Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photos from this morning

Here are a few shots of the shop I took a couple of hours ago. The grid ceiling crew will be finishing up today. The electricians are running lights to the cafe area, Rob is continuing on the bathroom tile work. Ryan is building more custom cabinets and will be bringing them to the shop around 1:00pm.
I just bought the three 2x4 fixtures for the back room and 10 bags of concrete. I will be pouring the hot water heater stand today.

This is a 10 shot panorama:

Progress Update

Lots of things were happening yesterday.
The grid ceiling installation began and will be completed today. Ryan and I set a number of cabinets, including the merchandise cabinets that are mounted to the south wall. Rob began laying tile in both bathrooms. I built the forms to pour a concrete pad for the hot water heater. It has to be on a 24"x24" by 12" high platform per code. The platform cannot be made of wood, so I am going to pour a big concrete block for it.
I took measurements for the floor grate that will go over the grease trap in the back room. I need to visit Neil Dana today and get it fabricated. I also measured for the window counter height seating and will buy Padauk and Maple to start building those.
Ryan modified our sink and set it into the cabinet base yesterday as well. Allied order the wrong type of glass fill station for us, and I need to take it back today.

We met with John from Spectrum Signs yesterday. I have to take our business card artwork and create a horizontal sign in the same theme. This is a rough draft so far:

We are also going to have a 5'x5' lighted sign on the back of the building, and two 10' long temp banners on some tall sign posts out buy the road.

Gotta run...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Paint, Paint, Paint, and more Paint!

Believe it or not, we painted the entire 2000 sq ft shop in two days. Rob sprayed the primer yesterday, and then I painted all of the bar area, soffet, and south wall last night. I got up at 5:30 this morning and headed over to the shop. I painted the art wall, which wraps around the studio, and I painted the back hallway, and the kid's room.
Rob and Shawn showed up about then, and the three of us painted all day and put two coats of paint on everything. I also painted the half walls, which required four coats. I have never painted so much in my life.

Here are a couple of photos (click on them to view larger:

Here is a shot of Tracy at Home Depot getting paint:

The paint was $1150, but I saved 10% by filling out a credit applicaton for a Home Depot card. Tracy didn't take it easy while I was working hard. We tore down our back fence a couple of weeks ago, and Tracy dug up the remaining fence posts today!

We put an employment ad in the local paper (The Gazette) and it runs Friday through Thursday. We received about 25 calls on Friday, and I don't know how many Saturday and Sunday (I was at the shop and Tracy is taking the calls on her cell phone).

Upcoming activities:
Monday (tomorrow):
-Start setting cabinets in the bar area
-Qwest to install phones and activate them
-Ceiling Grid subcontractor to start, finish on Tuesday
-Spectrum Signs is coming to the shop tomorrow at 10:00am. We have five exterior lighted signs to get custom inserts made for, and they are going to put up some temporary banners for us.
-I will be measuring for baseboard trim. I want to use 6" pine, solid wood trim, but I need to see what the cost will be.
-I will be measuring for three window front bar seating counters. I am going to make them out of 8/4 Padauk.
-I will be contacting my friend Neil to get a steel floor grate made for our back room. It will go over the grease trap and floor cleanout. We need the grate fabricated before we can pour concrete.
-I still need to apply finish to the Padauk table, finish the apron/legs for the Canarywood table, and build the Narra table.

Plenty to do...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Business Cards

I just finished working on Tracy's business cards and ordered them from wwwgotprint.com. I liked the concept for the labels, and did a new business card based on that design.
Here it is (click to see it larger):

Retail Coffee Bag Label

We have been working on our labels for retail coffee sales (beans by the pound).
Tracy came up with the concept, and I've been working on it in Photoshop.
Here is our rough draft so far:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First Table is Assembled

OK, I got the first table completely done. I still need to sand with 220 grit after applying clear sanding sealer (to fill the open pores in the Padauk), and then apply the finish. But... it is done with regard to fabrication and assembly! I'm very happy to say it is rock solid, with no wobbles!

