My New Blog: TF Workshop

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Installing Granite - Part Five: The Front Edging

I am back in town, and I finished installing the front edge to the granite this weekend. I cut the pieces 1" wide with the tile saw, and put a small bevel on the edges. I used polyurathane glue to attach them, holding them in place with quick-grip clamps for 4 hours until the glue set.

If you do this, you should cut a few extra front pieces, I had 3 break - and I needed 13 total. The problem is that the granite has natural flaws, and cutting them this long and thin can expose some of them. Once glued on, its not an issue - the granite is hard and the wood support is strong.

The joints have not been grouted yet (this coming weekend...). I bought the Lacrete epoxy grout at Lowes, and am hoping the joints will be almost invisible.

Question: Does poly glue hold tile and stone? Here is a picture of the counter-top on the cabinets we installed in our master closet. These mosaic pieces of slate and ceramic tiles were glued in, then grouted. They have been solid as a rock for getting close to 2 years.

[Link to Photos]

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Installing Granite - Part Four: Dodging Armageddon

In my last post, I detailed how Armageddon might start somewhere in our kitchen in the next day or so. To be brave and hold my ground, I ran to the airport and jumped on a plane to Germany. If the end of the world starts, I have 7000 miles of buffer, and my DW can handle it expertly.

Seriously, I checked the granite before I left yesterday, and it was rock solid, just like the other projects I have used it on. Unfortunately, I have to travel instead if installing the granite edging, and pieces around the sink. Once in, I will use SpectraLock expoxy grout. This stuff is supposed to be stain and water proof, which is a huge advantage in the kitchen. I will detail the process and results.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Installing Granite - Part Three: Negative Feedback

I have discovered that in many hobbies or interests, there are people who treat them like religions. This is definately the case for installing tile and granite...

I have received a few emails telling me that there is no way in the world you can install granite directly on to wood using polyurethane glue. If done, this will trigger Armageddon, starting right in my kitchen.

To this, I have the following responses (I think they are balanced, but who knows?)
  • The glue is rated for and designed to bond to stone and wood. I was a mason for a number of years - morter sticks to stone and so does this stuff. Also, I don't think a 25 pound granite piece is going to jump up at night and run away (my kids are a different story)
  • I did some testing for bond strength and it surpassed my expectations. If I am going to try soemthing new, best to do a small, cheap test to make sure it going to work OK. Once proven, push ahead.
  • I installed tile counter top in our closet with it, and that thing is going nowhere. Porcelain tile and slate mosaic - the thing is solid as a rock after over a year.
  • Why try anything new? I would much rather ride my horse to work... I think the spirit of posting on the internet is to share ideas, try new methods, etc.

OK, so much for my rant. To all of you out there developing new ideas - test your thoeries, go for it, and post the results. If the apocalypse does happen to occur at your house, make sure to post pictures - your blog hits will soar.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Installing Granite - Part Two: Installing

Here are the steps for installing the granite...

Make sure the wood surface is totally flat. I used a block plane to make sure every bump and imperfection in the plywood was planed flat. I pay close attention to where pieces of plywood come together.

I built a small fixture to set the overhang of the granite. The granite is made of 1/2" plywood (the granite is 1/2"), with three peices of tape to add a slight additional thickness for the glue

Dry fit the tiles first, start in the corner and work out. With these large tiles, the best way to get a good corner is to do a miter as shown, and put an 18x18 in the corner.

Apply polyurethane glue in line 1" appart.

Install the tiles. The corner is the toughest, since you need to get the overhange right on both sides. This would be really hard to do with the fixture.

Once the tiles are in place, tape them together so they don't drift around as the glue foams and expands. Clamp the front across the joint to make sure everything is even.

Continue to install the tiles. I needed to slightly shim a few of them, since they are not exactly the same thickness everywhere. These had about a 1/16 variation. Since the glue foams up and expands to fill space, I could just shim the corners at the glue takes care of the rest.

If I needed to clamp the tiles in a back (a couple of spots), I put something heavy on them, like a 25 pound box of screws.

I kept the joints really tight, basically butting the tiles next to each other. The chamfer in the tiles will give a 1/16" joint, which will get filled with epoxy grout. The picture shows that the joints are already almost invisible, and once grouted will blend right in.

The glue needs to set for four hours - in this case overnight. Tomorrow I put the front lip on.

[Click here for photo set]

Installing Granite - Part One: Cutting

Well, I picked just about the coldest day this year in Portland to be outside running a tile wet-saw. I had to keep the water at a slow trickle to keep the saw from freezing. At least it wasn't raining...

Here is how I cut the granite:
  • I made a cutting board by attaching 1x2 pieces to a piece of OSB. These support the granite and allow for space for the saw blade. I also ran two strips along the bottom as support.

  • For these large pieces, I use a tile circular saw that has a water feed (link to info). I have a wet tile tablesaw, but it would be difficult to keep the tiles from binding

  • Put tape on the tile to see my marks. Tip, when you mark measurements, dont mark a line

  • Mark the tile at 4 inches off of where I want to cut to allow for the saw guide. Mark a "V", its much more accurate to align to

  • Clamp a piece of plywood as a straight-edge. On the marks

  • Cut tile with the saw, going pretty slow. Go real slow at the end of the cut, so you dont break the tile out.

