Posts by The Handyman

This Year I’m Going To…

With the new year, come the resolutions. Those well meaning, if over reaching, goals to better oneself. The same ones that many times end up broken, shattered beyond all recognition in a pile next to your brand new Bowflex/garment hanging device that leaves you feeling worse about yourself than when you started. What about looking at it from a different angle? Instead of worrying about how to improve yourself, how about trying to improve something else, and in the process, you just might be improving you. Here’s an idea where you don’t need to look any further than the comfy confines of your own home: It is your home. Why not make a pact with yourself to improve the state of affairs around the house? When was the last time you painted? Sure, it’s a well-known fact that a fresh coat of paint is the most economical way of making over any room. It’s the renewed sense of enjoyment you get from the color makeover that will make you appreciate your home more. It’s a sure way of curing the “Ho-Hums” that eventually creep in when you’ve been staring at the same colored walls for years. If you’re not careful, the “Ho-Hums” can develop into the “Blahs”, and from the “Blahs” it’s just a short ride to “Disdain-ville”. You know you’ve reached the end of the line when someone in the house cries out, “I hate this house! I just want to sell it and move somewhere new!” If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, what do you think 256 ounces will get you? That’s the amount of ounces in two gallons of paint, and it might help keep you from having to pack up your entire life just because someone is sick of “Autumn Sunrise” on the walls of the living room. Now that you’ve chosen to better the home, you have the ability to improve yourself. There’s a workout hidden in here somewhere. Just don’t try to think of it that way. Stay laser focused on the task at hand, and the exercise is in the process. What? Do you think those brushes and rollers are going to work themselves? Those sore muscles at the end of the day are a testament to the calories burned, and they’re salved by the sense of accomplishment of a job well done. Let’s face it. Improving...

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As The Old Saying Goes…

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like most old sayings, it’s simple and true. You don’t need to know how to do everything in this world to survive. You simply need to know the right people to help you when you need it. Obviously, the more you can do for yourself, the more money you save in hiring people. I got thinking about this topic a short time ago while my car was in the shop for some brake work. I brought my truck over to Ed and Ed at Hyannis Brake & Auto. I’ve been going to them for years because: A. they’re good guys who know what they’re doing. B. they don’t sell you what you don’t need. The vibrations rippling through the cab of my truck every time I stepped on the brakes made me dread the worst. I went into this appointment being certain that I’d need new pads and would need to have the rotors machined down so they were once again smooth. Perhaps I would need all new rotors for an even bigger price tag. I was doing serious addition in my head and figured it would be in the $400-$500 range. Yikes! I even went so far as to tell them what I was thinking (certainly not something you want to do if you don’t know or trust the person with whom you’re dealing). A lesser quality business owner would seize upon that with, “Boy, you hit it right on the head! You need new everything. For a few dollars more, we’ll wash it, wax it, rotate the tires and install this genuine imitation pine tree shaped air freshener!” I knew I wasn’t dealing with that kind of company. I knew these guys have been around for a long time for a reason. I knew they could be trusted. Sure enough, my trust was rewarded. Turned out that I didn’t need new brakes at all. The rotors did need to be machined, but that was it for a grand total of $172 dollars. It’s not very often that I’m moved enough emotionally (or financially) to where I want to reach out and hug another man (for which my wife Cori is thankful), but I struggled with the urge that day. It all goes back to trust. There is a warm sense of comfort in trusting someone…knowing that you’re being...

