Curled Leaf

Today is sunny and warm and I had a bid in my inbox this morning!

It is still a little higher than I had anticipated, but it really isn’t totally unreasonable. There are some things I need to get clarified before I can decide for sure to move forward as that may impact the final number, but at this point I’m extremely hopeful.

Progress! Maybe.

Nature’s Flower Arrangement

The cranky pants might make it back out today.

This is always a possibility anyway when it is cold and dreary like it is today, but even more so because I STILL haven’t heard back on the last contractor bid, even though I sent a follow up email a couple of days ago to try and get a time frame to expect the estimate.

I really hate it, but I think I’m going to have to seriously consider going the route of having only the HVAC and electric done and being forced to do all the framing and drywall myself. It’s funny, really. I’m totally okay with breaking out ALL the different power tools and doing more detailed, complicated work like building frickin’ cabinets, but I hate the idea of doing the framing and drywall work.

It is all just so frustrating.

 

Craft Room Project: First Router Attempt

While this so isn’t perfect, it absolutely blew apart my expectations for my first ever attempt at using not just a router, but bits that are apparently on the finicky side to use. I’m actually really happy with this little mess! (Sorry for the less than stellar photos, I just nabbed them quickly with my phone and didn’t realize how bad they were until I got them loaded!)

The first thing I attempted was cutting the tongue portion of what would become a tongue and groove join. This after more than an hour reading the directions and figuring out the basics of attaching the bit and adjusting depth and all the other VERY different nuances of using a router than any other power tool I’ve used so far.

First Attempt: Tongue Cut
First Attempt: Tongue Cut

As you can see, this is really wrong as that tongue isn’t supposed to be wedge shaped. I was working on figuring out how to keep the router flat on such a narrow piece of wood and obviously failed on that pass. I was still thrilled that it came even close to what I knew it was supposed to look like.

The second one of these came out much better, but was still not perfect.

Second Attempt: Tongue Cut
Second Attempt: Tongue Cut

It isn’t supposed to have that angled divot in it.

Second Attempt: Tongue Cut - Placement Goof
Second Attempt: Tongue Cut – Placement Goof

I’m totally okay with not perfect at this point. The tool is doing what it is supposed to do and the tongue piece itself came out wonderfully. The problems with this cut can be solved with a little practice and I’m good with playing some more.

The other part of this join, the groove, was surprisingly easy and came out mostly clean.

First Attempt: Groove for Tongue Joint
First Attempt: Groove for Tongue Joint

Part of why I’m surprised this came out as cleanly as it did was the fact that the router tended to hit in places and jerk a little. I think those were places where there were knots in the wood. This was probably close to a 3 foot long cut and it only had one noticeable wobble in the groove.

Wobble Oops on Tongue Groove
Wobble Oops on Tongue Groove

Considering this was the first time attempting this, I’m thrilled as this was the piece I was most concerned about being able to pull off.

The true test of how well this little play session was is seeing if those pieces actually fit together. And yes. Yes they did!

First Attempt: Joining Tongue & Groove
First Attempt: Joining Tongue & Groove

It was such a nice, snug fit, I wasn’t certain when I first tried it that it was going to work. Then it just snugged in perfectly.

First Attempt: Joining Tongue & Groove - Close Fit
First Attempt: Joining Tongue & Groove – Close Fit

The above picture makes me excessively happy in that it not only fit together, but it LINED UP! The surfaces of both pieces hit at the same spot. Sure, the edge of the one is a little rough, but a little sandpaper or a file will fix that completely.

Being able to pull these cuts off is a critical piece to building the cabinet doors. If I couldn’t pull this off, then I was going to have to look into a much more expensive option of getting a table saw and special blades. I’m almost certain after this experiment that I’ll be good with that I currently have.

The cool thing about this is even if it isn’t perfect, I’m still probably going to be good. I’m going to paint the cabinets, so any small things can either be fixed with wood filler or I might even leave some of the imperfections and keep these looking a little more rustic. The wood I use on the cabinets is also going to be a much better quality than what I used here. It will probably cut more cleanly than these did because of that.

I still need to practice more and try and work out some of the kinks to make sure the cuts are cleaner than what I got today, but this was a promising start.

Next up to test out and play with will be the nail guns. I think that all the playing I need to do to get ready for the cabinets is going to be its own project. I have enough wood, I think I’m going to build a small storage box for outside. If it is ugly, that’s perfectly fine, but it will give me the practice with all the new tools that I need.

I’m so happy with how everything worked out today!

Now I just REALLY need to hear back from this last company on a bid. I sent an email yesterday, so hopefully that will get a response soon.

