Monday, April 30, 2012

Things Are Not As They Seem

Ain’t that the truth? Talk about flip-flopping, I should just keep my mouth shut until all is said and done. I was cleaning the chainsaw when I decided to check the air filter, which the manual says to do regularly and I had never done in the three years since I first got it. I know, my bad, but it begs the question, how many of us regularly check the air filter in our cars? I thought so.

Either way, that’s the not the point. I checked the air filter and it looked completely caked with dust. They say to clean it by tapping the dust off or using an air compressor and blowing it off. I tried tapping, and it seemed like it was glued on, so I went to Joe’s and got a new one, and believe me, they are not cheap. When the woman handed me the filter, I was surprised that it didn’t look that different than the one in the chainsaw. It’s covered with the film that looks like sawdust to prevent fine particles from getting through. My first thought was that the old air filter was fine, and I didn’t need a new one, especially since they’re not cheap. Then I figured I’d need to replace it at some point, because we use the chainsaw a lot. So I got it.

When I got home, I took another look, and wouldn’t you know it? The filter was actually a mess. Even though there is a film on it, it was caked with dust that I couldn’t get off. The problem you run into is that if you are especially rough in trying to clean the thing, you’ll end up ruining it.

In the end, it needed replacing, and after all that ruminating, I realized it was good that I got the new one. I lucked out on that one.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Finally Some Rain

Boy, when you live in Vermont, you realize the weather doesn’t hit you half way, it’s all or none, and then some. We had a serious dry spell in the beginning of spring, we were even approaching drought conditions, and even I, who doesn’t like rain and much prefers the snow, was pining for some precipitation. Sure enough, the storm clouds rolled in then we got about a week straight of it. For the record, I did not complain, but it’s striking when you don’t see the sun for several days.

To make the situation all the more fun, it’s been windy for about a month straight, and now that the rain is taking a break, it’s windy as heck. Not sure what to make of it, but at least it’s cool and dry. A good time to start cutting some firewood, so I’ll have to get on that.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Velachery Balu for the pic.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Real Man Injury

Last week I was trying to build a hockey net out of extra rough cut wood, and I hurt myself pretty badly. Not bad enough to elicit sympathy from the real men I know, because I didn’t lose any digits or limbs, but bad enough to where I was whining and hungering for sympathy. The problem was I got sloppy, and paid the price. The net is about 4 feet high, which isn’t that high, but required using a drill at an awkward angle. I also had to press down to drive in the screw, and they were long screws, about 4 inches.

Anyway, at some point, when I was trying to push the screw down, the drill slipped and drove right into my thumb. In a way, I was lucky it was as screw driver bit and not a drill bit, because that would have been nasty. The injury was nonetheless painful, if not a bit gruesome.

Nothing was broken, but I couldn’t use my thumb for a bit, and I could very well lose the nail. It’s not pretty, but it gives me an excuse not to spar in karate, and it might even get a sympathetic nod of approval from my real-man friends, for whom I can’t be a sissy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to thenakedsnail for the pic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fun With Routers

I finally broke out my router and made some shelves, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. N has some cubicle-like shelves that he keeps his clothes in, and it actually works out nicely, except that their are like Ikea specials, and eventually all that stuff starts to fall apart. R asked me to make something more sturdy, and I figured it was a good time to break out the router. I’d never used until now.

I learned a thing or two about using it, and for that matter, making the shelves. In the past, making shelves was pretty easy. You just line of the boards perpendicular to one another and screw fasten them with screws. It doesn’t look perfect, but it definitely looks good enough, and the screws hold the unit together nicely.

Now when you really get into making shelves, you use a router and fit the boards together into the groove. In an ideal world, you don’t even need to screw the boards in, eliminating unsightly screw holes in the side of the unit, or the need to fill them in with filler or plugs. Just some wood glue and maybe some finishing nails and you’re in business. The other problem you run into is when two shelves meet at the same point, whereby you can’t drive two screws in both directions. This may be hard to envision, but suffice it to say that without that groove to hold the shelf in, you can’t put dividers between the two outer shelves unless you stagger the pieces, allowing for attachment with screws or nails.
My plan was as follows: attach the shelves to the outer boards with screws, counter-sink the holes (listen to me) and fill them in with plugs, and then glue the shelves to the middle divider. Of course, I ran into problems at every step of the way, but man was it a learning experience. First off, counter sinking the holes has never worked out for me. I realize I’m a novice here, but the holes always get shredded and it makes more of a mess than it’s worth. Plus, the plugs never fit in properly, and it looks bad. I found it much better to just drive the screws in deep, and fill with filler.

