Saturday, May 19, 2012

Demolition Derby

When northbound I-85 is backed up due to construction, I take a series of side streets to get home.  On the way is a beautiful house that will soon be torn down.  After several trips past it, wondering if there was anything inside I could use on my house, I peeked inside and saw the downstairs hardwood floors are the width I need to put in my bedroom.  They were filthy, so I couldn't determine the species.  Nonetheless, I wanted the flooring and contacted the demolition company for permission to remove it.

It's a shame that this house will be torn down but it's just as well, I guess.  Most of the inside had already been worked on by the demo crew, revealing that termites had been present for many, many years.  Even if it wasn't in the way of a new highway, it was no longer habitable.  The termite damage and rotten subfloors in a lot of places made it way beyond any restoration.  I tried checking tax maps to see how old it is, but there's no age listed.  I'd guess late 1800s.


Eight hours Monday and ten hours Tuesday were spent removing the flooring.  I'd sadly overestimated my ability to do this task alone.  The planks were tongue-and-groove oak, varied lengths, 2.25" wide, and put down with 'cut nails.' For those of you not familiar with that nail type, they're thick, flat and made of iron.  Here's a photo, only the ones I was dealing with were rusted and even more difficult to pull.

I used a rubber mallet and short pry bar ("gorilla bar"), first tapping the bar about 1/2" under the tongue side of the plank, pulling slightly upwards and towards the groove side to loosen it from the subfloor.  I worked my way across the room, loosening them, then worked my way back by angling the bar and pulling up the planks nail-by-nail.  This had to be done one row at a time.  Some of the nails pulled through the tongue, but most remained stuck in the plank.  Since time was a factor due to my days off from work combined with not knowing when the demolition order was coming through, the nails would have to be removed at my house.

Monday gripes:

1)  My kneepads quickly wore out since they were old.  I didn't want to go buy more and waste valuable time driving and shopping, so I kept working by scooting along on my behind, or else by standing up and bending over to hammer and pry.

2)  A few hours into the day, a small plank I was prying came loose unexpectedly and hit me near my left temple.  It hurt a little but was no big deal.  Later, while working hunched over behind a staircase, another piece I had put some serious force under did the same thing but hit me over my right eye.  I knew immediately it was probably kind of bad.  When I reached up, it was bleeding a little and a half dollar-size knot began to surface.  The only thing I had to get the swelling under control was a slightly cool bottle of water, so I sat down for a few minutes and held it to the knot.  It helped some.  By the end of the night, the knot took up most of the right side of my forehead.  It's pretty.  It's to the greenish-yellow stage today.

Right side.  Photo taken right after it happened.

3)  By evening, I was so exhausted and sore I could barely move and didn't get the trailer unloaded.

Tuesday gripes:

1)  Around 11am, after already working four hours, I was so tired I was almost in tears.  I texted several friends, asking if anyone had a friend who needed work.  Two people called me, but just after a nearby construction employee said he'd have someone there within the hour.  I turned down the other two offers.

2)  Over two hours later, with no-show no-call from Helper #1, I called back one of the original two people and explained I still needed help.  He said he'd be there in about an hour and a half.  In the meantime, helper #1 finally showed but I sent him home, explaining that (by that time) I'd been working an additional three hours alone and that he can't expect to show up that late for work and still be needed or wanted.  Helper #2 came over, and worked diligently for the next two hours until the trailer was (over)loaded and I was ready to go.

3)  I had to leave a 3'-4' x 12' section of flooring intact because it wouldn't fit on the trailer and honestly I was just too tired, even with assistance.

General gripe:

For the past two days, due to my muscles letting their inflammation and soreness go, I've turned into a water retaining sea cow.  I can barely bend my fingers.  I don't even consider taking off my shoes until the end of the day or I won't get them back on.  The skin across my knees feels like it will split at any moment.  I've had this type of swelling occur after overworking, and it will be gone in a few days.

Taken Wednesday morning.  I have sausage fingers.

Right hand not swollen as badly as left.  Tried to take it easy since this is the surgery hand.
Nice cankle.
This was when I got home from work yesterday.  You can see how my foot had retained the shape of my shoe.  From the red band to the tip of my toes is the size it's supposed to be.  My entire lower leg is swollen.

