Tag Archives: drawers

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 Bed

Unfortunately, I can’t spend every day writing song parodies, though there probably isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t destroy a line or two from whatever song I have stuck in my head that day. When I’m not messing with song lyrics, I make things. Today’s topic is bed frames.

If you have been following along, you’ll know that we had the rest of the trailer insulated with spray foam a little while back. This was only possible after ripping out everything down to the metal framing. As a result, we have a lot to rebuild.

I’m sure you all know what that means? Right, make a plan first. So here is the plan I made in Sketchup for the new bed frame.


Here is another picture of the plan with the top removed so you can see the framing and drawers.


Plans are great to have, but once you start dealing with the real world, they need to be adjusted. For instance, our floor isn’t level, despite what the level indicator on the outside of the trailer says. I had to make some adjustments to the measurements so the bed would be level, or at least a very close approximation there to.

Once I had all of the adjustments I needed recorded, I stared to cut the pieces. I spent four days cutting pieces of wood. This may sound like a lot, but it might take me fifteen or twenty minutes to setup a cut as I was using my skill saw for most of it. That means measuring, marking and then placing a cutting guide in the proper position to make the cut straight. I’m pretty finicky about that so it can take some time.

Once I had all of the pieces cut, it was time to assemble the drawers. I used the same technique I used when we made the kitchen cupboard. Here is a picture of the drawers after assembly.


We also decided to try out this new stain we heard about called Sansin. It’s Canadian made and it’s supposed to be environmentally friendly stuff. We had a few issues with it, however. First, the place in town only sold the exterior version of the stain. Second, it was expensive. A full 3.8L can (1 gallon) was $100. Fortunately, we didn’t need a full can and bought the 890mL (0.23 gallon) can instead.

Kat, being the staining department at this shop had further issues with this stain as well. It was difficult to apply with a brush. Brush strokes were quite evident and pools of stain would soak in and harden so quickly that you would end up with raised portions that only sanding could smooth out. You would be left with a darker section though. The instructions on the can did say that using an aerosol system was ideal for applying it, but we don’t own such a thing.

Here is a picture of the drawers after staining, being tested.


Seems to fit purrfectly, wouldn’t you say? 😛

The other thing I will mention about the stain is I didn’t like the colour after we had applied it. I was hoping for something a little more on the yellow side, not burnt orange. Fortunately, these are drawers and you don’t see them unless you pull them out.

After the drawers got two coats of stain, we were ready to start the installation. I made sure to have everything ready so we could complete it in one day, as otherwise we would have some seriously complicated sleeping arrangements. We did, after all, need to move the mattress out of the way to install the bed frame, which meant leaning it up against the kitchen table.

With the space cleared, the first part of the frame that goes under the window was put into place.


Using markings I had already made on the first piece of framing, I was able to easily just pop in the first side wall. I added the little 2×4 for extra stability.


From there, it was a matter of simply working left to right. I added the first drawer rail, then I positioned the drawer and second rail to get the position of the middle wall. Once that was marked, I bolted down the middle wall, attached the second rail to it, and then connected the rails to the drawer.


There we go, one side completed. It was much the same procedure for the right side. Here I am sizing up my last drawer rail.


We managed to get all of the drawers installed in short order, though I did run into a few complications. The drawer on the right, after it was attached to the rail, was hitting the floor on one corner which is bad. As I mentioned above, the floor isn’t level and I had put in a spacer at the back to make sure there was enough room for the drawer to slide, but apparently it either wasn’t enough, or something moved when we did the final attaching. Anyway, I just took out the screws on the rail, put another spacer in and reattached it. Interestingly enough, the level indicated that the drawer was level when it was touching the floor. Things to keep in mind if you’re ever trying to do this.

Here is Fizgig looking things over and not liking it.