The second thing I found was that I could actually screw in one side of the middle divider, and then glue in the other side. This would make it much more sturdy, not to mention easier to make. I also realized that to glue the shelves in properly, you need something to bind the pieces of wood together tightly, and even draw them together. That’s the funny thing about wood, the lines usually don’t perfectly match, but it’s somewhat malleable, so you can force things into place. I found the shelves didn’t always fit in perfectly into the groove, and I wasn’t able to force it in with my hands. However, with the use of a clamp that I could tighten, I could force the pieces in place and it would look great.

Anyway, it was a bit of a fiasco, but I came out of it in one piece, and now all I need to do is sand the thing and paint it. I’m rather proud of it, actually, and now feel much more comfortable using the router. I admit I had reservations using a new tool, especially one that has a high speed bit that’s sharp. I had heard that you run into problems with shredding the wood, but nothing a little sand paper can’t fix.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Axe to Grind

In the content quest to heat our home, there are countless jobs that need to be done, and one of them is having enough kindling. Not an easy job considering that we go through so much of it. Plus, I tend to be frugal with kindling, because you don’t need that much to get the wood started, while other people in this house like to pile the stuff on. It’s easy when you’re not the one making the stuff, but I’m not complaining, because I’m grateful that other people take the initiative to get the fire going.

Plus, I’m not the only one who makes kindling. The kids love to help, especially N, who is embracing real man duties at an early age. I tell the kids to always hold the hatchet with both hands. Speaking of hatchets, ours is starting to fall apart, a common occurrence with wood handles. This is the third one we’ve had. At some point, the head starts to fall off the handle, and it’s a little precarious swinging an axe with a loose handle. At some point I decided to get a hatchet that was a solid piece of metal, and I finally accomplished said goal.

I got a nifty new Estwing axe, and the thing is too cool. It’s a heck of lot sharper than the old one, and since it’s a solid piece of metal, there’s no worry about the head flying off. My Mentor and PR would be proud that I went with quality over dirt cheap. Now I’m even excited about making kindling, sort of.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Being Environmental

I’m never really clear on the proper protocol for disposal, and it really depends on who you talk to. Even then, it changes from day to day. My big dilemma is how to get rid of plywood. With regular pine scraps, you just burn the stuff, but plywood is partly synthetic, and though it’s mostly wood, there is glue holding it all together. Not the best stuff to burn.
I’ve spoken to people whom I consider to be very environmentally friendly, and they’ve said, with trepidation, that you’re not really supposed to, but just burn it. Others have said on certain occasions that it’s not good for the environment, and then on other occasions to just burn it (wink-wink). Then there are those who say, “Just burn it you tree-hugging sissy.” What to do? It’s complicated by the fact that some of the pieces are big.

I finally decided to bite the bullet, cut the pieces into manageable sizes, and dispose of it properly, at the dump. Sure, it costs me money, and the guy at the dump is grouchy, crotchety old man, but I can sleep better at night knowing I didn’t take the easy way out. Besides, these neurotic adventures give me plenty to write about in this blog.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Bree Prince for the pic.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring is in full swing over here, and if anything, it’s warmer than usual, which does not bode well for summer, but real men don’t whine, right? Either way, it’s been strangely warm for April, not to mention bone dry, so much so that as strange as it may seem coming from my lips, I really think we could use some rain. There is even some rain in the forecast, so it’s a good time to spread some seeds.

A couple of years back I had this brilliant plan to salvage our front yard, and I think it’s working. The problem was that I didn’t do much in the way of lawn care when we first moved into this house. Truth be told, I had no clue what to do, so the weeds really took over. The kids had fun with the big plants, but at some point they destroy any semblance of a lawn, as my Mentor so astutely pointed out. The usual response to these sort of events is to spread weed killer and turf builder. We even have an unopened bag of it in the barn, but I don’t want to use toxic chemicals just to get a suburban lawn. As I’ve been told, if it’s green and can be mowed, live with it.

