Cheap in Price, Not in Service

This wasn’t priority work, but it’s something I’ve wanted done since I cut down all the trees in the backyard; clean up the cluster in the front.  Gene, with Cheap Tree Service, did some work at my old house removing limbs that broke during an ice storm.  I gave him a call about removing one limb and cleaning up sucker branches from the cluster of trees at the corner of my house.

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At my old house, electric was run underground, at this one a line from the pole you see with the stop sign runs to my house and these limbs engulf the line.  I was told Duke Energy doesn’t trim back trees that rest on utility lines when the tree is on private property.  Every bad storm I fear the branches breaking and taking down the line, so I’ve wanted those limbs trimmed back since the electric was turned on.

Fortunately for me yesterday another appointment on his schedule cancelled late and he was nearby, so he gave me a call to see if he could do my work.  I said yes and he and his crew were there in 10 minutes and had the branches and suckers cleaned out and up in 30 minutes.  Very professional crew and he cleared out more than I requested and didn’t charge me more for doing what was really needed given it didn’t take him a lot more time.  Love that mentality.  Cheap Tree Service is a minority owned business if you seek to support businesses in that category.  Licensed and Insured!

Huge difference.

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Foundation Restored

The featured picture was taken on my first visit to the house after being given the option to buy it and it is the reason I almost walked away.  The gutters for the house were completely gone above this section of the foundation, so it took a beating for years.  Inside I had literally, weeping walls, and puddles whenever it rained.  I had countless companies come out to provide remedies, all had price tags $10,000 and higher.  I made the decision to move forward with the purchase and had decided to take one engineers suggestion to remove and replace the most decayed sections of the foundation, about 18′.  That would cost about $20,000.

Fortunately I flew my father in town to look at the house and he urged me not to do it.  He took a hammer to various sections.  Loose pieces fell to the ground, but in short order he reached sound areas.  One engineer recommended some specific products to use.  My father read up on them and said it was work he/we could do ourselves and it could wait; focus on the house.  I’ve done just that since October of 2017 and then Tom Milfeld was put in my path.  Everybody needs a Tom in their life.  His skills are boundless.  Turns out not only is he a great carpenter and tile man, he really loves working with cement.  He learned the skill from his grandfather.  He told me he could repair the entire outside and about two weeks ago, on one of the hottest days this year he got started.  If you need a handyman and live in Cincinnati email him at melvin7448@hotmail.com.

The BEST part of this project is I did not lift a finger.  I told him I’d help dig around the house and he said that is what I was paying him for, not to worry.  Boyfriend you don’t have to tell me twice.  I can’t believe the transformation, which I turned into a Quik video (I haven’t made one of those in awhile).  

 

 

From Toilet Surround to Headboard

I had to break this down into two post because I’m just jazzed to show off the progress.  This is the back to my future master bedroom headboard created from beadboard that surrounded a hole that was a toilet in my basement.  It was covered in yellow paint, black and white graffiti, cobwebs, and spider sacks when I tore it down.  These are the best before pictures I could find as the vision of turning it into a headboard came much later.

Once I had decided to make the headboard, I scoured the Internet for design ideas and I came across the blog of Jen Woodhouse – The House of Wood DIY Life of a Military Wife. She has a ton of cool plans/projects, but the one that caught my eye was her Evelyn Chevron King Bed.  I got the plans over a year ago, so this wood has been patiently waiting to be reinvented.  The plans include side rails and foot board, but I’m not making those due to my adjustable bed frame.  Open shop hours are Wednesday and Saturday and I literally thought I have this portion down in one week, two days.  NOT.

The first step was getting the sheet of birch plywood to the shop.  Thankfully Tom (my finish carpenter/foundation repairer) was willing to pick a sheet up from Home Depot and bring it to me at the shop.  Per the plans I ripped it down to 77″ in width.  Next was preparing the beadboard.  I knew I wanted to remove the paint and graffiti and I thought it would mean stripping.  Fortunately months before I started I brought a piece into the shop and Scotti let me run it through the planer.  With one pass it removed most of the paint and graffiti.  What was left I felt would add character, so the plan was hatched and I spent the bulk of the first day planning down the boards.

Once I got what I thought would be enough I found and marked the center lines (both vertical and horizontal) on my plywood and I started cutting 45 degree cuts.  Jen’s plans had measurements for each length board, but she warned to measure first.  I made it one step easier.  I cut the 45 to be placed on the lines and left the boards long off the edge and planned to just trim all sides down once all boards were glued and nailed in place.

