Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

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Adding Sliding Drawers to Our Kitchen Cabinet

Hi Friends! How come that we are in the middle of the holiday season already? Before I knew it, Slav and I were on the airplane to SFO for Thanksgiving. And by the time we returned, every other house on our street was lit up with Christmas lights! I’ve never seen that many inflatable snowman and Santa before. In the mornings, our street looks like a massacre has happened in Santa’s village – nearly every house features an empty sac of Santa laying on the front lawn or hanging off the chimney.

We always decorate light, and this year is no exception. A tree in the living room, a wreath on the front door, and a few string lights here and there. It is hard to decorate for Christmas when the house still needs lot of work – the garage ceiling is still open and the attic needs new insulation. But Slav is simply too busy with his work, so big renovation to-dos have to wait.

Without his help, I turned my eyes on small projects that I can handle myself, such as building sawhorses. I have never done carpentry before, but I really enjoyed working with a drill and a saw. This week, I had my eyes on another fun wood project in the kitchen.

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Picture above is our kitchen sideboard. It looks newer than other kitchen cabinets, but features the same countertop materials. Despite being very bulky, it does not offer much storage, due to the lack of drawers and shelving:

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See the images above? The long drawer front in the middle was fake. It was attached to the framing and there was no drawer behind it, leaving only two narrow drawers on the sides. The bottom cabinet did not have any shelf in it either. All of our pots and pans were cramped in and on top of each other.

To create more storage in the sideboard, I came up with a simple plan of adding a sliding shelf two-third way up in the bottom cabinet, and converting the fake drawer front to a real drawer. The sliding shelf will host our frying pans and small pots, and the drawer can be used for utensils. Giving my limited experience, I picked the simplest drawer design and the most basic drawer slides. The goal was to maximize the function over look and to gain more woodworking experience during this project.

1. Giving the sideboard a new back

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The first step is to clear everything out and detach the sideboard from the wall. We always wanted to rotate it 90 degree, against the stair rail, and it seemed to be a good opportunity to do it. The problem is that this sideboard had no back. It was bolted to the wall with some screws. So we also need to put a back on it.

Slav caulked the seams when he replaced all the silicone in the kitchen. He did such a good job that it took me quite some struggle to cut off all the caulking.

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We moved all the appliance to the sideboard in our living room.

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I picked up some a sheet of 4’x8′, 1/2″ thick MDF and cut the back pieces with a circular saw. The reason I had to do two pieces instead of one, is that the top rail of the sideboard is a bit wider. We do not have any clamp or guide, so it was hard to do any precise cut than running a straight line.

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The back pieces were bolted on the back with 2 3/4″ screws. The sideboard was rotated and pushed against the stair rail, which freed tons of space.

2 Converting the fake drawer front to a real drawer

Next I took the fake drawer front off and took some measurements. The drawer front was connected to the frame with some scrape pieces. A few pry with the smallest pry bar we have took care of them. I was definitely more comfortable using the pry bar now. Small progress!

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Our cabinet is 24″ deep and the other two drawers have 22″ drawer slides. So I picked up these 22″ drawer slides for the new drawer. The frame opening behind the fake drawer front is 33″, which meant that I needed to make the drawer 22″ deep by 32″ wide, allowing 1″ for drawer slides on both sides.

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Having all the measurements on hand, I moved onto cutting the drawer bottom and four sides out of the MDF sheet. I wish I have picked the 3/4″ plywood instead – the MDF sheet created so much fine saw dust that it was impossible to keep the work area reasonably clean. MDF sheet is also too soft to offer enough resistance to my circular saw. Without any guide pieces, it was hard to keep lines straight.

I did wear some PPE to protect myself from breathing in the fine saw dust as much as possible. The earmuffs was also very helpful as my circular saw is old and loud.

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With the help from this instruction, I managed to put together this drawer:

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And installed it into the sideboard. The whole process went very smoothly and so is does the sliding drawer!

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As you can see, the original fake drawer front now became the real drawer front. We pressed it against the drawer when it was closed, then carefully opened the drawer and drilled from the back. It would have been a lot easier if we had doubled-sided tape or a small nailer. Now I started to understand why Slav keeps buying tools!