Here is a photo:

The drywallers finished applying the spray on texture today, so we will be painting tomorrow! The plumbers are at the shop now installing the grease trap. The electricians got the new disconnect and meter box mounted on the back of the building today for the new 200 amp service. Things are coming together...

Tables coming together...

I went to bed at 3:00am last night, then got up at 6:00am this morning. I headed over to the shop to check on the drywallers. They are final sanding the tape and will be spraying on the texture today. They have done a great job. I can't believe how much work they have accomplished in just a few days!

I went to my wood shop next and sanded the Canarywood/Purpleheart panel. Here are a couple of photos:

1. Table math - this is highly complex, ultra top-secret mathematics used to figure out how to make a table out of several boards. This plan is for my third table, which will be Narra and Bubinga.

2. Apron and legs - this is a shot of the Alder table apron and legs that will go with the Padauk/Maple table top. I have to go to the lumber store and pick up some table leg brackets so I can finish. I think it is going to look great!

3. Here is the panel made with Canarywood and Purpleheart. Referring to the highly complex table math above, I plan my tops so that the glued boards are symmetrical in width. There are pros and cons...

CONS - I have to figure out the best usage of a given board, as the trees do not grow and get cut in sizes that are convenient for me. As a result, I end of with excess wood strips that are 1 to 2.5 inches wide. I collect these strips, as they are valuable (at least I had to pay for this wood), and I may make something really skinny someday. Actually, the contrasting strips I am putting in my tabletops are saved strips of wood from other projects.
PROS - Well, I actually can't think of any, except that it is just how I do things.
This table top has widths of 6" x 2" x 4" x 6" x 4" x 2" x 6"

I have been wearing a respirator the last couple days. It cuts down on the red, yellow, and purple boogers, and I have fewer headaches. Some of these exotic woods are toxic and will give you a heck of a headache. Some people have actually gone into respiratory distress from breathing the sawdust.

Oh, by the way, I have never made a table before. This is kind of new to me and I am just winging it. I was really hoping I wouldn't ruin $500 worth of wood. So far, I am very pleased with how things are going. I just bought clear sanding sealer and boiled linseed oil to finish the first table. I'm excited to see how it comes out!

Well, I can't sit at the computer anymore. After three hours of sleep, this is making me drowsy. I'm fine as long as I am moving and thinking and doing something. Sitting here is not good for staying awake.


Employment Application Finished!

It is 2:00am and I just finished creating our employment application form. I worked in Word and Excel for a few minutes, but I did not have the control I wanted over placement/spacing, etc. I ended up creating the whole thing in Adobe Photoshop...
Here are images of page 1 and page 2 (click on them to see larger):

...and to all a good night.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Drywall is up!

The drywall was slow to start, but they came through in an amazing way. The schedule was to hang drywall on Monday, mud and tape on Tuesday and Wednesday, and texture on Thursday. I opened the shop for the drywallers at 7:00am Monday morning. They didn't show up until after 9:00, and there were only two of them. They took a 90 minute lunch at noon, and then packed up to leave at 4:00. I called their boss to let him know only half of the drywall was up. He thought he had until Saturday to complete texture. I have painters lined up for Friday morning, and let him know he has to be done by Thursday end of day. It put him in a tight spot since very little got done on Monday. He promised to be ready for our painters...
They finished hanging all of the sheetrock by 1:00pm on Tuesday, and had all of it taped and mudded today! Impressive, if you ask me...
Here is a pano of several images. They were taken with a 20mm lens, so there is some curve distortion, but you get the idea. Click on the image to see it larger:

and another:

I got started on the first table... This one is Padauk and Maple, with Alder apron and legs. Here are some photos of the table top fabrication:
Click to see larger:

I glued up a second table top today, which is made of Canary wood and Purpleheart. It will also be a very pretty table.

Tracy and I are working on our job application, and putting an ad in the paper to hire some employees. Who would have guessed that a four line employment ad costs $215??? Crazy, but we have to do it.

Gotta run,

Sunday, March 11, 2007


We are on the brink of seeing significant changes daily for the duration of our construction. The next photos I post will show a very significant difference, as the drywall will be hung tomorrow! They will tape, mud, and texture Tuesday-Thursday and Rob and I will be painting Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!
After that goes ceiling grid, then tile and flooring, setting cabinets, doing trim work, installing plumbing fixtures...

