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October 2013

7 posts from September 2013

the last pics you'll see until after the entry deadline

I wanted to have the build complete by the end of the weekend, but I spent too much time fussing with little clumps of grass.  I have to install the two front windows, then I can move on to the fun stuff.

The hard parts are done!  Yay!

The contest entry deadline is October 31st.  These are the last pictures you'll see until November 1st, when I post the big reveal.  I'm going to need all the time I've got left to make all the accessories I need.  Plus, I'm going to try my hand at a punchneedle rug.  I blame Brae. 



(I'm not removing the protective film on the plexiglass doors until photo-shoot day.)



p.s.  If you saw something that looks wonky or needs improvement, now is the time to point it out (please!), while I'm still in a position to fix things.  Personally, I'm not happy with the sidewalk, I'm thinking about what can be done with it.

Keli vs. the door

I won.  But only because I know more curse words.

I measured the space the door fits into, cut a piece of basswood the right size, tested it in fit.

I glued on the strip wood pieces that built up the door, tested the door in still fit.

I put hinges on the side of the door, tested the still fit.

I painted and stained, tested the wouldn't fit.

I scraped and sanded down one side of the opening, tested the fit again.

I installed the door by nailing the hinges to the door frame, then tried to close the wouldn't fit.

I scraped and sanded down the other side of the opening, closed the fit.

I tried to open the door was stuck.

I pushed it open from the other side, scraped and sanded more from the frame, closed the fit. longer to fit the door than it did to make the door.

It's done now, and it looks good.  It's painted gloss black on the exterior and stained to match the trim on the interior.  I designed it to mimic the finish on the side of the island.



Then I shingled....whizz, boom, that went fast.

I picked up a roll of non-skid tape for fifty cents at a garage sale a while ago...I used about half of it, so I figure it cost me a whole quarter to shingle the roof.  I measured and marked every inch, then cut slits half way up the tape to make the shingles.

I made the roof vent from some basswood scraps and wire mesh (to keep the raccoons out).  I cut and bent the wire mesh to fit perfectly inside the vent, then decided it looked too good to be realistic, so I took it back out and crunched it up some.  The stuff that looks like black roof tar around the vent is liquid electrical tape.  The roof vent sits above where the range hood is on the inside.

There are two weeks left until I leave for a business trip to St. Louis...I want to have the house done before I leave.  I think I can!

busy, busy, busy

I'm in the zone now, things are just cruising right along...

I glued in the beams and stone surrounds that make the columns which support the porch roof...well, they look like they're supposed to, they don't really.  The top of the columns are cut at an angle to match the angle of the ceiling, and notched around the beam.  I couldn't find hardwood square dowel in 3/4", which is what I needed to fit inside the stone surrounds, so I got balsa columns.  Because I want the balsa to withstand some wear and tear the columns got a couple of coats of wood hardener in addition to a couple of coats of stain.

I also glued down the supports for the porch flooring. Even though you won't be able to see under the porch when I'm done, I glued sand and stones between the support beams, then sealed with a matte gel medium.  I feel better knowing it's not unfinished, even if nobody else will ever realize it's been done. 


I used nasty gorilla glue to fill in the slight gap between the beam and and square of, I cut the columns too short, they don't reach the base.  (I glued and clamped the tops in place while the gorilla glue dried.)  It was a sticky, foamy, icky mess, but it got the job done, those beams aren't going anywhere.  The glue slightly discolored some of the stones where it foamed over and had to wiped off, but once the rest of the courses were laid and the stones were sealed it wasn't noticeable.


While I was waiting for that mess to dry I put the last row of shingles on the sides of the house...I had to wait until the roof was glued on so that I could butt them against the bottom of the roof.

After I finished laying the rest of the stones, I cut the floorboards and marked them for nail holes.  I used the same wood for the porch floor as I used on the kitchen floor, for's easy on the eyes and gives a nice flow when the door is open.


I sanded the boards smooth, drilled holes through them where the nails will go, sanded them smoother, then gave them two coats of stain.  Once the stain was dry I sanded the center, where the traffic area is, then gave that area a wash of black to dirty it.


I left a little space between the boards when I glued them down, for water drainage when it rains, even though it's not going to rain...though I see now the board closest to the house shifted a bit.  Once the glue set I used a little hammer to pound in the short quilting pins I used for nails.


While the glue set I used spackle to caulk the topmost course of bricks on the columns and house...again, to protect against rain that's never going to fall...but it helps the realism.

I flipped the house upside down again to finish the beams on the underside of the eaves.  I ran short on material, so had to piece together a few of them.  I made sure to use whole pieces outside the window and for the first couple of rows nearest the porch, placing the pieced together beams where it won't be noticeable.


