Kitchen hearth


Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, fun, heating, kitchen, progress | Tags: , , | No Comments »


We’ve started laying the kitchen hearth!!!!! The weather has started getting crisp and cool, and now that we’re living here it feels like time to focus on getting the woodstove in. Evenings are feeling pretty chilly around here. Before we can set up our woodstove we just need to build the hearth to set it on.

So we have these beautiful blue penny tiles that we got back in may. First we looked up size requirements and clearances for our stove. Drew up plans, then taped out the hearth plans at actual size on the floor using green painters’ tape. Ripped out the yucky vinyl flooring in the spots where it was covering up the hardwood flooring. Measured, cut and screwed down cement board.

dogs love to help with renovation projects cement board

laying down cement board. with some help from pups.

We were lucky enough to have some handy visitors at this point, so Gaurav’s partner Caroline pitched in and helped out a whole lot! Before mixing the mortar we had to build a temporary wooden frame to keep the edges of our hearth nice and neat. We did a dry run first, just to figure out how all the tiles fit on the hearth. Then mixed the mortar and slathered it all over the cement board, trying to get an even layer all over, which turned out to be a little harder than expected.

caroline helps measure tiles

Caroline measuring tiles

spreading mortar!

spreading mortar!

And then laid down the tiles! This also turned out to be a little tricky, and we didn’t get them quite perfect, but we did a pretty good job for a first time. We had to let the mortar dry for a while (we gave it a full 48 hours since the weather’s so rainy) and then mixed up the grout. We picked a greyish color called Sahara Beige. It’s a pretty good match for the tile color, I think. Grouting was fun! The whole project was fun.

laying the tiles on the mortar tiles are set and waiting for grout

laying tiles on the mortar; tiles all set and waiting for grout!

grouting the hearth grouting the hearth

spreading the grout

grouting the hearth grouting the hearth

wiping off the excess

It’s really our first project actually building something finished, rather than just demolishing or doing behind-the-scenes stuff like wiring and plumbing. (that stuff is fun too but the results aren’t quite as spiffy.) Now the fancy-looking hearth looks wildly out of place in our messed-up, gutted old kitchen. I still haven’t really worked out what our kitchen will look like, haven’t decided on paint colors or anything. So I’m a little unsure whether this fancy hearth will fit in with the rest of our kitchen, hopefully it won’t stick out too much.

Now the grout’s dry, I think we need to put on a sealant. Then take up the frame and then set up the wood stove! Hoping to have our first fire by Sunday, when the weather’s supposed to turn cold again. And soon we should put some molding around the edge of th hearth. We’re thinking it should be hardwood so we’ll have to make it ourselves, in my dad’s workshop.


Firewood


Posted: August 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: heating, slow progress | Tags: , , | No Comments »


stacking wood

stacking wood

Despite the godawful sweltering heatwave this week, we’ve been thinking about the coming winter and how to store up enough firewood to get by. We’ve got this marvelous high-efficiency, clean-burning woodstove (or so the salesman said; we haven’t tested it out yet) and we’re planning to close off most of the house and only heat two or three rooms, so we think we can get through the winter with around three to five cords of wood. Earlier in the summer we stacked our first cord neatly and moved on to our next shipment of wood, two cords green wood. Before we got through the second pile, the first one fell over! Argh.

wood stack fell over :(

wood stack fell over :(

So I started scheming… How to make a nice solid woodstack with minimal effort? Richard recommends a row of three cinder blocks on the bottom, each one dug into a little hole and leveled, then two lengths of pressure-treated lumber atop the cinder blocks. This gives a nice level footing and keeps the bottom of your stack up out of the dirt so they don’t get all rotten. I decided to add on vertical endpieces, like bookends, and diagonal supports to hold them up. That way we don’t have to fuss around with criss-cross stacking at the ends.

wood stacking project

wood stacking project … in progress

The finished plan called for six cinder blocks, twelve eight-foot pressure-treated timbers, eight giant bolts. Took a bit of trial and error to get it all put together but we did it! We’re hoping it will hold nearly one cord of wood and last a good 20 years or more! If it doesn’t tip over or fall apart. Now we just need to make three more and we’ll be all set!

firewood

the new firewood stacks


Slow motion kitchen


Posted: April 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: photos, progress, slow progress | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Feels like things have been moving slowly these past few weeks. Lots of things have happened but so much remains to do! We’re STILL ostensibly working on the kitchen, but I think we’ve spent equal time working on other various projects lately. So the kitchen still needs more destruction before we can start rebuilding! After tearing out the counters and cabinets we got the sink out and saved it, thinking we may reuse it. It’s not pretty but it works.

kitchen destruction we got the sink out!

we got the sink out!