Another part where I goofed was the bracing walls I had at the back of the drawers. You can see the one in place on the left in the picture below, but the one on the right is still leaning up against the wall. The mistake I made is they were too short. The other rails I had used for the kitchen cupboard were all 13mm (1/2″) thick, but the ones I used for these drawers were 19mm (3/4″). My plan measurements were based off the 13mm rail thickness, so when it came time to put it together, my support walls were short.

Fortunately, it was easy enough to just put another piece of wood in there and screw it all down.


After all that, it was time to put the top pieces on. Here is the first one.


And the final frame, with edging and the drawers hanging out so you can see them. There is also a sexy guy in the picture too.


Not to be outdone, the sexy woman who is a resident here had to try it out as well.


We put the mattress on it…


… and then made the bed, which the cats thought was just great.


You may have noticed that the overhangs from side to side are not the same depth. That is by design. We needed enough space for feet on the left side so I made the overhang bigger there.

We do still need to put the facing pieces on the drawers, along with the handles, but right now, we have a functional bed frame with spacious drawers underneath. We were able to unpack the rest of our clothes and put them in the drawers, clearing up a lot of room on the floor of the closet.

Every project we complete gives us just a tad more organization in our lives. It’s a good feeling to have.

As a bonus, we had a full moon a few nights ago and it had this huge halo around it. I attempted to capture this on camera and was moderately successful.


Unfortunately, the camera frame was not big enough to get the whole thing in, but I think you can see most of it.

Kitchen cabinet saga, part 2

Keep your hats on, this is going to get exciting!

Continuing off from the previous post, we have made significant strides in completing our kitchen cabinet. As you can see in this first picture, we have TWO whole drawers installed!


What’s that you say? Yes, the staining faery got her hands on them and now the drawers are stained. But let’s not stop there, let’s see if we can go for all three drawers…


Yes, we can. Look at that. In case you are wondering, that top drawer is stained as well, it’s just that Kat decided not to use the dark red for parts that weren’t going to be seen.

So, we have three drawers installed, what’s next? Making it look nice, that’s what. It’s time to make the front facing pieces. These are the decorative outer layer that everyone will see when then come into the trailer. If you remember from the last post, I bought some red oak veneer on press board for this purpose.

I won’t bore you with the details of cutting out the pieces, as there was enough of that in the last post. However, I was digging around in a box of stuff my Dad had given me and I found a roll of this stuff.


For those unfamiliar with cabinetry, that is wooden edging that you iron on to cover the ugly inner press board looking parts. In case you want to know what that looks like, here it is.


The roll I had was pine, so it doesn’t precisely match the red oak, but we weren’t going to be fussy. It was great that I found the roll in the first place.

I had to borrow a friend’s iron to do the job, but I have to say it went pretty well. You really want to go over it several times with the iron to make certain that the glue melted and has made a good bond with the edge of the board. If you press on it, it shouldn’t bounce back. That’s the rule I used, anyway.

Here is a picture of a finished corner.


Now doesn’t that look a lot nicer than the innards of the press board? I thought you might agree.

I also have a picture of the front face piece for the top drawer, with completed edging.


After putting edging on all of the drawer faces and cabinet doors, they were all shipped over to the staining and varnishing department to make it look even more awesome. How awesome, you say? Well, here is a picture of one of the drawers with its finished face on.


Pretty snazzy, eh? Kat did an amazing job with the staining and varnishing. It looks even better in person.

Here is that same drawer, now back in its place.


The other two drawers now look naked compared to the one on the bottom. We better fix that.


There’s no stopping there either. We did the cupboard doors too.


That was just after I installed the doors and they needed some adjustment, as you may be able to tell as the one on the right looks a little crooked.

Here you can see the cabinet with the cupboard doors open, along with the top drawer pulled out partially.


For the final frosting, we even put handles on everything. It’s a bit like making a cake: the innards of the cabinet are the cake part, the facing is the frosting and the handles are the decorative frosting roses 🙂


By this point I had also fiddled around with the fine settings on the cupboard doors so they fit nicely now. I have to say, this turned out awesome. Yes, there were a few mistakes made, but nothing super bad and nothing that caused any injuries or extra expenses. Hooray for us!