Things are about to shift into Overdrive...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

10 out of 351

The photo I took of my hand after doing concrete work all day finished in 10th place out of 351 entries in a Low Key theme challenge at www.dpchallenge.com!
Here is the image again (click on it to see a larger version):

On to better things...
The electricians finished their rough in this week and made their deadline of having rough in inspection completed by Friday (yesterday). We have the go-ahead to install drywall!!
The supply company showed up yesterday with a truckload of drywall. After the guys had offloaded about 25% of it, I noticed that it was all 1/2" gypsum. They are supposed to be installing 5/8" rock. I had them load it all up and they called for another truck of 5/8" board. I'm glad I caught that, instead of it being an issue after it was all hung!
I had to get our electrical engineer to change our drawings to delete the GFCI requirement for every outlet. That is required for a commercial kitchen, which we are not. It would have been significantly more expensive, as the GFCI outlet for 20/30/40 amp circuits are very expensive, and especially for the three phase circuits. When I was at Regional getting this minor change made, the plan reviewer looked at our drawings for our new 200amp panel. He started saying we cannot do it, and it is in violation of code. As it turns out, you can only have one electrical service to a structure, unless you exceed 2000 amps of service. If over 2000 total amps, you can have as many individual services as you want. This makes no sense to me, and is just one of those things in the code that causes much strife in the world. After an hour and a half of discussions, phone calls, and a bunch of craziness, they decided we can do it. Everything always seems to be touch and go with them...

Our grease trap showed up Thursday, and the plumbers came this morning to install it. I noticed two problems overall.

1- the location in the floor would put it partially under our refrigerator and freezer. Code requires it to be completely accessible. You could argue the point that the refrigerator and freezer could be moved, but the fridge weighs 800 pounds empty and would not be a fun chore. Our variance from the city requires us to open the grease trap weekly for inspection and cleaning. We have to log these activities and send the log report to CSU Wastewater quarterly. It would not be fun to move an 800 lb refrigerator weekly...

2- The thing weighs 350 pounds and should have been delivered on a pallet. Instead, it was delivered by itself and they used a forklift to pick it up by one of the 4 inch threaded fittings for the inlet. The forklift tine gouged the threads all the way from the front of the fitting to the back of the fitting in two places. The weight of the unit also ovalized the 4" fitting, rendering the entire grease trap unusable.

Solution # 1 - I had the plumbers modify their plumbing in the hole to shift the unit to the north, giving me complete open access to the unit, without issues of refrigerator and freezer placement.

Solution # 2 - I had the plumbers order a new grease trap, which will cause a week delay in getting it set. This is far better than having them try to run a 4" tap through the threads to try to fix the fitting. With enough pipe dope or teflon tape, I'm sure they could get this thing installed, but it would probably leak in a year or two. Waiting for a new one is a far better solution...

I went to the shop at 5:00 am to go over the framing one more time before drywall goes up. I found a few places that needed more support/bracing, and I fixed some twisted studs. I also pre-drilled for adding a new sink for the back room at a future date (vegetable wash sink). I installed blocking at the top left of the soffet to support a cctv mounting bracket. I'm going to install the monitor for the four security cameras to the top of the soffet, facing the customers. I want people to know they are being monitored and recorded, as a crime deterrent. I also pre-drilled to run a Cat5 cable from the CCTV to our DSL router, so that we can see what is going on in the shop from home or on vacation.
I also measured the rough openings on all of the door frames this week. I found two door openings that were 3 1/2" too narrow. The men's bathroom requires a 36" door by code, but the rough opening was only 35", so we had to re-frame it. The storage room was going to be a 36" door, but was roughed in at 35" as well. We are not going to change that, and will install a 32" door instead.

We are going to need some 30" x 30" tables. I refuse to buy furniture from a typical furniture store anymore. It is mostly all garbage, being veneer covered MDF or particleboard. I went to CO Lumber, which sells domestic and exotic hardwoods, as well as pre-made, unfinished furniture. They have a solid wood 32" x 32" Alder table for $140. I bought a 12' long by 12" wide plank of African Padauk, as well as some Alder to build a table for $150. It will be so much nicer, and we will be able to advertise them for sale in the shop.

