Monday, September 22, 2008

A Rare Monday Post

While the rest of us are at work, Sam was out playing giant chess.
I guess this makes it official, Kansas plates. Funny thing is Kansas only gives you one plate. Everyother state pulls people over for not having the front plate, not Kansas. Maybe they don't have enough prisoners to make them all.
Fireplace after removing the old bent spark guard. Pretty dirty.
Much cleaner, now to get rid of that fake log.
The countertop after applying the first coat of slurry. I will grind off the excess and the bug holes will be filled in. Two slurry coats will be required to get a really smooth surface.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nice day to polish concrete

Today was a nice day and I rolled the sink into the driveway to grind. The grinding wheel doesn't fit into the corners, and this sink has lots of corners. Tight places have to be sanded by hand. This was a messy operation and I was soaking wet the entire day. Most of the initial grinding is complete and ready for a coat of slurry.
I punched a hole in the beef stock box and used that as the water feed. This was the beginning of the day when I made a nice lip to protect me from splashing water. Later on I just got wet. My poor bald head got a little pink.
Eventually moved up to a milk jug water feed.
Here is the progress, a little splotchy from drying out but you get the picture. The bright white areas towards the front are low spots that need to be ground out or filled in. First grind was with 800 grit and is pretty smooth. After the slurry coat I will work up to 1500 grit before sealing.
A cleaned up back splash. The inlay area will get lightly stained to bring it out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bond, James Bond or at least his BMW Z3

The big news around here is that saturday morning we went and looked at a Z3 convertible for Sam. Well, from her smile you can tell we ended up getting it. My cars are usually bought used and the experience at a BMW dealership is something else. Back at the house.
From the rear.
The shark gills. One, two, that's it.
We went for ice cream, 40 miles away. This weekend the weather is perfect for cruising with the top down.
I even made room for it in the Kevern garage. Now if I only epoxied the floor it would actually look like a showroom. The hood is a mile long. Funny thing is that the Z3 and the Fit are the same length, but the Z3 seating position is at the back seat of the Fit.

Finally some progress

Or something to add to the blog. While the concrete countertop was curing we have been busy with work, life, and everything that comes with it. John's parents were out for a weekend so we showed them around and ate way too much. But it was good. Now time to get back to work.
John got tired of wrastling the air hoses in the garage and mounted a hose reel. It took a couple really long trips to the harbor freight in independence before he realized we have one just up the road.
The concrete was resting on saw horses but it seemed like a precarious position. I built a rolling frame with leveling screws. Time to starting polishing the countertop.
Some initial grinding. I know the picture isn't very good but the top piece has been ground and the bottom without. Polishing removes some of the surface paste and white calcium hydroxide, revealing the true color.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Concrete Countertop Results

This morning when I checked on the countertop it was pretty warm, hydration was well underway. I stripped the forms this afternoon and Jerad helped flip it over. Some of the pieces of the mold were hard to remove. Jerad went and made a wedge out of walnut, that was probably more expensive than all of the other wood used for the forms. Here is what the backsplash looked like right out of the form. The color is exactly what we were looking for.

After removing the foam spacer. The glass tiles were covered with silicon so the concrete didn't stick to them. I will have to clean up the concrete that seeped under them. I am debating about lightly staining the inset pieces to give them more depth.
I lightly ground the bottom of the sink to knock down the high points. It was already pretty hard, I burned up a grinding wheel on the makita.
Before and after of the tile inset. The foam I used was ribbed so the back of the inset area is grooved, pretty groovy.
It's a baby, kind of soft and not much to look at. A little cleaning, polishing, and grouting and it will look pretty good.
I will build wood planks to insert into the top groove. That way it can be a partial of full flat surface for Sam to set her stuff on when getting ready. The front edge chipped a little when we removed the forms. Later this week I will whip up a batch of grout and fill that back in.
Well so far so good. It looks like what it is supposed to.
It needs to cure a couple days before a preliminary grinding. Then I can fill in the bug holes with a cement slurry and finish polishing.
Covered with wet towels and wrapped in plastic. Looks like happy concrete to me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Placing Concrete Countertops

