• Bay window trim (almost) done.

    Posted by Steve on Thu, 02/15/2007 - 6:32pm


    Sheesh. Another "almost" cop out.

    The issue here isn't woodworking but thermodynamics. The steam radiator that Richie from Sessa Plumbing installed is something called an "element". An element works on the convection principle: as hot air rises off the element, it expands and exits through a grill at the top. This creates a low pressure area underneath which pulls in cold air from the floor through a grill at the bottom. An element radiator usually comes in a butt-ugly metal cabinet. It's what that missing panel under the middle window needs to replicate.



    I'm gonna give you a private snapshot into how my disturbed mind works, or at least as private as a few hundred hits/day can be. Then maybe you'll understand why this bedroom renovation is taking me forever.

    Because I don't have that cabinet enclosure, I don't have a clue if this vent "engineering" involves some rocket science.

    For instance, how large should these vents be? Is a smaller vent more efficient than a larger one because it means greater air velocity, throwing heat further out into the room? Or is a larger vent better because there would be less resistance? Should the intake vent be larger than the exhaust vent because lighter, warm air is going to exit faster that heavier, cold air will enter? Or should the exhaust vent be larger because the warmed air will expand and have more volume? Should I reduce the internal volume of this cabinet with styro-board so the intake air can only pass over the element? And does any of this really matter?

    Yeah, I obsess over stupid things (if it's zero degrees today and the weatherman says that tomorrow is going to be twice as cold, what does that mean?) But this radiator is the only source of heat in the master bedroom so I want to get it right. These possibly academic questions have gotten me stalled trying to finish off this window. Maybe I'll obsess on the wainscott shelf for a while.

    Anyway, the outside panels are already done and installed. They'll get a bolection moulding treatment later when I learn what router bit set I need to cut these things. I'm just surprised that none of the router bit manufacturers sell such a kit, as they do for raised panels and other trim elements. I mean, Rockler has a four-bit set for making frikkin miniature train tracks! But not for bolection moulding, which is a mainstay in old house trimwork??

    Anyway, I hope I get some answers at the Somerset Woodworking Show this weekend. Otherwise I'm gonna have to wing it somehow because I'm stuck on having those bolection mouldings frame the panels. As is, I think the wainscot, window and door panels look too stark and unfinished.

  • Ten gallons of sawdust later...

    Posted by Steve on Thu, 02/22/2007 - 4:03pm


    I finished cutting 208 feet of bolection moulding for the wainscotting in the bedroom reno and guess what? I needed 216 feet to complete the job, dammit! I knew I was cutting it close (literally) but I only had a couple of (expensive) red oak 1x8s left which I need for the wainscotting shelf. I'll dig into my red oak scrap pile and cut the remainder this afternoon.

    Anyway, I was right. A bolection moulding a/k/a inset panel cap moulding a/k/a rabbeted panel moulding is just an inverted base cap profile with a rabbet. After my router bit quest, I settled on a $28 base cap bit from Woodside.

    So it was back to the shop to rip a bunch of red oak to the 1-1/4" width I needed for 26 eight-foot blanks, which I thought would do the job if I planned my cuts carefully.

    Man, this shop needs cleaning and reorganizing after six months of this renovation!

    But what started off as a two bit job (hey!) became three bits. I didn't like the abrupt return to the panel so I modified it with a step down. These are the three bits I wound up using to cut this bolection moulding.

    From left to right: the base cap bit, the concave bit and the rabbeting bit. Pretty colors!

    The set up was the most tedious part of the job, which is why I'm so annoyed that I have to go through it all over again for another eight feet.

    I ran some test cuts of the base cap bit on scrap plywood until I got the depth and length I needed. This was pretty much established by the fixed profile and length of the bit but you still need to set up the fence and vertical depth on the router. Then I ran a bunch of 1x6 oak through the table saw to get the 1-1/4" width of the bit profile. Why 1x6? Because the leftovers gave me the stock I need to cut the quarter-round shoe moulding I'll need after the new floor is down, if three times as much as I'm actually gonna need.

