Monday, July 29, 2013

Flippin', Not Trippin"

The second part of the puzzle was pulled from the forms the other day. It took a bit of doing to flip it over, but with the, now repaired, engine hoist it was pretty easy. I spent two or three hours yesterday, grinding and polishing it. It did have a groove where the two pieces of Melamine board were joined. I figured that the clear, packing tape would make a seamless joint but, somehow, I think moisture got into the particle board core and the edges swelled a bit. Fortunately, I was able to grind them away and there is no trace of them now. I still have to finish the edges. The curved portion, where the sink goes, may be problematic. We'll see tomorrow. I have thought about how I will install it. In keeping with my, "I don't need any stinking help." attitude, I think I can build a cart that is just a little higher than the cabinets, roll it into the kitchen and slide it in place. Time will tell.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Comin' Round The Bend

This is the completed form for the next portion of the counter. It will be the most complicated one. It wraps around the corner and, also, has the cutout for the sink. Actually, it has a cutout for half of the sink. The next piece will have the other half. There will be a small joint where the two butt together, which I will fill with epoxy. The cutout, itself, is made from foam boards, cut to shape on the band saw and edged with clear packing tape. Since the form is large, two pieces of the Melamine board had to be joined. I just butted them together, tossed in a few screws to be sure they both level up and then I ran a strip of the packing tape to seal it up and cover the screw heads. There will be an impression of the tape on the face of the slab, but it will disappear when I cut it with the coarse wheel. The rebar is held at the correct elevation with some pieces of tie wire. I did not do this for the first two slabs that I did and they stayed where they belonged. This is a bigger and heavier cage and I do not want to flip the counter over and see rebar, so I am playing it safe, this time. Once the mud begins to harden, I will cut the wires flush with the bottom of the slab and poke them below the surface. Remember, this is the bottom of the counter, so it doesn't have to be perfect. This piece, as well as the next two are considerably larger and, therefore, heavier than the first one. Moving it poses a daunting challenge. Due to my crabby nature and, generalized, anti social behavior, I have no friends or acquaintances in the neighborhood. About 25 years ago, I built an engine hoist. I pulled about a zillion engines with it and it served me well. It has sat, fallow, for a few years and, as a result, the hydraulic ram packed it in. I took it apart and found I was unable to fix it so, today, I ordered a new one from Northern Tool. It should be here in a week, so that will give me time to polish the small slab and allow the big one to cure for a week. The hoist will allow me to pick it up and turn it over, painlessly, as well as to load it in the back of my truck to transport it up to the house. This will get it as far as the patio door, which is about 15 feet from it's permanent home. Then I will have to call on the friends, that I do have, to muscle the thing in place.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just Keep Moving, There's Nothing To See Here

I removed the forms this morning and inspected the slab. It looks very nice. There are a couple of flaws in the forward edge, but they are minor and will be easy to fill, later on, during the polishing phase. I wanted to allow it to cure in the form for a few days, but I need the table so I can begin to set up for the next pour. I have made the template for it and it is now just a matter of transferring the template to the Melamine board. The templates are strips of 1/8 luan plywood that are cut to length and hot glued together on top of the cabinets to insure that everything will fit and flush up against the walls and overhang the cabinet faces the correct amount. No pix today. Nothing to see that we haven't already seen.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On The Level

Today, I re poured the small counter top. The short video clip pretty much explains it all. I didn't include the rebar installation in the video. I'll show that in the next pour, which I hope to do in the next day or two. I did have some air pockets in the first slab because I didn't vibrate the concrete. I don't have a vibrator, so I used an air chisel and a block of wood. It seemed to do a good job. The mud leveled out and bubbles appeared on the surface. We'll see in a few days when I unmold it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another Cruel Twist Of Fate

I dragged the new counter top up to the house this morning and stuck it in place. It weighs about 180 pounds, but I was able to get it up without breaking anything. It fit just fine until I put the level on it. Actually, the problem was obvious from the get go. The slab wasn't level. I stuck shims between the cabinet and the top in an effort to make it right. No dice. The whole piece is twisted, like a potato chip. When the front edge is level, the back is, almost, 1/2 inch out. A quarter inch, I could deal with. Just split the difference and call it good. When I built the form, I set it on two folding, steel, sawhorses. I made sure everything was level before I poured the mud. I believe that one of the sawhorses shifted, or the legs opened up a bit, and twisted the form. At any rate, the slab is toast. I will trim it down with my diamond blade and make a small table for the patio out of it, so it won't be a total loss. The remainder of the day was spent building a large table, in the shop, to do the rest of the pours on. I used 2X8s with some particle board for a top. I leveled it off, using a digital level that is accurate to .10 degree. The next pour should be good. The table is rock solid and isn't going anywhere. I hate screw ups, especially those that cost me money, but I half expected at least one failure. It was just two sacks of concrete mix and a bit of pigment, so the bank isn't broken.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Not The Same Old Grind

