Sunday, July 31, 2005

Past Project II

Since the previous owners included the back patio when they built and enclosed the den, there was no back door when we acquired the house. A window that had been originally in a bedroom, now in the dining room was in the West wall. A reciprocating saw, busted bricks, and a couple of trips to the home center and the window was now a back door.

Of course, that posed its own problem in that now the back door was three feet above the ground.
So, I bought treated lumber and built a back porch. The little bride indicated that she'd like to have shelves on the railings wide enough to sit flower pots on, so I accommodated her. I didn't know that she would hang outriggers on the shelves to put hanging pots on. This has caused the shelves to wrack and I'll have to deal with that - probably sooner than later...

Easy Like Sunday Morning...

We don't usually get much accomplished on Sundays. After church and lunch there's just not a lot of day left for major doings. So, I sanded and touched up on my drywall mudding. The job light really reveals all the flaws. My saving grace is that the actual lighting in the foyer will be much more forgiving. I hope.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Kitchen Demolition July 30

We finished removing the cabinets from the kitchen leaving only the ones on the wall. As you can see, there are three four different types of floor in the one area. This is apparently the evidence left from a previous renovation in the 1970's when a bedroom wall was moved to enlarge the kitchen.

The little bride was kind of fond of a drawer in one run of cabinets that houses the trash can. The only way we could figure out how to salvage it was to cut it off the end of the cabinets with my Sawsall and spin it into place at the end of the sink run.

Of course this complicates things a bit, but I think I can reface the entire run with quarter inch luan and put all the doors and drawers back on and it will look okay. She plans to paint everything anyway.

Cutting Tile In Circles

One of our past projects was to lay tile in the den. This area is nearly 625 square feet and included what was originally the patio to the house. When we acquired it, the original brick from the back of the house was still showing and the iron railings from the patio were still in place. This, along with horrible avocado green '70s shag carpet layed directly on concrete and stinking.

We yanked out all of the carpeting (the trash people in our neighborhood have learned to dread coming here...) and cut off the iron railings (they had the new cement pad poured around them) and scraped up glue and carpet pad remnants.

The little bride found some tile she really liked and we hauled home 2500 pounds of it as well as 400 pounds of dry adhesive and 80 pounds of dry grout. We spent a couple of weeks working nights laying the tile.

Now, the fireplace has a hearth pad that is a semicircle of bricks. I got to tell you, I lost sleep over how I was going to deal with that. All kinds of suggestions were posited including smashing up tiles and laying the pieces in the non-square area.

One Saturday morning while the bride wasn't here to make fun of me, I got out my Ryobi angle grinder and attached a four inch tile blade. I made paper templates and started cutting and laying out tiles. It took a few passes, and since I didn't mark top and bottom on my templates, I cut one tile backwards. But all in all, I am pretty proud of the results:

L Shaped Two Inch Flooring Cleats

The flooring nailer we bought uses 2" L shaped flooring cleats. These are not so easy to find locally and I was hesitant to order them on-line because of the weight - shipping would likely eat up any savings.

Lowes didn't have them. National Home Center acted like I was an idiot (really they should get a handle on their poor customer service) and Sutherland's didn't have them. Our last stop was Home Depot and, voila! There they were. And the price was comparable to the ones on the web. I bought 4 boxes of cleats, a roll of 15 pound felt and a new pair of knee pads.

Friday, July 29, 2005


The little bride gave me her plans for a new pantry in the kitchen tonight.

I couln't more than a little bit keep from thinking about the movie This Is Spinal Tap where they give the manager a drawing on a napkin of Stonehenge and ask him to create a stage set from it.

Of course they're mortified when he delivers the 20 inch tall Stonehenge instead of the 20 ft tall one they thought they were getting. It was all in the drawing...

My New Floor Nailer!

UPS brought my new floor nailer today.

We had been talking about the fact that we will likely take weeks to get all of the floor put down, and renting a nailer could be an expensive proposition. So it was decided that we could buy a nailer and then sell it on eBay when we get done. But I have to admit I was put off by the price of a decent pneumatic nailer.

I started looking for one used on eBay and found a Porter Cable FCN200 nailer with a buy-it-now of $400. I did my due diligence and researched the make and model and was satisfied that it was a good choice for the money.

But in my research I found that the nailer was available, brand new, from Coastal Tool dot com in Connecticut for only $385. So, what the heck, I bought it.

The service at Coastal Tool was impersonal and great! I received an email immediately that they had my order and then the next day an email with the tracking number for the UPS shipment. It arrive the very day that it said it was scheduled to arrive and was packaged well in the factory packaging.

I'm happy with the experience and have ordered a toe-kick saw from them now. It's supposed to arrive Monday...

Women Like Cute Things

The little bride came home from the home center the other night and brought me a new Shop Vac. Mind you, I already have a big Shop Vac and use it quite regularly. But this one is really small.

"Look how cute it is," she gushed.

Well, she got to try it out today on the dust and crumbles I'm leaving from floating the drywall.

"It works great," she said, "has a lot of suction for its size."

