…I work on improving my house. So, on my second day back to work from my week-long “vacation”, I wanted to share my Master Bedroom reno.

My Wife and I have been in our house for the past seven years, and our bedroom was the one room we hadn’t made any progress on. I mean, we hadn’t painted, upgraded, repaired, or anything. We made the decision that our room would be ‘next’ after some of the other repairs we had been doing, and so for the past few weeks, we’ve been working on fixing it up.

Let me preface this by saying that our house is a 70+ year old wartime house, that was improved in the 80’s by adding a second floor. Since we’ve been there, we have built a bedroom for my youngest Son, created a second-floor laundry room, made more of an ‘open-concept’ main floor by removing much of a wall, and completely renovated our kitchen. Oh, and I guess it serves to explain that we have also replaced our downstairs bathroom three times. Twice, when we wanted to refresh the paint, and once, when the bathroom upstairs decided to leak through, sending a torrent of old, smelly, wet, blown insulation into the room below.

But I digress.

Our bedroom started out ‘builders beige’, but not by the original builder. Two of the walls (one and a half, actually) were painted over wallpaper…

You’ll see in the pic above that the ‘light’ section to the right is still painted. That’s the section where the previous owners removed the old wallpaper, and the ‘dark’ section to the left is where they gave up. That’s the under layer of wallpaper where we had removed it. They decided to quit, I guess, and use drywall mud to cover the transition. I loved cleaning that mess up. (NOT.) The wall to the right wasn’t much more fun…

I had originally hoped that the wallpaper was the ‘easy’ type, which would remove in large strips, but alas, it was not. There were many nights where I would spend a couple of hours with my wallpaper removal tool and some commercial wallpaper stripper, only to get a 3’x3′ section removed. Not fun. One of my least favourite aspects of the room was the peel-n-stick floor tiles that the previous owners had installed – likely bought from the local dollar store.

Here is a picture of another wall ‘before’…

Every time I look at the ‘before pictures’, I cringe a little bit and wonder how we lived in that room for so long without working on it. Especially, when I look at the ‘after’ pics!

Over the course of a few weeks – and all last week during my vacation – we refreshed the walls, put up new primer and paint on all the walls and ceiling, installed new laminate flooring, painted out and reinstalled the existing floor moulding, installed new crown moulding and put up the floating shelving. It was a very involved process, but I’m extremely happy with how it all turned out.

The only thing I hate is ‘the bug’… That little voice that tells you “you’re not finished…” There are so many other things I’d like to do – it’s hard to find any ‘down time’.

And yes, next up is our walk-in closet, and the laundry room. Both are in similar shape as the bedroom was, and will require some work in freshening up their walls, but I’m looking forward to the next reno. (When’s my next vacation, anyway?)



It has certainly been interesting over the past few months!

My Wife and I have been working on renovations inside the house, as the weather has not been co-operative for any more than a few hours. ¬†The cabinet has been sitting in my kids’ game room for the past couple of months, and I have made sure to keep it clean, dusted, and organized, while I planned out my next steps.

The weather report for this week looks good, and the temperatures outside have been pretty nice, so I’ve been able to go without a heavy winter coat. ¬†I’m just completing a very labour intensive bedroom reno right now – and when I say ‘labour intensive’, I’m speaking of my attempt to remove wallpaper that was¬†painted over by the previous owners of our house. ¬†Sadly, it’s not the ‘strippable’ type of wallpaper, either. ¬†It’s the kind where if you get the top ‘picture’ layer off, you now have a fibrous, stubborn layer to contend with. ¬†We’ve put¬†hours into removal already, and it usually seems that we get a 3′ x 3′ section off in about an hour. ¬†Definitely not fun.

So, we’re hoping to get through that soon (see:¬†this weekend) so that we can complete the paint (a much easier job) and finish trimming the room. ¬†Once I’ve got that done, the cabinet is definitely the next big project. ¬†My plan is to have this completed within the next few months.

A week or so ago, my Wife commented on all of the wood sitting around in her Quilting Room, and asked me when my cab was going to “start looking like something”. It’s been a long time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve made progress on assembly!

I’ve assembled some of the lower sections, and I’m surprised it’s as sturdy as it is. I’ve always made sure to use glue and clamps to secure everything together, and some screws for extra support, but other than that, I haven’t installed any additional interior framing.

To build up the front curved edges, I layered pieces of 3/4″ MDF, which will end up being sanded to shape, and finished with Bondo.

In the past couple of days, the weather hasn’t been the best, so yesterday, I prepared the pieces for the edges and today, my youngest and I glued them up and clamped them in place.

A result of my Son’s hard, hard work…

…and what the edges will look like, after everything is attached.

