carpentry

Surprising Source For Outstanding Tools

While working on the Maryland house I have found one tool that is now integral to my everyday activities in or out of the shop, and two tools re-purposed to even greater utiity for the execution of tasks.

The first one is this superb little Japanese-style saw from Lowes, I think was about $14.  I bought it as a semi-disposable tool for cutting cedar shingles as house siding, and before long I was keeping it in my tool belt or my ancient Skillers tool vest all the time, for every project.  I went back to Lowes and bought three more so that I have one at my daughters house, one in the cabin in the mountains, one in the studio in the barn, and one more in reserve in the Japanese toolbox.

 

Then while I was prepping to do a little spackling to touch up the wallboard from when I had to removed and reinstall the cypress trim in the living room, I simply could not find my sheetrocking tools.  Exasperated I looked around to see what I could use to “make do” on the shelves of the basement.  I grabbed a couple of tools and much to my surprise and delight they worked even better than anything else I have ever used for the task.

First I applied the joint compound with a square-end masonry trowel that I used for a small patching job at some point long ago.  It was easier for me to control than a typical taping knife.  Then to smooth out the freshly applied spackling compound I used a plastic bondo spreader.  It also worked better than anything I have ever tried before.  Brilliant!

Now all I have to do is wipe the areas with a damp sponge and they will be ready for paint.

Sometimes we just gotta be Keith Jarrett (more about that later).

Cockroach’s Cousin – Rainy Day Work

I don’t  mind working outside when it is cold, within reason, but I prefer to stay inside when it is cold and wet, as during a recent day.  Since there was work to complete on the insides of the affected windows that was not a problem.

In the living room I had a fair bit of re-installation to complete, mostly because I originally selected a convoluted trim scheme thirty plus years ago.  As a result I had to remove considerably more interior trim than would have otherwise been the case when I reconstructed the wall around the one window.  Me and my affinity to G&G detailing with select vintage woods…

But, it all went back together just fine.  A little patching and painting for the wallboard and it will be done.

The window in the piano room was more involved as that interior trim was infested and I burned all of that, so I needed to make all new trim from vintage walnut.  Which, fortunately, I have a fair bit.

Since my larger machines are 225 miles away in the mountains I had to use these two old reliable beauties from the 1950s, my Craftsman version of the Williams & Hussey planer and the little Homecraft tilt-top beauty that was the American version (precursor?) of the classic Inca 8″ table saw.  I have always really liked this little saw, and can see the time when I tart it up once it becomes my every-day workhorse in a smaller shop in the distant future.

I sawed and thicknessed the boards on the machines then finished them off with hand planes in the basement workshop.  Installed the new trim looks just like the old trim, which was the goal.

Cockroach’s Cousins, Part 4

With the south and east sides of our daughter’s living room dealt with it was time to move over to the north wall on the opposite side of the house.  I left the old cedar shingle panels underneath the front porch “as is” because even though they were 35 years old like the rest they were protected and still fine even though they had the many years of oxidizing on them.

The main issues for the north wall were that, unlike the south wall of the living room, the north wall was concrete block over which were vertical firring strips for nailing the old cedar panels (yes, we bought a pink concrete block house back in 1984).  This is an important point as I now needed horizontal firring for the new individual shingles.

Plus, the window closest to the front of the house was a goner and needed replacing en toto.  Once again sticker shock struck, as the window that was somewhere in the $200 neighborhood 35 years ago had definitely gone upscale in the years since.

Also, this is the wall that has lots of spatial disruptions including the phone service, the electrical service, the heating fuel tank, and all the plumbing and electrical for two mini-split HVAC units.   Due to these issues and the general reduced accessibility the pace of work slo-o-o-owed… dow-w-w-w-n-n-n… a… lo-o-o-ot…

Nevertheless, even though the weather is turning colder unless it is literally raining on me I am happy to keep the project moving forward.  Even when it is raining there is work I can do inside.

With the new window installed the work proceeded.  An added benefit was that this new work allows me to enclose all the plumbing for the mini-splits.  Much more betterer.

I am pleased with the results, but displeased at the slow pace of the work.

Cockroach’s Cousins, Part 3

With the repairs completed on the south side of our daughter’s house it was time to start the re-siding.  It was the beginning of a process that included singing the praises of the Hughes Flying Boat.  It was on that project where the first pneumatic nail gun was invented, which in turn was the grandfather of the shingle stapler I used for attaching several hundred cedar shingles to the house.  (A project that will continue through the winter no doubt, making it about six months’ of work intermittently.  The crazy thing is I can still work as hard and as long as I used to, but I just don’t get as much done.  Huh.)

I finished the new shingles up to the top of the first floor, dealing with the area I had excavated to repair and replace the window framing before re-inserting the window.

Compared to the stating point I was not displeased.  I will be even less displeased once the entire wall is completed.

Once that milestone was reached I wrapped around to the east side of the house, peeling off the cedar shingle panels that had served us for the past thirty-plus years, and nailing on the new shingles over new tarpaper.  NB – the shingling “mistake” on the right side of the door is simply a “cover up” for a box to the defunct lighting that will be replace.  Some day.

Another week of work done with many more to go.