Saturday, March 17, 2018

We're Back! Time To Do the Bathrooms

We're lucky we have two full bathrooms. While destroying one, we can use the other. But since we only had  a clawfoot tub upstairs, we had to put in a shower, so we created an "English Shower" with a new faucet, riser, shower curtain rod, & 360 degrees of curtain. I had a lot of fun wrangling with the old plumbing, which seems to have expanded a bit over time. New copper fittings would not fit over the old ones. Some more experienced people and old timers tell me the pipes expand a little over time. It was fun trying my hand at sweating copper again, too.

Being nearly 6' tall I can barely fit under the shower head...but it should only be for a few months. Let's start the clock now and see.

We began destruction downstairs this morning. I've forgotten how quickly debris piles up and how many garbage bags it fills up. I'm not keen on hiring a dumpster this time so we're gonna throw it out week by week, or I will have to go to the dump.

Getting rid of a week's worth of frustrations makes Jennifer smile.

The fun part is the things we find out about the house. Not much shoddy construction discovered this time, but newspapers in the wall  from the original construction and messages we left for ourselves over ten years ago are there. The original builders, sometime between 1910 & 1920, lined the walls with paper as was the custom. When we renovated the dining room on the other side of the wall, about ten years ago, we wrote a few messages ourselves.

Wish I could read what department store it is.

August 26th, 1918. Remember when there were morning and evening papers?

Cara was dating a guy named Steve back then. I know better than to call my wife "Jenn" now, too.

Glenham is a hamlet just a mile away.

Must have been a rockin' band.

I did not know the Bull Moose Party had such a local reach...or lasted into the 1910s.

Notes scribbled on the wall from a very long and combative call with Sprint in November, 2007,  trying to add my friend Ken to my phone plan. 

We filled up five or six demolition bags and called it a day. Next up we have to cut off some water lines, destroy the rest, and plan the new look.

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ceiling Work

Upstairs. In the summer. Hot!

This first photo is of our upstairs hallway ceiling, taken from the stairwell with a wide-angle lens (just got my camera back from the shop). Awhile ago I straightened out the hole to the attic. Time to finish the ceiling and move on.

First, I get rid of the ratty gaps around the attic entrance. Notice I removed the decorative glass shade from the lamp. Going to be swinging a lot of crap around soon.

Now I have put a "riser" of a sort around the frame of the attic entrance. That will make it nice looking in addition to giving me a place to fasten the trim later - it had to give enough of a rise to accommodate the furring and Armstrong ceiling planks we're going to install.

First three furring strips installed. Time for dinner. More later...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

(re-)Webbing Old Canoe Seats

My canoe is 19 years old. The original caned seats broke last summer. I am surprised they lasted that long. I dithered over spending about $80-$100 to replace them with webbed ones. Caned or re-caned ones are much more expensive. I decided instead to web them myself, inspired by this video that I found. I also need an excuse to fill up this space, occupy my generally scatterbrained, overactive and idle mind, and entertain my one reader, Chris. A little shot of self-satisfaction doesn't hurt, either.

I didn't have to watch the video for more than a few seconds to get the idea. I mainly wanted to see how he fastened the webbing. I could see that he used a Stanley stapler, so I was assured that I had the stuff to do this. All I needed to do was find the material.

I got it at JoAnn Fabrics, locally. I asked for webbing at several other stores that sold fabric, but I qualified the request with, "you know, like they use to repair lawn chairs..." and that may have confused some people who shook their head and said they did not have that. Webbing is also called strapping, belting, whatnot. It's used to create bag handles, belts, a lot of other things. The other stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby) may have had it.

All the ingredients and tools I needed:
  • staple gun
  • 3/8" staples (shorter ones may have worked better, but longer ones proved problematic)
  • razor
  • hammer
  • 14 yards of 1" nylon webbing
  • a ruler
  • a pencil
  • a square
  • 2.5 hours of time (including picture taking, getting coffee, showing my wife the results)
  • A Black & Decker Workmate table is useful
  • A propane torch (whaaaaa???)
Here we go.

The bow (forward) seat is already done. The stern (rearward) seat shows the damaged caning. UV, water, and my variably-sized ass over the years brought it to ruin. Ratty muppine* backdrop courtesy of my grandmother & great-grandmother.

