We’ve been hesitating to add any blog entries because our progress has been pretty scattered. For example, right now we are currently working on multiple projects: we’re installing our water filtration system under the sink, working on the stovepipe installation for the woodstove, and installing our shower stall. We haven’t finished any of these projects, so instead of waiting until they’re done we figured we’d give you yet another amalgam of updates. So without further ado:
Let’s start in the kitchen. We were lucky to have a couple cabinets donated to our build, both made of maple! We installed those using 8″ long bold bolts that we used to hold it to the floor. Making sure that everything is lined up was a delicate and timely process, but we made it!
We also have wall cabinets! Same deal: they were donated (luckily they all matched!) and we modified them slightly so they would fit. You wouldn’t know that the back left one had 5″ spacers we had to cut off of the sides, and the right one had a plate holder on the bottom. Smooth sailing.
Another thing we did complete was our counter top! It’s made from beautiful cherry wood. We bought three long boards of cherry, planed and sanded them down, attached them using biscuits and glue (internal pieces of wood mortised between each board), sanded them some more, and then finished them. We also had to cut the long piece in half in order to make two smaller pieces for the corner.
Additionally we made a cabinet within the short wall between the kitchen and tub surround. Anything to save a little space!
The woodstove itself and its accompanying wall mounting-shelf are installed. It was a weird install, since we had to line up six screws and their cylindrical metal spacers simultaneously and then screw it in. It took a few tries to get it to work, but now it’s on the wall. Success!
Next we cut a hole in our roof for the stovepipe. Then we installed what I eloquently refer to as ‘the plunger’. It’s essentially a silicone, heat resistant gasket that seals the stove pipe as it exits the roof. From there we needed to wait until our stove cap came in in the mail.
We started by building a short wall between the shower stall and the kitchen. We then put wall siding on the side with the kitchen and then kerdi board within the bathroom stall. It was expensive material, but definitely worth it. Kerdi board is a very lightweight material that is made of polyethylene fabric and a foam-board core. It is often used today for tile and tub surrounds. The reason we decided to use it, besides the weight that is, is because if installed correctly, kerdi is completely waterproof. That means no water can get behind our walls and ruin our day! After we screwed the Kerdi in place, we mixed up some thin-set concrete over the screw holes and around the faucet inputs as per instruction. Then we had to order stainless steel sheet metal (which was a process in itself, which was fitting seeing as how complicated the whole finding-a-tub process has been.
Next, we had to cut some holes in the steel to fit it around our outputs. Stainless steel is a very tough metal that infamously gets harder the more you work with it through a process called “work hardening”. Talk to any metal worker in the states and ask them what metal is their least favorite to work with and you will almost always receive the same reply: stainless steel. As you heat up and cool down stainless a number of times, the steel actually hardens and becomes more brittle, which quickly wears out drill bits and tools. Aside from that, the chromium coating that makes stainless rust resistant can evaporate under high heat and form a toxic fume that is never safe to expose yourself to. It can cause something called “metal-sickness”, which is known for causing light headedness, and even vomiting.
We actually did end up making some simple straight cuts of our own using an angle grinder (and a face mask!) just to make the fit and finish of the panels easier, but we decided to leave the tough stuff for the professionals. For the panel that would be covering the faucet handles, we took our steel to a local steel fabricator and let them use a plasma cutter to punch out the circles we had traced on our steel. It turned out perfectly! Best $60 we ever spent!
After we got the panels cut to the right size, we adhered the steel to the walls using a high-stregnth, waterproof silicone adhesive. Next we’ll be adhering the corner pieces, which are L-channel sheet metal, and then we will install the tub! We ALSO have to set up the gray-water system, meaning drilling a hole through our beloved subfloor, before we install the tub. Yay confusingly tricky problems! We’ve had our fair share of those…
For the shower stall we also built a stand for our tub. This will help keep it from bending and make sure it stays securely in place.
Kitchen Water System
This is a bit too complicated/intricate for me to explain (therefore a bit boring for you), so I’ll keep it simple. We planned to fit our hot water heater (a mini-tank 7 gallon water heater which we picked because it didn’t use propane). We discovered that our sink basin wasn’t quite big enough to fit the hot water heater, so we improvised by cutting a hole in the side of the cabinet, reinforcing the sides, and creating a platform for it to sit on next to our water barrel.
We also installed a Doulton water filtration system. From there we plan to drill holes into the water barrel that will hold our potable water and insert piping leading from the filters underneath the sink.
Outlets and Such
We still have a lot to do, but at least we’re making some progress, piece by piece!