Thursday, April 17, 2014

framed

OK, mostly framed.  So last week, we left off here:


Where I had smashed things.  So, it was time for framing.  I started out by framing the larger of the new walls:


Just getting the top, bottom, middle, and right studs in took me the first evening; the middle three had to go in the next night.  Framing is hard work!  The difficult part is that you generally need two hands to attach stuff with any kind of power tool, but also 1-2 hands to hold the weight of the studs (which are moderately heavy, and especially hard to control if you have them by just one end).  I found my head worked as a good substitute brace.  You may also notice something of a flaw in my top-left corner there.  Here's a close-up:


So I realized that, despite being the same length (after correcting for the depth of the baseboard - I actually did plan this process carefully), the top beam stood out further to the left (in absolute terms) than the bottom one.  I simply had no way to measure this until I could get the vertical beam between them and check it for level, so cutting the top one to the correct length before attaching it to the ceiling would have required time travel.  Instead, I figured I would just set the vertical piece to correct level, and cut off the excess.  Maybe you could see this one coming: I over-corrected, and the vertical beam leans in slightly. 

I actually used a level constantly during this process, but most of the studs are slightly off level somewhere or other.  (A few are actually un-level as a result of my using a level, in that my eyeballed measurement was more accurate.  I am at a loss to explain how this is possible, other than a brief anomaly in the earth's gravity.  Actually, if such an anomaly occurred, I would expect it to coincide with my framing project.)  I consoled myself repeatedly with the notion that these walls are not really structural.  As long as they stay up and hold up the drywall, we're good. 

Oh, on the subject of errors.  There is a right way and a wrong way to frame walls.  If the TV is to be believed (maybe), the right way is to build the whole frame (with zero measuring errors!) on the ground, so you can use a framing nailer to attach the top stud and the bottom stud to the vertical pieces, all the way across.  Then you swing the whole thing up, pound it into place (because your perfect measurements will have made it super-snug in every dimension), and nail or screw it to the floor and ceiling.  There are probably several wrong ways, but here is the one I used.  First I screwed the bottom piece into the floor:


That black dot in the middle is a 3" screw.  (I had a whole box of 2" screws, and a handful of 3" ones, left over from pulling them all out of the original porch floor when I demolished it.  I'm glad I kept them - I've been using them ever since.) 

I pondered several ways to proceed from there, but I ultimately decided that I had to attach the top piece to the ceiling next, and then attach the left and right pieces to that (which would more permanently hold its weight).  I had forgotten about the importance of making all the pieces extra-snug, so I was cutting them slightly loose so they would fit without trouble.  (OK, partly that was just an accident.  But I wasn't trying to cut them tight yet.)  This didn't seem difficult.  I had some enormous nails left over from the demolition phase (when the closet was built they were not using screws yet).  I figured pounding them over my head would be mildly strenuous, but no big deal. 

I was wrong.  The nails simply would not go in.  I even took the beam down and sunk the nails through it until they broke the other side, so I'd only have to pound into the ceiling from there.  They simply wouldn't go.  The hammering had a rubbery bounce-back quality that I am at a loss to explain, but which I remember from putting in the baseboard and waiscoting in the kitchen.  The upshot there was that I destroyed a ton of plaster and never got the nails really secure.  I could see that I was already destroying plaster in the ceiling, and decided to cut my losses.  And I didn't want to use screws because I was running out of the long ones, and I had no idea how I could hold all the items over my head at once.  But I was not letting the ceiling win without throwing at it the maximum violence I could muster. 

 
Enter pneumatic nailer.  And suddenly...no more ceiling problems.  The compressor is hideously loud, and I had been hoping to avoid using it.  But when you need to conquer rebellious materials, nothing else will do.  So the top stud went in, and then the side ones, and then the next night, the middle ones.  Since I didn't lay the whole thing out on the floor and nail through the bottom piece, I had to get creative with attaching the vertical parts.  I used screws at an angle:
 
 
I'm not sure you can make that out in the picture, but about 3/4" from the bottom of the vertical post, there's a dark gray screw-head set in at an angle.  After the vertical posts were in, it was time for the little facing wall:
 
 
Here I contemplate my next move.  I screwed both bottom pieces right in on top of the tape, by the way:
 
