Monday, October 10, 2011

Re-staining the 1st lounge's floor.

After applying the sealing coat of polyeurethane, I realised the stain had been turned to liquid by the thinner with clear marks resulting... I'd put the job off for long enough. Bought a cheap belt sander and got to work, finishing with a vibration sander attached to our trusy hard-working Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Thankfully applying the stain afterwards showed no marks from before. This was obviously the first coat. 2nd coat made it all look a lot more uniform.

This time I took the precaution of using the backsides of a couple of plank's scraps to apply stain and test. It ran again, so it hadn't been the fact that I'd oiled the wood to get a more uniform coating before. The stain clearly isn't compatible with the Polyeurethane varnish. Spoke with Arnie and he has a couple of cans of sanding sealer precisely for this purpose. I'll apply that tommorow (On a piece of scrap first) to make sure the same problem doesn't occur. Failing all, I could use a water based varnish as an alternative - but as the two lounges will be used for social events including belly dancing, etc. I'd prefer the wood was as protected as possible with several coats of super hard Polyeurethane satin varnish.

I'm sure we'll work it out. Just one of those challenges that are sent to test us.

Here's another quote I recently enjoyed from Ann & Alex, our missionary friends in Cambodia.

“If you have a great ambition, take as big a step as possible in the direction of fulfilling it. The step may only be a tiny one, but trust that it may be the largest one possible for now.”
—Captain Mildred H. McAfee

Repairing a roof leak & how not to do it!

As we moved wood, we found there had been a leak from the recent typhoon weather, right in the centre of the house.

So we got a ladder & I climbed up, but no sooner had I reached the edge did I realise it wasn't safe to go up there without some rope for safety. But how were we going to get a rope over the roof?

We tried tying a stone to a string, but couldn't throw it far enough over.
Then I got the idea of using a fruit picking telescopic pole with a handle operated gripper as a sort of fishing rod to cast the stone over the house...

1st attempt nearly did it, then about 5 attempts went increasingly wrong until I managed to cast the stone straight into a glass panel. We couldn't help but laugh, it would have looked funny in a comedy sketch as the three of us tried to figure out how to do this!

Not discouraged, I promised myself not to do the same thing again and a few attempts later the stone flew over the house and dangled from a tree over the other side!
We managed to fish it down, pull the string and get a rope over the roof before tying it to a tree...

I then climbed up carefully (I don't like heights much!) and made my way to the leaking area where I found a loose top panel, whilst squatting and using my arms to avoid putting weight on the centre of the roof...
Sealed with plenty of mastic, I began to make my way back only to find Shinobu had put all his weight on the copper sheets and squashed a few pieces flat on his way to give me some copper nails.... My fault, as he's only just turned 16 and this being his first experience on a roof - didn't realise how fragile the copper beneath his bum was and I hadn't told him!

I straightened the bent panels as best I could then applied more sealant. It's waterproof for now, but I'll have to get up there and replace with proper half pipe top tiles sometime - maybe made of fired clay with a glaze.

I'll probably do this around the same time we put a chimney through the centre for the wood burning stove that's planned...

Another job for later. I was glad to get down from there. Shinobu said he'd enjoyed the view!

For now we've left the rope and ladder in place, so we can monitor to make sure the leak's repaired.

A quote I received by chance this morning from Ann & Alex in Cambodia summed it all up nicely:

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.”
—Barry LePatner

Preparing Japanese Cedar planks for the remaining ceilings.

After having finished the dining room ceilings, Arnie & Shinobu got onto the job of preparing the ceiling boards for the central lounge and guest room ceiling upstairs.

This is an involved and time consuming job, starting from raw planks of Sugi.
First off they planed each board several times, till the finish was acceptable.

Then each board was sanded down to smooth any imperfections, with the edges bevelled and channels routed into each board for splines to fit between.

Each board was then inspected and knot holes / imperfections filled with black caulking, so they wouldn't come out later, nor look unsightly when finished.

Mahogany coloured stain was applied at this time, dried then finished with a coat of sellac. Took about a week to get all this work done. Monotinous stuff, but they trooped through it. Now finally we're getting to stages of less sawdust production!

The ceiling of the central lounge will be finished tommorow and they'll move onto the guest room thereafter.

Once the ceilings are done, electrical wiring can be installed before plaster boarding of walls can be done. Thereafter it'll be my job to eco-wall. Arnie & Shinobu may need to do the flooring...

We're in a race against time these last few weeks. Still need to finish wallpapering the ceilings & walls in the kitchen too!

The dining room nears completion.

Arnie & Shinobu have been working hard at completing the dining room.
In the last entry Shinobu & I had been cleaning the beams of dust, then making a plastic membrane to insulate the loft space above against dust, so it could be used as a store room. This was completed within a few days, much to our relief - now finally the sooty dust was no longer, at last!

In the last week of September the celing beams an slats that needed replacing were fixed, then the plywood floors were cut and fitted. Some of the beams weren't completely square, so the plywood had to be secured in other ways so it would look flush on the ceiling. Once they'd completed, the ceiling plywood was removed and wallpapered before being carefully lowered into place and secured. Already the room looked... well, more like a room!