Mum Petals In Black & White

It is on the colder, drearier side today as we are well on our way to seeing the end of the nice weather. We do still have a day or to this week that might allow me to open my windows again, but those will most likely be the last.

It will be a good time to be in the garage starting to play. I have some practicing to do, playing with all my new tools so by the time I actually start working on building cabinets, I actually know what the hell I’m doing.

I’m still on the fence about buying a table saw as it is really expensive and I think I can get away with a circular saw that is much less expensive and will most likely be used more after this project is done than a table saw would. There are certain things I need to be able to do that a table saw is apparently the best tool for the job. It can be done using a router (which I have), but it is supposedly a little harder.

I have ordered the router bit I need (could not find it locally) and it should be here today. My goal is to play around with it using some of the wood scraps I have from previous projects to see exactly how difficult that may be to work with to get the desired result.

It’s exciting because it feels like I’m moving forward and making progress even if what I’m doing is just messing around.

Now, if I could just get the bid back from the last guy, I’d actually know what was going to happen and when, or (and I REALLY don’t want to go this route) I start looking into electricians and figuring out how the hell I’m going to frame this damn thing myself.

Contractor Search: Color Me Surprised

To be completely honest, after the mess this has been from the start and the number of no shows or no call-backs I’ve had, I’m actually really surprised the guy showed up for today’s appointment. And on time.

Even more surprising, especially after that questionable first phone conversation, he seems to be a decent guy. Knowing how I felt about this guy after that call, I really didn’t expect this appointment to go well, but it really did.

I don’t have numbers yet, so I’m not jumping ahead of the game yet, but I liked what this guy had to say today. I like their process. I like the fact he didn’t try to pressure me in any direction and just took what I asked for and got the clarifications he needed and left it at that. It was kind of refreshing, actually.

I also adore the fact that they are only about 3 weeks out on their lead time as opposed to not being able to start until January like the last company is.

It is still going to come down to numbers, but today left me more hopeful than I’ve been about this project after all the bumps and sticker shock so far.

Meandering Path

We went for a walk and a drive around this weekend. The hope was that the trees were in full color and to get some photos. Of course, where I live, we don’t really get a “full color” like you’d see in other areas. We sort of get stages.

One week may be the yellow trees. Another week or two later, after those leaves have already fallen, you might get a red or an orange popping up here and there (though we don’t have a lot of those). It just seems like we can’t manage to get all the colors to line up at the same time, though every once in a great while, the trees will put on an amazing show, but it may only last for a day or two.

Right now, we are still way more green than I expected based on the trees in my neighborhood. There are some yellows that are already quickly turning to brown and the rare splash of orange peeking through, but not much else.

It was still nice to get out. I managed to, of course, get some photos of the kids being the absolute goofballs they are. I’d wanted some nice shots, but I’m just going to be grateful that both of them still want to go and do those things with us.

Today I’ve got Misogyny guy coming out to give me a bid. I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping for at this point. I do really want to get at least one more figure for how much this plan might cost me. I’d kind of love for that whole conversation to have just been an honest mistake and the guy is a decent guy that I’d consider working with. Based on the luck I’ve had so far, I’m not holding my breath for it.

I can dream, though, right?

Contractor Search: First Bid – Sticker Shock

I have gotten my first rough estimate to finish my craft room space and… I’m kind of speechless.

Hubby and I did our research, so we had a kind of broad price range to expect this project to come in around, or at least a close ballpark figure. Remember, I’m supposed to be doing a large portion of the work myself, some of the big expense portions if you consider the cabinet work.

The number I was given today? It was 4 times higher than I’d really kind of hoped, but maybe only about 3 times higher than the top of what I expected. That wasn’t including the VERY high estimate I got from our HVAC people to take care of the ventilation portion of the project (again, wasn’t expecting that cost, though I will note part of their estimate included things I did not ask for, so this number isn’t completely accurate).

I’m so shocked and discouraged right now it isn’t even funny.

I know that a portion of this, the electrical, is going to be kind of a beast because we are going to have to expand our panel to accommodate the new load. I fully expect this piece to be on the bigger end, but… just wow! Not even CLOSE to what I was figuring.

What makes it even harder to swallow is the fact that this bid was from the only company that I have liked so far. Partly because the others haven’t even bothered to return calls. Or show up. What is left in my line up is Misogyny Guy and two other companies that haven’t returned calls to even set up appointments yet. I never heard a word from No Show Guy.

I have no clue what I’m going to do from here. One option is to have an electrician come in and take care of that part, but still do everything else myself. I’ve not done any framing before, but been around projects that have had it done, so I understand some basic (though probably not nearly enough). I’ve helped with drywall in the past, but not done it all by myself. What parts I did, I really disliked and is why I wanted to hire out that part.

