Friday, June 26, 2009

Kitchen Widgets

towel bar

Along with the big stuff like countertops and cabinets, there's a lot of little stuff that often goes into a kitchen, like a towelbar. I spent a lot of time searching for alternatives to the $90 Swedish-made brass ones and $3 steel ones, and finally found this beauty on Amazon for $22.

plumb bob how-to

I was impressed with the instructions. They instruct you how to make a simple plumb bob to help hang the bracket vertically, though they don't describe it as such. I've used various items including washers, chalk lines, and actual plumb bobs (thanks, Pete) as a plumb bob, but for something this short, I just use a level. But the idea of taping a coin to the instructions to get a vertical line is brilliant, and since many folks don't have a level or necessary understand their usage, it's probably better they don't describe what it is your doing, just tell you to do it.

I was less impressed with the massive plastic clam shell packaging it came in, but that's unfortunately all too common these days. And I would have preferred something U.S. made, but this was the right size, style and price.

ain't she lovely?

Another recent addition to the kitchen was a new compost bucket. We've always composted, even though haven't had a garden to use the compost in recently. It's long been in a Tupperware container, which works, but shows you the moldering fruit and veggie scraps piled on the coffee grounds, and is not the most appetizing thing to see on your kitchen counter. So I found this bamboo compost bucket, also on Amazon. It has a dishwasher-safe plastic bucket inside, and a simple filter in the lid to reduce odors. And it looks great with the new counters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is the 9th anniversary of when K and I got married, the 47th anniversary of when my parents got married, and tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of DIY Insanity!

I haven't been posting recently, not because we're busy celebrating, but because I was sick last week with strep or some other throat infection. I sounded first like Froggy of the Little Rascals, then eventually progressed to a loud whisper. I spent the time doing things like installing the knobs and pulls, and researching and buying various things like a towel rack, compost bucket and range hood. Today I checked out a belt sander from the tool-lending library and tomorrow I'll tackle the floor. But tonight we celebrate with a nice dinner at a restaurant here in Oakland.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Project Closer's Before and After Contest

One Project Closer is having their second annual Before and After Contest. You send them pictures and a story of your DIY project (at least 75% DIY), and each week they'll pick a winner. At the end, there will be a grand prize winner. The cool part for me is that each winner has $35 donated to Habitat for Humanity in their name. Winners also get $25 gift cards to Lowe's, Home Depot or Amazon, but for me the real winner is spreading the word about Habitat's mission of eliminating poverty housing across the world.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

busy week

sun pillar

A strangely busy week, but not much progress on the kitchen. We do have knobs and pulls on all the cabinets, and with the microwave, toaster oven and coffee maker in the kitchen along with functional plumbing, it's starting to feel like a real kitchen. I still need to finish the floor so we can move the refrigerator and stove in, but it's a functional room now.

Friday I was out at Habitat. Yesterday we worked on the yard getting ready for fire season, cutting down the long grass, pulling weeds, and picking up branches and pine cones. I found a cool old milk bottle that I posted on the Our Oakland blog. I haven't found out anything about it yet, even Googling around on the intertubes.

Today we were off to the graduation of our oldest niece from Stanford. On the way home, we saw a cool sun dog, and then as we got closer to home, a beautiful sun pillar. I only had the point-and-shoot, but I managed to get this shot. No where near as nice as my friend Jim's sun pillar shot taken at Lake Tahoe a few years back that was featured on NASA's astronomy picture of the day.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Happy Little Jig

a happy little jig

Yesterday K cleaned out cupboards and lined them with grippy shelf liner, while I installed the two tall pantry cupboards. Then we made one of the most important decisions about the kitchen...the knobs and pulls. EcoHome Improvement had some cool (but expensive) pulls made with recycled glass by Aurora Glass that donates all its proceeds to St. Vincent de Paul, but none of the options grabbed us. Given the cool countertop we've got, we don't want something too busy that will clash with it. So we ended up getting some simple (and much cheaper) brushed metal ones that match the faucet. Since there are lot of cabinets, I took the time to make a little jig so they'll all get installed in the same position without needing to measure a zillion times.

Today after visiting another church (which has some amazing Tiffany mosaics), K finished cleaning cabinets and pounding down nail heads in the floor, and I filled in over the nail heads and along any of the joints that were large. I also re-hung the last doors now that all the cabinets are installed.

We're still boggling over how much more countertop and storage space we've got now. Only a few things have been moved so far, but we've got gobs and gobs of room compared with before.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seussian Plumbing

bye, K.C.

After more work than you'd expect (given where I was yesterday), we have a functioning sink, dishwasher, and yea, even disposal. After a trip to Home Depot, I discovered that my original dry-fit plan wasn't going to work (even if I'd gotten that last piece in the vent stack), so I made another trip to Home Depot for more fittings. The trip was totally worth it, though, because I saw this in the parking lot. Apparently it was the last day for someone named K.C., and his or her co-workers bid them a fond farewell by wrapping their truck (with a Home Depot shopping cart thrown in for good measure) in plastic. The antenna has a cardboard tube with goodbyes written on it, so K.C. will know who to blame.

the maiden voyage of the dishwasher

After returning home, I tried an alternative solution I'd come up while playing around with the available parts at Home Depot, but decided my original plan (updated) was the way to go. So I forged ahead and started gluing, and finally arrived at a completed vent stack and drain. After waiting a bit, I tried things out, and discovered a small leak around the strainer, but everything else was good. After re-seating that with more plumber's putty, everything seemed good to go.

So I tried the ultimate test -- starting the dishwasher. With little fanfare but much excitement, I let it run a 'quick wash' cycle, and all was well. Woohoo!

Almost There...

under the new sink

I got a lot done yesterday. I set the sink in place, cut into the drain line and installed a new T (after doing a little snaking to clean out the line, so I installed a new clean out, too), installed the disposal and strainer, the faucet and supply lines, and got most of the DWV connected. I just couldn't get the last piece in, so that's my main task for today. Well, that, and check for leaks. So far, so good, though.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

After much ado, we now have a new sink. It's not installed yet, but the counter is re-cut to accept it, and we have it. And nobody played with the price in the mean time, like happened to This D*mn House.

I was figuring the new sink would fit, because it was the same dimensions as the old one (33"x22"). But I figured wrong, by about 1/2" on each side (the countertop guy was very precise with the old sink, I guess.) I cut most of it with my skilsaw and a concrete cutting blade, but I couldn't get into the corners (especially near the backsplash), so I rented an angle grinder and took out the last bits with that. Not surprisingly, it made a huge mess, even with the shop vac going. I got it all cleaned up, the dishwasher pushed into place, and the water supply shut-off valves installed, too. So tomorrow I can hook up the drain, put the sink in the new hole, and we should have a working sink (and dishwasher!) soon.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Roger, Houston...

Roger Houston. Insanity Base, here. We have counters.

And they're beautiful. It took a good chunk of the day for them to install the counters, and cutting out the hole for the sink made a ton of dust, but we're very happy with the end results.

The only problem now is the sink. We'd been planning on reusing our old cast-iron sink because it's in OK shape, but now with the new cabinets and beautiful new countertop, the sink looks a bit more banged up and stained than we remembered. And looking at the faucet, the same will be true for that if we replace the sink.

We're considering recoating the sink, but we haven't been able to find any place local that does actual recoating (vs. painting like Miracle Method.) Anybody know of a place in the East Bay that recoats sinks?