Handy Tools!

I recently started a renovation on our upstairs bathroom, replacing the old shower, and converting an un-used sauna into a laundry room.  Removing the old shower tiles (2 layers of tiles!) was a big job, and there were also some floor tiles leading into the shower I needed to remove.
I did a bunch of online research, and decided to try out a Dremel Oscillating tool, that I purchased from Home Depot.  The kit came with a grout removal tool, and it worked great!  There was some subfloor that I needed to remove, and using the saw blades that were also included with the kit, I was able to make a perfectly flush cut, so the new subfloor would fit perfect!
The Dremel tool had a nice quick release/locking mechanism to make blade changes easy.  At the back of the handle, there’s a dial to adjust the speed.
Unfortunately, after having the tool for maybe 2 weeks, the on/off switch became extremely hard to switch on, and when I was finally able to move the switch, nothing.  It was dead.
Home Depot refunded my money with zero hassle, and unfortunately again, they had no stock of my second choice tool, a Dewalt.

I ordered the DEWALT Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit from Amazon, and I’m really impressed!
The Dewalt tool doesn’t use a sliding switch, instead it has large a variable speed trigger along the bottom of the handle. There’s a button lock to lock the trigger as well.
The quick release blade change system is even easier to use than the Dremel tool, and the Dewalt kit also included a universal adapter to allow other blades to be used. Only downside is that a hex wrench is needed to lock blades in place when using the adapter, but the wrench is included.
There’s an LED light to see into darker spots (would have been nice to have when doing some of the cuts I had made with the Dremel).
I large carrying bag, and a plastic accessory case is also included, along with a bunch of sanding pads and a quick release sanding pad holder.
I had been skeptical about these tools in the past, but after having one, I regret not getting one sooner. The ability to make very precise cuts, flush trimming, and being able to cut a variety of materials, really makes it an indispensable addition to your tool collection!

Progress on the tables

Have been negligent in posting updates on the side tables and coffee tables that Keith and I have been working on – Keith has been doing the lions share of the work – and I’ve been helping after I finish work when I can, and on the weekends.
I was experimenting with a staining technique that I saw on a recent episode of ‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’.  A solution of iron acetate is brushed onto the wood, and it reacts with the tannins in oak, darkening the wood as the solution dries.  The effect is quite dramatic!
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These pieces of wood have been brushed with the solution.  The shinier surface the oak is sitting on is my cedar desk, which was brushed with Minwax Ebony stain, and then a coat of semi-gloss varathane.
The solution is easily made simply by ripping up a couple pieces of clean 0000 steel wool and placing the pieces into a glass jar (I used a 1 litre mason jar).  Fill the jar with household white vinegar.  Fold a plastic straw in half and use the ends to push the steel wool down, so it’s completely submerged in vinegar.  Seal the jar, and punch a few holes in the lid – this is important – otherwise you could end up with an explosion of glass & vinegar solution!

IMG_0386Here’s a side table all assembled, and waiting for stain.

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Here are all three tables, stained and getting the first coat of a satin polyurethane.  I’m second guessing myself as to the finish – I may end up adding a final coat of semi-gloss – but we’ll see how the satin finish looks once we get the tables set up in our living room!

Coffee table and side table project

Tracey and I decided that we wanted something a little different for our living room coffee table, and wanted a couple matching side tables as well – something I don’t think we’ve had in the last 25+ years!
So I started looking at various designs, and tried drawing one up myself – but ended up finding a design through the magazine Fine Woodworking.  As it turns out, Fine Woodworking also sold plans for the coffee table, that also included a Google Sketchup file.  So, I purchased the plan, and then duplicated and modified it to come up with a design for a matching side table.
coffee table
The coffee table is a Mission-style – I’m simplifying a couple sections, and I’m also going to look at building in USB charging ports into the side tables – probably along with an outlet to plug in a table lamp.  Another change is adjusting the height of the shelf, to provide clearance for Tracey’s Roomba.
The side tables will be the same width as the coffee table, and a couple inches taller.
Went and picked out a bunch of oak to get the project started, a combination of quartersawn white oak, and some red oak.  The white oak is being used to build up the legs. Did some miscalculation in our heads while at the store, meaning we had to make a second trip to get more lumber – which brought the cost up to almost $800 just in oak!

A roof for the pizza oven

This past weekend I started to build a roof for the pizza oven.  I was debating whether to use pressure treated lumber or cedar when Home Depot made up my mind for me putting cedar on sale (15% off) – making it the less expensive option.
pizza oven, and roof structure in progress
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