Shower Door Stopper

As a Home Builder in my day job (my night job being part-time superhero protecting pregnant Erin and Baby Grayson on our evening walks) I come across a LOT of small issues that don’t necessarily have obvious solutions. In said day job, I often have to devise my own clever way of solving these seemingly innocuous issues before they become something big, or just to make someone happy. I take this trick of the trade home with me and when I come across an issue that is bugging me or needs attention, I’ll either call upon the power of Google to find the answer or, when Google can’t help me, I’ll develop my own simple solution.

This was the case with my shower door. (I say MY shower door because Erin has her own bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and wall mount for a TV)

As you can see, my glass shower door opened up right into the edge of the corner seat inside, creating a possible glass-break/slice-foot scenario. Now one would think that there would be a specialized device to prevent this while keeping the aesthetic quality of the shower intact (anyone could strap a giant rubber bumper on the edge of the tile but who wants to see that in their walk-in getaway) Unfortunately, I could not find any easy, ready-made solutions for this so I made my own. The answer…regular old door stops.

Now, I didn’t want to screw into my tiled splash and risk doing permanent damage to it; so I call upon the power of the Silicone. (That’s right, it’s not just for making celebrities look weird in their Golden years)

A healthy portion on the back side of the base…

…and then just stick into place.

(Honestly, I didn’t mean for those last 2 lines to rhyme)

Let it dry for a few hours, 4 to 8 so the silicone can get to a strong and solid state. and then just insert the stops.

I stuck one at the top and bottom to give it a little extra support.

And now my door, and my feet are safe from the breaking of the glass!

By placing the stops next to your hinges, they are almost unnoticeable from the exterior.

And don’t worry about getting any silicone overflow onto your tile. The best thing about pure silicone is that when it dries, it sticks strong but you can still scrape it off easily like the Elmer’s glue boogers you used to make when you were in elementary school. Don’t lie, you know you did it.

Barn Door Finish

To start the door re-finishing, I first prep the lumber and hardware.  I picked up some larger door handles and a six pack of thicker, longer, heavier faux door hinges.  (A little secret, the new door hinges were actually plastic instead of metal so they were actually cheaper than the smaller, metal hinges I had before.)

I tacked my top rails up first making sure to have them level across the top.  I then cut and installed the trim boards running straight up so I could line them up with the bottom and make sure they looked square.  A little trick to make the center line which would be where the two barn doors met more visible, I hit the edges that would be meeting with my random orbit sander so they would be chamfered down a bit and enhance the appearance that they were actually separate doors.

After they were up, I started the angled boards that would be the cross bracing.  The intended look is for the diagonal pieces to look like solid support braces that span the door, so originally, I started to measure these as one long board and then cut it in half.  The problem with that method is when you cut them in half you loos the length from the thickness of the saw blade and they don’t end up flush with the frame.  So the best way to do it is to select pieces long enough to span the distance, mark one small section, cut and install it and then mark the second piece.  You’ll want to use a long board for the first piece so you can make sure that your angles are all correct.  Geometry would suggest that 45 degree angles would be sufficient, but that only works if everything is square, which mine was not.

Once the boards were up and secure, a little caulking is necessary to fill any gaps that are present so water won’t get behind the trim and cause it to rot.  This was not done on the original trim so many of the boards were pulling away from the door.  Next, I needed to get the paint for the exterior of the house out of the attic.  Once down, there was one little problem; the paint had molded from being exposed to the changing temperatures and smelled disgusting.  No problem, a short trip to Lowes with a piece of wood from the exterior, quick color match and I’m on my way home to put on the finishing touches.

Once the paint dried for a few hours, I just needed a few turns of the drill to set my hardware and I was finished.

And there it is!  The finished product.  Only a few hours of work and the front “grill” of our little house is ready to show to the world! (Or at least our street)  

Tools & Tricks for the Trade

Since the price of a new garage door (at least a high-end barn door style door) is a bit out of our budget, we will have to do what we can with what we have.    The door was already half trimmed out with 1 x 4 cedar so I decided to stay with the same idea, finish it out and dress it up with some new paint and hardware.  Instead of buying new 1 x 4 cedars, I found some 1 x 8 scraps lying around and had them ripped down to the correct width.  This was nice because I could get two 1 x 4 pieces from each 1 x 8.