I really need at least one other number before I can make any decisions, but there is a very real chance that this project, that I’ve already bought stuff for, may not get done. Or at least, not done in the way I want it. I may have to completely rethink my plans.

Not feeling overly happy today.

Contractor Search: Update

Contractor #1 was the “Little woman” guy.

Contractor #2 is going to be known from here on out as “no show dude.”

I actually dig in before even calling these places looking at BBB and other review sites. #2 has quite a few amazing ratings. In all the ratings I’ve seen there was only 1 negative and it was about being a no show for an appointment. With so many great ones, I really chalked it up to a possible miscommunication.

Yeah, not a good idea. Well over an hour past the appointment time and no show, no call, no text.

So glad I rearranged my day for this!

Ugh! There are reasons I absolutely abhor trying to find contractors and getting bids.

“Little Woman” Mindset?

I’m making calls to get bids on my craft room. I’m talking to this one guy. He’s getting my info, you know, basic stuff like name address, phone. Then he asks me a question that just throws me for a loop.

In all my times of calling various different companies for various different jobs over my 20+ years of being a homeowner, I’ve NEVER had anyone ask me this question.

“Is there a Mr. Fox? I’m going to just put his name down, too.”

Um… what?!

Now, this could be an entirely innocent question of someone wanting to make sure they have the names of anyone they may talk to, but… that just felt like a “Little woman, the men need to talk” kind of a question.

It is going to be so interesting when he comes out to give me my bid and I’m the one he has to deal with. It’s going to be even more interesting to see how he reacts when he realizes this “little woman” knows how to handle power tools and really kinda knows what they hell they are talking about.

I’m trying really hard not to make assumptions here and am giving this guy the benefit of the doubt, but it isn’t looking good so far. That question just made me feel icky about this particular guy because WHY would you ever risk making that assumption/stereotype?

What if I had a wife? Or I was single? Or hell, maybe I just was a very feminine sounding dude? Or recently widowed? It’s kind of like asking a woman when the baby is due just because you see a rounded stomach (and yes, I actually had someone ask me this question when BG was like 10, and no, I NEVER wore that shirt in public again). It is SO not something you should ever do. If you want to ensure you have names for other people you may need to talk to, ask “Is there anyone else that will be involved with this project and can I get their names?”

Sadly, I do need to still get a bid from him because I’m struggling to find a contractor. Apparently either 1) all the companies in my city want to only work in the rich counties and while mine is far from a slum, it isn’t THE rich county or 2) everybody and their brother are remodeling right now and they aren’t taking on new jobs. #2 is partly a problem because I don’t want them to do the whole job, just the framing, electrical and the drywall finishing, which may not be enough to entice a company to take on my project.

This is so not an obstacle I thought I’d run into.

Only The Beginning

I spent the bulk of my day yesterday working out cabinet and shelf layouts for my craft room. I got probably one of the hardest spaces worked out, the one that ties all the sides together. It was kind of like trying to figure out an extremely difficult puzzle and the most obnoxious brain teaser combined, but managed to do it. I still have several sections to work out, but they aren’t as tricky or problematic.

Once that is done, I can finalize my lighting and electrical layouts, which means I can move forward with finding contractors to start the parts I can’t do myself. I still have the specific interiors and storage elements of those cabinets to do, but that can be done at any time and won’t impact any contract work.

I have all the tools I’m going to need either here or on their way and Hubby and I went ant picked up my counter tops the other day. I learned that this is so NOT going to be a one person job and that I just might die before it is all finished and I can enjoy it because those suckers are HEAVY!! I’m still feeling it a couple of days later. And that was with help hauling all 4 pieces to the basement.

It feels amazing to finally be making progress!

*There isn’t any context and the colors aren’t correct, but this is going to be the layout of my back wall.

Craft Room: Back Wall Design
Craft Room: Back Wall Design

Orderly And Logical… Yeah Right!

I think it is completely typical of me that I can’t do things in any kind of “normal way” and my craft room project looks to be right in line with MY normal.

A project like this should really have a nice linear kind of a process. Come up with a design plan. Research your resources like contractors or materials. Get any needed quotes and schedule work or start buying materials if you are doing it yourself. Begin working. Simple, right?

Yeah, that isn’t exactly how I’ve done things.

I have struggled so hard with the design for starters. I have SO many things that I do and I needed to take all of them into consideration when laying out my workspace that it was nearly overwhelming. That was just for a basic layout. I also had to figure out good lighting for all those different types of work.

If I do any silversmithing, I need the right kind of direct light for the little details, but I also need to make it dark enough for when I’m firing something to see the color changes in the metal. While that direct lighting would also be perfect for sewing, I’m not getting any fabric even close to my nasty jewelry bench. Not happening! They need to be very different spaces. But I also needed really good general lighting for the whole space.

