Sunday, November 9, 2014

(Nov 9) Shelves, finally!

We finally got some shelves up. We had built the bathroom wall out of 2x6 material with the intention of leaving one face open to use as a shelf. Well, this weekend, it was time. As we spend more and more time out here, we accumulate more stuff - food, cooking and cleaning supplies, etc. After we got the shelves up, Kim was very excited to have a way to organize and consolidate all of our "stuff". We decided that a wine bottle (Our favorite - Ménage à Trois) would be our standard for height in the kitchen area. In the bathroom, we would have more room for a pantry and shortened the shelves to accommodate more canned goods and such. We debated using 1x material for the actual shelf but concluded that at nearly 4' wide, we would have to put in a center brace. We settled with kiln dried 2x. We would lose ¾" in height for each shelf but they were stiff enough that we felt confident that we could span the opening without a brace. We used our Kreg Jig to prep the 2x shelves to accept the screws. If you have never used one, I highly recommend it. It comes with a template/guide that clamps onto the end of the board along with a collared drill bit that you adjust depending on the thickness of the material. You just clamp on the guide, drill the hole and you have a hidden screw pocket that quick. They also have wood plugs that are precut to fit the holes it leaves if you want to use it on an exposed face. We cut, prepped and hung 10 shelves in about an hour. It went very quickly. We ran out of wood and still have a couple to put up on one wall in the bathroom but we were happy to get these up. I cut some spare 2x material for braces to set the height of the shelf and set them against the walls of the opening. We then dropped in the shelf (with the jig holes cut) and drove the screws. Pull the braces out, set them on the shelf you just put in and you're ready to set the next one. (All of this assumes you have a level surface to start with.) I cut down my braces a couple of times to accommodate a shorter shelf height. One word of caution. Hold down on the shelf pretty firmly as you are driving the screws. Since they're coming up at an angle into the side wall, they have a tendency to lift off of the braces as the screws grabs the material. Once set though, they stay nice and tight. We really like using this jig. Our kit also came with a long square bit drive to fit the screws that they sell for the system. If you use your own screws, be sure to get a 6" driver (phillips or torx) to fit them. A 4" bit is not long enough to reach the depth to fully drive the 2.5" screws into 2x material. Here's a link to the Kreg site if you'd like to check it out. . We went with the Kreg HD as we already had lots of clamps. Very nice tool and we use it every chance we get. :)

Wall behind the shower before we put in shelves or AC. 

East wall before the AC unit was installed.

Wall after we put in shelves and installed the AC unit. 

Shelves in the bathroom now. 

We also decided this was the weekend to permanently mount the air conditioner. We got a Frigidaire 8K BTU unit that was EnergyStar compliant. Best Buy had them on sale this summer for $195. This was one of the most efficient units we could find on the market at the time. It has a soft start (easier on the generator) and  pulls about 750 watts on high. I wanted to put it as high as we could on the wall to draw hot air off the ceiling since we're not running a ceiling fan. We decided on a spot above the space reserved for the refrigerator. The unit has a remote control so we won't have to climb up except to clean the filter. We also mounted it high so that we could put in a full sized fridge if we decide. We cut the hole in the wall and framed it in with steel studs. I wanted it tight so I didn't leave much tolerance. When I measured it, I didn't take into account the screws holding the frame together or the fins that held the accordion wings on (which I took off). The wings, I cut off with our grinder but I had to leave the screws. I also didn't account for the flashing that I later put in the window to keep outside moisture from creeping into the opening. All said and done I had an 18 ½" unit and an 18 ½" hole. It took some convincing but I finally got it shoved into place. Not sure we could get any dental floss between it and the opening now. :) We'll put a bead of silicone on it when we're ready to lay the final siding on the outside wall to finish sealing it. I must say, it was a chore to carry it up the ladder and mount it 8' high on the wall but I'm very happy with the end result.

We've debated over and over again about what to do about cooking and heat. I know that many 1000s of people use propane for both, and never have a problem. I also know that when there is a problem, it can be devastating! This happens on a regular basis. Not on a high percentage, but over and over again. There are other health consideration when using gas in that it burns a large portion of the oxygen in the air. Of course, to be properly vented, you would need to keep some kind of fresh air coming into the house whether you used gas or not. Anyway, we have finally decided to use electric to cook with and will decide on our heating option at a later date. Our plan is to have a combination Microwave/Convection oven that will mount under the countertop and then portable burner tops that we can put on top of the fridge and pull down when we need. This way, we get to keep our countertop space where the Stove and Microwave would normally go.  We have just about committed to a small normal sized refrigerator/freezer (12-14 SF). I hate to give up the counter space for it but we have not been very happy with our choices in dorm sized options. Either you give up your freezer to get more fridge space or you give up even more fridge space to have the split freezer. We both agree that we don't need the 25 SF unit that we currently use in Arlington but something bigger than the mini units will be desirable.  -  To this end, we ran some more Romex for the kitchen breakers. Seems we're destined to unload the loft just about every other weekend lately. The good news is that we've decided to leave the flooring on the ground floor until we use it - NO MATTER WHAT. Really got old lifting the boxes of tile up into the storage every time we needed to get to something.

We hope to get the insulation finished next weekend as well as the sheerocking. We'll see if we can stay focused and on target!

Just a funny pic of our cat Topaz. He loves boxes. It's like Christmas every time you leave one open and out! Funny, the best present my girls ever got growing up was a "fort" I made them out of a dryer box. Cut a couple of holes for windows and a door. Give 'em a box of crayons and a pack of stickers and turn 'em loose. It was their favorite play place for nearly 2 years. Wish we were all that easy to please now!

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving planned. We'll be celebrating our 6th anniversary that weekend!  Take Care

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