Friday, March 14, 2014

"Handy chart of common fasteners"

I have wanted to share this cool 1959 Craftsman "Handy chart of common fasteners" for some time because of its fantastic design, typography and yes, it's about fasteners. It was a great birthday gift from a friend and now hangs in the garage.

Here are a couple of stores with fasteners aisles worth checking out, in no particular order.
Gilbert's Pro Hardware
Northside Hardware
Deronne Hardware

For more on this subject, check out Witold Rybczynsky's book
'One Good Turn, A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw.'
It's an interesting look at the evolution of hand tools,
fasteners the lathe and more.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Subway tile and a tub that's like new!

For this project we found some middle ground. It went like this... me "I can do a complete tare out and get it done the way we really want it." Wife, "in three weeks?"
So we put in subway tile, had the tub refinished and painted the walls and ceiling. Here's what we learned.

1. Pick the tile/materials you want. It's great to use leftover material and save money but not if that tile is something your going to regret later. We loved the old tile about twelve years ago and ended up using the leftovers to save money when we moved into our current home. Not too excited about it now though. So we decided on subway tile.

2. Consider how much time and money you want to spend. For us it was not worth a full demo and renovation at this time. Yes I want to tile the entire bath area but we have plaster and dealing with the ceiling would have added time and money that we didn't want to spend.

3. Check out all the options for your subway tile. Some are individual with tabs on the sides for spacing and they come in different sizes as well. We used the tiles that are glued together on the back and come in 1 square ft. sections, making installation faster.

4. For the subway tile with its smooth surface a hand tile cutter is great. You score it and then snap it. The cutter I bought was $30 bucks and works great.

5. If you have an old beat up tub like our was, consider tub re glazing as it's durable and looks great. They completely remove all the old paint and coat with several layers of new paint. It smells for about two days but is well worth it. We used Chip 'N Nick Porcelain Re finishers, 27301 Little MacK Ave St. Clair Shores, MI 48081, (586) 775-5600. They were great, and professional.

In the end this type of middle ground deal was great because it's not overwhelming, it's done in a few weeks with work primarily done on the weekends and it give us (my wife) something to look forward to doing in the future (20 years from now/dream bathroom) when the kids are older and we have more time on our hands.

New floor tile to come...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting that snow thrower to start

OK, so the biggest storm of the year just happened, but you never know when the next one will hit. You might have given up on your snow thrower that will not start. I would have, but it’s only a few years old and I was determined to get it fixed before the big storm. Here’s a couple things that seemed to work.

1. Remember to always run the gas out of the machine at the end of each year. I didn’t do this, and I believe it led my problems getting it started this year. Over time the old gas turns to a varnish, gums up and attracts water in the carburetor.

2. Change the spark plug and check the oil.
3. Drain the old gas by removing the screw at the bottom of the carburetor.
4. Spray some starting fluid into the empty gas tank and into the hole where the spark plug goes. Read the directions for proper use of the starter fluid.
5. Put fresh gas into the engine along with some fuel stabilizer.
6. Start with the choke on and with the run lever on slow. This might take a good 20 pulls, so keep trying. If that doesn’t work you can always take it to the shop.

Always work in a ventilated area and when draining oil and gas, make sure to dispose or store in the proper manner. Good luck.

Goodbye, Ugly Popcorn Ceiling!

There were two things that almost prevented us from buying our house – the kitchen stair area, which is a bit awkward, and the popcorn ceiling in the family room.

Our house was built in the 1930s, but there’s an 1980s addition on the back. And they did the popcorn ceiling effect. It was hideous, as most popcorn ceilings are.

 But it’s also forgiving. Our plan originally was to scrape away the popcorn, but we soon realized that wouldn’t work (there were countless layers of paint over it). So instead we created a beadboard ceiling.

A few things we learned – the cheap, pliable, paperboard “beadboard” they sell in the stores and say you can use on the ceiling doesn’t work. Or at least it doesn’t work on ceilings that aren’t perfectly level and flat. The popcorn, and the age of our house, prevented us from using it. (Frankly, it also looked very fake. I suppose it would be OK on a very high, two-story-ceiling because it wouldn’t be so obvious.)

So I went back to the store and purchased real pine boards. It was much more pricey, but the end result was worth it. I think you’ll agree.

The finished ceiling

Furring strips attached to the joists hold the planks.