Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Primed, Painted, and Hung

Are you ready for a long post about shelves?! Well, get ready.

The first step of this process was to pick my wood. I went to Home Depot knowing that I wanted something that didn't have many (if any) knots, because those can create structural issues, but more importantly, aesthetic ones. I went up and down the aisles looking at my options, and eventually I decided on pine. It didn't have any knots and it seemed nice and smooth. I needed three 8' boards total, so I looked through the stack to find the straightest, least dinged pieces. 

Now, part of the tricky thing about these shelves is that our wall juts out at an angle to the right of the dishwasher.

This means that I had to cut an angled piece out of two of our shelves to make them fit. There are tools out there that allow you to measure angles, but I thought it would probably just be easier to figure it out without getting technical. I asked my dad to come over and help me a) because these are long and heavy pieces of wood that are easier to manage with two people and b) because this was the first time I was going to use my mitre saw and I didn't want to cut off my fingers (turns out my dad had never used one either, so he actually didn't know any more than I did! It's a first!!).

My method of choice for figuring out the angle was to put a piece of cardboard along one wall, another piece along the other wall, then tape them together. Sophisticated, right? I know it wasn't fancy, but I figured that as long as we did a careful job we couldn't go wrong.

Next we took the piece of cardboard and laid it down on a scrap piece of wood. The plan was to trace the angle on to the wood and use that as our cutting guide. We figured it was good to do a test round before we went for the real thing.

Ready to see my new favorite tool? Meet Mitre, the 7 1/4"-sliding-mitre-compound-saw-with-laser of my dreams. I had been eyeing this guy for a while and finally made the jump when he went on sale.

See how the laser shows you where the blade will cut? Nifty. Necessary. Awesome.

We did the test shelf and it went as planned, so we moved on to the real deal. After we marked the angle, we put the wood in place. It turns out it was almost 45 degrees, but not quite. So, we put the angle of the saw at 45 degrees and then shimmied the wood until the mark lined up with the laser.

You'll see that just left of the saw is a little red thing with a foot on the bottom. That's to help hold the wood in place while you cut.

You may have noticed that we put a little piece of wood between the foot of the clamp and the shelf wood. That was so that we could tighten it without leaving a mark in my shelf.

After we had the shelf clamped down where it needed to go, I put a piece of tape along the line where it would be cut to help minimize splintering.

After we cut it we took it in to see if it would fit... and it did!

As you can see, the right side of the shelf hung off past where the wall ended, so I got my T square and drew a line parallel to the wall so my shelf would follow the same line.

Then, I sawed it off with Mitre.

We repeated that process for the upper shelf, and then cut the three shelves that will go on the other side of the kitchen. Those were a lot more simple because they were basic 90 degree cuts. Then it was time to cut the piece of wood that would sit above the backsplash and under the shelf on the other side of the kitchen. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read about it here. I just measured and made my cut. Easy peasy with Mitre around.

I used my stud sensor to locate the studs, then screwed the wood in accordingly.

Next up was hanging the brackets. For this, I called in my handyman, Jerry, because I didn't have a bit that could drill through tile. Let me tell you that it was extremely painful watching him drill through my perfect, newly installed backsplash. I took this picture and then had to leave the room.

We knew exactly where to put the brackets for the lower shelves because I had the tile guy follow the outline I had drawn, and the brackets were supposed to be flush with the top of the backsplash.

The upper shelves, on the other hand, were supposed to be at 34.5", which was a little trickier for Jerry to mark. Luckily he lives close by, so he ran home and got is laser level that projects across an entire wall. See it on the right counter, projecting a line that hits right above the wood on the other side of the kitchen?

With that as his guide, he hung the rest of the brackets directly above the lower ones.

Next came the tedious part: sanding, painting, and priming. I used some 220 grit sandpaper to smooth everything out and to try and level some of the little dings that were in the wood. Then I laid out the 5 pieces to get ready to prime.

I used Kilz and a foam roller to get the primer on nice and smooth, without brush marks.

Already looking better!

After the primer had dried, I rolled on the first coat of paint. To keep everything matching, I used the leftover cabinet and trim paint from when we had everything painted. It covered much better than the primer, as expected.

After one coat of paint, the grain was still showing through a little, so I went ahead and did a second coat which gave me really nice coverage.

Then it was time to paint the brackets. I taped the wall off as carefully as possible and made sure to really smash down the edges of the tape to get the best seal I could.

Just like the shelves, I did a coat of primer, then two coats of paint.

There's nothing like peeling the tape off... everything just looks so fresh and amazing!

Finally, time to install the shelves! I used 1 1/4" screws because they would go a good way down into the bracket without risking them coming out the bottom.