I think she just likes it because it's cute.

First Coat

Floating drywall, first coat.

Home Improvement Centers

Over the years I've spent a lot of time in hardware stores, lumber yards and now the latest: Home Improvement Centers. A quick take on my personal opinions about them may be in order at this point.

I like Lowe's. At first I thought that the difference between Lowe's and Home Depot was the colors. I find the blue soothing and the orange a bit irritating. But, given the cumulative months of my life that I have spent in these places, I've come to the conclusion that Lowe's is laid out in a more sensible manner. Their employees actually seem to know where stuff is and what it's for (haven't stumped them too many times), and the aisles are a little wider and less congested.

Given that the stuff you can buy at either of them is pretty much the same, and the prices are close, I choose to shop at Lowe's 90% of the time.

Of course we stop in at Home Depot from time to time to check the specials and make sure we're not missing anything.

National Home Center is third choice and I think that's a shame. I personally like the concept of National. It's really a lumber yard (and a pretty decent one at that) with good prices on lumber.

But for really simple stuff, it seems they are either out of or don't stock at least one thing on my list every time I go there. I've pretty much given up on trying to buy anything but lumber there.

Oh, they have a door shop on premises and can "pre-hang" virtually any door for you and that's a plus. I bought four doors from them recently and they did a great job on those.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

What Could Be Worse?

Well, apparently (according to the little bride) you can't just replace some of the floor. You have to replace all of it.

That, my friends, involves ripping out the kitchen cabinets...

Yep, that's right. Rip them right out of the freakin' floor...
So, now we have the wall back up for my son's bedroom. And, we've picked out a door that will be nice for his bedroom (with some curtains) and will look good when we convert the room back into a living room when the kids are gone...

Floor Me!

Of course we order new floor...

Now I've got to tell you, we ordered it from Lumber Liquidators. This was not such a great experience. Let's see if I can remember all of it...

When you go on the website to look at the material, it tells you that it has a 25 year warranty. It also told us that shipping would be approximately $200 dollars.

Guess what? When you push the check out now button, it tells you that someone will call you. Well, when they do they want to fax a form to you for you to sign. This form has all kinds of interesting information on it like, there's no warranty! And, you are responsible for refusing the shipment if it's damaged. And, the shipping is now $420 dollars. And you are responsible for getting it from the driveway to the house.

Well I didn't have a problem with any of that except the no warranty, no return policy and the fact that Fed Ex Freight called me to tell me that Lumber Liquidators didn't pay for lift gate service so I would have to unload the truck myself.

As it turns out, it was a moot point since the crappy way that Lumber Liquidators packaged the shipment precluded being able to let it down on a lift gate anyway. Those idiots put 35 boxes, seven foot 6 inches long, weighing 50 pounds each on a pallet that couldn't have been more than 40"x24". The entire shipment was swarmed on the truck. Most of the boxes were burst open and the ends of the boards damaged.

I was so anxious to get my floor and put it in that of course I accepted it.

It's beautiful stuff, heart pine, five inch planks. Solid. Like they used in houses a hundred and fifty years ago.

But, I can't say much for Lumber Liquidators.

We'll keep you posted on how it turns out as we get into the boxes of flooring...

Of Course...

this uncovered a whole new set of problems:

With the wall gone, now the floor is all messed up...

Whatever shall we do?

Step Two

Put the wall back up. I framed it out in the yard because we're working around my son's bedroom furniture. We hauled it in through the front door, banged it into place with a sledge hammer and screwed it tight.

And then, of course, we added drywall...

Put It Back!

Well, as you can see, some of the "surprises" we got were wires that had to be dealt with. This included the porch light switch, the hall light switch and the doorbell.

Of course, we had to relocate the light switches that had been on the wall next to the door to the, well, other wall next to the door. And, the lightswitch for the living room that was now enclosed in a closet needed to be next to the new doorway. It took me the better part of the morning to get all the wiring in place and checked out.

Once that was done, we could patch the ceiling and the wall and procede to step two.

Break Stuff

Okay, to catch you up somewhat, the little bride decided that the hallway from our front door was too narrow and should actually be a "foyer." To accomplish this, we needed to move the wall over about four feet. The side effect would be that we would make a space for a closet and actually convert what had been the living room into a bedroom.

Here's a pic of the destruction that took place over fourth of July weekend...


I had been following the American Dream for the past 30 years, working, clawing, slowly making my way to the top. When I became vice president of the company I was working for I bought what my boss termed "a house worthy of an executive."

When that same man pulled the rug out from under me two years ago, I re-thought my strategies including how much time I was able to spend with my family and we sold the American Dream and bought the American Fixer Upper.

I'm not such a handy guy, but we tackled this anyway. The little bride figures there's nothing that can't be done if you try. I don't always agree.

We're Tearing Down The House!

At least it seems that way...

We've done some pretty major projects over the last two years, but this one is downright daunting to me. Will I survive? Your guess is as good as mine. My wife is addicted to DIY network and all the home improvement shows, so my plan instructions change daily...

Stay tuned to see if we make it.