Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense


The Dining Room Chairs

Back in August, I finished building our new dining room table. It fit quite nicely in the new dining room, but seemed to lack a certain something… like chairs. We had four chairs from our old dining room table, but that seemed wholly inadequate for a twelve foot long table. Most of the dining table chairs that we found in stores and on websites were at least $100 each, which isn’t all that bad if you only need a couple, but needing twelve chairs… not gonna happen.

Salvation Army ChairsA few months before, I’d seen a picture on (which I can’t seem to find again) that had a long table with chairs of various styles but the same color scheme. Lori and I both thought that would work, so  that began our search. She first found these six chairs at the Salvation Army store for $5.00. Not $5.00 each. $5.00 for all six. They were ugly, but were in not-too-terrible shape structurally.

The Under-CushionI set about fixing any wobbles and Lori ripped out the rest of the broken cane in the backs and un-upholstered the horribly-stained blue cushions. Underneath the blue fabric, she found… plastic-wrapped, mustard-yellow-striped fabric. Classic. No… what’s the opposite of classic?

We decided to go with a black and purple’ish theme for the chairs. The kitchen has some purple in it along with the coffee-colored cabinets and the base of the table is black, so those colors would tie everything in and should work fine.

We got some additional chairs from a friend who was getting rid of them (free!) and Lori set about getting them all painted black.

Painted Chairs Painted Chairs

She found some tie-on cushions for the spindle-back chairs and decided on two different fabrics for the Salvation Army chairs… one purple and cream for the regular chairs and one darker fabric with a mix of the proper colors for the chairs with arms. Like this…

Upholstered Chairs

So when all the painting, upholstering, and cushion-tying was done, this is what we ended up with… an eclectic style with the capacity to seat twelve people at the table with plenty of elbow room.

Dining Room Table with Chairs

Dining Room Table… Finis!

So after quite a bit of drilling, screwing, sanding, gluing, bashing, sanding, clamping, sanding, painting, staining… and sanding, the dining room table is done!

For you “tl;dr” folks, here’s the completed table in its natural habitat…

The finished dining room table

For the rest of you, here are some of the “along the way” details.

I had posted a picture of the base in my first table update. I ended up using that as my work table to do my table top glue-up. I covered it with plastic and put some boards across the top for my pipe clamps. The table top is made of seven 12-foot 2×6’s from Lowe’s.

Harbor Freight table saw rip fence

Harbor Freight table saw with make-shift rip fence extension

In order to get nice square edges to glue, I had to rip about 1/4″ off each edge using my little table saw from Harbor Freight. I rigged up a jig to make my rip fence longer since I was pushing 12-foot boards through it. That ended up working fairly well and I was impressed (surprised?) at how well the saw kept up.

The edges weren’t quite perfect, but they were close enough (*cough*) and since it was pine, I figured I’d clamp it tight enough to squish everything together (that turned out to be mostly true).

Table top glue-up

So many clamps!

I clamped the first two boards together and kept going, one board at a time. Since it was my first glue-up of this size and I didn’t think I could apply the glue, get multiple boards in place, align them, attach my clamping cauls, and tighten up all my clamps before the glue dried out too much. I waited about an hour and a half (or more) between boards to give the glue enough time to set before I started moving things around to add another board. The final clamping (shown in the picture), I left alone for a little more than 12 hours.

There was a lot of excess glue on top. That took a lot of scraping to remove after it dried… followed by a lot of sanding to get everything level (because all the scraping took off some wood, too). But I got it all removed (Make a mental note of this bold claim. It’ll come up later) and sanded it to a nice finish using 80-grit, 120-grit, and 220-grit sandpaper. I also routed a 1/2″ round-over edge all around the table top.

Table top and base

Table top and base… ready for finishing!

I arrived at this point where everything was ready for finishing! I had planned on finishing it myself, but I only get to work on this sort of thing about an hour or so a day (if that) and on weekends, so Lori offered to do it for me. She’s been doing a lot of painting and refinishing lately, so I figured she was in the zone and I’d go ahead and let her do the finishing work on the table. I’m really considerate that way (wait, what?!).

