My New Blog: TF Workshop

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tools - One of my favorite subjects

I am not counting tools in the $10K total for the remodel. I figure anything additional I buy, I will use well beyond this project.

I have been "collecting" tools for about 20 years. I have a few expensive tools, but for the most part I buy economical ones. At the risk of offending the tools snobs out there, I rely on Harbor Freight Tools for a lot of of the small things I need. Their air tools have never let me down - and I have been using a simple little finsh nailer regularly for a number years. That being said, if I were back in the trades, I would buy the heavy duty tools - Dewalt, Senco, Ewing, ...

So here is my major tool list:


  • Tables Saw - 10" Craftsman professional series. The heart and soul of my shop.
  • Chop Saw - 10" Harbor Freight sliding compound miter. Has worked great for 5 years
  • Skill Saw- basic model - 2nd one so far
  • Reciprocating Saw - Ryobi
  • Saber Saw - Ryobi
  • Cordless Circular Saw - Ryobi
  • Japanese Pull Saws - Use these all the time for finish work - TopMan from Harbor Freight
  • Tile Saw - Harbor Freight 1HP professional series table model


  • 7 inch jointer - Harbor Frieght
  • 3 inch portable planer - Ryobi


  • 5 in random orbit - Ryobi
  • Palm sanders - Harbor Frieght, Rigid
  • Belt Sander - Craftsman


  • 3/4 HP router - Craftsman
  • 2 HP industrial router / shaper - Craftsman
  • 1/2 little trim router - Harbor Freight - one of my favorite tools, since I can run it with one hand.


  • Corded - Dewalt 3/8" Professional Series.
  • Cordless - 18V Ryobi; 12V Craftsman
  • Table top drill press - Craftsman

Air Tools

  • Compressor - Husky - next to the table saw the most important tool
  • Finsh Nailers - Harbor Frieght
  • Staplers - 1/4 crown 18 gage - Harbor Freight. I ground down the tip of one from a flat to a 45 angle so I could get in really close on corners - indispensible
  • Coil Roofing Nailer - Harbor Frieght
  • Framing Nailer - 21 deg - Harbor Frieght
  • Latex paint sprayer - Husky - yes an air tool that sprays latex, looks like glass once applied
  • Low profile cut-off wheel - Harbor Freight


  • Shop Vac - Ridgid
  • Bench Grinder - Ryobi - this is another high-value tool, since it keeps stuff sharp.
  • Lots (OK, too many) hand tools: hammers, crow bars, chisels - various.
  • Clamps - Quick Grip are the best by far, don't skimp here.
  • 1/2 heavy duty industrial drill for mixing morter, grout, concrete - Dewalt
  • Biscuit Joiner - I really dont use this very much
  • Basic electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, masonry tools
  • Laser level - works great for laying out floors, etc.
  • Automotive sissor jack - great for making things fit when they dont want to.

Custom Tools - ones I fabricated

  • 3' x 5' work bench.
  • Cutting sleds for the table saw - use this all the time, especially for large lots or repeative cuts
  • Wooden squares that can be clamped as guides for saws, routers, etc.
  • Special straight-edge for laying out and pre-shimming doors - saves a lot of time
  • A busted screwdriver ground down to a sharp tip, used as an awl, punch, drill pilot, etc. This takes the place of a real sharp pencil in many cases
  • Short saw horses that we use for painting, setting up low tables using planks. Well worth the time to make these.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pot Rack

We decided on a black anodized pot rack by Calphalon. It should match the other black items in the kitchen nicely (appilances, sink, desk).We found the rack on Amazon for $100, shipping included. The next best deal we could find was $140, plus shipping. In store prices were $160 to $200. I am amazed as how much cheaper it is. I will definately look at Amazon when buying other small stuff for the kitchen.

The dimensions are 56 long / 20 inches wide. The island is going to be 30 x 90. This will give enough space for pendant lights on each end. The pans should not hang outside the width of the island either - so no banged heads.

A pot rack over an island can create a "partition effect". I have read this, and experienced in in our last house. We are going to hand this one as high as possible to compensate for that.

Building Cabinets

I finally started assembling the cabinets today, working on the uppers. Uppers require the most care - they are at eye level, so everything needs to look really sharp, including the interiors.

We decided to make them 13.5 inches deep instead of 12. This will allow for both a 3 inch spice rack on the doors and a 10 inch lazy susan or pull out system. This is also what we estimated the max depth could be and allow my DW to be able to clearly see under them.

I needed to drill lots of little holes for the adjustable shelves (all the lowers will have pull-out shelves). I like to have them every inch, to allow for fine adjustment. I have done this on a drill press before with each hole marked, but it was a lot of work.

I put together the template system below, and I can drill all the holes in a cabinet side in about 3 minutes. The template is a piece of melamine-covered pegboard with a plywood straight-edge attached to it . I have self-centering bit and a drill aligner set up - almost impossible to go wrong.

Here are the holes...

Here are a couple of the cabinets assembled. The are held together with glue and nails I shoot in with my air nailers - 1/4 crown staples that are 3/4 long to attach the boxes. 1 inch long ones to connect the sides to the tops and bottoms.

I still need to attach the backs. I will do that with the same staples and poly glue. I will put 3 inch wide ledgers in the tops of the backs, just to ensure I have solid structure for attaching them to the walls. Theses will go in with screws.

This has ended up being quite a bit of effort. But I am getting custom cabinets for $2K instead of $12 to $15K - and I enjoy the work.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Kitchen Floor Plan

I have uploaded the final kitchen floor plan.

The most difficult part of the final plan was the size and exact location of the island.

We finally settled on a 30 in wide design. It allows 36 inches on the wall side, 42 inches on the cabinet sides, and enough room to open the in-wall fridge and still have good passage. We should be able to ahve the double-oven, fridge and dishwasher all wide open and still be able to reasonable move around the kitchen.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I just added this blog's RSS feed to houseblogs. net.

There are a number of interesting blogs listed there - all about building and remodeling homes.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Granite Sink

We decided on a black granite sink from Home Depot for $280. Its made by Blanco and sold under the name Pegasus - I think its an HD-only offering.
We are going with a "tan brown" granite counter top. It should pick up the dark tones well.

Cabinet Stain

I had a lot of trouble getting the Minwax stain to match the cabinet doors. I bought about 4 quarts in an attempt to mix the right color, but I couldn't get it work.

I went the Sherwin-Williams Paints, and they did a great job matching the color of the door to a stain for he face-frame wood. A quart of custom matched stain is $35 and a gallon is $65, so I went for the gallon. The matching fee ends up being about $35, which is well worth it.

By the time I did my own experimenting and bought the stain, plus the polycrylic coating, I am into to for about $100.