Want it done right? — Do it Yourself!

Before getting into the latest project let me summarize what Diane and I have been up to this crazy and exciting year!  After a 20th. anniversary celebration of living in Scottsdale for 6 months we decided to sell our home in Las Vegas and move to Phoenix.  For Diane, the purpose was to be close to the Scottsdale Artists School and the generally more art oriented environment.   My objective is similar for my furniture work and also finding a group of artists to make “boutique frames” for.  Someone needs to fill the niche between the multi thousand dollar frames most artists can’t afford and the big box crappy ones.  Another big plus was that this house already had a free standing shop of sorts.  It has taken some time to get it to my liking and you can read about some of it here.

Woodworks by John #1

Woodworks by John #1

So, to make what could be a very long (and boring) story short I began to look for a suitable molding; one that was wide (3″-4″), could accommodate stretched canvas, and had a panel that had space and a contour that could be carved.  I searched the few raw molding suppliers on line and checked with Foster Planing Mills in So. California who we had used before but shipping would be a killer.  Then I learned about Barger Moulding and ended up designing and ordering 100′ of the profile we designed.  That’s the reference in this blogs’ title.  If it’s worth doing or if you can’t find what you want you either do or make it yourself.  This profile is called Woodworks by John #1.  Enough background, let’s get into the first frame currently under construction.

A few months ago, while we were in the middle of our move; I received an email from someone on the east coast.  It was from a gentleman who had seen my website and was interested in having a frame made for a painting he had recently purchased.  My first reaction was a slight panic — I’ve been wanting to expand my custom frame work and here I am without a shop and in the middle of what we called our “Real Estate Hell”.  We had a few emails back and forth and thankfully he is very patient and willing to wait until the new shop is complete — thank God!

Anthony Thieme Framed Painting 8" x 10"

Anthony Thieme Framed Painting 8″ x 10″


It was interesting to see that the artist, Anthony Thieme; is someone who like me, came from Holland!  Here is an image of the picture my client bought along with the frame it came with.  Along with this image he also sent an image of the style of frame he would like to have for this piece.  screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-5-09-14-pm



This design is more fitting with the carved waves on the panel.  Obviously, this painting is much larger than the size of his painting.  He also asked for molding to be wider, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4″ which is what the new, Woodworks by John#1; his frame will be the first to be made from my custom molding design!


The first step was to come up with the design.  This is accomplished by grabbing the image and manipulating the size to fit the frame.  I discovered that with a frame of only 8″ x 10″ having two waves at each corner wouldn’t work.  Reducing the second wave by 25% allowed me to fit both elements and get a pleasing design.  Once the design is drawn out it is attached to a piece of plastic from a salad container.  In this picture you’ll notice the pattern being cut with the chisels of the correct profile — their size and sweep is noted on a piece of paper to facilitate the actual carving:


Pattern Making

Pattern Making

Next is the the actual carving on a corner sample.  I was anxious to see how this Basswood from Barger would cut and am impressed with the quality of the wood.  Using the plastic for the pattern makes it easy to flip and get that mirror image on the corners.  The line on the outer edge of the molding indicates the center on each leg.  Yep, I’m in my “happy place”, in front of the carving bench lost in making the design come to life!

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Drawer Unit Complete: No Dovetails Here

I just had that “ah ha moment”.  Once I found my camera and began to use it on the tripod rather then my phone I noticed the pictures all seem to have a yellowish tinge to them.  I played around with the usual suspects but it’s still there.  I mentioned it to Diane and she thinks it may have to do with the setting for the type of light — no duh!  My new shop has LED lights while the old one had fluorescents.  I’m guessing that’s the culprit, I’m willing to bet that this camera won’t have a setting for LED, it’s pretty old!

Grooving drawer unit sides

Grooving drawer unit sides

For the drawer units I decided to use an old standby which I’d like to say is “quick and dirty” but nothing really is, is it?  In the old shop I used a drawer system where the bottom of the drawer also functions as the guides.  It begins by carefully cutting 1/4″ grooves in the plywood sides of the unit.  You need to pay attention that you end up with sides that face each other and aren’t mirror images.  Having a notch for the toe kick helps.

