Ray Davies is So Right

showerThe basement ablutions are beginning to wear. But hey – I have a basket – all I need is to put some lotion in it and I’m ready for a remake of “Silence of the Lambs.”

Yes, I could clean it (somewhat, anyway), but my plumber swears he’ll be here this week.

The guest bath has been ready and waiting for shutoff valves etc. for two weeks, the walls are painted and all the fixtures are in the room. Sure, I could finish making then paint and install the trim in the meantime…but then I’d have to shower. In the basement.



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Half of a Sink (or, The Wussy Remodeler)


The finished floor – and the only fixture (part) I wasn’t too much of a wuss to get upstairs without help.

I want my friends to remain my friends (I also want my new tub to survive the move). So I’ve hired a piano moving company to shift the 335-lb. cast iron behemoth from my front hallway to the guest bath on the second floor, and to carry up the toilet and sink basin.  The movers are kindly fitting in my 1/2-hour job  later today, after completion of a proper move in the area.

Yes, Imthisclose to installing the fixtures – good thing, because the downstairs tub is now leaking around the drain so much that I could turn on the water then traipse down to the basement to take a shower. In other words, I need to immediately become a peripatetic bather, simply wait for a good rain, or resolve to not care that I stink.


It took about 1 lb of Tiger Flakes (at a 2-lb. cut) for two coats of the 9′ x 15′ room.

The weekend before Handworks, I sprayed two coats of garnet shellac on the yellow pine floor in the guest bath, both to block lingering faint odors that I could not smell but the cats could (which leads to very bad behavior indeed), and to warm up the wood color.


As the poly was drying, the screen in the back window was slowly starting to fall in toward the wet finish – much anxiety! But it managed to hang in there until the floor was dry enough for me to walk on it. Whew!

I topcoated the shellac with two coats of Bona “Mega” waterborne polyurethane, a low VOC finish that, because there’s no component to add, is easy to apply without having to get the timing exactly right (as is the case with the same company’s “Traffic,” which I used on the kitchen at my last house). The Mega also has less odor than the Traffic – though I’ve read that it’s not quite as durable. I don’t mind; it will be just me and the cats using this bathroom for now (I’m in the midst of designing a suitable base for litter boxes). Once I get “my” bath done (when I win the lottery?), it will be just the cats and the occasional guest using this one (and me, when I wish to soak in a tub – my bath is getting a walk-in shower).

This weekend, I’m skim coating the walls (perhaps only where my novice work will be well-hidden by the fixtures, then later hire a pro for the “show” portions) and painting at least those areas, then installing and painting the window trim on the tub wall (because it would suck to try to do that with a tub in the way).

I’m really hoping my plumber can fit me in early next week – as are my co-workers.


I’m about to be bereft of my current excuse for not yet having finished the stair and hall work. I’m sure I’ll come up with something…

p.s. Many thanks to Montgomery Moving & Piano for taking pity on me.

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Hurry Up & Wait


I borrowed a four-pad random-orbit sander from a nice fellow in the Cincinnati Woodworking Club – thank you Ray! He also has a drum sander, but this floor was already stripped and flat(ish), so I’m saving the drum-sander joy for the rest of the house.

You know what you can’t just pick up at the home center? Any of the supplies or products I need to finish the guest bathroom floor. So thanks to the Internet, I’ve stuff coming from around the country. Because naturally, I couldn’t find everything I needed all in one place.

I spent most of yesterday sanding it up to #120  grit, then did my best with a palm sander and sanding block to knock off the splintery edges I created (oops) while pulling up bits of it to run the plumbing. (Taking out old floorboards sans damage is quite a skill – and despite a fair amount of practice, I’m at best semi-skilled.)

I have garnet shellac “Tiger Flakes” coming from Tools for Working Wood in New York. I’ll spray two coats of that in a #2 cut to a) impart some warmth and color and b) block any lingering odors I wasn’t able to sand out.

From Midwest Flooring Distributors in South Dakota, I’m awaiting a 12″ floor coater and sleeves for it, and a couple trim pads. (I know I’ll need but one sleeve and pad for this job, but refinishing floors is such great fun…I might be doing it again…if not soon.)

And from the shopping aggregator Jet (so it could be coming from anywhere), Bona “Mega” in satin. I’ll put two – maybe three – coats of that atop the dewaxed shellac. Yes, yes. I know – “Mega” is waterborne and not quite as durable as an oil-based poly – but I can’t afford to move myself and the cats out while VOCs dissipate from any sort of oil-based finish. (I used the two-part “Traffic” on the kitchen cork at the old place – a bit stinky, and a limited shelf life once the catalyzer is added. I’m going for the easy solution this time.)

I’m hopeful I’ll have everything before next weekend so I can get the finish done … because for the two weekends after, I’m already booked. This has gone on far too long already!

While I wait, I’m trying to find an expert to pour or fabricate the shower pan for the bath off my bedroom. There’s not much I’m afraid to try…but a shower pan is among the things I’m afraid to try. Poor results could be catastrophic.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying this stunning floor treatment:



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Call me ‘Pig-Pen’


Stupid home inspector. And stupid home buyer for lack of due diligence.

I don’t think Charles Schulz every revealed “Pig-Pen’s” given name; henceforth, let’s assume it’s Megan.

Faced with a drain leak in my only working tub/shower, I called my plumber. I thought the junction from the P-bend-straight bit to the angled bit was the culprit. Nope, he said. The area around the tub drain is almost rusted through. “I can try to fix it, but that will probably break it completely.” Um, no. This bathroom is coming out when I redo the kitchen. It just has to last a little longer. Please.