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Here is my first drawer, loaded. 🙂

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3. Adding a sliding shelf in the lower cabinet

As I showed you above, we have so many pots and pans in the lower cabinet that they stack on top of each other, making it difficult to take them in and out.

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So I decided to make a shelf about 2/3 way up from the bottom of the cabinet. I want to make it sliding out in between the two framing posts, so we can easily reach for any pots and pans. It will have very low sides around to prevent anything from falling out, kind of like a very shallow drawer.

I had just enough MDF left to make this sliding shelf. To make sure that I can get all pieces out of it, I planned everything on the MDF first:

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I love it when there is very little waste.

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With the experience from the previous drawer, I did a better job designing and assembling this one. The biggest different is that the previous drawer bottom was flanked among the four sides, so the drawer slides were attached to the bottom of the sides. I made this shelf differently, by putting the sides on top of the bottom piece, so both drawer slides support the bottom. I think this design can handle more weight. Truth to be told, I’ve opened and closed drawers so many times and never paid any attention on how they are constructed! It is amazing that how much and how quickly you learn from building things yourself!

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Another lessons I learned is that I should have put on the back piece the last. It would have made it a lot easier to put on additional vertical support for the drawer slides to attach. We had to add scrape pieces of 2″x4″s due to lack of access.

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The front filler piece was added to make sure that the shelf slides pass the doors, which sit inside of the frame. As a consequence, the shelf is 1″ narrower than the drawer above it.

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Here is the shelf when I finished installation:

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Sliding out smoothly:

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And supports a good amount of weight:

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4. The updated sideboard,

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Here is our updated sideboard with a lot more storage than before. Its new compartment and location made the kitchen a lot more functional and feeling more spacious. Needless to say that I was beaming with pride. This building experience taught me how to pick the right screw for cabinet work, made me feeling a lot more comfortable with circular saw and planer, and allowed me to design something for the first time. It is incredibly fun!

 

 

Dressing Up the Door Front – Curb Appeal Take IV

Can you tell the difference between these two photos?

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and

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They are the before and after photo of our latest project. Can you tell the difference?

Before

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After

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Yes! The quarter round trims! We installed quarter round around the front door and the garage door, where the casing meets the brick! Now the entryways look a lot cleaner.

Before

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After

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What we used to trim around the door are pieces of quarter round, which are made of PVC.

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What we did was simply replacing the old caulk, cutting the quarter round to size, and attaching them using glue:

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During the roof and garage door weather stripping replacement, we painted all the trim a bronze color. However, it was really difficult to get a clean line on the caulking, due to the uneven brick surface:

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It is a small detail but does bother Slav and I to a great deal. We decided to add a piece of quarter round to cover the caulk. It is the easiest way to get a clean line between the trim and the brick, and it will also protect the caulk from the outside elements.

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We have used PVC trims from Royal Mouldings for weather proofing our garage door weeks prior. We really liked how nice they looked and how easy they were to work with. So we went back and got their PVC quarter round. The color matches the garage door jamb perfectly.

We ran the quarter round all the way to the top of the header.

Before

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After

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As you can see, the PVC door jamb and the quarter round are in espresso, which is slightly different from the color of our door casing (bronze). To us, they are close enough so we did not bother to paint the quarter round. But just in case you are wondering, Royal Moulding actually offers a lot more colors than what you can find in Home Depot or Lowe’s, and you can order these colors online.

The quarter round immediately give a finished feel of our garage door. Like a light bulb went off, we decided to use them to dress up our front door as well:

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After:

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The quarter round soften the edge of the door and made the front door a lot more finished:

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Remember what the front door looked like when we moved in?

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The whole quarter round installation only took Slav a couple hours and some cuts on his miter saw. It is an instant gratification that we could not resist. This is what the garage door looked like before the quarter round trim:

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And here are the “after” look with the quarter round:

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If you have been keeping score, you will agree that the curb appeal became much better since we moved in five months ago:

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We took down and prison bar-like storm door, cleaned up the front porch and changed the light:

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Then Slav took down the ugly porch cover:

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I then painted the front door, and Slav installed a new storm door:

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The soffit, fascia and trims got a new coat of paint when we replaced the roof and gutter:

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And I think these quarter round just bumped our score a bit higher!

