Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pottery Studio Cabinets — Part 1

Oh, my goodness!  It's been more than a month since my last post!  I finally started the pottery studio cabinets, and in an ideal world, I would have finished them by now.  But not.

When I began to cut out the pieces for the cabinets, I noticed that my expensive sheets of plywood had warped.  Cutting them was not a problem, but cutting the dados (grooves) and interlocking tongues was.  Before making these cuts, I adjust the position and depth of the cut, using scrap pieces plywood.  But pushing the whole cabinet parts through the dado blade becomes a problem when the piece is bowed up.  You have to push down hard to keep the plywood flat against the table, all the while repositioning your hands to feed the piece through the blade.  If the plywood rises up as you shift your hands, the groove will be cut too shallow.

So some pieces needed to be run through multiple times.

The bigger problem was that warped (curved) cabinet sides do not slide into straight dados.  That meant I had to clamp a 2x4 on the edge of the plywood to straighten it, and then insert the tenon into the dado.  But then, as I discovered to my dismay, when I removed the 2x4, the plywood sprung back and tore out the side of the dado.

So then I had to glue that together.  The drawer slides also demanded straight cabinet sides.  As a solution, I had to cut twenty wood cleats (for the two cabinets) that I could glue and screw onto the warped plywood, and then glue and screw the curved plywood to the straight cleats.

That worked, but it meant that instead of assembling the whole cabinet in one step, I would have to assemble a couple of pieces at a time, and then wait a day until the glue dried to full strength before adding another piece.  Lots of clamps to keep everything straight.  And keeping the 2x4 clamped to the warped plywood until that joint was fully dry.

There was certainly plenty of other things that needed attention.  Like yard work.  Or taking the dogs to the beach :-)

Then add some more parts the next day.

The drawer slides optimally should be installed before the cabinet is assembled, but screwing straight metal slides to a warped piece of plywood is a non-starter.  But the drawer slides could be installed before the cabinet back is attached, which gives much better access to the screw for the back end of the drawer slide.

I installed the drawer slides using wood spacers, instead of trying to make measurements with a tape.  You can just hold the slide firmly against the spacer, use an awl to locate the drill bit, then screw.  I suppose you could dispense with the drilled screw hole, but I always drill.  Then use the same spacers for the other side, insuring each half of the pair of slides will be aligned.

With rain coming this week, I decided to move the incomplete cabinet carcasses into the pottery studio to allow the car to come back into the garage.  Discovered the doorway into the pottery studio was a quarter-inch too narrow for the cabinets, so off came the door.

Here are the two cabinets sitting in place.  The cab on the left has its back installed.  The cabinet on the right needs to come out for drawer slides (need to order a couple more) and back.  Then both will be shimmed, leveled, and screwed in place.

I will then need to cut out the counter-top, order and cement plastic laminate on that, and install that.  Then birch trim on the front edges.

And, as always, drawers.