Ryan and Rob spent this last week building our cabinets. They cut and assembled the main boxes, and are continuing work on the doors this week.

We are required by the Health Dept to install a 12,000 watt hot water heater. All the pricing I could find was $1200 to $3000 for a commercial unit (way more than we had planned to spend on a water heater). I finally found a company that has a 12kw unit for $550. I went to pick it up yesterday with no problems (they loaded it on my truck). When I was unloading it at my shop, I noticed that it did not seem tall enough. This unit was 48" tall and 20.5" in diameter. The one I ordered was supposed to be 59" tall by 18" in diameter. I then noticed that it said 4500 watts on the box. All wrong... After lots of phone tag, I finally got it worked out. It is a dual element heater and all I have to do is pull out the 4500 watt elements and install 6000 watt elements. I wanted the 18" unit to save some space, but decided it is not worth taking this one back. I'll just swap out the elements and call it good.

I picked up our menu boards from the powder coating place yesterday. They look great, but after $600 in material, laser cutting, and powder coating, I noticed that they did not have the 1" square tube steel welded to the back of it. This is to offset it from the wall and to allow for hanging them. Now we have to figure out a solution. Welding it on now will destroy the powder coat finish, so that is not an option. This is kind of frustrating, and makes things more difficult.

Enough for now...
Take care,

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Electrical Drama is Over!

The electrical building inspector came to the site yesterday and reviewed our plans with Rogers electric. They had some significant concerns, which seems kind of crazy to me since we had it engineered and the plans were reviewed, approved, and issued for construction by Regional Bldg Dept. It is amazing how inefficient and inconsistent they are.
In any case, the electrical inspector reviewed our ideas and gave us the go-ahead. We already had the go-ahead, but if we proceeded, finished, and then failed inspection because the inspectors and the plan-reviewers are not on the same page... Well, that would have been bad.
We did notice that the electrical engineer had classified us as a 'restaurant' instead of a coffee shop. It seems like a silly thing, but it would cost several thousand more dollars to install the exact same equipment if we are a restaurant. Our engineers had to modify our drawings and I picked them up yesterday afternoon. I will be walking the changes through Regional tomorrow, for an additional $50.

I spent most of the day at the shop by myself today. We had a framing inspection that passed, with a few minor issues that needed to be corrected. I spent several hours fixing those issues myself, so that Ryan did not have to divert resources away from building our cabinets. I installed framing in the bathroom walls to support the ADA compliant grab bars. I also installed metal strapping over areas of plumbing installation to prevent people from putting screws or nails in the wall that would penetrate the plumbing lines. I also had to install additional diagonal bracing from the top of our 10' walls to the bar joists in the overhead. This stabilizes the walls with regard to lateral movement. I also cut the sole plate out of several door locations, removed some temp supports for walls and the soffet, and I framed the wall higher behind the condiment bar location. As it was, condiment bar items could fall off on the floor behind the half wall. I build an eight inch high border around the condiment bar area to prevent that from happening.

Tracy has been doing a great deal of work on our menu board strips. She is painting them and doing the lettering on them. I think they are going to look great!

Tomorrow is:
Framing inspection
Wrap up electrical rough-in, for inspection on Friday
Go buy a hot water heater (12kw commercial unit)
Go pay Neil Dana for our metal fabrication (menu boards)
Walk GFCI electrical change through Regional
Buy sink faucet for dual basin sink
Buy and install 1" thick foam insulation (storefront window panels)
Contact sign company and get quotes for sign work
Contact a couple of potential employees

Monday, March 5, 2007

Lots of details to work out...

Now that our construction plans are dialed in and approved, we are able to solidify our construction budget. It is about 30% higher than expected, but we are still building a 2000 square foot facility from a completely gutted space for an incredible price. We owe most of our good fortune to Ryan Thompson, our friend and General Contractor. We could not do this without him!

