I spent this weekend working on my office cabinet project. The goal was to frame the two walls so that I could call the plumber and get the sink pipes extended. All went well I can safely report tonight. I even got a bonus project done with my free time on Sunday. Before I go into the play by play, I’ll share something with you; throughout the process of building the house it seems a lot wasn’t going as well as planned. As I work on each subsequent project, I have found that if I take my time, think things through and remain calm these projects are going easier. And they don’t seem to take much longer (compared to just barreling through them), so there is value in taking my time. Knock on wood of course.
The walls I’m building are add-ons so the first order of business is to get some solid nailing blocks in the existing exterior wall. If I was smart I’d have had a “pocket” framed into the wall when we were rough framing the house, before the drywall went in, but realistically I wouldn’t have been able to devise where the pocket should be so the chances of getting it right back then are slim. I spent some time marking out the location of my wall, taking into consideration my already made countertops, cabinets and even factoring in the existing steps in my studio. Once I was comfortable with my marks on the wall I used my oscillating tool to remove the drywall and create two horizontal openings. I devised my game plan on the fly and am fairly happy with it, looking back on my handy work. The plan was to install two 2×6 blocks, anchored between two existing wall studs, to provide a solid anchoring for my perpendicular wall. After the drywall was off I scraped away the insulation inside. Our insulation is made from recycled newspaper that was “damp” blown into the wall cavities. Suffice to say I had to “scrape” some off to make room for the 2×6 blocks. I then inserted the blocks and worked them down behind the drywall. See the pics for my trick on getting a grip on the blocks. I came up with that after scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the block into position. The insulation, drywall and studs had a firm grip on my block so snaking it into place was tough, but the trick made it do able. Once in place I mounted a 1/2″ block which I’d eventually mount the new wall stud to. Finally I replaced the drywall pieces I’d cut out earlier. Ha, after about two hours everything looked basically like it did when I had started. But I knew I could now start building my walls.
I cut a couple treated 2×4’s, covered their underside with adhesive caulk, and fastened them to the studio’s cool cement floor with blue colored masonry screws that I picked up at Lowes. I then cut all my studs, to about 98″ and mounted the first one to the exterior wall, screwing into the 1/2″ blocks and ultimately the 2×6 blocks I’d hidden behind the wall hours previously. I used screws and a drill for the entire project. I don’t have a nail gun and hand nailing is fairly quick but laborious. Screws seemed to work just fine and I had a lot left over from other projects that I could use on this job. Once that first stud was up I continued putting up the rest of the studs and finally the top plates. The design I came up with meant that both walls would stop about a foot or two from the ceiling. I capped the wall design off at the top of the upper cabinets. This created that open air space above the cabinets which will help keep the art studio feeling airy. One bad thing with the design is that the walls are only attached to the floor and the one exterior wall so they’re prone to wiggling. I nailed a filler board down low at the end of the one wall, where it meets the steps, and this helped stiffen and level the wall. Putting in the new floor framing extension would stiffen the walls more. Finally the drywall, cabinets and shelving should stiffen everything up as well.
One pesky task that I decided to tackle during this project was the “hidden air vent” buried under the office platform. I knew it was there ’cause I had photos. From what I remember it was there and no one ever hooked it up during construction. They just built the platform over the top. I’m not sure why. I’m sure it sat there untouched, with some blue foam stuffed in it from when they poured the concrete floor (the foam kept the cement out during pouring). My concern was that the blue foam may have been pushed down into the air duct and was causing blockage, or maybe conditioned air was leaking into the cavity under my office. Either way I wanted to fix it and possibly route the vent into the floor of my office and finish it off. I started by prying off the drywall that capped the platform. The platform is only about 14″ off the ground which meant that the 2×6 joists left only like 9″ of vertical space underneath the platform. Ugh. After finding a real flashlight (my boys seemingly steal all of the working flashlights and hoard them in somewhere secret) I peered under to find a mountain of insulation. I guess when they blew the insulation in the wall cavities a lot of it exited out down here until the cavities were full. I chickened out a few times before talking myself into getting under there. It was the right thing to do.
I crafted a cardboard insulation pusher on a stick and did just that, started pushing the insulation to the far side of the space under the platform. Based on the pic I shared the other day I thought the vent was way in there. I glance up at the exposed wall studs and decided to check my photo again; so I’d know how much insulation I’d have to push away. I was pleasantly surprised my sense of scale was off and it turned out the vent was about three feet in instead of eight feet in. This was great news cause being under there was like being in a coffin. And I was breathing heavy with the prospect of having to go way back into there. So I brushed away the insulation and sure enough, there was my vent.
There was no way around it, I had to get in there. My head barely fit and then my fat gut and waist did not fit. Talk about hyperventilating…but with a twist I was in. The wife handed me tools and the vacuum hose like a hygienist helping a dentist. I pounded away at the cement overhanging the vent and carved away at the blue foam blocks inside. Pulling the last one out of the metal vent shoot I reached in….and much to my dismay….I found…..all was for nothing. They never cut the 8″ green air duct open at that vent. They must have never planned on finishing that vent. I could have just left it; I didn’t have to get all freaked out by the claustrophobic space, eat insulation or fish around for the vent. Oh well, knowing that nothing was wrong from an air flow standpoint outweighed any frustration I would have felt going through all these theatrics. Back to the work at hand then.
I wrapped up the framing at this point by roughing in the “floor” extension. I just used 2×4’s and set it up for a 1/2″ piece of OSB board to cap it off. This area will just hold up the cabinets and should be plenty strong enough. I’ll install the OSB and some 1/2″ flooring once the plumber is done extending the pipes. So that’s it for that project for now.
With an hour to spare I decided to get the sink in Christine’s studio installed so the plumber could hook that up too when he comes out. We bought a small stainless steel bar sink, that included a faucet and drain for only $109 at Lowes. It was easy to install. See pics below for step by step.
Ok, I’m exhausted and need my beauty sleep. Stay tuned, hopefully next weekend I’ll be doing some drywall.