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Stairway to Hell

Well, here was an example of a job that almost broke my will to ever renovate anything again. Since we put down the dark hardwood floor in our house my wife insisted that we change the stairs to match. I knew what was involved but I *never* thought it would be as painful as it was. Living in a house with a little guy as well, my time to do any of the heavy work was very limited. This took me roughly 65 hours of work over the course of a month and half. That was working pretty much every night and weekend for that entire stretch.

The first daunting task was sanding everything. I really didn’t want to paint the stairs as it’s a nice oak staircase and I really wanted the grain to peek through so I went to work sanding.

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The sanding portion of the job took about 14 hours to finish up every nook and cranny. I used an orbital sander for most of the treads and banister but for all the tight spots I had to use some elbow grease. The next step was taping everything so I could put down my first coat of stain. In hindsight, I didn’t actually need to do the taping because I just primed over everything anyways.

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The staining went fairly smooth however because we still needed to use the steps, I was only able to stain every other stair. It was also a bit of a game remembering what steps we could step on each night.

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I used a regular polyurethane to cover all the steps and did 2 full coats on each step. For the banister, I used a wiping poly because I found it was a lot easier to apply it and the look was nice without any small bubbles that sometimes happened with the brushable poly.

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Once all the stairs and railings were done with their poly it was onto the final pass of work. We picked up a really nice Benjamin Moore Advance paint that was a bit of a hybrid paint. It was latex with Alkyd so it has the finish of an oil base paint but without the smell or cleanup. Amazing product. Before we used the paint, we used a primer called Stix which was AMAZING! This stuff really does stick to anything. We didn’t need to prime any of the spindles or risers and it stuck great. When the paint went on, it was flawless.

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2 coats of paint on everything (I HATE painting spindles by the way) and it was ready for action. Really happy how it turned out but I will never do this again. Even though I just saved myself about 4 thousand dollars, I think my time is worth more than that.

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Floored!

Well it’s been some time since I’ve posted an update on the blog but that’s because I’ve been busy as all get out and in the coming weeks there’ll be a flood of posts with the work I’ve been doing lately. We purchased a new house back in April and we got the keys in May. The lead up to moving into the house obviously took up all my time so my shop was neglected for quite some time.

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When we saw this house we really liked it because of the pure bare-bones nature of it. Nothing was upgraded, everything was builder grade so this presented a great opportunity to do a lot of home renos to boost the value of it. Cue the hardwood floors!

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We ended up going with a really nice dark oak hardwood with a lot of grain to it mostly because we have a little one so anything dropped should just blend into the floors. Day 2 of being in the house we got the hardwood delivered and the work began.

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First night was the purging  of the old carpeted floors and getting everything prepared. I had to pull out all the carpet, tack strips, underpad and then go around and pull out each staple. Back breaking and knee breaking work, let me tell you! But once this was done the work was able to commence.

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I found the flooring to be fairly straight forward except for a lot of the transition pieces which needed to be bevelled a bit to meet with the tiled areas. This was a scary process feeding the hardwood through the table saw on that angle. But amidst the smoke and sawdust the pieces turned out great.

And here is the finished product.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

 

Well this is one more for my wife and although this wasn’t entirely up my alley it ended up being a fairly simple and cool project once it was done. This was another case of my wife desperately wanting to ditch the Ikea bedroom and grow up a little. Queue up a new headboard project.

You can find so many of these things on Pinterest and any other craft site and even though I told my wife she could probably do it herself I still got dragged into the construction.

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This is where I came in. The piece of plywood just needed to be cut down to size and we also decided to put the arcs in it just for looks. The foam padding was just spray glued on even though the fabric does a pretty good job holding it in place.

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Then it was just a matter of pulling the fabric and stapling it to the back. In terms of folding it over properly, we sucked at it but thank god it’s all hidden in the back and will never be seen. The one nice added touch (although it’s mostly hidden) is the metal stud strip that lines the outside. This was incredibly easy to put on and makes it look a little more professional.

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We got some buttons that just snap together with the fabric we used on the headboard and voila! Mounted it on the wall and call it a bed.

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My wife has been dying to get an update to our “college” bed so i’m happy she’s got a bedroom she’s happy with. With that being said, we’re still planning on selling our house in a couple months so i’m sure we’ll be doing this all over again very shortly.

 

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A Coffee Table For My Wife – Part 2

If you ask my wife what I do in the garage you’ll probably get a standard response of “well, nothing for the house”. I am happy to say I finally finished a piece that is for the house and my wife couldn’t be happier how it turned out.

The project wasn’t terribly difficult but it was a long time in the works because I didn’t have a lathe. As I posted before I was able to pick up a small one over the Christmas holidays and able to get to work on this.

I even see the faint trace of an Olive Garden bag glimmering in the background. Proof that I was in the states when I bought the lathe and also proof that if I have bread in the house, I’ll be eating it in the garage after hours.

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Once the legs were done, the actual base was fairly easy to put together. I thought I was going to get fancy but instead I got lazy and used my pocket screw jig to do most of the joinery. I figured I wasn’t going to get any extra street cred for making it with mortise and tenons so I kept it simple. And because the base was going to be painted white, I didn’t mind using a mishmash of wood species. The legs are Ash and the stretchers are Poplar. Both painted up really nicely.

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And here is the table before the finishing touches.

