Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Story Behind the Stove

Today I did quite a bit of finish work on the island. I'll let the pictures below tell most of the story, but the progress today consisted of the beadboard on the back side of the island (Deb was getting rather sick of the OSB that has graced it for the last several weeks), finish panels and trim on both sides of the island, and a single course of tile on the front of the island between the two levels of butcher block. About the only things left are the grout for the tile and some shoe moulding around the bottom.

View of the front of the island. Just for a frame of reference, if this were the old kitchen, I would be standing in the back yard when taking this picture. The old wall stood midway between the island and the countertop in the foreground of the picture.

View from the family room.

A closer look at the front. The blue boxes in the island will soon be filled with electrical outlets.

A couple days ago, I finally got the stovetop installed. There's a rather long story behind the stove. We took a chance and ordered a "refurbished" cooktop from the Sears mail-order outlet in mid-October. It represented a rather significant savings over the list price, and this particular model was one we liked, having seen a similar one in a local store.

It took quite a while to arrive, and we were beginning to wonder if we were going to see it at all. When it did arrive, it was very poorly packaged, having been wrapped in a single layer of cardboard followed by plastic shrink wrap. Most of the stuff I have bought on Ebay has been packaged much better than that.

Removing the shrink wrap and inspecting the contents, we discovered that there were a few pieces missing. Deb got on the phone and after an unbelievable amount of phone-tag with several different people, managed to get someone who was able to order the parts. It was quite another job just to describe the parts that were missing so we would have a chance of receiving the correct ones. Deb wisely took down that person's name and direct phone number.

In ordering the parts, the representative also offered to send us some of the accessories that can go with this model; a griddle, a wok-ring, and a few other items. We thought we were all set when these parts arrived several days later.

Fast forward several weeks. I got the countertops all in and ready to install the cooktop. In gathering all the pieces, I discovered there was an additional part missing, a gas regulator and an elbow that I could not match at the local bog-box home improvement stores. Deb called the direct line, and the person recognized her immediately. This time I managed to find an assembly drawing on the Internet (did I mention that the stove came with no manuals or paperwork?) and gave the person actual part numbers.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the elbow was back-ordered until January 19, several weeks hence.

We received the regulator a few days later, and a bag containing 10 gaskets a week after that. then January 19 came and went. Deb called again. Apparently they got something screwed up and ordered the wrong part for us. So now we had to wait another week for the elbow.

When it came, there was much rejoicing in the Friend home. Particularly from Deb, who has been working with an electric hot plate for several months. A rather anemic hot plate that takes forever to boil water.

I finally installed the cooktop. I was half-expecting it not to work due to some missing internal piece, but was rewarded with an enormous flame from the center burner.

We gave it the boil test. We had a pan of water boiling in short order. Life is now good.

The big center burner is meant for high heat stuff like stir-fry. We had a stir-fry dinner the next day. It was done in no time and was delicious.

Although there is still a lot of finish work to be done, the kitchen is now fully functional.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Coat

I now have the metal supports for the island built and in place. Next step is to put the butcher-block top on it. I decided to build my own supports because we just couldn't swallow the $120 each for the fancy corbels they recommended when we bought our cabinets. After doing the math for three of them, it sounded like something we could do better on our own.

The six-foot piece of angle iron cost $14.95. It took some time to figure out how it would all go together, and some time in the barn cutting and welding, but the end result worked out pretty well.

The Plan:

The Product

The Collateral Damage:
While grinding and welding on these supports, I set my coat on fire with the sparks from the grinder. I smelled something different than hot metal, and, looking down, saw a flame crawling up the front of my coat. I quickly snuffed it out. The two layers of clothing under the coat were undamaged, but, had I been wearing less clothing, I could have had a new belly button.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hazard Pay

I never knew that remodeling a kitchen could be such a dangerous job. While making some metal brackets last night to hold up the top surface of the island, I set my coat on fire. Somehow, old nylon jackets and welding/grinding don't go together.

Maybe I should get hazard pay.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Plan is Coming Together

I love it when a plan comes together.

In this case, it's a plan started last June, with the first ground broken in September. The Plan will still take a while to complete as there's still a bajillion details that still need detailing, but things are falling into place:

I had three days off between Christmas and New Year's Day. Perfect time for attacking the counter tops. The above picture has the surface all prepared for the laminate, all I had to do was cut a piece that originally was 5 feet wide by 12 feet long to the right dimensions and glue it into place. Easy, No?

Laminate glued down, with the rim of the sink set on it to show the eventual location of the sink. Managing a piece of thin laminate that big is not an easy task but we managed to get it in place with only a little bit of damage. My camera has been acting up a bit lately and likes to trash parts of some pictures, turning them either plain shades of gray or some vibrant primary color.

With the laminate down and the sink in place, it was time to start on the island. Here the four island cabinets are set in place. We decided to set off the island in a different color, giving some relief from the acres of medium maple color.

Another view of the island after I built a half-wall behind it. The top of the island will be butcher block and will be two levels, the first you can see in the picture and the second will be on top of the half-wall to be used as a breakfast bar.

A view of the island from the opposite side. This was before I cut the eight-foot piece of butcher block down to six feet to fit the island.

After I cut the butcher block to length, Abigail helped by putting the first coat of tung oil finish on it.

During all this, Deb was trying to get the ceiling painted before we put too much nice stuff on the floors and cabinets. She enlisted the help of Josh. He helped out willingly, but painting is not his favorite thing to do.

We had some friends over and they helped us with the floor. After all, what are friends for? It took an entire evening to get the underlayment down. The next evening we laid the tile. Josh managed to get most of the pieces that needed some strange notch cut out of them. The mark he made on this piece doesn't show up in the picture very well, but it had to fit around the refrigerator return in the next picture.

Once he cut the piece for this location, it fit perfectly.

Here the tile has progressed around the island in front of the sink. We eventually finished the tiling a couple days later. Well, almost. We ran two boxes short, so right now we have an area with exposed glue by the garage entry and in the pantry closet. This results in some rather interesting tactile experiences for those guests who come into our house. This glue remains tacky for a very long time, and just about anyone that has come into our house via the garage has ended up with at least one foot in the glue. We've heard various expressions of surprise as they attempt to lift their foot out of the glue and are met with stiff resistance or leave their sock on the floor.

While we're working on getting the remainder of the tile (to prevent our guests from getting glued to the floor), we're working on grouting the whole area. This is a tedious, time-consuming task as our indentured servant, Josh, can attest.