Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Building The Closet

I have installed several closet organizers in my day and lots of shelves so this was the easiest project for me to start with. Actually I started with the floor of the loft so I could install the closet. I removed the thin carpeting which had been installed mostly for show I suspect to give a finished look for the photos. It was stapled in. I was glad to find a good enough smooth surface plywood underneath though it was dirty with boot prints and had some gouges. After scrubbing it down with Murphy's wood soap I stained it with used motor oil which gave it a nice walnut color finish. Used motor oil is also supposed to be an insecticide because of the bits in it that accumulate from being in the engine. It's an old farmer's trick used to protect wood outdoors. I had used it before on furniture I built and it had stood the test of time. And no it is not flammable once the fumes evaporate. At least not anymore flammable than commercial stain. The smell evaporated quickly.

In planning the closet I started by assessing my current clothing inventory, doing some much needed weeding and measuring the amount of hang space taken up by my everyday clothes. I cut that by a few inches and came up with 36" which would allow shelving at either side to hold pants and t-shirts. I had it in mind to build the closet at the back of the loft. Most tiny house people don't put their closet in the loft probably because it is too difficult to get dressed up there, but I was strapped for space downstairs.

I built the closet sides from a hollow core door I had on hand. Doors are my favorite building material. They are light and strong, have factory finished edges, can be found for free and usually come with a finish already. The thick edges take up space, but look nice and make the pieces easy to screw together. Once cut into pieces the cavity of the hollow core is exposed at the cut edge. I usually fill up this opening with lumber cut to fit between the two door faces, but it wasn't necessary in this case because I wasn't going to attach anything to those edges just have a batten at top and bottom to hold the uprights in place. So I just taped over the opening with brown paper packaging tape I was almost going to throw out. I didn't want bugs to find a home inside the door and no one would ever see the brown tape.

The most challenging part turned out the be beveling the edge of the shelf that would sit on top of these closet walls as it would have to fit under the eaves of the roofline. I consulted the internet and learned how to cut an acute angle on the table saw by standing the piece on its end. I had to make many tries to get close.

I made the shelves from 1/8" plywood I had on hand that had been used as wall panelling. This was thin but at 12" wide they would not flex and would serve to support the weight of 3 pairs of pants. I cut the ply into shelves and spacers to support the shelves; standing upright the 1/8" would support the shelf while the one above it would keep it in place. Such construction might seem as sturdy as a house of cards and bore some resemblance to building with cards, but once glued together to an upright piece it was quite rigid. I had never tried this glue up construction before, but since it was my closet this was my chance.

Before I glued it up I realized that I didn't have enough space for the narrow t-shirt shelves. I hadn't accounted for the 1 1/2" thickness of the doors. I had to cut an inch off the shelves which cramped my folded up pants, but I could live with it (or just get narrow pants as I did for the photo). I had an old closet pole I cut to fit and in my dad's stash I found a package of new closet pole brackets I liked better than my paint covered used ones. The entire closet was completed in just over six hours and all for free.

The closet would not be my only storage for clothes. I have a chest of drawers from my childhood that I had hand painted during a phase of painting faux finishes. I couldn't face weeding out my collection of designer board shorts stored in it, plus the top drawer held all my jewelry and hair things and the surface was my dressing table. I could make room for it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sealing The Cedar Siding

One wall of the tiny house was alarmingly faded being the wall that had faced the sun for so long. The first order of business would be to seal the cedar shingles for I had no intention of letting it weather to the gray that Phil had described. So I called Tim and hired him to help me seal it.

There were many sealing products to choose from and I believed that an oil based sealer was my best bet. In the end I chose the brand that Tim and I were most familiar with. I had more trouble deciding how to apply it. Could it be sprayed or rolled on? Or would I have to brush it on arduously shingle by shingle. We tried spraying first with my father's compressor, but there was too much wind. Rolling it on with a paint roller was ridiculously inadequate.

So brushes it would be. And if you have to brush your entire house with a four inch brush it is good that it is a tiny house. Plus you can move it to get at the side against the fence. And it only takes a gallon. It took us nearly 10 hours. My stepmother supported our endeavor by feeding us lunch. This made me enormously grateful that Thai people consider food to be the glue of any social activity.

It looked great when we were finished. The original honey color that had won me over would now be preserved.