To install them I needed a few things, most importantly a drill with a chuck. See the thing attached to the piece of string? That's the key, and it locks in to the teeth on the chuck that's on the drill. This allows you to get the bit extra tight inside the drill, which is something I can't do with the drill I have because it just hand-tightens. Why do you need the bit to be in there extra tight? Well, the pine I chose for the shelves is super super hard (not sure if that's a normal characteristic of pine or if we just got a hard batch) and what can happen when you drill into hard wood is that the bit can get stuck in the wood and pull out of the drill. Then you have a bit sticking out of you wood, which is no bueno. So, the chuck and key help get it in there extra tight.

You'll see that I have three bits. The smallest is to drill a pilot hole, the medium is to drill out most of the body of the screw through the shelf and the bracket, and the biggest is to drill out the body of the screw only in the shelf. By not using the biggest one in the bracket, the screw has more to hold on to to get a tight hold (#thingsmydadthinksof). The other bit is the countersink to bore out the area where the screw head goes so it can sit flush with the top of the shelf.

First I drilled the pilot hole with the smallest bit, then used the medium bit to go through the shelf and bracket, then the largest bit only in the shelf.

Then I used my countersink. 

A good way to test if you've bored enough out without actually screwing the screw in is to flip it upside down and see if it fits.

Then I screwed it in! 

I was so excited. Then I had to do it 13 more times and it got less exciting with every drill bit swap.

Next we got ready to hang the vent hood. To power it, there's a cord that comes out the top that plugs into the wall. The plug is about 1" in diameter, so I was planning on having to drill a 1" hole in my shelf to allow the end of the plug to pass through. Then my genius father stepped in and disconnected all of the wires so the other end of the cord could go through the shelf instead (from top down, going towards the vent hood), which required a much smaller hole. See the difference between the diameter of the cord and of the fat plug on the end?

Next we marked and drilled our hole, then stuck the thin end of the cord through the shelf.

Now, let me tell you a cautionary tale. See how in the above picture the plug is not plugged into the wall? And how the wires are just all exposed and touching at the bottom? Well, that's perfectly safe. What's not perfectly safe is then plugging it into the wall, which is what my dad did. He thought the power to that outlet was off at the breaker... but it wasn't. This was the scariest moment of my life. There was a huge pop and a flash of light at the end of the cord where the wires had touched and completed the circuit. In the process it scorched a spot on my backsplash (which was easy to remove), and by total chance didn't shock my dad. Had be been coincidentally touching them he would have definitely been electrocuted.

TURN THE POWER OFF, GUYS. It's no joke. I say it every time and I mean it!!

Because of this little explosion, the outlet melted, which meant we had to replace it. It was poorly installed to begin with, so something that should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking 20. Isn't that how it always goes? Luckily the new outlet worked and we moved along by putting the hood up with 4 screws and 4 washers, screwing directly into the shelf through the holes that were already in the top of the hood.

And in all of its lighted glory...

The last step... the stove!!

This guy has been sitting in our garage since December, so it was very exciting to bring him inside. The part of Austin that we're in actually doesn't have gas running to it, which means our stove, dryer, and water heater are all electric. After growing up with a gas stove and suffering through electric coil stoves in college, I was pretty bummed and nervous about having to use an electric stove in my house.

You may have seen those commercials that talk about boiling water in 90 seconds? I had, and it seemed cool but maybe gimicky, and I didn't understand exactly how that was happening. I thought it was just a crazy feature of a regular stove. After John and I did some research, we found out that induction stoves use magnetic fields instead of transferring the heat from the coils, and this allows things to heat up much faster. What's cool is that the stove top never actually gets hot, so when you turn the heat down from high to low, it's immediate the way it is with gas. No waiting for the coils to cool down. Another obvious bonus is that you can stick your hand on the stove top and not get burned. Magic, right?! My aunt and uncle have one and they demonstrated the 90 second water boiling trick. It's real, yall, and now I can do the magic tricks too!

You may or may not have noticed that there are a few slivers of new pieces of furniture in those last few pictures... I'll be back with an update on our new furnishings soon! We have very little left to buy... the progress is pretty sweet if I do say so myself.

So, what do you think of our new shelves? I put some of our dishes up on them today and they're looking pretttttty fine!


  1. Your kitchen looks fabulous! I'm not a fan of open shelves, but I have to admit I really like the look in your kitchen. The paint color, backsplash, and counter look wonderful together. Great job!

    1. Thank you so much! It looks even better now that we have our dishes up on them... it helps break up the yellow :) I'll have pictures of all that soon!

  2. I'm so proud of you, and I know I'm not the only one. Believe me "it" never ends. No matter how new a residence is there are always things you will want to update or change. Have fun. You're off to a terrific beginning.

    1. Well thank you! Who is this? It's tons of fun and I'm hoping I'll always be able to come up with more projects to keep myself busy and satisfied :)