Archive for the ‘Remodel How-to’s’ Category

Our version of Black Friday

As many of you may have known Tori and I had planned a trip to the cabin for Thanksgiving. Our original plan was to head out Wednesday after Tori got off work (with me running errands and packing on Wednesday afternoon).  Tori was not so keen on the 6 extra hours added on to a long day, and the fact that all of that drive would have been in the dark…as the driver I could have gone either way.  Considering the fact that the views on the way there are pretty darn nice and a good chunk of the country (most actually) would probably sell their grannies to the devil for the views we experience on a typical drive there.  We otp’d for leaving Thursday, on Thanksgiving itself.  Its been a few years since I have traveled ON Turkey day and was very pleased to see not much traffic at all.  We had our our “family” Thanksgiving on Sat. ( brothers, kids, cousins etc) and a “Mini”version with just Tori and my girls on Sunday of last.  With those obligations out of the way we were refugees to the open road…and open it was.

We  hoped to grab a bite to eat at the Subway in Leadville but they were closed as were a lot of places…we hit another one further down the road in Buena Vista ( they were open until 4).  The weather was dry and clear and we made some good time.

When we got to the cabin it was a just a bit past sunset, temps were chilly and dropping.  My digital temp gun was reading 26 on the surface of the deck, but INSIDE the cabin, the tile floor and granite wall behind the wood stove was reading 65.  The completely passive Solar Design of the cabin was functioning perfectly.  Last year we brought a “fire bag” (Newspaper and kindling in brown paper bag) for a quick start to the wood stove.  This year we did not bring one or need one.  I had brought the temp gun along just to do some evaluations on how the cabin was performing now that we have some siding on two walls and have “tightened” up the thermal envelope a bit.

In the past we have tended to fire up the wood stove prematurely and create a bit of a sauna in there.  Temp control was obtained by opening a few windows.  This time we used restraint and only had to do that a couple of times.  A couple of sticks burned around 9 and then again at 4 or 5 am was ideal.  In one of the early morning burns I used a lot a kindling and it got pretty hot…in the near complete darkness of a moonless weekend the exit elbow of the wood stove was glowing red.  When I saw that I cut back the inlet and fully damped the flue.  It’s nice to know that IF we did need the extra BTU’s the little Scandia 150 can go the distance with plenty of power to spare.

By the time Sunday rolled by we had our routine down pretty good ( Saturday Night we had -5) and our complete fire wood use for the weekend was about one” mail tub” worth.  We can go through that amount in 3 or 4 hours with the big wood stove back home.

My goals for the weekend were to install the Blue Stain T&G I brought down, install some of the tile trim, install Tyvek on the east and North sides of the cabin, some hardi trim and maybe a window or two…but in practice the weather was not 100% cooperative.  Friday we woke to fresh snow and a light breeze.  The weather did come around a little later so I did get the T&G up.  Keep in mind I’m cutting these 12′ lengths outside using the chop saw…which is run off the solar system.  When installing over dining area I had to tweak one of the wiring runs for the LED’s to get things lined up.  Tori and I were very pleased with this recent lot of wood. This batch was from a different supplier and I think it is a bit better…Not quite as “green” as the other stuff since it is kiln dried and coming from Montana ( the other wood was Colorado local and air dried)   I even had a few boards left to add some more to the upper parts of the South wall. What remains is 2/3 to 3/4 of the main ceiling…the wood part of the north wall and some minor bits in the loft and above the kitchen.  I just keep plugging away as money and time allow.  All of the corners will get some cove molding and the windows will continue to be trimmed in cedar.

New Blue Stain installed over "dinning / bed" area

The weather was even chillier and windy on Saturday so I I ended up just getting the tile boarder up around the black granite, the free border tiles were not suffcient to complete the “column” that would have mimicked the black stove pipe along the back wall. So plan “b” took over and I just outlined the main field.  I’ll have to cut away the excess backer board before the wood gets installed between the two un-installed window locations.

Border tile around black granite is new

On Sunday the weather was calm and clear and I got in some shooting too, I ran some rounds through the new Springfield Champion .45 Semi auto and got to run some longer distance shots with the Winchester 1873 rifle.  The GPS had the distance from in front of the cabin to the target log across the gully at about 220 feet.  With not much wind and the open steel sights I landed a good handful on paper.  That 1873 is still my favorite. Tori finally did a little herself and plinked a bit down in our canyon at our “mini range”.

The truck and woodshed Sunday Morning

Friday morning’s snow continued to melt through the weekend, with the result producing some nasty mud.  This was one of the messier trips at the cabin and a new “Punch list” item has been added to the list…and pushed up near the top.

Get Some Crushed Rock!

Our scraps of decking used as a walk way help but they come up far short in the “keep the mud out of the cabin department”.  Granted our tile floor is easy to sweep and our grout color was chosen to be the exact match of this mud on purpose…but the sticky messy shoes (with me forgetting my slippers was the pits).  I’ll look into getting some crushed rock delivered before my next trip…then we or should I say I, as if Tori and the girls will be man hauling  tons of rock,  can improve the paths and nearby areas out front.

