Strip Sander - Easy Free Build Plans

Let's start with the finished product:
strip sander, belt sander, 1"x30" sander, diy sander, wood tool, make tools

And here's the Youtube video i did of the sander.  I go into a lot more detail about what i did and why i did it.

Strip Sander - Make Diy Build Plans 

This is a project that i have wanted to make for a while now.  It actually started because i wanted to buy the 1" x 30" strip sander from Harbor Freight.  But when i went to look at the sander in person i changed my mind.
harbor freight strip sander, coupon, free, review, make, build, improve

I've been meaning to make a flow chart on how i decide whether to buy a tool from Harbor Freight.  I'll have to post one in the future.  But the strip sander they sell would have failed miserably.

The strip sander wasn't cheap, i did plan on using it a lot, it's electric and got it got bad ratings.

I didn't think it was a tool i could make, the idea of a 1" strip of sand paper spinning perfectly centered on wheels i mounted seemed beyond my skill level.  It wasn't until i saw Mathias build his version of the sander that i got excited again.

His sander has 3 wheels and therefore needs sandpaper around 36" in length.  His 3 wheel design is similar to Harbor Freight's in that there is space in the middle to sand large objects.
mathias sander, strip sander

I knew i couldn't build something that complicated.  I didn't have the time or the ability.  Also i felt that i didn't need to build it that way.  I thought a 2 wheel version would work perfectly well, again the more basic, simple design is better.

So i looked online and found that knife sharpener designs looked like they would be perfect.
knife sander, knife sharpener, belt sander
They were my inspiration, i liked how basic they were, a wheel at the bottom attached to a motor, and an adjustable wheel at the top.  A platten in the middle behind the paper where the thing you are sanding/sharpening can push against.
simple knife sander, strip sander

Another super basic design that i really liked.  
make sander

It reminded me of the adjustable knife sharpener that Adam Savage has in his shop.  I couldn't fine a picture of his exact one, but it looked similar to this.
adam savage sander, knife sander, tested strip sander, belt sander

My version would be along those lines but include a small sanding table surface.  As always i drew up many many different versions on paper.  The hard part was getting rid of pieces, trying to minimize the design down to it's basic parts.

Then i realized that to go farther i had to decide on a motor.  And this is where i made an important decision on how the sander would operate.  I have several motors on a shelf in my basement and i could have easily used a big 1/3 HP motor for the sander.
westing house electric motor for tools

But that is the total opposite thing i wanted.  The purpose of this sander was to be small, simple, compact, and used for sanding little intricate parts.  The bigger electric motors would be overkill.  That's why i decided to use a tiny electric motor from a cheap box fan.

walmart box fan motor, motor for sander, sander motor

To find out if that motor would actually work i decided to do a quick mock up of the sander.  The motor was nice because it had 4 mounting points where it bolted to the old box fan.  Those were perfect for bolting onto a wood frame i made.  I ripped a 2x4 in half on the table saw, traced the shape of the motor onto the boards, ripped grooves around the motor, then drilled holes for the bolts.  I was really happy with how the mounts turned out.  You can kind of see here how i had to fit it around the motor.
how to make a strip sander, belt sander, sander, free tool

Starting to take shape.
make wood sander, tool, cool ideas, free tools

Next i got out an old roller blade wheel from a milk crate of wheels i had, put a bolt through it and attach it to a board.  The roller blade wheel was perfect for size, width and it already had a great bearing in it.  Also the inside of the bearing fit a bolt perfectly.  Then i clamped that "arm" to an upright and clamped that to the base.  I was happy with the basic shape of the sander.  Then i had to cut out a bottom wheel, i just traced a roll of duct tape i had onto a board, cut it out on the bandsaw and drilled a hole in the middle.  Later on i put a convex bevel on the wheel to keep the sand paper centered.  The 1"x30" sandpaper was the only thing i really had to buy to make the sander, the rest of the stuff i already had in my basement.

I bought some 1" x 30" sand paper from Harbor Freight for around $3.50.  
harbor freight sand paper, 1" sand paper

Or you can get the stuff from Lowe's which is $5.

Lowe's sand paper, sandpaper, 1" x 30" sand paper, strip sander

When i put the sand paper over the wheels i had to tension the sand paper and clamp it down.  
strip sander tool build, make, mock up

Here's another picture of everything just clamped together to see if the thing would actually spin.
testing the new sander


Seeing the sand paper spinning around and not falling off, gave me such confidence to keep going.  Before that i wasn't really sure, or wasn't sure if i wanted to build it.  But after seeing it working i knew that it was going to be great.

