I’ve never made a door before

door 1

I’ve made a lot of things out of wood, but never a full sized door.  I’ve made cabinet doors of all shapes and sizes but nothing like this.  Boy, they are a pain in the butt!  Everything has to be dead flat, every cut has to be exactly 90º00’00” , every piece has to be perfectly jointed and fitted with very little margin of error.  It not only has to be straight and flat, but it has to remain straight and flat for a million years, or as long as you plan on using it.

This door ain’t none of that.  It’s construction lumber.  Soft, spongy, warped and twisted.  Despite all that, it actually turned out pretty good, nice and strong with well fitted tongue and groove joinery.  It’s a shed door, and it’ll do its job.

I’ve always seen those homemade doors in old houses and, to me, they are so cool.  Nothing is perfect about them, they don’t open right, they don’t close right, but they just look neat.  This one should last a while, I hope.

door 2

The whole goal was to make something that wasn’t embarrassing to look at.  We get a direct view of this crappy shed right out our back door.  It’s visible from every room in the house except the kitchen and laundry room.  Just wanted it to look nice.

It’s an improvement from the before picture, to be sure.

Please note that we got rid of that disgusting smoke stack.  That right there was worth the price of admission.

Measure fifteen times, cut once

Measure and MarkI’m making a jigsaw puzzle out of tongue and groove boards.  But first I have to cut the boards and make the tongues and grooves.  Some pieces have both tongue and groove on both sides, others have just tongues, others have just grooves.  If I mis-cut one piece, I won’t have enough left over to complete the project correctly.


The Snowball Effect


The bathroom needs to be fully gutted down to the studs and completely redone.  Everything.  But we can do small things in the meantime to make it a little nicer.Knobs and PullsLet’s replace the cabinet knobs.  And the drawer pulls.  That’s cheap, right?  Takes ten minutes.  Just order some nice ones online and install them.  It’ll make a big difference.

HingesOkay, the new knobs and drawer pulls make the hinges look ridiculous.  Let’s get some new hinges.  Find some nice ones on the internet and swap them out.

Lets PaintOkay, if I put new hinges on then I’m going to have to putty the holes left by the old hinges.  You know, may as well paint it.  That’s cheap, right?  Doesn’t take very long.  And that way the holes are completely sealed up.

Oh, if we’re going to paint may as well put some trim pieces along the floor too.  And paint those.  And that’s going to make the walls look awful, going to need to paint them.  And if we paint the walls, may as well get new towel rods.  They’re not cheap, not in the least, but this is our forever house.  Going to want nice towel rods.

Shiny new hardware


Nice, what a difference. But you know, now that countertop and sink look so awful up there.  That stupid two-tone swirled plastic, with fungus growing in the cracks.  I can’t live with that a minute longer than I have to.  There’s got to be something out there we can replace that with.  That’s cheap, right?  Doesn’t take long, just a weekend.

So now we need a new sink and new towel rods and I may as well get started replacing the vanity with some new cabinetry.  And new trim around the windows.  Could use a new fan, too, that thing is awful.  Oh, and the shower doors are disgusting.  And don’t get me started on the toilet (we did get a new toilet seat lid).

Better I guessThis story doesn’t have an end.





Coat Hooks

Coming togetherI’m finally getting to the point where I can work on actual woodworking projects in my shop as opposed to just working on my shop.  Oh my shop still needs work, that hasn’t magically come to an end.  Still a lot to do and not enough time to do it and things are just hard to come by when you live on an island.  But it’s close enough that I could make some boards to hold up some coat hooks I bought.  I had a scrap of walnut left over from something I made probably ten years ago (and yes I moved it from Denver to here) and I really love making projects out of scrap wood.  Resourceful, doesn’t let anything to go waste, and it’s free!

End PiecesAs you can kinda see, it’s just going to be a plank of wood framed on top and bottom by some half crescent trim.  I used a router to make the crescent along the front but I hate to use the router against the grain on hardwood.  I have a good router and good router bits but that’s a tough cut to make no matter what you do.  I’d rather just do it by hand.  Clamp the end pieces down and use a nice smooth bastard file.

Done by handThat’s the edge just with the file alone.  No sanding required.  In fact, sanding will make it dull.  If you use a really fine file, it has an effect similar to a cabinet scraper.  On hardwoods, the effect is a nice, glassy smoothness. They weren’t quite perfect, but this is just a thing to hang keys off of.  I’m not making another statue of David here.

ClampsGlue up time is when you wish you had more wood clamps.  Or different wood clamps.  This is one aspect of woodworking I am really not that good at.  Invariably I get something clamped out of place or I squeeze too much glue out or something just goes wrong.  I’ve learned to live with it and just go with it.  Every piece I make, no matter how simple or how complex, has anywhere from 2 to 55 flaws in it, and the only person who loses sleep over them is me.  No one else ever sees them.

In this case, the flaw is that one of the crescent trim pieces bowed during the glue up, so it was not flush with the back.  If you stand on a ladder and look at the finished coat hanger from the top you can totally see it.  Otherwise, it doesn’t exist.

GlueEvery bottle of glue warns me not to let the glue seep out when you clamp it.  But it’s futile.  A little bit seeps out and bubbles around the joints.  I use gorilla glue for a lot of applications.  Sometimes I use yellow glue, or aliphatic resin, but I usually save that for tongue in groove or mortise and tenon joinery.  When it’s just flat grain to grain, I prefer the foamy, expansive gorilla glue.  It’s not very user friendly but it is more merciful if you have some gaps in your work piece.

I’ve trained myself to just be good at scraping that excess glue out with a razor blade, or a small plane chisel.

PolyurethaneThere are a lot of ways to treat wood to protect it from the elements, but my favorite for indoor projects is polyurethane.  The secret is to give it 3-6 thin coats.  Do not glop it on like makeup on a televangelist.  The first coat of poly should just be enough to soak into the wood.  Just get it wet.  Let it dry a couple hours and smooth it out with a green scrubby pad and put more coats on every two hours.  The more coats you get on it the happier you will be with the results.  I use a brush for small stuff but a nice foam applicator is best for large flat surfaces.

Coat Hooks

Key HooksThe final product looks great.  Naturally they make the paneling look even worse.  And the rest of the house for that matter.  But hey, it’s a step forward.

The board attaches to the wall by means of screws hidden behind the metal hooks. So you attach the board to the wall then attach the hooks to the board.  Simultaneously clever and a pain in the butt to install.  I was hoping to find a stud to secure the coat hooks to but no, they’re just anchored to that lovely 1/4″ paneling for now.  Maybe someday.


Every light fixture that came with this house sucks.



Where did they find this crap?  This is shortly before we painted, and shortly after I sliced my finger on the glass bowl that shattered instead of coming out.

The odd thing about this light fixture was it had a switch but it still plugged into the wall.  However, when we got the house there was no outdoor light fixture.  So it was just sitting there, the only illumination on the back deck, with nothing to plug into.  I did put an outdoor outlet to plug it into but it still offended me that I had to plug the light in.

We are very close to having replaced all of the light fixtures in the house.  Just two more to go.