Yesterday and today was spent grinding and polishing the slab. The initial cut was made with a 50 grit diamond cutting wheel on a variable speed, water fed grinder/polisher. It removed the top layer of cream, which is the mostly pure cement and pigment, and began to expose the underlying sand and aggregate. Interestingly, the rather shocking minty green color became much more subdued when it was cut, I think it is due to the cream possibly holding more pigment than the underlying layer and the exposing of the sand and stone soften the color. Anyway, Wifey and I really like the color now. When I was satisfied with the look, I began polishing with increasingly finer wheels until I had gotten to 2000 grit. By this time, it was as smooth as glass. The minor imperfections were filled with tile grout. This was not, entirely, satisfactory. As I polished, the water undercut the grout and left it below the surface. On the next slabs I will use a cement and pigment slurry instead. Still, I am quite satisfied with the outcome. I then applied several coats of a high gloss sealer. I am not real sure that was a prudent plan. It looked beautiful prior to the sealer and now it seems duller and the brush strokes are visible. Tomorrow, when it is fully cured, I'll have a look. I believe I can hit it with 0000 steel wool and some carnauba wax. If that fails, I'll just re polish it with the 2000 grit wheel and remove the sealer. This little piece taught me a lot. The learning curve is steep and short. It is, mostly, common sense, careful measuring and sweat equity.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another Nice Mess You've Gotten Me Into

There is a special bond between a grandfather and his first grandchild. My grand daughter, Alex, and I are no different. I have always been a big fan of Laurel and Hardy. I have numerous tapes and CDs of many of their films. Ever since she was little, whenever she came to visit she always wanted to watch "The Boys". We would laugh like idiots at their antics and repeat our favorite lines to each other. Last year, for Christmas, I gave her a large, framed, poster of L&H and a complete CD collection of all their sound films. I bought a set for myself, of course. So, to commemorate our mutual love for each other and Stan and Ollie, what could be more fitting than matching tattoos. I have a few, from my Navy days, but it has been over 45 years since I sat in that chair and allowed someone to stick needles in me. I have to say that it was sort of fun. It may have been a silly thing to do but, in reality, long after I am gone, she will have that mark on her that will cause her to think fondly of her ol' Grampa and how much he loved her

Mean Green

I poured the counter top. Here is a pic of the backside. It came out a, sort of, minty green. Not what I had envisioned, but the more I look at it, the more I think, "Not too bad.". I finally removed it from the form today and it looks OK. There are some air bubbles, but they are easy to fix. There is one, rather large , divot that troubles me. We will have to see if it comes out during the grinding and polishing process. I found that, in spite of information to the contrary, that the correct, variable speed, water fed concrete grinder/polishers are not available at your local rental yard for a nominal fee. I thought everything online was supposed to be the truth. I guess I've been hornswoggled again. Went to Amazon and order up one. It was under 200 bucks and I can sell it when I'm done to recoup some of my money. The truth of the matter is, I'm an incurable tool junkie and will, almost certainly, keep it. There are some more concrete project that I have in mind after the kitchen is done. Maybe a patio table and a bench for the yard.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fix Is In

Well, I brazed up the busted mixer and it seems OK. The picture is of the back side of the joint. It is a bit sloppy looking, so I'll add some more brass later. Time to mix up another batch of green mud.

Catastrophic Failure

Today I was going to pour the first of the concrete counter tops, the small one to the right of the pantry. I bought a sheet of Melamine coated particle board and made the form. I bent up and tied the rebar, fileted the corners of the mold with silicone and leveled up the form. Everything is good. I dumped two bags of Quikrete counter top mix in the mixer and carefully measured the pigment to achieve the forest green color that I wanted. I wrapped a trash bag around the opening of the mixer and led the dry ingredients mix. After 3 or 4 minutes I added a few gallons of water and left the mixer running. As I was working in the shop. I noticed that I didn't hear the mixer running. Hmmmm.......sometimes the pulley loosens up and I have to tighten the set screw, so I grabbed an Allen wrench and went outside to fix it. I didn't need the Allen wrench. The yoke casting broke off next to the pivot and dumped the entire load onto the ground. Bummer!!! The mix was a total loss as it was contaminated with dirt, leaves and weeds. Tomorrow I will have to try to repair it. I don't want to buy another mixer. I don't want to rent one, either. I have never welded cast iron, but I have brazed it, so that is going to be the plan of attack. Stay tuned.