From that point i kind of designed it as i went along.  I didn't really have dimensions, and if i did, i kept trying to make it smaller and more compact.
box fan motor mount, sander motor mount

I got a piece of plywood and marked where i thought the motor mount should attach.  I pre-drilled holes then glued and screw it in place.  Then i cut and attached the vertical board with glue.
strip sander frame, wood frame, tool

I tried to make the base as small as possible.  With the small base i had to also make a small sanding table.  It basically acts as a platform to pivot the piece you are sanding.  I could have made a pivoting table for sanding angles, but again the goal was to be simple and i'm glad i made a fixed table.  Sanding angles can be done by just tipping the piece up or down.

Next was the design of the cantilever spring arm.  Back to pen and paper to draw out 20 different versions, with how they were going to pivot and how the spring would attach.
cantilever arm, sander, tension

Early stages of the 3 "alignment bolts".  More on those later.  But you can see part of the tension spring in this picture.
sander alignment bolts

I found a spring that would attach at the back and provide the right belt tension.  The spring attached to the end of the cantilever arm and then to the middle of the upright.

Again in keeping with the theme here, i wanted the table to be small.  
sander table

From this point i could have made the table any size i wanted though.
build, make, how to, diy, sander, belt sander, strip sander, wood tool

Here's the board cut out and gluing up to the uprights.  Some people might say, "why don't you make the table adjustable so you can sand different angles?"  And i actually thought about that originally.  But i figured it would be unnecessary and i could always hold whatever i'm sanding at an angle.  Again, keep it simple.
compact sander

Next was time to make the platten.  I decided to use some bars of aluminum because it's easy to work with, easy to drill, easy to cut, and light weight.  

The hard part was figuring out how to mount it.  But i eventually realized that i could attach it to one of the table uprights.
adjustable platten, bolt

You can see that i used a bolt with a thumb tightener so that i could adjust the platten so it is aligned with the sandpaper.
sander platten

To make it i just riveted 2 pieces of aluminum together.  
aluminum rivets, platten

Here's the front side.
join aluminum with rivets

Next i decided to try and improve the roller blade wheel.  It probably would have worked fine how it was but i wanted to make more surface area where it came in contact with the sand paper.  That way it wouldn't have all the force just on the center of the paper.  So i cut the wheel on an angle on the bandsaw.
cut roller blade wheel, cut wheel on bandsaw

I bolted the wheel on to a board, then clamped the board to the bandsaw table.
how to cut roller blade wheel, skateboard wheel

This turn out terribly.  Instead of "cutting" the rubber, it just kind of melted the rubber and it got all gummed up in the bandsaw blade and wheels.  It took a long time to get the rubber out.

Then i cleaned it up and made more of a bevel on the big disc sander.
add curve to roller blade wheel

It ended up working well.  I'm glad i didn't just use the roller blade wheel as it was.
upper wheel on cantilever sander

To keep the sand paper on the wheels you need some way of alignment.  The bottom wheel can't move so the roller blade wheel on the cantilever arm had to adjust.  I could have come up with a more elegant design but i figured that having 3 bolts push on the side would work.  So i drilled and "tapped" the bolts through the upright.  Applying tension of the 3 bolts would move the arm in and out and also angle it to keep the sand paper centered.  To easily turn the bolts i cut some washers in half and welded them on to the heads of the bolts.  Kind of like a wing-nut to turn with thumb and fingers.
weld washers for bolt thumb screw

Up to this point i always turned the motor on with the 3-speed switch from the box fan.  I wanted to make it simpler with just an on/off switch.  But i didn't want a huge outlet box on the side of this compact sander.  So i looked and looked until i found a little box that would just fit a switch.  From there i cut out a part of the box, cut a slot for the switch itself, screwed it to the side of the sander and then wired the switch.  I kept the 3-speed adjuster knob and just screwed it to the side near the bottom.  Kind of out of the way but still accessible.  I didn't really get a good picture of the switch i made.  But you can see here that i was still using the 3-way switch, which would have been fine.
cantilever sander

Almost near the end.
how to make a 1"x30" strip sander, belt sander

Once i was happy with how it was working it was time to take it all apart.
pieces to make a sander

Close-up of some of the pieces.
how to build make a tool

It was time to sand everything down, stain and seal it.
easy tool to make, ideas, wood, workshop

Another view of the pieces.  You can see the original motor mount here too.
fun tools to make for your shop

Instead of polyurethane i went with wax.  Maybe in hindsight i would have polyurethaned it, it would have made it a little stronger of surface.  But the wax looks fine and should hold up ok.