Tongue & Groove drawer joint

Tongue & Groove drawer joint

After cutting the fronts and backs for all the drawers it was time for a fairly straight forward tongue and groove joint.  This too is 1/4″ since 1/2″ clear coat Baltic Birch plywood was used for the drawers.  Like I said, no dovetails for this project and it’s even been assembled with glue and nails!  After the unit itself was built, 1/4″ MDF was sized to fit into the grooves and slide easily.  It’s not like these are kitchen drawers that will be opened and closed many times a day — basic shop storage units designed to be utilitarian but still look good.  After gluing and nailing the box together, the bottom was attached using spacers to align and square the entire assembly.  A couple of nails (#18 x 1 1/4″) did manage to blow out of the side but that’s to be expected.  Here’s the process simplified:

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The next step was planing the Alder I had remaining for the drawer fronts down to 1/2″ in thickness.  Can’t help myself here, have to use my L-N Bronze smooth plane to finish all of the surfaces, utilitarian or not!  The drawers are about 14″ deep and 26″ wide so I think two pulls are in order.

From Wood to Pull

From Wood to Pull

Rather than buy them my choice was making them.  I saw a recent Facebook video post lamenting how we’ve become such a throw away society and that many folks have no idea how things are made or put together.  As a life long shop teacher that was something I always emphasized;  what we have was made by someone.  Nowadays, most things are “spit out” by some computerized contraption that a human being switches on and off!  Don’t want to get on a soap box but these drawer pulls are made from a piece of Pine that the previous owner left in the garage.  This picture shows the rough piece of wood and the subsequent pull.  I thought about all of the little steps required to get from that board to 16 pulls, allow me to list them: 1. Plane edge; 2. Rip to 7/8″; 3. Plane edge again, repeat until there is enough stock for all 16 pulls plus a spare or two “just in case”; 4.  Cut 45 degree on all edges on tablesaw; 5. Block plane those edge; 6. Cut to length; 7. Chamfer ends to match; 8. Counter bore for screw head; 9. Drill through hole 10. Spray Deft for protection — and that’s only for the pulls!  Also needed to plane, chamfer, and finish the drawer fronts.  Then locate mounting hole for the pull in the same location on all eight of the drawer fronts.  Simple jigs were made to aid with this.  When it was all said and done it was quite time consuming but worthwhile in my opinion.  It’s all about the process of thinking and planing to get from point A to point B.  I rather enjoy that process, here’s a slide show to illustrate that.

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The final step for this storage wall is to make sliding doors that will cover the shelves.  I do need to get started on the picture frame design to secure the commission for it.  Seems like it’s been such a long time since I’ve done any carving I’m a bit apprehensive!  Most definitely will blog about that, looking forward to that project and process.

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Thanksgiving — much to be Thankful for!

My On-Going Challenge

My On-Going Challenge

Those of you following my blog know the work going on to get the woodshop here in our Phoenix home up and running.  So thankful we have the resources and talent to get that accomplished although my wallet is getting a bit flat!  Now that the shop is basically done it’s time to figure out where to put everything.  Amazing how much “stuff” you can accumulate and keep even after garage sales and the move.  Making those decisions as to what you need, what you may need, and what you should just get rid of isn’t easy.  This is the second garage (only 14′ deep) where I’ve put most of the “shop stuff”.  Can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone through those boxes looking for something I needed.

Organization started out by making two tall cabinets to fit in the entry alcove.  I’m using 3/4″ ClearKote Birch ply for the shelves and Alder for the face frame and sides.  I know my reputation is one of using hand cut joinery for my work but in this instance I kept telling myself, hey; it’s utilitarian and storage only and I need to get it done!  After sizing the Alder pieces for the face frame, they were prepped for biscuit joinery.  I remember when this system came out how it revolutionized the joinery process, now we have Kreg systems and the Festool Domino for high end work.  I can’t bring myself to use nails to attach the face frame. Instead, using tongue and groove joinery cut on the table saw which was then glued and clamped is as “high tech” as I can go .  Here’s a slide show to illustrate the process.  The new combination assembly and out feed table worked great for this project.

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The way I attached them to the wall was by first screwing cleats to the wall studs then nailing the shelves to them and the cabinet carcasses.  Using the walls as the back and one side for these cabinets helped my budget by only buying one sheet of the Alder plywood.  Since this area used to be the porch for the building the floor wasn’t all that great so needed a lot of shims to make things square and secure.  There will be a drawer unit between these two cabinets and I have barn door hardware to hang doors which will conceal the shelving.  My plan is to make sliders out of Alder and corrugated tin — we’ll see how that works out!

