Frank Lloyd Wright Quote

"Form follows function-that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union"

Frank Lloyd Wright

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Couplings are Your Friends

I've been too busy with other stuff to work on the kitchen for the past week so I'll give you a Quick Tip instead of an update.

Whenever you're buying PVC, copper, or other types of plumbing, be sure to pick up a few extra couplings. You can use them to "glue" together 2 pieces of short pipe to make a long piece should you run out or make an incorrect cut. One time I found myself at the Home Depot needing a 10' piece of pipe, but I was in my 4-door with both kids so I didn't have an easy way to get the pipe home. Solution: carry the pipe over to the moulding section and use the saw to cut it in half, then re-assemble it at home using a coupling.

Happy Plumbing!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spring Bronze Weatherstripping

Spring Bronze Weatherstripping
I decided to go old-school and install "spring bronze" ( PEM-P51B17 ) weatherstripping. If you've never heard of it you're not alone. The only place in town I could find it was Wink's Hardware (which, bye the way, you must check out if you live in Portland). It's basically a thin strip of bronze that you nail every 1-1/2" into the sash channels on the sides, top, and bottom.

Kitchen Window with Weatherstrip
After a little trial and error I found the best way to install it is to cut a piece to length, mark every 1-1/2" with a Sharpie, and then tack it in place using only the two end nails. Don't nail them in all the way at this point.

Decide at which end you're going to start and nail that one in all the way. Then start adding nails one at a time moving down the line. Since you only tacked the last nail in place, you can pull it out and re-position it if you start getting extra length in the strip as you add nails.

Before I installed the spring bronze my windows were sloppy and drafty. With the weatherstripping in place not only will it eliminate the draftiness, but the windows don't rattle when opened and they have a more finished feel to them.

You can get the nice, heavy gauge product from Pemko. This is what I used and recommend.

You can buy a cheaper, thinner version with pre-drilled holes from Amazon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Finding Your Center

Here's a technique for finding the center of an object whose overall length isn't easily divisible by 2. I'm using my kitchen window for this example.

Step 1: Estimate the total length
Measure your item and round up or down to the nearest length that you can easily divide by 2. My window is about 25 13/16" wide. I'll round that to 26", which gives me 13" when divided by 2.

Step 2: Measure from both ends
Take the number you got from step 1 and measure that far from one end. Make a mark. Repeat from the other end. You should now have two marks that are pretty close together.

Step 3: Eyeball it!
Yes, that's right, eyeball it! The two marks you made are equally distant from the center, and they should be less than 1" apart. You can eyeball the center with as much accuracy as you need for general finish work.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Window Progress

I spent every free minute of the weekend working on the kitchen windows and I'm still only half way done. I'm starting to see why people just paint them shut! Properly prepping and painting these old double hung windows is very time consuming and really tests one's desire to do a good job. Bear in mind that the first step in this kitchen remodel was to have these "restored". The restoration process only gets them back into original working order; I still have to paint them myself. Oh well, it will all be worth it when they're done.

Of course I couldn't just paint the inside. I had to go ahead and take the sashes out so I could prime the outsides as well. This is where the restoration really paid off; they were very easy to disassemble. I'm also going to install some bronze weatherstripping as well. I'll do a write-up on that later this week.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Finally, more progress

I started painting the kitchen window trim tonight, just in time for a freakish thunderstorm! For those of you not familiar with Portland weather, we're lucky to get 2 good thunderstorms a year.

Anyway, I sanded the uncut lengths of wood for the lentil, head casing, parting bead, and the side casings and then used a brush to prime them. I used floetrol to help eliminate brush marks (as well as a good quality brush) and so far I am happy with the results. I still need to sand the primer coat and then apply one or two finish coats before I know how well the trim will turn out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Can you tell? Do you need a hint? OK, it's 102 degrees outside. And we don't have air conditioning.

That's right! All of the dining room windows are painted shut! That means the only way to get any airflow in this house is to open the kitchen windows and the two small casements on either side of the fireplace. I consider this undeniable proof of global warming. Not even a crazy person would have painted these windows shut 20 years ago if it was this hot! I know what my next project will be.

In more window news...

This actually happened last summer. I came downstairs one afternoon to find this:

That's a hole in the original, wavy glass picture window in the living room. At first I was convinced we were victims of a drive-by shooting but a thorough search revealed no projectile. The working theory is that the neighbor kicked up a rock from his lawn mower, but I have my doubts. It's more likely a b.b. hole from the punk-assed kids across the street, but I have no evidence to support that theory, except that we have some punk-assed kids living across the street.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Quick Tip: Knot your Extension Cord

Knot your cords as seen in the picture to keep them from coming unplugged. This is especially handy when you're using your weed whacker, but I've taken to doing it every time I plug something into an extension cord.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Marmoleum Installation: Part 2

I got the bulk of the work done on the flooring. I thought it was going to take forever to do all the cut pieces around the perimeter of the room, but once I got in the zone it went pretty quickly. I still need to do all of the base shoe moulding and some of the perimeter pieces that are not visible in this picture.

I'll post a final message about the floor once it's 100% complete.

Read more in Part 1 and Part 3 of this series.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Marmoleum Installation: Part 1

I figured since I had the day off for the 4th, I may as well start installing the Marmoleum Click tiles for the kitchen floor. I will use this post mainly to describe the layout process. I'll add a second part when the floor is done.

Step 1: Choosing your First Focal Point

When installing tile on the floor, whether it is ceramic, porcelain, or in this case Marmoleum, you need to plan the layout so the finished product looks nice. This is especially true with a strong pattern like the checkerboard we have going in our kitchen.

For a typical square room, you should have two focal points; one for each dimension of the room (length and width). For our kitchen, the first and most important is the main entrance from the dining room. It is a 36" wide pass-through. If I had not considered this as a focal point, I would have started laying tiles against the cabinets on either the left or right side of the doorway, which would have left the pattern off-center in the doorway. That would not be nice to look at every time I walked into the kitchen!

Once I determined this would be my first focal point, I simply marked the center of the doorway on the floor. Since I am running full tiles down the middle (instead of having a seam in the middle), I measured a half-tile's width to one side and marked that as my reference seam. I setup my laser level on a tripod to mark this line.

Step 2: Choosing your Second Focal Point

Now that I chose the first focal point, I could have just started running full tiles centered in the doorway, but that would leave an off-center pattern somewhere else in the kitchen, in this case the sink. That means the next step is to find the center of the sink base. Since I centered a full tile in the doorway (instead of a seam), I also chose to center a full tile on the sink. I marked the center of the sink, and then placed a tile on the laser reference line from Step 1. The full sized light colored tile centered on the sink was the first to be laid. I then measured for the cut tile that goes behind it (leaving 3/8" gap per instructions). Starting at the center and the working my way back to the doorway will leave cut tiles at either end of the row.

Here you see me working my way from the center of the sink toward the door.

Continue to Part 2.

The Marmoleum click tiles are available from

Van Gogh


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cabinet Lighting is Done

The only thing that I accomplished this weekend was to finish the cabinet lighting. Home Depot provided the puck lighting for the underside, as well as the rope lighting on the topside. I hooked them all to the same switch.

OK, I guess I'm not 100% finished yet, because I still need to mount the retaining clips for the rope lights and I still need to buy and mount one more puck light under the little 9" cabinet to the right of the stove. But that'll just have to wait!