Category Archives: General Building

Summer 2018

I realize it has been over a month since my last post and people must be wondering what the heck is going on. The best answer to that is “a little of this and that”.

Some friends of ours bought a house in the area so they could move up here full time, but it had been abandoned for five years so it required some work, to say the least. I volunteered to go over and help them with whatever they needed. By that point they had finished much of the heavy stuff (replacing the drywall, wiring, redoing the kitchen, painting, etc), however they had this large pile of rough cut poplar that they were going to use for trim around their doors, windows and for their baseboards. They had bought it from a friend and there was quite a bit of it sitting on two pallets.

When I got there the first day, they had me working on this and the method they were using was to sand each piece so it looked nice and then cut to the 3″ (7.6cm) width that they wanted. To give you some idea, this is what we were starting with.

I managed to get five and a half sanded down by the afternoon and then I was helping hanging doors and putting up shower curtain rods for the rest of that first day. I did realize very quickly though, while sanding those boards that had I known that this is what I was going to be working on I would have brought my planer.

So the next day I did. I set it right beside the table saw.

By early afternoon, I had the entire pile of lumber planed down looking quite nice.

That was about 50 boards, give or take a few, of varying widths. Needless to say, it sure saves time when you use the right tool. If we had kept up with the sanding, it we’d still be working on it two weeks later.

After all of the planing was finished I stared running them through the table saw to cut them down to size. They also wanted a 45° bevel cut on one edge, so I did that as well.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty nicely. They certainly weren’t factory perfect, but they were a far cry from what we started with. Kat showed up after I had made a large pile of the trim pieces and got to work varnishing them.

They chose to go with completely transparent varnish so it was a little difficult to see which ones had been varnished and which ones hadn’t, but luckily we were fairly organized and just kept those piled separately. Here are some varnished ones.

Yup, they look exactly like the unvarnished ones.

Anyway, all this work turned out to be quite a boon for us because our friends also decided to pay us for our time, which was very welcome.

In other news, I have a few other things going on around the trailer. I have been using the brush saw quite a bit, trying to clear out the area up at the top of the hill where we plan to put the Earthship. I also worked on the plan for the pantry we want to build for the trailer. I found we already had enough materials so I can build the drawer at the bottom of it, so I’ll be working on that. The front steps also need to be refinished as they have been turned mud brown from us tracking in and out over the winter. We only managed to get one coat of varnish on them when we put them in last year so I’m hoping to plane off the mud stands and put multiple varnish coats on them this time.

I was also up at the cottage on the Canada Day long weekend and we had a lovely sunset on Canada Day.

It was great weather to be up by the lake as it was so hot. If you were in the city… well, you probably suffered if you were outside.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll have some more updates soon.

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New Kitchen Ceiling

Just in case you thought we were finished all of our trailer projects for this year, we have one more to share.

Kat was never fond of how the paneling on the ceiling turned out when we redid the kitchen area in the trailer. We had put up some thin panels and painted them white. It was fine and it worked, but some of the seams were unseemly, as it were.

In any event, after we refinished the bedroom area in the trailer last year with pine tongue and groove boards, there was quite the contrast between the kitchen side and the bedroom side. So we decided to rip out the kitchen ceiling and redo it to match.

Here is the start on the south side, working towards the north.

We worked in sections, stripping off a row of the panels and then putting up the tongue and groove boards as we went. The first section was a bit slow as I was working by myself for that part, but Kat joined in for the other sections so it went much quicker.

Here is the start of the second section, just after we had ripped off the ceiling panels.

We were anxious to get that center section done in one day as that is where all of the lights are mounted. Not that we haven’t spent time with no lights before, but it would be better if we could get passed that all at once.

I was doing all of the cutting outside while Kat was doing most of the nailing inside. We would both help to put the new pieces in place, as they can be a bit unruly, especially the longer ones.

We were successful in completing the center section in only one day, though with the daylight hours dropping as we approach winter it was getting a bit dark in the trailer when we got to the end.

With nothing to do on a rainy day, I took it upon myself to rip out the rest of the ceiling on the north side. There are no power tools involved so you don’t use up any battery power getting that done.

It wasn’t long after that we hunkered down and filled in the rest of it, leaving us with quite the nice new ceiling.

We even put some of the pine around the inset for the vent box.

There are still a few minor details to take care of in terms of putting in the trim pieces, but the major work is now done. The hardest part was ripping out the old ceiling. It was stapled and glued so we made quite a mess pulling it down. Then we had to chisel off the glue and any remnants that remained before we could start putting the new stuff on. Your arms do get tired after you have been holding them over your head for quite a while.

All in all, it wasn’t a necessary change, but it sure does make the place look nicer.

Kitchen Counter, reprise

Okay, way back in July I posted about finishing the kitchen counter around the sink. In case you forget, this is what it looked like:

As you can see from that picture, there was still some work to do below the counter: namely build some drawers and cupboards. The drawers were finished fairly soon after the counter but we had a few delays with the finishing of the whole thing.

Let me share that particular adventure.

After we had put the counter in, I immediately went to work on the new drawers. I used the same technique I came up with while working on the kitchen cabinet. So it wasn’t long before I had the basic drawers constructed and ready for a fitting test.

Here is Fizgig trying out the first drawer.

He had to try it while it was pulled out as well. He matches the wood pretty well.

The high back on that drawer will make more sense in a moment. Moving along, I made the other two drawers that were to be installed above that first one. We put them in and it all looked good.

Of course, after that they headed out to the staining department. Our staining department (Kat) was also busy working at her new job this summer, so finding time for her to get some of these projects completed meant things were delayed more than once.