I started cutting pieces on July 13.  I got the last piece glued and nailed in place on August 3.  I didn’t work every Wednesday and Saturday and some days I only got a couple of hours in, but this worked my patience.  I didn’t butt the pieces tightly during the cutting phase.  I nailed and glued all of the pieces in one quadrant first.  When I started in the next about 3 boards in the lines didn’t align and by the end it was off by 1/2″.  I had to take them apart (I had glued a few) and scrape the groove or tongue of each piece.  Just the thickness of the residue paint was causing the issue.

Next came the trim up.  The first cut I asked Scotti to do as I had supreme fear of messing up weeks of work.  I successfully cut the remaining three sides (both long) and in that raw finished state I knew I had created something special.

From this point forward I am not working from the plans.  The wall that the head of my bed is located on is not wide enough to allow room for nightstands on either side.  I currently use a TV table to hold remotes, pocket contents, etc.  I had the idea of building a shelve above the headboard, which will give it depth away from the wall and creating dead space.  Scotti added to the idea and suggested I put shelves along the sides too.  So with that plan hatched I decided it would be really cool to have part of the backboard be the back of the top shelf.  Most of the board will be hidden behind pillows anyway.  Back to the cutting board.

Thank God Scotti was there to catch what would have been a disastrous cut.  We had the board straddled across the two work tables, which meant I would be pushing as far as I could, but then need to go around to the other side of the table to pull through the remainder of cut.  In that transition I pulled slightly away from my straight edge and Scotti saw it almost immediately.  Fortunately not much damage and if I hadn’t shared it in this post, most people would not be able to see it once it’s all complete.  Learn from the mistakes of others.

With that cut, it was time to take the board home to apply the finish.  There is a gentleman, Gene, that has adopted the Wood Shop donating all sorts of great tools.  He’s a master woodsman and super knowledgeable.  I was toying with either Polyacrylic, Polyurethane without or without stain.  Scotti mentioned that Gene recommended and prefers Danish Oil.  I spent an evening on the Internet doing research and decided to take that route.  I purchased Watco Danish Oil in natural.  Super easy product to apply.  I used a cheap sponge paint brush.  They tell you to keep applying if you see certain areas drying up (soaking in) the oil.  On the first coat that definitely was the case.

After the second coat.

Final coat.

With that the back of the head board is complete.  This project took a major twist last week.  Scotti encourages people to buy wood for their projects from Paxton Lumber.  Originally I had planned to get slabs of Ash from the Randy Wipert, Woodwrights Sawmill and Hardwood who had got the walnut logs from me last year.  He couldn’t produce them when I was ready so, over the phone I described the project to a clerk from Paxton.  I am very comfortable buying site unseen, but never again will I do that with a wood project.

When I arrived to pick up the wood I knew IMMEDIATELY it was not what I had envisioned in my minds eye.  I had approved white oak slabs, cut to 15/16″, in widths up to 12″.  Long story short, I bought the wood and resolved myself to make it work.  I actually spent an entire day in the shop working on the top shelf box.  The planer in the Wood Shop struggled on these long pieces of oak, but I got them planed, joined, and ripped to prepare for biscuit/gluing them together to create the true width I wanted.

I took a piece of scrap oak home and applied Medium Walnut, Natural, and Dark Walnut Danish Oil.  I didn’t love any of them, but was going to go with natural and then came the phone call that changed everything.  Lacey, the woman that gave me the pine floors for my kitchen, called and offered me some of the floor joist she was removing from her house.  True 2×12, 100 year old pine.  I jumped on it and picked up five pieces and went straight to the Wood Shop (it was a Saturday).  I spent the bulk of the time denailing one 20190814_214547joist, but once denailed I started running it through the planner.  10 passes and we didn’t put a dent in the wood.  I cleared enough to know that this was the wood my minds eye envisioned.  This one spot rubbed with the natural Danish Oil confirmed it.  It will take months to finish the board if I move forward with the pine.

So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?

Windows and Kitchen Floor

There is definitely a sense of community inside Camp Washington. One of my fellow board members, Lacey, is tackling her own fixer upper project and several months ago shared she’d be removing  some pine flooring in her house.  This week she got started on that project and drop by my house to let me know I could come and get it, if I still needed it.  I cringe every time I look at my kitchen floors, so I most definitely do.  Sunday I picked it up and spent the afternoon pulling nails.