That doesn’t mean I can’t try. My plan was to try to encourage the grass to overtake the weeds, naturally. I got grass seeds, which for the record are not cheap, spread them over the lawn in spring and fall, and just waited. Sure enough, the grass is looking better. This translates into more maintenance, but nothing a real man in training can’t handle.

With that in mind, it’s time to tune up the lawnmower and chainsaw. I changed the blade in the mower late last year, so it’s fine, at least for now. I got a new blade that I can install later in the season after I’ve mowed a few rocks and branches. I put in fresh oil, changed the filter, and I’m good to go. Now all I need is gas.

On the chainsaw front, I got a new air filter and I realized that the old filter isn’t irreparably caked with dust, it actually looks that way, brand new. Silly me. I think it’s good to have a replacement/backup filter, so all is not lost, but ignorance can really come back and bite you in the you know what.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to promanex for the pic.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Real Man’s Work (pending)

I have a series of projects that I want to get done before the summer is over, and preferrably within the next month. How’s that for being ambitious? First off, R mentioned that N needs new shelves to put his clothes on. Say no more, I like making shelves, except this time around, I’m getting ambitious and am going to use my router. If you build a simple shelf, all you have to do is screw the lateral pieces onto the vertical pieces and you’re good to go. However, when you want to put a vertical divider in the middle, you run into the problem of fastening the shelves to the middle piece. You can’t screw them in unless you stagger the shelves, which is an option, but not as cool. Plus, routed shelves look nice. So I’m going to give a try, which at the very least should be interesting, if not amusing.

The second project is painting the interior trim white. This is mainly in the living room and study of our house. This sounds simple enough, but the wood is stained with an oil stain, which will require a special primer to cover it. After exhaustive research, I found one that is low VOX, it’s just a question of waiting for a warmer day so I can keep the windows open.

Finally, the last big project is finishing the front entry way. One of the big issues was the damage we did to the frame when we moved it. The door won’t close without a monumental amount of effort, rendering it unusable. My first thought was to replace that section of wood, then cut a hole for the door to grab. However, when we replaced the door knob, the new hardware seemed to grab much better, and the door works fine... for now. The things that need finishing are the floor and walls, both of which I think I can tackle, but we’ll see. It would be nice to get it done because it doesn’t look so great.

All this on top of my already busy life, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, now would we? Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chainsaw (Almost) Ready

With the warmer weather that is not yet too warm, it’s time to start thinking about cutting up that wood pile in our front yard. I broke out my chainsaw and did some tune-up maintenance, which was more involved than I thought it would be. First off, I was sharpening the chain with my Dremel tool (thanks to my Mentor) and I realized that the sharpening stone looked a little worn. Funny how that works. Not only that, but it looked like it shrank.

I set out to get a new one, but wasn’t sure where to go. I had a sense that Home Depot carried them, but that was a bit of a trek, and we were in Norwich, so I asked around. The True Value in Hanover didn’t have it, neither did Dan and Witts, though they said they could order it if I knew what size I needed. This, of course, required that I know the size of my chain, and as you can guess, I did not. Sort of embarrassing for a real-man in training, but in all fairness, when I actually looked at the chain package, it wasn’t really clear. They indicate the size of the chain, but not the actual diameter of the file that I needed. They would have known this in a second at Joe’s, but I wasn’t at Joe’s.

Either way, they didn’t have it, so it didn’t matter. I finally went to Foggs, and they had an amazing assortment of Dremel accessories. They even had the variety pack of chainsaw sharpeners, and from that, I could figure out what I needed, because they color code the sharpening stones, and I could recognize what I needed. It turns out I needed a 3/16th stone, which I got. Whew! It also became clear to me that the old sharpening stone was worn down and narrow, so it was good I replaced it.

After sharpening the blade, I decided to inspect the air filter, something I’d never done before, and saw that it was caked with dust. The manual says to tap it clean, but that stuff is glued on. I need to get a new one, which is a bummer because I was just at Joe’s. Now I may need to go to Charlie Brown’s, which is much closer, but that store smells like an ashtray. Not a pleasant environment.

