Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Solid quartz

We ordered silestone quartz countertops through home depot before thanksgiving.  They subcontracted the job to Stone Systems in Mundelin, IL. 

There were many people involved with the complete job:  Home depot kitchen and bath sales, HD special services desk, SS templater, SS fabrication, SS scheduler, SS installers, and finally SS sales.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Attaching Face frame with Kreg Jig

I ordered our hallway hutch face frames from Tape-Ease in Wisconsin and the cabinet boxes from another source.  I could have just glued and clamped the face frames on, but I didn't think that wouldn't be sturdy enough.  I didn't want to put any nail holes in the front of the frame either.  At least a year ago, I came across an inexpensive solution for drilling pocket holes call the 'Kreg Jig'. It allows you to drill pocket holes in the adjacent piece.

cabinet box

portable Kreg jig with clamp

drilling the pocket hole using Kreg drill bit

using right angle adapter to drill hole in shallow cabinet
fastening the face frame to cabinet using Kreg screw

cabinet in place with face frame

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nip and tuck

Once spring finally arrived in Chicago, it became clear the front parapet wall needed to be repaired before a city inspector looked up.


I already had a quote in hand from Stan Guzik for rebuilding the top part of the wall, full tuckpointing, and brick cleaning.  I hoped to have Marion Restoration out for an updated quote, but no call back from them.  I was very concerned how the brick itself would be treated throughout the process, since they don't make the same face brick anymore, and the joints are not your modern 1/4" joint, they are 'butter joints' which are about 1/8" thick.  The typical electric grinder used to remove the old mortar would surely destroy the brick.  I didn't get any verbal assurances from Stan that the brick would be untouched before the job, and i didn't press for any answers, either (more later).

*falling* stone facade (on misty morning),
you can also see open mortar joints below and around window sill,
and the common brick behind the facade

I decided to call Stan to do the job, I couldn't wait any longer.  He was out at our house within a few weeks, and went right to it.  I removed the mailboxes, window screens,  and exterior light fixtures before he and his crew arrived.  

beginning of work, before scaffolding setup
Stan's crew in full swing, rebuilding top of wall
The removed the facade and common brick on the first day.  Stan said the face brick above the band of facade brick came down with it, since the mortar had turned to sand.  The entire top of the wall needed to rebuilt from below the band on up.

When I returned home from work on the 2nd day, they were done with the wall rebuild, and had removed the mortar in preparation for tuckpointing from the entire wall.  I looked closely at the job they did on the mortar removal, and it became quickly obvious they removed it using a angle grinder (sample photo below).  This would have been fine if it were common brick or larger mortar joint, but it ended up cutting all the brick and making the joint larger.  I was pretty upset, i was under the assumption they were going to use a thin blade or other means to get the mortar out, but when you assume....

Anyway, after they tuckpointed and completed the job, everything looked good.  I no longer have 'historically significant' face brick, but it looks much better overall.  Only a masonry snob like myself or architect will be able to tell the difference.   In hindsight, if we were to really want to *restore* the brick to its original condition, we should have hired Marion Restoration.  Their crew would have removed the old mortar by hand, and not increased the size of the mortar joints.  But, in the end, since we don't have an infinite amount of cash to spend, Stan's work sufficed.

Stan's crew completed the work in 3 days, which is amazingly fast compared to all the other brickwork i see happening in the neighborhood.  I've seen scaffolding up for more than a month at other buildings, with not much going on from day to day.  The new face brick is not as plumb and level as the original below it, but you can't tell unless you look at it from a particular perspective.  It does make me appreciate the work of the German immigrant masons from 1895 even more.

finished job!

common brick behind facade replaced with new face brick

Saturday, April 13, 2013

bricklaying and tuck-pointing with Stan Guzik

Not long after the TPO roof was installed, we saw the ceiling drywall joint in 2nd floor kitchen was still discoloring from water damage.  There was still a leak even after spending $10K on new roof!  I went up to the roof and couldn't find anywhere the water could get in from the roof.  I then looked at the adjacent brick wall and rear chimney, and found many holes where water could get in from the side (blowing rain).   So, i figured having this brick fixed might be the next remedy.

My friend Steve and his family own a few 2-flats near Loyola.  He was also in the middle of multiple rehabs and just happened to be working with a brick mason as part of his re-roof.

Steve's front parapet wall back being rebuilt

Steve's front parapet wall rebuild completed

Steve's parapet wall after roofer finished TPO job w/ counter-flashing
Steve's face brick being rebuilt by Stan's employees

OK, enough about Steve's house.  On to our brick problems..  Photos below are BEFORE and AFTER , as noted in captions.

Our middle chimney before rebuild
close up of slowly falling chimney before rebuild

center chimney after rebuild
nice and straight again!

my horrible attempt at tuck pointing
after city violations in 2002, before rebuild
rear double chimney with large holes in brick
and mortar before rebuild

same chimney after rebuild
and tuck pointing

rear double chimney after rebuild
topped with cast concrete, rubber, clay flue, and rain/animal cap

center chimney before rebuild
after rebuild

double chimney during rebuild, steel flue for hot water
heat exhaust still intact

double chimney during rebuild

Stan's truck - lots of scaffolding

Stan's crew put down tarp and plywood to protect roof

center chimney during rebuild

Stan's crew did a great job rebuilding the chimneys, spot tuck pointing the entire south wall, and lots of other additional work that was not even in the contract for a fair price.  I can highly recommend his company based on the work he has done at my friend's house and our house.

I will also be hiring him to repoint and partially rebuild the face brick of our house.

Here's Stan's business information:
Stanislaw Guzik Construction Inc.
Licensed Mason - Chicago and Suburbs
(773) 286-1522

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

built-in cabinetry pickup

The largest unfinished portion of the rehab is the cabinetry.    I have too many custom sized items for me to have gone to big box store, or even semi-custom order.  After getting quotes from full-service cabinet supply showrooms in Chicago ($2000 for 2 cabinets?), I decided to go a completely different route.

Since there are many 'refacing' options available online, I figured I could build the cabinet box and then buy the doors/drawers/hardware separately.  It took me some time to realize to build a perfectly square cabinet box is no easy task, especially with the precision required to create frame-less (European style) cabinets.  Just having a decent table saw is not good enough.

I contracted Heartland Cabinet Supply to build the boxes to my specs, using the Blum Process 32 (32mm cabinetmaking) system for drawings.  Gary, the owner, was nice enough to work with me on my 'odd' project, and he seemed happy to help.

my Ford Ranger pickup with 5 cabinets, including tall bookcase

The cabinets were all made using 3/4" plywood on CNC routing machine.  They're perfectly sized to the drawings to the millimeter!

bathroom vanity cabinets, with whiteoak edgebanded fronts,
stacked on top of each other.  They'll be side by side against the wall soon
I'm spending this week getting my measurements together to order the remaining parts from Northern Contours in Minnesota.  They have some nice horizontal grain doors/drawer fronts available.  All the bathroom cabinets will be frameless, full-overlay.  The hallway hutch cabinets will have traditional face frame with some stained glass cabinet doors.