In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sticking boxes together

This is what we've had for a kitchen for most of the time we've lived here. A century old baker's table provided much needed work and storage space, but we still have no sink. We've had to get water from the bathroom for every meal. We've done our dishes in big galvanized buckets in the bathtub. When you consider that most of the people in the world don’t have indoor plumbing we’ve been doing OK, but there are always those mornings when we get up and crave a shower only to find buckets of dishes thwarting us. That got old a long time ago. The first step in making it better was actually pretty straightforward; I just had to stick some boxes together.

The boxes were one of the bottom cabinet units salvaged from the old kitchen and lazy Susan corner cabinet from the ReStore. When we bought the place the kitchen cabinets where all along one wall with no space for a refrigerator. Our redesign is an L shaped layout with the refrigerator at one end and the stove at the other. I cut away part of the base for the old cabinets so we could put the fridge in the corner, but left the rest of it alone. I extended the existing base with simple frame of scrap lumber. That gave me a level base for the stove end of the L. I positioned the two cabinets on it and screwed them down.

An interesting feature of modern kitchen cabinets is that their fronts are separate pieces. I believe this is to allow for cosmetic remodeling. You (or rather your contractor) can pull the front and doors off, replace them with a front and doors with a different cheap veneer and your kitchen goes from Natural Colonial Knotty Pine to Smokey Danish Oak. Some people pay thousands of dollars for this service every few years just to be fashionable. Ah the lunacy of modern bourgeoisie.

Fortunately my cabinet fronts were not cheap veneer but actual wood allowing me to match them up with a paint job. In the above right picture you can see a salvaged cabinet front leaning against the cabinets. Its exactly the same depth as the front of lazy Susan cabinet, a standard three quarters of an inch. This means that I was able to screw the drawer runners from drawer cabinet into the front of the Lazy Susan cabinet. I then cut off one side the old drawer cabinet front and join it the Lazy Susan front.

The only problem was that the Lazy Susan was just a little bit shorter than the drawer cabinet. I managed to find some wood strips in my scrap pile that were just the right size to fill in the front. I used two by four sections screwed into wall studs in the back to support the the plywood top I cut. I cut aplywood side to close off cabinet and further support the top. A bit of wood putty and two coats of white paint from Freecycle and the bottom of the L was complete. As I said it was basically just sticking boxes together. The rest of the L will be a bit more complicated.

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