I cut the old caning out with the razor. I did not remove the piping or a lot of the glue that was there - I don't need that much perfection, I just need a place to sit my ass in the canoe. I cleaned it up enough to look decent and not give anyone a splinter.

To place the short straps I found the center of the seat. The hole was 10" x 7". If I have one inch webbing, that means I can put ten straps one way and seven straps the other, right? Well, maybe not. Things would be very tight when weaving, so I went with one less course each way than there were inches in the seat dimensions. That's 9 by 6 straps.

Nine means that one strap straddles the center line (instead of with ten, where the center line would be between two strips).

Starting the first one, I staple the end or bight to the bottom (which is facing the camera), and I pull the strap across the top of the seat and to the other side. I have not cut the webbing yet. It would be a waste of time if I cut each piece to the size I needed before working - perhaps even a waste of material. I used 3/8" staples because they sink almost completely into the oak frame; 1/2" staples leave a lot of leg standing. I use the hammer to drive the staples in a tad more, or to at least flatten them so they don't catch anything and secure the webbing even further. If I did this again I would have got 1/4 staples because the staples I used did not always  go in so deep.

Now I have flipped the seat frame over. We're looking at the top of the seat. The stapled, bight-end of the webbing is stapled to the bottom of the seat, which is facing away from the end of the camera at the bottom of the frame.

I pull the webbing tight with one hand, and the seat is jammed against the black and orange stops in the workbench. Now I can staple this first strap and cut it off.

Like this:

Once I have done those 9 straps, I turn the seat 90 degrees and work on the other courses. This time I have to remember to weave the straps over and under the others. This seems easy, but it is also easy to make a mistake. For my minimal aesthetic desires, I wanted at least the weaving to look good. It also improves the strength of the seat.

All weaving done. Notice the remnant. I estimated I used 13-15 yards of the stuff.

The last thing I did was cure the ends of the webbing with a blow torch. This prevents the frayed ends from loosening up and unraveling. You can't do this cotton webbing - you'd need to use fray check or sew the ends up.

Lesson learned: I can do more than I think I can, and a lot faster than I think. Maybe you can, too. Oh, and I saved a few dollars.

Now I am ready for my semi-annual canoe/camp trip with my son.

*A muppine is a dish cloth made from a flour sack, at least in my family; described by some as any rag you use in the kitchen as you cook - to wipe your hands or clean small spills.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Panorama Of Lawn

Yet another panorama.

Planting For Mother's Day

I got Jennifer a few more plants for the front yard and installed them.



Straightening Out

I know this is a shitty old house and I shouldn't wet my pants every time something isn't square or true, but the hole that goes into the attic was pissing me off enough that I decided to fix it.

You can see in this picture that it veers toward the wall near the pull. I decided to the close end away from the wall rather than moving the far end toward the wall. That means I have to cut three joists back in incremental amounts, and shift the frame of the ladder over, then shim the other side a little.

I removed the ladder so I could stand in the hole on a steady ladder.

Here one of the joists has been trimmed back already.

I got a new saw to do the work. Using a sawzall, circular saw or a regular hand saw would have been unwieldy.
 One of the joists, which runs from the hole to the outside wall with nothing else holding it except sheet rock, also has the weight of a large light fixture on it. I decided to reinforce that one for the time being by tying it to a rafter.

There's the gap now that the frame for the ladder has been moved.

I could not find my chalk line so I got a string to help me see where to cut the joists.

Now it is all done. Notice the difference? All that work just because something pissed me off. But now I won't stare at it anymore and wonder if I should have done it. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cupboard Doors

I am no finish carpenter, and I don't have a great eye for detail or "the final product." But I get by.

I made the cupboard frame, so I had to make the doors, too. I took some 1"x2"x8' pine and cut a                              groove along one egde, cut the pieces to the dimensions of the door, then mitered them. For the center of the door, we used composite board. We painted them to look like the ceiling.

I nailed the boards to the back face of the door, put corner brackets, hinges, and handles on. 

Here's the first one in place. I use clamps to hold the door in place and also to put a spacer in at the bottom to  show me where the bottom should rest.

The final look. 

Jenn's coming up with the cupboard idea did us a major favor. We have a small bedroom, if you haven't noticed. We had our "stuff" jammed all over the place and it was very cramped in here before we renovated. Now we can store extra clothes, camera stuff, whatever in the area above our heads, which otherwise would be entirely wasted.