All Done...then.... uh oh.

I went to sand something and realized that the piece kept hopping up as i pressed on the sandpaper.  The motor was spinning the wrong way.  Somehow i missed that the entire time i was building it.  It wasn't the end of the world, it still would have worked, but i wanted to see if i could get the motor to spin the right "downward" direction.  
reverse single pole electric motor, how to

Long story short, i got it to reverse its direction by taking the motor apart and flipping the spool of copper wires around.  There might have been an easier way but the motor was pretty delicate and glued and roped together.
how to reverse an electric motor, box fan motor, walmart

Finally all done for good.  You can see the switch i added here.  
free, easy, tool, sander, belt sander, strip sander, wood

I always love using this sander when i need it.  It is so convenient to just take out from under the workbench, plug in and use it.  It can be a pain to have to clamp it to the table top, but other than that it's great.


Update: Back After Taking A Year Off

I haven't posted anything since December of 2014.  It's amazing how little free time you have when you are chasing after a 1 year old.
youtube, back after year off, workshop, no title required

I have been able to build some things in the shop and fix things around the house, but there's no way i could have taken picture's and video's and posted them to this blog and youtube.  To do that you need several hours of time, i only had a few minutes here and there at night to work on things.  Just getting anything done with a 1 year old around is an accomplishment.  The goal is to have enough energy after he goes to bed, around 8pm, to be able to quietly work on things.

But i am not going to try my best to take pictures of things i'm building and post some video's to my Youtube channel.  I also plan on going back and showing some of the stuff that i've worked on this past year, including us refinishing the basement, games i built for Rhys, some jigs and sleds i built for the table saw, and working on our minivan.

But the biggest change to me working on things is the new workshop.
basement shop, workshop, organize, how to basement, work, weld, wood

Because we remodeled half of the basement for a play area for Rhys, that meant that i went from 1/2 of the basement to 1/4 of the basement.  It hasn't been too bad, the reduced space means that i have had to be more organized.  Hanging tools from new shelves on the pegboard and hanging as much as possible from the ceiling between the joists.

I'm going to record a video and write up a separate blog post about the new shop and what i did to stay organized.  Hopefully i can publish 1 or 2 things a month, but we'll see, our calendar is pretty busy for the next year.


Blog Hits - 2 Million Views

Well i happened to look at the stats on the blog the other day and i saw that i hit 2 million views lifetime.  

I for past milestones i used to post pictures and write something about my favorite things about past blog posts.  Here's what i said when i had 1 million views.

I haven't posted anything in a while, but since i started recording more youtube video's, i will probably get back into the blog too.  The most difficult thing is finding time.  Time to work on a project, take pictures, record videos, edit, write, publish.  Even though i haven't been posting anything new, you can see from the graph that my monthly views keep going up and up.  Last month was the highest views i've ever had.

But it's possible that the blog is coming to an end.  No one has a blog anymore with Facebook and Instagram.  The posters and readers attention span is only limited to a picture and a sentence now a days.  


Bathroom Remodels Part 2 - First Floor Bathroom

I am currently working on editing all the video's i took so not all the links are up and working.

Here are links to the 4 parts in which i split up the bathroom remodel into.
Bathroom Remodel - BLOG
1 - Materials and Planning 2 -1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Karrie's Bathroom and Tub 4 - Dave's Bathroom and Shower

Here are the links to all the video's i made.  You can either watch a full video of the entire bathrooms remodeled or they are broken up into their individual parts.  These will be updated as i post more about the remodel.

Bathroom Remodel
1 - Main Video - Materials
2 - Main Video - 1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Main Video - Karrie's Bathroom
4 - Main Video - Dave's Bathroom

2 - 1st Floor

Intro Demo Remove Toilet
Fix Rotted Floor Install Floor Tile Grout Floor Tile
Install Toilet How to Mix Mortar How to Cut Tile
Install Baseboard Silicone Caulk Gaps Bathroom Light
Bathroom Sink New Faucet Summary

3 - Karrie's Bathroom

Intro Demo Install Concrete Board
Waterproof Concrete Board Caulk and Foam Shower Install Tile
Install Tile Shelf Tape off Tile for Grout Grout Shower
Replace Shower Fixture Solder Water Pipes Water Proof Sealant
Caulk Seams Remove Tile Floor Cut Tile Floor
Install Tile Floor Grout Tile Floor Tile Baseboard
Regrout Everything Summary

