Saturday, September 4, 2010

Old Construction

The beauty of old construction is that it is stubborn and built to last, even when you want it gone. Case in point -- our kitchen walls. They are tiled, with red accents. Not the worst hand every dealt, but I am installing new cabinets and the tile has to go. I was just gonna carve out enough to put the cabinets in, but we decided to take it down to studs, drywall it, install the cabinets, and put a nice (new) backsplash in. Easy peasy, right?

Like I always say, the right tool for the job is essential to actually finishing it (and keeping your sanity). On the other hand, the right tool for the job is oftentimes expensive. Seeing as I didn't own a sledge hammer (and I'm cheap), we started the job with a normal hammer. After 10 minutes or so, I could tell it was gonna be impossible to finish the job in a timely manner with that wimpy little thing. In lieu of a sledge hammer, I decided to use my heavy duty axe (bought back when I thought I could take out the huge stump in our backyard with it - hah!). It's pretty heavy, and the back end is blunt, so it worked pretty well.

Here you can really see the construction of the wall. It's heavy duty. There are arguably 4 layers, including at least 2 inches of what Ask The Builder calls "Cement Mud" behind the tile. It's all laid on top of a metal lathe that was attached to the studs with a small piece of plasterboard (for an extra bump out). Believe me when I say it feels like hitting a thick cement wall.

Although the axe wasn't a bad solution (see: free), I really could use a sledge hammer. Luckily, we went garage sale-ing Saturday and I found one for $6-8, depending on how you count (I got $12 worth of tools for $10 -- the sledge hammer, a thin margin trowel, and a crow bar). When I got it home, I sanded the haft down smooth (220 grit) and put new "grips" on it with duck tape. Watch out, Wall!

Lawnmower Engineering

I use a reel lawn mower. Besides being cheap on gas (free) and maintenance (free) and fumes (none) and storage (little required) and self-fertilizing (kinda), I just like it. It's a little workout, but I have a small yard and it's not bad, especially when it's nice outside. That being said, my poor mower had a wobbly wheel for a long time. I tried to tighten the bolt up, but I couldn't get the wheel off to tighten the dang thing -- the wheel assembly is riveted together and bolted to the mower, so the access to the bolt is blocked by the wheel itself.

I dealt with the lemons life had handed me for awhile, but a few weeks ago the wheel itself just fell off. At that point, I decided I needed to do something to salvage my engineering pride. What to do? Drill a hole in the wheel, of course.

Actually, I drilled a hole in the wheel with a spade bit, but then I had to carve out a little more with my jigsaw to fit my socket driver in the hole. A few minutes later, we were back in business -- maintenance cost still $0. I'm planning on sharpening the blade myself as well, and I'll definitely post on that!

As an aside, what you DON'T want to do is cut into the actual rim part of the wheel. Although the inside does carry some compressive stress, the outside carries the majority of the stress (see: hoop stress). If you bite into the rim, you'll need to fix it with a hard plastic or a piece of wood to keep the wheel from bending (and wobbling).