A Hole in the Wall

21 03 2011

Ben Franklin I am not.  It is a well known fact that Ben Franklin invented electricity when he flew the kite in the storm, and he took that electricity to help defeat the British and form the American nation.  Ok, that’s a bit of a fabrication.  In fact, other than a few experiments, Ben Franklin really didn’t do much in terms of advancing the science of electricity like we may have been taught.

What does this have to do with me and the house?  I too have done very little to advance electrical development of the basement.  I studied all I could and came to the conclusion that starting an entire basement from scratch was not the right time for an electrical ignoramus to try his hand at running electricity throughout the house.  So I hired someone to do it for me.

What I did do, however, was mount some of the fixtures.  We are going with recessed lighting throughout most of the basement, and part of me talking down the quote for the electrician, I mounted the recessed lights in the ceiling; fortunately I had my dad over to help, so it didn’t take quite as long.  It wasn’t very complicated, but it did take a couple of nights.  All told, we have 21 can lights in our basement, and while the labor wasn’t back breaking, it did take a fair amount of thought and method to make sure the spacing was right.

The other thing I took on was mounting the bathroom fan.  That turned out to be more of a chore than I expected.  I was able to get the fan unit mounted in the ceiling.  The trouble came with running the duct work to the outside.  The 4 in flexible duct I had needed to attach to the fan, take a 90 degree turn, go through two joists, and then exit the house.

I rented a 4 1/8″ hole saw to cut through the joists.  Well, I couldn’t get the duct through the first hole.  I returned to the hardware store and got a 4 1/2″ hole saw; this worked a lot better.  So I got the two interior holes drilled and was ready to…..ahem……drill a 4 inch hole in the side of my house.

I did all the measurements and the placement of the hole was at no point a problem.  What was the problem was my arsenal of drills.  My cordless drill only has one battery and it was already pretty low.  I have one fairly weak corded drill and another 30 year old drill.  I started drilling with my corded drill; it was slow going and I’m pretty sure it was more than the drill was meant handle.  The drill started smoking eventually and after a while I wasn’t getting any deeper in the hole.  I tried switching drills, and none really worked.  Well, I eventually got through, but not before my drill started losing a large of amount of specs of something from the inside.  I have decided that I may need to add a better drill to my arsenal of tools.

I got the end cap fit into the hole, attached the duct, taped it all up with foil duct tape.  So now I can say I mounted a bathroom fan.  And I can cross “drill a 4 inch hole in your house” off my bucket list.

My self created fan mounting kit

That's much better than it looked about 15 minutes earlier

This was actually the easy part


Men are from Mars, Power Drills are from…

27 07 2010

Sometimes things can feel like they’ve got the best of you.  I was given the task of hanging some drapes in our bedroom, and while this seems like a simple task, my relationship with my drill has been somewhat hit or miss.  As has been noted before, my drill has played a part in some rather frustrating events in the past.  This was the case today as well.

Shortly after we moved in, I put up drapes in our bedroom.  The window had blinds in them already, but they did not do much for darkening the room, so we bought a pair of room darkening shades and the cheapest and flimsiest of all curtain rods known to man.  Well, the look never really satisfied Melissa, and I probably have to admit that it didn’t exactly show off my stunning craftsmanship.

First attempt at drapes

The look left quite a lot to be desired.

So we went out and got a new curtain rod, and it was my job to perfect our window treatments.

One of the things that I’ve noticed as a general weakness of mine is the inability to differentiate subtle changes in sound.  What this means is I cannot find a stud by tapping the wall.  Add to this that I have a stud finder that apparently has the same problem; this is a killer combination.

The curtains came with screws and plastic anchors.  Knowing that I would have to drill holes to place the anchors, I started drilling, and in a couple places I realized that I hit a stud.  Now, I know that you don’t need an anchor if you are screwing into a stud, but I didn’t realize that you really shouldn’t use one if you are.  You see, I felt the stud when I was drilling and thought, as long as I’m drilling, I might as well just drill into the stud.  Well, the anchor is intended to fit into the hole in the drywall. Then when the screw is screwed in, the anchor will expand slightly into the surrounding drywall which will provide the strength required.  So when the anchor was pounded into the stud and the screw sent in after it, there was no room for the anchor to expand.  However, I didn’t realize any of this until afterwards.  What I ended up with was a screw sticking about halfway out of the wall, and me completely unable to turn it any further.  I thought maybe it was a bad screw/anchor combination, so I tried another one right below the first where I needed to drill the second hole anyway; same thing.  My electric drill started stripping the screw, so I tired using a screwdriver; very slooooow progress.  I lost it.  I stormed throughout the house (luckily I was alone) shouting that it couldn’t have been me that was wrong, because I did everything right!  I found the right size drill bit for the anchor, I measured and leveled the spots for the holes.  Clearly it was the tools and the hardware to be blamed.

I took a 10 minute break to collect my thoughts, and I came back.  I had 3 brackets to hang, and this was the first one I attempted, the second one gave me similar results, but eventually I was able to get the screws tightened and the brackets mounted.  The third one was a piece of cake, apparently that one wasn’t drilled into a stud, so I probably only did one of the three correctly.  Anyway, once I got the brackets mounted, the rest was a synch.

The results

Form, function, blood, sweat, and tears

So, until next times, and hopefully I can continue to develop the lasting relationship with my drill and avoid such disagreements in the future.  All in a days work, and learning the lessons of hard work that come with being a homeowner.

Something was going to hang

22 05 2010

In what could turn out to be the world’s most difficult to put up shower curtain rod, I achieved a remarkable feat while suffering a great amount of frustration in the process.  We have a bath tub in our second bedroom that has a curved shape, so Melissa wanted a curtain rod to match the contour.  This means that it isn’t simply the tension rod that you twist into place.  This involves measuring, and drilling, and a great deal of thinking.

The curtain rod had two ends that needed to be mounted to the wall, and then the rod would fit onto two brackets on each side.  So I did all the appropriate measuring, remeasuring, aligning things by holding them up, and measuring again.  I drilled some holes to place the anchors in the wall, and proceeded to mount the brackets to the wall.  I got both up, marveled at my work, and then attempted to put the rod into place.  One big problem.  The brackets had a pair of holes that were meant to line up with holes in the curtain rod so the rod could be secured in place with the curve extending outward instead of falling down from it’s own weight.  Wonderful me had mounted the brackets sideways, so all I ended up with was a very pathetic, sad looking shower curtain.

After much cursing my tools, the curtain rod, and the French (the instructions I believe were in French), I retired to bed for the night, convinced that I had no business attempting such difficult endeavors.  Melissa was supportive, telling me I could try again later.  I wanted none of it but to brood over my failure and sulk in self pity.

I let it sit for a couple of days, pondering my next move.  Then this morning, I got up around 6:00 (a fairly typical hour for me) and just went at it.  I took the brackets down, drilled new holes, and mounted the brackets the right way.  I hoisted up the curtain rod, lined the ends up with the brackets, fit everything into place, screwed the now lined up holes into place, and affixed the covers to the end of the brackets.  Done, curtain now up, holes properly concealed, I can forget this ever happened and move on to a more manly household endeavor.

The effort may not have been worth it...

The effort may not have been worth it...

...but the results are hard to argue with.

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