In a Previous Post, I wrote about our new french doors for between the living and dining rooms. Last night, with my new table saw, I ripped about an inch and a half off of each of 3 edges on the two doors. I left the knob edge alone on one door because I didn't have the space to countersink the lockset. One door will have a very wide panel, but that's OK. It'll look a little weird, but that's alright. Now that the doors fit the space horizontally, I'll need to plane them perfectly straight, chisel in 4 hinges, 2 sliding rod locks and a strike plate, then strip all the paint off of them, sand, and refinish with at least 6 coats of polyurethane. I just hope they'll look decent after all that work. If they don't look nice in a natural finish, then they'll have to just stay white. More photos upcoming...

Last winter, we discovered that the cabinets in the north-west corner of the kitchen were noticeably colder than the room. When we opened the turntable corner storage thingie or any of the drawers, a cold draft blew out at us, especially on windy days.

By taking up the kitchen cabinets, I hoped to also take care of the draft once and for all. The drafty spot is impossible to get to from the basement, because the gap between the first joist and the top of the foundation is only about an inch. This leaves an entire joist bay next to the mud sill and above the foundation completely inaccessible and uninsulated.  Instead of breaking chunks out of the top of the foundation, I decided to go in from above, under the cabinets.

Once we ripped out the cabinets, it was relatively simple to cut a hole in the floor. I first drilled some 1/2 inch holes, and then connected them with a reciprocating saw until I had a hole big enough to stick my arm into and a clear view of the top of the foundation.

Once I had a chunk of flooring out, I realized just how big a problem we had. Not only was the floor 2 inches thick (4 layers of flooring), but the hole in the foundation was at least the size of two quarters and I could see sunlight. There were many loose stones laying on top of the foundation, so my first task was to remove anything that came up easily, then vacuum up all the dust, sand, dead bugs, spiderwebs, and bits of wood that were down there. Once the shop vac was full of crap, I sprayed Dap expanding foam into all the nooks and crannies I could find. I prefer the Dap product to Dow's Great Stuff because it washes off with WATER. Even when wearing gloves, I manage to get the Great Stuff all over my hands and clothes. The only way to get it out of clothes is to immediately scrub it with acetone (nail polish remover). I'll stick with the water-based Dap, thanks - It doesn't expand as much as Great Stuff, but it does a plenty good job.

Before the foam had completely set, I cut bits of pink styrofoam insulation and layed them on top, then sealed the pieces all around with more expanding foam. When I figured the job was well enough complete, I wrote my name and the date on the foam, for future generations, and sealed the hole back up.

As we replace the rest of the cabinets and the stove, I'll repeat the process a little further down the line, until we're sufficiently draft-proofed on this coldest end of the house. There's also a similar situation happening, right under the back stairs - the floor will have to come up there as well.  I wish home builders would think more like ocean-going boat builders.  You need to have access from the inside to any exterior walls or bulkheads, in case of a leak.  In the boat's case, that would be water - air in the case of a home.

I need to research a pourable two-part expanding foam, or maybe a sprayable product for these hard to reach spaces that need to be sealed up completely. I would venture a guess that sealing behind the mud sills could prevent up to 15% of the house's heat loss, simply because of drafts.

The kitchen, before the cabinets were removed.  The draft in question was directly under the turntable at the far corner.
Turntable removed in the north-west corner of the house.
A hole through the 2 inch thick flooring
The draft!
In the joist bay, looking the other direction (to the east) The lighter bit to the right is the basement!
No one can say we haven't left our mark on the house now.
Here is (some) of the new cabinetry.  This shows the new sink just after we put it in, and the dishwasher unit (sans dishwasher)

Our basement stairs are hidden behind a door right off the very small back hallway. The small area behind the door is mostly useless in terms of storage - lots of vertical space, but no way to get to any of it because you have to stand on the stairs. To improve usable space in the back hallway, increase storage, improve insulation, and generally open things up a bit back there, I decided I would build a folding, insulated hatch to cover the stairway. The other day at the ReStore, we picked up a few very heavy hinges. They appear to be "door closer" hinges, which have a spring inside to automatically close the door. They're MASSIVE and look like the three of them could easily support a 300 pound door. Maybe I can use them to help keep the hatch up when it's in the open position. Last night, I spent a little while in the garage, cutting scrap 2x4s and screwing them to the plywood hatch. I snapped a couple of screw heads off while tightening them down, so I had to countersink each screw head. It's a good thing I was screwing into plywood underlayment because I made a MESS of the wood surrounding the screws. This weekend, I should have the 3 hatch parts connected by hinges and ready to install over the basement stairs. I'll take a few pictures of the hatch. Stay tuned in the next few months because we might just knock out the whole wall that separates the back hall from the stairwell!