We’ve gotten wallboard and insulation off two and a half walls, one more wall left to tear out. We need to strip down to the studs on all exterior walls so we can put in new insulation, as the existing insulation looks at least 40 years old and a lot of the old pink fiberglass batting has been eaten away by critters. (how hungry do you have to be to eat fiberglass?!)

ripping out walls in the kitchen! taking down the kitchen walls

left: smashing things is fun! right: peeling away an entire sheet of wallboard

Once we got most of the walls gone, we realized we wanted to take down the ceiling too. It didn’t look too bad in the first place, but once we started poking around in there, we found that billions of rodents (probably rats and chipmunks, maybe mice, who knows what else!) had been living above our ceiling and eating the delicious pink fiberglass insulation, chowing on birdseed and sunflower seeds and piling their empty shells everywhere, building cozy nests filled with chewed-up old shirts and shiny things (mainly quarters and candy wrappers!) and peeing and pooping everywhere. Once we got up on ladders and got close to the ceiling we noticed it really did smell like a rat bathroom. Yuck! So we decided to tear it all down.

Mike working on the ceiling yuck

pulling down the kitchen ceiling

It was nasty work, you’d get a crowbar under one edge of the wallboard and start to pry, and then maybe you’d have to pry out 5 or 6 nails before it would budge, or maybe you’d just pry one nail and whoosh… without any warning the whole thing would come crashing down, sending the dogs running in terror and showering a massive load of shredded fiberglass, sunflower seeds, rodent shit and chewed sunflower shells all over your head. We took to wearing old parkas with the hoods up while working on the ceiling so that at least the sunflower seeds couldn’t go down the back of our necks and leave us shaking chipmunk debris out of our shirts and pants all day.

tearing down the kitchen ceiling stuff that came out of our kitchen ceilings

a sudden cascade of sunflower seeds and rodent-related debris

bare ceiling

bare ceiling after we got all the wallboard and insulation and chipmunk nests removed!

scary old wiring

really scary old wiring revealed when we pulled away all the insulation

We bought our new woodstove!!! We figured that spring was the best time to get a good price on a wood stove. We were tempted to get an old one, but we’re hoping to use the woodstove as our primary heat throughout the long Maine winters (we do have an oil burning furnace in the basement but we only want to use it for back-up), so we felt it would be best to get the most modern, efficient woodstove possible. We ended up going for a welded steel Regency woodstove, it’s not pretty like the old-time cast iron stoves but it has a nice big firebox so that we can load it up and only have to feed it a few times a day, not every few hours, and hopefully it will even burn through the night until morning! Also, the new woodstoves burn much more efficiently, wasting less energy and causing less air pollution and less creosote build-up in the chimney, so they’re just cleaner and safer. And I don’t mind the modern look too much!

the new wood stove!!!!!! kitchen chimney

the new woodstove, peeling back the layers on the chimney

Now that we’ve got the woodstove, we need a chimney. The kitchen chimney had been cut off at some point (probably when the roof was replaced) so it needs to be rebuilt from the second floor up through the roof, and lined and insulated (for safety) and we need a new thimble installed in the kitchen for the woodstove to plug into. We’ve met with a mason and he should be coming back to do the job within a few weeks! So we needed to expose the brick chimney, which had been covered with wallboard. Behind the wallboard we found a frame of 2x4s, behind that many many layers of old wallpaper covering an inch of horse-hair plaster which Mike chiseled off very carefully to reveal the bricks and mortar.

Meanwhile… we’ve also spent a ton of time working on dog fencing. We’re installing invisible dog fencing around the entire perimiter of our 2 acre lot plus our next-door-neighbor’s 1-acre lot. She has three dogs! And we figured it would be impossible and annoying to try and keep them apart, so it’s best to have them all share one fence system so they can play together. We’re so glad to have great neighbors who are into doing stuff and sharing stuff together! Our dream is to let the dogs run around our giant back yard anytime, without having to worry that they’ll run into the busy street in front of our house. They’ll have the whole back yard but they won’t be allowed in the front yard (near the street), only as far as the front porch. Here’s hoping they will enjoy the backyard and not sit on the front porch and bark at passing cars all day… It’s a pretty long process to map out the edges of our property, run electric wire around the whole perimeter and staple it down or bury it, and meanwhile it takes at least a month to train the dogs to understand and respect the invisible fence (they wear collars that beep, then shock(!) if they go near the invisible perimeter). We’ve been training on the fence system that’s already installed at my parents’ house in Gorham and I think they’ve pretty much got it down pat already!

Beatrice

Beatrice is one of the dogs next door! She’s an English Sheepdog puppy, like a crazy happy muppet! She comes to visit us a lot.

And… stacking next winter’s firewood in the sunshine. Still another cord and a half to go. Best to get it done before the weather gets hot.

stacking wood

seasoned wood is already stacked, now we’re working on the green wood.


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