Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pulling stumps out

The last 4 days have been spent pulling out stumps from around the garden shed.  About 6 years ago we cut down some real old and large juniper shrubs that were planted next to the old pool house and current garden shed.  After we cut them down, we moved on to something else and there the stumps were left to make me trip over them at least three times a summer.

We really had absolutely no intention of digging them up until we found this........

that's right steps.

These were buried under a foot of soil.  So to make the steps usable, we will need to lower the grade.  AND before we could do that we will need to remove all large stones, boulders, and stumps.  After today we have two remaining stumps to remove.  The rain we received last night and today have helped soften the dirt and make shoveling slightly easier.
The steps are in fairly solid condition except for one tread that has cracked in half due to a tree growing in a little crack.  We think we can mix some mortar and set the two broken pieces back in place. I love the detailing on the front of the treads.

On the woodpile front......after several no shows, the guy says he's showing up tomorrow to pick up the remaining wood.  Speaking of no shows.....I've been Craigslist selling a ton of stuff that we no longer need. The number of no shows is staggering.  One guy dragged his feet and had me hold something for three days for him, while two other people wanted the item.  He finally showed up 3 hours late and then wanted us to come down on the price.

But it is great to get rid of extra stuff even if it means having to put up with spammers and flakey people.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Woodpile is shrinking and slate walkway is growing

Finger crossed that the last of the woodpile will go bye bye on Sunday.  The guy that took a lot of our wood last year has answered our call again this year to 'please take the rest of the wood'.

We have slowly been adding more slate to our walkway from the deck stairs to the back of the barn.  The plan is to build our compost bins on the back side of the barn.  A walkway will make for a nicer trip to the compost bins in the winter.  We are using slate that has been removed from around the swimming pool.

I laid the last two pieces today and once the weather cools a bit, R will plant moss between the newly laid pieces.  He planted some earlier in the year and they are growing nicely.

Today was spent weed whacking weeds and hand cutting wild raspberry canes from the back side of the pool house/garden shed.  I'm hoping if I cut back everything including the lilies of the valley only the weeds and raspberry canes will regrow this year.  I can then spray them with Round Up and maybe just maybe next year I will have just lilies of the valley come up in the spring.  The smell is just unbelievable and I would really like to be able to enjoy .

The wild raspberry canes are vicious and as much as I tried to be careful, I ended up bleeding.  There is at least another day of cutting down vegetation before we can rake up the area.  I'm finding old asphalt shingles and pieces of cedar shingles that have broken off over the years.

I'm really getting antsy to paint that small building.  This will allow us to fine tune our color choices on a smaller scale.  The body color will be a dark grey and the trim will be a crisp white.  We are unsure about the door color.  I thought I wanted to paint them a lighter version of the grey but now I am leaning toward white.

Summer is fading fast.  Tonight we noticed how it was starting to get dark sooner.  Bummer

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Replacing the screen in a wood storm window

I had a lot of running around to do today but really wanted to get a little something done on the house.  So I decided to replace the screen in the small storm window under the basement stairs.
Most of the wood window screens that I have seen are basically the same style.  A simple frame with narrow trim that covers the edge of the screen and nails that holds the trim in place.  I estimated that the whole procedure would take about 30-45 minutes TOPS!!!  Yeah...right.

First, I assembled all the tools that I thought I would need.  Small (tiny) Wonder Bar, hammer, stapler, camera, diet Coke, and cell phone.

Step 1  Gently pry up on the trim making sure not to break it.  Slow and steady.

Step 2  Remove all the nails in the frame and trim.

Step 3  Go get nail puller.

Step 4  Go look for the BRAND NEW roll of screen.  After 30 minutes of looking, drive to Ace Hardware and buy $1.00 worth of screen and a bag of BBQ potato chips.

Step 5  Lay out screen using the old witness mark in the paint as a guide to align the screen.  If you are painting your window screen frame, do it before you install the screen.  I am not painting so I moved right on to installing the screen.

Step 6  Use stapler to adhere screen to the frame.

Step  7  Go back into the house and get staples.  Staple gun had exactly 1 staple in it.

Step 8  Staple screen once on one side and pulling the screen taut, staple once on the opposite side. Do this in the other direction and then go back and work from the middle out to the sides pulling the screen tightly as you go.  This will keep your screen straight and wrinkle free.

Step 9  Remove any excess screen that will stick out past the small trim.  You can do this now or wait until you have installed the trim and then use a utility knife to cut away the excess.  This method works best if you are using nylon screen.  Since I am using black metal screen, I used aviation shears to cut the excess away before I installed the small trim.

Step 10  Go get aviation shears.

Step 11  After excess screen is cut off.  Re install the trim using small nails or small brads in a pneumatic nail gun.

Step 12  Go get air nailer and air hose.

Step 13  Go back in house and turn on the air compressor.

Step 14  Be proactive (why now?) and check to see if you have enough brads in the nailer.

Step 15  Admire your handy work and check your phone for the time. time..... 2 hrs and 15 minutes.

A few things to think about before you chose your screen material.

Screening comes in nylon, metal, aluminum, or copper.  Most screen comes in black or metal color (aluminum, copper).