I set up our Qwest account today. Since Comcast is unable to provide cable Internet service at our location, I am going with Qwest DSL. This is not my preference, but has become a necessity. We are getting two phone lines (main line and fax line) and 3Mbs DSL service for approx $120 per month. I had originally budgeted $150 for phones and $100 for cable Internet, so this is less than half of my original guestimate.

I am heading to the shop early tomorrow morning. We have the IT guys coming to run speaker wire (from our stereo location to four spots which will have Bose 301 speakers), our Ethernet cables from the office area to the POS area (point of sale), and to run our two phone lines and install phone jacks.

I am also meeting with our electrical contractor and Regional Building Dept Elec Inspector to discuss our new service plans. Rogers Elec plans to remove the conductors from existing 2" conduit, and running new 3/0 conductors in the same conduit to a new 200amp panel in our shop. The city approved it and is installing a new transformer for us. Our electrical engineer drew it up in the blueprints and Regional has reviewed it and approved it for construction. Now for some reason, the head Elec Inspector wants to take a look at it before we start, and has indicated that he will not allow us to do it. I can not believe how many snags we've hit dealing with the city. They have caused so many delays and added costs, not to mention lots of pain and emotional distress. After having all of our plans approved and getting our building permit in place was supposed to alleviate all of these problems. Now we are back to churn again... When does all of this craziness end??? Keep us in your prayers and hope for a reasonable solution to our electrical needs!

I ordered a bunch of smaller kitchen wares today from Bigtray.com. They have the best prices by far, and free shipping. We also set up our business account at Sam's Club today. The best part of having a business account there is that we can shop at 7"00am, instead of waiting until 10:00am. We learned the hard way one time by showing up at 8:00am or so, and they wouldn't let us in. Bummer...

I received a bill today from Waste Management for our construction dumpsters. Can you believe our dumpsters have cost us $750??? That's crazy! Oh well, what can you do, besides drive around town at 2:00am looking for someone else's dumpster. I wouldn't do that, but plenty of people have thrown stuff in our dumpsters at night. It is a daily curiosity now to go look in the dumpster in the morning and see what new things have shown up. So far, the largest things have been clothes dryers, 30" diameter HVAC duct work, sets of tires, mattress and box springs, etc... I feel like taking them out, but there is no place to put them. It doesn't pay to have a construction dumpster...

Our menu boards are complete and have been sent to the powder coaters. We ordered 500 neodymium magnets that we will attach to the back of our menu strips with epoxy. I made Tracy about 75 strips that are 1/8th inch thick, 2" tall, and 38" long. She ordered special paint markers for menu boards and is writing our menu items and pricing herself, using the Mandingo font. She wanted to try some highly stylized lettering, but it is too difficult to replicate over and over. A calligraphic style has to be 100% consistent or it all looks sloppy. I found some fun fonts that are easy to read, very fun styles, but do not rely so much on consistency. Do a Google search for Mandingo font and take a look at it.

I am getting excited about being open soon... We still have soooo much work to do, and so many details to work out. But, all is moving in the right direction, and we might even have enough capital budget left over to eat for a couple of months!
As usual, I haven't had much time for photography, but I'll try to post a good shot this week.
Take care and God Bless!

Saturday, March 3, 2007


Sorry for the sparse blog entries during the last couple of weeks. We have been very busy. Here is what's going on...

Our plumbers came on site Friday afternoon February 23. They worked Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The were completely finished with a significant amount of work and called for our rough-in inspection Tuesday morning. They passed the inspection on their first try! I spent Friday cutting and jack-hammering concrete to allow them to do their under slab work.

If you ever had a random thought thinking it would be cool to run a jack hammer for a day, I can finish that thought for you. It seems pretty cool for about two minutes, then you quickly realize how happy you are that you don't do this kind of work day in and day out. After running the jack hammer, you then have to pick up all of the busted concrete, throw it in a wheel barrow, and haul it off. This is not a great way to spend a day.

