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 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.
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.
This is a question I get asked on a fairly regular basis. When I told my Dad I had sold off my power tools (extensive collection of a radial arm saw and a table saw), he asked how’d I’d ever get any work done and how I’d make anything square or decent.
Yet for a vast majority of recorded and all of unrecorded history, woodworking was done with hand tools. First stones then varying metals throughout the ages. Many tools were made of wood themselves (wedges, planes, mallets) and all of them were powered using muscle and expertise.
That connection to the past, when furniture was utilitarian and often served more than one purpose. A dining table might have had storage underneath for cutlery and plates. A chair would have had slots on the back to hold candles. Barring furniture meant for the upper classes, it was simple and to the point.
And each maker had their own style that came through. Now, you go to furniture stores and the only difference you see between brands is the name on the price tag. There is no difference between those items and the ones you find in Target or Wal-Mart. Many are even made in the same factory by underpaid workers in China and with modern plastics, it is offen impossible to tell the difference between wood and plastic at first glance.
With every cut I make, I reach back hundreds of years and pull knowledge back into the present. I don’t try to replicate woodworking from then, modern lumber, tools and customers are different, but I do learn from them.
Ultimately, working with hand tools gives me an incredible satisfaction. Using my muscles to push steel through wood allows me to learn about each board, where it was in the tree, how wet it still in, how fast it grew. With hand tools you have to closely work with the wood; with machines you force the wood into shapes.
The reason I started doing handyman work and woodworking in Waukee was because I hate sitting behind a computer. The reason I’m slow to update my blog is because I hate sitting behind a computer. Notice a trend? The bathroom has been complete for almost a month and I still haven’t gotten around to Part 2. Check out Part 1, where I impulsively dove into this remodel.
For the remodel once I started getting, the Lady Friend came home and we picked out (read she picked out) the new fixtures. The only thing not getting replaced was the toilet. (seriously though, unless it’s a gaudy style, those things should last a century or more)
Once we got back from the store, it was decided some relaxation was in order after patching nail holes and starting the texture on the walls.
For those of you who don’t know what texture is, it’s the bumps or random patterns on your walls. If you have scratches on the wall, poor painting or drywall work but the purpose of the texture is to provide some depth and hide defects in the walls. Even the best done walls will have waves or bits were the installers weren’t perfect so the texture gracefully hides those imperfections. Maybe I’ll do some more research into it and do an article on it. Also, I’ll have more on texturing when I get around to writing up my recent painting. Here is an example of a wall without and a wall with texture:
Wall without texture
Closeup of texture
After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, demolition continued with the sink, vanity top and cabinet removal. That left me with nothing but the toilet and lineolium floor. I left them both because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mess with them or not. I’d later rue my hesitency.
Painting of this beautiful light blue began. We chose Dutch Boy semi-gloss mostly because it was on sale and I love their twist off lids and easy pour can.
After paint I moved onto flooring. For that, we chose laminate because of price and ease of installation. I’ve done tile before and without an actual tile saw, it becomes a bigger hassle than it is worth (and I don’t feel like spending a few hundred bucks for a nice wet saw). Oftentimes, when going over linoleum floor, it is easier and just as durable to go directly over the floor rather than removing the linoleum since often linoleum is glued down to the substrate everywhere.
The builders left a cutout where the old vanity was and upon inspection, there was some extra plywood the linoleum was glued to so off it all went which meant the toilet had to go as well. This is the moment where I figured out, I should have just done it to begin with. Would have made painting and texturing and working in a small space a hundred times easier. Well, something to be learned on each job.
Under the toilet was gross as hell. The wax ring had hardened slightly and years of kids missing the toilet left it smelling of piss. But I went to Menards over in Clive and got a new ring (this one made of foam, we’ll see how it holds up (but it is far cleaner to install)) for the toilet.
Called it a night at that point. It was 10:00 at night and I was tuckered but only the vanity, mirror and lights were left to install. Sunday’s installs will be in another post.