 
I couldn't think of a better way to do it.  Actually, by the time I got to this piece, I was really running low on 3" screws, so I used some of the giant nails left over from demolition.  I had been worried that the bottom stud on the longer wall could be pulled out by the weight of the rest of the framing when it went on, but I was going to be attaching the vertical studs on the shorter wall to the other wall, and I figured the right angle would stabilize them all.  So I wasn't worried about just nailing this piece in.  And then it was time to fix my little error from earlier:
 
 
Thank you, again, reciprocating saw.  Then the rest of the framing for the side wall could go in:
 
 
At that point I was able to visualize an issue I hadn't previously considered.  (I've spent hours pondering the next stage of the project, visualizing exactly what I will do, step-by-step.  And even though I definitely miss things, I actually do think of a lot of stuff in advance so I can plan around it.  I continue to maintain that obsession is productive.)  One of the principal functions of studs is to screw drywall into.  On the outside of the longer wall, the drywall can be screwed into each stud.  But once I put in the smaller wall, the far-left stud on the longer wall became unreachable from inside:
 
 
You may have to turn it around in your mind for a minute to see it.  I did.  I have actually seen what real carpenters do to avoid this problem.  They set the studs like this:
 

That would be way more intelligent.  I did not do that.  (Shocking.)  Since I had been planning to attach two shelf brackets to that stud, as well as the drywall, I decided to use blocking instead.  The shelf brackets (not yet purchased) look like this:


They have holes for two screws.  Since I don't have them yet and didn't want to wait, I eyeballed the screw hole placement based on the item's overall dimensions, and set the blocking that distance apart (two pieces of blocking per shelf bracket, since they have two screw holes).  The blocking is 3.5" thick, so I have some wiggle room, but I hope I guessed right.  Et voila:


The uppper closet pole in that half of the closet will be all the way up at the ceiling - no shelf.  That's going to be my side of the closet (I figured that if my DH's side is closer to the door, he will be more likely to use the closet), and I already have the shelves set inside the wall, plus I have dresses to hang, which are longer.  My DH's side will have the upper closet pole about 14" down from the ceiling so he can have a shelf above both the upper and the lower closet poles.  The lower closet pole will be at the same height all the way across, by the way.  (Yes, I have thought about this a lot.) 
 
Next, it was time for the ceiling beams (to hang the drywall ceiling on - the existing framing above isn't in the right places to support it):
 
 
So that's three pieces.  There should be five pieces, one for each stud in the new wall.  But I ran out of 4" screws (and 3" screws - I had exactly enough for the blocking).  At least I cut the extra pieces, so all I have to do is attach them, after I come back with some screws:
 
 
They are supposed to be different lengths; one abuts a piece of framing at the end and one doesn't.  (The latter will be attached to the framing sideways.)  Oh, and the middle of the three ceiling beams had something attached to it before I put it up:
 
 
That's a ceiling junction box.  The easiest item to use would have been this type:
 
 
Because it's made to nail into the stud next to it, which is what I need to do.  However, it was more than 2" deep.  The stud is 1.5" deep, and the drywall will be .5" deep.  So that's not going to work.  The metal box I used is 1.5" deep, which I can work with (I just need to substitute the screws that attach the box to the fixture's hanging strap for longer ones, but I've already found some in my stash that will work.  I took apart the box and the light and fitted them together before I attached the box, just to make sure the assembly would work).  Also before I attached the box, I traced it:
 
 
I'm going to need that tracing to cut out the right size hole in the drywall that goes on the closet ceiling.  Oh, I also note that there were no ceiling (i.e., round) boxes in the store less than 2" deep that were meant to attach to a stud next to them.  But I realized that the metal box had screw holes for a side bracket that I didn't need, so I could use the holes to screw it into the stud instead.  I also remembered to hook the wire into the box before I put up the next ceiling beam:
 
 
That way I could loop the wire over the next ceiling beam where it needs to go, and be sure that I had enough at the end to wire the light. 
 