Once they were sanded smooth and stained the seams pratically disappeared.

While the glue was drying and the house was upside down I coated the ceiling on the inside with a coat of matte polyurethane sealer.  I managed too, at various points along the way when the house was right-side-up, during drying times, to sand and seal (three times) the floor on the inside with satin polyurethane.

Once I was sure all the glue and stain was completely dry I sealed the whole exterior with satin polyurethane.  It was tedious to do on the shingles, I had to brush it every which way and kind of scrub it into the millions of little corners while making sure I didn't leave any glops...but I didn't do all that shingling work to leave them unprotected. 

The sealer really brought out the colors in the stones...I was expecting that, but wow, it impressed me.  Check this out, I took a picture halfway through...

I'm feeling really good about where I'm at now.  I could, in a pinch, throw the furniture inside, decorate, and enter the contest as is, if I absolutely had to.  I won't have to, I'll be able to finish, but it's comfortable to have an emergency fallback position.

I need to shingle the roof, make a sidewalk, lay grass, install the windows and put on some house numbers to finish the exterior....oh, and a front door would be nice too.   I'm going to work on the interior today though, there are some things to do there I'm ready to tackle.


The house is still arguing with me, but I'm winning now, instead of it.

I cut the base down and glued the house to it.  I've decided to eliminate the landscaping I was planning on, as it suited the house I had originally planned, not what the house has turned into.  The floor was bowed upward in the middle, so Friday night I glued pieces of dowel the same height as the edges around the middle of the underside of the floor, then flipped the house onto the base and weighted the floor overnight to dry.  Saturday morning I had a level floor.


I finished the wiring on Saturday and got the inside walls glued in.  I've always had my husband help me with wiring previous houses...this house I did almost all by myself.  I got all the light's wires twisted together at the termination point, where I kept cutting them instead of stripping them until I had no margin for another error...on the very last connection of the groups of wires to the switch I chickened out and had Matthew solder it.  The connections that I did aren't as pretty a job as the one he did, but they're buried between the walls anyway...and all fifteen of the lights work!  And I only burned myself twice melting shrink tube.  All in all it was a good learning experience; I'll do better next time.

Sunday I got the floor and ceiling done.  I used some of the pieces of oak my brother in law gave me, which I stained to match the shingles on the exterior of the house.  The boards aren't all the same width, so the floor is uneven, but I like the quirkiness...I'm calling it a "reclaimed wood" floor...which it is really, it's reclaimed from his kindling bin.  I did discard the thinnest and thickest boards so that it isn't wildly uneven, just charmingly uneven.  I may have to do some interesting shimming when I put the cabinetry in...but first I have to finish the porch roof so that I can turn the house right side up.


There will be no work on the house today, it's my baby's birthday.  Kate turns 22 today.

Susan's gratuitous cat picture...with Kate....


this house is driving me crazy

Let me start with an apology for how rambling this post is going to be; I've had too much coffee this morning...

I've never had a build like this fight me every step of the way before.  Almost everything that should be one step is two or three...things are done then redone...the plans have been altered so many times I'm not sure I'm going to recognize it when I'm done....sigh....

Because the upper cabinets didn't turn out and I installed shelves instead, which changed my lighting plan, the grooves I cut into the walls for the wiring needed to be redone.  I completed that, then after the shelves were glued in place they didn't line up exactly, so I have to do it again.  Once that's done and the wiring is in place I can glue the inner side walls into place.

The wallpapers didn't line up exactly right where they meet on the side wall, so I'll have to put a chair rail or divider of some sort in, after I put the window trim on.  I meant to put the window trim on the inner front wall before I glued it in place, but got ahead of myself.  I should be able to turn the house on it's side still, so I'm going to do that next, before I forget again.

The side walls bow out at the upper back corners to knock the house out of square (I'm sure there's a better way to word that, but you know what I mean).  I'm going to have to figure out how to fix that or the support for the back of the roof is never going to stay glued in place into the notches on the back of walls.

Once the wiring is done, the inner walls are in and I square up the house, I can put the roof on, finish the ceiling, and install the to-do list is longer than I'd like it to be this close to the Halloween deadline.

I didn't get a chance over the last week and a half to work on the house hardly at all...Wakefield was injured, so required the time I was planning on spending in my studio.  Something (a fox we suspect) bit one of his back paws, leaving puncture wounds and a broken claw.  An abscess caused his foot to swell up to four times its normal size before it burst (the abscess, not his foot!), and caused him tremendous pain.  After two trips to the vet, a shot of antibiotic, a shot of steroids, several nights with no sleep for either of us, and lots of snuggling he's doing much better.  It will take him some time to recover fully, he's just starting to put weight on it again, but the swelling is gone and he's resting more comfortably now, at least.