Mid-Century Malaise – "SHOW ME PICS" Version

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attention deficit dis... hey, what's that?!?

It looks like I'm out of my mind because I'm sort of doing three projects simultaneously, but there is some method to my madness. Yesterday I explained that I couldn't finish off the kitchen/living room baseboards because of shelving that needed to get done... but the shelving project requires 5/8" drywall that I don't have and can't carry myself (it's heavy and awkward). Tomorrow John's gonna go to Lowe's with me and help me get it.

In the meantime, I got to work on a project I've been contemplating for a long time (and bought most of the materials for last week)... DIY closet doors for the middle/guest/Kim bedroom. There are two closets side-by-each in there. Each has an opening 72" wide with two doors and goes from floor to ceiling. Here are the current mirrored monstrosity doors:

I dislike the mirrors, and more importantly I hate the brown picture-frame-special frame. I contemplated long and hard... one idea was to get Ikea Pax wardrobe doors, but the slick silver and opaque glass ones were about $250 a pair, and I'd need two pairs (actually, I'd need four pairs, because the room next to this one has identical closets and doors). This doesn't even take into account shipping, which would likely be around $300, so that wasn't gonna fly.

I did a lot of googling DIY closet doors, and people were commonly making 1x4 frames, then using a variety of backing materials for the popular "panel" effect... like this:

This one doesn't look too bad, but in general I'm not a fan of the sunken panel effect (don't get me going about beige six-panel doors), so it occurred to me that I could make something like this, nail a flat piece of 1/4" luan wood to it, and essentially hang it backwards. This way you'd have the structural stability of the frame, but the front would look like a flat slab of wood, and I'm all about a flat unadorned slab (because I've seen 2001 too many times- like this). I got the luan panels from Peterman's Lumber here (fancy wood place), because the Lowe's Depot doesn't carry 1/4" luan, and accidentally bought the wrong thing. Luan is sort of a cheapo medium-brown mahogany, and was frequently used for wood wall cladding in sixties houses, so that was the plan, but the "good" side of the stuff I bought is actually birch, which is considerably lighter (think of the light wood  on every piece of Ikea furniture you've ever seen, but not fake). I was gonna return it, but since I thought I'd hit with some of my swell new Watco Danish Oil Golden Oak rub-on stain on one corner and see how it turned out, which is this:

The picture doesn't really do it justice- it's WAY nicer in person...  almost zebrawood-ish, super smooth, pretty shiny and I haven't applied polyurethane yet. So I'm keeping this stuff for the doors. In ze meantime, I already picked up a bunch of 1x4 for the frames so I went to work on that today... a little detour here... if you ponder the idea of attaching 1x4's end to end (which in reality are 3/4" thick, 3 1/2" wide and however long you cut them), there aren't many good ways to do so. You can't really screw them together, because you'd need to use really long screws. You could use L-brackets, but that would be kind of ghetto and probably not very strong. There's lots of glue options if you're a pro woodworker- biscuit joints, finger tenon thingees, blah blah. Enter the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig:

You clamp this awesome piece of awesomeness to the end of one of your 1x4's, and it lets you drill a perfectly angled hole in exactly the correct spot. They've pretty much thought of everything- they include a bit with a collar so the depth is exact, and the box it comes in has a guide for where to tighten the collar on the bit for different material widths. They have you use special square-head screws that won't strip, and they include a driver bit too. It's next to impossible to screw up. The kit is around $40, which is a little steep, but it's worth every penny. Here's what it looks like clamped in place with a standard wood clamp:

And what you end up with:

Just for fun, I wood glued the whole mess too. Since switching bits every time is no fun, it become rapidly apparent that "production lining" all my holes was the way to go. I wasn't thinking too hard about how the things were gonna be built, so I drilled way more holes than necessary, but it didn't really hurt anything. Duh.

Here's a completed frame:

I built three-and-a-half of them today. Would've been four, but as usual, I underestimated how much lumber I'd need, so while I'm getting that drywall tomorrow for the shelves, I'm gonna get another eight-foot 1x4 to cut the remaining pieces. Anyway, between the perfectly centered pairs of pocket holes and the wood glue, they're pretty darn strong. Tomorrow I'll cut the 1/4" luan panels for the faces and nail those on- had to buy a new 18 gauge brad nailer from Harbor Freight for that (the 16 gauge one I've been borrowing from John can't use short enough nails). Lucky for me, it was only $20... yay cheapo Harbor Freight.

I'm also gonna need to get new hardware for the doors to slide- the current hardware has the doors rolling on the floor, whereas I want them to hang (not only is the floor track ugly dark brown, but it'll complicate my future laminate wood floor install). Finally, I'll need to make new wood valance pieces to hide hardware up top. There are pieces there now, but like everything else in this damn place, they've been slathered in gross brown paint.

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