Jobs Blog

Drywall – garage and tub surround

Noel asked me to drywall his garage. It was partially done but I had to add about 14 sheets.

There were a few challenges, such as the 10 foot ceiling, working around the garage doors and other items, but it turned out pretty good I think.

Then Gareth had me drywall around his new tub surround. The challenge here was to keep the wall even although the shower surround was out from the wall. I ended up using shims and bondo and then mudded and taped over it.

I’m happy to let my customers do the painting!

Custom Cabinet Addition

Adrian and Charlene asked me to quote on a pantry to fill in a space in their kitchen; however when I went to look at the job they asked if the countertop and cabinets could be extended instead. The countertop was square to the wall and I thought I knew what colour the laminate was, so I quoted on that option.

First I built the cabinets to match.

They wanted some sliding shelves, so I hid those in the lower cabinet behind the doors. I made the doors out of half-inch MDF, routered on my custom “CNC.” I matched the hardware as close as I could.

Installing was trickier than usual because I had to fill in the ceiling bulkhead and extend the crown moulding.

Another tricky thing was the countertop. I peeled off the cap on the end of the original, and screwed a cleat below to join the countertops together. I had to glue them together before sliding the lower cabinet in.

The paint did not quite match…but I hope it will age to look the same, over time. Overall I was quite happy with the end result, and I think my customers were, too.

Bed Riser Blocks

Abbey Medical requested some bed riser blocks. Normally there are 1-size-fits-all types that can be adjusted to lift a bed higher. But this particular bed (a hospital bed) needed a custom fit. It sounded like a fun little project:

I put some anti-slip grip used for the bottom of carpets on the bottom, and they were nice and solid.

Unfortunately when they were installed, they were not quite wide enough – the original measurements were not correct – but I was able to go on site and cut out part of the sides without compromising stability.

Built in Electric Fireplace Surround

Adam asked me to help him build a fireplace surround for his electric fireplace. Basically he just needed the wall extended so he could hide the fireplace in there, and also have it ready to hold a mantle and a TV mount. He was very organized and even had found a blog with instructions.

First I cut out the baseboard and the floor (floating laminate floor–not good to put a heavy wall on a floating floor as then it can’t move and could split or bulge)

Next I framed in the wall, keeping in mind the fireplace dimensions, mantle height, and TV mount/access. I also put a little shelf inside for some of the TV accessories.

Lastly I boarded, taped, and mudded the new wall. I also installed new baseboard. Adam agreed to do the final sanding/painting. When it’s done I hope he will send a picture, and I will post it here!

Edit: Adam sanded the drywall, had it painted, installed the mantle, TV, and fireplace…and sent me this picture!

Tiling over Tile on a Fireplace Surround

Here is Max’s fireplace surround. He bought some new tiles to give some more contrast to the room – also, a few of the original floor tiles were cracked. He asked me to re-tile. I suggested going over the existing tile and he went along with it–it brought the new tile to the same level as the carpet. And saved a ton of work and mess.

The first step was to clean the tile and then paint it with Eco Prim Grip. It’s a rubbery cement paint, believe it or not. Then I used contact cement to place aluminum trim around the fireplace. The reason for this was to hide the edges of both the new tiles, and a few of the old ones as well. (They got spray painted black later).

Then I laid out the tile. It was fairly straightforward because it was the same size as the old tile. The only hiccup was the aluminum trim, which pushed the tile out a little bit and caused some extra notching. I used a light mortar thinset to set the tile. Unfortunately I mixed it a bit wet, but it seemed to stay in place.

The next day I grouted the joints and caulked the edges with a similar colour Dap. It turned out very nice. It was not easy, though–gives me some respect for “real” tilers!

Gary’s X Gates

Gary needed a gate under his carport area. It needed to be fairly heavy duty, open on hinges both forward and backwards, have a latch, and -the most important part-have an X design. The post I wanted to use for the hinge side was not very level so I levelled it as best as I could and then built the X gate.

The next project was a loose gate post on the other side of his house. I thought he just wanted the post strengthened so the gate would close better. Turned out he also wanted the gate widened, the fence re-done (it was not very straight), and – don’t forget – an X design. OK.

Antique Reclaimed Piano Bench

Heather asked me about repurposing her antique piano into a new piece of furniture. The piano has been in the family for several generations, but for the last 12 years it has been in her garage because it was too wide to be moved into the house last time she moved. It was also in need of some very expensive repairs and a tune-up. After trying for a year to give it away on Craigslist, she came up with the idea to make a bench as a gift for her mother.

It was sad to take apart such a work of art. I was amazed at the intricacy of each piece and the quality of craftsmanship I found. However, it was time for a new life. A couple of hours later I had unscrewed, pounded, and angle-grinded my way through this Mendelssohn (Toronto) upright. It did not have a year date stamped that I could find, although it did have a serial number. I found a 1927 penny inside. My customer estimates the piano is 120-150 years old.

I thought I would get some decent money for the steel(?) harp (290 pounds) but the yard only gave me $11. Better than paying to dispose of that much weight! I kept the wood for this project/future projects/the burn pile.

Then it was time to get creative with the pieces I had salvaged. I had a working photo that my customer had found online, and did what I could to save some of the nicer pieces.

One piece that I kept that couldn’t be used for the bench was the hammer board (I’m not sure that’s the correct term). I am picturing spray painting it pink and blue, and mounting it to one of the larger ebony offcuts, such as the lid, and calling it art. Any takers?

A few coats of stain on some of the exposed surfaces, and some polyurethane on the seat, and we have a beautiful bench, full of history.

Faux Wood Stain Front Door

I had done some work on the brick mould of Josephine’s front door some time ago; touching up the paint where it had peeled over time. Then she asked me if I could paint the door itself. It had been white for many years and it was time for a change. (Many of her neighbours have doors in different colours). However she didn’t want to add another colour to the overall scheme, so I said I would try to match the cedar shakes in the front. How to turn a white metal door into a cedar door?

I chose two shades of gel stain and over 3 trips I layered them over the white paint. I started with a lighter shade and then used a darker shade with a wood-graining tool ($3 at Michael’s!). This made the door a shade darker than I had planned, so I went over it all again with the first colour. It was still a tad dark but luckily my customer liked it.

Now in most situations it would be advisable to remove the door and work on it elsewhere, but for various reasons that was impossible this time. So I had to be careful not to get stain on the nice white frame. I used paint markers along the edges where the door contacts the weather stripping, and that dried quickly enough. Varnishing was another matter – the first coat of varnish went on at 1 degree Celsius so it did not dry very quickly. For the 2nd coat I tacked a blanket over the door and left it open for the day, and it dried nicely.

So there you have it. A cedar metal gel stained varnished door!

red metal porch roof

Gary asked for a 3-foot roof over his porch door to help keep him dry this winter. So I made a drawing and sent him a quote. The roof in my drawing happened to be red and when he saw that he knew he had to have that colour. So I spray-painted some galvanized steel roofing with a nice, gloss regal red.

The supports are fir 2x4s ripped in half and painted white. Installation was fairly straightforward with a bit of flashing above the roof and a pocket for the vinyl siding to slide into below.

We were both really happy with how it turned out…especially the red colour. However Gary’s wife disagreed… so now I have to go back and paint it white. Too bad, little red tin roof… you can live on in this blog post.

Stair-post Dress-Up

Pursuant to my previous post about finishing carpentry, I dressed up some stair posts with some custom mouldings (all primed MDF).

I had to cut 3/4″ off of the railings so that the new post would fit. I used a reciprocating saw for this. I caulked everything and the customer will paint them.