The base was to be painted white and the top was getting a dark stain to go with our kitchen and living room woodwork. After the first coat of stain, the top looked fantastic. It really brought out the nice grain and was the perfect shade of rich brown. Lori did a second coat of stain and suddenly (remember that mental note you made about my claim of having removed all the glue?) every… little… spot… where glue had touched the wood showed up like a fluorescent beacon, as if the wood and the glue were conspiring to make a mockery of me and my vain attempt at glue removal.

But… thanks to my friend Darren (I can call him that. I paid him) who had loaned me his belt sander, it only took an hour or so for me to sand the table back down to the bare wood (or close enough) for another go at staining… with only a single coat this time. The results were perfect again after one coat, so Lori and I agreed that one coat was what we’d both meant to do in the first place, anyway (She was also nice enough to not call me out for my lack of glue-removal skillz).

So the table top was stained. The base was painted white. We moved it into the dining room and Voila! Of course now Lori couldn’t reach the salt, but what are you gonna do?

Table with white base

After having it in the dining room for a few days, she said (and I agreed) that it was a little too “farmhouse style” for what we wanted. She suggested that painting the base black might dress it up a bit. So we (and by “we” I mean “she”) repainted the base a nice satin black, which created exactly what we were looking for.

Final dining room table

Final dining room table

The table is 11-feet, 11-inches long (that was done on purpose) and weighs roughly ten bazillion pounds (that was not done on purpose). The top was finished with seven or eight coats of Minwax satin polyurethane. We should be able to easily seat twelve people… fourteen if people want to get a little squishy.

We’re missing chairs… but that’s another adventure!

Hat tip to the following sites for design and construction inspiration:

Snowy House

Sunday after the big weekend blizzard.

Snowy House

Construction Time Lapse Video

I had a time lapse camera set up across the street taking pictures every 5 seconds. The batteries lasted from April 12th through June 1st. I got the video (the camera creates an AVI) and edited out all the nights and weekends. It’s almost seven minutes long which is longer than I wanted, but speeding it up in my editor didn’t work too well, so I left it alone.

Stuck in the Middle

Front of the house as of June 27th, 2015. All the windows (except for one) are in. Shingles are on. House is wrapped (except the garage door area because of framing work they’ll need to do when the garage doors are installed).

We’re sort of squished in the middle.

Stuck in the Middle

Stuck in the Middle

Drilling wells

We’re having a geothermal HVAC system installed and they started drilling the wells a couple weeks ago. The original plan was to have four 250-foot holes for the larger geothermal unit and three 250-foot holes for the smaller unit (because of the length of the house, it’s more efficient and cost effective to have two units like that). However, around 80 feet down, the driller hit a big area of sand and the hole kept collapsing back on itself almost immediately, so the hole plan had to change. There will be twelve 80-foot holes for the larger unit and eight 90-foot holes for the smaller unit. Our whole back yard is currently dotted with holes spouting black tubing!

Once it’s all done, everything will be hidden four feet underground, so it’s no big deal. It will actually be a little easier on the geothermal pump because of the shallower wells. We just have to make sure that any future construction plans don’t dig down deeper than four feet!

Geothermal well drilling

No in-ground pool for us!

Stuff Everywhere!

Master bedroom framing

Master bedroom framing

It’s amazing the progress that’s been made since my last update (which was, admittedly, a long time ago). We’re still living in the center section (the original house, basically), but both additions are nearing the point where they’re going to be drywalled.

The roofs are done and shingled. The windows (except for one that’s on order) are all installed. The interior framing is (I think) all done except for, perhaps, a few minor things. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work are done on the garage wing and have been started on the master bedroom wing.

That’s expected to be completed by next Monday or Tuesday so the inspectors can check it out and the insulators can come do their bit. After that, it’s drywall time!

Framing in Megan's room

Framing in Megan’s room

HVAC duct work

HVAC duct work in the garage

Electrical panels

Electrical panels in the garage





I don’t have a current, full exterior view at the moment and it’s raining right now, so I can’t go take one, but here’s a shot around the back of the master bedroom wing. They just finished roofing the porch out of the master bedroom so I took a picture of that and of the view that we’ll have from the bedroom out onto the porch.

Master bedroom porch and view

Master bedroom porch and view

Roof Trusses!