While waiting for the  things that were clamped and glued to dry I was able to do the window sills and begin hanging my tools on the walls.  Hanging my most used tools for easy access is my style, somewhat reminiscent to how the Shakers had pegs around their rooms to hang chairs, tools, brooms, etc. — I like that concept and think it’s a good way to outfit a shop.  As you can see, the window openings weren’t as square as we’d like to see them but by scribing the angle with a small sliding bevel square they came out alright.

WoodworksbyJohn#1 Profile

WoodworksbyJohn#1 Profile

Here’s some news about the quest to become a boutique frame carver and maker; I have a client who sent me some ideas of what he’d like in a frame for a painting he has acquired.  After searching through the catalogs of the limited number of picture frame suppliers I decided to go out on a limb and designed my own profile.  There is a custom moulding and millwork shop here in Phoenix by the name of Barger Moulding.  They are similar to Foster Planing Mill in SoCal who I’ve dealt with many times in the past except Barger doesn’t have any stock moulding profiles.  The picture you see at the right is my own design and I’ve gone ahead and ordered 100′ of it.  It’s designed so that there is a wide panel area for carving.  Hopefully it will be ready next week — stay tuned!



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Long Time Coming!

Well, finally I’ve been able to do some woodwork that didn’t fall into the category of construction, drywall, paint, etc. and it feels real good!  I mentioned the difficulty of placing the machinery in the new shop which is compounded by having a post right in the center of the space and the sliding table on the SawStop.  Needed to plan how most of my work is sized in order to place the saw, although it has a mobile base once the sliding table is attached it’s pretty difficult to move.  There are two main things needed to get the shop up and running after placing the machinery.  The first was an assembly table plus a small table that will serve as the stand for my carving chisel chest.  The assembly table is designed to serve as an outfield table for the tablesaw as well.  Here’s the completed table and stand.  As you can see, things aren’t quite finalized in the carving area.  The bench is the one I made for our Scottsdale adventure, the window still needs a wooden sill, and as for the assembly bench/out feed table I need to extend the sawdust collection duct from the saw for easier access.  Bar clamps are always a hassle to store so that table is designed so they are underneath adding weight and stability plus keeping them out of the way but easily accessible.

Now that’s accomplished the second major item is building a storage area that will be a combination of shelving and drawers.  This will be located in the entry/alcove area on the wall opposite the carving area you see in the picture above.  My original thoughts was to make the table out of 8/4 Poplar but Peterman Lumber here in Phoenix had some 12′ lengths of 8/4 Pine that had a price I couldn’t resist!  Also used 3/4″, Clear Kote Baltic Birch ply for the table tops and eventual shelving.  The slick surface of the Birch ply made it tricky to hold securely while screwing the top to the table apron, you’ll see how I solved that problem in the slideshow.  Working with my planes, chisels, and tools after such a long time away from them was such a great feeling — here’s a slide show to illustrate the process used to make those tables.

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I spent much of today finding a way to organize and hang my tools.  I know many prefer to build a chest to house their planes, saws, chisels, etc. but I’ve always liked a simple system of hanging them from a board with pegs.  In my previous shops that board was mounted directly above the workbench but now that I have windows it’s off to one side.  I’ll share that as well as building the storage areas in my next blog.  Alder and Birch ply will be used for that and OMG: biscuits, glue, screws, and nails!!!

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So Much Good Stuff!

I’ve been so wrapped up and concentrating the bulk of my attention to the shop transformation that I wrote about in my last blog that I totally spaced out sharing this exciting honor I recently received.   Early in October I received an email from Joanna Werch Takes the editor of Woodworkers Journal.  Kind of a long story but quite a few years before, a former editor of the Journal came to Las Vegas and interviewed a number of local woodworkers in their home shops for a possible article.  That never materialized but Joanna apparently found his notes and decided to turn it into a story.  Her first email caught me a bit off guard but I decided to respond which lead to a phone interview of about 40 minutes — very interesting experience!