At least I’m close to being ready, and I think within the next week or so I should be all set to tackle that wood pile. Nothing like using a chainsaw to make a city boy feel like a real man.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I tried to impress GD with my Sawzall prowess, and screwed up in the process. The guy knows what he’s doing and probably just chuckles when I try to do real man’s work, but you have to start somewhere, right? He is in the process of installing light boxes in the ceiling, and he asked me where we wanted them. Like I know the answer to that? I told him some locations, but after putting one in the dining area, I thought it was a little off, so I took the initiative and cut it out and moved it over. Little did I realize that the strapping that flanked the box was purely for reference so that he would know how low to put the box relative to the sheet rock that would eventually be there. I thought it was structural, and almost nailed them in. That would have been really embarrassing.

As it is, I placed the box too low, and will again have to cut it out and move it up. Good thing I have my reciprocating saw, it sure comes in handy. Another thing I screwed up was using the excess 2in rough cut, or what I thought was excess. I had all these boards that I ripped left over, so I figured I’d build a hockey net. What else is there in life?

Well, GD told me that I’d need to do more extending along the walls, so I’ll need more 2in blocking. I have two 8 ft pieces left, which might be enough, at least to do the windows. Otherwise, I have some smaller pieces that I can nail in end-to-end, and I also have another rough cut 2X4 that I can rip, but let’s wait and see, shall we?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Barn Update

The barn is moving along nicely, though we hit a bit of a stall with KB on vacation, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t still in motion. Besides, it allowed me to finish the jobs on my to-do list. The electrician has been coming regularly and has installed boxes and wires all over the place. He’s also a contractor and has been giving me advice on the small projects that I am doing, and it’s much appreciated. GD is a real down to earth and cool guy, I appreciate his input.

The next big project will be to run the power line from our house to the barn, and that’s going
involve several people. First off, we need to dig a trench, or by KB’s estimations, I need to dig a trench. The plan is to rent a “Ditch Witch” that can do the job in about an hour. Then, we’ll lay a pipe down that will house the wire, and the electrician will install a breaker or box or whatever they call it. We had to make some decisions as to where ceiling lights will go, but I really relied on the opinion and advice of the pros, i.e., KB and GD. The bathroom fan lights that I ordered (re: HD fiasco) arrived, and I left them with GD to do what he needs to do.

We need to finalize the insulation decision, but after consulting with my Mentor and speaking with others in the know, I’m pretty convinced that we’ll use fiberglass. I’m sick of fielding opinions, especially from hardcore energy folks who promote the gospel of uber-efficiency. At some point you have to ask yourself how sealed up and air tight you want your house to be, and how much is enough, or more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate their zeal for reducing energy consumption, but it’s easy to be enthusiastic about it when it’s not on your dime.

Once the insulation is in, and who knows when that will be, we’ll put up the drywall, and then I’m guessing either the floor or the trim. Then we’ll have to think about siding and all that good stuff. How crazy is that?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mama Kindling

The other day I started working on the kindling pile, and managed to split up all of it, or at least what was on the floor. This is sure to be appreciated by R. Since we are working on the barn, there is a fair amount of scrap wood that gets left behind, which is fine by me, because we go through a fair amount of kindling. I cut the longer boards up and I had a fairly substantial pile of dried pine, which I transferred to the basement. Unfortunately, this left a huge pile of wood on the floor, which sat there for weeks. R never complained because she knows what it’s for, but I know it didn’t make her happy.

I finally went down and dealt with it, and as big as the pile was, it only made about 1/3 of the wood that we’ll need over winter. Bummer. At least the mess is cleaned up, sort of. Another problem is that my hatchet is falling apart. I tend to get the cheaper ones with wood handles and then replace them as they go, but this can be a pain. Also, at some point, you’re swinging an axe with a loose head, which is never a fun thing. Somehow those shims never seem to work perfectly.

