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The Dining Room Built-In: Structure Complete

The basic structures of the built-in are complete and in place, so the next steps are about details, lots of details.  Therefore, the posts will probably slow down to more of a trickle over the coming days.  When last we met, the first bookcase was up at long last. 

Yesterday, the second one was assembled.  I had already cut all the pieces, including the parts to box in the pipe that runs up the corner.  I used my original, mis-cut base platform... make the parts to surround the pipe in the corner (odd how they've always been exposed).  To cut that big board down, I had to make a couple feather boards to keep thinks tight to the table saw top:
I know it sounds silly, but this is really the first time I've really needed to use feather boards - after all these years.  Like said, I cut the pieces to box in the pipe, then came the complicated parts - assembling them.
That part was not fun - at all!  But it worked out just fine, and once I put the caps on the bookcases, very…
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The Dining Room Built-In: First Bookcase Up!

It's Christmastime!  I know, I know - the stores have had Christmas stuff out since before Halloween, Christmas movies have been on TV since before Thanksgiving, and the radio stations have been playing Christmas music since sometime in between.  But, I'm running late.  I love the Christmas season, and I usually get my porch tree up right after Thanksgiving, but not this year.  Not yet.  Seems every spare moment I've been working on the built-in, a built-in I was sure I'd complete in time for the holiday.  But, as I've bemoaned so many times in this blog - I am terrible about estimating how long a project will take me (although I really think the problem is I overestimate my talent!), even as far back as 2012!
But today I made visible progress!  The first bookcase is up!  Almost a week ago I cut the parts for the case - almost a week ago!  Well, I had a little time today, and it was a little tricky putting it together alone, but I had a great idea...I used a serie…

The Dining Room Built-In: Pluggin' Away

The other day I wrote about how long this project is taking, mostly due to the fact that I'm far from a professional.  This weekend is the perfect example of that.  Yesterday I cut the new base platform because I had messed up the other original one, leveled the base and fed the power line up from the workshop. 
And it all ended up looking like this... Then today, I finished the assembly of the fireplace carcass, and got all the pieces cut for the first bookcase! I'm sure the pros don't do it this way, but to get the sides to be exactly the same lengths, I clamped them together to cut them.  Because of the tall base to the built-in, the bookcases will be 7 feet tall, taking the overall height to almost 8 feet!  I also cut the top and bottom, as-well-as a center span to give the case more structural strength. And I got started on the pocket holes too: It's slow going for sure, but fun too!  Hopefully the next post will have some obvious changes!

The Dining Room Built-In: The fireplace carcass

I keep thinking I want to wait until the whole project is finished before posting, but quite frankly - it's going to take too long, and sharing the progress is half the fun!  The main reason this is taking so long is because I really don't have much time after work to monkey around with the built-in.  Okay, you're onto me - the real reason it's taking awhile is that I'm not that skilled.  Just putting a few boards together takes an incredibly long time...I measure, do the math, set up clamps, measure, do the math and set up clamps again! 
For example, building the fireplace carcass took two evenings, a part of the project that probably would have taken a professional an hour!'s fun for me, a way to relieve the stress of the day.  Here's the first night's work:
That's right boys n girls!  A whole evening for that!  And the rest of the carcass took the whole of the next evening!
Right now the front is just tacked to the rest of the carcass…

The Dining Room Built-In: Meet St. Bart's

I think it was in 1998 that the dining room was first painted - and it's been the same color ever since.  I don't know if that's a statement of the quality of paint, the steadfastness of not fixing it if it ain't broke, or  - is it just a flat-out sad statement!  Either way, it's changing! 
Back in '98, the dining room was painted Missoula Blue by Dutch Boy...
It's been a nice color for the room, went well with the woodwork, and lent a very calming (if not cool) feel.  After removing the old bookshelves, the fading showed, but it was remarkably little fade.  I think you may be able to tell in this picture, look around the top two and right at the bottom of the lowest hole patches: Not too shabby!  I always thought Dutch Boy made really good paint, but I'd have to drive 75 miles one way to Springfield, Massachusetts to get it (isn't that where the Simpson's lived?).   Now, with the new built-in going up, it really was time for fresh paint.  Oh t…

The Dining Room Built-In: The Base

It's real now.  The old bookshelves are gone, and now the base to the built-in has been, well, built!  First, just for posterity, here's the first board all ready to be cut:
When you're working alone, it's always good to have hacks to make the work easier.  Recently I saw a suggestion in Family Handyman magazine to use rigid foam insulation to support the boards when crosscutting.  It worked like a charm!  I used 2x10s for the base, and they're way too awkward to cut on sawhorses by yourself.
One problem I ran into was that the 2x10s were only 8 feet long (96") but I needed 101".  So I married an extra length using pocket screws.  It also gave me an opportunity to use my new Stanley smoothing plane, and my new random orbital sander!  I also had to notch out one end:
One of the things we love about 173 is the woodwork.  It's never been painted (except back in the day in the bathroom), and not trusting my skill level, I thought it better to notch aroun…

The Dining Room Built-In: Away with the Old

It's weird..the things I find myself getting nostalgic about these days.  For years I looked at the Sauder bookcases in the dining room as just what they were - inexpensive beginner furniture.  But now - I find myself reflecting on all those shelves have seen.  After all, they predated the purchase of 173.  When we got them, they were actually a little more than we could afford.  Having just left the military, entering college, and living in Horseheads (yes, you read that right), NY we were living check-to-check.  But we have always been bibliophiles, and wanted some shelves the lend them a little dignity.  I don't even remember where they were purchased, but they looked better than anything we had.  And you know what?  They really didn't look bad...
They just always looked temporary.  Those bookcases have been around for some 25 years, and in the dining room at 173 for all 20 we've been here!  But no longer.  They are no more.  All that remains are the remnants...
I …