4 - Dave's Bathroom

Intro Demo Floor Tile Remove Toilet
Check Existing Floor Material Cut Floor Tile Install Tile Floor
Grout Tile Floor Demo Shower Cut new Access Hole
Remove Water Pipes and Fixture Fix Leak in Ceiling Install Shut off Valves
Install New Water Pipes Install New Fixture Install Concrete Board
Waterproof Concrete Board Caulk and Foam Shower Measure and Mark Boards
Precut Tiles Install Tile Install Tile Shelf
Tape off Tile for Grout Grout Shower Regrout Everything


Here is what the bathroom looked like before we started.  It wasn't terrible, there wasn't any glaring problems with it.  Although the toilet bowl looked a little worse for wear.
original bathroom, remodel, first floor bathroom, half bath

And this is the tile floor we had.  The off white and green didn't look great.
existing tile floor, demo, tile bathroom

This is the bathroom on the first floor, here’s the floor plan I drew on Google SketchUp. It’s roughly 5’x5’ and is about 25 sq.ft. not counting the sink and toilet. I mainly drew it on SketchUp to get the number of tiles we would need to buy and where to make the cuts.  I drew 2 versions, one with a full tile in the front left corner and one with a full tile in the front right corner.  This helped a lot, i didn't have to do any calculating at the time of setting the tile.
google sketchup, bathroom, tile, floor

Originally our plan was to just replace the floor tile and install the new toilet.  Compared to the other 2 bathrooms, this was suppose to be the easy one.  That's why we decided to remodel this bathroom first, gradually increase the difficulty of work done in the bathrooms.  However before it was all said and done, we ended up doing more work in this bathroom than we originally planned.

The first step, after removing the bathroom door, was to remove the toilet so i turned off the water and drained what was left in the toilet with a sponge and bucket.  It wouldn't have been that difficult except for a few problems.  The first was that one of the bolts which held the toilet in place, turned as i tried to remove the nut.  The bolts are suppose to be locked in place under the cast iron collar.  Unfortunately this one wasn't and i had to use a hacksaw to cut the bolt in half. 
how to remove toilet bolt, rusted

Eventually i was able to remove the toilet.  Here's the bolt and hack saw blade afterwords.
hard to remove toilet bolt, floor, rusted, saw,

Here's the cast iron collar and old wax.  I removed as much as i could.  Originally i wasn't sure if i was suppose to leave the old wax in place or scrape it all away.  But after talking with Jeff, he said to remove it.  We were going to install a new toilet so i didn't have to be super careful while removing the old one.  I took it out to the curb and had it hauled away with the trash.
remove old toilet wax ring, how to, why, do you

I discovered the next problem only after the toilet was removed.  It was related to the fact that all of the water valves in our house are old and cheap.  I realized something might be wrong when i went to turn off the valve for the toilet, it was rusted almost solid.  I had to use a pair of pliers to get it to turn.  After the toilet was disconnected i realized that i could not get it to completely turn off.  I turned it with the pliers as far as i dared, not wanting to crack the valve or pipe and have it gush water all over the floor.  But not getting it to fully close meant that for the entire time working, i would have to keep a tray under the valve to collect the drips.  What i should have done was replaced the valve, but i didn't.  Just some advice, don't buy the cheapest valve at the store, get one that works.  Here's what the cheap valve looked similar to.
toilet water supply valve, cheap, best

Next it was time to remove the small 1" floor tiles.  I was worried that i wouldn't be able to easily remove the tiles, so i made this scraper by welding a piece of angled steel to a ¾” conduit.  But it turns out that i caught a bit of a break and didn't need to use it.  I was expecting the tiles to be set in a mortar thinset.  But the tiles were actually just stuck to the wood floor boards.  I guess that they figured that the boards were flat enough and so they just peeled the back off and stuck them to the wood.  Here's the floor after the tiles were removed.  You can see the valve and the cup to catch the leaky water.
bathroom floor tile remodel, easy, how to

The only problem i found with that method was that some of the wood flooring had rotted.  If there was a mortar base, it would have provided some waterproofing between the tile and wood.
rotted bathroom sub floor, wood, water

While removing the tile floor i also removed the tile base board.  After talking with Jeff, i learned that there's a good chance that i will have to replace the drywall behind the tile as well.  He said that it's sometimes difficult to remove the tile from the wall without damaging the drywall behind it.  Lots of times you will have to cut and attach a piece of new drywall.  But again i got lucky.  I scored the top of the tile with a utility knife, then pried it off the wall with a hammer and spackle knife.  The person who installed it used some sort of weird yellowish glue.
how to remove tile baseboard