So I’ll be a) Showering sparingly b) Speeding up the bath rehab from desultory to OH F*CK – HURRY!!! Which means I’ll be getting dirty, and staying that way longer than anyone would like. Apologies in advance to my co-workers.

But for now, I’ve fixed it.


It’s not actually that dire if water gets on the “bathroom” (aka Portal to Hell) floor below; from there, it goes into the floor drain outside the room’s entrance. That’s right – there is no proper shower drain in this “bathroom”… but if I don’t hurry with the second-floor work, I may be forced to shower here.

I’d rather stink.

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Bringing Down the House, Possibly


Load-bearing or not – that is the question. The studs are toenailed directly to the 3/4″ pine floorboards; there’s no plate, and they don’t sit atop a joist.

Above is the wall between my bedroom and the bathroom – and I must cut a doorway in it in order to move forward on my bathroom. Right now, the way in is what will become a shower wall – so I can’t frame that until there’s another entrance.

If I decide on a 28″-wide door (of which there are already two original ones in the house), I can remove a single stud. Plus, I can then cut the plaster to just those studs, and (hopefully) have a lot less plaster repair when I’m done…possibly none, if I can get clean enough cuts, because the raw edges would we covered by the door frame and it’s fluted moulding.

But that would mean building a door frame from scratch, and finding a matching 6-panel door at a salvage yard.

If I put in the door frame I took out of the former hall doorway to the bath, I can simply use the door I have that I know fits it, and it will match the three other doors/doorways already in the room (to the hall, and to two closets). But to do that I have to take out two studs, and take out plaster all the way to the corner on the other side…which will almost certainly result in some damage to the plaster on the adjoining wall.

What to do…

Either way, I’m planning to put in the same sort of triangular door framing that is on what I know is a load-bearing wall…just in case I’m wrong in thinking this one isn’t. After all, that framing has held up a floor above (and a formerly slate roof) for more than a century.


This doorway is going to be the shower entrance; I’m planning to leave the frame at the top exposed, because it looks cool. (The showerhead will be 50″ to the right and about 3″ below the top of the door opening, plus there’s an exhaust fan already installed; I don’t think moisture will be an issue.)


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Banner Reuse/Restore Day

soapstoneThis morning, I picked up my moulding from Quick Strip – and he did a great job. For $80 and a week of patience, four fluted window casings, three cornices and one sill have been stripped of many layers of paint. Now, I have to wait for them to fully dry, then refinish them to look like they used to.

I tested some finish approaches last year on some moulding I’d sanded down to bare wood – a coat of garnet shellac, followed by walnut toner and another coat of shellac looked pretty close – we’ll see if that works out here…I’ll test it on the back, of course.

And on the way home from Quick Strip, I stopped by Building Value – a local, inexpensive re-use and salvage center, just to see what they had (as I do almost every Saturday – it’s only a mile from my house), and found a stack of soapstone slabs that had been removed from a chemistry lab at Cincinnati State Technical College. I was gobsmacked – I’ve been looking for salvaged soapstone for a year, now! So of course I immediately whipped out my check card. The 1″ x 25″ x 6′ slab I purchased for just $60 will become the vanity top in my bathroom. Some day.

While I’ll certainly have to fabricate a lot of the mouldings, stair parts, etc. as I work on this house, I love re-using salvage parts as much as possible, even though it means waiting until the right things show up. Like the chandeliers I need for the living room, dining room and front hall – which reminds me that I need to run down to the Wooden Nickel for a look-see…just as soon as I can find a kind neighbor to help me shift that soapstone out of my car and into the garage.


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Multiple Thicknesses – Who’d Have Thunk?


I found two fully intact cornices, and one almost-intact sill (plus plenty of five-fluted side casing not shown here). It’s all being stripped right now.

Yesterday, I dropped off with a local furniture stripper the original window casings, sills and cornices – which I think came out of the very room into which they’re going back – that I unearthed in the garage. By next Saturday, they’ll be stripped of the multiple layers of paint (and grime). My plan for today was to hang and tape the drywall in the guest bath in the critical areas that would then allow me to install said mouldings (after some repair and scavenging of parts to make a second sill then refinishing), then refinish the floor.

I figure it’s best to have all the large, messy stuff done before tackling that floor.

I’ve had 3/8 ” drywall in my hall awaiting said project for two weeks (last weekend, I had some editing that simply had to get done).

But I forgot the critical “measure twice” rule…or at least I didn’t apply it properly, and measure in multiple locations. Because who would use more than one thickness of drywall in a room – particularly on a single wall?

Well – a former owner would.

Under and around the window, I did indeed need the 3/8″ drywall, so that’s now screwed in place. But it turns out that to patch the Romex channel behind where the sink will go, I need 1/2″. And to fill in what was a doorway to the pantry (now part of the shower) that is alongside where the toilet will go, I need 5/8″. And it’s raining – not a good day to strap drywall atop the Outback.


At least I got some of it in.

My guess is that whomever last re-did this room used whatever drywall he or she had on hand. New elevation or new wall? Grab whatever there’s enough of to cover it.

At least I get out of mudding for the day – no sense in mixing up joint compound until all of the patches are in place.


I suppose I could clean up some of my mess in the meantime…


…but I want to enjoy the lack of a trash pile for just a little longer.

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