Also, I’m going to need to make kindling from scratch, which means splitting it from logs. This can be sort of fun if I had all the time in the world, but I don’t, so it becomes sort of stressful because it’s one more thing that needs attending to. Oh well, nobody said being a real man was easy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Chipping Away and Hitting a Wall

Not to be such a whiner, but I still have to finish working on that leaf pile, and I’m not very excited about it. The pile is huge, and every time I move a few wheelbarrow loads, it doesn’t seem to even make a dent. If anything, the pile seems to grow. I’d say I got about 1/3 of it done, and then other obligations took me away, and now it’s once again just sitting there. I’ve definitely hit a wall. My goal for the next week is to move that darn pile and get it out of the way so I can get on with my life, whatever that means.

On a bright note, the grass is starting to grow nice and green. All that seeding may be paying off.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Chiot's Run for the pic.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home Depot After Hours

The customer service at Home Depot has drastically improved, no question about it, but I learned that going after hours is not the best time when you have questions. They used to have a slogan, “You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers,” but they should have prefaced that with “Before the hour of 6:00PM.” I’m not knocking HD, they are helpful and the people are usually really friendly.
The problem I ran into was when I needed to pick up some light fixtures for the bathroom. I needed two fan lights, the kind that kick in when you use your bathroom and make it more tolerable. I was told LaValley’s or HD. We had hockey games to attend, so I wasn’t able to do it during normal hours. I was going to have to go after hockey and supper at Boloco, which meant after hours. N said he’d accompany me, so we headed over and looked around. It was nice because the store was empty, but that can work against you when you need help, and I always need help.

First off, I need a 250ft. roll of wire, it’s called 12/2, heavy gage yellow stuff. I asked the girl at the counter and she was completely clueless. She called some guy to help, and he took me over to the wire area and showed me some 12/2, but it was twice the price I was told it would be. I told him so, and it was clear that he didn’t completely know what he was doing because furiously reading tags and labels. Typical HD syndrome. I sort of knew what I was looking for, so after a few minutes of searching, I spotted what I wanted. The difference was the stuff he gave me was outdoor wire. It’s gray and twice the price. I realized I needed indoor wire, which is yellow. I can’t completely fault the guy because he was dealing with insufficient information from me, but it just goes to show you if you’re clueless going into the place, you can come away with the wrong stuff. It ends up being a waste of time and money.

Our adventures didn’t end there. I still needed the fan light. I went to the light section and they had a few, but only a few. Their display shows probaly two dozen choices, but they only had about a half dozen in stock. N helped choose a style, which they didn’t have. I had to go back to the customer service woman and ask if they could order one, and you could see the disappointment on her face when she saw me coming. She basically told me I was better off just ordering it online. Thanks a lot.

In the end, I just ordered it on Amazon, because you can’t beat them for online ordering. That is, of course, as long as you get the free shipping.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to BernardBoyGenius for the pic.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Insulation and Heating Decisions

The time that R and I dread is upon us, which means we need to make a decision. Never an easy thing for the likes of us, though we have an idea of what we want. What makes it complicated is when the experts don’t agree with our decision.
Our initial idea was to put in fiberglass insulation and then get forced-air propane heaters, or Rennai heaters. We had them in Quechee, and they worked great, though for full disclosure, we lived on the second floor of a condo complex, and we had other dwellings below us and next to us, so we benefited from their heat. Even still, the air heaters worked fine, and they are much simpler to install.

Now for whatever reason, most contractors I meet are not so into this arrangement. They tend to opt for the more high-tech and drastically more expensive options. Granted, they are usually more efficient, but in my opinion, are often seem more than what is necessary. I remember the previous contractor wanted to put in hot water pipes under the floor, which makes for a nice and cozy house, but is an expensive option. Now talking to KB, he is endorsing a boiler/baseboard heating setup with either spray foam or cellulose. I realize these are modern, state of the art choices, but man are they expensive. Our house is fiberglass with wood heat, and we are fine. Sure, it’s not 80 degrees inside, and it’s not as sealed as it could be, but we like it that way. A house should breathe, shouldn’t it? We’re not sissy city folks anymore, we like a little draft now and then.

This hasn’t come up outright, but I sense a little reluctance on going with the fiberglass. It could very well be just my insecurity, but I’ve yet to really get a ringing endorsement, but we have to keep in mind that we have to ultimately come up with the decision. We are leaning to fiberglass. After consulting with my Mentor, he said fiberglass is fine, and I also spoke with another contractor friend who said he just built a camp up north and he used fiberglass. Plus, if we used fiberglass, I could theoretically put a lot of it in myself, and it would be a fraction of the cost. We are talking an order of magnitude, here.