Next it was time to fix the rotted baseboard.  Fortunately the floor was 2 layers of 3/4" plywood and only the upper board was rotted.  The lower board was in good condition.  I verified that by going in the basement and checking it from the underside as well.  So using a saws-all, hammer and chisel, i removed as much of the rotted board as i could.  Then tried to square it up, to make it easier to cut a replacement board.  I used a piece of cardboard as a template for the patch.  I traced and cut it out with scissors to the shape i needed.  Then i transferred the shape to some OSB and cut it out using a jig saw.  Then i screwed the patch in place.  Here's it all done and screwed in place.
how to repair rotted floor, wood, fix, bathroom, tile

Everything looked good.  I probably could have left it like that and started installing the tile, but since it was my first time, i decided to level that area of floor up before i began.  So i mixed up a batch of thinset mortar, poured and leveled that area where i installed the patch.  The whole time having to deal with the still leaking valve.
how to level a floor for tile

For the first time doing mortar it wasn't too bad.  Jeff said that i didn't need to use the admixture that Home Depot was selling.  I've noticed that now they don't have the admixture, but instead sell 2 different types of thinset mortar.  The $5 bag and $12 bag.  The $12 bag has the admixture already mixed in, and on the side it says it's best for tile to wood floor.  But from what i've found, the $5 bag works perfectly well.  

Finally it was time to tile.  I spent an entire day just doing the cutting.  Using my sketch i knew roughly where i wanted the tiles to be placed, so i started measuring from the back corner.  We were lucky that Jeff let us use his contractors tile saw.  It has a diamond blade and is water cooled.  Without it i'm not sure what we would have done. This thing was great, super smooth and made great cuts.
best tile saw, blade, how to cut, stone

I was originally planning on buying a cheap $40 tile saw from Harbor Freight, but this one was great and worked perfectly every time.  One of it's best features was that we didn't have to slide the tile.  It was held in place at a 90 degree angle and the entire tray slid on wheels.  This made for a much smoother and straighter cut.

One type of cut that the tile saw couldn't do was the circular cut around the toilet flange.  For that i had to use an angle grinder.  Later i learned that i could have used the tile saw to make many little slices, then used metal nippers to break the slices off.  But the grinder worked pretty well.  Although it made a ton of stone dust, i had to do most of the cuts in the front driveway.  Also i learned that i needed to cushion the large tiles because the vibration caused the first tile to crack against the wood sawhorse.
how to cut a curve in stone tile, saw, grinder

But after several hours all of the tiles were cut and set in place with their 1/4" spacers.  Here's the first 2 going in.  You can see how i would set the tile, mark for the openings, the have to go downstairs and cut them out.
dry fit tile, spacers, home depot, lowe's, plans

And here's that tile i cut with the grinder.  I learned that line around the toilet doesn't have to be that close.  Since it's all covered up it can be farther away.
tile cut out for toilet

Here's that tile after being cut and set in place.
prefit tile spacers, how to layout

This is all of the tiles cut and dry fit.  Another thing that i learned is to leave more space around the edge.  I only left 1/8 - 1/4" gap around the edge and it made it more difficult when it came time to set them.  You can see that i put a piece of baseboard down to check how much of the edge would be covered.
best way to prefit tiles, install, plans

Finally it was time to set the tiles.  I dumped about half the bag of mortar into a 5 gallon bucket, added some water and started mixing. Unfortunately i didn't buy a mixer.  I thought it would be easy enough to mix with a stick.  That was a mistake.  BUY ONE OF THESE:
mixer, grout, tile, drill, home depot, lowes

Using a stick worked but was way harder than it needed to be.  I actually mixed it this way for one of the upstairs bathrooms as well, before borrowing a metal mixing pole.  The pole mounts onto a drill.  And let me say that it is much easier and does a much better job of mixing. 

But i finally got the mortar mixed and was ready to start.  I made another semi mistake at this point.  For 18"x18" tiles i should have used a 1/4" x1/4" trowel to set the thickness of the thinset mortar.  But instead i only had a 3/8" trowel and so that's what i used.  In the end it all turned out fine, but for the other bathrooms i bought the 1/4"x1/4" trowel and used that.

