Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gutting the festing 109

Remind me again why I take on home improvement projects that involve plumbing? I hate plumbing. With every fiber of my being, I hate plumbing. I don't even like that computer game where you attach lines of pipe together to get water flowing from point A to point B.

However the latest story about my effort to redo my daughters' bathroom doesn't involve plumbing. It involves mirrors.

You may have caught on to the fact that I have two daughters. Sharing a bathroom during their formative years will most likely prove to be a challenge of design, storage, and copper-piping fortitude. In fact, most people ask me one simple question when I tell them that I'm installing a pedestal sink in the bathroom: "where are they going to put the tampons?" My answer is, "Don't know, don't care, and certainly not in my workshop."

Okay, so perhaps I care a little. That's why I decided that instead of buying a prefabricated, wall-mounted medicine cabinet, I would take the time and effort to build a custom-designed cabinet that's almost a foot deep. Plenty of storage for feminine articles. I came across a design (for the entire bathroom, actually) in Workbench Magazine, and decided to copy it.

The simple design of the cabinet door involved carving a rabbet out of the back of the frame, serving as a place to drop in a mirror and a backboard. The mirror and backer would then be held in my a couple of little turn-buttons inside the door. I didn't like that idea. I had visions of one of the girls messing with the turn-buttons and causing the mirror to fall out, recreating that scene from Die Hard when gunmen shoot out the glass of the computer room, causing a barefoot John McClane to drag his bloodied feet out the door to safety. Not a good idea, I thought. Instead I made a groove in the door frame, assembling the frame permanently around the mirror.

Not the wisest idea either, I found out later.

Installation of the medicine cabinet went fabulously. It fit nicely into the hole I carved for it, and was square and level. The glass shelves I ordered even fit correctly.

The final step was to attach the magnetic catch to hold the door closed. As I screwed the little metal plate onto the back of the door I heard a high-pitched "plink" sound. High-pitched plink sounds are never good. You know how when Wile E. Coyote accidentally launches himself off a cliff and, for a brief moment, there's complete silence and the laws of gravity are suspended? This "plink" sound was somewhat reminiscent of that moment when Wile E. Coyote looks down and discovers he's about to plummet. I quickly swung the door around and saw a 6-inch crack going up the mirror, a result of putting the screw in just the wrong place.

Awesome. My permanently-mounted mirror has a crack in it. That will do wonders for resale value.

Well, I'm saving the rebuilding of this door for another day. Meanwhile, I've got other stuff to do.

I finally got around to installing the sink this weekend. And have a recommendation for anyone who attempts to install a pedestal sink. Attach the faucet and drain to the sink before attaching the sink to the wall. It will make your life much easier and your knuckles will thank you.

The sink install only involved two trips to Home Depot. On the first, I walked in with a photo of my existing setup and asked the guy to give me every piece of piping I'd need to get the sink installed without a second trip to Home Depot. The second trip to Home Depot involved getting an additional 4" piece of PVC pipe which I needed once I discovered I had everything except the additional inches of piping 4 necessary to connect the underside of the sink to the trap. Once I had everything and after only 3 episodes of detaching and reattaching all the connections to stop leaks, It was done. I'd call that a successful sink installation.

The next step is the toilet, but before I get there I must deal with yet another distraction. It seems our roof is not adequately insulated or vented, and we've got an ice dam problem. That ain't good.

At least the kids think it's cool to look at. Kind of like how they enjoy looking at their oddly shaped faces in the cracked mirror.

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