Drywall Repair

We’ve all had it happen, something slips or someone trips and BAM! you have a hole or large dent where you once had a nice solid wall. Maybe you have changed your mind a few times about where to hang a TV on the wall, maybe the people that lived in the house before you had a hobby of axe throwing and didn’t realize that drywall wasn’t a good landing surface.

In my work this week, a lady in Clive had some guests who decided to do all of those things and more. There were holes and shoddy repairs throughout the house. It’s one thing to try to fix and have to call in a pro but the people who attempted these repairs called them good…woof!

This is the before picture, the splotchy bit is a case of not having patience and globbing too much drywall mud up at one time. Best to cut it out and put in new drywall.

This house was an extreme example but drywall repair is an incredibly challenging thing to do to get it to look seamless and then matching the wall texture cranks that difficulty level to 11. It isn’t a bad thing to attempt yourself, rarely will you mess up so bad you cause double the work for the repairman, but being able to call in capable hands makes a big difference!

Drywall repair requires a lot of experience and even more patience, or maybe some combination of the two. In this case getting the repairs redone and smoothed required calling on my experience to be able to get the texture just right leading to an invisible repair. Which is the worst part of repairing drywall, if you do it right, no one knows you did anything at all.

Yes, this is the same section of wall, textured and repainted to match.

What is My Style

I was talking with someone recently about what I do and mentioned furniture making. This other chap, who was getting into woodworking himself, asked what style of furniture I make and then went into what he knew and the different styles. In the world of furniture making you have a variety to choose from: Craftsman, Victorian, Queen Anne, Shaker, etc.

It even still has the pencil lines from the additional work I mean to do, someday.

Furniture should have a useful purpose. It should invite the user to use it and it should be tough enough to handle that use. It shouldn’t be ugly but if it has to be, the; it should have tight joints and show care/craftsmanship in construction. Ornamentation should be meaningful and tell a story. The piece above might be ugly but it’s a simple phone stand I made out of a block of wood that sees daily use with zero fear of breaking.

Recently I made a bed for my youngest and carved a flower, butterfly, and hearts into the headboard. They were things she liked, described who the bed was for (a 4-year-old princess) and were simple. The rest of the bed carried on the simple theme but was also built to withstand WW3.

I told my friend I wasn’t sure how to label it. What does it mean to have a particular style? Usually it’s as simple as just having plans to follow or a simplification of the design process. Sometimes it’s about skill level (a beginner isn’t going to start with Queen Anne style ), or just what matches the furniture in your home.

So my style would ideally be simple, durable and meaningful. That sounds canned, like language you’d expect in marketing materials for a piece of crap from Wal-Mart. Maybe the simple portion of it, there’s just not the right weight behind the word. I’ll keep noodling it.


Locking Joints

Whenever I read a how-to article, the common refrain is “can’t ever have too many clamps”.
This, again, is where we can look to the past for a solution.

A little thought into joinery would eliminate most of these clamps

For 95% of woodworking history, metal was ridiculously expensive and clamps were wooden wedges or even specifically shaped branches used to hold work while you worked. Craftsmen had to think of other ways to lock joints together. During much of this period, glue was either non-existent or not relied on for much more than a temp solution.

With many modern techniques, the idea is to use modern glue to hold the two pieces of wood together. The woodworker of today soothes themselves on the knowledge that the glue line is stronger than the wood around it. Clearly, nothing will happen that could cause that glue line to fail.

So then they are encouraged to continually hoard clamps of ever increasing complexity and cost as if they are canteens of water in the Sahara.

In this example, I am joining the wood using mortise and tenon joints. Basically, think “Tab A into Slot B”. This is a great joint in that there are a whole lot of directions that the joint will never move in. For modern woodworkers they will use glue alone to ensure the joint doesn’t move in the one direction it can move in.

The problem is that you can’t guarantee that the joint won’t move in that direction, even just a little. With glue only, once that joint moves a little, you might as well not even have anything holding those joints together. This is where a simple pin of wood can save the day.

In order to move, this joint has to break several pieces of wood.

On these joints, the glue can fail all it wants, but the boards will stay fastened together until the wood itself rots apart. In today’s throwaway society, being able to use something for generations, just because the builder thought like an old-timer, has tremendous value.

Sometimes, you can even use these dowels to make an artistic statement. Note: this isn’t my image, I grabbed it off a Google Image Search so I can’t attest that they are functional dowels. Some folks use trickery to hide screws, but this proves the point well enough.


Shoe Bench Build

This was a tricky one for me.


It seemed that every board I used was from the weakest

Shoe bench made for a friend to replace flat pack failure.

part of the tree and split.  Or the cuts I made didn’t make sense even if I was using the wrong measurement systems or any other myriad of things that could go wrong.

But I finished it.

And it looks good.

And it’s solid.

My #1 rule of woodworking is to build something that will outlast me.  The #2 rule is that is has to look good.  This piece nails both of those rules.

A few months ago (far too many) a friend of mine asked me to take a look at a piece of flat pack furniture they bought that didn’t go together right and promptly broke.  They lived with a shoddy piece of furniture for 3 years at that point and finally called for help.

The flat pack was beyond help.  Everywhere the screws were supposed to pull joints together were broken, the laminate sheets were already failing and the drawers were a rough-housing away from disintegrating.  I had to be the doctor and declare the piece DOD…Dead on Design.

Flat pack either goes right or it doesn’t.  When it goes right, it’ll last maybe 5 years before it needs to be replaced, which is just perfect for our trendy culture.  When it goes wrong, it falls apart as you assemble it and you have to spend hours boxing it back up, returning it and re-assembling the new one and that is the biggest travesty.  The time wasted.

Instead, I spent a few hours and made Janie a replica of what she bought that will last beyond her lifetime…something that is lost on our current society.  Lifetime furniture.  I didn’t invent a new gadget, I didn’t find some killer app that will let Janie waste away her days mindlessly tapping at a screen but I hope I gave her something her kids and grand-kids will fight over.