I did run the risk of not having enough mortar set down and it could have caused the tiles to crack or be uneven.  Using the larger trowel gives you more free play when trying to level everything.  So slowly i poured out the mortar, spread it with the trowel and set the tiles in place.  Everything was going fine until about the 6th tile i tried to set in place.  As i was lifting the precut piece it broke in half in my hands.  The piece was one of the corners to the toilet.  I was in a bit of a panic as i ran to the basement to cut another piece.  In my rush i accidentally cut the piece upside down.  It fit perfectly, except that it was a mirror image of the right shape.  So in an even bigger panic i ran down and cut another one.

Everything eventually went in place alright and all the tiles were set.  I did have to remove a couple and respread the mortar.  I think that was because i was using too small of a trowel and it was difficult for the tiles to line up together flush.

I didn't take a lot of pictures at this time, i was in too much of a panic of the mortar hardening before the tiles were set.  But i did make a few video's, you can watch them in the attached links.

We then waited 3 days for the mortar to harden.

Next it was time to add the grout.  At Home Depot they suggest the best colored grout to match the tile they sell.  So for our travertine tan colored tile, Home Depot suggested linen tan colored grout.  Then we had to ask Jeff whether we should buy sanded or unsanded grout.  He said unsanded grout for what we are doing.  Also he said to get the powdered stuff in a bag, not the premixed stuff in the bucket.  He said that the dry grout is cheaper and less messy.  They charge extra for the premixed grout and it's really sticky and hard to clean up.  Again i mixed it with a stick, big pain in the butt, then started adding the grout with the rubber float.  Here's a close up of one of the grout lines.
how to grout, sanded, unsanded, which to use

I learned that with the grout you don't need a lot of water, much less than mixing the mortar thinset.  Although i did like the grout a little soupy.  It made it a lot easier to work with.

One good thing about using large tiles is that there isn't a lot of grout lines to fill in.  If we had used smaller tiles, there would have been more.  This was nice because it was the first time for me doing grout and i could take my time and make sure it was right.
how to grout a tile floor

Again i started in the back corner and worked my way out of the room.  Jeff said that with grout you have to make sure to force it into the joint, don't just spread it.  I found that using the front of the rubber float worked best.  I held it at a 45 degree angle to the floor and zig-zagged it back and forth, using a lot of pressure to push the grout into the joint.
animated gif, tile, grout

I tried to keep everything clean, only getting the grout in or around the joint, but it's a messy job.  After all the grout was worked into the joints i waited a few minutes for it to start to haze over.  Then i started to clean up the excess with a bucket of water and 3 sponges.  Basically i took a damp sponge and gently wiped it over the joints.  Here you can see the bucket of water, bucket of grout, and sponges that i used.
tools to grout a tile floor, ceramic, stone

The trick here is that you only want to remove the dried excess grout that is on the tile, leaving the slightly damp grout in the joint in place.

This took quite a while, wiping the grout, cleaning the sponge in water and repeating.  Half way through i had to dump the dirty water and refill it.  If i was more experienced i probably wouldn't have made such a mess.  Then we had to wait another 3 days for the grout to completely dry.

In order to protect the tile and grout from getting stained a absorbing water it needs to be sealed.  When we were buying all of our materials at Home Depot Karrie saw a dual pack of the heavy duty and every day sealer.  Alone the green jug of heavy duty sealer cost around $30 and the everyday spray sealer cost $12.  Fortunately the pack of both was only $30.  So i poured the heavy duty liquid tile sealer into a large bucket and used a sponge to wipe it over the tile.  It took a bit of pressure to wipe it into the grout.  You can tell when it is fully absorbed by the grout, it changes to a dark color and looks saturated.  For a picture of the 2 sealers we used, just look back at Part 1 to see all the materials and costs.

Once the entire floor was coated once i waited a few minutes then added a second coat.  After that second coat dried i sprayed everything with the everyday sealer.  The porous tile absorbed most of it, but i did take the sponge and wipe it all clean, getting rid of any streaks.

Again we waited 3 days to let the sealer fully dry and set.

At this point i thought we were doing pretty good.  But as i said, every step of the process was difficult.  Just putting the toilet back in place was a pain.  Jeff said i should get the jumbo reinforced wax ring, which cost $6.  So that's what i bought.  I put the wax ring on the bottom of the new toilet and dropped it in place.  When i set it down though it felt like there was no wax ring on the bottom.  The outer ring of the toilet was sitting right on the tile floor.  I heard a clunk rather then a squish.

