Wednesday, December 18, 2013

House Update 1 - Budget Stainless Dishwasher

Times are crazy.  Just as I posted that we were in a house with a garage we packed up and moved again.  I hope this one is for a while. Moving is terrible. Moving with a packed garage is hell.  I'm going to try to keep updating this frequently as we have a ton of projects ongoing and a baby on the way.  That means deadlines... which really helps me (a natural procrastinator).

First on the to-do list? Replace the 1990s era black appliances.  The kitchen is going to need a full blown makeover, but that is going to have to wait a while.  Fully functional ovens and a microwave take priority over some granite.

We started the appliance search getting the necessities, fridge, new oven, and microwave. Ouch. Appliances are ridiculously expensive.  We were left with a half matching kitchen, and that is where this blog steps in.  Converting your still working black dishwasher into a stainless beauty.  In our case, the previous homeowners had recently replaced the dishwasher, so we couldn't justify replacing it just so it would match.

Our solution?  Search and search online until we could find a stainless front panel to swap out.  Easy $100 upgrade to give the appliance that brand new look.  Took a little time to figure out the stainless steel model equivalent, but it ended without any real issues.  A key to look for should you decide to tackle this: Find parts diagrams for the similar models.  GE had one model number for the white and black dishwashers, but changed the numbers up completely for the stainless version, even though everything else was identical.

Here is a look at the project.

There were about eight screws around the perimeter and bottom that holds the cover on. Very challenging.

The control panel slides in place and is held on by similar screws around the perimeter.

Completed. $100, Maybe a 20 minutes, and a fresh dishwasher. Not bad.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Budget Dining Room Table (Repair)

We recently inherited a set of antique dining room chairs that have been in my family for quite some time.  The timing was great, as my wife and I are about to move into a larger house and needed a new dining room set.  With that, we started the search for a suitable table that would work with the chairs and not break the bank.

No such luck.

Tables are expensive, and most don't seem to work with antique chairs and big armrests.

After some searching and patience, we finally found a table that could, with a little modification, fit the bill.  It was from a furniture outlet store and had significant damage to one end, but at $200 was worth a shot at fixing.

Here is the table as purchased:

 It must have been dropped... pretty significant damage:

The other issue (which seemed to be the case with every table we found) was the chair arm rests not clearing the table skirt.  For space and comfort issues this also had to be fixed.

The plan of action: (1) shorten the table by 10" to remove the damaged end and (2) rip the long runners to accommodate the tall chairs.  I started by disassembling the table, which luckily only had glue at joints indicated below.  Even there the glued joints were broken apart without much damage to the wood.

 I ripped each runner to trim 1.75" off the width.  I don't have any picture of cutting the table top, as it took both of us to run it on the table.  I set the fence at 10" and cut the damaged end off.  The cut was clean and only required some quick sanding to match the factory end.  I will touch it up with a light stain to mask the fresh cut.

The long runners also had the be shortened by 10".  After cutting them to length, I notched the ends to work with the existing joints at the table legs.

Reassembling the table:

I used a bit more glue than the original makers did, but other than that I put it back together as it originally was (just a bit shorter). 

Here's the finished project.  It works with the chairs, which are ready for some reapulstering, and is finished at a quarter of the cost of a new one.

The End.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cat Litter Cabinet

Alright... It's been a while since a post, but I'm finally back working in the garage.  Since the last one we moved to Florida (where we were garage-less in an apartment), then to San Antonio (where all the time was spent fixing up our house), and now to Austin where I have a garage and a little more time. Enough of that stuff, lets get to the project.

This one is from the Pintrest-born Honey-Do list.  That's a long list, but I figured this one had some merit because hiding cat poop as best you can is always a smart move.

I would like to note that this is a new type of build for me. I'm not big on painting wood, and I'm not fond of using particle board. With that being said, remember what this is being used for. Paint will do just fine.

I started the build making the basic frame putting the front, sides and bottom all together.  The bottom board has two 1/4" groves cut in it to allow the plexi-glass doors slide.  I used a dado blade on my table saw, but youi could always get the same effect making a few passes on an 1/8" blade.

With the basic frame glued up I moved on to the inside and back.  The inner divider is built with cheap and light 1/4" Birch plywood with quarter round at the top and bottom.  This is just enough support top and bottom to hold it in place.  No structural purpose there, so no need to get too crazy.  I notched the rear of the sides and bottom for the rear panel to sit in. This gave it a good flush look.

After the basic frame was put together I went on to cutting the cat hole and dry fitting the doors.  The doors are made from 1/4" plexi-glass that came in a 2'x4' sheet.  It was surprisingly easy to work with. I first cut it to fit on the table saw, rounded the edges to ensure it would slide, then drilled a large hole to use to slide.  To give the frosted appearance I used Valspar frosting spray from Lowes.  It has stuck well, however I wasn't entirely pleased with how uniform it went on.

For painting the cabinet I went with a PPG sealer first, then a quality latex enamel.  The combo gives a tough scrubbable finish but still allows for soap and water cleanup. I had a scrap of carpet laying around and cut it to fit.  The carpet should capture any stray littler before the cat has a chance to track it out.

One other item I want to point out involves keeping the litter from getting into the door tracks.  I accept that eventually litter will make it into the tracks and cause an issue with the door sliding.  To help prevent this I attached the soft side of a velcro strip to the sliding door which makes for constant contact between it and the floor molding.  This should keep a lot of the litter out of the track.

Here are some final pictures: