Tag Archives: 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.


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?

Trailer Mods, Autumn 2016

In addition to the solar array setup we have running now, we have also been busy with more internal modifications to the trailer. Last year we ripped out the first part of the trailer, in the dining/kitchen and living room area and had it insulated with spray foam. This year, it was time to do the rest of it: the bedroom and bathroom area.

Kat has done a lot of work on this while I was working on the solar. She did all of the destruction and gluing of the strapping to the aluminum studs. The only thing I did for the destruction was handle the electrical and plumbing parts. Kat documented that part on her blog so feel free to go over there and read up on it.

Once all that prep work was finished, the day after we had the solar hooked up, the spray foam guy arrived. Here is what it looked like just before it was foamed.


We wrapped all of the electrical outlets in plastic bags and put packing tape over the strapping. This made it way easier to deal with once the foaming was done.

It didn’t take long either. Maybe 40 minutes, start to finish. I took this picture right after it was done and it was still warm.


I spent some time scraping the floor, sweeping and I put some plastic sheets down and then I let the K/Cats back in. We spent the rest of that first afternoon trimming the foam down in places where it was sticking out too far from the wall. In other words, we made a big mess.


As the weather man was predicting some rather cool overnight temperatures in a few days, we were highly motivated to get the wood stove back inside and setup. So we went right to work and put the rigid insulation down on the floor.


The next step was to use up the rest of the laminate flooring that we bought last year. As you can see from the pictures, there are multiple tiers to the floor, so there was a lot more cutting to do. We had enough to finish the two main sections plus the closet. The highest tier at the back was left with just the foam board as it will have the bed and storage shelving to cover it.


With the floor completed, we moved the bed over into the new area, just sitting on the floor for now. It’s a bit chaotic, but then again, this whole process is chaotic anyway so we’re used to it by now.


With the other end of the trailer now available, all we needed to do was reinstall the wood stove. It needed a bit of TLC having been out in the truck shelter all summer, but Kat took care of that. While she was doing that, I cleaned the internal stove pipe and went up on the roof and cleaned the chimney as well. Might as well start the year with a clean stack.

We had the spray foaming done on Tuesday and we had the wood stove back inside and in working order on Saturday (Sep 24th).


If you were to go back and read my blog entries from the previous years being in the trailer, you would see that we didn’t have the wood stove up and running until November those last two years. This is the earliest we have had it up and running and when the outside temperature drops, we can easily add some heat to our living space. One might say too easily. We were down to shorts and t-shirts that first night.

Having the wood stove back inside was really nice, but there is still much to do in terms of getting everything put back together. We had purchased a number of materials for this, the first of which is the cedar tongue-and-groove for the closet. This is the closet before we started.


Starting from the bottom, we worked our way up the back wall. I was outside doing the cutting and Kat was inside attaching the pieces to the wall using the brad nailer.


It went pretty quickly, though after the back wall and ceiling were done, Kat stopped to work on making lunch. I went ahead and cut all of the pieces for the side walls and put those in while she was working on that.


I started working on the hanger bar that afternoon, but we had to quit early due to a rain delay. These are the issues you face when your workshop is the outdoors. Fortunately, it was nice again today so I was able to finish the hanger bar.


We’ll be putting in some trim in the corners, but as far as functionality goes, we have a closet now. Which is really nice as we were then able to bring in some bags of clothes from storage and hang them up. This is a good thing considering we mostly had summer clothes in our bags on hand, which are rapidly becoming less useful as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler.

From here, we have some pine tongue-and-groove for the ceiling, which will probably go up next so we can put the light fixtures back in place. After that, the bed frame needs to be built and then I can work on storage compartments.

There’s always more to do, but we’re pretty comfortable right now, which means you have less stress to work on those things yet to be done.

Achievements of bad-assdom

So, while all of all that other stuff is going on that I just posted about, I’m also in the middle of trying to build a kitchen counter for the trailer. We already completed the big cabinet, so now we need to replace the counter around the sink.

No problem, I sat down in sketchup and came up with a plan. With plan in hand, I started to work on it.

And almost immediately, I said, “I really need a table saw.”

So many times this has come up and I’ve had to try to figure out how to make cuts without a table saw. For some things you can do it, but there are other cuts where it’s nigh impossible to do without one.

So, I made one.


Wait, what?

Yes, you read that right. I made a smegging table saw.


It took me three days to get it up and running. Getting the socket for my circular saw just right took the longest.

I also couldn’t just cut the hole for the socket, I had to make the table top in two pieces as the motor section of the saw would not fit through the hole itself. So I cut the table on the one side so I can remove it and just slide the saw into place. I lock the removable table top piece with some clamps (which are indispensable, by the way).

I created the fence using a piece of 2×4 that I planed down so it was really nice and flat. I use some more clamps to hold it in place when making cuts.


It definitely isn’t as nice as having a real table saw, but considering it didn’t cost me anything to make it, except time, it certainly does the trick. I just used left over lumber I had lying around for this job.

It isn’t fast to setup, but after using it the first time to trim some baseboards, it worked awesome. You do have to take extra care to make sure the fence is square to the saw blade on both ends.


I secured the saw in it’s socket using a cinch strap so it’s not going to fly out of position.

I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this. Achievement unlocked, as we would say in the MMOG world.