Most of the roof trusses got installed yesterday… all the really big ones, anyway. It’s really taking shape now! …though it looks like our little house is trapped in the middle.

Roof Trusses!

Most of the roof trusses got installed yesterday!

Lots of Framing Progress

Placing the steel beam for the garage

Placing the steel beam for the garage

It’s been about two weeks since my last update and a lot has gone on since then. Wayne and his crew have been working crazy fast to get things done and the results are amazing to see every day when I get home from work.

The steel support beam was added to the garage. They started out with the beam sitting on pillars of stacked concrete blocks. That let them get the beam to the right height and steady enough so they could start adding the floor joists on top of it.

Installing floor joists

Installing floor joists

All three garage doors!

All three garage doors!

Permanent steel posts.

Permanent steel posts.

Midway through installing the joists, they finished framing the front of the garage, adding the third door (on the left side). They notched part of the existing house roof to accommodate the wall. Eventually, that roof will come off completely, but they didn’t want to do that quite yet in case of foul weather.

A bit after getting all the joists installed and putting the sub-floor down, they added the steel posts and removed the temporary concrete pillars. Now the garage is like an actual room, which was a nice transformation.

I took Megan up on top of it to get a feel for her soon-to-be living space. I think she’ll have plenty of room. Right now, it’s just a nice place to get some sun and enjoy the view.

Garage with floor installed!

Garage with floor installed!


Master bedroom wing... Stage 1

Master bedroom wing… Stage 1

Meanwhile, at the other end of the house, they’ve been working on the master bedroom wing. The concrete floor was poured and they had the basement level framed out in less than a week. The transformation was pretty amazing, especially from the inside where it suddenly got real seeing how the whole floor was going to be laid out. It’s much more exciting seeing it in real life than it is visualizing it from a paper drawing.

Lori and Rose talking construction

Lori and Rose talking construction

Lori and Rose in the basement hallway

Lori and Rose in the basement hallway

They ended last week having all but one wall of the first floor framed out, which includes the master bedroom, the closets, and the master bathroom. As with the basement level, it was great getting to physically walk through the “rooms” rather than just visualizing them from the drawings. Lori and I walked through it a number of times, probably with facial expressions similar to all the golden-ticket-winning kids from Willy Wonka when they first saw the inside of the factory.

Master bedroom wing - Stage 2!

Master bedroom wing – Stage 2!

Back of master bedroom wing

Back of master bedroom wing

Looking through the master bedroom

Looking through the master bedroom

Looking from the master bathroom through the closet hallway into the master bedroom and out to the porch.

Looking from the master bathroom through the closet hallway into the master bedroom and out to the porch.

I’ve been framed!

Building the back wall The framing of the garage started on Thursday and continued through Friday. After a bunch of prep work and measuring, they framed up the back wall of the garage which has a door and three windows. They built the main part of the wall flat on the floor and then used their forklift to hoist it into place, nailing it to the sill plate.

Hoisting the wall Hoisting the wall

The weather really treated us well and the rain stopped before 6:00 am on Friday morning. The day turned beautiful and the framing started up again around 7:30. They framed up the end exterior wall and then continued around the corner to the entry door and two of the three garage doors. They couldn’t do the last door yet (the one closest to the house) because they’ll have to remove the roof of the existing garage for that to happen and they weren’t ready to do that yet.

Going around the corner Two of three doors completed!

The main support beam for the garageSome time around noon, the beam was delivered that will span the garage. Wayne (Co-Del Construction) found a used beam from a building that was getting ripped apart in Red Lion, and he saved us a bunch of money by doing that. They’re planning on putting the beam up Monday or Tuesday, I think.

After lunch, they framed up the internal walls and then started putting the sheathing on the exterior walls and it really started to look like an actual building. By the time they left for the day, they had all the exterior walls covered and had framed around as far as they could go at this stage.

Exterior sheathing Look! Real walls! It almost looks like an actual garage!

Big garage doorsOur garage doors are oversized and standing next to one made that quite evident. I should have no trouble parking my M1 Abrams tank in the garage, which is good because I hate leaving it out in the rain.

So… here’s the final shot from up the bank at the end of the garage. Things are really shaping up!Shaping up!