We’ll see where this one goes. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to benjaminsteel for the pic.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Picnic Table Revelation

Our picnic table is a bit of a mess, all because of several bad moves on my part, of course. Chalk it up to inexperience and the early stages of my real man training, but I did some things incorrectly, and the table suffers accordingly. First off, I constructed it wrong. Several of the holes were pre-drilled, so I just screwed in the bolts, but something isn’t right. I think I may have reversed the boards or something, but the seat is too high, and as a consequence, the space between the seat and table is too narrow, making it hard to get your feet in if you’re over the age of twenty.

I spaced the seat joists too far apart, and the seat flexed too much, so I had this brilliant idea to put a supporting beam beneath it. While this does give support, it in my opinion makes the seat hard as a rock. You need some flex, even just a little, to make it more comfortable. Finally, I used the wrong stain. Since it’s a table we’re going to eat on, I used an eco-friendly stain, which was really meant for indoors. It looked good at first, but after the first winter, the stain started falling apart, and now it looks terrible. Plus, we used that table to make dumplings, and it’s really taken a beating.

My initial reluctance in fixing the table stemmed from the difficulty I foresaw in removing the screws, which were set in pretty far. Then I realized I could, if need be, just cut them with my reciprocating saw. Problem solved. Also, if I needed to, I could just bore new holes to hold the carriage bolts. Then, I’ll sand it and put on a more durable stain.

It’s amazing what you can do with some power tools. The hardest thing will be to just get started.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Driveway Aspirations

Now that the weather is warmer and drier, the issues we had with our driveway have magically disappeared, and with them, our concerns. This is an unfortunate turn of events, because it makes us complacent and forgetful about how bad it can be. Somehow, each year we survive, and we figure we can get by for another year, when in fact, I think there will come a day when we’ll get stuck, and then it might be too late. Granted, the mud will eventually go away, it always does, but at some point you have to be a little proactive.

With this in mind, I think we should take some action. At the very least we should do what PR does, which is dump a load of gravel on the trouble spots. Gravel is dirt cheap, which makes sense because it’s just rocks. It’s the transport that kills you. The other issue is that darn drain pipe. I still think that we should build a culvert and somehow divert all that moisture through it. As usual, I’ve never dug a culvert before, but it seems pretty straightforward. They say the biggest issue is when it freezes closed, because the water simply runs over the path, but we don’t get that much moisture, just enough to turn the road into serious mud.

Finally, there’s the option of a new driveway, but that is something that would require professional help, so we’ll ponder that one for a bit. I’ve spoken with a few excavators about it, so I have some sense of what needs to be done. We’ll see where this one goes.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Door Knob Crazy

One good turn deserves another, as the saying goes. We put all new door knobs on the barn and our house, but I’d forgotten that there is a door on the second floor of the barn, and we also should replace the deadbolt the French Doors on our house. Back to LaValley’s, who for the record have been very helpful with this endeavor. In fact, not only have they had the things I wanted, but they were friendly, and their prices were very competitive with Home Depot. Plus, I get a discount because I have an account over there. You gotta love that.

Anyway, the one complication is that our French Doors have unusual hardware, and I cannot find an exact match. I can come close with the deadbolt, but it’s slightly off from the handle, which is somewhat unique. I like it, and N has indicated that he’d prefer a handle on that door, so we’ll keep it for now, but eventually I’d like to find a handle that matches the color of the deadbolt. The main issue is that most handles are much bigger, and the current one is small.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor issue, but an issue, nonetheless. Thanks for reading.

Last Step for the Well

One of the important steps for getting the barn finished is finallizing the water system, and that requires the input of the septic engineer. I had no idea this was all part of the process, but apparently before the house becomes official, the engineer has to do one final inspection (done) and then, once the water is connected, he informs the state that the job is complete. I thought you just hooked up the water and took a bath. There were a couple of issues that we needed to address, like securing the pump lid on, which was pretty easy (even I could do it), but that’s all been taken care of.

