March 29, 2010


The tile man is here today working on my rear patio, and he will return later in the week to tile the darkroom floor! Things are moving along.

I finished the rough plumbing in the wall and the remainder of the insulation except for where I will eventually put the door. Sheetrock is next, then paint, and it will be a room! Oh, yeah, well, there is the door, and the overhead lights, and the remaining electrical, and building cabinets, and …

March 26, 2010

Building walls

The room itself is finally taking some shape and the actual dimensions (12x18 ft) are much more apparent. Between my mishap a week ago with the trees and the weather over the weekend, nothing much got done last weekend. But, this week so far: got the drain in, finished the wiring for the outlets, and put up the insulation. Last night, I got into the carpentry phase and framed most of the new partition where the door will be. It is not finished, because I need to leave a larger opening than just the door so that it will be easier to get the drywall up the stairs and into the space.

There was an existing half wall on the end of the room by the stairs. It was there to keep one from falling down the stairs, obviously. The plan was to completely close in that end of the room with a partition and a door. See the “plan”.

There was a bit of a kink in the proceedings. (Isn’t there always?) If you look closely at the “before” picture, there is a long stud going up from the end of the existing half wall to the ceiling. While no 2x4 stud is ever completely straight, this one had a curve befitting a belly dancer. From the top of the half wall to the ceiling, it curved nearly 2 inches out of plumb. Since it was to become the “king stud” for the door, that would not do. So, it had to be replaced. Not that big of a deal, except that I could only get so close to the ceiling with a saw (without tearing up the ceiling itself) and so had to chisel out the last inch of the wood. Didn’t take long.

There is an outlet just outside the planned door that will be relocated into the wall to the right of the door and will be on both sides of the wall. I’ll run an extension of this circuit over to the center of the “existing” wall, as well. A separate circuit will then be run from the breaker box below up through this partition, with switching just beside the door, and into the ceiling for general lighting. One commenter on an earlier post warned about the fluorescent lights that are currently in the space. I do plan to take them out. They may or may not “glow” as these types of lights are reported to do. What they do, however, is hum, and loudly. Plus, the existing switch for them will be on the outside of the darkroom, once the door is in. Can’t have that, either. So, new circuit and new lights.

Alas, the plan shows a 36” door. After measuring more carefully, there is only room for a 32”, or maybe even only 30” because of the slant of the ceiling. This shouldn’t make any difference in the long run. It’s not like I’m going to be moving stuff in and out all the time. I’ll just have to make sure that some things, like the 8 foot sink and my 9 foot dry side countertop, get up there before the door is installed. It could get tough turning that corner, just like with a sheet of drywall.

March 21, 2010

What hard hats are for ...

So, anyway, a few days ago I was out on my lot pursuing my latest involuntary hobby: cleaning up storm damaged trees. This is the main thing slowing progress on the darkroom.  Well, and the weather.  Spring will be here any week now.  But, I digress ...

We have several dozen ash junipers on our little acre, and a number of them did not do well in the heavy snow we had last month. Little by little, I’m getting them cleaned up.

I have both a gas chain saw, and a small electric one that is on a pole – for reaching small limbs off the ground. I know how to use them. I do not work on ladders, I leave that to the pros. In fact, this incident happened while I was standing flat on the ground, cutting at about waist high. I was not, repeat, not, standing under anything.

Something – and I still do not know what – hit me on top of the head. It wasn’t that heavy, did not knock me out or even hurt much. However, I was aware that I had been cut. I stopped the chain on the saw and set the saw down and started walking up to the house when the blood started pouring down my safety glasses. Yes, I was wearing safety glasses, gloves and hearing protectors, but not a hard hat. I had no idea that a scalp wound would bleed so much.

I walked calmly (yes, calmly) back to the saw and shut the motor off, then up to the house and yelled the wife’s name. She (fortunately) came right out and did a really good “Oh my God!” We got the bleeding stopped quickly enough but she insisted I go to the emergency room and I could not convince her to take a picture of me before we left. Blood was dripping everywhere. I bet I looked cool.

Anyway, I now have two staples in the top of my head right where I don’t have near enough hair to cover them up. They come out Wednesday. No concussion, no bruising, just a nasty cut that could have been prevented with a $5 hard hat. I now own one. I’ve seen where the real hard hat guys usually have their names stenciled on theirs. You know, something appropriate like “Randy” or “JD”. I think I’ll stencil “Dumbass” on mine.

March 14, 2010

Bits and pieces

Not too much to see, still.  I've done a good bit of wiring and prep for other things (demolition).  I ran a separate circuit for the existing air conditioner, and it will handle an electric heater when the time comes.  Should I decide to upgrade to a combo heater/AC, there is a heavier wire waiting for that potential circuit.  I am hoping that once I get this space insulated and sealed up, this AC will be fine.  I can get a small space heater for the winter.

Soon, there will be insulation and sheetrock, and then we’ll start to really "see" some progress. I've got the floor man scheduled in a couple of weeks. I have decided to do tile, but not to do it myself!  I'm doing everything else.

Interesting thing on the plumbing. On one of the online forums, another darkroom builder was discussing his lack of a drain. As is always the case, he got a lot of suggestions, but one was a device I didn’t know about and would have been perfect for my last darkroom. It was an integrated tank and sump pump built specifically for an application such as having a laundry sink in a basement and needing to drain it up to the house drain. I could have used such a device at the old house instead of the holding tank and pumped to the main house drain only about 20 ft away. Oh, well.

Unfortunately, this specific device won’t work at the current house. I’m too far from a house drain (100’s of feet), plus I’m on a septic now, and why take that chance? But, it does give me an idea for using a simpler sump pump to move the waste water out to the garden. Stay tuned.

March 8, 2010

Electric weekend!

This week just did not turn out as planned. A brief flu-like bout mid week – got over it about as fast as it came on, but it subtracted an evening or two I meant to spend on the darkroom. That setback not withstanding, I had this weekend all planned out. Saturday was to be spent doing yard work; Sunday on the darkroom.

The yard work went as planned. This is the project that is slowing down the darkroom progress. It’s not standard yard work. We had snow damage (yes, snow damage) to many, many trees on our semi-rural lot, and I am slowly getting the cleanup taken care of. I would much rather be doing something else, but it’s gotta be done. I could have hired an arborist, but, believe me, it would have been thousands of dollars! However, I digress …

Got a good deal of wiring done. Not much to show in a picture, so I won’t bother. Dry side is ready to close-up. The wet side could be done, but I’m still unsure about the placement of a couple of things, so it’s still in flux. Still thinking about the overhead lights, too. I have always thought that the darkroom lights should be track lights, then they would be very flexible and easily changeable, especially the safelights. I may end up with the safelights on tracks, but not the general overhead task lighting. I just need to make some decisions. I’m trying to wire (and plumb) for future considerations, but that is not always completely successful. Anyway, sheetrock is coming soon and then things will really start to take shape.

I’ve got one wall to frame. The stairwell from the floor below is open to the second level. Easy enough, but I am having to take wiring into consideration for that, too; since the new partition will have the darkroom door, and, of course, light switches!