Archive for category tools and materials

Cheap building materials you say?

In my never-ending quest for the right fittings for my reclaimed-materials bookcase, I traveled to my local Habitat for Humanity Restore, a veritable treasure trove of stuff I shouldn’t be thinking about buying because I don’t really at this moment have a use for it. Windows and doors, plumbing fixtures, contractor remainders of all types – it’s a great place to pick up cut-rate materials, although you can never be sure what will be in stock. I left with four 4×4 beams (non pressure treated) at $2/piece. Worth checking out the one in your area.

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More stuff

A gravel expansion of angled parking spaces next to my still technically gravel driveway continued apace today. Details and pictures soon, when it’s complete. So maybe not so soon, really.

And also today, two revelations about mulberries:

1) They are delicious. I knew they were edible, and had even started looking up things one can make with them online, but hadn’t actually tried real nice ripe ones until today whilst wandering around the yard talking on the phone with an old friend.

2) They stain things. I knew they stained my hands and the tarps on which they’ve fallen over the last few years, but I just realized that maybe they could also stain wood. This could add an interesting, very purple, twist on projects in the future.

Related – noticed that the black walnut by the driveway is bearing fruit this year, so homemade stain plans are definitely back on the agenda for fall.

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Spring balances – a note of caution

If you’ve skimmed this blog, you know I like salvaging old building materials for new projects.  Such was the case with a set of 60s era windows, still in frames, out of a house up by the lake.  Disassembling the frames to free up the sashes is pretty straightforward – you just need a little patience to separate the pieces without splitting to much of the wood.  The reason for this post is just a bit of fair warning about the object on the top right of the frame in this picture:

These are spring balances – one per sash – a technology still very much in use today.  They are just a strap wound and spring loaded in the case, and attached about a quarter of the way down each sash:

I’ve seen a few of these with rubber straps, but typically they are thin, flat metal. With very sharp edges. The safest way I found to approach these is to relieve the tension on the spring – free the sash from the frame and tilt it so the strap can retract almost all the way (see next to last photo).  Then and only then should you try and release it from the hook inside the sash.  Wear gloves (seriously) and safety goggles (no reason not to).

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Another big pile of wood

These are actually pretty cool, and I hope they’re in good enough shape that I can get a lot of use out of them.  One of the old buildings downtown is being completely renovated.  As part of this, they removed and replaced the old floor joists – and I hauled them back to my place for nefarious purposes.  In the process, I confirmed that I really want a pickup truck.

After cleaning all this off the planks….

I have 40 or so planks of 4-6+ feet each.  They look like oak.  They are definitely 100+ years old.  And if enough of them are in good enough shape, I think I’ve got a deck, a nice floor for the back room, or at worst some serious shelves and furniture.

And in the critter file, this fierce creature decided to set up house under the original pile.  I’ve tried to cover the cleaned wood a little better…

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Why I love flea markets

Three dollars.

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Bullets, because it’s been a long day:

– applied for permit to have the shed put in out back; looks like that will be fine
– hung a couple of pictures (long overdue)
– dragged all the old shed up to the driveway and sorted the scrap pile into aluminum and steel
– cleared some undergrowth from around where I plan on having the shed installed
– pulled down some broken branches that were stuck in other branches after that storm a few weeks back
– cleared some brush from the area around where the shed should go
– tried installing a missing storm window in the dining room. Having trouble finding one that’s the right size – moreover, the sash cords are broken on that window and at one point the lower sash slammed down and I lost a piece of 100 year old glass. C’est la vie. Tomorrow I’ll take that whole storm down and try and get something to fit.
– moved a lot of furniture and tools around in the living room because I had one half of Ian Wilson’s band crashing overnight.
– older note but worth mentioning: cleaned several of the downstair’s radiators’ steam valves with vinegar and now have minimal whistling.

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What to do with a large pile of wood

1) Build a step stool for reaching ceilings.

2) Build a sink stand for a portable slop sink (There’s a pic around here someplace).

3) Put in a temporary floor in your attic so you can move around without fear of falling through a ceiling, and store stuff for a garage sale someplace other than the laundry room.


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The Big Pile of Wood and Other Things

In an effort to both clear stuff off my camera before an upcoming trip and put my various scattered pieces of knowledge about the house in one place, I’m adding a few other categories to the blog – materials and tools, and projects that haven’t been started. Maybe they’ll help me get a better view on what can happen.

This post, of course, doesn’t really cover either. But here are three things that have happened around the house in the last few weeks:

The College is renovating part of Severance (as well as several of the dorms) and Hans and I pulled all of this lumber out of a dumpster. Some pieces have cracks and splits but there’s at least a 6′ run on each stick that’s good, most are 8-10’+, plus two long planks of 2×10 or 2×8 (I don’t remember now). It’s enough lumber to almost create a floor in the old 8’x8′ shed out back, except I’ve decided to take the shed down and get a new one. Most of the quick constructions you’ll see on the blog in the coming weeks are made from these 2x4s – free lumber is a good thing.

Speaking of the shed:

This is most/all of the stuff that was pulled out of there over two days. Some salvageable lumber, some salvageable other things, and then about 20 bags of trash. The bricks on the right came from a decades old attempt to create a floor. Not visible are the 20 or so flagstones salvaged from next to the shed. Thanks to Benny and Molly and Ellen for doing most of the hauling (for pay).

And speaking of Hans:

I just had to get this shot of Hans falling asleep on my couch mid-crossword.

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