What’s pretty cool is that there is now water in that barn. Can you believe it? KB hooked the pipes up and now it’s ready to rock and roll. Crazy. I think the electrical is getting to where it needs to be done, and we need to make some insulation decisions, which is never easy, but we are well on our way.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, April 9, 2012


In what is truly a proud moment in a real man in training’s life, I was given a series of jobs to do by a true to life real man, KB, and I actually completed them. I know, it’s hard to believe, especially since I finished them in less than a year, but they’re done.

In did the last of the insulation in the rafters, changing the original plan with KB’s blessing. I was told to install the foam blocks using nails, but I found it didn’t work that well. After putting a few in, I wondered why we didn’t just glue the things in, and when I inquired, KB said that would be fine. This, of course, made life much easier, and not to mention making the job quicker. Best of all, the kids got to help out, though help is subject to interpretation. It’s pretty amusing when you’re trying to do a job in a confined space and your kids are tearing around on their scooters. The barn is the perfect surface for it.

In another humorous moment, A&N wanted to help by handing me the pre-cut blocks while I was on the ladder, and as I applied the glue and reached out for them to hand it to me, they weren’t paying attention because they were making shadow animals on the wall. Ah, parenthood, you have to love it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Raking It In

Boy, I thought I had it easy last fall because we had an early snow in October, but now I’m paying the price. When it snowed, it really came down, and suddenly in early fall there was major snow coverage. I had not even started to rake, so I couldn’t really do much after that. I was kind of happy, because raking is easily my least favorite thing to do.
Now that spring is here and the snow is gone, I now have a massive quanitity of leaves to deal with, and as you might have guessed, I am not a happy camper. If there is one bright side to all this, it’s that the leaves are a little soggy from the snow, so they don’t all blow away once I get them into a pile. It’s not much, but when you’re dealing with raking leaves, you have to take what you can get.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Light Collector for the pic.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fixing the Kitchen Sink

When you’re training to be a real man, little jobs suddenly become major accomplishments, especially when they involve tools, dirt, sweat and scum. We were having some issues with our kitchen sink, it was draining properly. This is the same sink that JH and his magic bag of tools installed, replacing the pre-existing garbage disposal. It was quite a feat. The new drain, however, was beginning to clog. It drained really slowly, and when we ran the dishwasher, the water would back up and come up the sink hole. Completely disgusting.

Finally I decided to take action. My first thought was to simply try to clear the obstruction through the top, i.e., the easy way. It’s not easy to clear out plumbing slime, however, so I was going to have to remove pipes and clear them manually. I do this on a regular basis in the bathroom, so I had some sense of what to expect, and of course, it wasn’t pretty. It turns out that the connecting pipe had loosened and descended and was no longer at the proper angle to maximize the flow of water. After I fixed that, I reamed the pipe and cleaned the grate, and lo and behold, we had flow. I love when that happens.

I think we need to regularly run water down that drain to keep things moving along. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Four Out of Five Ain’t Bad

I nailed in the ceiling joist braces last week, and let me tell you, it wasn’t that easy. You don’t realize it, but nailing upwards into the ceiling is a bit of a chore, especially when you’re not a tall person (I just play one on TV). It is definitely one of those tasks that are such a drag that I tend to put them off and ignore them in the hopes that they will magically go away.

However, this time around, I feel like we really want to get this barn finished by the end of summer, if not sooner, so I stopped being such a sissy and just did it. Believe it or not, it’s done. I found the best approach was to not even try to finish it in one day, but rather break it up over several days. It sure felt good nailing in that last brace.

That means that I’ve done the braces, installed the door knobs, cleared the clutter for the electrician, and ripped those wall extensions. Man do I feel like a real man, or rather, a real man in training. The last thing to do to cement my manly status is to insulate the rafter-gaps, or whatever they’re called. I ripped a bunch of blue board and cut it to size, so I’m ready to go. The initial plan was to nail them in, but after consulting with KB, I instead opted for glue. Much easier, and more effective, if you ask me. I know, you’re not asking me.

Once those blocks are in, we are ready to start thinking about insulating the whole structure. From what I’ve been told, we need to go with spray foam or cellulose, both of which are pricey. Fiberglass will not do because the heating system is going to require pipes that go through the walls, and unless you have the right insulation, they’ll freeze. Bummer.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, thanks for reading.