It may not be all that obvious from this photo, but Brian has actually made a lot of progress on the installation of the new closet doors in the office. It's just that he's had to proceed in a sort of two-steps-forward, one-step-back sort of way.
Last weekend, he got the doorjambs "skinned," using the new pieces of molding he had cut to size at the local millworks. First, since the doors themselves, weren't quite as tall as the door opening, he fitted all the pieces loosely into place to figure out how just much of a gap he would have at the top.
After measuring the distance carefully, he cut a few pieces of scrap wood to fit into this gap so he'd have something solid to nail the lintel (top piece) into. This didn't have to look pretty, since the molding would eventually cover it, so he just made little blocks of wood and nailed them up into the studs - which gave him his first opportunity to use the new nail gun he got for Christmas. Then, he used the same tool to nail the lintel and jambs into place.
Once that was done, he was able to dry-fit the doors themselves. After puzzling out the somewhat ambiguous directions that came with the doors, he figured out how to install the track hardware, screwing it into the lintel, and mount the doors on it. The fit wasn't exactly perfect - one door hung a tiny bit higher than the other - but it was good enough to confirm that the doors could in fact fit into the newly refinished opening.
Unfortunately, having gone to all the trouble of putting up the doors, Brian then had to take them down so they could be properly stained and finished. So he made a start on that this weekend, using the same maple stain we used on the other doors we have refinished so far (three downstairs and two in the guest room). Since these doors were unfinished to start with, they may need a couple of coats, but eventually they should match the rest of the room and closet doors upstairs.
And in the meantime, Brian has also done some work on the closet opening. This was another part of the job where he had to take a step back before he could move forward: he realized that since the opening is now a bit wider than it used to be, he would need to take about half an inch off the baseboard molding before putting the casing back on. And since he didn't have a tool capable of cutting them in situ without damaging the floorboards, he had to move a bookcase out of the way, pull off the baseboards, take them downstairs, cut them down, and then nail them back in place.
He also had to replace the top piece of molding, which wasn't wide enough for the new, wider opening. Fortunately, we had some extra pieces, because we noticed while cleaning out the closet that it also had casing around the inside that didn't really need to be there (since no one ever looks at the closet door from the inside), so we pulled it all off to give us an extra quarter-inch of closet space. Brian was able to re-purpose one of the long side pieces from the inside of the closet to make a new top piece, cutting it to the proper angle with his miter saw (yet another former Christmas present from his dad, who just loves to shop for tools).
Which brings us back to the original picture we started with: the closet opening with the new jambs and lintel installed and all the casings back in place, waiting to be primed and painted. Tackling that, and completing the staining and finishing of the closet doors, will probably be next weekend's job...and the weekend after that, we can finally get the doors back into place and put the closet back to work again.
So if all goes well, my birthday present should be completed by mid-March, only a couple of months after my actual birthday. It's not so much the gift that keeps on giving as the gift that takes a really long time to give. Next year, maybe I'll ask for something simpler, like a new faucet for the kitchen sink.