    Then it was four passes through the router, dropping the fence back in steps to avoid chunking the wood. You never want to cut deep profiles in one pass because you can damage the bit, the collet and especially the wood. Ask me how I learned that one. The last pass was barely 1/16" deep to shave the surface smooth.

    Next was a concave bit. I didn't need the concave; I needed the very bottom edge of it to create that little step down.

    Finally, using a 3/8" depth pilot bearing on a rabbeting bit, I made the dado for the back. This creates a recess for the raised rails and stiles of the wainscotting and hides that square edge.

    ... and here, at last, is the finished profile.

    Whew. Next time, I think I'll spend more time looking for prefab moulding. Probably twenty bucks worth of red oak was sucked up by the dust collector.



    Anyway, here's the result. I think it made those rather dull panels pop! It's a bit more formal than I was originally going for but as Kathy commented on the blog, I'd never be happy with the plain, square-edged paneling. Here is what it looked like before the bolection moulding.



    And here's a view towards the bay window.

    ... and finally a little fisheye of just the panels.

    And, now, on to the shelf for the top of that tall wainscotting. I was going to do this with plywood but decided to do it in solid oak instead, mainly because I'm too lazy to make a trip to the lumberyard.

    I also found the radiator vents I needed for the center panel at Atlanta Supply. I just have to modify it because it's an angled baseboard vent. I was originally looking for a decorative cast iron vent but I couldn't find anything in the size I needed that also didn't cost as much as the radiator.


  • Maybe a roof rack?

    Posted by Steve on Sun, 02/25/2007 - 9:59pm


    Not counting the 12 year-old Pontiac wreck I owned for all of four months and on which I managed to put maybe 400 miles before I donated it in disgust to a charity, my 2001 VW Golf is the first car I've owned. I've been a motorcyclist since I was 18. When I lived in Manhattan, it was all I needed, or wanted. But when I moved to a 'burban house with a garage, I had to get four wheels, if only for lumber runs. That's pretty much all I use it for too. I've had the car for six years and it just broke 14k miles on the odometer. I put more miles than that on my last Harley in the first year I owned it.

    Whatever, the Golf is perfect for me. I hate SUVs and the VW is small, quick and nimble -- something like a motorcycle. And it can carry a surprising amount of stuff with the rear seat folded down, like the ten eight-foot boards I hauled home today. What it can't carry is plywood. Not even half sheets. And that's a bitch on a day like today when I needed a sheet of birch ply to build the drawers for my bedroom cabinet. The nice manager at Lowes kept slicing it up for me till it fit.

    Speaking of which, Lowes sells pre-cut plywood. But how come a 2x4 piece of red oak ply costs $29 and a full 4x8 sheet costs $43? That's a $37 surcharge per cut!

    Anyway, I completed the wainscotting shelf and final trim. The next time I touch it will be to sand it prior to stain and finish.



    This isn't exactly a wizard's trick, but I thought I'd mention it anyway for the folks who are new to woodworking. When you need to butt joint two boards in the same plane, like a long baseboard moulding, use a diagonal miter to join them. It hides the seam better. In an application like this if the boards shrink you're less likely to see a deep gap on the edge. Here, I used a 15-degree miter and bevel, with the miter facing away from the most visible vantage point (the doorway into the room).

    Okay, one tip: when you make that miter cut, cut the other board on the opposite side of the blade before you change the blade setting. The reason is because even a quarter of a degree of difference can be visible on a wide board.

    I'm really not looking forward to the sanding job I've got ahead of me.

  • Aaaand... done!

    Posted by Steve on Sun, 03/04/2007 - 11:23pm


    I completed all the woodwork on the bay window unit today. I won't play conquering hero either. With the weird angles and different depths of the windows, the embedded convection steam radiator, and more than a couple of measure-once goofs, I was very lucky to get through this without a major screwup.