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KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. V – Well Now, That’s a Cabinet of a Different Color! The final step of our kitchen project is to complete the one step that started it all. Paint the cabinets. Oh sure, changing the floor and replacing appliances were technically steps one and two, but the first real step of the kitchen face lift was the subtle hint Cori dropped, “I want these cabinets painted.” Can’t accuse her of beating around the bush! Before Sheldon and Stewart Painting could come in and brush on his particular brand of magic, there was work to be done to the canvas (read: cabinets). First off, the oak cabinets needed to be fixed up. The styles (vertical members) and rails (cross members) of several of the raised panel doors had been cracking and separating for quite a while. After some quality time in a clamp with some well-placed glue, they were back in shape. The Gorilla glue would expand out of the crack, but that’s fine since we were painting the doors – I didn’t need to worry about glue stains as I would if we were to keep a stained wood appearance. Sand it down smooth, and we’re in business. I did have to take care not to glue the panel in place – that needs to float freely within its frame to allow for expansion and contraction with changes in humidity. Even with the utmost preparations, the doors will still eventually swell and shrink, cracking the paint at some seams. While the doors were in the clamps, I filled the bolt holes where the handles were attached. We were changing the hardware on all the doors and drawer fronts. It’s a great way to upgrade the look of your cabinets. It’s surprising how different the kitchen will look by making this one, seemingly small change. The one other important change to the doors was the hinges. Original to the house, the surface-mounted hinges were attached to the face frame of the cabinets, and they were looking pretty old and tired. I replaced those with European concealed cup hinges that are hidden from view when the doors are in the closed position. I had the Forstner bit to drill out the doors where the hinges would be placed. I just needed to make sure I was perfectly perpendicular to the work surface. I didn’t want to wobble off course and,...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. IV – Making A Splash I can see it.  Out there on the horizon.  Like a tiny speck of daylight, it’s the finish line of our (not so) little kitchen project.  Just a couple of big steps to take and we’ll be there!  Before Sheldon Stewart of Stewart Painting can bring his guys in to paint the cabinets, I need to tackle the backsplash.  You have so many choices for covering that space…paint, tile, faux brick, tin, copper.  I could go on and on.  That 18 inches of wall between the counter and upper cabinets is a blank canvas awaiting its artist, and here comes that “Monet of the Mills” to cover it…me.  We knew we wanted to tile the backsplash, so that helped whittle down our choices to the mere 27,859 tile options from which to choose.  With a sample of the countertop under my arm, Cori and I went to Heritage Floor Covering to talk to Cheryl about finding the perfect tile for our kitchen.  We spent the better part of an hour looking at different tiles.  Different colors, different shapes, different textures, ugh, here comes that analysis paralysis again!  Cheryl had us leave the piece of countertop with her for a few days so she could put together a few different options for us.  Cheryl, like Stacy at Coastal-N-Counters, does a tremendous job of working with clients.  Hearing what they like and don’t like, and narrowing the ocean of options down to a manageable pond of picks.  In our discussion, we learned that we (read: I) didn’t like the long, thin “subway tile” look.  That we wanted some color since the cabinets would be painted some shade of off-white.  That we agreed on 4”x4” tile, and that a small accent tile running through it would make a nice detail. We returned a few days later, and Cheryl had pulled sample boards of tile and gave us our instructions:  Take the boards home and prop them up against the wall where they’d be going. ***N.O.C. (Note of Caution): It’s good to get input from friends and family about making a decision like this.  Just be careful how many viewpoints you get.  It could lead to confusing the easily confused (me). After the deliberations, we chose a tile that had various shades of red through it.  The idea was to pull out the rust color of the...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. III – Say Goodbye To Formica!!! Cori and I are, by no means, professional chefs.  However, we do very much appreciate a good meal.  After years of mastering meat and potatoes, I’m actually becoming quite proficient around the kitchen.  Of course, the area in which you operate can either allow the seedlings of culinary creativity to blossom, or snuff out any hope of germination resulting in yet another frozen burger on the grill.  One key ingredient is the right work surface.  The countertop and sink are every bit as vital as the appliances when preparing a meal.  How much room do you have to work?  Can the sink hold enough dirty dishes so you don’t have to stop halfway through prepping the meal to do them?  And when you do get to the dishes, do you have enough room to actually wash them? There are some gorgeous options out there when it comes to countertops.  The natural beauty of stone.  The maintenance-free enjoyment of solid surface.  There are even some nice colors and styles to choose from in the world of formica.  Then there was our countertop.  The cream color is actually a blend of several different colors.  There are swirls of antique white, ocher, and parchment with whisps of bile yellow and the subtle undertones of a very light mole brown.  Over the years, the countertop sagged with age.  Thankfully, it sagged in the middle.   So when things (eggs, etc.) rolled away from you, at least it rolled to the middle and not off the edge and onto the floor or our feet.  With the countertop, came a porcelain overlay double sink.  Double the bowls, half the usefulness, as I would say.  A couple of plates and a pot, and the sink is stuffed.  I guess it did force us to stay on top of the dishes.  Like just about everything in this house, the sink and countertop were original.  24 years old.  Sinks that age have their own version of osteoporosis.  The edges become chipped and flakey and can become quite dangerous.  For the life of me, I can’t understand how no one sliced off a finger on those little piranha-like shards when wiping down the counter and sink.  No question that this tired old pair had to go the way of Bevis & Butthead.  Not really sure why anyone liked them in the first...

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