  • Lightly sand the cut edge, using 220 grit, to remove the sharpness. Make sure the sander is at a steep angle, so you don't scratch the polished surface.

[Click here for photo set]

Starting the Granite Today

I am starting the granite counter tops today, using the large sections I bought. (See the Granite label on the sidebar for details). I will take pictures of the process - hope everything goes to plan...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Installed Cabinet Hardware

We installed the arts & crafts style on hardware on the cabinets - and we love the results. The pewter on the cherry is a nice combination. My DW is decorating to southern europian country (french and itallian) themes, and the dark metal design fits right in.

The only downside to these is that they require a two 1/4 holes in the doors for mounting. If we ever want to change hardware in the future, we may need to get creative. That being said, we are decorating for today, and let the future take care of itself.

As I posted when we bought these (link), they cost between 2.00 and 2.50 each, delivered.

[Click here for photoset]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Better Blogging...

I have been using the new version of Blogger for the past week, and I am pretty happy with the results. My favorite feature is the on-the-fly modification of the blog while I am looking at it. I also like the template flexibility: color, font, size, layout, etc. I ended up spending about 3 hours getting all the custom content on the old version ported over to the new.

Other Blogging Tools I Use

This is a great (and free) tool for tracking your sites visits. As far as I am concerned, if you can bring up a map of the users that visited your site with details, you have captured the "cool factor".

Blogger is definately a tool that is based in text with added photos. This is a good platform for communicating with poeple, but is not really that smooth for publishing a lot of pictures. Photoblog is just the opposite - it has a great interface for loading a lot of photos, but the text is limited to a summary. I have started the practice of loading a series of photos at photoblog, then linking a few to my blogger site.

Screenhunter from

This is a screen capture application, that is really slick. It copies whatever is on your screen to you clipboard and/or a GIF file. I just zoom images to the size I want, then quickly capture them. It is a lot easier than trying resize, crop, etc.

This image took about 3 seconds:

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Drawers Installed

Today we installed all the drawers and pull-out shelves on the wall cabinets.

This is a pull-out shelf for plates.

Tips for building your own drawers / pull-outs and installing them:
  • Normal drawers slides require that the drawers be 1" less than the width of the opening. Plan on making them 1-1/16" thinner instead. If they are an extra 1/16" too thin, you can shim the slides if needed. If they are 1/16" too wide, they may bind and there is little you can do about it except build a new drawer.

  • They are going to likely pick up some dust and debris. Clean and lube them before you install the drawers.

  • Use a fixture to mount the slides to inside of the cabinets. Below is a photo of the one I made. I clamp it to the face-frame of the cabinet and use a self-centering bit to drill the pilot holes for the slides. There are two sets of holes - one for drawers and the other for shelves (they need to sit back behind the doors).

You can get self-centering bits at any hardware or building store. They are typically used for drilling hinges on doors.

Click for photo set

Friday, January 05, 2007

We just hit $10K

Our running costs on the new kitchen just went past $10K...

Are we done yet? Nope
Have we spent most of the money to get done? Yes

We have almost all materials for the island and hutch. My guess is that we will need to spend an additional $1K to get everything completed. Also, if I am really accurate and add in the misc little costs, we will probably move closer to $12K.

At the end of it all, $12K for a $50K value remodel is still a good deal.

Cabinet Accessories

I installed fluorescent lighting under all the upper cabinets. These are the direct wire GE brand from Home Depot. I decided to go with the more expensive type that have no hum or flicker when turning on.

The undercabinet CD player / radio was $25 at Macy's (normally $50). Not high-end at all (GPX brand), just functional. We can always change this out later - I mounted it to a piece of plywood that then screwed up under the cabinet, and it's plug in (not hardwired)

I mounted these steel racks on the inside of the upper cabinet doors by the stove (new product at HD). These are about 2 1/2 inches deep. Since I made the cabinets 14 inches deep instead of 12, and the backs are glued & screwed on instead of dadoed in, we'll have the same interior space as normal 12" uppers.

  • Door racks - 2 at $18 each
  • 13" lights - 3 at $20 each
  • 19" lights - 1 at $28
  • CD Player - 1 at $25
  • Total: $149

Beadboard on the Cabinets

We were at Shurway building supply, looking for cherry lumber and plywood to finish out the cabinets, when we found cherry beadboard plywood.

One of the great things about Shurway, is that you never quite know what you will find there. They always carry the basics - lumber, molding and a good selection of hardwood plywood, but there are usually two or three special items for sale. Another great thing is that their prices are always good.

We saw the beadboard and immediately decided to go with that instead of plain plywood on the end panels.

We are very happy with the results, since they now have informal, country feeling. These have been stained, sanded and have 3 coats of polycrylic sprayed on. They still need to be trimmed out.


  • 3 sheets of cherry beadboard plywood at $20 each
  • Cherry lumber for trim out $38
  • Total $98

Click for photo set

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just trying to keep up with the Jones's...

I took a leap of faith and converted my blog from the old format to the new customized one. All in all, it was pretty painless.

It has a few limitations (doesn't like tables), but the ability to drag, drop and add page elements makes up for it. It publishes way faster, and the control panel has quite a bit more functionality.