Monthly Archives: May 2014

More door!

The door frame is done. I put up the door stop molding and the cripple studs. The smaller opening got framed out, too. Can’t wait to find a creative cat door for the bottom. Urethane goes on the whole thing tomorrow, as it will be a warm day and that will help with curing.

I have eight days until payday, but that’s okay because I have the supplies to do a few things in the meantime. I can finish framing, I can build the shoe bench, and I can do more measuring. I really want to dive into making the closet and the step-up bookshelf (doubles as stairs to the loft), but I would have to store them in my container, making it all the more difficult to do any work without cursing and injuries.

Here’s the photographic evidence of my day’s efforts.

interlude: getting ahead of myself

Today I only went into the container to drop off supplies I bought. I am tired, and it wasn’t a good night to launch into anything complicated.

Successful construction requires plenty of planning. For someone with a squirrel like mine, planning can take on a life of its own. I have so many ideas. The practical ones are the ones that must occur in a particular order: framing, then electrical, then foam, then walls, then floor paint, then — see? even the practical things can snowball. I’m figuring out the material and joinery options for building the loft platform. I bought shutters today because I visualize a simple armoire with shutters for doors. In my imagination, they tell me they must be painted a soft, velvety crimson. I plan whimsical jigsaw cut-outs in odd places. I wonder if glass blocks will fit in the space to the left of the door. They have glass blocks at the ReStore. 🙂

I guess my squirrel is lucky that I take good notes, because that bitch has a steady flow of free association combined with really shitty short-term memory.

And now, gratuitous squirrel.


Sweep, scrub, scour

I promised myself that today I wouldn’t do any major work in the container. This means no construction or painting projects. Instead, I spent the morning cleaning up the sawdust and stray screws and general disarray (no Professor Chaos in sight, alas). So much sawdust! So many wood scraps! So many things on the floor to trip over!

After work, I finished cleaning and tidying. All hazards have been moved to the periphery, leaving the south wall open and ready to frame.

I’m kind of kicking myself because I got off work early, but didn’t think to go to the ReStore (Habitat for Humanity’s store full of recycled building materials) to find a window. My rough opening is five feet wide by maybe two feet high. I mistakenly had the metal frame welded in specifically to fit a vertical sliding window I had rotated 90° to the left. The window is no longer sound. If I can find something used at the ReStore that is close to the right size, I can mess with the framing to make it work. (NOTE: you can’t tip a sliding window on its side and expect it to slide very well or for very long. Time for a new window. And: gravity works.)

The experiment du jour was to find out what would take the paint off the door glass. The panes are smooth on one side and pebbled on the other: privacy glass, I think they used to call it. The former owners, innumerable certainly, had coated the door in various kinds and shades of paint by various methods. Scraping worked well on the smooth side, and actually better than expected on the pebbled side. I also tried nail polish remover, stripper, an SOS pad and water, and and Goo Gone. (NOTE: Goo Gone is far inferior to Goof Off. Always buy Goof Off. Toluene is the bomb. It’ll get you high, strip off your freckles and make you sterile, in one easy application!)

What worked was stripper first, followed by a scraping, a rub with a dry towel, then a fairly soaked SOS pad, a rinse with a wet rag, and a second drying. There are still streaks in the door, but I’d say the main door is at least 80% clean. I’m buying Goof Off tomorrow, to be used sparingly and with an eye to keeping it away from the finished wood. (NOTE: I’ll be working in a well-ventilated area, I don’t have many freckles, and I’m already sterile by choice, so the Goof Off will be used for cleaning purposes only.)

The east door is relatively clean, and the west door has not yet, obviously, been dealt with, sternly or otherwise.

IMG_1544 IMG_1546

doors: DONE

The doors are in. No weatherstripping, or stop molding, or finish molding, but damn, I did it! With the exception of Glen holding the second door while I put the hinge screws in, I did all of the work myself. I am totally proud, and a little surprised to have made it this far already. I even put in the new doorknob. The nail polish on the keys is drying right now. 🙂



After trimming the outside frame, I get to figure out what to put in the long skinny space between the door and the metal frame. At the bottom I will be putting in a cat door (because, duh!) but above that, I could do a found window, or some pieces of art glass, or even a porthole. Other suggestions are welcome.

Time also to order the custom window that will go in the existing metal frame. I think I’ll go for a vinyl window just for cost, and then trim it out with nice wood. It will have an extra-deep sill, for herbs and stuff.

But, in practical terms, here’s what’s next:

• order window

• frame the rest of the walls

• contrive / design the stud arrangement on the inside of the cargo doors (hint: involves slots, screws, and construction adhesive)

• wiring – gotta get that goofy electrician dude out here soon

• insulation – found out where I can buy the stuff locally, squee!

