Building with Wood

Finished Bathroom

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I finished the bathroom. Finally! Everything but the tub is new: floor tile, toilet, vanity, vanity countertop, mirror, vanity light, vanity mirror, humidity-sensor fan, shower tile (with alcove!), shower faucet hardware and vanity faucet hardware, towel hardware, painting and baseboards. I did all the tile work myself, though the only thing I plan on writing about it is this: tiling hurts. It’s hard on your back, and really physically demanding.

So glad to have it done. Don’t think I’ll be starting on the other bathroom anytime soon.

Bathroom Mirror

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The resawed chunk of 2×6 alder.

I made the vanity mirror from a chunk of alder I had, cutting it down from 2×6 into useable pieces. Above is view after I cut it in half on my table saw – it’s hard to tell, but there’s two pieces there. I hate resawing wood on my table saw, as it takes a bunch of passes, and is a terrible mess, as the sawdust doesn’t seem to want to channel down, but up. And that last pass which actually completes the cut is nerve-wracking!


Here are the two pieces, which I have now turned into four. Notice the saw marks and unevenness from the re-sawing. I’ll fix that with the planer.



Much better! Sorry but I don’t have any picture after this. :/ Basically I cut the lengths to approximate size, routed a rabbit to fit the mirror into, and then cut the miters and assembled with biscuit joints. I cut the rabbit deep enough to accommodate a 1/4 piece of plywood which matched the mirror size. Then I used picture frame turn buttons to secure both the plywood and mirror in the rabbit.

Bathroom Vanity & Countertop

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Here’s the installed vanity and the counter top I made for it. I made two backsplashes too, which aren’t in this picture. I used metal brackets (that I made in a welding class) to secure the vanity to the wall. I measured how high I wanted the vanity, allowed for an additional 1.5 inches of countertop, and then cut out the sheetrock on the studs to just fit the brackets. I then screwed the brackets (I had drilled holes into them) into the studs with two big ass lag screws each. As it happens, the partial back of the vanity completely covers this up, so I didn’t bother to patch it or anything. I used a “countertop” mix I found at Lowes, which is the first time I’ve strayed away from the Quickcrete 4000. It’s four times as expensive, has smaller rocks, and seemed less heavy than the 4000. The base color is also lighter – more white than grey. It seems more vulnerable to hairline cracks, which I’ve never had a problem with before, but maybe it cured too quickly. At any rate, I didn’t want to spend much time finishing it, and I don’t think this mix is meant to be ground down much, if at all. Probably you could even hand finish it with wet/dry sandpaper. I used a wet grinder on it, though, and the edges are a bit rough, and some grinder marks remain on the surface. I rather like it that way, though, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to get it perfect.



Poured forms

Here’s the poured shapes. The cat shape was for extra concrete, and is now used as a doorstop. You can also see bolts sticking out, which would have worked great for clipping the sink in, had I accounted for the lip of the sink better. I only could use them on one side in the end, and had to saw two of them off. Otherwise they would have made installation of the sink dead simple, and super secure.


Empty mold with knockouts for sink, faucet and leaf shapes for backsplash.

Here are the empty forms, which are nearly ready to pour. You can see they are pretty sloppy – the silicone is messy in places. I don’t think I even masked to caulk these, which I sometimes do. Most of the forms are held together with brads, with a few screws just to be safe. I also didn’t use any sort of reinforcements to the sides of the forms, which Cheng recommends. (I generally use his methods, though, and his products.) You can also see small pieces of carbon fiber that I used instead of wire mesh or rebar. I wanted to try it, as the rebar and mesh really adds a lot of weight – and I managed to score some on Craigslist. In general it’s hard to find, though. The big piece I used isn’t seen in this picture.

I should have sprayed oil on the foam leaves, they were a pain in the ass to get out of the concrete. I used spray adhesive to stick them down, which also was a mistake – I think a think layer of silicone would have worked better. I had a lot of seepage underneath, which messed with the leaf shapes in places.


Bathroom Cabinet Doors

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Cabinet doors (after)



Cabinet Doors (before)


Here’s essentially the before and after of the bathroom cabinet. After I had the doors off, I used the opportunity to put a new paint of coat on the shelves and the walls, so that once I had new doors on the whole thing would feel fresh.

I actually made my own alder cove trim to match, but haven’t installed it, and won’t until after I paint.

Below is one of the cabinet doors during glue up.

Turning it inside out: the Reverse Ranch side table

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The first step to remodeling the bathroom cabinet was taking off the face frame and doors. (The replacement doors and frame will be shown in the next post.) The face frame was 2″ pine in varying lengths and the doors plywood. Once I saw the backside of the frame, the side that had been hidden and half-painted for 50 years, I knew I want to use it to make something. I started with a simple box, and then used the cabinet doors to make a fitted lid and tapered legs.

I love its graphic nature, and that it shows the hidden history of the bathroom and wood: the layers of paint and hinges, nail holes, original carpenter’s marks, and the color of paint chosen over the years, including bits of mustard yellow!

The original face frame was doweled together (and stapled), so I used biscuit joints to make the panels, then used dowels to make the box and attach the legs as well.




Pre-tapered legs

I made a jig to use for tapering the legs, but didn’t think to take a picture of it. Will try to remember to post later.