In a non-horrible-apocalyptic way, though that may also be true sooner than I’d like, come to think of it.
Part One: Odds and Ends
I bought special cabinet hinges based on the tutorial at diydiva.net and per Nick’s suggestion decided to inset the hinges so as to not have a weird gap in between the door and the frame.
I went about this with the tools you see in this picture:
Hinge, measuring things, hammer, chisel…
And Orange Juice. Extra pulp added.
We drink a lot of orange juice.
Working with a chisel is a lot like working with a plane, you don’t want to get too carried away in the fun-ness (it is fun!) and take too much off at a time. Chiseling is definitely a less is more process.
I started by deciding where I wanted my hinges, and then traced around them. Pretty easy.
And then it was just tap, tap, tap for a long time.
It was pretty tiring, actually, but I think the outcome was worth it, yes?
You don’t have to make your inset in the exact shape of your hinge, Nick said if he had done this, he would have just made a square in the dimensions of the hinge, because he’s lazy, but I think it looks way nicer this way.
One of my hinges went over one of the spots where I got carried away and jointed things where there should have been not-joints so I plugged that hole with half a dowel.
I later ended up plugging all the holes with wood plugs (I had no idea those even existed!) and now you can’t even tell that I got a little dowel-jig happy.
Here’s the vanity after the entire body is complete before staining and door adding.
To do the bottom I got some trim, cut it to the length of the side and back, attached it with wood screws and glue, and then dropped the bottom in.
Part Two: The Human Stain
The process of staining is pretty simple—simple but messy.
For the vanity I decided to go with Rustoleum wood stain in Kona, the darkest color they make. I always have trouble choosing wood stains because I feel like, unlike paint samples which are oh-so-pretty, looking at stains makes me feel like maybe I should just paint the damn thing instead.
Staining wood makes me nervous because you can never really tell how it’s going to come out, and that’s a long, arduous, noxious fume filled process to get wrong.
Luckily, it did not turn out wrong.
I sanded a lot, and then began liberally applying stain going with the grain, and wiping it off.
Here’s the first door after a coat of stain.
Looks like…a brown door. Neat.
I used a foam brush for staining, because then you don’t leave brush strokes, and they’re disposable, which is a huge plus.
Throughout the process I was a little bit worried because in the basement the stain looked black, and while, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to the vanity, it wasn’t really the look I was going for, but every so often, the little bit of natural light would hit the vanity just right and sooth my worried soul.
We put Tesla outside, because he started barking a lot; I think the fumes were bothering his doggie nose. This is what he thought about the whole process:
The worst part was doing the inside, partly because it was very hard not to be lazy, as very few people (except maybe Nick’s dad) will be sticking their heads inside the vanity to inspect my handiwork. I was also worried about bumping things and messing up the stain job on more important parts of the vanity for the sake of the interior. And did I mention the fumes? Sheesh. I had a nice headache at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, my hands also looked like this:
Then it was on to the poly!
Here’s the difference between the doors after one has a single coat of poly. Pretty crazy, huh? I apologize for the terrible phone pictures, but my camera was temporarily lost at the bottom of a climbing bag.
A couple of coats of poly later:
I swear I wasn’t trying to pose Tesla, but he would. Not. Move. All he wanted to do this day was sit on me wherever was most inconvenient while I installed hardware.
I also think the sink is going to go more in the corner, so it looks less plunked down there and that will also give us more useable counter space.
Applying poly is like applying stain, but more time consuming, and it’s good to be a perfectionist.
I applied three very thin coats (the recommended number) of Rustoleum Polyurethane with a nice synthetic brush and a cheap foam brush depending on what worked best at a given moment and it turned out great. Not only does poly make everything shiny, but it protects your work from all sorts of things like toothpaste and clumsy boyfriends!
With the Rustoleum poly I didn’t need to sand in between coats either, which was great, and made for this conversation:
Nick’s Dad: Did you sand in between coats?
Nick’s Dad: (chortle) Well your poly’s going to peel off then!
Nick: How long will that take? Five years?
Nick’s Dad: I don’t know, maybe, ha!
Me: But it says here, do not sand in between coats!
Nick’s Dad: … Well whaddaya know!
Part Three: Cutting Counters, not Corners
When it came to cutting the MDF for the counters I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to cut any tiles (except for drain holes etc.) because I’m pretty lazy, and I’d rather have beautiful whole tiles everywhere.
This was pretty simple for measuring the length and width, but I ran into a slight problem with the height of the counter.
The two pieces of MDF together make for a counter of 1.5”, but two full tiles with room for grout is 2”
Nick and I brainstormed a bit, considering even getting a sheet of .5” MDF, but then decided on the following approach:
Sorry for the wonky camera angles, it’s hard to take photographs while holding up tile samples.
But basically there will be a nice border around the whole vanity top, made of tile edges, which are nice themselves and unseen everywhere else. From the front you’ll just see the full tiles on the counter depth. And yes, it’s a simple solution, and it took us a good while to figure out. No mocking.
And here’s what the whole thing should more or less look like when the top is all done!
Later today I should be putting on handles and drilling holes for drains, but after that it will be a bit of a wait to actually lay the tile due to life being all…life-y, so hang tight!