Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Hello everyone! I hope everybody had a good holiday season. Chris and myself certainly did. And I must say, the playhouses did pretty good considering we took our first chance at selling them and just put them out there. On the left hand side, you can see one of the models we built custom this season. It was a barn for a little guy with a farm-themed bedroom. We also built a unit with the colours of a log cabin for another customer, and she chose to finish it up herself. Everyone seemed very happy with the units and we were just happy to be able to build them. Our next focus is to build a gas station for another bedroom theme. We also hope to be able to unveil some new designs for the upcoming year and make them visible on the blog site.
We are also getting to work on a new website this year. Since neither of us knows a lot about making websites, I cannot guarantee when it will be available to the public. So for the time being, we'll just keep updating this site with anything new that comes along.
One personal project that I worked on during the holidays was a lockable cabinet for a Nintendo Wii game system that Santa so graciously brought us this year. And since my sons are a bit too young to be trusted with the Wii when my wife or myself are not around, I built a cabinet to keep them out and to keep the system organized. I had originally built myself a stereo cabinet into the wall when I renovated my family room. The cavity in the wall had initially been used as a firewood storage box. A good idea for it's day but we had found that we never used it for that purpose. Since it originally had doors on it, we had a tendancy to shove junk into it that we didn't want to deal with. When I renovated, I wanted an in-wall stereo unit so I built a new cabinet to fit the hole.
On the left side of the cabinet at the bottom, you can see where there is a door with a small cabinet lock. When I initially built the stereo cabinet, I left this area unfinished knowing that eventually, we would be putting a game system of some sort in there. So, for the time being, I stored old record LP's in the opening to give it a finished look. When I found out about the Wii, I got to work getting the dimensions of the unit online and built a seperate box that 'slid' into the empty cavity. Now there is a place for the machine, the accessories and the games.
However, just after I took these photos, I pulled the cabinet out and did some upgrading to it so you can't see all the wires in the background anymore (and I dusted all the components). I also removed one shelf to make more room for the existing appliances.
Another thing that I hadn't planned for was that the Wii will flash it's disk drive with a pulsing blue light when it has a message or has recieved some sort of upgrade. Since the door on the Wii cabinet is solid, I would never see this feature unless I happenned to open the door. So I installed a small clear plastic lens (or the 'jewel' as I refer to it) that is level with the Wii's disk drive into the door. If the drive lights up, it also lights up the 'jewel' on the door so I know that it is flashing. The 'jewel' catches the light from behind and reflects it through the door to me. I will post new photos of the revamped design as soon as I can.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
With the holidays coming up, we decided that we should probably get our playhouses advertised online before we missed the season. We had actually started building these units last November, but due to personal obligations of various sorts, we had put the playhouse units on hold indefinitely. Anything we had already finished was stored away in my garage as well as any unfinished units we also had. During the summer, we had a big neighborhood yard sale and I set up the completed models. Many people showed interest, but no one tried to snap anything up. That was okay because I tried setting the price a little high just to see what would happen.
So we decided to advertise what we had at the beginning of December and we were in for a big surprise. The inquiries about the ready-made units was more than we had ever imagined. Our ad had generated at least 500 hits and we not only sold the units that we had already built, we recieved orders for about 4 more. We set them at an introductory price of $100.00 each (painted). That seemed more than reasonable to us and apparently everyone else as well. Since we had been out of the playhouse building racket for almost a year, it was tricky to get back into it again. But Chris and I have made a deal that we will keep going now and to not let other obligations stand in the way (within reason of course). It's been really good and invigorating to be building and designing again.
The last year hasn't gone without some productivity however. We were still designing and planning other wood projects that were not neccesarily related to playhouses. We hope to unveil some of those things as soon as we get something built. Probably after the Christmas rush.
If we don't blog again until after the holidays, everyone stay safe and have a good season. We will definitely see you all again in the New Year.
Rob and Chris
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Finally three months later we are finally done, and putting the finishing touches on our new space. We are very happy with how it all turned out, and now we spend most of our spare time down here. We have dubbed our new home theatre "the armory". And the kids love their new playroom. You will note that there are no pictures of the playroom posted yet, due to the extreme mess my kids have made. Thats ok, its what the room is for.