Metal screening is more durable but is prone to rust.  Nylon screening doesn't rust but if you have animals or small children it is easily caved in or ripped.  But metal screening can also stab or cut you.  So do you want your kids and animals to stay inside or possibly bleeding.

Black screening cuts down on direct sunlight glare and is not as noticeable as the shiny metal screening. Black screening can also help with your cooling energy bill during the summer.

Metal screening can dent or crease and nylon screening does not dent or crease but is easily ripped.

There are drawbacks and advantages to each type and it is just a matter of using which type works best for you and your location.

We chose black metal screening.  We have cats and I prefer that they stay inside.....they beg to differ.  I, also like the looks of black screen over the shiny metal look.

For now we are done with the basement stairs project until the next rainy spell or until winter when we are forced indoors.
We are contemplating sandblasting the walls and floors to remove the many layers of paint.  The floor has more layers of paint than the walls but the walls have a lot of peeling.  The floor has had it's fair share of lively colors. Brown, dark green, aqua, red (yes RED), and finally grey.  Depending on how the walls and floor look after sand blasting will determine whether we repaint or not.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Basement Stairs Demo Completed

We decided to demo the last interior wall standing in the basement during a recent stretch of rainy weather.   The basement is the type of basement which will always be 'just' a basement.  Walls interfere with storage and storage is what we need.

Removing the wall that enclosed the basement stairs was an improvement for several reasons.

Reason #1  It enclosed the stairs and made the stairway dark and claustrophobic.
Reason #2  The wall enclosed a small area that was used for storing canning jars.  This room was so small you couldn't turn around in it.  There is also a small window that can open and close that not only give us added air flow but also some natural light to the basement.

Reason #3 We could remove the wooden screen door at the bottom of the basement stairs.  I have no idea why it was there but it needed to go.
Reason #4 A cold air return that was installed at the bottom of the basement stairs needed to be reworked so it wasn't as intrusive AND ugly.

The whole demo took 3 days.  That also included removing all the nails from the salvaged lumber. We always try and save any original or older lumber for future repairs.  The lumber we saved were actual 2 X 4's and they were made of fir.  We also salvaged some old cabinet hinges and cabinet locks.

We uncovered an original light when we removed the cold air return.  This was so unexpected. What was also unexpected was the fact that it was still 'live' and attached to old knob and tube. Whoever did the rewire, also left all the old wire in place.  We have been removing it as we move from room to room.  So far this is the first time we have run across an active wire.  R will trace it back to the source and disconnect it.  But I am thrilled to have an original light fixture to use elsewhere in the basement.

We will build a railing on the steps this winter when we are forced indoors.  For now we love being able to go up and down the stairs without ducking to avoid cold air return.

Tomorrow I'll post a photo of the area and point out the small corrections we made once the demo was completed.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Curbside Treasure Part 2

I wasn't the only one to score a curbside treasure yesterday.  R was beside himself with his little find.

Someone had put out to the curb a little gas weed whacker.  It was almost like new.  Over the years, R has found that when it comes to weed whackers there are several things that go wrong with them.  Some people just toss and replace the first time it takes more than 3 pulls to get a weed whacker to run.

1. Bad spark plug or a fouled plug (wet with fuel).

2. Dirty air cleaner.

3. Dirty or old fuel.

4.  Dirt in the carburetor.

5.  Needs new recoil. (rare)

6.  Primer button dried and cracked so that you cannot prime the engine.

He jumped out of the car the minute we got home, ran to the back of the vehicle, took the weed whacker out and immediately pulled the cord AND proudly announced "it's got compression!!"  If it's got're 90% of the way to whacking weeds.

The gas tank was empty, so the first step was to fill the tank with mixed gas.  He uses a synthetic oil for two stroke engines (engines not motors...motors are electric.......despite what you hear after the NASCAR race when the drivers all thank their motor builders).  With the tank filled, the next step was to press the primer button.  He proudly announced ...."primer button works".  If it didn't, it's a cheap and easy fix.

Next step was to turn the choke on and pull the cord.  The first two pulls sounded like it wanted to start. He mentioned the possibility of changing the plug but pulled one more time and it started.  It ran a little rough at first but after it warmed up, R took the choke off and it idled perfectly.

The weed whacker is a lightweight type used mainly for edging and whacking grass.  Which is actually perfect for us because we already own a heavy duty powerful weed whacker.

Not too shabby.  I'd say we both scored.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Curbside Treasure Part 1

We were returning from R's coffee run when we both noticed something that had been put to the curb for trash pick up.  Ironically we both thought that only one item was at the curb when in fact there were two items.  I saw one item and he saw another item.  I was driving so I turned around and went back.
Out to the curb was a cute little painted dresser.  I didn't measure it but I am guessing maybe 12-15 inches wide and 40 inches tall with cute little ball feet.

I've been looking for a small dresser for the master bath and this will work perfect.
Is that not precious? 

Tomorrow I will show you what R's part of the curbside treasure is and here's a little hint......he really scored BIG!

On a side note.....yea!!!! I finally figured out how to insert photos without using a cord.  My new laptop has a slot for an SD card.