Her boards are wider than mine (same width as my upstairs floors), so I’ll need to rip them down to size as I did when I used my boards to patch holes in other areas downstairs.  My former neighbor did this work for me last time, but now that I’m elevating myself out of novice carpenter to advanced, I’ll tackle this myself.  Last year I caught a great deal on a router and router table, but had never taken it out the box.  I’ve had it on loan at the Wave Pool Wood Shop, the perfect place to learn its proper use.  This project will give me my first chance to use it.

I also got two of the first floor windows dressed; rear of guest bedroom and side living room.  If these two are any indication the prepping for installation is going to take much more effort than the upstairs.  The few contractors I did use on this project showed no regard for my piles in the basement.  They slung my organized piles around, stood on top of them, so my fears of damage manifested.  Both of those windows had significant pieces cracked off.  Fortunately, in both cases I found the cracked off piece laying on the ground near by.  Hope that holds true moving forward.

These pieces were more than dusty, so Murphy Oil soap wash down was just the first step.  The house had aluminum windows that must have been pretty drafty as these pieces of wood were riddled with staples and adhesive weather strips.

They also had screws that left large holes, so not only did I have to glue broken pieces back on I had to use wood putty to fill large holes.  All this extra work made what was a day project upstairs, multiple days.

Once I got them cleaned with the denatured alcohol I could see that this wood was also dryer than upstairs and even water damaged (I’m sure sweating occurred around these windows exposing wood to moisture).  Since I knew the putty I used was going be highly visible I decided to try something different.  I have about a half-quart of the custom color Zar Gel Stain used on the front door left, so I decided to rub all the pieces with steel wool dip in the stain.  After a day of letting the stain dry, I rubbed them with the Howard’s Feed and Wax.  Miraculous results.

Two down, nine to go.

 

 

Two Happy Places

After a three year absence, Saturday I returned to my favorite Cincinnati event, the Ohio River Paddlefest  the nation’s largest paddling celebration.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day for kayaking.  I have not kayaked since the 2015 event, so I was hopeful it would be like riding a bike and it was.  Since the last time I participated the route changed and the course made longer, 9-miles.  They were expecting over 2,000 paddlers.  I dropped my kayak at the launch site on Friday, so I didn’t have to get up extra early on Saturday.

20190803_075340.jpgLaunch time was between 7 – 8:30a, so I was definitely towards the end of the pack when I started.  I packed PB&J sandwiches, a 32 oz bottle of Mango Gatorade, and a frozen solid Vitamin Water, Energy flavor to keep myself nourished, since I didn’t have time for breakfast.

I like to paddle to the beat of the music I’m listening to.  I had my Pandora station shuffling between about a dozen artist and I was crossing my fingers there would be a good mix of slow and fast songs.  It balanced out, but I did use each commercial break (about every 4 songs) to take a drink and bite.  Fatigue started kicking in at what I’m guessing was about mile 6 and then the most perfect song came on, Natalie Merchant’s, Where I Go.  It was all about letting your mind go while at/on the river.  I abandoned 20190623_181456paddling to the beat and just enjoyed a leisure pace to the finish line where I was greeted with a giant happy face.  I most certainly was.  After grabbing a combo meal from the Red Sesame food truck, I loaded my kayak and headed home.

One would think I’d be too tired to do anything else, but once I got my kayak back in its perch in my basement, I changed into my work clothes and headed to the Wave Pool Wood Shop to continue working on my headboard.  Being at the Wood Shop is as peaceful to me as paddling down the Ohio River in my kayak.  I have truly been bit by the wood shop bug.  This Saturday was particularly busy with, mostly females, working on projects.  Smell of wood filled the air as it seemed everyone had something to sand.

I was bound and determined to get the back portion of the headboard done that day.  Wood Shop open shop is Wednesday and Saturday.  I thought I’d have this portion done in one week (two 20190803_171432.jpgdays).  This Saturday marked the third week, but man was it worth it.  I’m not going to go into too much detail as I’ll do a dedicated post, but I’m so proud of how the back turned out I actually posed with it.  Folks that know me, know I don’t do photos.  I’m torn on leaving it natural, allowing the poly I’ll apply to pull out the colors or staining all or some of the slats.  I’d love to get some feedback from anybody readying this post.

Shopped closed at 5p.  I was showered and in the bed ripping ZZzzzz by 7:30.   I was sore, tired, but oh so happy.  Enjoy the additional photos of Paddlefest and put it on your calendar for next year.  I’ve always done this event by myself (kayaking is a great single person activity), but I’d love to have someone join me next year.

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