The Bungaloft Report – Cabinets

It’s been a while now since Lisa first suggested we enter our Bungaloft project in the Build It Green! Home Tour. Once we were accepted (and committed, or more likely, ready to be committed ), we accelerated the pace a bit, worked hard on the house and finally waved a glorious goodbye to our temporary, fifth-wheel-trailer-home and moved into the house. A week later we welcomed about 150 green building aficionados to our 550 sq ft experiment in compact living for a day’s worth of interesting conversation about our work in progress. Although a bit of imagination was a useful tool for the typical visitor, the temporary staging job we did to make a serviceable presentation came off pretty well. In spite of an unfortunate, last minute, job-site accident that left Lisa feeling a little less presentable than she might have liked, we all three (Zane entertained guests) thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Now that we have been in the house a while and are beginning to tackle the many remaining tasks in earnest, it feels like time to review what got us this far. We would never claim to be the ultimate green warriors on the home remodeling front, but we have made a significant commitment to incorporating green building techniques wherever we felt we could. The other major consideration has always been to find a comfortable melding of the Bungalow heritage of our little house with our shared fondness for Modern design principles.

Recycled fir vanity, recycled steel handles, bamboo towel hook
As the modest remodel began to look more like a complete rebuild, I keep noticing how much beautiful old fir was coming out of the original construction. 1928 was undoubtedly a good year for framing lumber. So our thoughts turned to ways we could make use of the growing bounty. The first significant step in that direction was recycling some of the material into thick veneers to build our bathroom vanity pictured above. In keeping with the Modernism meets Bungalism theme I had in mind, we had decided to build a European style wall-hung cabinet. Two particular pieces of fir seemed destined for this project. The one visible in the photo above had beautiful straight, close grain with a smattering of nail holes to remind us of it’s provenance. The other board, originally a painted baseboard, had a wilder wavy grain pattern with a bit of lighter colored sapwood. I made use of some leftover bamboo stair tread material to make a set of towel hooks like the one at left below the motion-detector shower fan switch.

We stumbled upon the one-piece counter top at Ikea. It is a very well made part complimented nicely by a Cifial faucet purchased inexpensively at a local fixture shop sale. The very modern top surface of the cabinet inspired me to look for a handle that would nicely blend that polished look with the more rustic feel of the Fir. I finally decided to make the handles from some recycled steel angle lying around the shop. The combination of a modern design with the rough mill finish seems like just the right touch. The photo below shows the other Fir material and a detail of the smaller pulls used on the narrower right set of drawers along with a glimpse of Lisa’s idea to use open shelves for rolled-up bath towels.

Drawer pull and fancy Fir
The material reclamation process we used involves a number of steps starting with planing and resawing the original material. The photo below shows one of the boards making its way past the blade of my vintage Dro bandsaw equipped with a custom fence I built for it. I chose to aim for 1/16″ inch veneer just because it felt right.

Resawing the fir

The material reclamation process we used involves a number of steps starting with planing and re-sawing the original material. The photo above shows one of the boards making its way past the blade of my vintage Duro bandsaw equipped with a custom fence I built for it. I chose to aim for 1/16″ inch veneer just because it felt right.

Lisa feeds the beast
We pressed Lisa into service for the sanding phase. I salvaged this little wide belt sander years ago and rebuilt it. I have found it very useful for just this kind of project. We were able to make up some really sweet Fir veneer.

Vacuum lamination
The drawer fronts made of cabinet plywood were laminated with the Fir veneer using a shop-made vacuum pump and bags. (Yes, the reservoir is a propane tank but it never had propane in it and the capacity is just right for the pump capacity.) I didn’t have any veneer tape in the shop so we made do with blue tape. Some will recognize the “bench” as a structural insulated panel – one of many stored as walls or other surfaces around the shop until they see use in a building project.

Back to work . . .

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