Monday, October 25, 2010


Chairs are done. Here's an enhanced view of the label from the other day:

And here they are in progress (the one on the right is post-refinishing):

And after:

This time I took the easy way out and used and antique furniture refinisher - just cleaned up the chairs, lightly sanded off the paint and other goo, and then applied. Then, beeswax. For the chair that didn't need all the new parts made, I'd say it was only about an hour's worth of work - super cinch! It seems to be perfect for projects like this - when the original finish is pretty good but there are some imperfections, and it would just look a little better brightened up. Two thumbs up!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Crawford chairs, part I

Today I'm working on a bunch of projects that have been languishing in the cellar or garage. This is part of the ongoing project: Cleaning up the Cellar and Garage So We Can Eventually Start Fixing Them Up 2010.

I got this pair of oak, unpainted chairs at an antique store last year for $20 (for BOTH, thank you!) I thought I'd quickly tidy them up and reupholster, and have a nice study pair of chairs that we can put - somewhere. I don't know where. I have this strange chair addiction and I just can't control myself - so we'll find a corner in which to shove them when done.

Last night I started assessing them. One is in very good condition. There are a few places where some A-hole apparently bumped them with a roller full of white paint (what, could you not move them out of the room you were painting, lazy ass?). And the upholstery is just so tacky. Easy fixes, both. A few dings give it nice character. And I think someone once replaced one stretcher - even though they appear to have maybe used maple, they did a nice job so I'm not messing around with it.

Note that the UNDERSIDE of the seat frame is made from gorgeous 5/4 quartersawn oak. Damn, they had nice scraps back then!

The other one is in not so great shape, but it's not terrible.

Someone screwed right into the face of 3 of the 4 legs to 'fix' it.

Also, there's no seat. And, it's missing a stretcher.

And missing a seat support.

But look at the back:

Overall, not such hard things to fix. But a bit more work.

This second chair still had much of its label, which indicates it's from the Crawford Chair Company. Here's more info on that company (thanks, Internet!). So I think these are actually some decent chairs with interesting history.

The label - what's left of it - says: "Crawford Chair...Grand Ledge...High Grade...".
And did I mention they're sturdy as hell? I love oak!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Step on it, Batman!

Now that we're thinking about some new projects, a good garage cleaning was way overdue. So, we spent part of Monday (well, Ken spent it all - I had meetings all morning) diving in and clearing it out. He emptied absolutely everything from the very, very cluttered garage/workshop.

I got home to a driveway that was completely packed with more stuff than we imagined. So we put together a very large pile of scrap wood for Freecycle (gone as of this evening!) and re-arranged and re-organized the keeper tools and materials.

I'm pleased to say it was a big success - you'd hardly even recognize the space, and you can actually move around in there. We really had let it go - like we always do - toward the end of the trailer project.

Tuesday, I had the day off for real. So, at the end of Monday, I left myself a few piles in the driveway, promising to deal with them on Tuesday. One: Shed Step. Two: Bat Houses. Yes, I said bat houses. Three: Sort out all the fasteners/hardware.

I won't bore you with #3, but I'm just about done. Finally. Sorting. Zillions. Of. Screws. And. Nails. Yikes.

#1 - Shed Step: Since we had stupidly fashioned a quick, temporary step after building the shed, the step dropped way down the list. Key mistake: don't make a temporary fix if you really want to do a permanent fix sometime in the near future. It took us, oh, about 40 minutes - 18 months later! - to build the 'real' shed step: 4 or 5 chopsaw cuts on the treads, 3 skilsaw cuts to make the supports and then angle cuts for the decorative edge, and then about 5 minutes of nailing. Ridiculous. But - I LOVE the step! It's so much nicer than the wobbly, non-cedar temporary fix.

#2 - Bat houses. For some reason, once we realized (again, last year) that we had a bunch of leftover cedar from the deck and shed projects, I became obsessed with the idea that we should use it to build bat houses. We do have a bat that flies around the house at dusk in summer, and I dislike mosquitos intensely, so supporting the bat would be cool. So I plowed through the cedar pile and put together all the parts for a Bat House design I found from Mammoth Caves. I ended up with five 'kits', then after a quick bike ride to the hardware store for $1.50 of screen and $1.00 of galvanized nails, had them all together. I felt a bit like I was doing a shop class or girl scout project - it was a bit silly.

Now, We just have to give away a few bat houses - I really only wanted one!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gearing up again

So we're bad, bad bloggers. Although our trailer blog is pretty up to date... that's what's been taking up so much time. Now, though, the trailer is just about done and we're refreshed and renewed to begin again on big house projects.

On deck: the cellar. When we bought the house, the dingy, brown carpeted, 70's paneled cellar was considered 'finished' (a questionable designation), with a main 'great room', a bedroom, and a 3/4 bath. Pretty good stuff overall.

Then it flooded. We've since fixed the problem, between getting the sump pump fixed, re-grading the yard, and generally fixing the drainage. Oh, and we pulled out all the carpeting, paneling, walls, hung ceiling, etc. What's left is a lovely, stud-walled cellar with a grimy 3/4 bath.

The plan is to totally re- do it. Luckily, this will mostly mean re-surfacing everything. We want to put in a little kitchenette so it will be a totally pimped-out guest suite/in law apartment, expand the bathroom so the door doesn't hit the toilet (!) and add the laundry room to the new bath. Currently, laundry is done in the back-back of the basement, which has a raised floor, the oil tank, and no redeeming features - and is going to become just a storage room.

Floor will be something like epoxy paint on the concrete, and a couple of indoor-outdoor throw rugs. Walls will be plastic beadboard or tile halfway up, then probably paperless drywall to the top. Ceiling - we're going to leave the exposed beams, and then paint or whitewash the bays (underside of subfloor). I've seen this in a This Old House cottage, and it looked totally cool.

And, of course, a tiled shower in place of what now resembles the creepy phone booth in which Dr. Who flew around.

A trip to the ReStore yesterday galvanized this shower plan - we happened upon these beautiful white hex tiles, which are almost a half inch thick and look hand-cut! Right after the manager told me he'd loooove to get some tiles out of there. Loud and clear - and 5 boxes of these came home with us ($60, by the way - score!). Each box says "Mrs. Wheat's Bath". Mrs. Wheat apparently had good taste and too many tiles (or changed plans). Her loss, our gain. We'll need accent tiles (2x2, like the green one I'm auditioning here), but otherwise Operation Assemble Basement Parts is rockin'. We almost have everything we need, and will be sketching and prepping to hopefully work on it this winter.

Thanks for checking back in - hopefully the next post won't be so long.