The leaning tower of Auburn

Over a typically cool and soggy Memorial Day weekend here in the Pacific Northwest, we were less tempted to spend our precious three-day break gallivanting about the countryside, and more likely to stay home and make progress in the kitchen. That’s the attitude we started with, anyway.

Red and white stripes against raindrops on smole bush

Eric got in gear Saturday, building the cabinet we call The Tower—our attempt at gentrifying a section of undesirable real estate between the sink wall and the stove, in an awkward nook created by the furnace chimney enclosure and the posterior of the dining room’s built-in buffet.

kitchen before photo

We’re building a tall cabinet that will repeat the mass of the pantry cabinet to the right of the sink. Where once a funky particle board shelf squatted in a slummy corner, we’ll soon have high-rise tower all the way to the ceiling. Instant high-rent district!

original pantry cabinet

The tricky part: The back of the buffet leans to the east, while the face of the chimney section leans to the east. The campanile in Pisa has nothing on us. Eric has to build the cabinet so it will be square for the shelves and doors. (We’d considered using four drawers instead of shelves, but the off-kilter dimensions and the shallow depth make adjustable shelves more practical.)

nook cabinet destination

But wouldn’t you know it, just as Eric was trimming the side pieces, his table saw gave up the ghost, smoke curling from its motor. You can’t make cabinets without a saw, so Sunday became shopping day. And, of course, an opportunity to upgrade. We came home with a bigger, badder table saw in an enormous box. A couple of burly store employees hefted it into our utility trailer, but how would we get it out? (Eric’s two months post-hernia surgery and my back’s not much good at lifting anymore.) We opened the box and carted all loose pieces into the house, then, with considerable effort, slid the body of the saw onto the pavement and a hand truck. Heavy rain intervened, and the saw spent the night in the garage.

The next day, we hand-trucked it up the back steps and into the kitchen, where it proved wider than the passage between fridge and cabinet.

table saw and hand truck in kitchen

After we shoved the stove and fridge aside, Eric fashioned a sled out of the cardboard box and we aligned the hulk with the basement staircase. Gravity was finally on our side. I wish I had a photo of this process, but I was busy trying to stuff the cardboard sled into the stairwell while repeatedly asking Eric, who was standing on the downhill side, “Are you okay??” (Secretly, I was just glad the monster was no longer in the middle of the kitchen.) We hoisted the saw onto its table, and then I fled the basement to make a fruit salad … something I felt confident I could handle without injuring myself.

Voilà: The new beast! King of the basement!

table saw

Finally, I got to work polyurethaning more drawer boxes. My “studio” had degenerated into a greenhouse for my failed zinnia crop (spindly and weak, now squashed by rain ), and a dry haven for succulents. I kicked the plants outdoors.

plants on plywood on sawhorses

I’m happy to report I’ve finished the drawer boxes for cabinet no. 2, and I’ve begun the deep bins that will hold the dog and cat food containers. By this weekend, I’ll have caught up to Eric!

Sneak peek: These pieces of tape mark the eventual position of the new sink, subject of a future post. I’m very excited—can’t wait to write that one … some day. Stay tuned!

tape marks on countertop



5 thoughts on “The leaning tower of Auburn

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      No, those are just marks where the sink will sit, for measurement purposes. The new countertops can’t be installed until after all the cabinets are in. The sink-wall cabinets are still a twinkle in Eric’s eye..

  1. cathy

    I am enjoying your efforts at this,especially your willingness to keep changing directions depending on what the area tells you is right. The table saw story is truly hilarious!

  2. Karen B.

    Men and their power tools. I have to laugh, Mr. B doesn’t even use tools very often and yet he loves to shop the power tool aisle at the big box store. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I love the plan, oh, and the cat! Cat is clearly supervising this operation! lol.

  3. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    We recently had a similar struggle taking a cabinet down to our basement. i really did not think that it was going to happen and had visions of us crawling in and out of the basement windows because it would be permanently stuck in our stairway. I am glad that you were able to get it down without injuring yourselves! One step further in the journey!


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