During the course of the interview she asked permission to go through my blog and on line portfolio and did what I consider to be a wonderful job.  She pulled pictures and a video that I feel illustrated my years of work.  If you have the time and inclination I’d be honored for you, my blog readers to check it out.  Here’s a LINK to that interview, I’m humbled but extremely happy to get the recognition.

Lastly, just want to share some good stuff about the shop and actually making sawdust and plane shavings.  Current project is the combination assembly table and out feed for the tablesaw and then storage for all of those items we accumulate as woodworkers but don’t want to get rid of!  The table is being made of 8/4 Pine and that Clear Kote Baltic Birch.  That’s some nice stuff.  I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of actual woodwork!

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Phoenix Shop Transformation

Hallelujah;  looks like I’m just about ready to make some sawdust rather than drywall chalk dust and paint drippings!  It seems like a much longer time then what it’s been but I began the construction work on the woodshop around September the 14th. and now it’s ready for work.  Quite excited to say the least!  First up is a combination out feed table and assembly table by the tablesaw.  Then I have plans for an eight foot storage area that will combine a drawer unit flanked on either side with shelf units.  The plan is to conceal them behind sliding doors.  More on that as it happens, I really need to do the storage unit because as it is now, everything I need is in boxes in the second, smaller garage.  Can’t tell you how tired I am of going through them over and over to find what I need.  If you know me at all you know my habit is to have a place for everything and everything in its’ place — can’t stand to waste time looking for stuff.

Original Entry and Front Porch

Original Entry and Front Porch

Let’s stay super positive, thought I’d do a series of pictures documenting the before and after, let’s start with the entrance.  The original shop building had a single door which just won’t work for bringing in materials and taking out projects.  This meant taking out the single door, putting a beam across that opening and eventually framing in what was once a covered porch.

That was a major structural change since that was a bearing wall, if you’re interested you can see the details in this BLOG ENTRY.

The next major changes had to do with the windows.  The original structure had one large window centered on the west side.  Couple of problems with it other than the fact you could see air around the edges!  There is a load bearing post right in the middle of it which meant you couldn’t hardly open or close it and also the counter weight was broken so closing was almost impossible.  After taking it out I replaced it with two, single hung windows and added a small slider to the porch enclosure.  You can read about it in this BLOG ENTRY.

There was a ton of work done to the interior along with problems I’ve already talked about, mainly the way it was framed up.  Not sure how or why the stud and rafter spacing was so goofy but it certainly didn’t follow the standard 16″ on center for walls and 24″ on center for rafters.  This presented a real headache when it came to installing the drywall but that was overcome with a bit of grumbling and lots of head scratching figuring out how to get the best yield from the drywall.  Here’s a series of before and after pictures — what do you think?

So, it goes without saying that I’m extremely pleased.  There’ll be an adjustment period as I figure out how to create an efficient workflow pattern but excited to work all of that out.


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Woodshop Progress — Dilemma’s Continue

I don’t know about the rest of you but I often have “me to I” talks as I work by myself!  Constantly asking: “What was he thinking as he was working on this building?”  Again, don’t get me wrong, I feel very blessed to have been able to purchase a home that already has a free standing shop building but getting it up to par presents challenges.

First off, I knew my stud spacing would be off a bit when I enclosed the porch area due to the existing posts and roof structure.  During the week it was time to insulate the ceiling so that the drywall process can begin.  Can’t figure out how the builder came up with the rafter spacing. Customary spacing is 24″ on center but these vary from 15″ to 27″ and leaves me wondering how the sheathing was attached for the roof.  We’ve had rain and no leaks so at this point I’m leaving that alone.  I purchased R-19 insulating batts which were fine except for attaching them.  Check out the pictures, I ended up being able to staple one side and then cut filler pieces to fill gaps as needed.  Not wanting to go to Home Depot for  tie wire to support it until the drywall goes up I decided to try this yellow, mesh joint tape and staple it up as I went across the span.

Porch Lamp

Porch Lamp

That worked out okay (itchy job!) and the insulation was extended all the way out into the 2′ overhanging eave.  This was then boxed in with the same material used for the siding and capped off with the installation of this semi-industrial looking porch lamp.  Now it was time to figure out how to attach the drywall to the rest of the ceiling in the main shop area.