It’s not quite one hundred percent done yet. I still have two sliding shelves to put in the big interior, but I wanted to get the cupboard doors in first to make sure I left enough room on the sides so the sliding shelf won’t hit the hinges or edge of the door. It shouldn’t be too much longer. We’ve already started filling the drawers and it’s making our life just that much easier.

Kat and I are already looking towards the next major project too. Never a dull moment here, that’s for sure.

Kitchen cabinet saga, part 1

Take a deep breath and prepare yourself, this one is going to be lengthy.

So we mentioned a while back that we would be working on rebuilding the kitchen cabinets now that we have our appliances. We have not been idle in this, but there have been many other things to work on as well. There is also the budget factor as well, but I’ll get into details about that later.

Considering that I have never built cabinetry from scratch before, this has been quite the learning experience. Where do you start? Well, I started in the tools department.


That is a brand new Makita skill saw I picked up back at the beginning of May. I had been wanting to replace the really old one I had and after doing some internet searching, I chose this one. I have mentioned before I have a bunch of Dewalt stuff that I become fond of, and I did consider the Dewalt saw, but the Makita won this round due to this nice little feature:


There is a handy guide on the back that indicates what your cutting depth is set at. Not many saws have that, but boy is it nice. It’s not super accurate, but if you are cutting a piece of wood that is 1″ (2.5cm), it makes it easy and quick for you to set the cutting depth.

As you can see, I did put a Dewalt finishing blade on it. That was mainly due to the fact that when I got around to buying the blade, the place I was buying it from (Canadian Tire) didn’t have much in the way of quality choice. Most of what they had was Master-crap. I was really happy with this blade though. More on that in a minute.

Another tool I used, which you wouldn’t think of, is this little baby.


That, my friends, is a planer. I didn’t buy this, my Dad gave it to me as he didn’t need it any more. I have to say, this is one of my favorite tools. This thing can make crappy, old wood look like new again. It can also turn rough cut lumber into pristine looking wood.

Interestingly, I didn’t use the planer for any of the pieces that went into the cabinet. What I did use it for is to create some really nice spacer guides for setting up my new skill saw for an accurate cut. I have two spacers, one for each side of the blade, depending on which side I need to cut from. I draw my cut line, put the spacer down along it and then clamp my cutting guide against the spacer and I know that I have the saw positioned properly to accurately cut along the line. That was the basic idea, anyway.

Here you can see a pile of other tools that I have been using during this process:


Various clamps, speed square, tape measure, pencil and gloves. Can’t forget the gloves.

There is also a 2×4 there that I planed the edges of to give me a nice straight cutting guide. Here is a closer look at it.


So, now that we have a bunch of tools, we need materials. For this project I decided to go with plywood that has one finished side for the structural parts. For the face parts of the drawers and cabinet doors, I bought a sheet of particle board with red oak veneer on both sides. None of this was cheap. I bought six 4’x8′ (122x244cm) sheets: three were 3/4″ (19mm), two were 5/8″ (16mm) and the red oak veneer was 11/16 (17.5mm). That was $400.

Oh, hey, what about hardware? You know, drawer rails and cupboard door hinges. We ended up going to Lee Valley for those and we got some really nice ones, but they weren’t cheap either. That was another $400, though we did get more than we needed for just this one cabinet as there will be other areas where we will need to make cabinetry.

After spending a crap tonne of money and finally being finished with firewood processing, we embarked on our cabinet making journey.

Here you can see Kat is all set to help with the first cut.


We were using the picnic table I built last year as the working surface. To help reduce bugs, we put one of our screen tents over it, but it does make moving materials in and out of it rather complicated. We did persevere, however.

I setup the cutting guide, double checked everything and was all ready to go. Here I am, with new saw in hand.