For tools, my supplies were also limited.  Ideally, having a mitre saw would best, but since I didn’t have access to one this weekend I had to do it all with what I had available:

For power tools,  I used my Black & Decker Firestorm Skillsaw, Dewalt Power Drill and Dewalt Random Orbit Sander.  The B & D Saws work pretty well and are easy to manuever since they don’t have any plugs, but just be sure to have an extra battery around because they can run out of power pretty quick.

To draw the lines and angles, all that is needed is a Framer’s square and Carpenter’s pencil.  Carpenter’s pencils work best because they have thick lead which doesn’t brake on the rough edges of the cedar when marking the lines for the angles. The screwdriver will be used for a little trick I came up with that I’ll show you in a minute.

Finally, a little Alex Plus caulking and cheap caulk gun to fill the gaps along the boards.

I also purchesd 2 boxes of Star head exterior screws.  Exterior screws are designed so you won’t get the little black runs down the front when it rains and the star tips are nice because they don’t strip out as easliy.  You will also need semi-strong tape (Duct or Masking will work fine).

Now for the part that can drive some people a little nuts.  When placing the top board, it’s important to take into account the break at the top when the door opens (specifically, the break is when the door first pulls back from the frame).  If you place it too high, the beam could get knocked off or damaged, too low and you’ve got a gap showing at the top that takes away from the barn door affect.  I didn’t want to just guess and I wasn’t going to tack an entire board along the top to find out, not to mention the fact that I would need to take into account the height of the new, thicker garage door hardware.  So I came up with this little solution.

Using a scrap piece of the 1 x 4, I inserted a screw to be the exact height of the faux hinge hardware.  I would then use this piece as my test strip along the top edge of the door to find the highest point at which I could place by top rail.  Use the tape to secure the test piece at the top of the door, open-close, move accordingly, open-close again until you find the highest point that you can place the top rail.  By using the tape, if it hits the frame around your garage door, it will just fall off and you will avoid doing any damage to the door, frame or trim pieces.

Another little trick, as you can see, I removed the 1 x 2 trim board that went along the top of my frame.  This gave me a little more room to raise my top rail.  After I’m done, I’ll fill in the gaps on the side with scrap 1 x 2, caulk, paint and no one will be the wiser.  Now I can finally get started on the main portion of this job, trimming out the door with the new cedar boards!

I need a Door Dentist.

Imagine for a moment that houses are people.  Now when we meet someone for the first time, our first impression of them is based on their looks, (that is unless you meet said person on the phone by which you would get to know them first and then see them). Regardless, we will eventually use our eyes to make a decision about the individual and determine which role in our lives they will hold.  “Is this someone I could see myself spending time with?”  With that idea in mind, when we see a house or person, we will make our initial impression about the possibility of spending some significant time with this house based on the exterior appearance.  No one says “I really want to date an UGLY person!  Bad hair, creepy eyes, jacked up teeth, OH YES!”  Now with the house, the yard is definitely the hair.  And if you’ve ever seen the Amityville Horror, you know that the windows of a house are it’s eyes.  As for the teeth, this honor would have to go to the garage door.

So 3 months ago, Erin and I moved into a new, old Ranch style house.  Originally built in the 1950’s, this house had been through some changes over the past 60 years.  The yard was pretty  well done by the previous owners with the exception of a few areas; the windows were worn, but had that old style charm; and the garage door…well let’s just say that this lady needed a definite trip to the dentist.

As you can see, it looks a like this smile has a few to0 many trips to the candy store and not enough dates with a toothbrush, so to speak.  It’s not a crackhead eating Cheetos and dark chocolate bad, but it doesn’t necessarily make you want to snuggle up to it on a stormy night either .  So my task for this week is to take this shabby looking kisser and turn it into something that won’t make my house want to curl it’s lips down in shame.  I’ll be doing this on a minimal budget and limited tools but I’m optimistic that it can be done.  We shall see.