So, I was supposed to get all the framing done this week, and I have two pieces that still need to be attached.  I was also supposed to do the wiring, and this is all the "wiring" I've done:
 
 
Actually, I think running wire does count.  But I still need to put conduit around it, and attach it to the light, the light switch, and the power source.  So all that will now have to happen next week.  Which is "sheet rock/taping/mudding" week, which is plenty of work in itself.  Oh, and also, next week would be a good time to add some wide molding around that doorway - as you can see in the picture above, the plaster around it is starting to crumble, and covering it with wood is the simplest way I know to fix it.  (I don't want to rip it off and redo it, and I'd want the door framed anyway, so there you are.)  And also, while we're on the subject, the wiring is running down a ditch in the wall, which will need to be covered.  Plus there's the wallpaper up there.  This wallpaper:
 
 
It's old - I don't know whether it's original.  It's really cool, but I can't save it, both because the area I have is so small, and because the plaster behind the paper is really crumbling.  I have saved a scrap of the paper to frame, but my plan for that whole wall is that after I get the wiring in, I'm going to cover that entire (small) wall of the closet with a piece of 3/16" thick luaun (plywood), which I already have left over.  That will cover the wallpaper portion, the ditch, and the (perfectly sound) green wall on the other side.  Since it's not very thick, it shouldn't be too obtrusive, and will even leave the baseboard showing at the bottom.  But, I will have to cut it carefully around the light switch, which will be a pain.  Oh, and I have to patch the flooring, too!  And that giant hole in the plaster...
 
Next week should be fun.  Pray for me. 
 
Sharing in Linda's round-up of ORC copycats here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I might have bought a stove

Slightly. 

It looks like this:


The amount of time that has passed since my stove navel-gazing started would be the first clue that I have totally succumbed to analysis paralysis.  It's bad.  After endless agonizing, I determined that this is my favorite stove (that would in any way be feasible for my current kitchen):


It's a little under $6000.  Less without the window in the door, but hardly sufficiently less to be affordable.  Also, I'm stretching the "in any way feasible" concept here, because it's 36" wide (they don't come in 30"), so I would have to reconfigure or maybe eliminate a cabinet, and also, they don't come in 100% natural gas, only dual-fuel and electric, so I would have to have an electrician install a high-voltage outlet for the power draw for the electric oven.  And I stalked eBay and craigslist for over a month to see whether a discounted one would show up in my area.  No such luck.  Those of you in California may have more luck; that seems to be where discounted Agas come from. 

I also determined that this is my second-favorite stove:


Compared to the Aga, it's actually prudent: it's just 30" wide and all-gas.  This one costs about $6500, but you can save $300 by going with the stainless steel trim package instead of the brass.  But, hey, what's $300? 

Oh, and I have a third-favorite stove:


We've discussed this.  It costs $4300.  The Ilve and the Big Chill were both included in my frantic search for any marked-down versions anywhere I could get at them.  Nada.  Then I started pondering other things.  I had the NXR (30" model at Costco) in my back pocket as the default for a while.  There's nothing vintage about it:


But I went through my many kitchen photos on houzz, and I determined that in the vintage-style kitchens I loved, pro-style ranges (looking a lot like this one, although probably most of them were Wolf or something) were actually the most common stove option.  Followed closely by super-high-end ranges like the Aga I love, followed by real vintage pieces (yes, preferable, but I've already gotten burned there once.  I need time).  So I figured it would suit the largest span of tastes.  Although who knows for how long?  By the way, it's $2000.  (I never saw it for less.) 

As you know, I considered the GE Artistry line.  I liked the styling:


But I got a chance to see one in person at the big orange store, and learned that the broiler is in the bottom drawer, and it's tiny - just fits the included broiler pan.  That means (a) I cannot broil a whole sheet pan full of - well, the many things I'd like to broil; and (b) that drawer cannot be used for storage, even though it is not a second oven.  So, that was out on functionality.  Though I did like the price.  What I particularly complained about was that this is the only retro-styled stove from a "normal" maker.  And then I realized I had been seeing this stove as I perused the Sears Outlet site, but discarding it because their other Maytag products had such awful reviews:


But its reviews actually weren't too bad.  And it occurred to me that it does have retro styling - from the shape of the oven window to the layout of the control panel to the style of the burner grates.  It's not an accident.  It's self-consciously retro.  But by this time, I had succumbed to the analysis paralysis hardcore.  I even asked a friend whether it looked retro to her, or I was just seeing things.  (She was kind.  She said it did.) 

