Thursday, August 29, 2013

Progress? Also, vacuums.

Slow but steady progress on the cabinets, but the first week of class has been a bear.  Hooray for the Monday holiday!  I would like to get countertops installed by then?  Yeah?

AND - vacuum repair is a total scam-ola.  They contain 1) an electric motor connected to 2) a blower.  They also have to be leak-tight.  That's about it.  There are very few circuits in a vacuum, and with a multi-meter, you should be able to figure out what is going on in any of them.

All that to say, the Mrs. was shocked to see her vacuum flash blue and let out smoke (pro tip- never let the smoke out of electronics, it cannot be put back in, and it makes them stop working; it's pure magic).  I looked it over, and sure enough, the REALLY TINY AND CHEAP switch (buried under a clever-looking plastic mechanism) had blown up.  It was a teeny slider switch, rated to 11A at 120V.  It looked like it should not have been rated above 1A, it was so chintzy.  Time passes, I go to Ace, get the best-fitting heavy-duty switch I can find, drill a hole in the decorative case where the switch should go, wire her up, and hey presto - an Electrolux with a retro-modern nickel-plated toggle switch.  It has a very crisp snap to it, and the vacuum works like a champ.

From the heady days of the wasp-waisted housewife holding a powered cleaning machine up by one finger comes the Ultralux by Electrolux.  You can imagine the four-pointed shiny stars that should be dazzling your eyes.  Now smack a Gemini-capsule style toggle switch between those feeble blue plastic rockers, and go forth to vacuum.

 It's very modern.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Saw, saw, saw away...

It's a little dark to see the cabinets, but there are now four of the six bases done.  The reason it is a little dark is 1) I have a not-so-hot camera on my phone, and 2) I took this shot at about 2am.  I am very thankful to have all of my digits, and there were not even any close calls (though I bunged up one cut, but it was a finished-end veneer piece, and I detest cutting thin, bendy material on the tablesaw).  As a general rule, though, it's probably not a great idea to use power tools when your eyes don't focus anymore.  At least not the tablesaw.

We got the countertops today.  There's an enormous skid in the garage, containing 547lbf of walnut countertops.  I's excited to install it.  Once the cabinets are done...

And, hilarity without end, I have a journal paper final draft due tomorrow.  Haw haw!  Do all the things!  Except sleep, that's not how you do all the things.

And I teach my very first real undergrad class tomorrow (at 7:30am)!  Not that I haven't taught before, but it was just programming in MATLAB, and not Thermodynamics, which I thoroughly love.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The latest round...

Mr. got the floors stained, now they just need to be sealed...

Mr. and Jr. demonstrate to me what color the floor will be when it is sealed. I love it!

The cutout where the bookshelf will go... Sunken living room is behind it.

Front doors.

Mr. built the first kitchen cabinet. Thanks, Ana White! It is one sturdy piece of furniture!

Drywall is coming back up in many rooms...

But not in the master bath...

View from the master bedroom door...

So open! I love it!

And... I am fat and pregnant. 2 months left to go...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Can You Pass the Acid Test?

Behold, the Merry Prankster,

 garbed from head to toe

making dingy, dirty, rooms,

 radiantly glow.

But I don't actually like Ken Kesey.  Just check out the acid stain.

Acid stain is not that hard, so far.  As long as you like mopping.  Lots of mopping.  Like, I should have bought a commercial mop bucket and wringer.  And I am wearing the poor old retired kitchen mop into shreds.

Here's the story of how to do it:
The prep- This matters a LOT.  Lots of chipping up old floor (as you've seen), then general clean-up, then Bean-E-Doo mastic remover (it's magic).  The way I found most effective was to apply Bean-E-Doo to maybe a 300sqft area, let it sit for ~an hour, then throw down oil-sorbent (or cat litter, or dirt if you're desperate), and scrape with a wide drywall knife (mine was 8").  The oil-sorb traps the liquid and acts as a scrubber for the floor.  For thick mastic, you may have to do this twice.  Then degrease with your favorite organic degreaser (Simple Green, or other not-too-nasty ones are great).  The Bean-E-Doo is soy and citrus based, my degreaser was non-volatile and citrus also, and the house actually smelled NICE while cleaning the floors - go figure.

Chemical prep over.  On to mechanical prep.  Our slab had been pretty abused, lots of floors had come and gone, so I wanted to really hit it and get a clean top layer.  We could also have laid down a thinset prep layer to stain on, but that seemed, um, unsporting?  So on to Diamabrush - available wherever big whomping tools are rented (Home Depot did fine).  You put it on the buffer and get your brother-in-law to grind it off, and hey-presto, a clean floor!  You'll have to ask C. for his thoughts on what is involved in the hey-presto part, but it took about 8 hours and it's the kind of hey-presto where you need a respirator and hearing protection.  Then you have a preposterously large amount of hyper-fine dust to clean up.  CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER NOW!

