Thursday, October 11, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Deck, Phase II

Basically, phase 2 of the deck is complete. Sorry no "in-progress" pics, but this turned out to be one of the more stressful projects we've done so far. At least for me it was. First of all, I had no idea that the little bride intended to paint phase 1 like a circus wagon. But she did. Anyway, here are some photos to show what we did. (remember, pics get bigger when you click 'em)

Note the little doors under phase 1. Now the bride has a large storage area for her junk underneath.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weedeater Woes

I'm not ashamed to admit it. Well, maybe a little. But edging with a string trimmer has been a source of aggravation for me lo these many years. And it's probably due in no small part to me not knowing what I'm doing. I've stared wistfully at the guys doing the neighbors yards as they zip up and down the sidewalks and curbs with their string trimmers. I can't remember ever seeing one of them stop to fiddle with the string.

Me? The string breaks every foot or so and jams up so that I have to kill the motor and fish it out, most of the time having to re-wind the spool. It got so bad that I finally gave up and quit edging all together. The man next door either felt sorry for me or was so embarrassed that he started edging my flower beds and fence.

I've seen those replacement heads at the garden center, you know, the ones where you put the little pieces of string in them instead of a spool. They tout things like, "5 second line change!" And I've been really hesitant to shell out twenty bucks to find out if they work or if you've just bought yourself twenty more dollars worth of aggravation. I still can't help you with that one because I didn't buy one of those.

I did run across a little blurb on-line the other day about a father-son team down in Texas that were experiencing the same frustration as me and invented a better solution. I read reviews about it on their blog and was impressed with how impressed everyone seemed to be. They got me at, "We absolutely GUARANTEE YOUR SATISFACTION!!!" I couldn't wait to get down to Wal Mart to buy one.

Being late in the season, Wal Mart was either completely out, or never actually stocked the Pivotrim heads and the lady stocking the shelves in the garden department acted like I was crazy. But I was on a mission and I drove nine miles up the road to the Super Center in the next town. I looked and looked up and down the aisles and just as I was about to give up, there in the corner, turned backwards and kind of tossed aside, was a blister pack that looked promising. As I turned it around I realized that this may well be the last remaining Pivotrim head in the state of Arkansas. I took it to the cash register with trembling hands.

Now, all of the replacement heads claim that they fit 99% of all trimmers and they probably do. Pivotrim is no different saving that they claim to give you more hardware and therefore more options for, I guess, more different trimmers. Sheesh, I don't know. All I know is that when I went to put this one on my Weedeater, nothing they provided looked like it would work. The package boldly states, "problems? No need to return to the store, call our toll free number..."

Yeah, right. On Sunday afternoon? Oh well, I dialed the number and it was immediately answered by one of the inventors. He confidently told me exactly what to do in a very clear and concise manner which made me immediately suspicious that as soon as I got off the phone I would realize I had been had and he would have taken his phone off the hook.

But surprise, in less than five minutes I had the head changed out, strung up and was ambling into the front yard to experience some serious, trouble-free edging. Now, I read all the claims about being able to go for up to four hours without a line break and guys bragging about trimming up a couple thousand acres of chain link fence with this thing, but remember, I'm the guy that can't go more than a foot or two without breaking the line.

I'll give it this, it made it nearly all the way across the front yard before my first break. But it does re-string in a matter of seconds and I was able to do the entire yard - all of the curb, both sides of the driveway and sidewalk and all of the flower beds with only four string changes. Much better than the twenty or so changes I normally experience and my blood pressure didn't burst my ear drums.

I was a little disappointed that the package said it would take .095 thick string, and I bought a package of that size string already cut into strips, but they wouldn't fit through the little holes. I did find that you can take the old spool of .080 string from the tap and go days and cut it into 10-12 inch strips quickly and easily which works just fine and I'm sure is cheaper than paying four bucks for a little tube of strings.

Go to their website, check out the video and see if maybe this might be a stress reducer in your life. It seems to be for me...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Deck - Phase I

You may remember that we put a door in the back of the house where a bedroom window was originally. That necessitated building a porch to get down to the ground about four feet below. This seemed satisfactory for a year or so. And then the bride got the itch. "I want a deck," she said. So we started to dismantle the railings on the porch...
(don't forget you can click on the pics to make them bigger.)

...began to frame up a deck...

...and started laying the flooring. I decided to lay the flooring on a 45 degree angle so that it wouldn't look so much like an afterthought as it transitioned from the old porch structure. I think once it's all stained the same color it will look like it was always there.

Next step was to trim off all the uneven boards and start on the railing.

The bride picked out the style of railing she wanted, and it was up to me to figure out how to make it work...

I think it looks pretty good.

Now it's time to relax...

Uh oh, the bride has informed me that this is phase I of the deck construction. Phase II will be a lower level deck... sheesh, it never ends. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The den in our house was remuddled sometime in the seventies. Which left us with a legacy of avocado green shag carpet and this lovely brick fireplace with the wormy wood mantle.

Recently, a friend salvaged a terrific Victorian mantle from an old house they were tearing down in a nearby town, and I acquired it from her. So we began the demolition of the old mantle to make room for the new.

First, I had to cut the supporting bricks from each side of the mantle with a chisel.

Then, I had to saw off the old slab board as flush as I possibly could with my reciprocating saw. This turned out to be a bone jarring experience and painfully tiring to boot.

After which I was left with a roughly cut board that wasn't quite flush with the bricks it was embedded in.

So, I cleaned up the rest with a wood chisel. It made a big mess, but got the job done. I'm certain that at least nine of you out there are thinking of easier ways I could have done this, but it's too late. You should have said something sooner.

Then, I covered the corners with 1x6's which I routered a bead across the top to look a little more finished.

The bride caulked up all the seams and nail holes, and we're ready to prime and paint. Remember, clicky the pictures to get a closer look.