Other things I liked about it that I had seen on some other stoves, but was not going to consider deal-breakers:
  • a high-BTU burner (this one's is 16,000 BTUs, and some "normal" brands have as high as 18,000, including some with two high-BTU burners; BlueStars, which are pricey, have 22,000-BTU burners.  So it's not tops in that regard, but not bad either)
  • a self-cleaning feature - with more and less clean settings (self-cleaning is standard in "normal" ranges, but hard to find in high-end ones.  Actually the variable clean settings are not standard but unusual, and that is my most-preferred self-clean option, so that's good)
  • "slide-in" style, instead of a tall back.  This isn't typical of real vintage ranges, so while I like the look, I have not considered it as a criterion.  This one just happens to have it
  • continuous burner grates (this is one of the things I struggled with most about vintage-style ranges.  Real vintage ranges have very small burner grates, which I find less practical.  Some retro-style ranges, including the Artistry and Elmira's Northstar, copy this feature.  One thing I like about the Big Chill is that it has giant burner grates).  In fact, what makes this particular stove special is that it has retro-style burner grates - curvy and shiny and spider-y, rather than chunky and square - and yet they go all the way across the stovetop.  I literally have not seen any other range, at any price, with this characteristic. 
  • convection oven.  If I can't have a double oven (and I finally gave up on that, since I couldn't have that and also something that looked acceptable), I figure convection is the next-best choice, because it heats faster and bakes faster - which will at least shave a little off the time my oven is on in the summertime. 
  • a comparatively high BTU on the main oven's burner.  I assume that this likewise means faster heating time, and better baking.  This is probably the element that I will lean on the most heavily, and it's not something they really even advertise to distinguish stoves!  But at 18,000, this one is on the higher side for "normal" ranges
  • a pan storage drawer.  Of course this is standard on "normal" ranges, so not that exciting, but the Aga, the Ilve, the Artistry, and the NXR actually don't have it, and I use one now, so it will be good to continue to have that space for my cookie sheets.  I hope it's as big as my current one! 
  • three oven racks, including a funky divided one (more cookies are better!)
There are also things it doesn't have that it would be nice to have.  Specifically:
  • I guess an even-higher-BTU burner would be nice - or more than one of them. 
  • a few that I looked at (including the NXR) had dual simmer ring burners, which my 1952 Wedgwood had and I really like.  Ah, well. 
  • a fifth burner.  That's becoming more typical of middle-of-the-road modern ranges, and I think I would like it a lot for making brunch.  On the other hand, I understand you can't use all five burners at once (unless you're using tiny pots), so it may not matter that much in practice.  I have a good-sized griddle that works with a regular-sized burner. 
  • double ovens, of course
  • a pretty color.  Given its design, I don't think it would be that hard to paint (or maybe even line with copper) if I got a mind to, so I am hopeful it could survive the passing of the stainless steel trend more or less intact. 
And the final thing I like about it - perhaps most important - is that I think it would be acceptable to the stainless-steel-loving crowd, and even stand out a bit from the run-of-the-mill residential range that's simply made in stainless steel instead of black or white (query: why do I want my DIY kitchen to look high-end?), BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY it has a retro look that I think isn't beholden to 2014, and will (I fervently hope) coordinate well aesthetically with my kitchen. 

It better, because it's being delivered in nine days.  I am hyperventilating a little. 

Part of me wants to be flooded with relief that this chapter is finally over (please God nothing goes wrong).  And part of me is horrified that - now that I have made a decision - I may have made the wrong one, and my options are now foreclosed.  Even with the checkout window open, I was scouring eBay to see whether any of my high-end beauties had suddenly appeared on the market in the last 24 hours. 

And then, as I was sourcing images for this post, I found a new front page on Big Chill's site.  Telling me that there is now a pro-style Big Chill range.  While pro-style is definitely my second place design choice after retro (and strictly speaking, what I actually bought is neither of the above - so sue me), it's something I've considered as a strong contender.  I was particularly enamored of this sorta pro style option:


As others who squint at stove pictures obsessively will immediately note, that's a 36" range, but it does come in 30".  Pretty, yes?  Anyway, they also make them without all the fancy chrome, and I liked those too (and they cost a thousand or two less - still crazy expensive, of course).  But I only really like the ones in colors.  And now Big Chill makes that style with colors.  Including this color:


That's "slate."  As in, dark gray-blue.  Like my cabinets.  And it's $2399 - less than half of any similar-looking product by a competitor.  (And $2000 less than their retro-style option.)  It has 18,000-BTU burners, an oven burner with 30,000 BTUs, and Big Chill has an impressive reputation for quality construction.  Delivered and installed, the stove would be less than our tax return, which was my absolute maximum for this purchase.  What I actually bought was over $1000 less...which I am telling myself is important...and I think it is important.  But...it's so pretty.  I guess that's the only really important difference; well, that and the reputation for quality, which actually is important.  Oh, and the price. 