The first concern here was that the ridge board isn’t the same size as the rafters which would leave a space in the drywall ceiling.  Thought that a picture or two is worth more so here’s a little slideshow to illustrate how this was solved by creating a faux beam at the center of the roof:

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Monday was a great day, Wolfgang’s Air Conditioning and Service here in Phoenix came out and installed the mini-split system.  It’s going to be so cool (no pun intended) to have a shop that is climate controlled.  Here’s a few pictures of the progress, I did need to remove the rest of the drywall to complete the install.  Cranked it up in the afternoon even though the windows and doors aren’t installed yet and it felt good.  Super efficient, super quiet, 1 ton unit with a SEER rating of 29.3!

Speaking of drywall, after messing with it to remove all of the previous owners mistakes decided to check the budget and get some estimates on possibly having this job subbed out.  The neighborhood we live in here in Phoenix has an historical designation as Rancho Ventura.  There is a homeowners group (no HOA’s) that also has an on-line newsletter.  After putting in a request for drywall finishers I contacted a man who happens to live on the next street.  He has a drywall business called Kabco and came over as scheduled.  To make a long story short, after getting a bid for just tape and texture I decided to ask him about hanging it as well.  I liked the price and he and I have been working out there the last two days and getting along well.  At this point all of the drywall is hung and he’ll be back to add the corner bead, tape, and texture.  Without a doubt, had I taken this on alone it would be a 3 week job rather than a 1 1/2 week.  My knees and back are thankful — many miles on this body running marathons and my 50 – 100 mile trail races have made climbing ladders and crouching down to cut drywall a less than delightful chore, really glad that hiring Kevin was in the budget.

Final thing for this post is the progress on the window at the front of the house.  You may recall from the previous post where I talked about all of the problems with it.  Just came back from Home Depot and they told me that both the windows and doors are scheduled to be at the store by the end of the week.  In any case, here’s that large window removed and the framing for its replacement of two, single hung windows instead.  Still can’t understand why anyone would put in a large window with a structural post right smack dab in the middle of it — oh well!

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Window Woes and other Concerns!

Painted & Trimmed; Waiting for doors and replacement window.

Painted & Trimmed; Waiting for doors and replacement window.

Let me preface this blog by first saying that I am NOT really whining and complaining!  I feel so fortunate to have found a wonderful house here in Phoenix that already had an existing out building for my woodshop.  Diane and I are loving the neighborhood plus the more diversified living experience here in the city of Phoenix.  It’s one of the larger, metropolitan centers of the United States and quite a change from what we’re used to.  So many place to visit, shop, and dine at — like a permanent adventure!  The shop itself has a lot more work required than I had planned on but I’ve decided to adapt Diane’s attitude and resolve myself to the fact that this is my project.  As much as I’d like to be building furniture or carving frames, the shop comes first and it may take another month or so to get it together.  What you see at the left is the enclosed porch area which will have a pair of French doors (6′ wide) leading into it, there is a 10′ wide opening which will allow me to get any materials in and projects out.

Well, the title of this blog is Window Woes so let’s jump right into that issue.  Although it looks like a great source of light I had a problem the first time I opened it for ventilation — couldn’t get it closed again!  It appears to be jammed into an out of square opening and there may have been some sort of counter weight to help it close.  I needed to wedge a 2×4 between the frame and the slider to force it closed; not good.  Check out these photo’s, notice something weird?

A couple of problems with that other than the fact it won’t open/close.  First off to repair a slider and make it operable you need to lift it out of the frame, that post prevents that so if it was ever broken I’d be out of luck.  My neighbor was over and pointed out the 1/4″ or so of air space on the lower, left hand corner which would explain the wet, nasty drywall sill.  At 6’6″ wide and 4′ tall this is a good sized window.  My solution will be replacing it with a pair of 30″ x 42″ single hung windows.  I’ll be able to frame them in and trim them out with the same wide moldings used on the new window and door.

Another exterior issue is the berm required for the flood irrigation.  I mentioned that in another post but we use canal water to irrigate the lawn which basically floods the entire area with 4″-6″ of water.  I had noticed some leakage into the shop — not a good thing!  The water enters the property behind the shop and I noticed the berm seemed to be gone on the east side.  Here’s some pictures of the work in progress:

In the first photo on the left you can see how it was and the beginnings of the new work.  Water enters at the top edge of that picture.  Luckily the Oleander roots weren’t too difficult to work through and work went well.  Old school, now folks use a laser but I relied on the line level I’ve had since the 70’s.  Have about 1 1/2″ of drop in the 30′ or so, we’ll see if it’s successful when we flood in a few days.