A few months back, we bought a small propane-fired heater for the garage. I've read up on safety concerns with propane or kerosene heaters, so I plan to install a carbon monoxide alarm in my work area so I don't run the risk of asphyxiating myself. Most of the problems happen when people leave them on and go to sleep. Anyway, the heater should provide a warm spot in the garage for when I need to work out there on cold days, but heating the whole garage with a small heater like this would be impossible. The other day, we bought 6, 4x8 foot sheets of OSB (oriented strand board) for $30 so I could enclose the back corner of our garage and heat just that part instead of the whole thing. Today, I constructed the "Man Cave". The first part was easy - take a couple of sheets of OSB, stand them upright, and screw them to one of the rafters. Next, I added the door. This was an interior door that we took from a demolished closet upstairs. To add the door, I had to reinforce the hinge points with 2x4 blocking. It's a hollow-core door, and pretty light. The rafters are 4 feet on center, so to make the second wall, I had to cut notches in one top corner of each panel. I tied the OSB panels together with 2x4 and OSB scraps and all purpose screws. The final two sheets of OSB went on top of the rafters, to make a 'roof'. This prevents the heat from escaping and provides for a lot of extra storage space above the cave. I cut and nailed one 2x4 support between two rafters to help support the 'roof'. I plan on adding many more of these, probably every 16 inches, to adequately support any load I put up there (which may include myself, if I have to crawl around up there. I finished it off a bit with some old license plates on the wall. Every good man cave has to have some license plates, right? It really won't take that much to heat, because I plan on insulating it on all sides with fiberglass batts. We bought quite a bit of fiberglass last winter that we haven't used yet. Hopefully, this will provide a warm space to take care of those messy winter projects we don't want in the house.

Here it is with only one OSB panel up (behind the green cabinet).
Here's a close shot of the finished workshop space
The inside of the workshop. More 2x4s will be added. There are old cabinets in here from 4 kitchens. 1940s, 50s, 60s & 70s.
The inside of the workshop. The door, with visible hinge support blocking and my shop light.
The cave from outside. The 'no trespassing' sign warns those who might seek to intrude on the man cave.

WOW, was it ever nice out today. High of 69 degrees after weeks of bitter cold with lows reaching the 20s!!  Winter hasn't even arrived and I'm already sick of coming home from work AFTER the sun goes down.

Anyway, with our beautiful sunny Saturday, we drove up to Madison with the 'ugly truckling', my beloved '86 toyota pickup, and bought 6 sheets of oriented strand board (OSB) for some garage workshop divider walls, and one very nice (and expensive) sheet of 3/4 inch plywood for my folding basement hatch project (upcoming).

On the way home, we decided to swing by the ReStore to see if they had any goodies. I was eyeing a full set of wrenches for $14.50 when Zoe called out for me to come look at something. I went to look, and discovered her by the doors.

We've been looking for french doors to go in between the living and dining rooms ever since we moved in, but it's hard to find doors to fit the space. (It's very tall and relatively narrow, (83 by 56 inches)

Well, one look at them, and a quick size check and we knew we had to have them. These doors are too short and too wide (figures), but unlike all the other doors we've looked at, they CAN be modified to fit. There's enough meat on the stiles (the side bits) to allow us to cut about 3/4 inch off each side, and the rails (top and bottom bits) are flat and smooth enough to scab on a bit on both ends to make up the ~4 inch gap. They have very solid, quality hardware, and nice old glass, with minor imperfections like bubbles and waves in them.  Pristine, flat glass just wouldn't look 'right'.

One of the doors in place next to the red curtains we've had there since last winter to keep the drafts at bay.
Another shot of both doors
Bella approves! She's the only cat I know who likes to lick windows when you scratch her back. Weirdo.
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