I hope someone else buys one and really enjoys it.  And if Sears Outlet torpedoes my order somehow, I know what I'm getting instead.  (Probably.  That's still a lot of money.) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

MISFIT SMASH!

So this past week I was supposed to knock out (heh) the demolition.  I'm afraid my results are inadequate, but it turns out the one-room challenge copycatters are actually asked to link up their results (check them out here!) on Thursdays, not Wednesdays, so I have one more night to do some damage.  If I get the rest of it done tonight, I will update this post with that progress. 

So to refresh, here is the wall where I want to put the closet:


And here is what I am hoping it will look like after I am done:


And here is what the green bedroom side of the wall looked like in real life:


And then I did stuff.  I tried to be methodical (my results are laughable, but I really did, I swear).  First I removed the left side of the door frame, since the new wall would be starting there.  In the process I badly damaged the part of the plaster I was keeping:


So, "significant plaster repair" is now added to my to-do list.  I was particularly hoping to find that the piece of wood that forms the left side of the door frame reached all the way to the ceiling - so that there would be a natural break in the lathe and plaster there and I wouldn't have to worry about damaging it further during demolition.  No such luck:


Ah, well.  Next on my list was emptying the master bedroom closet:


And then removing all the shelves:


The shelves all turned out to be particle-board (though the band of wood along the top and the baseboard appear to be very old), so my new theory is that the shelving in the master bedroom was a rough imitation of the (apparently much older) shelving in the smaller closet in the green bedroom.  Which it was time to clean out:


Resulting in this:


Every bedroom is now in chaos.  Now, I don't know whether you remember my discussion of the gray soon-to-be-shelves area in my plan for the finished closet:


The dark-gray box to the left of the brick pattern.  I attempted to explain that I want to leave the resulting wall recess in the green bedroom wide enough to put a decent-sized piece of furniture in it, so I'm not planning to extend the new closet all the way to the chimney on the left.  But the shelves in the green bedroom closet actually do extend that far (you can baaaarely see the shelves extending to the left in the photo above), so I figured I would keep that portion of the length as a shelf niche in the new closet.  The dark gray box represents the shelf niche.  So I cut the original shelves down to just the skinnier part:


I figured I'd use a big Rubbermaid storage bin for debris hauling, and it made a decent sawhorse as well.  (Above photo is pre-sawing.  I should've put MY NEW SAW in the picture - I finally got my OWN circular saw, and will be returning my long-borrowed one to my buddies.)  Then I put the small shelf pieces back in the closet:


See, on the left.  Because nothing bad could happen to them there.  Cue ominous foreshadowing music.  By the way, did I mention that just getting the shelves out of that closet was a horrendous beast?  It was a horrendous beast.  Took me almost half an hour of wrestling and pounding and trying to avoid an arm full of splinters - they fitted in there that tight. 

Anyway, as you see, I'd also ripped off the door frame around that closet.  Oh, and removed the door.  My next chore was to remove the picture rail from the section of wall slated for demolition - ideally without damaging it, in hopes of putting it back up on the new wall after it goes in.  I even thought to cut away the trim at a 45* angle, since that's how it will need to match up with the trim on the new walls:


So clever, I am!  I did the same on the adjoining wall:


That blue color is not painter's tape.  It's one of the colors the walls were in that room when we moved in.  Then I applied my little 45* angle cutaway technique to the baseboard:


And everything just fell apart.  I marked the angle wrong, so I had to re-mark it.  Then my worn-out jigsaw blade would barely get through it at all.  Then I realized I had had the angle marked right the first time and had cut the angle backward, and figured I would just cut a straight line instead.  But the saw wouldn't really do that either and the wood broke off.  So then I figured I would just try to salvage the trim at the bottom of the baseboard, since that looked like the hardest thing to match at the store, and I actually got the cut angle on that correct (see above), but apparently the original installers used some sort of ninja nailing process and I destroyed the stuff trying to pry it out:


That is a splintered end of trim, if you can't tell.  Sorry these photos are so crappy.  I figured cell phone photos would be adequate for the demolition story - should have realized my errors would call for showing off in all their glory.  So then I did one more intelligent thing:


I ran the circular saw up the edge of my demolition line so that when I ripped out the lathe and plaster to the right of the line, I wouldn't accidentally rip out the stuff to the left that I wanted to keep.  (Before I started in with a hammer, I actually extended that line a little further with a hand saw.) 

