Archive for the ‘DIY’ Tag

0912-2014 Journal Entry – The First Fall Update!   Leave a comment

Today will be a general update on a few of the useless things I’ve been doing or trying to do.  I’m happy to report that the highchair restoration has been completed.  It was a relatively simple project that took only a week to accomplish.  The last posting on the chair had me sanding my heart out to remove the old layers of paint, stain, and shellac.  Once that was completed I then pulled out my handy-dandy Dremel tool and wire brushed all of the hinges and other hardware. Fortunately I was able to remove almost all of the corrosion.

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I discovered quite by accident that this highchair was made from an assortment of woods glued together and painted.  This made my staining job a bit more difficult but I persevered. The results were satisfactory but not as good as I’d hoped.  Once the stain was on then came three coats of a good polyurethane and a few days to let it dry. 

I installed the new modified safety straps which put me one step away from completion. The toughest part of the project was finding the proper decals for the chair.  The original had some sort of cutesy puppy on it which I immediately sanded away.  A little too lame for me or any kid who might eventually be using it. After visiting a few dozen websites and a few actual retail stores I found two  stickers that I felt were acceptable. I installed them yesterday and officially declared this project complete.

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Now to the garden which is slowly coming to an end. I harvested the remainder of the kale yesterday.  I picked the plants, cut and cleaned the leaves which left me with a large bag full.  The process included washing the leaves twice, blanching them all in boiling water, dropping them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, and finally a last thorough washing.   A spin dry in the good old Salad Spinner and it’s into the vacuum bags and then the freezer. The process took a little longer than I liked but it’s important to keep the food as clean as possible at all times.

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‘In the Garden’

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‘In the Wash’

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‘Into the Freezer’

Another week and I’ll start the final cleanup of the garden to get it ready for winter. That includes removing all of the fabric from the frames and composting the entire garden with three or four inches of prime compost.  Once that has been rototilled in I can concern myself with the remaining yard cleanup and storage of all lawn furniture and equipment for the winter.

Just another slowly fading Summer week here in Maine. 

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09-05-2014 Journal Entry – Another Chair Project!   Leave a comment

With Fall in full swing I’ve started putting together possible projects to help get me through the Winter.  I have a few minor construction projects already in the works which will certainly help but I need more than that.  I made a rather large purchase of books at the last church fair we attended but unfortunately at the rate that I’ve been  reading they may only last a month or so.

We were pleasantly surprised recently when my better-half’s daughter announced she was once again pregnant with a due date of sometime in March.  A new grandchild in the family is always good news and will give the grandson a younger brother or sister to deal with.  That makes me smile just a little. 

A few days ago we received a telephone call from the daughter letting us know she and her husband were enroute with another surprise for us.  They arrived in short order and brought with them a treasure they discovered at a yard sale.  It was an old wooden high chair that had definitely seen better days.  It appeared well used but still had a solid enough frame and possibilities for future use.  They wanted me to work a little of my magic on it, restore and refinish it, and keep it here for the use of the grandchildren when they come to visit. We love having them sitting at the table with us when we’re eating or playing cards because it seems to make bonding with them much easier when they’re included in as many things as possible.

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Just before the daughters first pregnancy in 2012 my better-half requested my help in restoring an old rocking chair she’d once used to rock her kids to sleep. One of her life fantasies was to have that chair restored so she could rock her grandchildren in it.  It took some doing but the end result was everything I could have wished for.  I hope this highchair project has similar results.

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This newly acquired high chair will be my immediate focus in the short term because it needs to be completed as quickly as possible. I’d really like the grandson to have an opportunity to use it a few times but at  the rate he’s growing I’d better hurry this along.  

The poor condition of the hardware on this chair will make the job a little more interesting since because it’s badly corroded and appears to have been made specifically for this style of chair.  Another challenge to be addressed.

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This old highchair is a Grayco Combination chair manufactured between 1955 and 1962. It’s something of a transformer because with a little effort it can be turned into a small chair with a table attached for the kids to play on. It takes only a second or two to turn it back into a high chair.  I learned while researching it that there are very few of these chairs surviving and little or no chance to find replacement parts.  Even Grayco was no help because of the age of the unit. I guess it’s back to the drawing boards for me.

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‘This Photo Found on the Net’

The next thing I did was to dismantle the chair while taking as many photographs as possible.  It should help me later when I’m trying to put this thing back together.  Any safety devices like strapping have long since been lost and the old style shellac finish must be removed before I can restain it.

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Jump ahead three days and I’m in the final stages of the sanding.  I’ve invested three solid hours of sanding and the shellac finish has been 90% removed.  All of the stainless screws were badly corroded and usable and unattractive.  A quick trip to Lowe’s resolved that issue and with the help of my better-half we also picked out a stain which will make this chair look gorgeous.

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Another visit to Amazon supplied me with a new set of safety straps that hopefully can be modified for this chair.  We shall see.

Future postings of my progress will follow.