The first cut was made, and I have to say, that new saw, with the new blade went through that 3/4″ plywood like it was a hot knife through hot butter. There was almost no resistance at all. That first cut was supposed to be at 6′ (182.9cm) exactly. Here is a picture of the measurement after we did the cut.


Yes, the piece I am measuring is the one to the left of the 6′ mark on the tape. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

That being said, we did have a few glitches. The off-cut side was only supported by Kat; it didn’t have any table under it. As a result, when I got to the end of the cut, the blade got squeezed and the saw kicked. It’s difficult to hold the off-cut side so you don’t squeeze the blade at the end of the cut as there are multiple directions this can happen.

I should also mention, while talking about mistakes, that my first cut was pretty perfect, but my second one I screwed up due to the fact that I didn’t double check my guide positioning. Fortunately, it wasn’t a huge screw up and we were able to live with the result.

I think I did one more cut inside the tent and then decided to move it outside, as I just couldn’t get it setup well enough to avoid the blade squeeze I mentioned above. I ended up just putting down some boards on our driveway and cutting on top of those. It worked well, but it was harder on the back with all that bending over.

Anyway, after doing a few more cuts, I took the big pieces into the trailer to see how they fit.


Just try to ignore the bag of avocados hanging down from the top.

You can probably see in that picture that the big vertical pieces are against the back wall at the top, but not the bottom. It’s really difficult to fit wood that is more or less square into a space that is not. I futzed with this for quite a while until I managed to get the pieces positioned in a way that was level and square. That did mean leaving gaps or putting in shims in certain spots to account for the non-square space.

Once I had that solved, I went back out and finished cutting the pieces for the cabinet frame. This also involved making my first attempt at making a dado cut, which would have been much easier if we had a table saw, but we didn’t. I only have the skill saw, so that’s what I used.


That picture was taken after I had made three passes with the saw. The two cuts frame the section of wood that was being removed. The depth of that cut was 5/16″ (8mm) on the 3/4″ plywood. I did several more passes to remove the rest of the channel and then cleaned it up using a chisel.

This is what it ended up looking like.


I was pretty happy with the results. I was even happier that it was pretty accurate too. The mid-way shelves fit into those dado cuts nice and snug. Not too tight, but no wiggle space either.

After all this cutting and prep work, we then needed somewhere nice and flat to try and put the frame together. The only real option for this was the interior of the shipping container.


I took that picture after I had fit everything together, but not fastened anything yet. For that, I glued the edges, put them together, clamped them and then drilled counter-sunk pilot holes which I then put screws in. This worked okay, except in one case the screw decided to separate the plys of the wood, instead of cutting it. I’m thinking nails might have been better to use in this case, but I won’t know for certain until I need to do it again.

Here is a blurry picture of the frame completely assembled and standing up in the shipping container.


As is pretty obvious, the cabinet will have three sections: the bottom will have drawers, the middle will have shelves on rails that can be pulled out and the top shelf is just static.

It was around this point I got fed up working on the ground, or trying to use the picnic table, so I decided to build a work table. It was a really basic design using 4×8 sheets of plywood and some 2x4s and it should have only take about two hours to complete, but the bugs had other things in mind.

I was working on it out on the driveway and the black flies were out in force. I had just enough time to take one measurement, or do one cut before I just couldn’t take it any more and needed to take a walk to shake off the bugs. I got the bottom layer of the table completed with the legs, but I just couldn’t take it any more that day, so I left it. I got up extra early the next day (like 6am) when the temperature was skill cool and I was able to finish the table with only a few mosquitoes buzzing around. Black flies don’t come out until it warms up.

This is what I ended up with.


I have to say, having the table makes work projects way easier, though you do still have to deal with the bugs.

With the cabinet frame all put together, Kat sprang into action and put some stain on the finished sides. She used a fairly light stain so it didn’t darken the wood a whole lot. After that, the only thing to do, was install it.

So we did.


Again, another while was spent leveling it and making sure it was in the best position we could make it. In the end, it turned out pretty good. Now we need to move on to drawer making.