In any event, the drawer interiors were all stained a nice red and put back into position.

At this point, I also installed the interior hardware for that bottom drawer.

Yes, we made it a drawer for all of our baking trays and cutting boards. It is awesome because those types of things are a pain in the butt to put in a stack in a cupboard. If you want one close to the bottom, you have to shuffle through the entire stack. We knew when we had put in a drawer like this when we lived in Ottawa that having a similar drawer in the trailer would be really handy.

After that, we needed to put the drawer faces on along with handles and knobs. We also needed cut the pieces for the cupboards, put their edges on and finish them as well. You wouldn’t think that would take very long, but it did.

The drawer fronts didn’t take too long, but the cupboards sat around for quite a while. Part of that was Kat working, distractions of other projects and the fact that several measuring mistakes were made. The cupboards were cut to fit the space, but once you put the hinges on it forces them to sit within a certain small area. I ended up having to trim and redo two of the cupboards because they ended up being too big to fit once mounted to the hinges.

This also meant that Kat had to refinish the edges that I trimmed, which delayed things even further. As a result, it was the third week of October before we reached this stage.

We finished all three new cupboards and everything looks rather nice now.

There is that small space between the center pair of cupboards and the one on the right that needs to have something put in it. I do have a plan for that, but as it is cosmetic, it may wait until next spring as we do have some other things that we are currently working on.

I should mention that the cupboard on the right holds a little secret: I mounted our recycling bin to it and it is hinged at the bottom.

You pull it out and have easy access to the recycle bin, and it’s also kept out of sight which helps to reduce the clutter. You can see I put in some stops to prevent the cupboard door from dropping to the floor (they’re just below the white recycle bin).

In addition to this, while we’re getting caught up on things, remember that bed frame with the drawers we built last year? It looked something like this:

It sat like that for quite a while, with no faces on the drawers. That has now been resolved as well.

Kat painted them green and I put them on sometime in August. It’s so nice to have handles on those things, having scraped the flesh off my fingers a few times trying to get the drawers open without handles.

That gets us caught up with the kitchen and bedroom. We have a couple of other things going on, but time is rapidly running out. It is getting colder, we run the fire quite a bit now and we’ve even had a bit of the white stuff.

We’ve also started into more cloudy weather, so we’ve been trying to conserve our solar power to make it last as long as we can. This means no long days using power tools.

Winter is coming. Are you ready?

Finishing the trailer door

If you’ve been following along, we installed a new door on our trailer back in September. Although the door was fully functional, there were still several details to take care of before it gets too cold. These were finishing and insulating the new interior step and insulating and covering the framing on the outside, both of which have now been accomplished.

Let us begin with the interior work first, as that was completed first.

I laid down some vapour barrier and then cut some pieces of rigid insulation. This time I used some 1.5″ (38mm) rigid insulation I had lying around as left overs from other projects. The rest of the floor in the trailer is only 1″ (25mm) but this was a small space and I had enough of the thicker insulation. Why not, as they say.

After filling in the floor space with the rigid insulation, I wrapped the vapour barrier around the end and covered the top of it. This means we have two layers of vapour barrier in the step. I tuck taped it all down and made sure all of the gaps were covered.

After that, we needed to put a floor on it. We didn’t have any more of the laminate flooring left from doing the rest of the trailer, so we had decided to just buy another box of whatever laminate and not care too much about it matching in colour. Well, as it turns out, some friends of ours had a left-over box of laminate from a previous project so we bought it from them for $20.

And voila! New floor installed.

But wait! That’s not all. We also put in some fancy trim pieces to make it all snazzy looking. This was stage one.

Stage two involved finding something to go over the top corner edge that you can see is still exposed and quite sizeable in the picture above. They have these nice finishing strips at the hardware store that are about 8mm (5/16″) thick and 51mm (2″) wide. I couldn’t get a corner piece of molding to cover it as the gap it needed to cover was too big but I essentially made one by using two pieces of the aforementioned finishing strips.

We also added a metal bullnose cover to the outer edge against the door.

It turned out pretty nice, if we do say so ourselves. There may be some other fiddling around the old door to clean up the look, but that will be further down the line. At least we have a proper step with insulation and flooring now.

Next, it was the outside portion that needed some work. This is what we started with.

There is the basic framing with a plywood cover over it. You can also see that the plywood doesn’t cover the whole thing. That is what I did first: finish covering the top and both sides with plywood.

With the plywood installed, I pulled out the spray foam and made sure that all gaps between the framing and the trailer were filled.

After that, it was vapour barrier time again. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that stage, but I wrapped both sides and top with 6mil before continuing on to the insulation.

Here is a picture of the insulation going on. The right side and top are complete, but the left still needs to insulated.

I had a full sheet of 25mm (1″) rigid insulation that I cut up for the sides and I found enough pieces to do 51mm (2″) on the top. I taped up all of the seams and it started to look pretty snug.

Over top of the insulation we put more plywood sheathing. We did that so we would have something solid to attach the finishing pieces to.

Because the door is made of cedar, we went with cedar tongue-and-groove to finish the outside. It didn’t take much, just too full bundles to cover all of the exposed parts. I also added some trim around the outside.

Some other stuff that we don’t have pictures of is the weather stripping we installed around the door jam to seal it and we added a rubbery-plastic door nose thingy underneath the bottom of the door so there isn’t a big gaping hole to the outside world there any more.

Overall, we’re really happy with out it turned out. Kat plans to add some varnish on the new wood as well, so that should protect it from the elements. As long as we can get that part finished before it gets too cold.