Away We Go!

So here we are. The BIG REVEAL! If this were Extreme Makeover: Home Addition there would be a bus parked in front of my house with 10,000 screaming neighbors hoping to be on TV so they could call all of their friends and say “I’m going to be on TV!” Well it’s not an entire home makeover, just a table (so a bus would have been a little extreme) but I was pretty excited. She had been out of town visiting her best friend in Scottsdale, AZ while I stayed up all night for 3 nights straight putting on the finishing touches. First removing the table legs from our old table and sanding them down to the bare wood. Then, while watching a Resident Evil marathon on Netflix, painting the legs and skirt boards in 2 layers of chocolate brown followed by 2 layers of antique white. The following day and night were spent sanding off the edges of the newly painted pieces to make them look old and worn and then putting everything together, cleaning up my mess along with the rest of the house to get everything perfect. Month’s of planning, scheming and lying had all come down to the final moment where she would find it all out. I would finally let her know that I had been sneaking around, lying and letting her wallow in a caffeine induced pregnant panic attack, and show her why. Although some may say that I do it to be romantic, I don’t. I do it because she is my best friend, my love and my partner in everything. I do it because I want to see her smile the kind of smile that comes from total surprise, total happiness and getting that thing you thought would never be a reality and knowing that someone did it all for you. Soon we will have a little one added to our family and I did it for him too. Because I want him to know that his parents loved each other for each and every one of the nine years they were together before he arrived, and they will love each other for each and every one of the years that will follow.

So I was excited and a little nervous! There is always that little bit of “what if” that lies beneath. What if they don’t like it, what if they don’t react the way you hoped or imagined, what if while you are driving to the airport to pick her up a fire breaks out in the living room and destroys JUST the table so that when she comes home she only see’s a pile of smoldering ashes in the middle of the dining room floor! I do love irrational possibilities (and I actually enjoyed the lying, I’m just so good at it)! Well she did come home, she did see it, there was no fire and well, I must say….

She Loved It! And I love her.

Happy Anniversary my beautiful lady!

PS: I would like to give a special thanks to my iPhone 4 for taking each and every one of these beautiful pictures documenting my labor of love. Thank you iPhone.

Days 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9: Start with the Finish

During my research, I looked several different finishes for the table.  Antique White, Dark Mahogany Stain, Pickled.  Yeah that’s right, I said Pickled.  But after seeing the way the wood had come out and the dynamic of the different colored pieces of cedar wood, I couldn’t even begin to think about covering it up with paint or dark stain.  So I decided on a Natural stain by Minwax.  The Natural stain simply makes the wood look wet while bringing out all of the grains natural beauty.

What do you think?

To seal the grain and make the table waterproof, I decided to go with Tung Oil.  It’s an oil that is taken from the nuts of the Tung Tree.  You will often see it used on Guitars.  The coolest part of using Tung Oil is that if the surface should ever become scuffed or scratched, you can simply wipe the table down with more Tung Oil and the mark will buff right out!  To apply, you simply wipe on with a rag or brush and let stand for 24 hours.  I will be making a trip back to the shop each day to apply a new coat.  On the final, you want about 10 to 12 coats.

I will  be making a LOT of trips out to the shop to get it just right!

Day 3: I think I’ve got some sand in my lies.

I told Erin I had to walk a house with a customer that afternoon because there was a problem with the house earlier that day when we had originally scheduled it.  She said I should request to have some time off since I was working so much after regular hours. Actually, I had completed that walkthrough by 2 and just left early again to work on the table!

Today is the day when I get down to the nitty gritty.  Sanding down the table to make it smooth, even and kid friendly (no splinters for the little one)

Just a little Dirty.  As you can see, I didn’t wear a dust mask.  Brilliant!  Definitely a job for the Neti Pot!

End of Day 3 and here’s what I’ve got so far!