Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adding the Last of the Cedar Panelling to the Sauna

With warmer weather came a more open attitude towards doing work in unheated areas.  The first one that came to my mind was the sauna - yes it was warm when we had spent a few hours heating it but, in the meantime, it was generally only a few degrees warmer than the ambient forest.
I had managed to put up the vapour barrier in the form of aluminum foil in the fall, but then we had spent the winter sitting in a plastic chair in the steam room while waiting for me to finish off the remainder.
Another factor contributing to the slow pace of work was the lack of available cedar paneling.  I had managed to get some 4" v-joint, but because I had already done half the sauna in 6", I was reluctant to change part way through.  (The 4" my father put up in our bathroom, making it look fantabulous.)
Finally some 6" was available and I picked up 43 pieces.  I had guesstimated that I would need 36.
Grandpa dropped by that morning shortly after I had set up the cutting table and offered to help out.  I gave him the required lengths and he cut up the nicest looking pieces as required.  We managed to bang out the first wall before lunch!  The second wall was slightly trickier, as this was the wall with the stove and my new-fangled metal shield around it.

The first wall looks good!

We loosened the nuts on the bolts as we went, and I slipped about an inch or so of the panelling in behind the edges of the steel transition.

The transition around the stove looking good!

This turned out better than I expected, and looks really good.  When I tightened down the nuts again, the transition came on nice and tight to the wall.  It looks better on the inside AND outside now.  We worked our way up and had the entire steam room panelled by midafternoon.
On a roll, I proceeded to light the stove, and then put up our benches.  No more sitting in a chair by ourselves!  Kenny and I could go back to our extensive conversations about Minecraft and the other video games that he was imagining should exist.

I decide to install the benches right away.

Much more conducive to real sauna conversation

In the end, through Grandpa's judicious cutting techniques around the stove and windows, we only needed 29 pieces, so I returned 14 to Howie's.
Slowly but surely little things get finished around here.  As summer approaches the hope is that the pace will increase, but we take life as it comes.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Water is Flowing!

Sorry it's been awhile between updates - I've been having lots of trouble with my ankles for a few weeks now, and it has held me back from accomplishing much more than treading water here at the homestead.
Things had warmed up considerably in March, with temperatures beginning to bump against 0 and I think even surpass it a few times!
A few days ago we had two overcast days in a row, so I chose to run the generator - what a difference it makes to run the generator when it isn't almost 20 below.  It starts up on the third pull, and runs nice and smooth.
Anyway, having made the decision to run the generator for a few hours, I also opted to switch on the heating cable between the cabin and sauna tanks - it was mostly as a lark, but lo and behold, after about an hour, suddenly water began to pour out of the kitchen faucet!

Donna was in the city working on a personal project, so Kenny and I did our happy dance, tested the bathroom to confirm, and then enjoyed an afternoon of doing load after load of previously procrastinated laundry.

All winter we had schlepped water from the sauna to fill the washing machine, then for the rinse.  Not to mention washing dishes, cooking and drinking (hmmm, I guess I just DID mention it...)
Anyway, it is so totally thrilling to have water flowing here again.  The simple things in life I guess!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Salad Bowl / Mixing Bowl Sink Revisted - With Quick and Easy Vanity

Ever since Papa renovated our bathroom walls, I have been slow in putting back our bathroom sink.  I knew that it would require a bit of work and I still wasn't convinced of just what we wanted to incorporate into the design that would give us the best of all worlds.

Then, the work in our pantry to move the fridge, and the consequential reorganizing and decluttering of our kitchen area started putting strange and unusual ideas into my head.  I have been in love with our chrome shelves.  They require no dusting, are very flexible and adjustable, look nice and the appearance of wood and chrome is one that is pleasing to (my) eye anyway.  We have large chrome shelves, small chrome shelves and a chrome and wood kitchen cart.  It should have been only natural that I began seeing a strange love-child between our kitchen cart and a bathroom sink.

And that's what happened.  I started contemplating the kitchen cart and imagining a sink bowl installed in it, complete with a tap and backsplash.

Quick consultations revealed that it would be too deep and not wide enough for the bathroom.  I began looking online and could only find one that fit the bill dimension-wise, but it was somewhat expensive, and I could see that the wood top was actually just pressboard.

I had already purchased a piece of project pine for the vanity top - so it occurred to me that perhaps I could still use it with just a small chrome shelf could for the support?  Some measurements made it seem plausible, and shockingly to me, Donna green-lit this venture.

A trip to Wal-Mart and I had their $25 shelf in hand.  Some assembly was required, but I did get it wedged into the bathroom on a trial basis.  I could see that the water inlet pipe was quite close to where one of the shelf supports would go.  I started to plan the chrome shelf to be off-centre, so that we could store a humanure bucket and sawdust pail side by side.  Donna mused whether we could hang a tasteful curtain in front, or if I could try to attach some sort of doors.

Test run of a chrome shelf for a vanity.
The water pipe and extra bucket dictates that it needs to be off-centre.
It immediately looked much more organized and clean than when everything had its home on the floor.  It has the added advantage of circulating more warm(ish) air into the corner, where we could see that frost had built up on the cedar panelling, in spite of Papa's work with insulation and a vapour barrier.  I'm hoping that with the new airflow, combined with a future baseboard and perhaps some extra caulking, the frosting will be minimized or eliminated.  Donna also reminded me that I'm considering insulating the crawl space underneath the cabin, which should contribute to warmer floors and baseboard areas.

Next up was the assembly of the vanity top.
Screwing AND gluing the joints.

Checking the old sink diameter.

Then checking on the clearances for the sink.

Already cut into the shelves.  The Rubicon has been crossed.

A return trip to Wal-Mart for a 5 quart mixing bowl, and we had our sink.  There is still the issue of a small amount of standing water in the bottom of the bowl.  Not sure how that can be addressed really, we'll see if it becomes a big issue.  In our previous incarnation, the bowl actually had a recessed ring around the outside of the base that was really annoying.  This time the base of the bowl is at least flat all around - so hopefully that will make a difference.  I installed the drain off centre in the bottom of the bowl too, as I will put a slight tilt on the vanity towards the back wall, to ensure that things roll or drain towards the back of the structure, and not towards the front edge.

Four coats of Varathane - when using cheapo Dollarama foam brushes, it pays to sand between coats, lest you leave lots of foam flecks on the surface you are treating.  Luckily I learned that lesson quickly, and on the bottom of the counter top.

Sanding between coats.

Always nice when Kenny shows an interest!
I popped the rubber caps off the top of each chrome post, and then simply put screws into the bottom of the counter top where they lined up with the posts, leaving a good half centimetre sticking out.  This  gave the counter top some stability from sliding around on top of the posts.

I had to cut out some parts of the chrome shelves to make room for the fixtures.  Then to install them, I positioned them so that one was down near the base, where we can set the pails on.  Then one at the very top, where the counter very nearly rests on it.  And finally one down about ten centimetres from the top - just below the bottom of the bowl, but with enough space to store a few rolls of toilet paper, or in our case, a basket that we can put a few toiletries in.
Hot cloth on the pipe softens it up before inserting into the adapter.

Things are looking good.
Firm up the plumbing connections, and there you have it.  An attractive vanity that really fits the decor, cost me about $100 if you include all the fixtures, and can be easily disassembled and re-arranged if the need ever arises.
Pretty sharp!

And the first test run!