Now, over at the Build Your Own Arcade forums, the discussion has been fast and furious into ‘next steps’, as Andy Warne over at Ultimarc has recently released these puppies into the market:

I have considered including light guns into my cabinet for a while, but haven’t had a good idea in how to incorporate them, as I have wanted to keep the cabinet as ‘game-original’ as possible. Well, after numerous discussions, I came up with an idea to put them into the rear of the case… …and the inspiration for the design was straight out the game itself.

In the level of Doom 3 shown above, the Security Personnel opens up a panel to the right, where you get to pick up your armor and weaponry. I decided that if you open the back of the cabinet, you shouldn’t be greeted by a mess of wires and parts. I want the cabinet to be as intriguing inside, as outside, so I came up with the following design for the rear:

So, when you open the cabinet, I’m going to have an armory-styled bay, which will be able to house the light guns, and I’m also considering a futuristic pulse-rifle as well, similar to the ones used in-game. Overall, it should add to the ambiance of the case.

One final thing I’d like to do, is to thank Ajay Fry and Teddy Wilson, the Hosts of InnerSPACE on the Space Channel, for all of their interest and support of my project. (If you’re here because of their Twitter posts, welcome!) Definitely follow them on Twitter, and definitely watch InnerSPACE for everything to do with sci-fi. And I do mean everything!

Now that the cabinet is finally taking shape, I hope to make more progress soon, and you’ll hear it here first!

One of these days…

Posted: 2011.09.14 in DOOMED!, General

…I’ll build me a workshop, so I don’t have to rely on good weather to get things done!

Progress is slower than I had hoped, however, I have made some strides to get as much done as I can inside, so that when I am able to, I can just set everything up and have it ready for cutting. As you’ll see from the pic below, I have a few sheets of 3/4″ MDF all sketched out, with the entire back of the cabinet ready for cutting and carving.

I find the cutting and carving to actually take less time than the layout, but that’s to be expected. If you plan properly, you won’t have to go back and redo as much. It does happen, mind you, and it’s usually because the plan just wasn’t good enough to achieve the result you’re looking for.

Two sayings come to mind. The first is, “A failure to plan is just planning to fail”, and it’s very true. If you don’t have a clear plan of attack, you’ll find yourself painted into a corner, or having to go back over what you might have already done. The second saying is, “measure twice, cut once”, and is immeasurably more important when it comes to actually doing the work. If you don’t make certain every cut you make is right, then you’ve wasted time, wood, and you’ve likely dropped your morale a few notches. (Don’t worry – it does happen to everybody, every once in a while. The trick is to pick yourself up, and take it as a learning experience. It happens.)

For the speaker grille, I made a prototype cover to see how it would come out. Except for the fact that I must have made a mistake in measuring or setting up the Carvewright (see “measure twice” above!) it turned out pretty nice.

I have decided that it’s just a prototype, as I am not overly happy with the look of the slots, and think that it will reduce the quality of the sound a bit too much. My next plan will be to carve out a recess on the back of the inlay, and fit some type of speaker screen back there. I’m thinking some type of woven steel or screening might be in the works. It has to be dense enough to hide the speakers, and yet, provide clean and clear sound. Perhaps some door screening is in order. We’ll see.

I think the embellishments on the sides of the cabinet are what I’m most proud of. In the original artwork, the small ‘discolorations’ that appear all over the cabinet would denote to me some type of attachment, so I made myself up a 3/4″ square template and went to work carving them out. The results were great!

I think these little additions to the cabinet will really make it stand out.

Overall, the cabinet has over 20 of these small carves to do, and they’re not without their challenges. When I was carving the second-last one for the sides, my wood slipped, causing me to cut through the template as well as a section of the side. While it wasn’t good, it wasn’t project-ending, either. I am able to Bondo the section and re-carve it, once I have re-cut the template. It was a small setback, so no harm, no foul.

I do want to take a moment to thank my Wife for the use of her Quilting & Crafting Room, for the storage of … well, pretty much everything for my Project. As you can see from the pictures above, I’ve pretty much monopolized her space with MDF, tools and equipment. Not to mention an 80lb. computerized carving machine!

I know she’s always wanted a Longarm Quilter. Maybe, once my Project is complete, I’ll buy her one, to make up for it. (I might just have to!)

I must take a moment to extol the virtues of Bondo, “The” automotive body filler. This stuff is easier to use than standard wood filler, sands easier and comes out to a silky-smooth finish. While it sounds like I’m talking about a fine wine, let me tell you. I’ve worked with normal, gritty wood filler, and this stuff is amazing… There is nothing bad I can say about the product.

The weather’s been pretty good over the last couple of days, and I managed to cut, carve and assemble the entire marquee unit for the arcade. My skills with a router, while still in their infancy, are growing. I do still need to make sure I have adequate stock available on either side of the cutting bit, as I dipped into areas where my router should not have cut, but it’s all a learning process. In the end, all in all, I am happy with the results of the cuts, and what I’m not happy with can be fixed up with the aforementioned Bondo.

