Handyman BlogLine

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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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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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 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 taken care of, and...

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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 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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