I had made plans for three drawers in the bottom section: two deep ones and a shallow one on top of those. I have to say, making drawers isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Originally, I thought I would get really fancy and dado cut every joint. Here is an example of that on the vertical drawer walls.


For the bottom of the drawer, I did a trench dado cut like I did in the cabinet frame for the shelves. I then had to make the joining cut around all four edges of the bottom of the drawer. That may be difficult for you to get without a picture, so here is one.


With the front side removed, you can see how the bottom of the drawer is notched into the vertical walls. I have another picture here where I took out the bottom of the drawer so you can see all of the dado cuts.


That, as you can probably imagine, is a lot of dado cuts. Using only a skill saw means this is a very long process.

The other problem is that for plywood, doing the L shaped dado cuts right on the edge means you have a really good chance of getting a ragged edge. The trench or grooved dado cuts work fine, but the edge ones have a tendency to be messy. In the end, I only did dado cuts on the vertical drawer walls on one of the drawers. The other two, I only did the groove for the bottom of the drawer.

As luck would have it, we had a planned trip to Ottawa to visit family and my Dad happens to have a table saw. I brought all of my drawer pieces with me and we used his table saw to do all of the dado cuts. We did all of the cuts for all of the pieces in about two hours which is a lot less time than it would have taken me using the skill saw. Thanks Dad, that was really helpful.

After all that, here is the first drawer where I did all of the dado cuts for all joints clamped together.


And here is a picture of it all put together.


I glued all of the joints and then I broke out my compressor and brad nailer to finish the job. That’s another story unto itself: the compressor.

I got this compressor from my Step-Father and I hadn’t really used it much. I finally decided that I really wanted to use the brad nailer so, I had to get it up and running. It’s not that complicated a device, but it has given me some issues.

The first one is that the hose connections leaked. I thought maybe the hose was old, so I bought a new one and new joiners as well. I used that fancy teflon tape to seal the threads and tightened everything down. I fired it up and it still leaked.

On top of that, I am running this plugged into my generator. When I first turn on the compressor, it runs until it reaches full pressure and then the motor shuts off. After you use the nailer for a bit, the pressure will drop and the motor will start up again to repressurize it. Well, after the first run of the motor to pressurize the tank, any time the motor started after that, it put my generator into overload, which basically means all power was cut off. The only way I found to reset the overload was to stop and restart the generator.

This is no small generator either. It’s a Honda 3000 and it has never balked at anything I have plugged into it previously. Not sure what was up with that.

In the end, I managed to get enough pressure to nail together one drawer. Then I had to shut everything down and start it all up again to do the next one. I’ll need to spend some time figuring the compressor out.

Anyway, here is a picture of the small drawer all put together.


See how handy that work table is? Yeah, that was totally worth the bug bites.

I finished putting the drawers together and then Kat put some stain on them. Then, the ultimate test came: trying to install one.

You don’t have much leeway if you want a proper fit with the drawer rails. When I first tried fitting the drawer in the frame, it seemed like I had a bit of extra space, so I thought I might need to shim the rail on one side. I tried that, twice. The first shim was about 1/8″ (3mm) and it was too thick. I tried a second shim that was about 3/32″ (2mm) and that was too thick as well. Hmmmm.

It turned out that either my cabinet frame, the drawer, or both weren’t perfectly square as the rear of the cabinet was narrower than the front. In the end I didn’t use the shim at all and the drawer seemed to fit just fine. Here it is.


I also have a picture of it extended out.


The rails we bought are full extension and will support up to 100lbs (45.45kg). That’s good because I weighed the drawer and it weighs 23lbs (10.45kg) already. I haven’t put on the front face either, so that number will go up again once that is done.

That’s all we have done so far. There will be more staining and drawer installing and then I’ll get to work on the upper shelves and the front facing. It’s going slow, but this is uncharted territory for us, so it’s largely a learning experience.

I’ll post again when we have made more progress.