All that was left to do on the ceiling, was fitment of LED spotlights and making of a trap door for the loft, but this is postponed, as the main lounge became the focus. All work that produces a lot of dust is being completed as a priority now...

Last Friday Arnie needed to be away, so I spent two days on the dining room.

First I sanded and stained the wood around the perimeter with Mahogany colour, then the laying could begin.

I actually found I enjoyed it as I'd become faster through practice. I no longer felt I needed to diligently fit spacing plastic shims between each piece, as I could judge by eye that I had the correct spacing, so needed fewer shims, which take time to fit & adjust with (As they often fly out if the plank is pushed into place too fast).

By 5am on saturday morning I only had 30 more boards to lay, having got through the difficult stage of laying the oak around the kotatsu hole in the centre.

On Saturday I finished all except the last row (Needs accurate fitment, so I left that to the professional!). I put together some scrap pieces which will be stuck to a piece of plywood before being cut to size, then glued & nailed in place just like the rest of the flooring.

It's amazing how fitting the flooring can transform the room.

I finished at around midnight on Saturday night, having spent some 15 hours laying the oak and given it a coat of golden oak stain, ready for varnishing this coming week.

Plan is to finish the central kotatsu cover & varnish a total of 4 coats, before fitting all the shoji doors on new brass rails & wheels for both rooms this week.

Children's room gets plastered and flooring is completed.

Progress is coming a lot faster now as I sense urgency in completing. We plan to move at the end of October, so there's more pressure on!

I've been burning the midnight oil.

I started off by sanding down the beams and staining very dark, before Arnie applied a couple of coats of sellac.

In the meantime I fitted the light switches. 4 controls for various lights, although there's only LED spotlights currently fitted. One switch controls some of the wall sockets for table & floor lamps. The two remaining controls will be for e centrally mounted pendant light and one other light such as for pictures, or even a loft light for upstairs...

After masking, plastering took me just one evening to complete but I used up much more eco-wall material, as I wanted to make it thicker and smoother since it's where children are most likely to havoc damage!

Next I spent a late night (Till 5am!) laying oak flooring. I could tell I was getting tired towards the end as I begun to make mistakes on cutting lengths accurately, but we're talking milimetres so I just laid the boards knowing nobody else would notice except me!

Before leaving for the 1st weekend of October to return to Shizuoka, I stained the floor, so it would have plenty of time to dry before the 1st coat of sealing varnish early the following week.

Last Saturday, to finish off my week's contribution to work, I varnished the floor a second time. It's still wet in these pictures.

We've not yet re-fitted Shoji doors as the wood the rails will run on needed to be finished with Polyeurethane varnish first. There's just two more light sandings, then two coats of varnish I want to add this coming week, then doors can go on and it'll be a pretty much completed room, except for building a wardrobe and that big round framed window into the lounge, but that'll have to come after we've moved in.
For the time being Arina will need to use a chest of drawers instead!

The final wall & round window can be made by Arnie at home and fitted in with minimised disturbance later on.

Putting up the new kitchen ceiling in a day.

Our kitchen will receive a "band-aid" facelift for now. Just a new ceiling covered with suitable washable wallpaper, plus new walls with original (Very thick!) beams exposed. The plan is to live with this space and slowly note where improvements should be made to finalise a design, so we can implement it in a year or two. With new walls, all cleaned up it should become quite a nice kitchen, albeit not to totally modern standards - yet.

Arnie's son Abe, a professional house builder had a day off work on 21st September due to expected serious typhoon weather so he came to join us and I got to meet the man who has been donating all sorts of high quality materials to our project!

Arnie had mentioned that Abe was a whizz at framing & plaster boarding, so this was a great opportunity to get the ceiling in the kitchen replaced, including framing - since the ceiling surface was uneven (There had been horrible tiled glued to the plywood previously).

So we first cleaned off the glue and wood chip residue from the previous tiles so the framing could begin.

It was interesting to see Abe at work. Obviously very experienced, his techniques saved a lot of time and it soon became clear he was on a mission to complete the entire ceiling within a day, which would include two layers of 9mm plaster board (As opposed to 12mm), to help insulate against noise.

First the overhead cupboards came off, then framing around the perimeter, making use of the framing above to secure onto. This was then marked, so they'd know where to screw the first layer of plasterboard. This first layer only needed basic holding up, as the 2nd layer would sandwich this.

Here's the first layer completed:

And working on the 2nd layer.

In the meantime, Arnie had framed the wall between the kitchen and pantry and built that up, ready for wallpapering...

At about 4pm the typhoon came to Chiba. Serious rain and winds...!

I stood at the entrance looking out and praying no damage would be done. The trees swayed violently, but nothing came down around the house.

At the back of the property about 3 trees were destroyed, one falling on the old cemetry for ancestors who'd lived here. Shinobu & I cleared it the following week using my recently purchased old Stihl 62cc chainsaw!

The ceiling was completed a little later than the usual 5pm knock off time, then as it continued to rain outside we sat in the kitchen drinking beers and chatting till Arnie's wife called and demanded to know why they still weren't home!

Next day Arnie and Shinobu begin the day by filling all the holes in the plasterboard with GL putty, ready for wallpapering... To be completed later, as there were more pressing engagements to be getting on with...