I knocked out most of that prep work on Sunday.  Then on Monday night I finished both sets of income tax returns AND the amended federal returns from 2012.  (Some of those may even be accurate.)  I am a SUPERHERO!  And then last night it was time for The Serious Demolition. 

Have I mentioned that I hate demolition?  Hate it. 

So most of ripping out walls can be done with a hammer (sometimes a pry bar is also useful).  In my elaborate curses of this process and how difficult it was and how filthy my whole house is now (and I TRIED to contain it) and how many additional steps I now need to take in re-building because of things I caused or uncovered in the demolition stage (and I really was careful to try to foresee problems and contain the damage), I need to remember that (a) I correctly determined that there would be no plumbing or wiring in the walls - points for me and (b) it would have been an unspeakable nightmare to reroute plumbing or wiring, had I found any.  Anyway, the hammering:
 

So there you may be able to tell that I had ripped out the lathe and plaster that formed my (green) side of the wall, and had still to rip out the lathe and plaster that formed the back side of the wall (which faced into the master bedroom closet, for reference).  The drippy-looking stuff between the lathes is called plaster "keys" - the technique is, you attach the lathes with gaps between them, and then you throw trowels-full of wet plaster at the wall in just such a way that some slops between the lathes.  As it dries, it hardens, and these "keys" hold the plaster onto the lathe.  Very clever, yes?  Here's a cross-section of plaster, with keys:


Anyway.  Further smashing:


Turns out there wasn't lathe on the other side of the cavity above the two closets, which actually is really nice.  Because, as I suspected, there was blown-in insulation up there:


You can sort of see it in the above photo - piles of gray dust (look at the right edge).  I was actually afraid the cavity would be totally filled with it, so this was a relief.  I hate blown-in insulation.  I mean, not as insulation.  Just if I have to touch it.  It's so INDESCRIBABLY ICKY.  And I was afraid that I would have to bring the ceilings down in both closets by pulling them down onto my own head.  I was not worried about being concussed by falling plaster; the thought didn't cross my mind till just now.  No, I was worried about getting blown-in insulation in my hair.  So gross.  But because of this configuration, I didn't have to do that - I just reached through those openings and pounded the closet ceilings down.  And then tore out the facing wall of plaster on the right.  Bringing us to this point:


You see that innocent-looking gray color at the bottom of the right-hand closet area?  That's a pile of blown-in insulation, broken lathe and plaster, and general debris so deep that I lost my dust-bin in it and could not find it, even though I suspected it might be in there and poked around with some stuff (touching the insulation as little as possible, of course).  By the way, I don't want to suggest that I'm a prima donna generally.  I was so filthy by the end of this process that my hands were dark gray, my face was gray, and I left dust footprints wherever I walked.  (Since I always do demo barefoot.  I got at least six splinters and picked out another ten as I was going, but I have never gotten a nail in my foot, and I routinely leave them on the floor.  Maybe I should update my tetanus shot at some point.)  This might give you a bit of an idea:


In the lower-right corner is the green bin, full of ripped-down lathe (and other things you can't see in this photo).  What you really need to know is that I filled five green bins full of debris, and there was really never more than one bin's worth in the room at the time - had I let it all pile up, the disaster above would have been incomparably worse. 

The remove-it-as-you-go idea was kind of brilliant (thank you, thank you), but the really brilliant part was that my dear husband removed all of it, including the hard work of finding somewhere in the trash to stuff it (and picking out all the lathe to put in the fire pit, when it would no longer fit in the trash cans).  Partly this was because I was so filthy I didn't want to walk in and out of the room more than I had to.  Partly it was because I wanted to keep smashing, rather than stopping to empty bins.  And partly it was because the bins were so heavy I couldn't really have carried them down the stairs. 