It was alot of work, and I just about gave up a couple times. I was lucky to have the constant support and encouragement of my wonderful wife. Together we got through it. I keep telling people that I will never take on such a large project again, but I am already getting the itch to start something else. I guess when you are so busy for so long, you don"t know what to do with yourself when you are done. It looks like the playhouses are about to really take off, so those will be the next projects on the go. It will be good to get back to where it all started. Seeing how much my kids enjoy their playhouse every day really makes me want to give other kids the same opportunity.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
This time it's about using scrap material in order to solve a problem and not so much about aesthetics.
On a completely different topic, I spent some time also assessing damage control on our old camper trailer. We've only had the unit for about 2 years from a family friend who gave it to us for free (pretty sweet deal). However, the trailer is also just about 40 years old and time has not been so kind to it. But once I got into the nooks and crannies of the unit, I came to realize that it mostly just needs some cosmetic upgrading.
The reason I mention any of this on the site is because Chris and I were talking about how much of the unit could be rebuilt to make it more practical. This could involve rebuilding or redesigning some of the cabinets and crevices and even installing new lighting and enhanced features such as a radio, tv and other assorted low voltage accessories that are available today. Basically, we would like to take an old trailer and make it into a modern one without taking away from it's original look and design too much. If we could pull something like that off, who knows where future projects could take us? Is it possible to flip trailers?
The best part about this project is that much of it CAN be done during the winter months as most of the work would be interior. However, my wife does not agree that we should restore it because our minivan is not designed to pull it. As it stands right now, we can't take it anywhere unless we get someone else with a truck to pull it for us. She's convinced that we should sell it for whatever we can get and buy ourselves a tent trailer that we can store in our yard in the winter. It is more practical because we CAN pull it with our van, but a tent trailer is not nearly as rugged or waterproof. Anyone care to comment?
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
I spent most of my summer finishing my fireplace and family room. My neighbour across the street who owns her own interior design company hasn't had much for us to do right now. Things are slow in business everywhere and financial analysts are predicting that it may not get better for awhile. The good part is, this is the perfect time for us to spend time designing as much material as possible so we can be ready when the work starts coming in.
One project I intend to tackle this fall is to rebuild the side door coat closet. Currently, it has no practical storage usage and everything just winds up on the floor such as shoes and coats. Of course, it's going to get worse in the winter when mittens and hats are also involved. So my new project is to rework that area by building a custom shelving unit in there.
So far, my winter project is to frame in the hallway in my basement and to redo my family room coffee table which has taken a severe beating over the last few years from the kids. The table was only made out of soft pine so it didn't take long for the kids to dent the life out of it.
I was also given an old version of a well known CAD program and intend to spend the winter learning how to use it for all of my future furniture designs. Knowing how to use that program will make my designs not only more professional, but will make them easier to plan out with much more accuracy.
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
We finally finished the Family Room. Actually, the room was finished aside from putting pictures back up and buying the 37 inch television for the cubby over the fireplace. I must say that I am totally happy with it.
A woman who lives in my neighborhood is a professional interior designer and Chris and I had a chance to sit down and talk with her about some of the things she does and some of the things we have already done. Things are looking good because she has agreed to hire us on a per job basis. This is excellent news and a good way to get our names out there. She knows some important people and teaming up with her is definitely to our advantage.
Unfortunately, all of that may come to a halt this winter again unless we commission Chris' garage again for the winter months. My garage is still not insulated and his is currently full of junk from doing his own renovations. I'm sure all will work out well in the end. Eventually, I will get my big garage insulated and heated.
But it's all about taking it one step at a time.
Sunday, 22 June 2008
A few people even took my phone number and the address to the blog site. It's been a very busy year so far for Chris and I but I think things have finally slowed down (home renos and other personal obligations). It'll be good to finally concentrate on the business again.
We also finished the work in my family room. I'll have to put some pictures up when I finally download them.
Monday, 19 May 2008
The best part with the nice weather is that I can finally get the equipment out to the garage and get to some serious renovations. My last day of the May long weekend is halfway over and I have to decide what to do next. Incidentally, I spent the whole morning to mid-afternoon organizing the garage again. It's amazing how fast things can get messy and congested when you leave a few things lying around.