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What I Almost Bought From Rejuvenation

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I am thankful to spend this Thanksgiving with my sister. Since moving to the States in 2005, I stopping celebrating holidays all together. Chinese holidays are not recognized holidays in US, so I usually do not get the day off.  I am also not used to celebrating American holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. So it is hard to justify paying top airfare to eat unfamiliar food with my sister just because I have two days off. As a consequence, I ended up working during most of the holidays.

This year is a bit different – Slav’s mom will spend Christmas with us, so we are actually going to follow Christmas transitions. And for Thanksgiving, we have been my sister’s since Tuesday night. Needless to say that we are having a wonderful time!

Without work, the dogs, and away from home renovation, I suddenly had a lot of time in my hands. So much time that I even browsed home decor websites. I am super cheap and hardly buy any furniture with a huge sale. So poking around big store’s website such as Rejuvenations’ is a rare event for me.

It turned out that I was not that good of an anti-consumerism warrior as I thought I was. Within 10 minutes, I had more than half a dozen items in my cart already. I did not check out any of them, so it is still a win for me at the end. But I thought I’d share with you and why I liked them.

1. The Crosby bench

This bench was ~$50 dollars when I saw it. It is 71″ long, and they have a 64″ version that was even cheaper (in $40 range). Being an oak bench, the price is very good. We can definitely build something like this ourselves (who knows, maybe I can even build it myself), but the time and effect will not be worth it. The only reason I did not buy it is that I do not have a vision of where it should be. We have a round dining table so this cannot be used as a dining bench. Our living space is small (850 sqft) with very limited wall space. This bench is simply too long to be floating around the house.

2. The Crosby bar stool

I like the look of this bar stool, and it is only $43 when I saw it. I like the color, the finishes, and the fact that it was made from white oak. However, I do not have high counters in my home. This is a typical example of something I like but I have no use for. I even thought about buying it to pair with the light work bench in the garage, just to have it. But my principle of not buy anything I absolutely will use a lot won at the end.

3. Casement fastener

This fastener caught my eye because we need to replace our attic door, and this can be a great hardware for it. The local building code calls for a self-closing door that can be locked, so my current design for the attic door is with spring hinges and a casement fastener like this. It has many finishes to choose from, and the $12 price tag is comparable to the ones I saw in home improvement stores. The reason I did not buy it? This is the only thing I actually need now and the shipping is not free for just this. I guess it is really hard to convince me to buy something…

4. Red berry door mat

I adore this door mat. Winter is coming to Colorado and we have lost all the leaves on the trees. I started craving evergreen trees with red berries – they dress up snowy Christmas so well! But we just got similar doormat without the berries from IKEA. New mat will have to wait for the old ones to fall apart.

5. This rug

I’ve been wanting a calmer rug for a while. What we currently have is a green IKEA HAMPEN, which my dogs adore. It looks and feels more expensive than the $30 price tag, and it can take a looot of abuse. When it became too worn or smelly, which happens when you have dogs, we just replace it for another $30. But the color of the rug is too intense for this ranch. I want something that is more neutral, but not boring. And this rug really gets me:

$250 is not a bad price for a 5′ x 8′ wool rug. I especially like how it looks laying with a hemp rug.

However, the reason I did not buy it is the exact reason why we have the green rug at the first place – the dogs. See these fussy ends coming off the rug? I am 200% sure that Charlie will chew on them on day 1. The hemp rug will not be ignored either.

6. The throw

This throw is still over $100 when it was on sale, so buying it was not an option for me. All our blankets and throws are dog-tested, which means they all got chewed more or less. Based on how many holes on them, they all get discarded eventually. But I liked the pattern on this throw, which reminds me folk arts in the mountains in south Poland.

7. All-white pillowcases

The last thing is pure utility. We always use all-white pillowcases and I generally replace them every year (Slav’s pillow will be in cream color at that point). This pair is $17 and I like the simple design of it. I did not buy them because we are not replacing our pillow cases yet, and they are still $17 after the big sale. So I can get them whenever I actually need them. Again, a good price tag and the fact I like it are usually not good enough reasons for me to hit the checkout button – it has to be what I love, something I need immediately, and will be using a lot. 🙂

Here they are, the seven things I almost bought this week. Did you buy any home decor this Thanksgiving?

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