Thursday, September 01, 2016

Office build-along, pt. 5

When last I wrote about my office build-along, way back in June, as it turns out, I'd just stained a bunch of lauan plywood for the backing of my book shelves. Since then, a lot of other things have coopted my time, including major yard work involving mulching much brush and branches, a book launch and signing tour (such as it is), as well as the construction of a tiki bar. I'll do a post of that one soon--I didn't think to do it as a build-along, so that's on me.

The long and short of all this is that my office remodeling project and construction of the built-in book cases has lain semi-dormant most of the summer. Not entirely so, however. I removed several sections of crown molding and baseboards from my office walls that will host said cases, and ripped up some of the cheap laminate flooring to get better access to the far wall. The "far wall" was once a wide open walkway into the dining room, which is what my office was prior to my closing it in with 2x4 studs and a bunch of drywall. I took a few photos of that process when I started it back in 2015, but I can't seem to find them. You can see part of the drywall peeking out from behind the already-installed lauan paneling in the photo below.

Know what else you can see? All the boxes of books and other assorted office detritus I'm storing here in the aftermath of last October's garage flooding. That doesn't make the task at hand any easier, but it's manageable for now. Also visible in the photo below is the "bump" in the corner that is giving me consternation. It's a big load-bearing pillar in the center of the house that utilities are piped up through. The bulk of it is in the kitchen, but there's just enough of it protruding into the former dining room to make the installation of book shelves a tad more challenging.

Here's a closeup of the lauan panel at the edge of the bump. A vertical book shelf support will go here, so I won't panel over this exposed section of drywall.

On the back wall, next to the closed-up walkway is a switch for the light/fan. It's a three-way switch, meaning there's one on either side of the room to control the light. I suppose I could've paneled over it, but I'm reluctant to do that, so instead there will be a switch built into the book case, most likely never used. This necessitates cutting a hole through the paneling for the switch. This is an area I've got quite a bit of failed experience at. I've tried making precise measurements and cutting from that. Never works. While working on The Wife's photography studio, I read of a trick where one rubs down switches/plugs with colored chalk and then press the drywall against said switches. Afterward, use the chalk outlines transferred to the drywall as a cutting guide. Unfortunately, the chalk didn't always transfer very clearly and errors crept in. This time I cast about, hoping to find something more effective. Alas, I didn't think to take any photos until I'd finished. But this is what I did--I got some mouse bait, a type of greenish gel in a squeeze bottle slightly larger than a bottle of eye drops, and applied a thin line of the stuff around the edge of the switch. If you look carefully, you can still see the greenish remnants in the grooves of the white switch I'm holding in the image below. I pressed the paneling against the switch, and I've got to say, the gooey transfer was about as perfect as one could hope for. I marked a rectangle a half inch out from the gooey lines, and drilled out four holes in the corners. Then I used a jig saw to slice the lines between the pilot holes. Placing the panel up against the wall, I was rewarded with a perfect fit. After nailing it into place, I replace the white switch with a brown switch to better blend in with the dark-stained paneling. It almost looks like I know what I'm doing.

Next, I had to clean out the far corner. I'd already removed the baseboard from the far wall, but the baseboard on the adjoining wall was a problem. Lots of stuff stacked against that outside wall could not be readily moved, yet the baseboard couldn't stay there. I ended up prying the end of the baseboard from the wall, and after marking a vertical line at the 12" mark, used the jig saw to make the straight(ish) cut. Not what I'd normally recommend, but I made it work, using a pair of pliers to snap off a few shards of wood that didn't quite get cut. Then I vacuumed up all the sawdust and splinters and drywall debris and other crap that always seems to build up in corners. Judging from the yellowed water stains on the drywall and under floor, the previous owners kept a potted plant in this corner of the dining room and over-watered it on occasion. Fortunately, it doesn't appear to have been a chronic condition and I'm finding no damage beyond the cosmetic.

I just realized I left out one important step--use a stud finder to locate all the 2x4s in the wall behind the drywall, and mark their locations on the ceiling right above where the paneling will cover. Since I have 9' ceilings and the panels are 8', I mark the wall below where the paneling will go. I can get away with covering only 8' of a 9' wall because those cabinets I spent all that time staining will cover the gap. Now comes the tedious detail work. The heads of the finish nails I used to secure the paneling to the wall do not blend well. I suppose I could simply say "They'll be hidden by books. No big deal." But I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive. I'd know the job was only done half-assed. So I take a nail set and tap each nail maybe 1/16th below the surface of the plywood.

Next, I take wood putty--the common Elmer's brand seems easiest to work with--and fill in each hole. The putty's moist, so I mound it slightly to compensate for shrinkage while drying. It's such a small amount of putty that it dries fairly quickly, and I can rub the excess away from the surrounding area with my fingers after about 10 minutes.

The next day--I let it dry thoroughly overnight--I sand all the now-puttied nail holes with super-fine, 400-grit sandpaper. I don't use a sanding block or anything. The areas are so small this goes really quickly. Nice and smooth.

Next, I grab a can of the stain I originally used on the paneling and use the corner of a folded-down paper towel to apply the stain to the putty. I get a little sloppy with it, but there's no worry, as any excess will blend in with the existing stain. Right?

Wong. Remember back when I stained the paneling using Minwax Special Walnut and decided the wood came out dark enough to forego a second, topcoat of Dark Walnut? Well, Dark Walnut and Special Walnut come in cans that look exactly the same except for the actual words on the label, and if one does something foolish, like, maybe, not actually read which stain he may or may not be using, the two could easily get mixed up.

So yeah, I screwed up. I got about halfway through staining the putty holes before thinking those stains looked a little too dark. Then I discovered the excess wouldn't wipe away. The Dark Walnut stain formed irregular donut rings around the putty holes that kinda betray my efforts to make my shelves look all professional-like. From a distance, they look a lot like the dark knotholes that dot the plywood. Up close they look like screw-ups. It still blends better than the naked nail heads or the light putty, but I'm annoyed at myself. Fortunately, this will all be covered up by books, so nobody will ever notice. :-)

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box
Chicken Ranch Central

No comments:

Post a Comment