Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Basement Remodel

To recover from last year's basement flooding we removed all the carpeting and damaged items and put everything else into a pile.

With the floor covering gone, I repainted the room.

About halfway around I noticed that the far section of drywall covering the knee wall was in poor shape. So I covered that area with a bar top and shelves.

Once that was done, I finished my painting and installed a random-lot carpet tile floor. These carpet tiles just lift up, so they can be dried out if we experience more flooding down there.

My wife needed a few more shelves for her remaining books, especially the larger ones. So I made several shelf boxes with the left overs from the earlier shelves.

And that's pretty much it.

I did make one more items, though. My first big home improvement job that I did on my own was our master bathroom. I had a piece of solid cherry with a large, live edge knot in it left over from that project. I, also, had some granite remnants from it. So I cut a strip of granite, routed a corresponding dado across the board, and inset the granite flush with the surface of the board. I chamfered top and bottom and installed a bottle opener and catch bin to the board. This is now mounted in my basement.

So my project here is done. My wife is quickly taking the pile of her things and storing it properly, so we can more fully enjoy our basement area.

Monday, May 18, 2015

More Basement Shelves

After completing the basement shelf and bar, I had some scraps and cut-offs. The shelves under the bar are well-suited for most books, but not big enough, generally, for binders and large format books. So I decided to make more shelves with the remaining material.

Since the walls were all light French gray, I decided that the room needed a splash of color. So, instead of staining these shelf boxes, I decided to paint them blue with white frames and interiors. Since they were made from leftovers, they would each have different dimensions and designs, so a consistent color scheme would pull them together.

Their horizontal spacing is consistent, too, but not their vertical. Overall, they're not only super functional, but also add some visual interest to the room.

Drilling pocket screw holes

Assembling the first carcass

The first wall cabinet ready for installation

First shelf box installed

First shelf box
So I built the first shelf box and installed it. There would be no use making the rest of them if my wife didn't like them. At it turned out, she really liked the extra shelf room and the look wasn't displeasing, so I started making three more.

Piecing together more shelf boxes

My workbench covered and ready for painting

Laying pieces out for painting

Painting the parts

The second one was the big one

Assembling the face frame

Face frame

That's a really big frame

Second box done

This will hold a lot of binders
Another win. This was the hardest one to make due to its size. The long shelf is supported on the back edge with a nail board and in front by the frame. That should keep the shelf from sagging. The bottom rests on a square cleat (which helped me install this beast) that is painted the wall color, so it doesn't show.

Once this was made and installed, the other boxes came together quickly.

All shelf boxes installed

Lots of room for binders and large format books

Basement Carpet Tiles

We decided to refloor our basement with carpet tiles. That way, if we ever had another water problem we could possibly save the flooring ourselves. Also, using random carpet squares was very cost effective at a dollar a square foot and dead easy to install without any surface preparation other than a good vacuum.

Our basement stuff, unfortunately, was simply piled up and that pile had to move about while the floor was being laid. In the end, most of that material ended up in one location, ready to be either stored or dispositioned.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Basement Shelves

Another DIY post.

I'm in the process of remodeling our basement following last summer's flood. I got about half the basement painted when inspiration struck. My wife's bookcases are trashed, and this knee wall at the end of the room just looks sad. So why not cover it up with a built-in bookcase?

2x4 toe kick, painted black to visually disappear.
Using a toe kick keeps the shelves off the floor and keeps things from rolling underneath. The 2x4s are sealed with polyurethane.

Cabinet bottoms for the two outside cabinets.

Making the cabinet sides, drilled for 1/4-in shelf pins.
The cabinet bottoms and sides are made from plywood ripped to 11-1/2 inch width. Traditional cherry stain to match the rest of the house, which is real cherry. Drilled for 1/4-in shelf pins, since the shelves will carry a lot of weight.

Face frame for one of the outer cabinets.
Made the face frames from 1x3 poplar. The inside stiles overhang enough to be the stiles for the center box, which will be match built once the end boxes are installed.

Assembling a carcass.

Finished carcass.

Outer cabinets done. Time to make a center one to fit.
Assembling the outer cabinets goes quickly. The toe kick gets obscured so the cabinets seem to float a couple inches off the ground.

Need to trim the table top sheets to fit the space.
The table top needs to be trimmed precisely to fit the area where it will be installed. I can't get away without a seam, but it's only the basement.

Finishing a table top segment

Pocket holes along the front edge of the tabletop.

Splicing the table segments together

Boxes and top done. Time to make shelves.
The table top went better than expected. Using steel plates and a rail that spans the joint kept the top from breaking at the butt joint.

Test fit of the shelves.

Edge band, stain, seal.
The shelves are made from the same plywood, ripped to 11-1/4 wide. That way, they fit comfortably in the cabinets. I used matching edge banding to clean them up. It's pre-glued, so you iron it on, trim, sand the whole thing and you're ready to finish.

Shelves installed, ready for books.

It's not perfect by any means, but it'll hold a lot of books. It also covers up a ratty-looking wall that I'd otherwise need to demo and rebuild. Back to painting, I guess.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I didn't know what I'd find.

It had been sometime before my children were born that I saw my brother. Sometime after I married. So more than fifteen years, fewer than twenty-one. Still, a long time.

For much of that time I didn't know where my brother was, exactly. I didn't hear from him, nor did I seek him out. We were both living our lives as they presented themselves. I started a family, forged a career, grown older and softer and wiser.

Now, my wife was facing a milestone birthday. It's at those round numbers where you ponder mortality, look back and judge your younger selves. She, wisely, chose something different. She wanted to go to Las Vegas for her birthday.

This is a wonderful idea that she had. We have plenty of things. If we want a new thing, we get it. We are struggling to rid our house of useless things. So let's make memories. Let's have fun. Let's stay on the Strip, gamble away the money we'd use to buy things, and drag the kids along for the ride. It was a very good time.

Las Vegas is where my brother is. I hadn't been there for, what was it, fifteen to twenty-one years? I can't not see my brother.

So we set it up - a breakfast meeting near his home. We set aside that time in our schedule and, when the time came, we went. I didn't know what to expect, but I had my family with me; those people in my life that help me make my way through. My family gives me purpose and strength.

We met in the foyer. I saw my eyes, our mother's Irish eyes, looking back at me. It was like looking at my reflection.

What we discussed was largely mundane and inconsequential. We talked for hours. He also met us at the airport while we sat around waiting for our flight to be repeatedly delayed. This was the highlight of our trip.

My daughter has those eyes. Maybe some day she'll look into mine and see herself, too.