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Originally I bought some Walnut which I absolutely loved but my wife didn’t like the colour of it so I had to resort to buying some more wood and doing a different top. I purchased some Ash because it was fairly cheap and am I ever glad I did, the top turned out really nice. The finish was perfect and the grain really pops with the colour of stain.

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I also finally got a chance to use my HVLP sprayer I bought a while back. It definitely came with some prep though. As you can see I basically had to cover my entire garage in plastic in fear of paint getting sprayed all over the place. I found it didn’t overspray too much but the cover worked out great and I just folded it up until the next time I need to hang it again.

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And the big finale! My best work is definitely not photography so I’ll need to get a better picture for the archives but this will do for now. The table looks great in our living room and I can retire another piece of Ikea furniture to the side of the road in place of a better quality piece of furniture.

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Getting a Handle On Things

Well I have finally finished one of the most infuriating tasks I’ve ever taken on. I thought making a couple handles for some old chisels I received would be an easy task. Not the case!! These handles took me about 2 weeks to make. I think it took longer than it should have mostly because by a couple days in I was dreading working on them. But alas they are finished and I think they turned out great.

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This was also the first time I threw a polishing wheel on the grinder and what a difference it made to the ferrule as well as the irons themselves. Years of sludge came literally flying off in my face getting these into good condition.

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And to top it all off was a pretty basic chisel rack to house the new/old chisels.

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As hard a task as it was to finish, i’m definitely glad I did it. The old handles were in pretty rough condition so I think this really did these chisels justice getting a better handle on it!

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As The Wood Turns

My entire life i’ve lived a couple doors down to what I now know was a great craftsman.  Mr. Nichols. He lived right beside my best friend growing up and I always saw him out working on his house even into his later years. Just recently he moved into a retirement home as he has entered his 90’s and was having a hard time taking care of the house. Just recently from him, I received a beautiful set of Buck Brother paring chisels which are at least 50 or so years old. The age is irrelevant because of how well this man took care of his tools. The handles are wood (possibly ash) and they have received a bit of wear and tear over the years. Even as paring chisels they obviously saw a great deal of abuse from a mallet.

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I just loved the fact that not only are they a great set but I can clean these up and use them for probably the rest of my life. Based on the quality of these, I don’t think i’ll ever need to buy another set and the best part of it is the fact that I can carry these on from someone I knew very well.

Since I just recently got the lathe, I figured it was a good time to clean them up and turn some new handles. That and I really need the practice on the lathe. I took one of the handles from the set that I liked the feel of and setup a gauge to lay it out. I tried to keep it as true to the original handle as possible and this was the result.

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They are made from white oak as I had lots of it laying around my shop for the past year or so. I roughed out the shape and all of them match fairly well except the top of the chisel. This is where I attempted to use the skew chisel and needless to say I was catching edges all over the place and having to continuously  trim it down even more. But I got them all rough turned in a day or so for the smaller range of chisels which totalled 7 handles. All of them except 1 requires drilling a hole for the tang but I also need to make 1 more with a socket instead of the hole so this one isn’t finished yet.

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I think the easy part is done of these and the profile has been setup. The next task is trimming down the portion where the ferrule goes and getting the ferrule attached. Then we drill a hole, cut the end, sand, coat and start making some shavings. After a generous blade sharpening and cleanup of course. Might be a lot of work but I think for the experience and not too mention the history I think it’s well worth the work.

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A Coffee Table For My Wife – Part 1

My wonderful wife has watched me finish countless small projects for my shop as well as other random spur of the moments ideas all before I have really made a piece that she wanted. The start of this project dates back to September and is really only coming into full swing now.

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No, this isn’t my work. This was the piece of reference to start with. I made my trip to the lumber store and started shopping. I originally picked out some nice dark walnut and got it planed and jointed down to a handful of nice pieces. However, being told it’s not going to be dark enough and my absolute hatred of taking a beautiful wood like walnut and painting it black, I needed to make another choice for the top of it. I did however get started on turning the legs. Now in the future I would spend a bit more time on getting the same profile as the profile above but I am a very novice wood turner in desperate need of teaching so getting some of the small details on the leg was going to be hard.

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I got some time to get to the community centre lathe  and at least begin roughing out the blanks. I also starting roughing out the profile here to start and this is where I think if I wasn’t so rushed and planned out the details I could’ve had a more accurate match. Either way, I forged ahead.

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The first leg wasn’t too bad to do as you really are forming the leg you were hoping to get. However, at least with my limited skills, I definitely had to return and reshape them because I took too much wood off the next leg I turned. It was quite the task getting them all the same size and again, next time around I’ve already learned a couple tricks about copying.

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After a couple days of random time spent on the lathe I was able to wrap up the legs and get them to a point where even I am fairly happy (I pick apart my own work so this is rare).

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The next stage of the build is the stretchers for the table. I’m going to do my first usable mortise and tenon joint. Because I don’t have a hollow chisel mortiser I will be doing these all with a drill press, table saw and some chisels. I’ve seen enough router jigs to do this but for starters I’m going to go with the basic method. Before I jumped into the real thing, I figure I do a smaller scale test. This was just a couple pieces of scrap 1 1/2″ oak that I was able to cut into some very snug mortise and tenon joints. I didn’t really do the best job of the mortises because I didn’t use a guide block when I was chiseling but I will when i’m doing the table and either way, the joints fit very snugly and pretty much bang on without any overlap.

Sorry for the wait miss, I’ll have you a table before you know it!

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