Where's the Stud?

Where’s the Stud?

Drywall was installed pretty badly, either the stud layout is off or whoever did it was totally inexperienced.  I thought everyone knew that joints had to line up on studs but as this picture at the left shows it wasn’t the case here.

Measure twice, cut once

Measure twice, cut once

Another problem was the openings for the outlet boxes.  I can understand being off on you first cut or two but you should catch on after that.  This is typical; I’ll remove the drywall which thankfully is screwed only, not taped and mudded in and re-use them perhaps on the ceiling. I should be able to patch the holes to achieve an acceptable surface.

Tin Foil Ceiling

Tin Foil Ceiling

Ceiling, let’s talk about that too.  First off there wasn’t any drywall up there, just a foil blanket that looks like something you’d use to stick in your car windshield.  As I started to peel it back I also noticed the the electrical connections for the lights aren’t in junction boxes — not too safe.  Since I need to remove the lights to do the drywall I’ll nail on junction boxes and rewire according to code.  Insulation from the front wall is stacked up and ready to go back in once I add wiring.

So, as you can see, there’s some work to be done.  Happy to say though that I was able to use my Jack Plane to trim out the extension on the porch.  Needed to customize a piece to more or less match the twist in the 4″ x 6″ beam.

Tomorrow I have someone coming over to give an estimate for a mini-split A/C system and will begin work on the ceiling and electrical.  Ready for some itchy times!!

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Shop’s Coming Together — Lots of Work!

John Deere 125

John Deere 125

In the last post I shared our relief at overcoming the “real estate hell” and finally settling down here in our new home in Phoenix.  The house was built in 1951 and has been beautifully remodeled but there are still things to do/repair or bring up to our specifications.  Had the A/C checked, discovered some obstruction in a sewer line that Mr. Rooter took care of, and in the process of replacing some ceiling fans discovered that an existing fan in another part of the house has the same code for the remote!  Most importantly though, here we are in the most urban area we’ve lived in and a big purchase was this; a John Deere riding lawn tractor.

As for the shop, I’ve focused a lot of energy there so I’ll share the progress with you.  It started out having a porch area that is about 80 square feet.  The initial plan was to simply remove the single door and replace it with a double door so that larger material could be taken in and larger projects could be taken out.  Diane suggested enclosing that porch area which is what we ended up doing.

To span the complete opening required a substantial 4″x 12″ beam of about 12′ length.  Hard to find a good, straight piece like that anymore so after calling the city planners learned that a GlueLam would support the roof load at only 7 1/2″ wide rather than the 12″ beam.  Ordered one from Ponderosa Lumber at 10′ and it was delivered the next day.  Installation was relatively easy with Diane’s help until it rolled on me and allowed me to add my blood to the project!

The GlueLam rolled on me when I set it up on two ladders.  Head wounds like to bleed a lot so once that was under control Diane was able to set it on one of the cripples at one end while I did the same on the opposite end.  Once in place an additional cripple was nailed on either side for good support.  You can see in the left hand picture the temporary supports placed under the rafter tails on the outside — this is a load bearing wall.

The west and east side walls were framed on the porch then slid outside and stood up.  The west side has a window while the east side is solid wall.

Steel gussets were screwed to the top plate and existing facia board.  The south side wall was a bit more of a challenge since it had to be framed up on the dirt/mud!  Luckily, the previous owner left all of the form boards used for the shop stacked up behind.  They became the platform for framing that wall.  It will have a six foot pair of French Doors to allow plenty of light into the shop.  They will look better than a garage type door too.  This wall sits on the outside of the 4″x4″ posts that support the porch roof.  Great effort was taken to make sure the door opening is square!

The slab is about 7″ above the grade so after Diane and I set the wall up against the posts I’d lift one end, she’d stick a couple of 2×4’s under it then repeat that on the opposite end.  Now, we could lift it to the slab level, square it up and secure it in place — Nice!