Here is another picture of the heinousness:


So disgusting.  By then it was almost midnight, and a work night at that.  So piled all the debris into the bin one last time, and swept everything.  This didn't have the effect that you normally think of with sweeping.  It just meant there were no longer piles of filth:


For some reason that picture is particularly blurry, perhaps representing my mental state at the time.  Tonight, my goal is to put in some strategic circular saw cuts to enable me to rip out the wall between the old closets (it happens to be made of wood, not plaster), rip out all the support posts, and get rid of the baseboard from the right-hand closet (you can see it in the picture above, with three lathes hanging onto the back of it, at the bottom.  It's very hard to remove - it's bound in by the adjacent baseboard and actually is below the flooring, making it hard to pry out.  Oh, did I mention I will also have to patch gaps in the flooring?).  And then I will gather every cleaning rag I have and try to banish the dust - cutting drywall and studs will produce a little more mess, but it will be less all told than the amount of dirt I'll track around if I don't clean this ASAP. 

I imagine this project will illustrate that building a new closet is easy compared to demolishing an old one and then building.  I am telling myself that the most time-consuming, most difficult, and most unpleasant part of the job is now over.  Please, God, let this be true. 

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Hello everyone!  It's Thursday morning now, and last night I BROKE MORE THINGS.  I started by trying to run the circular saw along the edge of the wood wall that divides the two original closets, so I could knock those out instead of prying them out from between the door frame and the blue-painted plaster (leaving a hole, and maybe damaging the plaster).  But the circular saw wouldn't go, because (I eventually realized) it kept hitting nails.  My first and easiest task, and it was a non-starter!  I was already exhausted from not sleeping enough the night before, and I was feeling about ready to give up. 

And then I remembered I had just brought another saw in from the garage - the reciprocating saw, with the special demolition blade.  (Cuts through nails as well as lumber.)  I figured it wasn't time to give up until I had sawed something.  And the fearsome giant studs that I was afraid I would never get rid of barely put up a fight:


The star of last night's demolition was definitely the tag team of the recip saw and the four-pound maul:


Realizing this as late as I did does not make me sound very intelligent, I know.  A saw specially made for demolition and a huge hammer with an axe on the end are good at destroying stuff?  Who'd have guessed? 

I also discovered something I just did not see coming, after hundreds of times using my pry-bar.  I knew that when you need to drive the pry-bar into a small opening, you use a hammer to pound on it.  And then I reached around for my hammer, couldn't find it, and grabbed the maul.  It never crossed my mind that it would work better if I used A BIGGER HAMMER.  With a standard 16-oz. claw hammer, the pry bar only widens an opening that basically fits it.  With a 4-lb. maul, it will simply create an opening.  It will actually just destroy whatever is in its path - not a surgical operation, but very gratifying when you're very tired and don't even have the energy left to pound intelligently. 

And once I got the beams down, that immovable wall suddenly didn't seem so immovable any more:


Though I may have overdone things juuuuuust a touch:


I did not actually mean to split the frame around the closet door; I was planning to keep that.  Another thing to repair, I guess.  Then there was the hideousness that formed the original back wall of the master closet:


It turns out that that hideousness was caused by the fact that the baseboard on both sides - in the green bedroom, and inside the original master closet - was installed before the floor was laid, and therefore was below the level of the hardwood (making it very difficult to pry out).  And then apparently an awful lot of plaster dripped down into that wall cavity during the plastering, causing an amount of debris between the baseboards that covered the entire room in plaster dust, again, when I tried to remove it.  At one point I even despaired of finding subfloor under there - I was convinced that the support material way under there was some demonic mix of plaster and cement.  But once all the studs came out and I could smash with abandon, I was able to clear the whole area out.  Here's what it looks like (post-cleaning):


Obviously, I'll need to fill in some flooring.  I'm 99% sure that the flooring on both sides is Southern yellow pine, but now I'm tempted to use white oak just because I happen to have some left over from the porch floor.  And it's only inside a closet.  Thoughts? 

Oh, as you see, I also have to patch the wall on the right, and cover the gap between the door frame and the blue wall.  But that's what trim molding is for. 

And suddenly, when I thought demolition would never be finished, and I would have a giant hideous partly-demolished hole in the guest room for the rest of my life, it was done


I hate demolition.  On to building!