Posts by The Handyman

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 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!  This is an understated part of using professionals. Even if you’re planning on performing the work yourself, they help walk you through the decision making process, Hearing what customers 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 sample boards of tile had been gathered and we were given 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 countertop and tie both surfaces together, which worked beautifully.  To add some texture,...

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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 melanoma 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.  Sinks of a certain 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 place,...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT. II – The Lighting… The next step in our fabulous kitchen makeover was to install the under cabinet lighting.  The flooring upgrade was remarkable.  The appliance swap out was exciting, and made the cabinets look much better…not to mention the energy savings!  I even tried to float the idea that we needn’t go any further in our little renovation. “Wow, these appliances actually make the cabinets look good.  Much better!” I said. “Not good enough,” Cori was quick to respond. So, in comes Jim Venuti, our trusted electrician, to install the under cabinet lights.  Originally, this was something I was planning to tackle on my own.  I know my way around the black/white/ground of your basic 12/2 or 14/2 wire.  I figured I’d pull the power from existing outlets in the kitchen for the switches, and I’d be good.  Problem was that we have three separate blocks of upper cabinets.  So that means three different switches.  Sure, you could snake the wires down the wall and into the basement (which I attempt later in the proceedings), but who wants to bother with that?  It couldn’t be that annoying to flip three switches every time you want to turn the lights on and off, could it?  Jim wouldn’t here of that. “What, you wanna buy some of those big chunky lights from Home Depot?  Maybe just get the plug-in type and call it a day?” he asked. Maybe. “You’d see them from every angle.  You’d even see them from the living room for Pete’s sake!” Jim exclaimed Then he did a very smart thing.  He had me bring Cori along when I went over to his house to re-sign him for another advertising contract on The Handyman Hotline.  One look at his under cabinet lighting on one dimmer switch was all it took.  It wasn’t a few days before he was cutting into our walls to snake the wires (which he makes look very easy).  Jim ran the wires into the basement where he connected them to a small transformer (this one looks like a race car!) so the power can be scaled back for these low level lights.  Maybe four hours to run the wiring, and a couple of hours the next day to install and bingo!  We had gorgeous and continuous lighting on a dimmer that made the cabinets look even better!  These tiny lights are about...

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THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

THE KITCHEN CHRONICLES…

PT.  I – FLOORED One of the areas most people would love to change in their home, yet may not have the money to do properly, is the kitchen.  Who wouldn’t love to gut the place and rebuild with a high end “this”, a top shelf “that”, and Viking appliances as far as the eyes can see!  There are two ways to pull off a kitchen remodel with a limited budget.  1) Scale down  the size and scope of the project…throw out the idea of that six burner Viking stove and go with appliances that are more economical and energy efficient.  Or 2) Tackle your kitchen re-do piece-meal.  No one ever said you had to do things all at once.  Sure, if you’re ripping the place apart down to the studs, things need to happen fast.  The only thing more miserable than living with a non-functional kitchen is living with a non-existent one.  However, if you’re not planning on a layout change and the cabinets are well made and in good shape, then you might be in the market for a minor face-lift (as opposed to major “A monkey just ate my face!” facial reconstruction).  Why not take on parts of the project one at a time?  That’s what the plan was at casa de Egan.  I guess you could say my wife Cori and I are in the middle of a four-year kitchen makeover.  Now don’t give me that, “Ugh, four years!” crap. Here’s how we’ve been doing it: Several years ago I ripped up the old carpeting that ran throughout the first floor and the linoleum in the kitchen.  We wanted to replace it with hardwood throughout.  Cori wanted pre-finished for the ease and cleanliness of installation.  I wanted unfinished installed, but the sanding process and accompanying mess made that idea a non-starter.  My problem is I don’t like the look of the beveled edges on pre-finished. Enter our friend Russ over at Heritage Floor Covering in Sandwich who showed us laminate flooring.  Wow!  Looks just like real wood, has a textured finish like wood and with no beveled edges.  It also stands up to abuse far better.  We’re talking Ziggy type abuse here.  Our Portuguese Water Wonder Dog can run, slide, skid, crash or generally lie about wet and not damage the floor surface.  Only sand under a table or chair leg could put a scratch...

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Some quick tips to get you started

Some quick tips to get you started

Nailing small nails is not an easy task as you may find it difficult to hold them in your hands. An easy way to hold them is to place them between the teeth of combs. If you want to sharpen razor blades you can use the striker on the matchbook. Duct tape can be used in a variety of ways. Apply to leaky air ducts to save $$$.  Or have your daughter make her prom dress out of the stuff to save even more $$$! Do you want sandpaper to last longer? Then you can wet the back of the sandpaper and wrap it around a wooden block. It will work better this way. Sometimes you may have difficulty in opening the drawers of your dressers and other tables.  Apply candle wax on the runner side of the drawers. They should open and close much easier. Have the door hinges come loose?  Remove the loose screws and fill the screw holes with little strips of shingles dipped in glue.  After they dry, trim off the excess and your screws will have fresh new wood to bite into. Is your closet damp most of the time? You can use charcoal to control the moisture in your closet. All you have to do is to put some charcoal in a can and place it in a corner. Or close the can and punch some holes in it. The charcoal will absorb the moisture.  Just don’t get any on your...

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