Wrapped, Wired, and Windowed

Wrapped, Wired, and Windowed

There was some new wiring that needed to be done, boxes added for exterior light and outlet and then the entire structure was wrapped prior to installing the window.  Home Depot is just a few blocks away so next up is buying the siding to match and get this addition closed up.  The door should be here in 2 weeks and if the salesman was right, should just slip into my perfectly square, 72″ x 80″ opening.  At this point the addition is completely wrapped and the window has been installed.

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Long Time Coming — In Phoenix Now!!

There have actually been a couple of you readers of this blog out there that sent me questions about what’s going on with the move — I do appreciate that.  It was one of the most convoluted and screwed up real estate transactions you could possibly imagine!  Diane and I ended up in an empty house for 2 weeks sleeping on a borrowed foam pad and eating off of a borrowed bistro table and chairs thanks to our wonderful neighbors.  The folks we had working for us on the sale were fantastic, namely Audrey Tolley here in Phoenix, Susan Daichendt our Las Vegas agent, and Myron Chamberlain from Prime Lending here in Phoenix.  That team cannot be thanked enough for their hard work and diligence in completing this transaction.  The agents for our buyers on the other hand were terribly incompetent and were the reason for all of the problems.  The lender for our buyers, Noble Home Loans was terrible!  I had several phone contacts with the president, Brad Malkin and the principal Herman Vander Veldt.  After threatening to file complaints I was asked to “not phone again” by the president and given unkept promises by Herman.  Seems that they are a broker for home loans and sub-contract their work out to underwriters in Dallas.  As such, they have no control over the process.  The sales agent for the buyers, Jonathan Jacobs can best be described as one who over-promises and under-delivers.  He contracted three different closing dates which was the cause of Diane and I living in an empty house.  Like my friend Randy likes to say: ” to make a long story short” don’t use either of these companies for your Las Vegas real estate transactions!

Cutting Boardwalk

Cutting Boardwalk

So, let’s get to the good part of the move.  Having been in the same house for 20 years the change wasn’t easy.  We used the PackRats for moving our “stuff” and were very pleased with them.  They arrived at the Phoenix house a couple of days after we did which gave Diane and I time to paint the dining area, our bedroom, and the master bedroom.  We were able to move almost everything ourselves but hired a couple of guys from Silverbell Moving Services to help with the shop equipment.  The shop is located about 30 feet from the house over a dirt area.  Luckily, the former owner left a bunch of 2×10’s behind the shop so I created a “boardwalk” to get the heavy equipment out there.  It worked well but let me throw something very unusual out about how we irrigate our lot.  Our home is in an historic district of Phoenix called Rancho Ventura.  It used to be orchards and so we have the remnants of that by being able to irrigate our lots with water from the canals, this is called flood irrigation and costs about $80.00 per year.  We had our first experience with it and it’s really something to see, water runs for about an hour and subsides into the soil within 3-4 hours.  During the summer, we are scheduled once every two weeks and in the winter time we get it once a month, check out these pictures:

As any of you that have ever moved know, there is a myriad of things that need to get accomplished when you move.  Painting, unpacking, organizing, changing insurance, registration, etc. — the list seems endless.  We’ve been here since the first of September and today is the first opportunity I’ve had to get out to the shop.  You may have noticed that there is a porch in front and only a single entry door.  My initial thoughts were to add a double, french door so I can get in sheets of plywood and get my larger pieces out.  Diane suggested expanding the shop onto that porch area which makes sense and will give me an additional 85 square feet or so.  The double doors will be on the end with an additional window on the side.  The drywall installed in the shop hadn’t been taped or mudded so removal was easy.  Here’s a few shots of the shop before I started:

After removing the screws and stacking the drywall against the far wall, the insulation was taken out as well.  Lucky for me, no staples  just pressed between the studs.  Notice the funky ceiling insulation, kind of looks like those foil blankets you put in your car windshield — looks like I’ll need to put up a new ceiling as well!  Here’s how the wall looks now plus  a shot of the porch area that will be enclosed.

As I said earlier, this is quite a process.  Besides just the normal moving items the shop will need 220v electricity added to run my equipment and I’m definitely budgeting for a mini-split a/c unit.  This will pretty much wipe out my woods budget so it’ll be like starting over again but I plan to be up and running within 2-3 months making furniture, easels, and carving/gilding frames.  Thanks for being patient during this process — John

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