So i took the toilet back off and saw that the wax ring wasn't getting a good seal.  I realized that because we raised the floor, now the cast iron ring was 1" lower in relation to the new tile surface.  So i went back to Home Depot and this time i bought just the $3 jumbo wax ring.

I read that the wax rings can be doubled up to bridge the gap.  I added the new wax ring to the slightly damaged wax ring i tried before.  This time when i lowered the toilet in place i could feel that it was squishing the wax ring down.  I pushed down with all my weight until the toilet was flush to the tile floor.

One good thing about buying the $6 heavy duty wax ring is that it does come with new nuts and bolts.  And since i had to cut off one of the bolts to remove the toilet, i guess it was a good thing that i bought that pack.  It' pretty tricky trying to lower the toilet down over those 2 bolts.  But that's when i realized i had another problem.  One of the bolts was not long enough.  When i set the toilet down it didn't extend over the top of the toilet flange.  I didn't know what to do so i just used a longer bolt from the basement.  Probably not the best thing to do, but it worked.  I realized that it might spin as i tightened it, but i held it with pliers.

Obviously the bolts have to be set in place before lowering the toilet, then a washer is added and the nuts can be tightened down.  I didn't want to tighten the toilet down too much, but i did notice a slight wobble, probably due to the uneven tiles.  So i took a wood shim and pushed it underneath the front bottom edge of the toilet.  This wedged the toilet in place and got rid of the wobble.

When i knew that the toilet was solid and wouldn't move, i caulked around the edge.  I have found that it's best to use 100% silicone caulk.  And in the case of the bathrooms, i bought white rather than clear.  Here you can see the silicone and the one long bolt i used.
bolt for toilet, too short

I used to buy the cheap $2 tube of caulk, which was only something like 30% silicone, but it always cracked.  That stuff is fine if you are doing something like sealing trim on the outside of your house.  I actually used it to try and waterproof the interface between my shingles and aluminum siding.  But for things like sinks, counter tops and toilets i've found that 100% silicone is the way to go.  Using silicone means that it will never harden and crack, it always stays a sort of rubbery consistency.

If you look in the aisles at Lowe's or Home Depot there are tons of choices.  Typically the 100% tubes of silicone caulk are priced at $5 or $6.  But if you look, sometimes in a separate display bin at the end of the aisle, you can find a 2 pack.  There's usually a sign that says "buy 1 get 1 free".  So the past two times i've bought this caulk, i've gotten two tubes for $5, which is just as inexpensive as the cheap caulk.

Next came something i was looking forward to, installing the baseboard.  Since buying a new DeWalt 12" miter saw and a Bostitch air compressor and nail guns, i've enjoyed installing baseboard in the house.  It didn't use to be that much fun using a hand saw and hammer, but with the new tools it's easy.

We could have used some of the small 4" tile we bought at the auction, or we could have cut the large 18" tiles into smaller pieces and put that on the walls, but we decided to use wood instead.  It was easy, cheap and looked good, so that's what we went with.
bathroom baseboard, wall, tile

I measured, starting at the back corner, and worked my way around the room.  The only tricky part was having to cut out the top edge to fit under sink toe plate.
install wood baseboard, caulk

When it was all installed, i filled in the nail holes with spackle, then used the white silicone caulk again along the top, bottom and corners.  I always add to much caulk and end up wiping 80% of it off with my finger.
silicone caulk baseboard

Then we were all done!!

Well not really.  Because after installing a new toilet and tile floor, it somehow made the rest of the tiny bathroom look older.  I was never a fan of the green and white laminate counter top.  It had a cheap look and feel to it.  We wondered how much it would cost to buy a new light and sink counter top.
finished baseboard install, remodel

I knew changing out the light would be easy and it was.  10 minutes after walking into Home Depot we had picked out a new 3-bulb light, which cost less than $20.  But the new sink and counter top would be more difficult.  The main problem was the size.  Most bathroom sinks come in standard sizes of "small", "medium" and "large".  Ours would be considered small, but it wasn't exactly the right dimensions.

Sometimes though it's better to be lucky than good.  We looked up on the display wall and saw one counter top and sink, in the color that we liked, on clearance for $110 off.  The only problem was that when we actually tried to find that sink new in the box, it wasn't there.  We figured that since it was on clearance, they had probably sold them all.  We even asked one of the employees if we could buy the display counter top, but it was bolted to the wall.  Karrie did see a small piece of the sink backsplash which matched one we wanted.  It was also on clearance for $4 and we thought we'd need it if we ever found the sink.