On June 20th, we plan to have a neighborhood garage sale at our house and Chris and I will finally have a place to start showcasing the foldable playhouses and to put what we have built up for sale at a very reduced price. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with that. If you live in Edmonton and might be interested, I'll put the information up on the side panel as soon as it's available.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Well, the snow continued to come down in the city until Tuesday and we probably received about 30 or 40 cm through the whole weekend. The weather is supposed to get better by Saturday when it hits the 10 to 15 celcius range. Hopefully, the big giant drifts that keep forming against every entrance of my garage will begin to melt. I gave up trying to shovel them out after the first attempt on Sunday.
I continued mudding the family room and realized that the 30 year old walls were in much worse shape than I had originally thought. Even though I am making progress on my room every time I do anything in it, to the bystander, it might look like I have done nothing. Hopefully the mudding and sanding will be over soon and Chris and I can get to the good stuff (the face of the fireplace). My wife plans to tackle the painting when we finally get the mudding done.
Sunday, 20 April 2008
BULLETIN ISSUED AT: 11:10 AM MDT SUNDAY 20 APRIL 2008
HEAVY SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW DEVELOPING OVERNIGHT INTO MONDAY. THIS IS A WARNING THAT DANGEROUS WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING IN THESE REGIONS. MONITOR WEATHER CONDITIONS...LISTEN FOR UPDATED STATEMENTS.
Copyright © 2008 Environment Canada
So, whoopee! More snow is on the way. Last week we hit a whopping 24 celcius and then it dropped back down to -10 celcius by Friday. And it's been snowing ever since. In the last 24 hours, we have probably received about 10 centimeters and now we are expecting another 30 or 40 centimeters overnight. The snow is actually not expected to let up entirely until Tuesday and the temperature is not expected to get above zero until Thursday.
But enough about the weather even though it directly affects construction on my family room. I did manage to fix the wiring, electrical and insulation problems in that room and now I am back to the fireplace project and stereo cabinet. Chris and I got most of the new drywall face up on the fireplace on Saturday and I have been mudding the project most of today (although I ran out of mud and have no desire to venture out in the blizzard to buy more). The good news is that I still have plenty of other work down there to keep me busy. At least I bought new supplies before the weather turned ugly. Chris and I will start to tackle the cosmetic aspects of the fireplace face this week and the room may be ready for painting by Wednesday or Thursday if I'm lucky.
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Basically, what this means is that we will build our items 'On Demand' instead of having a bunch of units sitting around that nobody is interested in or that could be damaged in storage. With a deposit of $50.00 Canadian, we will build the unit in the colours that are requested and the customer can pay the rest of the money when it is delivered to their home.
We will start these units at an introductory price of only $200.00 total (including initial deposit).
We will have pictures posted up here shortly.
I managed to start cleaning out the garage to move our workshop out there and get my stuff out of that little room in the basement. My wife is happy because she wants to make a scrapbook room out of it. I also managed to work out some plans for my family room disaster that is finally starting to come together.
For the family room, I will be building a wall unit to hold books and DVD's and other assorted knick-knacks, an in-wall stereo cabinet for my components and a new face for the fireplace. It will be excellent practice for building wood furniture for the public and a good way to showcase what Chris and I can really do.
No pictures today worthy of posting. Hopefully I will get started on some of these projects in the next few weeks.
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
There were junction boxes in three different locations, all loaded needlessly with about seven or eight splices in each one. I'm not a certified electrician, but I do know a few things about it. And I know that having that many splices would get any real electrician fired. So, I set out on a quest to trace all the wires going to these boxes and discovered quite a few lines that didn't need to be there. After completely replacing a few circuits and rendering some others non-existent, I'm happy to say that I managed to get the circuit disaster under control. Now I'm almost ready to go back to the original fireplace project.
I had also planned to start getting the workshop set up in the garage being that the weather had actually improved and things were looking up, and surprise, we had a blizzard on Saturday that dumped another 20 cm on the city. The temperature is supposed to climb back up again this week so I may actually get my tools in the garage yet. I also noticed that local markets and so forth are starting to advertise for the summer season so 'RC' needs to get things back on track so we don't miss out on our summer.
