Archive for July, 2007

Successful Home Improvement…Sorta

Jul 31, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

This past weekend some things around the house were finally completed. Not directly related to home improvement, but incredibly important nonetheless, I finally finished building my daughter’s wooden swing set – which is good right? Well, sorta. See now I have to cut out a bed for the mulch that will go under the swings, but rather than just cut out the area directly around the swing set, we decided to cut out a much larger area that starts at the left side of the shed and goes to what will eventually be the new fence line. This means excavating a lot of sod and dirt and planting various flowers and shrubs as well. Yay. Obviously, I’m still not finished with this.

I was also able to install the new storm windows in the sun room. This ended up being one of the easiest projects we’ve worked on and the windows all work and look great – that’s good, right? Mmmm, sorta. After replacing the old with the new we realized we need to do some touch up painting around the windows. I know for many of you this is small potatoes, but I can’t stand these piddly kind of projects. Makes me queasy. This is the kind of thing that will sit untouched for months unless I absolutely force myself to do it, which I find about as difficult as forcing myself to throw-up by sticking a finger down my throat.

I also cleaned up some of the newly cut beds around the front of the house by removing a few large piles of old sod. I look a little less ghetto now, though not by much. I still have four large hedge stumps in the front of the house that need to be pulled and now we’ve decided that we need to remove a large, dead elm tree that’s right along what will soon be the rear fenceline. Three quotes so far:

  • $350 (doesn’t include removal of wood)
  • $550 (includes removal of wood)
  • $750 (includes removal of wood)

We still have a couple more guys coming out to give us quotes so we’ll see how things turn out. We may be able to get someone in our family to take the wood for free which will save a couple hundred bucks. I like how that sounds.

So as it often goes with home improvement, one project leads to another, thereby officially creating a cycle that never ends. And naturally, I have the pleasure of being a part of that cycle. Excuse me as I wipe a tear…I’m truly moved.

The Ultimate Craftsman Fireplace Mantle

Jul 26, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

craftsmanmantel The Ultimate Craftsman Fireplace MantleGary Katz is a well-known general contractor that specializes in finish carpentry. On his website he has a detailed article on how he crafted this amazing fireplace mantle inspired by design elements found in the Gamble House – a 1908 Arts and Crafts masterpiece.

Truth is, I want to be like Gary and the only way I can get there is if I have a more robust selection of power tools, more open space to work, and years of expert tutelage from an experienced finish carpenter. That’s not asking for much is it? Look, I’m not afraid to try my hand at most projects, but a something of this magnitude is just a little intimidating to me.

Whether I was to build it or not, how cool would it be to have this masterful mantle in your living room? I have no doubt that a mantle with this much detail would be far from affordable, but I must have it. Please…you don’t understand…I NEED this in my dream home. After seeing this eye-welling, artistic achievement everything else will pale in comparison. And I just can’t have that.

I’m off to my room to pout now. So as the French would say – Adieu.

10 Rules of Finish Carpentry Everyone Should Follow

Jul 24, 2007 |  by  |  On the Web, Web Smarts  |  Share

clipboard 10 Rules of Finish Carpentry Everyone Should FollowFor me, finish carpentry is a thing of beauty. The details, the precision, and the higher level of craftsmanship fits my character to a tee, though at times there are other aspects that make me crazy.

Another thing of beauty (though admittedly on a different scale) is Fine Homebuilding 10 Rules of Finish Carpentry Everyone Should Follow magazine and after becoming a recent subscriber I visited their redesigned website and found this excellent article titled “Ten Rules for Finish Carpentry.” In it there are some extremely helpful tips on how to become more efficient and proficient at installing trim, wood floors and other finish work.

Though simple, the first rule: Avoid Using Numbers, resonated particularly well with me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown my tape measure across the room after turning a precise cut into a carpentry horror show. For some reason I just figured I was having moments of terrible incompetence rather than considering my frustration may be due to the nature of the measuring tool I was using.

Note to self: Get a hold of one of those folding rulers mentioned in the article. And stop throwing your tape measure.

The Lead Up To Some Major Upgrades

Jul 24, 2007 |  by  |  Craftsman Archives  |  Share

I’ve found that taking some time off now and then from home improvement projects gives me a chance to regroup and refocus. So when I do come back I’m ready to hit it hard and scratch some of the items off my never ending list of things to do. This was the case this past weekend when I went camping and canoing with a buddy of mine up in Northern Michigan. After returning home and checking my phone messages, I found out my new custom fit storm windows had arrived at Lowes. Very cool. So this weekend I’ll be swapping out the four old windows in the sunroom and replacing them with the new. The current ones are horrendous. No screens and two of them can’t be opened at all without having the entire pane of glass fall out. Even closed, I have to have a screw wedged in between the window and the window frame to keep it from crashing to the floor. As if anything else could really make a difference, they’re all grimy and filthy – dirt, bugs and other unidentified matter fills the cracks and crevices.

I will thoroughly enjoy putting these windows to rest.

In the meantime, I have to finish building a wooden swingset for my daughter. Should be able to get it done in the next couple days. I think I’m going to dress it up a bit too. Throw on some dark stain to match the trim on the shed.

Finally, it’s been confirmed. August 20 is the install date for our new fence. Nothing fancy, just your standard 6′ dog ear pickets that eventually we’ll stain dark walnut like everything else. It’s only supposed to take a couple days to install but I’ll take photos of the progress as well as the completed fence. To finally have some outdoor privacy will be wonderful and may be the catalyst to us getting our first dog…we’ll see.

Some interesting updates are just around the corner – so stay tuned.

Award Winning Craftsman Style House Plan

Jul 23, 2007 |  by  |  House Plans  |  Share

craftsman7 Award Winning Craftsman Style House PlanThis is a big one, folks – 4,700 sq. ft. with a four car garage. Far too big for our needs, but the point of bringing this beautiful home to your attention is to show you some of the gorgeous wood and stone details inside. This home has won several awards including The People’s Choice Best of Show at the 2004 Portland Street of Dreams and it’s easy to see why. Although the model home, in my opinion, doesn’t have a whole lot of Craftsman detail on the exterior, the interior is a Craftsman lover’s dream. The vaulted great room with a beautifully crafted floor to ceiling stone fireplace and the stunning curved entry door with wood columns just inside get me salivating like a dog in a butcher shop. And the amazing beams in the vaulted bathroom just about made me pass out. Yes, I have a thing for wooden beams. That’s right, I’m not ashamed. Hand crafted wood and stone work just gets me all tingly inside.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’d like some alone time with these photos…
craftsman7c.thumbnail Award Winning Craftsman Style House Plancraftsman7a.thumbnail Award Winning Craftsman Style House Plancraftsman7b.thumbnail Award Winning Craftsman Style House Plan