Next, the acid stain - Bought from Direct Colors, Inc. out in OK.  Used a 1:1 stain-water mix with Cola color in the garden sprayer.  Sprayed everything at about 7:45-8:30pm the first time.  Used 8qts of stain on about 1300sqft (more on the other floor in a while). Sprayed it again starting around 11:45pm, same ratio, but less generous with the spray, used 4qts of stain, ran out just about at the right time.  Put on the spiked acid-resistant shoes (it's like Zelda, right? they're an awesome thing to have in your inventory), and laid down corner and edge highlights with Coffee Brown, pure stain, used 2qts, ran out with about 3' of un-edged wall in the master bath - declared victory.

Next day, you have to slake the acid.  About 2 Tbsp of baking soda to a gallon of water, apply, let fizz, repeat until the floor is covered.  It took maybe 10-12 gallons of water to do the floor.  It's like playing volcanoes, only without the papier-mache cinder cone.  Then mop it up.  Then mop some more.  Then mop for a while.  Did I mention you'll want a good mop?  Mop.

Now, we've got work to do today and Saturday, so I will wait until Saturday evening to apply the sealer, that way it can stand for about 36hr to cure before people walk on it.  I'll report on that when I do it, but it's a sprayable sealer, so I'll just use the trusty garden sprayer.  It's a good tool - it's been intimately involved with the floors and ceilings (popcorn pre-scrape wetting).

Enough about floors.

In other news, the countertops shipped yesterday, so I ordered the finish today, and they should arrive at about the same time.  I have about 80% of the carcase of the corner cabinet done.  I think it will be do-able, but it will be a race.

Other news, much as I love my Grizzly table saw, the panel saw at Home Depot (or as Jr. says, "home DEEP-a-doh") is a champ.  And the 1x24s can fit gracefully inside La Morsa.  And I know that's not a real board size, but Ana White said it was, and I'm using her cabinet plans.  THANK YOU, ANA!

I made a corner bad.  It was late.  I was tired.  I checked one dimension when I needed to check two.  Thankfully, I can fix it with a shim, and it will not damage the usability of the cabinet.  Yeesh.  You'd think that building cabinets at midnight wouldn't be so error-prone, but you'd be wrong.

Plumbing supplies came in, too, so I should be able to wrap that up soon.  Need to get a shower rough-in valve so we can button up that wall...

Did I mention that I closed out Home Depot last night and then worked until ~1am?  I think I got to bed a bit before 2am.

PS- Mop.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time Keeps on Slipping, Slipping, Slipping...

La Morsa can indeed carry 4'x8' sheets, but not as gracefully as I hoped... I suppose it's fittingly eponymous. 

Countertops were supposed to ship yesterday, though I have not received notice.  If they're a little slow, I will not be sad.  I have yet to build a single cabinet.  That's on a flaming to-do list.

Of course, this would be the week that I got slammed with a big model debug at work.  Is the consultant's work right, or is mine?  Whose model reflects reality better?  These, and other boring questions, are trying to kill me right about now.

Anyway, things move on apace, and as you'll hear over on MMM, small steps add up.  I'm banking on that... just have to keep taking them.

The Miners Sr. came up to help this week, which was great.  Did I mention that my dad was a contractor when I was young?  And that his dad was, too?  Great heritage, some pressure.  Anyway, more coffee and modeling...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Angst & a Cure

As with all building projects I have ever known, this one is over budget.  Major drains have been personnel costs (I've been happy to have the help, but it's spendy), and the semi-unexpected need to repair a bunch of water-damaged wallboard (correlated to personnel costs).

But we are closing in on floor-grind and stain.  I'm upbeat, but maybe I'm stupid...

I think we're going to have to slow down a bit, as the burn rate was a touch high, but most of the big-ticket items are purchased.  We've just got to pace the rest so we keep a cushion in case we suddenly have to spend a bunch on adoption stuff (Hopefully there will be some milestones coming up on this road...)

Then cabinets.  I realize it's only been 2.5 weeks that we've owned the house.  It seems an eternity...

One last thing: oregano oil kicks butt.  Jr. got a cold on Wednesday last week, I started feeling snuffy Friday, and began gargling oregano oil once or twice a day.  It burns like none other, but I feel fine, except in the mornings before I gargle.  Pro tip: only use 2-3 drops.  First time I did it I used 5, and had to gargle it in four goes.  That hurt.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rebuilding Begins...

I think we hit bottom.  The past two weeks have been a process of start some demo, see that it needs to go further, keep going, find the next problem, and keep going...

I think we hit bottom.  Now, there's no place to go but up, right?

Also, our minivan, La Morsa Roja, carried about 720 lb of tile backing board without a complaint.  As well as a bunch of used cabinet doors (with euro-style hinges) that we picked up at the used building supply store.  We won't use the doors, but this saves us something like $3.50/hinge, and that's no small potatoes.

I owe La Morsa a good vacuuming when this is all over...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More demo/construction progress

Master bath

Master bedroom

(Like how it comes with a wheelbarrow?)

Living room, note progress on wall.


2nd bath

Other bedrooms
(Those pipes are for the 2nd bathroom. Sorry, no plumbing in the guest room.)