Incidentally, with all this talk about being busy and so forth, if someone DID order a project of some sort (like a playhouse), we would have no problem putting one together in about two or three days because we planned ahead and built the parts to make a few more.
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Once again things have slowed to a crawl at 'RC'. You never know what life will throw at you until you decide to start your own business. Seriously! Anything that can go wrong outside of the business has or could still go wrong.
The good part of it all is that there is always a way to make lemonade out of lemons. Chris and I have been soo0 busy trying to play catch up with our families and our full time careers that it's amazing that anything else can get done. However, one of those projects that I am working on right now is utilizing some wasted space in my family room that I uncovered when I was renovating my kitchen in January.There was a whole area above my fireplace that was not only 'not' insulated, but was big enough to install actual shelving. However, I tried measuring a space for my old CRT 27" and realized that it was definitely not going to fit. It's funny because my wife and I have hummed and hawed about buying a new LCD television but didn't feel justified because the old 27" still works.
So, the fun began when I sat down and tried to figure out what I could do with that upper space besides insulate it and re-seal it. My wife and I both agreed that the best thing to do was leave the space and reshape it to hang a 37" LCD. So, now all I had to do was build a box wide enough and deep enough strictly for the new television.
I installed a new outlet in the hole for the TV, installed 2" electrical conduit to fish wiring from the ceiling directly to the back of the set and popped in the speaker wiring for the right, left and centre speakers that will eventually hang around the LCD box. I also ran a support board down the back and centre to support the LCD wall bracket.
Incidentally, if you are wondering why the wall is all green and white, it is because they had fake bricks glued up there and I tore all of them off to make way for another sheet of drywall that I will put over top of the old one. I don't intend to put them back either. Anybody have a need for fake dark red brick? I have lots of them.
If you are confused as to what this has to do with 'RC' and woodworking, it's because I also have to build a stereo cabinet that will go in the wall to the left of the fireplace. The original builder had installed a cubby for fireplace wood but I never use it. So, it is the perfect place to put a stereo and computer system instead. The reason why this is important is because we now have the challenge of coming up with a cabinet that can hold all of the stereo equipment, properly ventilate and also hold a media centre PC (more ventilation required). I also want to be able to store DVD's and CD's in it and cover it all with a glass door. The cabinet also needs to be removable.
The hole is almost 4 feet deep and about 3 feet tall with a cold air return passing over top of it. Since I only need about a foot of this space deep, it's going to be really tricky to redesign the whole cabinet to fit stereo equipment nicely AND be convenient to work behind if equipment upgrades or repairs are ever necessary.
A while back, I had mentioned building a cabinet that looked like an old jukebox. I have most of it designed as a free-standing unit but now I begin to question whether or not a could somehow incorporate it into this instead.
I have drawn up quite a few other cabinet designs as well but nothing that is yet to be set in stone. I also have a clean palette on the face of the fireplace. I haven't even totally decided what to do with that either.
And once we get through with this project, we plan to build a media room for Chris' house as soon as he's set to go. There will definitely be some cool innovation going on in there as well. So, stay tuned and we will continue to update this project as well as our playhouses!
Friday, 14 March 2008
Okay, so things stalled for a little bit here at 'RC'. It seems that life and family and all that good stuff (or a necessary evil - you pick) has hampered our release date for the first playhouse model. Well, don't panic! We are still plugging away at them.
The good news is, it looks like things will finally be back on track and we will finally get to move our tools into the big garage where there is definitely more room than my basement (which has been a nice cozy retreat to say the least - note the picture above). March is halfway over and the warmer days are finally ahead of us (as I write this, we are receiving about 15 centimeters of snow which isn't unusual in Alberta). We've been churning out some new furniture designs in the meantime, all on paper, and hope that some of them get to see the light of day in the very near future. I'm going to make it a point of posting some of our doodles in the coming days just to prove it to you.
But, pressing on, I won't let this new dusting of snow hamper my spirits. Besides, I've seen some Canada Geese flying over my head while I was at work. They obviously know something we don't.
Thursday, 28 February 2008
It's a playhouse for your pet Gerbil!