Then, after all of that work, I had to buy 66 bags of cement, which involved picking them up and stacking them on the flatbed cart at Home Depot, paying for them, moving them from the flatbed to my truck, driving to the shop, carrying them in from the truck to the shop and stacking them, then picking them up and placing them in the mixer, then pouring them in the hole, and shoveling the wet concrete around. Some areas were difficult to get to, so we had to pour the mixed concrete into a five gallon bucket, then carry it to its final resting place. In all, the concrete was moved four to six times. I got a pretty good workout this week...

We had another struggle with the Regional Building Department. They failed us on our framing inspection because they wanted the studio walls to be framed up to the 14 foot deck, with all penetrations fire caulked. This would have been a nightmare, so we opted for a fire rated ceiling, fire rated doors, and fusible link fire dampers in the HVAC system. The framing inspector was not looking for that solution and failed us. It took five days to get the information we needed for the fire rated ceiling and to fight with Regional about our proposed solution. Ryan finally came to terms with Regional, and we had Vic (the architect) modify the drawings and place his stamp on the drawings. I got the approved modifications from Vic at 4:30pm on Friday. Woo hoo... nothing stopping us now from getting our framing inspection completed.

For next week, we have the electricians coming to finish their rough in, and to work on the new service installation. I got some free #2 stranded copper THHN wire from my friend Kevin, and I ordered a 500 foot roll of 3/O wire from Home Depot for $1600. I'm hoping to get $150 or so for the existing wire we will remove at the recycle center, to offset the high cost of the new wire by a little...

The IT guys are coming on Tuesday... We had planned to run everything off of cable broadband service, but Comcast told me yesterday that they do not have service in our building. They are willing to install it for a modest price of $5600. We are about 500 yards from Comcast's headquarters in Colorado Springs. I can not even believe we can't get cable TV or broadband service. It makes me want to walk across the parking lot and throw a brick through their storefront window... I'm obviously not going to do that, but I can't believe how frustrating it is. We intend to have free WIFI for the shop, as well as run our credit card processing via broadband.
Instead, I have to call Qwest and talk to them about DSL. We are having two phone lines installed. I'm wondering if I can get two different DSL lines, one for the WIFI, and one for our business computers and credit card machine. I'm not sure what I'll do if Qwest says they can't provide service to our building. If you hear a scream around the world sometime Monday morning, that will be why...

Our drywall subcontractor is coming on Monday March 12th. They should be able to hang all the drywall in a day, and have it taped, mudded, and textured by the end of the week. This amount of work would take me two months to do by myself (I do high quality drywall work, but at the cost of being very, very slow).

Ryan and Rob are cutting all of the cabinet parts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next week. They are then going to deliver the parts to my shop here in town and we will assemble the cabinets there. Ryan has high-end blades on his equipment, as well as large in-feed and out-feed tables for his table saw. We could have made all the parts in my shop, but it would have taken some time to build in-feed/out-feed tables, brought Ryan's blades and installed them on my equipment, etc.

I will be spending some time in my wood shop next week building some tables for the shop. We originally planned to have built in bench seating along the half wall in the center of the cafe area. Due to the time involved in building the bench seating, we have decided to hold off on that. I'm going to build a couple of tables instead. I'm actually looking forward to it! I made some tables for Paul and Heather at the Raven's Nest Coffee Shop, and would love to have tables in our shop that I made myself! I have always wanted to make a chess table out of African Padauk (a pretty reddish-brown wood) and Maple. This is my chance...
Here are some photos of Padauk projects:
Click the image to see a larger version.

Sean Rafferty is still working with our logo. We sent him the version Tracy designed and he liked it very much. He is creating a vector based version, as well as a BW graphic for copy work. He will be coming to the shop this week to help us work out the paint scheme. Tracy has put together a color palette, but we are seeking input on how to use the color and where...

Tracy and I took a Quick Books Pro class last week at UCCS (University of Colorado - Colorado Springs). I'm used to just playing with software until I learn what it can do. The class we took didn't teach us anything I couldn't have figured out on my own, but we get two free hours of CPA time with our paid tuition (the tuition cost less than the two hours would cost, so it is a good deal). We want professional help to set up our books in the beginning. We can learn the daily tasks of keeping the books up to date, but want to insure it is all built on a 'strong foundation'.

I guess that is about it for now...
I'll post more soon.