Friday, December 30, 2011

Just Call me Michelangelo

Okay, it’s no David, but I’m pretty proud of my frugal DIY carrara marble vanity top. Here’s what I started with.

Found on craigslist for $50 almost a couple years ago, I knew this marble slab which had a former life as a table top would make a beautiful bathroom vanity top …. and then it sat in our basement for nearly two years until just recently.

Countless hours spent googling “how to cut marble slabs” and perusing DIY chat rooms didn’t reveal much about cutting marble (although there seemed to be a wealth of information on how to cut granite or cultured marble). I started to think that maybe this wasn’t a DIY project and called around to local countertop fabrication shops only to find out that what they wanted to cut it was nearly 6X the amount I paid for the marble or that they would only cut stone purchased from them directly - so back to the DIY route I went.

I figured if Michelangelo could carve David out of marble there had to be a way I could employ the modern technology at my disposal to shape my marble slab into a much less intricate vanity top. So here’s the process that worked for me and a few tips for other DIYers looking to take on something similar.

Step 1: Setup and Layout
Our setup consisted of a couple of sawhorses with some sandbags set on top and the marble slab balanced onto of the sandbags. The sandbags are there to absorb the vibrations of the cutting tools and avoid cracking. The layout was done with some basic measuring tools, a permanent marker, and painters tape. I made my cutting marks directly on the painters tape and left it on the marble as we cut it to help avoid chipping the edges.

Step 2: Cut
This was by far the most terrifying part of this project ... breaking out the power tools and cutting out our slab. We purchased diamond blades for the circular saw and angle grinder and a diamond hole saw bit for the drill. The circular saw was used to cut the slab to size (four straight edges), the angle grinder was used to cut the sink cutout, and the drill was used to cut the faucet holes. We made sure to supply a continuous stream of water on the cutting blade as we went from a squirt bottle so we didn't overheat the marble and cause it to crack. To waterproof our electric power tools we covered the end of the power cord/extension cord with a plastic bag so we didn't get zapped and we also made sure to wear our eye and hearing protection during this process - it was noisy and messy.

(Sidenote: for DIYers attempting something like this I suggest a self-rimming or vessel type sink, an undermount sink would require some serious skill to get an smooth crisp edge.)

Step 3: Sand, Seal, and Polish
We used a wood rasp to knock down the saw blade marks on the visable edges and ease the top edge a bit giving it a slight radius and then we went to town sanding the entire thing with wet/dry sand paper starting with the low grit and working our way up to higher grit until we got our desired finish. To seal the marble and prevent staining we used oxalic acid which chemically reacts with the structure of the marble to give it a nice seal on the surface. We found the oxalic acid at a local woodworking supply shop since it's also commonly used to bleach out stains in wood. Lastly we buffed and polished the whole thing with some good old fashioned Turtle Wax to make it nice and shiny.

Ready for some before and after shots of our new vanity?? If you made it through all of that I'm sure you are. Here she is before with the beige cultered marble top:

And here's the after with our real carerra marble top, new vessel sink, and new faucet:

Oh and for those of you who aren't familiar with how our vanity looked before this whole project started check out this post.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yep, I'm a geek

Want to see what Santa (aka Jens) put in my stocking for Christmas?

Yep, it's exactly what I suggested for a cheapo stocking stuffer and I was thrilled that Santa actually took me seriously. But then again Santa knows how giddy I get picking out new paint color swatches at the home improvement stores. So there you have it ... proof that I'm really that geeky about home improvement stuff.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

40 Hours to a Suck Free Living Room

I found out last week that I have a Metric Ton of vacation to burn before the end of the year.  BAD. ASS. So I figured I would use this time wisely, specifically, finish the built in’s

A) Build and install the remaining 3 drawers and drawer fronts.

B) Install the shoe Molding
C) Mask the toe kick

D) Build and install the four remaining shelves
E) Manufacture and install the remaining applied bead
F) Edge Band the remaining shelves
G) Set Nails (Ick)
Now, I should be able to get this all done.  I also plan on working on destroying my fair share of tasty beerish beverages and lifting as many heavy things as possible.  I also “plan” on documenting this for posterity.  We will see though. Wish me luck. 
In closing  a small giraffe and I  are off to be awesome and do neat shit. I recommend you do the same. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Clap Excitedly Fu%$ers

Clap excitedly fuckers.  There is hope (read progress) on the Project That Never Ends.  Its been a while since we posted (this is Jens by the way, I normally write under Becky's name because logging her out seems to be a lot of work), with life, holidays work and being on the road progress has been slow. However its been happening.  I now have all of the doors done and hung. I will get into how and what later but for now feast your eyes.

These doors have been with out doubt the most cantankerously nit picky serious carpentry I have ever attempted.  I hung the last door tonight, and I've had it made for a month.  If I'm honest putting these things up is terrifying because when you mess them up (note not if, when) right back to the drawing board you go, all the set up has to be re done, all the calculations its all square one.  To get these 6 finished doors I've made and scraped at least that many just trying to get it right.  This has not been an easy process.  However, it has allowed me to mess around in the garage and has made my living room look like this.

and not like this

I'm pretty happy thus far (keep your mouth shut about the mess, in the before no kids, the after, one very seriously happy playful, hence the toys, kid).  Now I just need to install the drawers, fronts and shoe molding, and I'm freaking done.  Glory Glory hallelujah we’re almost done, almost.  Hopefully by the time the second kid is two, we can have this complete.  Its little goals that get you through. 

Now a picture of my dog, more than likely he is cooler than you.

Ok one more that doesn’t look like a sci fi creature.

G’night all, and to all a G’night.