Posts by The Handyman

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 friends Russ & Cheryl 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...

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COOKED…

COOKED…

What started out as a well-intentioned, good-natured gesture for some of my show sponsors, turned into a long strange trip to get there that makes this a cautionary tale that’s best filed under, “don’t do as I say, and certainly don’t do as I do.” It began simply enough.  It was the holidays of 2006, and I wanted to say thank you to the sponsors of my radio show, “The Handyman Hotline.”  But how?  I’m not a man of wealth and means. I can’t just order up a crystal “this”, a silver “that”, or anything monogrammed for that matter (mainly because, as usual, I’ve waited too long to address this situation).  So, if I can’t buy them something of value, where does that leave me?  I could re-gift them something I already have.  After the chronically out of tune guitar and the set of golf clubs with a design flaw in them, there’s really nothing I want to part with.  All that’s left is to make them something.  Aha! We’re getting warmer.  Two ways to go in this direction:  bake them some sweet little something or break out the construction paper and paste.  After enjoying a trip down memory lane with me and a tasty little bottle of paste, it was time to figure out what to bake.  Brownies!…no…Fudge!  Fudge in the shape of tools!  Oh joy, the great ideas were flying now. A stop at a cooking supply store in Hyannis, and I found an endless array of cookie cutters to choose from.  There they were all in a row.  The hammer, screwdriver, pliers, wrench, and saw all lined up waiting for me.  This was getting too easy.  In fact, why not make it even easier.  After all, how much could fudge be?  I’ll just order a bunch of the stuff, cut up the shapes and be done with it.  Ever try buying fudge in bulk?  After some rudimentary math factoring in the number of clients times the five tools each would get in a lovely little gift box, I figured I’d need close to fifty pounds of fudge!  I’d be in the several hundred dollar neighborhood, or as I like to call it, Hyannisport.  Back to the kitchen.  I’ll just go online to get a nice, simple fudge recipe from epicurious.com.  An hour of, what I found to be, mind-numbing searches that seemed to all come up...

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A NEW HOUSE!

A NEW HOUSE!

I can almost hear Rod Roddy, the late great announcer for “The Price Is Right,” calling out what we just won.  Hmmmm….first off, TPIR doesn’t give away new houses and second, he’s dead.  So that new house we ended up with?  A lot like our old one…it just looks brand new. There are some professions in the world that must be so rewarding.  Jobs which result in such joy, such happiness that people practically (and in some cases, actually) hug you in glee after you’ve performed your craft.  The surgeon who saves a loved one’s life.  The lawyer who defends little David against the big bad corporate Goliath. The firefighter who rescues the family dog from a burning home. As a general rule of thumb, construction trades don’t fall into the “I thanked God the day you were born!” status.  Oh sure…you do your job well and people are thrilled at what you did for them, but genuflecting?  That’s reserved for the likes of Steve Jobs, Ron Popeil and Oprah (come on, you know we’re all blessed to live in her lifetime) – all people who change our lives in ways we may not even realize.  You have a contractor do a major renovation, and you’re almost as happy to see the crew of workers finally pack up for good as you are with the job they did. Stewart Housewashing, a division of Stewart Painting, is one of those companies spreading good cheer throughout the greater Cape Cod area.  Their house-washing truck is the ice cream truck for adults, minus the bells.  OK, maybe we grown-ups don’t go running out into the streets when we hear the house-washing truck coming like we do for the ice cream truck.  What, you don’t anymore?  Honestly, I can’t let that musical tin can of tastiness go by without dropping off a few chip-wiches. Anyway, when the house-washing truck leaves,  it leaves to grateful smiles as big as the smiles that are loaded with chocolate chips.  It really should have bells on it. House-washing is one of those things that has been on the “should-do” list for a while at the Egan house.  The house is 24 years old, so there’s 24 years of dirt and mold accumulated on the shingles.  So I asked Sheldon Stewart to send the truck over and give our house a wash. A couple of weeks ago Byron...

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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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