Progress and setbacks on the basement

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I wrote an update for the blog. I’ve been working on the basement a lot, but, I don’t have as much to show for it as I’d like. Oh, there’s been some progress I’ve mentioned on Facebook, but not here. Like finishing the wet bar framing and installing the kegerator. The countertop for the wet bar has been ordered.

Tiles, out of whack.

Tiles, out of whack.

But, unfortunately, I have a few days ahead of me of undoing work already accomplished. Yes … I did it again. I don’t quite know how I managed it, but, after getting the ceiling tiles up properly in the theater room, I somehow managed to let them get out of whack in the hallway. By the time I was almost done with the office ceiling, I realized, once again, that the result wasn’t acceptable. I tried to tell myself, like last time, that no one but me would notice. Then my wife came down to check the progress and said, “Whoah, those don’t line up.” Unlike last time, I could have completed the room without running into any unsurmountable problems. But when I looked at the ceiling, I realized I didn’t want to live with that look for the next 30 years (give or take). So, I’ll take them down. The entire room, plus a good portion of the hallway, getting back to the one twisted tile that I think started it all.

Cutting stone.

Cutting stone.

But before I get to that, I decided to do some constructive work. I bought a tile saw and started laying out and cutting the stone for the fireplace. The stone veneer, Ply Gem True Stack, had been delivered a few days earlier, about 1,000 pounds worth. The tile saw, a cheap 4.2-Amp 7-Inch Wet Tile Saw made by Skil, is quite the mess maker. The saw blade spins through a water bath to keep it cool. The water mixes with the concrete shavings and sprays out. There’s a shroud to direct the water back down, but I have to remove that when I’m making lengthwise cuts to the stone. Without the shroud, the water sprays straight up. After cleaning mud spots off some ceiling tiles (ones that WON’T be coming down), I vowed to do the rest of the wet saw work outside.

The stone goes up.

The stone goes up.

I cut and laid out the stone up to the top of the fireplace, then decided I better go ahead and put what I had up to make sure my measurements weren’t off before I cut everything else. That was a good idea. I was a little bit off on both sides of the fireplace — a little short on the left side and a little long on the right. I recut the pieces without too much waste. Once I get above the fireplace, it will be smooth sailing. I won’t be able to finish the whole thing before I take down and replace the tiles, because the plan is to butt the stone right about against the ceiling, but I’ll get it most the way up. That’ll get some stone off the floor and out of the way, and give me some much-needed sense of progress.

The frame, put together.

The frame, put together.

I did get one other major project done, and I’m pretty psyched about it: The projector screen is built and installed. That turned into an all-day project. Actually, a multi-day project. Mark, my DIY mentor, helped me cut the poplar boards for the framing one day, then I spent the entire next day wrapping them in black velvet, putting them together using biscuit joints and brackets, then stapling the screen material on the back. I used an acoustically transparent screen material from Seymour AV, and followed their very handy and complete directions for a DIY frame.

Our first movie on the big screen: The Godfather. It was spectacular.

Our first movie on the big screen: The Godfather. It was spectacular.

It’s a nice-looking frame, if I do say so myself. My wife and I got the projector hooked up and decided to go ahead and have our inaugural movie, even though the room’s far from complete. We dragged a couple ratty chairs over from the other side of the basement, put a small table between them, dimmed the lights and put on The Godfather Blu-Ray (after pouring a couple of frosty mugs of Blue Moon from the kegerator, of course). The picture was awesome. The sound was fabulous. Even on a concrete floor with power tools and assorted other messes around us, it was better than a movie theater.

So, yeah, I’m disappointed about the tile. The ceiling has been a major, major pain and I cannot wait to have it finally finished. But, in the meantime, some good things have been coming together. And while I continue to work on taking tiles down and putting them back up correctly, we’ll be able to watch a movie anytime we feel like it.

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