Alright, pour day is finally here. The mold is finished, equipment is laid out, and materials are prepped. Showtime. This is where the lighting and garage space come in handy. One nice thing about having a degree in concrete materials and a testing lab is that I can optimize the chemical components to invent new concrete mixtures. The mixture proportions we used was a complicated concoction I came up with earlier this summer. The test samples had 1000 psi tensile strength at one day so we are going without any reinforcement. Ultimate compressive strength on this mixture should be close to 20,000 psi. FYI, typical concrete has 400 psi tensile strength at 28 days. I wonder if it is all going to fit. I got the old lab mixer up and running in time for this pour. It has about a 3 cf capacity and we are pouring 1.75 cf. That is pretty close to the mixing capacity so let's give it a shot.
Dry mixing some of the ingredients. Both Jerad and Eric came over to watch, and ended up getting put to work. The mixer really fought that amount of concrete. Look at all that cement dust in the air, good thing we have an exhaust fan.

I had to manually flip the concrete in the mixer since the back to front flow wasn't happening. Since the mixing efficiency was not what it needed to be, I ended up adding some more water. Next time we are going to get a bigger mixer.
Sam supplied the concrete. While I tried to pat out the bug holes Jared pulled out some of the unmixed concrete pieces. This concrete mixture was heavily polymer-modified and had the consistency of cold honey. Next time we are getting a bigger mixer to improve the admixture dispersion. The integral color we used was platinum, hmm I paid to make the concrete more concrete colored. The colored looked good at least from this end. The plan is to polish the concrete but not expose any aggregate.

Eventhough this concrete had lots of chemical admixtures, the chemicals in the 12 oz brown bottles wasn't one of them. You can see my handprints in the top (bottom) of the concrete, the mixture was pretty stiff.

The edges of the concrete were vibrated with a pad sander. I kind of vibrated the bulk of the concrete with the new vibrator I got. Kind of, because the vibrator didn't start working correctly until everything was finished. I guess this is the learning curve phase, right? Since the vibrator didn't work right I am expecting a ton of bug holes to fill and color streaking on the surface from the poorly mixed concrete. I do have a PhD in concrete so I have to critically evaluate every placement, I can't help it.
All finished. The cans of paint are holding down the foam around the faucet knockouts. They were only attached with packing tape and tended to float up. Tomorrow I will quickly grind the exposed surface to take down any high spots.
The finished back splashes and a few cube samples for testing. Kind of nice having a lab to test samples in. Since this particular concrete didn't have any large aggregate, I could place backsplashes that were less than an 1 inch deep.
So after everything was finished and everybody went home I managed to dump and entire mixer full of wash water onto the floor. Smooth move doc.
The concrete covered in plastic and wet towels. I would say it is happy concrete but the mixture was so polymer-modified it didn't really resemble concrete anyway. What other PhD is good for making bathroom sinks?

So kids, here are the points we learned from today.
1) Make sure your mixer has a large enough capacity and motor to completely mix your concrete.
2) Make sure your mixer has a couple angle adjustments so someone doesn't have to hold it at just the right level .
3) Make sure your vibrator works before placing.
4) Remember the concrete catch pan, otherwise it goes EVERYWHERE.

Oh Sh*t!

So Friday night we managed to get the bathroom door hung, finally. I still have to get the striker installed but it works. Then, I managed to drill a pretty good sized hole in my thumb. It bled a lot and was in between stitches and no stitches. And we didn't have any bandaids so I taped paper towels to it. Then, Nera managed to get outside. So we are tromping around everybody's back yards with flashlights looking for her. We got her cornered in the garage and a few scratches later back in the house. Jerad thought we had snapped and were chasing the neighbor's cats with a shovel. It still may come to that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summer's Over Already?

And we just got the screen door on. It is one of the retractable kind. A few coats of paint and it blended right in. Now we can get some fresh air in the kitchen. The cats like watching animals on the back patio.
A current shot of the sink mold with the faucet knockouts. The molds are just about finished. This week I have to get a little sanding done and track down some latex admixture. The plan is to place concrete next saturday around noon. If you are interested in coming by the party just let me know. The board will drain towards one end with inset pieces for the countertop. I had to notch out the base board to get the correct angle. The brown stuff is sealing caulk to keep concrete out of the cracks.
The backsplash will have inlays with the tub surround tile. I used ribbed foam so the inlay will have a neat pattern. The back of the tiles are black because I burned off the fiber with a torch.
The door is close, we should be able to mount it anytime. We are deciding on the mounting for the lock.