Huge positives:

1)  With reclaimed flooring selling in the area of $8/sf (and that's on the low side), I have $2,800.00 of free flooring even as-is.

2)  I started removing nails and cleaning each board last night, brushing away debris caught around the tongues and grooves.  It's slow work using a hammer and pliers to remove the nails, so I'll be buying an angle grinder and cut-off wheel to speed up the process.  The wood is cleaning up beautifully.  It will probably have to be dyed slightly to match the existing flooring it will butt up to in the dining room, but that's okay.

It will most likely take a few months to get the re-installation started, but I'll make new posts to chart the progress when it's time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ode to a Snake

Mr. Snake all black and shiny
Hiding in the grass;
Did you have to be close to the house
And nearly bite my a**.

I didn't want to take you out
I didn't want to kill;
But you were too close to my boy
And so I fired at will.

I hope you rest in peace, old chap
As your spirit turns a page;
In the great book of the afterlife
Per me and my twelve gauge.

****(I really didn't want to kill it, but I do have Brian to protect.  Although black snake bites are most often not fatal, they can cause serious neurological issues and internal bleeding in dogs.  This snake was 5' long.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day for my mommy, I mail ordered some Ft. Laramie everbearing strawberry plants.  She was unable to find any locally.  Mother is never easy to shop for so I was so glad when she mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was struggling to locate this variety.

For Mother's Day for Other Half's mother, I bought a garden bench/kneeler since she recently had knee surgery.  Upright it's a bench; turn it over and it has a soft cushion to put your knees on.  O.H.M. (Other Half's Mother) loves to work outside but being unable to squat or kneel down was hampering her from her usual Springtime gardening.  Unfortunately, she isn't able to use it but we got a good laugh about why:  She's about 5'2" tall and when sitting on the bench, she couldn't get the leverage to bend down to reach the ground.  She said, "I'm sorry I have such short legs!"

The other thing I had in mind was a tile top table for their family's new deck that was installed a couple of months ago.  As soon as the deck was finished, O.H.M. remarked how she'd like a little tile top table to put by her chair to set her tea on.  I tried to find one for her birthday in February, but after looking at seven different places, the only ones I found were at Pier 1 and they were crazy expensive and not even her taste.  I told her about the quest and apologized for not finding a table and told her I'd just make her one sometime.  That day, I went to what's left of a dilapidated log cabin on one of Other Half's properties and scavenged a few colorful dishes to eventually break for the mosaic top.

Wednesday, I went to Lowe's and purchased some cedar 1"x2" and 1"x4" to make her table.  I already had everything else at home.  After looking online and not finding any suitable plans for a small mosaic-top table, I decided to come up with my own and just let it take shape as I worked.  What I ended up with was a 24" tall, 15" square (inside measurement) side table with a bottom shelf.  A piece of HardieBacker is recessed in the top, with caulk around those four seams as well as on the inside rim of the cedar, to prevent it from absorbing water from the mortar.  It took about 2.5 to 3 hours to make.

Last night I broke some of the dishes with a hammer, using tile nippers to make more uniform shapes.  I had no idea where the design was going, other than I knew I wanted the light green as corner accents.  Looking at the pieces I had and just letting the design fall into place, here's what I came up with.  The white pieces are the parts of a two-color saucer and the outside of the coffee cups; the aqua was the inside color of the cups.  Cobalt blue was a solid color saucer and the few blue/white pieces are from a "flow blue" type saucer.  I laid out the pattern on the floor beforehand.

This is the first mosaic anything I've ever done so I had to guess what to do.  Using masking tape, I taped off the rim of the table, then mixed and troweled the mortar onto the HardieBacker, then pressed each dish piece into it.  To make sure finished design was even, level and set, I used a leftover piece of cedar as a screed, carefully pressing down from edge to edge.  The design and tiling process also took about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Checking it this morning, the tiles were set and the mortar was still cool to the touch.  Since it's 1/2" thick, I'll let it set until tomorrow before grouting any gaps.  The final step will be sealing the grout after it sets for three days.

I'm going to leave the wood "naked" to see how O.H.M. wants to finish the table after she sees it, and oil or poly it for her.

Total cost:  $19.90.  That's cheaper than the bench I originally bought!