What I do NOT like, mind you, is the way MDF just sucks up primer. I must have sprayed half a can of primer at the unit, and it still has sections where it looks like nothing is covered. Just for reference, here’s a pic of the machine from in-game. I worked on the marquee section, which is at the top…

…and here is a pic of the rear, showing the 90 degree angled grooves nicely at the top, as well as the inlaid accenting at the bottom. I think I might do a little more playing, however, as I think it needs those little accents that show up near the front of the marquee. In the reference pic, they look to be where bolts might be attached, and you know me. I’m a stickler for those little details! (Even when they take me hours to fabricate!)

In from the front, you will see how the new speakers are going to be installed, and the wood where the fluorescent light will be installed to light the marquee.

Finally, some detail on the way my CarveWright inlaid the speaker routing. (No, I did not do that nice, neat job all by myself. I had the help of a very capable piece of hardware. My computerized carving system is quite a dream.)

One of the Members of the BYOAC Forums has put me onto a product called “spray putty”, which gives an amazing finish, as it looks like it goes on a bit thicker, and is sandable like the Bondo… I need to find something like this, as the primer ends off with a very rough finish – even on uncut MDF. It’s a pain to run your hand over primed MDF, knowing fully well it was smooth before you painted, and now, feels like you’re running your hands across sandpaper. The spray putty will, undoubtedly, be an improvement. As it is, for now, I will continue to sand and re-prime the unit with what I have.

As for today, my Wife and I went over to Home Depot and got some new MDF for the back of the unit. Sooner or later, I’m going to need to clean out a section of the kids’ toyroom (slash “The Arcade”) so that I have room for this beast! Can’t wait!

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Posted: 2011.09.04 in DOOMED!, General

Sometimes, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. Other times, you take a chance, and get things done. This is one of those times.

Niagara Falls

It’s Labour Day Weekend, and we have just returned from a few days at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Canada. After a beautiful time away, I wanted to get some work done on the arcade. It wasn’t looking too good. The Weather Network was calling for a 40% chance of rain on Friday and Saturday, a 100% chance of thunderstorms on Sunday and back to a 40% chance of rain on Holiday Monday.

So, Friday and Saturday saw no rain. That was amazing, and I got a lot completed. Today was Sunday, and when I woke up, I was prepared for the worst. I checked The Weather Network’s website, and sure enough, there was a Thunderstorm Warning for our area, and they still reported a 100% chance of rain. I watched the skies. They were grey and ominous, but early this morning, there still had not been any rain…

Weather, Weather everywhere...

I worked quickly, and managed to complete all of the cuts and carves for the marquee. There were a few spots where the router dipped into the wood – where I didn’t want it to happen – but I knew that was going to happen. I have wood filler and Bondo for that, no worries there. All the while, I kept my one eye on the weather. Dark clouds floated in and out, but I guess Mother Nature was watching out for me. I completed the marquee, and put some wood filler into some spots, and now, I’m ready for my last day of Vacation – Labour Day…

That’s tomorrow. I hope to apply some Bondo to the marquee, complete the sanding, and if all goes well, apply a coat or two of primer. If the weather continues to hold out, you’ll definitely see some pictures!

I can’t wait. Is it Monday yet?

I know it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a meaty update, but life got in the way. There have been a lot of things that I have had to work on, happily, in the last while, but I have missed having the opportunity to work on my arcade. It’s actually my Wife who told me that I wasn’t allowed to work on any more home renovation projects until I’ve made some serious headway on my game. Thank you, Baby.

This weekend, I printed out page upon page of my project plan, and got my tools in order. I had to do some maintenance on my shop tools, to make sure they all cut straight, were sharp, and would not send parts flying off in every direction. (Hey, that happens when you’re building a game based upon one of the scariest game series ever made. You never know what could happen.)

Once everything was ready, and set up … I found I wasn’t really ready after all. Oh sure, last week, I had went to Home Depot and spent $50 on a template cutting kit for my router, but when I went to hook it up, I found that I didn’t have the appropriate mounting plate. Cue another trip to the Depot. (Lucky enough, I live about 10 minutes from HD, eh?) I found another kit – this time for $20, and containing everything the more expensive one did, and more – and bought it. When I hooked it up … well, let’s say planning didn’t account for what the job actually called for. What I wanted was to cut a template for multiple, identical pieces, but the kit I had bought wasn’t made for that… Damn. (It was useful for future cuts, mind you.)

So, after a third trip, I was ready. I measured and cut out the first side of the cabinet, and then got to work with the router, using a ‘flush trim’ bit. Nice thing about this bit is that you can exactly duplicate any pattern with it. As you can see from the pics, I cut out the two sides, and some supporting pieces.

All this was completed yesterday, during a day when it was really hot, and really, really (really!) humid. When I was done, I looked like a giant sand-man, covered in MDF dust. Today, it’s much, much cooler, and without a hint of humidity. I wonder what I can get done today…