More time and Money….as is always the case.  Progress is moving forward but a bit to slow for Tori…To that end she might kick in some funds to finance a “working trip just for me.  With no kids to care for and entertain, and with my simple solo needs…many things could happen in short order.


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Its raining…again or should I say still?

These last few weeks have been very wet, its been great to quench this summer’s fire season concerns, but I think we can get back to our normal routine.  As I am writing this there is roll after roll of thunder, I enjoy thunder, but it is the rain that is cutting into the home projects.

Saturday...and a good start

Saturday morning things were looking hopeful as we woke to clear blue skies.  My deck has been asking for a coat of oil since the spring temps came up.  It has been two seasons, so I was fully prepared, I labored for about 2 hours and got about 1/3 of the larger area completed.  Tori and I grabbed a buffet at Katmandu and by the time we returned the sky was dark grey and threatening rain.  I switched hats and started work on the retaining wall dig before heading down to get the girls.

After first rain storm of the day

Tori called while I was getting the girls and said a couple more storms rolled through.  Sunday morning the deck was still wet so I started with more work on the retaining wall.  I got the better part of 6 of my timbers cut and installed before I ran out of my 8″ timber lock screws. Later in the afternoon the weather turned nasty again and came down cold and mean with some serious hail…by the time the deluge was over we had about an inch of hail on the deck and the rain gauge was showing a bit over 1 1/2″

A lot of hail

Today (Tuesday) I picked up four more timbers and another box of screws, and will continue with the wall build.

Its now Wednesday morning…the storm yesterday took out the power for a bit and with the continual dance of lightning bolts about the house I took the safe route and shut down the electronics.  I counted a few dozen strikes looking out the living room windows, with about 1/2 of them within a 1/2 mile .  Lets just say it was some excitement.

Wall start

More wall

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Shot off the deck


Last year we spent the 4 th at the cabin…This year I went down for the long weekend but still made it back for the “show”.

Things are starting to get back to normal following my tweaked back from Memorial day…full work days no longer leave me spent.  This week I finished up a subway shower tile project for a client and next week I start a smaller floor tile project for a another client.

Subway tile start


completed tile

On the home front we finally got half a day with no rain…so I started on the deck oiling…we ended up with three separate thunder storms later in the day.  You squeeze in what you can when you can.

Oiling start


Rain rain go away

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With the need to procure ketchup, and insulation, a trip into Taos was planned for Monday morning.  One of my observations at the cabin was that the west exterior window frame and sill was beginning to show some signs of weathering, it had gone through 2 winters with just a coat of primer and was starting to need a boost.  Additionally, the tar paper has become quite ragged in its two winters of exposure, and I had brought down some Tyvek over Thanksgiving but ran out of time to get it up then.

Two winters of wear and tear...Stay tuned for Tyvek.

I was hoping to get some siding up in the first year or so…but the complications and expenses of the Ex’s DUI and My custody battle costs last year took a hit in the cabin build schedule and expense budget.

Late last summer I picked up a gallon of mis-tinted paint at my local hardware store, one of the clerks called it pea soup, but to me it looked a bit like a cross between sagebrush and the juniper at the ranch.  With a price of only $5 the color looked fine to me…Its not too often you find such a good deal on a $25-$28 dollar can of exterior paint.  Even if the color was way wacky, $5 beats even simple primer for value.

In addition to the insulation I picked up in Taos, I got a small can of blue paint (Tori and I had talked about a Turquoise type color for the cabins trim) Tasha picked out one that looked real close…This quart was about $14 and will be used on all of the cabin trim when the time comes. Today it started its role in protecting the outside of the west window.

West Window painting

Before I got the ladder set up and started on the window I set up the girls with a brush and the $5 shed paint…I knew that I would have to finish that job too but at least the girls got the  idea that they were helping…and fulfilling part of the deal I made that I would pay them for helping this week while at the cabin.

Tasha hard at work

I had barely finished the small bit on the window before I had to take over on the shed.  The gallon held out enough to get the front and both sides completed.  The back will need to wait for now…perhaps with another $5 mis tint special.  The final color of the shed will be the same as the cabin.  After it gets sided..but for now the paint will help protect the bare wood.

One step closer to weather protection

The girls finished up the afternoon with a photo shoot of their Blythe dolls, hanging out in the vicinity of the cabin and taking  some other pics.   It was Sierra who got the pic of me working on the window.

Maybelle shot by Sierra or Tasha

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For those that have been following along closely you might recall a gap in my posting and my mentioning of a trip to the cabin for spring break.  I returned late last Friday after a week of mixed work and recreation with the girls down at the ranch.  My main goal was to get more of the tongue and groove interior siding up at the cabin.  When Tori and I were down there for Thanksgiving I got a big chunk of it installed on the west wall, and  a big slug of tile work done.  This trip started with about 400 lineal feet of sanded and oiled boards loaded in the truck, 10 gallons of water, grout for tile, a few sticks of window trim and 50 feet of roof drip edge flashing, throw in two eager children, one big fuzzy white dog, a 12″ compound miter saw,  and a weeks groceries…and there was not much room left.