Just when we were about to give up Karrie somehow found it.  She walked past the end of the aisle to the front of the store.  And in an area by the check out counters there were some miscellaneous boxes of tools, bbq grills, and 1 tan colored bathroom sink and counter top priced at $38. 
home depot, lowes, vanity, sink, counter top

Now a more keen eyed viewer might notice something at this point, but not us.  We thought the sink looked super good and were excited to put it in.
clearance, sale, counter top

It was super lucky that we found it.  Instead of costing us $200+, it was only $60 for a new light, sink, and backsplash.  I installed the light the next day.
cheap bathroom light from home depot, lowes

It only took a few minutes, turning off the power, connecting the wires, and bolting it on with the new bracket.  Here's the old one.
how to replace a light

And here's the new light installed.

cheap and easy light replace

To remove the sink i first scored the wall with the utility knife then started prying it off the wall.
how to replace a sink counter top

With the backsplashes removed i turned off the water to the sink.
easy bathroom remodel, simple, basic, cheap

Again i had to deal with these dumb cheap valves.  And again it didn't turn off completely even after i used pliers to turn it as far as i could. 
worst water shut off valve

But after they were shut off i removed the bolts holding it down and removed the old sink and counter top.
bathroom remodel

The walls got a little damaged so i filled the dents in with spackle and sanded it smooth.
how to spackle walls to fix dent, scratch

Then painted the walls.  You can see here that i reattached the faucet.  This was to stop the slowly dripping water coming out of the hoses.
fix a wall, drywall

It wasn't until this point that i realized we had a problem.  Actually we had 3 problems, but the most obvious one was that our faucet wouldn't fit.  We had a fairly nice faucet, but it was one unit and this counter top needed one that separated for the valves and spout.

new bathroom sink, counter top

After being appalled by how much a new faucet cost at Lowe's and Home Depot, Karrie bought one on ebay.  It cost around $60, but if we bought that same one at the store it would have been over $100.
how to install a faucet, sink, bathroom

So we got the right faucet, but that's when we ran into problem number 2.  I learned the lesson of the non-square walls in our house from installing crown molding in the family room.  That was when i couldn't understand why my two 45 degree cuts didn't match up.  It wasn't until i measured the corners and found that they were all 92 degrees, 88 degrees, etc.  But i was still surprised how non-square the 2 walls were when i tried to fit the sink.  You can see the big gap at the top right corner of the sink. 
new bathroom faucet

We tried to think of what we could do.  I knew that if we angled the sink a bit, then installed the backsplash, we could fudge some of the gaps with caulk.  But there was a gap at the back wall that was almost 3/4" and there's no way that caulk could fill that.
how to install sink backsplash, caulk

That was when Karrie suggested we use a piece of wood round-over on top of the backsplash.  It was a great idea, i could cut a taper in the wood to try and make it look like it's even with the wall.  You can hardly notice that the white round-over is thicker on the right than it is on the left.
bathroom sink

Then it was time for the third and final problem installing the sink, the cheap plastic hot and cold water connectors.  Like i said earlier, everything in the house is the cheapest version.  Along with the cheap water valves which leak, they also have the cheap 50 cent bendable plastic tubes which connect the faucet to the copper pipe.  And when i was trying to connect those tubes to the new faucet they didn't fit.  So i had to go back to the store to get ones that did fit.  I bought the flexible steel wrapped rubber hose lines and they fit just fine.

After reattaching the bathroom door we were finally done.  Well done with the easiest of the three bathrooms anyway.
bathroom sink remodel, easy

We learned a lot redoing the bathroom.  Nothing is easy.  There's always something plastic that can break.  Everything takes longer than you think.

But it's all done now and looks a lot better than we started.  We were then ready to start working on the 2 full bathrooms upstairs...

Here are a couple lessons that we learned during our work on the 1st floor half bathroom:
  • Instead of buying 1 of the $5 heavy duty toilet rings, buy 2 of the $3 XL rings.  For all of our toilets i needed 2 rings and wasted money buying the fancy $5 ring.

  • Big 18" floor tile is nice because it means less grout and less cuts, but be careful because if they crack, you are out $5 for 1 tile.

  • Make sure your faucet fits the holes drilled in your sink.

  • Don't buy the cheapest valves and hoses.  Spend a couple more bucks and get ones that install easily.

Bathroom Remodel - BLOG
1 - Materials and Planning 2 -1st Floor Bathroom
3 - Karrie's Bathroom and Tub 4 - Dave's Bathroom and Shower