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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutting a Wide Angel Bevel on the Miter Saw

This studio project that I've been working on has presented many opportunities for me to learn new skills and use new tools. The basic room was fairly normal, but on top of the finished walls I built acoustical baffles that basically covered every wall throughout the recording space. In addition, many of them were installed at weird angles so that no major surfaces were parallel to each other.

The baffles were 2x4 frames that had sturdy acoustical insulation hung inside (so it can swing freely) and then we covered the frames with acoustical fabric. (Seriously, this stuff is not cheap!) After all the baffles were built and secured to the walls, we covered them with wood slats, alternating soft pine and harder red oak. The goal was not to just absorb all of the sound, but rather to control it better.
Here's a picture:

It's hard to see in the picture, but the corner pieces are slightly angled to cut off the corners of the room, and hopefully eliminate 'bass traps'. It looks great, but when it came time to finish the trim, we realized that the correct angle to make the piece fit perfectly was 60 degrees. My compound miter saw, like most, will only go to around 50 or so unless you hold the board perpendicular to it, which is difficult and dangerous when you're talking about a bevel cut.

After much thought, we came up with a solution that actually worked well. I made a jig that holds the board at a 15 degree angle to the saw. That way, we can bevel at 45 degrees and end up with the 60 degree angle that we needed. Here's the jig that we dubbed the 'sailboat' because it looked like a toy boat or something:

It even worked for cutting boards that were 8 foot long or more, if I had someone hold the other end for me. Of course some cuts weren't as accurate as I would have liked, but in the end, it looked really sharp.

Another wall needed an even wider angle and I was worried that we might be out of luck. However, we were able to add a higher piece to our boat, a.k.a. the 'sail', and it worked fine, although it was really pushing my saw to the max!

TIP: For cutting wide angles across the face of the boards (not a bevel cut) I was able to temporarily screw another piece on the side of the board so that there would be more width at the end to square against the saw's fence. The worked great and I had a lot of these to cut once we got to the higher baffles where the surface angled as well as the ceiling. The main thing to remember is to think things through completely before you cut. Otherwise, you might be doing it again!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Studio Soundproofing- Automatic Door Bottoms

Yesterday was the day to install the door 'gaskets' for the entry into a home studio project that I've been working on for a few months. The idea is to block as much sound coming in or out of the studio as possible.

The 'gasket' is similar to fancy weatherstripping for an exterior door. The most difficult part of the installation is to mortise the cavity for the 'automatic door bottom'. This is a product from Zero International that goes along the bottom of the door and actually has a lever that drops it to the floor as the door closes.

We had discussed several ways to make the 1" wide and 1 5/8" deep hole that extends the width of the door bottom. In the end I used my circular saw with a rip fence to accurately make several cuts then I used a wood chisel to clean out the hole. It actually went quicker than I expected and the hardware fit perfectly.

A small brass knob sticks out of one end. As the door closes, it hits the door jamb and drops the seal to the floor. It's adjustable so you change the drop depending on the gap that you have. After I took this picture I installed the cover plates to make the end look pretty.

In addition to the door bottoms I installed the thresholds and strips along all the edges. In the end the doors will be sealed tightly and ready for rock 'n roll!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Birth of a Carpenter

I thought I'd start a blog to document some of the projects I've worked on and give me a place to rant about anything I want, mostly related to home remodeling.

Though I learned a few things growing up on a farm and using tools from a young age, the real experience came when my wife and I made the decision to buy a fixer-upper in East Nashville as a starter home. This was before East Nashville was so expensive and we bought the ugliest house on Eastside Ave.

It was somewhat overwhelming, but we had to dive in because the roof needed to be repaired. I bought a book at Home Depot to guide me but was still hesitant to start ripping shingles off. Thankfully, my wife, Stephanie, coaxed me ahead and said I could do it.

I'm glad she did. The roofing repair went great and helped me build the confidence to try another remodeling baby step. (Yes, I was the crazy guy on the roof trying to finish after dark with work lights blazing... :)

It wasn't long afterward that I had my building permit in hand and we were gutting the upstairs. The plan was to finish upstairs first, then live there while we did the downstairs.

When we started, the walls looked like someone had glued paneling to the walls and then ripped it off. The floor was covered with carpet squares that were glued to the floor. We moved the doorway a little so you no longer had to go through the bedroom to get to the bathroom. I also updated all the wiring and plumbing.

Upstairs Room Before & After...

My wife was due with our first child so we made record time! We started in November and had finished the upstairs in May just before Noah was born June 2nd. Whew!

More on this project later,