We left early Saturday morning and made the 6 hour haul in good time with good weather, we unloaded relaxed and popped a cold one…at least I had a cold one the girls had something a little more tame.

More T & G for inside

The quick unload pile

A bit after dark I noticed some slight precipitation, a little mix of some rain and sleet.  I had left the chop saw on the deck and decided to bring it in.  We routinely leave the cooler outside to prevent the ice from melting prematurely.  Sunday morning we woke to about 3″ of snow, which was a complete surprise considering the T-shirt weather we had when we unloaded the truck.

3" of Fresh White at the Ranch.

A small stoking of the wood stove and the inside of the cabin was toasty warm in no time.  After coffee and some snacking I dove right in with the siding for the East wall, since there were no complex scarf joints required I did all of the cutting with the 18 V Dewalt cordless circular saw.  The batteries were swapped out and charged via the solar system and the 1000 watt inverter.  Later in the week I would swap out the 1000 watt with the 2500 watt unit I had brought down over Thanksgiving.  With the idea that it would power the chop saw for a few seconds of cutting every few minutes or so…way more convenient than firing up the generator.  I had tried to run the saw before with the 1000 watt inverter but it fell just a bit short on power.

T &G on the east wall

Next up was more siding on both sides of the “closet” wall. This wall went pretty fast due to the shorter sections, and also not having to slip them in behind the studs of the closet wall as I had to do for the east wall. A bit after lunch and the walls were looking sweet.

Not looking at open studs is indeed an improvement

The wood stock was getting low, and it was apparent that more insulation would be needed to start on the south wall, we also noticed that we forgot mustard and ketchup for the hot dogs…a combined run into Taos was planned for Monday morning.

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Minor Flesh wound


I have been working over a clients home doing a wide array of projects the last couple of weeks (Painting, floor re-finish, trim etc) Once she picks out the new tile color I’ll install that along with some radiant floor heating in her bathroom.  While cleaning out a paintbrush the other day I was informed the the small pedestal sink in the bath was not draining properly. She told me it had been problematic since before christmas…Being the well rounded handy man I thought it might be a simple hairball in the P-trap but after checking that out it, was determined that the problem was further back.  Fast forward a bit….the hairball was found but about 12 feet down stream in the weirdo bends of the ancient galvanized steel piping in the crawl space.  A few attempts at snaking the line from the bath  had my snake going up and out the vent stack. Yes this was visually confirmed.  Attempts at opening the rusty clean out in the crawl space resulted in the bloodshed.  I was tapping the end of the big pipe wrench with a 3 pound sledge hammer and pinched a small piece of skin…It only bleed for a little while and is now nicely cleaned up and re-bandaged.  Eventual rain succes was had by snaking down from the roof vent.

That was the morning’s success, the afternoon success came with diagnosing and correcting a bit of standing water in the bottom of a fancy Fisher Paykel drawer style dishwasher. Maxgyver to the rescue again…. with an in home pump declog / rebuild.  Dishwasher performing back at factory specifications.  After testing the pump out a few times, a full short cycle was performed, while this was running I took advantage of the tropical Boulder weather (43 F)  and replaced the burnt out license plate lights on my truck…Success #3

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On Wednesday I filled up both propane bottles for the shop heaters before heading down the hill.  During the curvy drive into Boulder, one  of the bottles had a “too close” encounter with the driver side fixed window in the back of the truck.  I noticed the bottles moving as they often due…but I did not hear the CRASH of broken glass.  After getting my errands out of the way, I swung by Slade glass to set about getting a piece of Plexi for a replacement, I have dealt with these guys before and have been happy with their work. On Wednesday however they seemed too busy to cut a piece for me while I waited.  Then after awhile of this and that, they said that they did not have it in stock.  I stopped by McGuckins and had a piece cut..I decided to try a thicker 1/4″  piece of plexi…The original window was 1/8″ tinted safety glass…now in 10 million pieces…It took about 2 minutes for the guy to cut it and hand it over…$12.37….Slade glass was quoting $28 for tinted 1/8″…I dont think tinting adds THAT much.

Thursday I spent a few hours getting it cut and shaped only to find that the thicker piece is less than ideal, the frame that holds the window in holds the whole window in …the glass was held in by a bit of caulk and a shaped gasket.  So I rigged what I had and will need to get a thin piece of plexi next.


1/4" plexi in place for now


After getting this 1/4″ piece in place…workable but not perfect I tried to track down an OEM piece…first issue …that my truck capper “raven”  which is/ was made by glasstite does not have any Web presence worth a shit…I finally called Suburban Toppers in Denver…as this the outfit that Wendy and I used to buy the capper on the original Tacoma 17 ish years ago. I got my blue capper from a place in Longmont that is not in business anymore when I got my truck 13 years ago…  The nice guy at Suburban looked it up, and quoted me $250 for the complete window assembly…seemed reasonable…then he said shipping would be $160…WTF.

So with this new insight…my Maxgyver fix plexi seems to be the best option…I jut need to pick up a thinner piece and some clear caulk…I used a dab of white as that is what I had on hand Thursday.

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