Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I have been up to things

I had a long weekend.  Friends called on Monday to suggest that we join them for a walk in the city (on 90 minutes' notice) and, later, for homemade dinner (also on 90 minutes' notice).  Lovely ideas.  But these people don't seem to understand that if I have an entire day unassigned, I'm going to book it with 8-10 straight hours of hard labor, and I cannot be dislodged partway through. 

You all remember this, right? 

I believe I mentioned that it seemed perfect except that it was 4" too shallow, and the seller wanted more for it than I wanted to spend.  I waited an entire week after the seller posted it on craigslist.  I have the patience of a saint.  This, because he had said, "Price is firm."  Then I emailed him and said that, being as it is not the depth of a standard cabinet, I will have to retrofit it...and I didn't figure that into my wee sink budget...and I don't suppose he is flexible on the price? 

He took $50 off.  My DH, who is a saint, went all by himself to get it (I was going to go and help carry, except that I screwed up my schedule and had to teach CCD at the time we agreed to get it.  Turns out I can't lift half of it anyway...).  So, that's MY sink you're looking at.  It was clean when I bought it.  Now it is filled with sawdust.  Onward...

I decided to go with this inspiration as to how to install it:


Since my powers don't include the power of lasers, I will be building my marble base out of tiles, not a slab.  (I can make a hollow ring of tiles that will just go right under the edge, so there's room for the drain pipes that go under the sink.  Sinks have pipes, did you know?  Apparently this is a revelation to me...read on.) 

A week after the sink took up residence in the carriage house, on the floor, in a growing pile of sawdust, I was at the Habitat ReStore looking for a light fixture (nope, no luck.  Doesn't matter - I couldn't get the wiring to go into the wall anyway) and happened to find a bunch of 6" x 6" tumbled Carrara marble tiles on sale...for $.50 apiece.  I was really thinking of honed tiles (I definitely didn't want polished), and the tumbled have kind of roughed-up edges.  Therefore the top edges are not really square.  Therefore they won't be at all seamless, and it will be very obvious that they're tiles.  But they're really pretty.  And my searches of the big-box stores had turned up nothing suitable.  And I believe all the tiles I needed (plus several spare) cost $8.41.  So the stack of 6" tiles took up residence next to the sink.  On the floor.  In the pile of sawdust. 

Just yesterday, I double-checked the spread on the faucet holes, and bought this pretty little number:

Just $54 on Amazon, with shipping, which I thought was pretty good.  I really like our current gooseneck faucet (swivels out of the way so you can set big stuff under it - very handy), but it's deck-mounted (rather than wall-mounted), so I can't reuse it.  It turns out the chrome is peeling where it sits on the sink anyway, so that's fine.  I'm hoping this one won't peel, because it won't be in standing water. 

By the way, this concludes the portion of the narrative wherein I behave competently.  I should stick to shopping; apparently that's what I'm good at. 

Anyway, next I bought a 2' x 4' piece of 1/2" thick MDF, and some 8-foot framing lumber.  I had carefully drawn my sink plans in my head; normally I would also carefully draw on paper, but they were very clear in my head, and I didn't have any question marks as I went, so I started sawing stuff. 

A lot more stuff than this.  22 pieces total, actually, in three sizes.  Then I started putting them together:

This piece just needs one more board attached, at the bottom, making a sort of sideways figure 8.  I made two of those, and then a similar piece, without the middle support post (so, not an 8).  The two 8s will support the left and right side of the sink; the not-an-8 piece goes in the middle.  (If it had a middle piece like the others, it be really hard to reach around under the sink.) 

Then I stood them all up and used some more boards to attach them all to each other:

It would be slightly easier to picture how I did this if my dumb phone hadn't deleted three or four pictures that showed the stages in between.  Also, you will note that on the right side, the bottom connector post is set back.  I did this to leave space for a toe-kick (I told you, I had very clear pictures in my head).  Later I realized that this cabinet won't really work with a toe-kick, so not only was that unnecessary, I'm going to have to build an extra box to fill that space.  Work I wouldn't have had to do if I hadn't outsmarted myself. 

Then I added a thin piece of plywood on the right side of the cabinet, the one that will be next to the oven:

I actually did a pretty good job of fitting this to the frame, which is nice, since this side could perhaps be seen if you squinted between the sink and the oven. 

Then I added the top, and here's where I really started to make my own life difficult:

You see that cinder block up there?  I added that because of my enormous brilliance.  You see, the framing part of the cabinet is wildly out of square.  Wildly.  Among other reasons, after very carefully measuring the toe kick gap I mentioned above, I made it 3.5" deep on the right and 4" on the left side.  I measured several times to achieve this exact degree of wild imprecision.  I didn't even notice this error (though its effects were quite obvious and I should have figured it out) until I had that plywood on the side, and I didn't want to rip it off so I could rip out the screw and redo it.  It did not occur to me until I started typing that sentence that I could have pulled the screw out of the left side instead, and saved myself several headaches.  I am that clever. 