Okay, so not really. It's just a really small model of our playhouses. Apparently, the Ghostbusters live there. I did it just to see if it could be done. It can be done, but it was a real pain to make! Definitely not something I would ever mass produce.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Everytime you click on the Google ad in the bottom right corner of our site, Google will pay us for that click. In turn, for every $100 we raise, we will pass that on to the Stollery Children's Hospital (http://www.stollerykids.com/home.html) in the hope that our money will make a difference to a sick child. We'll also keep you posted in the bottom right corner as to how much money we currently sit at. Every click earns us 0.15 cents. It doesn't seem like much but it will certainly add up.
Unrelated to fund raising, we have also put a feature in that same area on our site with photos of missing children. Right now, the links are only for children in the United States (being that this site is in Canada). Maybe one day they will make something for Canada as well or something for all of North America.
Thursday, 7 February 2008
I've been tossing around the idea of building a computer cabinet in the style of the old days when electronics were still considered furniture. I showed my plans to Chris and he was definitely intrigued by the idea although I did agree with him when he suggested that I keep my main focus on the playhouses. So I plan to keep this design as a side project in the hopes that it may still catch on.
My reason for deciding to do this is because I have always had a love for old Jukeboxes. Unfortunately, I don't have the kind of money it takes to just go out and buy some old antique and shove my record 45's in it. Besides, it really isn't so much about the function as it is about the style of the cabinet. I currently have a media computer in my livingroom that is hooked to my home receiver and the tv. I can do all the usual stuff with it such as record and pause live tv, watch my DVDs and play my MP3's, all at the touch of a remote. The problem I have is that the case is typical and my current television cabinet can't accomodate the PC case without it overheating. I tried installing fans into the media cabinet, but the PC has an LCD display and a lighted fan and you can't see any of it locked in a cupboard. The case also still overheats when it's in there.
I found an old jukebox photo on the internet made by a company called Gabel. The unit sold for over $25,000 at auction. I really like the design and wondered if there was a chance I could build something for myself in the same basic Art Deco design that could not only house my PC, but would have plenty of room for DVD/CD storage underneath.
I wondered how I could take this old design and turn it into a new home for my media computer. On the left, you can see the cabinet that I really liked. But since I don't want to steal someone else's idea, I will design something with a similar look. This may be the thing that takes the way we look at computers and turns it completely upside down.
The question is: Am I the only one that would want something like this in my rec room?
Stay tuned as this saga continues to unfold.
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
The good part is, Chris has a heated garage that's just big enough to cut out the playhouses, but not really to assemble them or paint them. So, right now, painting and final assembly is done in my basement where I can keep paint fumes from annoying my wife and kids. And Chris and I live about 40 minutes from each other. The part that sucks is that we can not always both work on our projects together as it costs too much in gas to always drive back and forth. The only thing my two car garage is good for is safely storing the playhouse units when they are finished.
Spring can't come soon enough.
Since it's completion several weeks ago, we have had this playhouse set up for the kids to play with. In that time and with the way the kids (or should I say animals) play in and around the playhouse, it has suffered virtually no damage. We are also planning to add options like curtains and a fabric roof that can be rolled up and stored on one side, to further enclose the house and make it more fort like. We are always thinking of different things that we can add to the playhouses to make them fun and unique for kids.
We have a great time building these, and our kids love the idea of having their own little house. We hope that your kids will love them too.
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Here is a computer case we built for my mom, and incidentally, also our first customer. What you can see is that the components are stacked on top of one another and we had not yet added simulated knobs to the front of the case in this photo. The fan on the side is blue LED and the display above the DVD drive is an LCD display that shows Hard Drive activity, the time and all temperatures eliminating the need for LED status lamps. The case temperature actually runs at only 35C at idle and about 42C under heavy work load. There was actually a prototype built before this one but it's been put out of commission due to assembly issues. However, you could literally stand on this case and it will stay together.
And yes, it's sitting on Rob's dryer. The laundry room served as our work room for the first little while. This somewhat custom unit sells for $300. Of course, Rob's mom got it at cost for having faith in our abilities and giving up her computer for a week while we experimented and created the design around it. Future modifications and improvements are already in the works.