AN UN-HANDY MAN

From: Meridian, ID:

I’m not real good at much. In fact, nothing comes to mind either immediately or after pondering the question, except…I may just be the doggone world champeen at turning an easy 15-minute job into a two or three-day work-a-thon. I do it all the time, and without even really trying.

For example, my wife suggested the 2 x 4 “kick board” beneath our sliding glass patio doors could use some paint…no, as bad as it looks it should be replaced. “No problem,” says I. An easy job…I’ll get after it tomorrow. And, contrary to my nature and my normal habit, I actually did. Get after it, I mean.

As expected, removing the old board was fairly simple. (Is there a name for those things? I used “kick board” above, but that doesn’t sound quite right…I may have just made it up.) Well…simple, yes, but in order to get at the nail heads I had to practically destroy the board. Any thought of cleaning it up, re-painting and using it again was out of the question.

The Home Depot beckoned…and I hustled off in my pickup. Had I taken another fifteen seconds to think about the project, I may have made a list of the other things I was going to need before the job was done, but of course that would have involved some planning. So I bought the stud I knew I needed and came home.

I cut the stud to the proper length…and even checked it afterwards. (I was quite proud of myself for thinking to do that, I’ll tell you.) Then I pre-drilled and countersunk the holes where the screws would go, and painted the board. Which was enough work for one day…gotta let the paint dry, after all. (In truth, in the 90-some degree temperature – and humidity in the teens – at the time, the paint was drying on the brush on the trip between the bucket and the board.)

Today, I allotted fifteen minutes to screw the board in place. (The old one was nailed…but what would you expect from builders trying to shave pennies wherever possible?)

I discovered the new board was not thick enough to be flush with the bottom of the doorframe when I mounted it. Don’t ask me how that could be…the old one was a 2 x 4; the new one was a 2 x 4. Oh, well, yes…when our home was built, 2 x 4s were still 1 5/8 by 3 5/8. Now, as you are no doubt aware, the industry has shrunk them again…to 1 1/2 by 3 1/2. Still, the problem involved more than an 1/8 of an inch; it was more like half an inch.

(The new board beneath the sliding glass doors. The putty over the screw holes has not yet dried.)

(The new board beneath the sliding glass doors. The putty over the screw holes has not yet dried.)

I had some ½ inch scrap material in the garage, so I used that for “spacers” behind the board. Which made the 2-½ inch screws I had purchased on a second trip to Home Depot just…that…much…too…short. Back to the store, this time for 3 ½ inch screws. Next, I discovered that the ½ inch spacers helped quite a bit, but something 1/8 inch thick would make the board even more solid. Your average guy doesn’t have much stuff of that thickness in the garage, and neither did I. Finally, I cut pieces off a wooden yardstick that did the trick. (And it was very easy to cut them all to the same length.) It worked! The board is mounted…and solid.

I think I’ve missed a couple of trips to the Depot in this tale, but, at any rate, I needed just one more: wood putty to cover the screw heads. Paint would have done the job just fine…if I hadn’t countersunk the holes so deep. (This winter, we will be exchanging Christmas Cards with the “greeter” at the store.)

(Font door "kickboard" needing work.)

(Font door “kickboard” needing work.)

The job is not quite done. I had figured the putty would dry as quickly as the paint, but it doesn’t. I think I’ll be able to sand it tomorrow…the next day, for sure. After that, another quick coat of paint and VOILA! A brand new, spanking white “kick board.” Easy Peezy,” huh? (A quick search online tells me that the board I’ve been speaking of may be part of what is called the “Door Buck.” Dunno, though.)

And Janet just told me the same board under the front door is looking rather shabby. Oh, my! But I must look on the bright side…I should manage to use some of my recent experience and make the new job go much more smoothly. (Now…what do I need at The Home Depot?)

***

Next Day: The wood putty isn’t dry yet! Sheesh! I can’t do the sanding (and subsequent painting). Ah, well, I can try to find (and fix) the leak in the back yard hose system. One thing for sure…there is never a time when a homeowner must ask himself, “What to do? What to do?” Never a moment when one can’t easily come up with the next chore to be done. And if, by some strange alignment of the planets at a given moment, he truly cannot think of what needs to be done…his wife can provide a prioritized list of the next dozen jobs.

***

We’re expecting a sprinkler repairman to come today and relocate several sprinkler heads in the back yard. Expanding the patio concrete deck eliminated 50 or 60 square feet of lawn that needs watering, and the result was the removal of three heads adjacent to the old deck…heads that sprayed outward into the lawn. (Well, you wouldn’t expect them to be watering the concrete, would you?) My thought was that the center-lawn heads could be adjusted to spray right up to the edge of the new concrete. A bad thought. Sprinklers cannot be adjusted to that fine a line, I now have learned. The fix? Relocating the center-lawn heads to the edge of the new concrete and replacing the present 360-degree heads with 180-degree heads.

Yes, I know…this is the kind of job I should do myself. I have done the same job (essentially) in different places on our lot. But I’ve never liked doing it, and – more importantly – I’ve never really known exactly what I was doing.

While looking online for a sprinkler maintenance service, I found a website called Thumbtack.com. Unlike Angie’s List, there is no membership fee for the user, although he/she is required to register. The company makes its money by charging the contractors and other professionals who will be displayed when a user enters a search for carpenters, landscapers, painters, and so on. Our sprinkler guy says his fee (to be on the site) is very reasonable…and is only charged when he actually gets a job from the referral.

Like Angie’s List, there are also customer reviews for the contractors listed. I don’t pay much attention to those, but I suppose there are a number of people who do. I’ve just never trusted them much…plenty of companies will write their own 5-star reviews, and plenty more will write negative reviews for their competition. Or have friends who will do it for them.

It seems to be quite a good deal for small service companies, too. My sprinkler guy told me that since he signed up with Thumbtack, he gets 75 percent of his work from that source.

***

The fire season is definitely upon us here in Idaho, but we haven’t had any big ones to date. There is only one, in fact, that is making the news outside our state…the “Hell Roaring” fire, in the Sawtooth range about 10 miles south of Stanley, ID. News reports have it now as 90 percent controlled, and having grown to something less than 500 acres. A small fire in area, certainly, but somewhat difficult to fight because of the terrain. A wildfire of any size is still a wildfire, and I’m happy to not be out there fighting them. Even happier to not be worried about having our home eaten up by one.

 

I hope you had a great Fourth of July!

Bud

2 Responses

  1. Ron Boy says:

    The joys of being a home owner. But it definitely has it’s advantages also. Your home is beautiful and I am sure that you both work hard to keep it looking that way. Nice going! Ron Boy

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