This really does relate to the cinder block.  I realized that I had to place the MDF (that's the brown board on top) very, very carefully to make sure that it covered the whole top (the MDF was theoretically bigger - I was smart enough to leave extra.  Just not smart enough to build a square frame, so the thing sticks out in odd places and takes up more room than it should).  I put that cinder block up there to make sure that once I had gotten the MDF into place, it wouldn't wiggle while I sank the screws.  In particular, the MDF had to stick out exactly 1/2" over the front right corner, because I bought nice piece of 1/2" thick pre-cut poplar to frame out the door.  I literally measured that 1/2" gap more than ten times, including seconds before I sank the screw. 

Ask me whether that gap is 1/2".  Or even whether it's too deep, so that I could sand down the difference.  Not a chance.  If this is the result of meticulous measuring, why does anybody measure at all?  Possibly other people have better measuring skills.  Whatever. 

Then I added another piece of plywood.  This one will be completely hidden by an adjacent cabinet, but I wanted to close the side in so stuff doesn't fall into the gap:

The greatest disaster was yet to come.  Contrary to my hopes and expectations before the sink arrived, the sink bowl sits further down than the sink edges.  It's sort of hard to picture what I mean by this...if you scroll up and look at the houzz photo, you'll see that the sink sits flat on its skirt.  If this sink is like my sink, that means somebody had to cut out an opening for the bowl, 'cause otherwise the sides wouldn't have landed flush on the marble.  The hole I cut looks like this:

But the true disaster is still invisible.  As I have detailed, careful planning and careful measuring on my part nevertheless led to a lot of poor workmanship that all my small skills (and all the molding in the Big Orange Store) will not be enough to conceal fully.  (I'm hoping the pretty sink and the pretty marble will distract people.  I had visions of beautiful framing around a beautiful made-from-scratch door.  I'm still going to make the framing and the door, but my illusions about how good they will look have been stripped away.) 

That's what happens when I plan and execute with care.  What about a total failure to plan?  Well, this project has that, too.  What's the one thing I didn't measure (repeatedly) before I designed and built the sink base?  That would be the sink.  No, I am not kidding.  I measured its width, hoping it would be smaller than the 42" cited in the craigslist ad.  (It's 42.75", of course.)  Even now I haven't measured its width (though that could be off by an inch or more and it wouldn't affect the design). 

But I didn't measure the places where the bowl sticks out at the bottom until after I built the base.  When would have been a good time to measure that?  Before.  Definitely before.  Because if I centered the sink on the MDF (which, obviously, was my plan - I wanted about 1.5" of marble base to show on either side), then the cutout for the bowl would have to go straight through that middle stud there.  That would make hash of my design, ruin the structural integrity of the base, and also require sawing through some steel deck screws.  Clearly not happening.  So I put the opening as far over as I could, and reduced the width of the MDF on the left side. 

If I had measured this before I built the base, I could have moved the center framing to the left 2-3".  Would have required zero additional effort or materials.  But for that, I would have had to have planned ahead. 

Now I am praying to St. Joseph that my (I thought) conservative estimates of the bowl's width were very conservative, and I can slide it almost an inch to the left.  I won't know until I get the sink on there.  And, as mentioned, I can't carry even half the sink's weight.  I'm not going to find out until after I finish the paint and varnish (paint is already done - phone ate that picture, too), cut the tiles and attach them to the top, demolish the current sink, and beg some nice neighbors to help my DH lift the sink, so I can get the whole mess assembled in the kitchen. 

That's definitely the most sensible way to proceed. 

Oh, also?  When did I check where the waste pipe is for the current sink, to see whether the frame could be dropped over it or would have to be ripped apart and rebuilt just to go in the spot it's meant for? 

The day after I painted the finished frame...obviously.  If this works, it will be a miracle. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Sorry!! I know I screwed up your comment. I accidentally hit "publish" when I had only typed the title! Obviously, it took me a while to do the rest of that long-winded typing...

    2. LOL !! Maybe I am just too quick reading!! I thought I would delete, cuz some people might have thought I was crazy.. or something like that !!

  2. You have a great plan going! Hope it all works out. Love the sink!

  3. All of the wild imprecision aside, I am SUPER impressed with your construction and creative and procurement abilities. I would love to come to your housewarming party once all your projects are finished and your place looks straight out of a decorating magazine ;-)

  4. You need your own television show. Is there no end to your talents?? - Oh yes, procreation. Well, the buck stops there, my friend. ;P

    1. My friend, you bring a dark mirth to my life. Even though (because?) I know that you are, in fact, far more talented than I.

  5. If it makes you feel any better, you are still light years ahead of my skill set, which pretty much stops at painting. I agree with TCIE, you need your own show! I would dvr the crap out of it.