles, I think I had around 8 hours running the tile saw. There are only 3 whole tiles on the floor, every other one has at least 1 cut, some of them have 4 cuts.

I don't have a picture of it, but before I started tileing I had to beef up the floor joists. A lot of people don't realize it, but before tiling you should always check your floor deflection. There are online calculators you can use. You put in your joist size/spacing and the length that they span. It may not be perceptible, but your floor may have enough deflection that over time you would end up with cracked grout, or worse yet, cracked tiles. Its even more important to check deflection when using natural stone as it is much more fragile than ceramic or porcelain. Once my floor met the requirements I was ready to get tiling.

I started out by laying down the "rugs", followed by the black border strip. Cutting the black marble that thin left me with a bunch of broken pieces, I actually had to stop the job for a few weeks because I had to special order another case of tile because I was one piece short!

After both "rugs" were done, I did the filler tile with Crema Ivy marble.

The next step was too grout the floor. I used 2 colors of grout, the "rugs" I grouted with a dark grey, it actually came out lighter than I planned, but it still looks good. For the cream marble I used a light tan grout so the grout lines would blend in more as these tiles aren't the focal point of the room.
Flooring is done, just have to install my baseboards now!

Great Auction Finds, Crystal Chandelier, Throne

Its been quite awhile since I posted, we had a very busy summer and end of the year. Now that the holiday's are over and things slow down as we go through winter, I can try to get back on track. Over the last few months we've found some pretty cool things at local auctions to add to our house. A couple of the highlights are a crystal prism chandelier. It actually started out as 2 identical chandeliers, I won both of them, but they were both in such bad shaped that I needed to part them out and put together one complete chandelier. I'm not sure what the previous owners did to them, but it looks like they had been tossed around quite a bit in storage. There were several broken prisms, broken glass and even a broken metal arm on one of them. After getting one put back together and all cleaned up, it turned out to be a really nice piece. The prisms are quality leaded cut glass.
I even had enough left over prisms to add several to another chandelier that only had pressed glass prisms. I love the color you get from the leaded glass.
And probably my favorite piece, my parents actually were able to bid on this for me when I was out of the state for work. Its a hand carved throne that stands 6 feet tall!
The arms are carved lions heads.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crown fit for a King

Whats better for a crown than gold?! Here is the start to the crown molding on the fireplace overmantel. I put the little wood blocks on for extra support, but after I got these pieces installed and I went to put the crown molding on, I realized I had made them too long, so after cutting them down shorter, I then realized I had cut them at the wrong angle. So about an hour later I ended up just prying them off and not using any support blocks.

Jump right to the end product. A full golden crown! I had to miter 10 seperate corners just to do the fireplace. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

And here you can see the rest of the matching crown molding up in the room.

A wider view.

And last, I just finished this up a few hours ago. I put in a engineered floating floor. They are 5" wide oak planks with "distress" to mimic an original wood floor. Installation is relatively simple, the planks just click-lock together.

Another view of the floor, I hadn't put the bathroom doors back on yet.

I can't believe the day has come, but I think its safe to say you can call it a bedroom now. Its not 100% finished, there is some trim work here and there, but its livable and we can finally move in.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Bridge To Nowhere

Christine worked most of the weekend, so I decided to do a little project with the boys, something they could help out on. As a kid when I would go hiking with my parents, my favorite part was when the trails in the woods had bridges or boardwalks on them. Miles and Zander love playing on the trails we have around the house, so I figured we could build a bridge for their trail.

Miles is pounding the lag bolts into the pilot holes while Zander watches.

Pile of parts. I'd like to thank Remus for donating the wood. He dismantled his 100+ year old porch on his house a couple years ago and saved the old oak lumber. When he moved he didn't want to leave the wood behind so he offered it to me. I've had it laying in my backyard for about 8 months, I knew I would eventually find something to do with it.

The bridge is fully assembled (except for a top to the railing). I snapped off 7 lag bolts during assembly when tightening them down. I had drilled pilot holes, but that old oak is just too solid.

Another view, the kids had been long gone by this point. Sweating and getting bit by mosquitoes for 5 hours wasn't the kind of fun they were looking for afterall. Maybe I can get them to dig a pond under the bridge now.... doubtful. They were however excited whem mom got home from work, they couldn't wait to show her what they made. Christine wasn't quite as excited though, I think she may have murmered something that sounded like "Bedroom?".

Monday, June 6, 2011

Even more tile (and some trim)

If you recall awhile back I had built a niche/shelf/storage area in the bathroom above and behind the tub. It will be used for storing towels, etc up top, and blankets, etc in the compartments below. I tiled the niche area to match the floor. I still need to build the doors to cover the lower compartment. They will just be wood and painted to match the rest of the trim.

Here is the completed tile work. I also installed halogen lighting that is controlled with a wall switch.

I made a little progress trimming out the doors, I installed the first layer. I had to router the edge on 96 feet of 1"x6" boards (2 to 3 passes per board). There is still 2 more layers too add to this trim. The last piece to go on, called the "Edge Band" has to be custom milled at a lumberyard. I can't buy "clear stock" (no knots or splits) in a 2"x2" board at the regular lumber yards, I went to 7 different lumber stores! I will then have to router 3 of the edges (again 2-3 passes per edge). Basically what it boils down to is I got myself into a lot more work than I was planning on by trying to replicate the original trim that was around these doors.

The baseboards luckily didn't need any custom routering, but they are still built up out of 4 pieces of lumber. There is a 1"x8" board with a 2-1/2" rounded egg and dart trim piece on top. Covering the joint between those 2 pieces is a 1-3/8" mullion strip (not installed yet in this pic). Then along the floor is a standard 2-1/2" colonial casing. Overall the trim is about 10" tall.

Zander was hanging out while I painted the trim.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More tile work

The nice weather is officially here, so I spent alot of the last weekend outside, plus the lawn is growing 2" a day, so that means plenty of mowing to do. I did get a little bit done in the house though. The bathroom floor is all grouted and ready to be sealed. I also installed the tile on the fireplace base, surround and overmantle. I still need to get that tile grouted, but that will be a quick and easy job.

Here is the tilework on the overmantle. The untiled area is where the TV bracket will mount.

To cut the curved pieces, I made a template out of cardboard, traced it on the tile, then used my angle grinder with a 4" diamond wheel. Then I sanded out any imperfections. Marble is actually relatively easy to shape and sand.

The tile around the fireplace insert was really easy, no cut edges of tile are visible, they are all covered up by the mantle and the insert. I pretty much just had to roughly cut the tiles to size and set them in place.

Here is a close up of the grouted floor. Once I seal it, the grout will darken up some.

Another pic of the floor

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