    This weekend, I completed and installed that removable grill in the center of the windows. This was also a bit of work. There are seven boards and two store-bought but modified red oak grills in that face panel, all of them biscuited together with waterproof glue. I wanted no chance that heat and steam from a leaky air valve would cause problems with that lamination, as it did in the dining room cabinet. I was going to do some router scroll work between the grills. I caught myself just in time. It would have exposed those embedded biscuits.

    Because the panel needs to be removable, I used some old-style cabinet spring catches. Sometimes a 99-cent solution is the best.

    By the way, the convection works! Tonight turned very cold again so the heat is cranking. I checked the convection with a cigarette but you can actually feel the breeze from the top vent.



    I also added an additional trim detail to the windows: a standard door stop strip that I tarted up with a fluting bit. You can't really see it in this picture but I think it helps frame the windows a bit better. My flash photography skills suck but, trust me, it looks nice in the daylight.

    One thing I definitely want to do is something about those stark white aluminum windows. Once the woodwork is stained and finished I'll probably paint them, color matched to the trim.

    Next up: the drawers and doors for the cabinet, the doors for that "attic" cabinet over the closet and the frames for that window into the hallway. I probably won't get to the stained glass for the cabinet and window until this summer. While stained glass is basically just wood joinery using broken glass, it's a completely different design mindset than woodworking so I'll wait to do all the glass projects at the same time. A couple of those jobs have been on my to-do list for at least three years.

    I've always maintained that this room reno would take me seven months. Well, it's Month Seven and I still have a lot to do. Besides the woodwork finishing, the two big projects looming are finishing off the closet interior (cedar, clothes pole, shelves in back) and laying down the new floor.

    I hope it's finished by May. But then what will I blog about?


  • My cute l'il attic

    Posted by Steve on Mon, 03/12/2007 - 1:09pm


    I built and installed the doors for the "attic" over my new closet. This being a row house and all, it's the closest it will ever come to actually having an attic.

    These doors were another scrounge job. It's leftover lumber and red oak plywood from the wainscotting and earlier projects. I'm on a kick now to reduce my lumber scrap bin.

    I think I did a pretty fair job of matching the pre-fab closet doors below. But I'm really undecided about whether to leave them like this or if it needs some additional trim element to finish them off. I'm undecided.

    I'm posting this as a community question. Should the lower closet doors have crown moulding over them like the windows and other doors? Or will this look weird with my "attic" doors above them? Do those "attic" doors need a little more tartin' up or are they fine the way they are? Any other suggestions?



    I know I still need to add door knobs to the closet door but I'd love to hear your opinion. So...

    Am I finished with these doors or not?


    Anyway, this week the work starts inside that closet. The closet's not walk-in size but it's pretty decent: 8'6"W x 36"D x 7'0"H.

    Due to the hallway outside, it's actually sort of L-shaped, which you can kinda see on the right in this shot. My neighbor, Betsy, calls the bump out at the rear of the closet my "panic room". It's where I intend to stack a couple of Borg shelf units for dead storage.

    I decided to build a raised, angled platform on the floor for shoes. This was inspired mostly by my desire to get rid of a couple of long, narrow pieces of plywood taking up room in my shop. But it should make it easier to keep the closet floor dust-bunny free, and with both a long-haired cat and dog that's kind of important.

    I had a quick shock last week when I looked in my current closet and thought I saw a dead cat in the corner. It was a giant ball of dog and cat hair. With all the construction going on I haven't exactly been Martha Stewart here.

    I decided to panel the inside of the closet with cedar planking, including the ceiling. I went to Lowes today but they only had about 20s/f of it, in fact the same 20s/f I've seen there for the past month. So I wound up at the Coney Island Home Depot, which had a lot of it. I drove home with 140s/f in my little VW Golf, and with the windows open because of the intense odor of this stuff.

    Maybe several years of working with red oak has warped my sense of wood aromas but I don't remember cedar smelling this, well, toxic. Years ago, I finished a recording studio with solid red cedar and remember loving the fragrance. This stuff smells more like insecticide. Yes, I know that cedar is naturally insect-repellant but I don't remember it smelling like DDT.


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