In an effort to try and solve that problem, I bought a really nice main light fixture and installed it in my completely unfinished space just to see if it is going to work (it is, thank goodness). This alone has already messed up that linear process as I’m buying and installing stuff well before other needed things have been done.

I couldn’t plan out the rest of the lighting, which is needed to be able to get a quote from a contractor, until I figured out exactly how I was going to lay out the rest of the space. That meant I had to figure out how I was going to tie that nasty jeweler’s bench and firing station (two separate pieces) into the rest of the space. Both pieces are kind of just pieced together. My workbench is really just a top that I’ve got sitting on an old desk. It’s functional, but not even close to decent looking.

That made part of my decision making even harder. I really wanted to try and make use of what I had and keep my overall cost down to reasonable, but what I had wasn’t great for different reasons depending on what it is. The jeweler’s bench top, firing station, random cabinet that was designed as a microwave stand, a crappy folding table, an industrial looking but also crappy storage cabinet that originally lived in my garage, an old dresser, and a very nice, but not practical antique dining table that is in need of refinishing. None of which gave me any kind of real storage I desperately needed.

I’ve kind of just been sitting on a lot of this for a while now. Ever since I got the light fixture a couple of weeks ago, I hit a “no progress” wall that I couldn’t get past.

Then I saw a photo of a room, no clue what it was actually for, but it gave me the base inspiration for the finished look I really wanted for my space, something I hadn’t been able to come up with until then. And a look that is SO very different from anything else in my house, which is odd for me.

It gave me a real direction to go and I was able to start working on some real design plans. It helped to funnel me into a direction, but I was still scattered. I still had to work out how much I’m doing myself and how much I’m having done. I did manage to settle on doing all the cabinet, flooring and finish work myself (after hours researching tools and material costs), and having all ventilation, wiring, framing and drywall done for me.

Deciding that, I told Hubby to let me know when we got coupons from our home improvement store, so I could start buying the tools and get them at a discount. We got a coupon like two days later, so I already have tools on the way (even though I’m SO not ready for them yet!)

When looking into options to get my bench top to tie into the rest without being ugly, I was forced to consider a full on rebuild. I was already planning on building a base, but I was struggling to get it to work with my existing top. My options were, leave it as is and have it stand out like an ugly sore thumb, attempt to add a surface that would tie into any other surfaces I’d use in the space, or I could completely rebuild.

The first option was already out for me because I really need this to be a calm, cohesive space or I’m always going to feel out of sorts in it like I do now. That and the look I’ve settled on is awesome and I didn’t want to mess that up. The second option is the less expensive option, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same because I have to have a surface that can tolerate the heat of a torch, which limits my options. Those aren’t options I want for my other surfaces giving the space too may colors and textures even if they were similar. The final option would be so much better aesthetically, but would cost more and go against the whole trying to use what I had.

I spent the last week doing research on materials so I could decide on which option I was going to choose. I wasn’t liking my options for resurfacing my bench top, but I had a couple that might work. In the process of looking at full rebuild options, I ran across some butcher block kitchen counters that had an incredible deal going on right now. After spending the day attempting to work with the available sizing to see if I could even get it to work and then figure out how expensive it was going to be, I now have a basic counter/table/workbench layout set and counters on order because I’m going with the rebuild option.

So I am going to have tools and surfaces purchased and here, but I haven’t even begun to play with the actual electrical layout or the rest of the cabinet designs, let alone researched and gotten quotes from contractors. I have some vague ideas of finishing the design, but I’m nowhere near ready to even think about starting to build.

I’m so backwards sometimes!

As crazy and chaotic as I’m making this, I’m absolutely in love with how it is unfolding so far. I’m going to be able to stain and finish those counters to match want I want to do on the floor. I don’t have flooring picked out yet, but I have the general color and look I want.

I also discovered that my existing bench top will work perfectly in our garage for a true tool workbench. I need to modify it and my firing station a bit, but the materials will be used. Right now I have plans for nearly all of the stuff in my current space, even if it isn’t in that space, so that is also a huge bonus.

I’m giddy that I’m finally making progress.

Done, Done, Done and DONE!!

I. AM. DONE! Not mostly. Not kinda. But done. What was really just supposed to be a kinda big, but not major project of moving stuff from one space in my house to another turned into this crazy, spider web of smaller projects that kept spiraling out to pick up other small projects along the way. It was kind of hellish and hard and tiring and a shit ton of work, but I ADORE the end results and I’m so stinkin’ pooped, I want to sit and not move for a month.

Continue reading “Done, Done, Done and DONE!!”