• put up the wall material – some lovely ¼-inch extra nice veneered plywood

• paint the floor – off white, to make the space appear larger

• design and install custom shelving

• move in!

I’ve probably forgotten a bunch of stuff, but all will be revealed in time. I’m getting used to backtracking a bit here and there in the name of doing things the best I can. I’m not settling for mediocre just to get done quickly. Eventually I’ll have to do a post about what I am learning about construction, stamina, and myself.

Apex supply

The total so far…

yikesI have kept track of the expenses involved in realizing my container cabin dream. From the purchase of the can in 2011 to the Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop to today’s double hardware-store run, I have spent (drumroll please):

Four thousand, four hundred twenty-five dollars and twenty-eight cents. Yup, $4,425.28.

And I’m still breathing!

a instalación de una puerta

Nine solid hours today. Two trips to Mountain Lumber. Umpteen times doing and undoing and redoing the framing. Shite! I’m knackered!

What got done? This!

• Hardware store run for nails, screws, a carbide drill bit, etc.
• attach ceiling stud
• place header and studs to frame the full metal door opening
• place stud for door jamb (to fit french doors)
• attach 1×6 door jamb lumber
• install door threshold
• second hardware store run for clamps and a power strip
• trim bottom of the door
• hand-chisel hinge mortises in jamb (what a bitch!)
• hang left door
• trim door again
• hang door again

And so I have quit for the night. Tomorrow is play day; no container activities, just hot tubbing and dim sum for everyone.

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little bits

I’m ready to frame and build the door jamb. With a little help putting up the beams around the top edge of the container, I can then independently frame whatever I need to frame. (Yes, the hubby will help, so this is not a broad hint.)

Spent about three hours on container stuff tonight. In my haste last week to get the studs off the trailer and out of the rain, I piled them up along the very wall I need to frame first. It took an hour to move one shelving unit, the studs, the pine desk, the armchair, and the tools.


The other time was taken up with cleaning the screws, hinges and brass sliding latches. Look!


The weekend’s goal is to get the door frame built and to hang the door. I hope I get that far, but if I don’t, there are plenty of other little bits to attend to. But seriously: I want to get this door in.


The doors. Life has been, for over a week, all about the doors. Now we will be moving on to the meta-door situation involving the door jamb, sash, shimming and hanging. Uncharted territory, to be sure.

The doors are taking a much-deserved rest as they lean against the left cargo door.

I will admit to lurking on various sites that sell doorknobs and deadbolts. It can’t be helped.


It has come to this: the hinges and their respective screws and pins are soaking in mineral spirits, and tomorrow I can put them back on the doors. They are solid steel from their appearance, but I know very little about metal, so they could be from the moon for all I know. I do know that the paint did NOT want to give itself up. Too bad, smelly old paint. You’re toast.

pan full o'hinges

pan full o’hinges

scrape, scrape . . .

scrape, scrape . . .

The final coat of urethane has been put on the interior door surfaces. There is one piece of wood, a strip that keeps one door from opening past the other, that is being stripped. I’ll have to varnish that, too, but that’s for the weekend.

pure honey

pure honey

There are some go-backs; I didn’t need the super-fine grit sandpaper. The door is just fine without getting that obsessive about things. The refund should just about cover the red paint I want for the door frame. Or one-fifth of a really cool new doorknob.


flip side, floor plan, framing

I am this close (fingers held approximately one inch apart) to being done with sealing the doors. One more coat of urethane on the interior surface, and they are done. Of course I’ll still need to strip the paint off the hinges and other door hardware, build and stain the door jamb, and hang these puppies. It will happen. Here’s how the doors look now:


I was pretty sure I wanted to hire someone to build the door jamb. Insecurity reared its ugly head. But the more I look at doors, and watch tutorials on the interwebz, the more I think I can do it. I’ll certainly be more satisfied if I do it myself. And I’ll learn more. (Lots of more in this paragraph.) Glen will help me install the headers. After those are in, I can do the rest of the framing myself. Not sure how I’ll approach the cargo doors, but a few ideas are buzzing around. They need to be insulated, just like the rest of the walls, and I’m looking forward to the unique challenge they present.

Tonight I got into bed with my cabin notebook. While watching Season Three of The Office, I tried to figure out how to fit everything I need into the space. The full bed was a sticking point. That’s a lot of real estate when you’ve only got about 150 square feet to work with. Then I recalled seeing one tiny house with the bed on a low frame with wheels. Above it was a deck with living space, and the bed just rolled under the deck when not in use. Not sure if I’ll make the deck into my kitchen/dining area or my lounge area.

So, my goal for the holiday weekend is to have the doors installed and fully functional. Anything more is gravy.