Well, I kept busy. In November of 2019 we had new flooring installed in 80% of the house. That meant all the rooms got cleared out so the old floors could be removed and the new flooring put in.
|New Vinyl plank flooring in Living Room|
The Home Office contained three desks, a filing cabinet, and a movable printer stand. One of the desks was a large corner desk that contained a "library" type shelving unit. The room looked cramped. There never seemed to be enough room for everything. Including my ham radio equipment.
So, I took pen in hand (OK, a drawing program) and designed a large office workspace. The three desks would go away, the movable printer cart would go away, but we would gain a lot of additional workspace.
We would put nothing on the walls, with the exception of one cabinet to hold the modems, routers and the like to support the home network.
The first challenge was finding cabinets for the workspace support. Most cabinets are 33 to 36 inches tall as they have a "toe kick" area which raises them up. Plus, I wanted better quality then the "buy off the floor" cabinets at the big box stores.
Google came through. I found a place called The Cabinet Authority. They sell cabinets for a manufacturer called Conestoga Wood Specialties. Conestoga has a manufacturing facility on the east and west sides of the US. What made them even more appealing is that the cabinets would be custom "built" but not assembled. Each cabinet would come "flat packed" on pallets. The only thing assembled would be the drawer boxes and the sliding trays.
After several phone calls to The Cabinet Authority to get the cabinet order correct, including which cabinet ends would be exposed, the type of wood, the style of cabinet doors and drawer fronts, the order was placed.
The cabinets arrived on a FedEx Home delivery truck about three weeks after the order. Indeed they were in flat boxes on pallets.
|Flat packed and tied to pallets. Four pallets in all.|
Once the floor was complete, we moved as much as we could back into the house and then left to Yuma for the winter.
Upon return from Yuma, I moved more things into the house and rearranged things in the garage so I had a place to work. I opened one box at a time and was astonished at the quality of the craftsmanship and material. Each box came with an inventory list and directions specific for that particular cabinet. I have to admit that I did not find the specific directions until after they were all complete, instead relying on the generic assembly instructions that are on The Cabinet Authority web site.
On the whole the cabinets assembled easily. One of the things that I had ordered was full extension, soft close drawer glides. These are manufactured by Blum, and install easily and work fantastically. To use these type of drawer glides, you do need to add a notch on each side the the drawer box in the back. Since I ordered the drawers with this specific glide, the drawer boxes already had the required notch.
When we ordered the cabinets, we ordered them made with paint grade Maple. The idea was to paint the cabinets and the work surface white before we installed them. After looking at the quality of the wood, painting was discarded in lieu of a clear gloss finish. You can order the cabinets pre-finished with your choice of paint, varnish, oil or the like.
During the assembly, I found it much easier to install the drawer glide supports on the interior back of the cabinet before assembling the back to the rest of the cabinet.It made things a lot easier when it came time to install the drawers.
|Drawer Glide support attached to the back panel of the cabinet before assembly. The back panel was pre-drilled, making alignment/placement much easier.|
Once I had the cabinet boxes assembled, I finished them with a minimum of four coats of Varathane or MinWax Gloss water base Polyurethane. The inside surfaces of the cabinets and the drawers come pre-finished with a clear coat.
|Finish applied waiting for final assembly|
The drawer glides were installed. They simply slide onto the rear support and attach to the front frame with screws.
The cabinet with the slide out trays is a little different in regards to the mounting of the drawer glides. Instead of mounting the glides front and rear, the glides mount on a .75x1.25 inch rail. The cabinet has in each of the four corners a vertical with notches spaced one inch apart.
|Verticals in cabinet corners|
This allows you to easily change the height of the tray or drawer, by simply moving the rail to a different location.
|Two rails installed. Note in these two photos, the drawer glide is NOT attached to the rail.|
|Completed cabinet with slide trays installed|
The Drawer fronts must also be installed to each drawer box. I laid a cabinet on its back, placed the drawer fronts in place on the cabinet where I though they should be (lots of measuring) Then traced the drawer opening on the inside of the drawer front. I used at least one roll of blue painters tape. I would applied the tape to the inside of the drawer face, then trace on the tape.
|Drawer faces aligned.|
|Finished - with drawer pulls installed|
|The orange devices are the drawer box front latches. Notice the notches on each side on the rear of the drawer box.|
|Putting cabinets in position|
I positioned the cabinets on the left, leveled them to the cabinets on the right, and though some shimming was required, it was less that 1/4 inch. The initial layout was based on my design and measurements taken with the old desks in place. We wheeled the office chairs in and quickly found the the cabinets needed to be adjusted up to six inches to make everything work.
Now came the top. We looked at pre-made counter top, we looked at solid surface counter top and both were out of the price range for this project. We settled on using Maple 3/4 inch plywood. Now the hunt for that began. The biggest thing was I wanted then to cut the plywood to width, as I did not have the area to do that. Home Depot was the only place I could find that would cut it for me. So, off to Home Depot. Now this was middle of April and only a certain number of patrons could be allowed in at a time. I got there about 10AM and waited in line for 30 minutes. Then I could not find the product, even though it was listed as in stock on the web site. Finally a couple store employees assisted me and we found it still in the shipping bundle on the top of a rack in the lumber section. Then the wait for a fork lift, clearing a spot to put it, lots of wait time. I finally go my two sheets and asked if they would cut it. They initially said no. Then they said it would not be an accurate cut, it might be off by up to 1/4 inch. Fine cut it, I can't get it home in a 4x8 foot sheet. So, they agreed to cut it. It turned out to be 1/8 inch off.
Now this work surface was 10 feet long in one direction and nine feet long the other direction. The width was 28 inches. The cabinets are 24 inches deep, plus I set them away from the wall three inches to have a wiring chase. Width was fine, but length, I was going to need a splice and going into a corner I needed to have a joint.
I started by putting a couple coats of Polyurethane on each piece of plywood. Being water based, it dried quickly, so I was able to put on a couple coats a day. I sanded between each coat so I would have a smooth surface. I started by laying the work surface piece on the right hand cabinets (photo above). I knew it would be short as that was the 10 foot length. I squared it up and found that I had gaps more than 3/8 along the walls. Between the sheet rock and the "orange peel" finishing there of created a very uneven wall. I got it as tight as I could against the two walls, then laid the left hand piece of work surface on the cabinets, overlapping the right hand piece.
|Left hand piece overlapping the right hand piece|
I cut the right hand piece, test fit it, took it out, trimmed some, test fit, trim, test fit. You know the cycle. Since I had a joint, I needed to put not only a splice in, but I needed a support. I did not want a joint that would sag if it had weight on it. I was going to put a leg under it when it was suggested that I just brace the joint to the wall.
|Splice point with brace to wall (to be added)|
To finish things off, I found some 1/2 inch Maple quarter round and some 3/4"x1/4" Maple screen trim at a local lumber yard, along with Maple wood filler. Adding the 3/4"x1/4" screen trim to the front edge of the work surface and putting the 1/2 inch quarter round against the wall has given this a much more finished look.
|Corner seam filled|
|Quarter round being installed|
|Waiting to move stuff in|