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Stickin’ a fork in it…

February 16, 2012

…cuz we’re calling the bathroom DONE!

Our last chapter in the bathroom project: the sink base. It seems like it’s taken forever but it’s been just about 8 months.

And as usual, there were a couple of prerequisites: grouting the joint between the wall base tile and the floor (Reason #7 to be angry with our tile guy); and sealing the granite floor. I’ve got no pictures of the grouting – maybe because I was so pissed and couldn’t figure out why tile guy neglected to grout it.

The sealing of the tile was pretty easy – just time consuming. Since we’ve been using the floor for a long time, I needed to scrub and clean it really well before the sealant. And then I put down two coats.

Watching sealant dry is boring.

Sue documented our acquisition of the sink base in this post so I won’t repeat all that. She touched on the fact that we didn’t have the typical plumbing arrangement – most of you have your plumbing coming out of the wall. But ours comes out of the floor, and adding to that, our plumbing vent returns into the wall. So that sink base needs a lot of modification, and the first step was to place the vintage medicine cabinet in the corner, then measure where the cutouts will occur in the back and bottom of the sink base.

Here’s a photo of those items, and I’ve traced over the photo with some dashed lines showing the holes I plan to cut into the back.

Holes needed for these objects

And voila – those cutouts upside down on the back of the sink base. (Saying it was easier than doing it.)

holes for wall objects

Already removed in the last photo is a section of the back piece along the bottom (which is “up” in that photo) to make room for the wall base that sticks out from the bathroom wall.

Sue & I then carried the sink cabinet into the bathroom to test fit the holes. I had to enlarge them just a bit to fit over everything, so it took a few tries. I also had to make a really serious cut along the bottom shelf because the cabinet was still resting on the aluminum trim along the wall tile, and the cut reduced its structural integrity, and I added more structure but still leaving holes for the plumbing.

Final modifications of cabinet

It might seem like drastic modifications to make, but going back to the original sink base post, this was a pretty cheap cabinet, and the alternative would be to modify the wall tile, and of the two of those, this particle board furniture was the better object to modify.

Sue said she’d like the holes covered so that any loose objects inside the cabinet wouldn’t fall through into the space below the cabinet, inaccessible unless we uninstalled the cabinet. I agreed, and searched the shop for a suitable sheet material. I eventually uncovered some soft plastic sheets that I’ve carried around for 15+ years, and I could cut it easily with the woodworking tools, and I trimmed out a neat rectangle.

I measured the locations of the three pipes sticking through the bottom of the cabinet and transferred them to the plastic sheet. (I’ve also drawn the previous dashed outline to show the hole I’m trying to cover.)

Layout of holes in plastic sheet

I’ll say it again – make test cuts/holes! I hadn’t used a hole saw in this plastic before so I tested that in a scrap. And remember the backup board of wood to make a neater cut as the drill/saw exits the plastic. (Woodshop 101)

Test drilling with the hole saw

Then I needed slits from the outer edge of the sheet into each hole, so that I could twist and warp the plastic to fit around the pipes, like a collar. Just a simple cut with the table saw would do fine.

Slits will allow warpage

And then of course a test fit. (Actually, if it had worked, it would have just been the actual installation.) Looking at the next photo – you can see that the sheet is being stopped or held up by the hot and cold water valves. Dang!

Water valves are in the way!

See, I measured the location and diameter of the pipes at a spot BELOW the water valves, and didn’t think of the fat valve and handle as being something to pass over with the sheet. There was only an inch of height between the valve and the bottom of the cabinet, and I spent 10 minutes trying every which way to twist the sheet into the right place. Of course I could have just drilled very large holes to clear the valve handle, but then I might have ended up not solving the original problem, of a very large gap around the pipe.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why did I put blue painters tape over the valve ends, it’s to keep wood or plastic dust out of the valve, which would eventually have ended up inside the faucet.)

Then in one of those “DUH!” moments, I found my solution. See next pic…

Just remove the handles to fit the sheet over!

I cut additional sheets of plastic to cover that long slit across the back/bottom. Those were much easier. I adhered all of these sheets with just a few drops of silicone. (I also cut a vertical sheet to place at the tall slit in the back, but no pics.)

Now those stray tubes of toothpaste won't disappear.

So the mods were complete – now to permanently glue down the glass sink top. I put down a few dollops of silicone around the perimeter, but added a large bead along the wall where the glass would touch, for holding it tight to the wall, and to keep any water from bleeding down that joint.

So close to finishing!

And the very last step – add handles to those cheap drawers. We found some nifty chromed solid metal handles that matched our “T-shaped” towel bars, for just 3 bucks each. Pretty easy – each just needed holes drilled from the inside of the drawers and doors.

Don't forget the scrap backup piece to prevent tear-outs...

And the finale did not have a big dramatic finish as one might expect. Probably cuz it took so long. Eight months.

Bathroom = Done.

Those handles make our $200 cabinet look at least like… $225.

And just for fun, here’s what this view looked like for the first ten months of living in our apartment…

Not the look we were going for

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2012 12:44 pm

    I’ve seem more than my share of tricky cutting situations, but yours and your solution “take the cake”, congrats, Ron

    • Tom permalink*
      June 1, 2012 1:57 pm

      Thanks Ron!
      I think it approached the limit of what we might be willing to do for the sake of “design”.

  2. February 16, 2012 2:54 pm

    Wow – that turned out wonderfully! Great job!

  3. Jim permalink
    February 16, 2012 2:39 pm

    much improved, and much more organized as well, Bravo!

  4. rick peterson permalink
    February 16, 2012 1:53 pm

    looks great, awesome job, tom

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