Handyman Project – Kitchen Remodel

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not what many would call handy. I was a charter member of the Handy Man’s club through Handy Man magazine, but I eventually determined that as long as I sent my $19.95 in each year they were more than content to send me my 10 cent membership ID card. No skills were required. From time to time, however, I do find a project I am willing to tackle – most of the time with the help of my handy wife. I thought if I wrote about these projects as they come up, I might give other handy challenged men some inspiration to jump in and give it a try. You’re on your own in finding that handy wife.

The first project I will detail is my version of a kitchen remodel. Our home is rapidly pushing 50 years old so there are a number of areas that are a bit outdated. In our kitchen, the kitchen cabinet knobs (requiring one screw) and those longer straight whatchamacallits (requiring 2 screws) fall into the outdated category. I will walk you through this remodeling project step by step.

First, counting is key. Once the decision is made to change out the existing hardware, a careful count of the existing hardware is required. After my third time through and my wife’s second, we decided someone under the age of 50 should probably handle this step. None of my 3 different answers and my wife’s 2 matched so we resorted to a team count. Fortunately, there was no multiplication involved. With this certainly accurate count written down, we felt it was time to visit the hardware store and check out our options. A suggestion about counting. Any cabinets above the refrigerator need to be included in the count or buy 5 or so extras of each and plan on returning the unneeded hardware.

Second, choose the hardware store with the best return policy. In our area, we have noticed that Menard’s is very generous in this area. Also, as you are trying to make the style selection, try to avoid having your wife start soliciting suggestions from any one who might happen to be in the area. During our hardware store stop, we soon had 3 other ladies, one of whom had actually taken one interior design class, giving us their vote on which of the many knob designs would work the best in a kitchen they had never seen. To me, it was as simple as which design was on sale and had the required number of knobs in the bins underneath the display. One and half hours later, we walked out of the store with what we hoped was the correct number for our remodeling project. Make sure to double check that you have all of the same type of hardware not leaving it up to the girl at checkout to make this catch. At this step, you might also wish to pick up some longer screws since rarely does the supplied size fit the bill.

Third, the install on the one screw knobs is pretty much something anyone can handle. Suggestion, after installing the first knob, make sure a fat fingered kitchen user can actually get their fingers behind the knob. Ideally, you would even think to check your finger clearance prior to purchase. We, of course, were too busy chitty chatting with all our new Menard’s friends to make this quality check. Needless to say, I was soon removing all the knobs.

Fourth, the install on the two screw whatchamacallits gets a little more complicated. While the cabinets had small holes from where the previous screws were, of course, the spacing does not exactly match the new hardware. In true handy man fashion, I did opt for the whatchamacallits with two screw holes on each end which should give me the best odds of actually hitting a hole with the screw. Initially, I decided I could eyeball the hole location and go at it with my favorite power tool – the cordless power drill. Using the tried and true eyeball method and an oversized drill bit, the first install required a hole 3 times as large as needed and the angle was anything but straight through. After my third attempt using this method, I decided some type of template may keep the number of holes drilled to no more than 3 or 4 rather than the 6 or 7 that the eyeball method was generating. The template and a level improved the drilling accuracy quite a bit. The only remaining worry point was to keep the drill angles reasonably straight through.

The remodel project took most of a day stretched over a week and a half.

Additional project costs:
Four trips to the hardware store.
One broken drill bit.
3 square feet of drawer paper. (The required vacuuming of sawdust out of the drawer bottoms yielded a few square feet of drawer paper as well).
Two dents in the hardwood floor from when I failed to drop the drill on my foot.

Happy nailing.

Green Thumb – Smoke Plant

This smoke plant started from an $8 Smoke Plantstick I purchased at the end of the growing season at Lowe’s a couple of years ago.  I thought when I was buying a “plant” maybe I would see something 3 or 4 feet tall in a few years.  However, after a few growing seasons, the plant was easily reaching heights 10′ or more.  I realize a little timely pruning would have kept this problem under control, however, the pruning step never quite made it to the to do list.  The unruly heights aside, this “plant” is beautiful spring into fall.  The wispy (smoke) portions of the plant last much of the summer and the leaves turn a beautiful red in the fall.  I rarely notice most plants, but this one stands out through of the growing season and is well worth adding to any landscaping project.





Handy I Am Not

I married into a handy family. My father-in-law was handy, my brothers-in-law are generally handy, and even my wife is handy. Up until I joined this handy family, I never quite realized how inept I really am at most anything requiring a power tool, hand tool, ladder, or the ability to follow detailed instructions. We all have our talents, I am told, however, I am sure my handy family is still wondering when any handy talents will surface. The empty nest years allow for quite a bit of time for the handy to occupy their days. I am having no such trouble since my handy activities are usually complete by the time I put my cereal bowl into the dishwasher after breakfast. With my lack of handiness, I have become a little more curious about the activities of a “real” handyman. I have found a number of lists chock full of all kinds of activities,none of which I can do. A sample list reads like this:

Back up a travel trailer into that ever so tight camping spot.

  • I have had some experience backing up a trailer, Notice I did not say anything about backing up a trailer straight. In fact, I believe they are still laughing in site 28 as they had a front row seat watching me try to land that popup somewhere between the fire pit and that large oak tree. When all else failed, I chose the fire pit. Made leveling a little tough, but at least the side show was over for the evening.

Frame, tape, mud and texture that man-cave you have been longing to occupy.

  • Again a wee bit of experience in the framing area, but fortunately reinforcements came to handle the make it look nice part of the construction. What’s nice about framing is that nails can be removed and removed and removed.

Paint the peak of your 2 story house while standing on the top rung of your 20 foot extension ladder.

  • I have never tried this one nor would I ever go higher than the third rung on a 6 foot step ladder. I feel extension and ladder are two of those words that don’t really go together. Why anyone would want to extend something you do not want to be on in the first place is beyond me.

Cut down that 100 foot honey locust with a chain saw and a lot of rope. Oh, by the way, it needs to land neatly in the 30 foot space between your house and your neighbor’s garage.

  • Another no can do. This one requires power tools, a ladder, and way too much impromptu planning. Beside, I believe my neighbor really likes his garage.

Launch a 20 foot power boat and, better yet, get it off the lake in time to beat the incoming thunderstorm.

  • I have actually tried to assist with this one. The funny thing with trucks is that even though the light is lit under the 4WD indicator on the dash, you still need to be in something other than N to get the truck moving forward. Word to the wise, a truck moving backwards into the lake, with a boat still attached, containing a screaming brother-in-law and confused son, is not a good situation.

Most of the time not being handy does not pose a real problem. On those church workdays, get there early and just make sure you are one of the painting crew that stays on the ground or move outside to pull some weeds. Those ladder and scaffolding jobs can be left for the real handymen. If a power tool needs starting, volunteer to run and get some donuts. No one will ever know you hate starting anything with a gas engine since it more than likely will not start and then you need to know how to choke this or prime that. If a powered tool is needed, stick to the ones with cords or batteries.

Happy nailing.