Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bathroom overhaul: during

As promised, I have a few pictures of the project taken a couple weeks ago. The feeling as I took these was a real "ahh, I can see the end now, and it will be good." There is always a spot for me near the middle where I sort of wonder if it will come together. I used to think that it was a bit amateur to think like that, but I think it keeps me focused on doing my best work. I like that trace amount of fear that says, "Stay focused, or this will all go very badly."

So here we are about 80% through the project. The walls have gotten a first coat of paint. The cabinets have been painted and distressed. Tile is in, and as you can see in this shot I'm in the midst of grouting the floor (the hazy/wet tile is between washings). The tile is a black slate, and it is amazing. It does not have the browns and greens of the slate I've seen in the past. It is a very uniform graphite color. The homeowner selected a really great bowl sink and granite top that you can see here also. The water in the sink pours out the faucet like a pitcher pouring into a basin, and it really makes you want to fill it and splash your face with water like a commercial for soap.

The shower has a small stone pebble floor tile, which turned out really neat. Shower walls were done in black porcelain tile. This works out really well for a shower as it is a non-porous material. The faces of the tile are smooth and consistent. The same slate we used for the floor would have been really nice in the shower, but I worried about such a soft permeable material in a wet space.

This shower will be getting a hinged glass shower door and side lite. The finish will be a brushed nickel, and the glass will be clear. I can't wait to see it in place, as it should really finish it off nicely.

The last shot is a detailed look the woodwork we painted and distressed. It was a pretty detailed process, but overall not complicated. The cabinets as you can see from my last post, were a medium brown stained oak. This linen cabinet actually had doors that we decided to removed permanently. The large hinge slot holes were filled and sanded. Once painted they disappeared.

The paint process was a primer coat (which the guys at Sherwin Williams in Springdale were nice enough to tint and mix for me). I'd recommend when priming anything a dark color to put a dash of your dark paint in the primer to get your undercoat a bit closer in color. This sure helps when there is bleed through, or especially in this case a sanded through distressing.

After getting everything primed, I did two coats of the gloss black. One coat was just too thin to cover, but I expected that to be the case. Once the black was dry, we did the fun part. Using a sanding block I just knocked the paint off the corners of everything. I did it sort of quickly, since I did not want a factory look, but rather a naturally worn out product. I tested a few techniques on a scrap, and used a sample door that we were matching to, in order to get this figured out. The final coat was a water based poly. It helped seal the bare wood I had exposed and also to give everything a consistent sheen.

Feel free to comment or post any questions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bathroom remodel: before

This is where I've been for the last few weeks (read: months). As you can see the wall paper is partially torn off. The original request was to finish the tear off and paint the walls.
After a few conversations via phone and email this was gradually scaled up to include:
-Painting the cabinets
-Tearing out the shower/tub
-Framing and tiling a brand new shower
-New tile for the floor
-New sink, new plumbing fixtures
-New light fixtures

In all of these photos, I think that the mirror over the sink was the only thing we didn't change. These were taken on day one. In my next post I'll show you what it has become.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cherry, naturally

My first natural edged bowl was a pretty successful endeavor. It started as a chunk of firewood. Several months ago, I split it and mounted half of it to a lathe faceplate. Then I got busy and forgot about it. Yesterday though, I found this bowl inside of it.

The log came from a home in Bella Vista, Arkansas. A woman posted an ad in the local paper advertising free wood, for anyone willing to bring a chainsaw to her house. In retrospect, this tree would have been on top of her house several months later if she hadn't done so. Our recent ice storm last February would have surely toppled it. At the time I thought I'd start a pile of firewood in the backyard.

Fast forward a few months, to what I call the "lathe craze of aught 9." My friends Tim and Adam were turning pens and bowls left and right. I spent one evening at Tim's dad's shop trying my hand at a pen or two as well. I was hooked. I eventually found a used lathe for sale (on a completely unrelated site for Airsoft enthusiasts!). By this time the lathe fad was of course over. In fact the airsoft craze died down right after that. I tried a bowl and a goblet on my new tool, just to try it out, but then got busy with some things.

Last week I gave the shop it's first real cleaning in months. I found this old chunk of wood, and the faceplate still mounted to it. It had split pretty badly on the ends, and what may have been a semi-wet piece was now pretty completely dried out. On the plus side, the wood was more stable now than it was. However, turning green wood is much easier on me and the tools. I decided to give it a try.

Learning from the test bowl I did last spring, I took a reciprocating saw with a long course blade to the log and tried to make a roughly octagonal piece before attempting to turn anything. My lathe has only four speeds, which require moving the belt to attain them. The slowest speed will rock the lathe pretty bad if a piece is lopsided. When this happens, I need to basically steady the machine with one hand, while using a gouge to make the blank circular (and balanced) with the other. It is a little sketchy.

I spent about 30 minutes getting it into a better shape, and then gave it a rest. I had some things with fresh paint on them in the shop, and realized I was about to kick up quite a mess. I left the piece mounted there over the next few days. On Saturday, I was loading some tools to head to the job site, when I saw what this blank was going to be. I had considered a natural edge bowl before, but in a green piece, that bark edge will come away from the bowl, as the wood dries. In this one, I already had a dry piece.

I was eager to start it, but it wasn't until Sunday afternoon I had the time. The dry hardwood was a bear on my chisels, and I made several trips to the grinder to but a keen edge on them. I used primarily a large gouge to get the shape right, and alternated between the inside cut and the outside cut as I worked the bowl to the shape. I used a parting tool to remove it from the plate, and to define the bottom edge.

I spent a good deal of time sanding this piece, but still can find faint tool marks. I am not sure how to remedy that. Perhaps just more sanding? I did quite the number on myself during this part of the process. I used my hands to apply pressure to the paper while it was spinning and burned my index and middle fingers pretty bad. The heat just built up really fast! I've got a small blister to show for it. I thought I had a better solution when I wrapped a tennis ball with sandpaper and used it to apply pressure in a contoured fashion. I was feeling pretty cocky until the sandpaper skipped and the ball bounced and rebounded my hand against the spinning bowl edge. I barked the back of my knuckles pretty well on that one. Nothing like a bit of blood for the effort.

For finish, I started with a caramel tinted shellac, but wasn't happy with it. It seemed too dark, and I wanted a more natural color. I sanded it back off and used a spray on water based poly. It needs another coat, but I think it is the better finish. If the bowl hadn't split, I would have been more worried about using a food-safe finish, but as the end grain split makes it too porous to hold anything, the poly works fine for this piece. I'm looking forward to the next one.