Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Most Useful New Power Tool Since Cordless Drills!

I've been walking by this tool for years now wondering "what on earth would I do with that Frankenstein monster?" Well, let me tell ya, there's a reason why one should occasionally re-assess one's cynical-about-new-fangled-tool attitude!

First off, it's called an oscillating tool because of the way it vibrates rapidly over a short throw on a single horizontal plane. That's how I'd describe it anyway. I was drawn to it because I needed to cut out some baseboard and wanted to get a cleaner cut than the last time I did this with my saws-all. These things can be used with a lot of different attachments but, so far, I've just used the saw blade on one project and, as far as I'm concerned, the thing has already paid for itself. 

I got the Rockwell version but there are many nice makes. I suggest steering clear of cheap Harbor Freight stuff and store brands. Believe it or not, one of the main things I look for in a quality corded power tool is a quality cord. Why? A nice long cord that is made from quality materials makes the tool so much more handy as the cord will un-coil well (and therefore not get in your way) even in cold weather. Normally, if a power tool has a nice cord it is also a nice power tool.

For this task I wanted to get a clean cut with good precision and didn't want to cut into the floor. The latter is impossible with any type of circular blade. The oscillating tool has a super short throw (how far the blade moves from side to side) which allows you to make a cut like the one below and get flush with the floor without tearing it up. 

Here is the nice fit I achieved between the removed baseboard section and the new wall section:

I also used this tool to create deep and narrow recesses in the bottom of a door in which to install rolling castors. This tool impressed me on that job, too, in both speed and accuracy. 

I'm not telling anyone to run out and buy one of these, but you might want to take a quick look at one and assess if it might have a place in your shop or tool box.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Half Bath Install - Part 2

And so we are pretty much, finally complete - woo hoo! Check out Part 1  here and the wrap up below. The half bath turned out colorful, funky and with a very low price tag.  Just our type of project!

We intended to paint the outside of the new bath wall green to match the hallway, but alas we did not have enough of the paint left and who wants to buy more when you have other fun colors hanging around on basement shelves gathering dust?  So, I painted the wall a bright plum on Steve's suggestion.  We love the contrast.  I honestly don't think we can ever get enough color anymore.  The same went for inside the bathroom.

I don't mind painting, but I do need something for my mind to focus on so I don't get bored.  Thank goodness for the internet and access to podcasts and music!

These kept me entertained:

A Way to Garden Podcasts
Elephant Revival - These Changing Skies
The Lumineers
First Aid Kit - The Big Black and the Blue

While still working on the bathroom, we had the sink in the sunroom so we could work with more space. Alvin LOVED the sink location.  What a cutie!

This cat makes us laugh!

Hmmm - what's up there?

Here's a couple more pictures of the finished room...

The little curtain is a scarf (or what would you call that?) we found at an antique store for a couple of dollars.

We found the cross stitched plants at the same antique store.  I LOVE them.

This super fun cat print is from my sister and brother in-law. Hilarious!

This door was originally placed between the kitchen and dining room.  We found it in the basement when we moved in and held on to it knowing it would be perfect for something.  Due to the small space in the hallway, we decided to make it a slider.

Our little table we retrofitted to hold the sink was a little to short for people like us so Steve added some osage orange tree cookie feet.  COOL.

And, that's all folks!  Time to tackle the old bathroom....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Half Bath Install - Part 1

So, we are finally getting around to tackling our bathrooms. This house has a full bath we've been planning to redo since we moved in because it is rather gross, but we wanted to have a half bath in place first.  For a long while our half bath looked like this:

Yes, cute but no wall and no lights.  (Thank goodness for that window!)  Steve is the ultra handy member of our family so he made time to tackle this project this winter.  When the days are short and the temperatures are frigid we feel less inclined to be outdoors so this is a good time to tackle these less fun type projects. You can tell by our paint lines we had the idea for the wall location at the time of the bathroom install.  Steve marked the new wall lines and went to work.

He bought a fancy tool to help him cut out our trim boards super exactly.  Maybe he will pop on here and update this later to tell you the name of it.

This tool really did an amazing job.  The wall is now tucked in perfectly.

We have an odd sort of wall in this part of the house, which was added in the late 1940s.  It's some sort of composite between drywall and plaster; combine that with oddly spaced studs and you have a recipe for really annoying construction.  For example, to hang our large chalkboard in the hallway I think we drilled at least 20 holes to find studs to hang to.  Ugh!  So, on this project Steve took an alternative route and used toggle bolts.  They made for a much happier installer and a much faster install.

The wall's bones went up super fast with awesome Steve on task. He even figured out the headache of wiring in this part of the house so 1 - we have power and hence, light and 2 - we won't burn our house down with the old mess of circuits.

We both hate drywall and will use it when necessary (probably on the old bathroom redo), but found these wood planks for such a deal at some crazy big box sale a long while ago.

Here's the inside of the bathroom wall, yet to be finished.  The bathroom feels like a room now!

Steve plugs away on this project anytime he has.  He's wiring up some receptacles for us in this picture...

and is feeling pretty gosh darn good with the progress in this one.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolution?

Sure, why not? How about: "plant more native seeds than the year before".

Just got the shipment today: enough Basic Prairie Mix to plant another 1/4 acre!

Here's the species list:

We will sow this before the next predicted snowstorm so that the seed is somewhat protected from being eaten by birds and, in the  process of snow melt and freeze-thaw cycles,  will be worked down into contact with the soil where it will germinate this spring/summer/fall.


What's your most exciting resolution?