04-23-2014 Journal Entry – More Garden Prep!   Leave a comment

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I’m making today an official day of rest.  For you religious folk out there today is my Sunday.  No gardening, no home repairs, and no shopping.  It’s a do my workout, post my blog and relax kind of day.

I’ve been working steadily for the last week and one by one the projects and problems have been solved and accomplished. The damage caused by my better-half’s derrière to the garden’s raised bed has been repaired.  It wasn’t a tough job just a little time consuming.  It’s amazing to me just how in a few years time good old Mother Nature is can totally destroy a piece of untreated lumber. 

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This was a raised bed I built a few years ago and in two years time I was forced to replace three sides of that rectangle. It was initially built with  untreated lumber I had laying around.  Three sides to the bed were totally rotted but the fourth side I didn’t replace at that time.  I used pressure treated lumber for the replacements, made the repair and moved on.  It was that remaining untreated board that I just finished replacing.  I tried to take it out in one piece but it crumbled in my hands as I lifted it out. Hopefully this repair will last a while longer and I won’t be replacing anything for quite some time.

I no sooner finished that piece of work when I started preparing for the next project on my Spring To-do List.  As I mentioned in my last post the set of steps on the rear of my house had been badly damaged by the falling ice and snow from the roof.  A quick trip back to Lowe’s to purchase another load of pressure treated lumber and I was ready to go.  In years past when this has happened I just replaced the broken railing with exactly what had been destroyed.  Not this time.

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I spent some time designing a much heavier and stronger railing for those steps that I hope will stand up to next years ice fall.  I’ve tried everything to eliminate the ice problem including attempts to rake the roof with a snow rack with a twenty foot handle.  The back of the house is just too tall for that.  So the railing I just finished should be able to take the hit from the ice without exploding into a zillion pieces.  I won’t know until next Winter just how good or bad my design really is.  I can’t explain to you just how much ice we have on that roof and how much it really weighs.  I can tell you that when the ice finally let’s loose the entire house shakes on it’s foundation.  The first time I experienced it I almost had a heart attack, I thought we were having an earthquake.I put the finishing touches to it yesterday and I’m pleased with the results. That was the last major repair needed and now I can focus on the garden.

One of my smaller garden projects was to build another large cold frame. I built a small one and have been using it for a few years and it’s saved me a lot of money in plant replacements. With this screwed up Maine weather another large cold frame makes a lot of sense,  I’m also building one for the better-half’s daughter who has created her own garden over the last two years that is slowly turning into something special.

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During our house remodel a few years ago I rescued a few windows and put them into storage.  They make the perfect top for cold frames.  I finished mine this week and have hers almost completed.  Once they’re both installed I can finish the cultivating of the garden and get the fabric placed into the frames.  I do the fabric installation early in the Spring which helps to warm the soil in the frames and eliminated the weed problem. Once that’s complete I’ll remove the plants from the cold frames and replant them one final time.  Then it’s sit back and watch them grow until late summer when the canning can begin.

It seems the springtime work is never done and unfortunately it never is.  It’s been requested that I frequently update the progress of this garden through the summer months and into harvest time.  I’ll be doing just that and will try to keep it interesting with as many photos as possible. 

04/07/2014 Journal Entry – DIY Maniac   Leave a comment

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, I was one of those weird folks who loved to paint. Not artsy painting but bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms.  For years I was on call for my entire family or anyone else who needed something painted. I never understood my fascination, I just went with it.  I suppose today is as good a day as any to let the world know that that my love of painting is dead. DEAD I tell you!

Dumb Thing #1. I started a house project a few weeks ago that required I remove a rather large window from the living room and to put a blank wall in it’s place.  It was all my idea in the initial planning stages but somewhere along the way it was hijacked by my better-half and turned into a freaking monster. The removal of the window was easy enough but doing it in March in Maine was a stupid plan.  I had the entire house open to the cold weather for three hours until I could replace joists, put in insulation, and attached some vapor barriers.

Dumb Thing #2. I should have seen through her sneaky plan but it was winter, I was fat and lazy, and I said OK to almost anything she wanted.  I thought I could zone her out just a little making me safe from her infamous To-Do list until warmer weather arrived.

Dumb Thing #3. The next thing I know I’m up to my ass in drywall, joint compound, and and breathing a dense cloud of gypsum dust. That shit gets into everything and one of my jobs was to make the big mess, complete the job, and then clean it all up.  I finished the wall except for painting and sat down for a moment to rest and to cough up a few pounds of white dust.  Five minutes later she arrives from Lowe’s with five gallons of assorted paints, brushes, drop cloths, rollers, and sparkle compound. I was quietly informed that now we (Me) had to repaint the entire living room and adjacent hallways. She was sick of the old color and since I’d removed that damn window it was only logical to redo the entire second floor.

Dumb Thing #4.  I’m now in my third day of spackling, primering, painting, and putting masking tape on anything that doesn’t move. Help me please. I’m being held prisoner by a home improvement lunatic and I can’t seem to escape.