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Friday, April 16, 2021
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #19
Adapt
    Two years ago at the age of 95 my mom had a stroke. In the course of a few minutes she went from being active and completely independent to wheelchair-bound and entirely dependent . . .
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #18 Well, Well
    There are two basic types of electric well pump; jet or submersible. A jet pump is surface mounted. If you have a well pump in your basement, that’s a jet pump. Jet pumps pull water from a well. Submersible pumps are set inside the well ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #17 Shocked
    This past week I shocked a well in anticipation of a water test for potability. Shocking a well is when you chlorinate it to kill bacteria. You do this with all new wells or ones that have been opened and worked on. To shock a well ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #16 Magnetic Attraction
    I build my own kitchen cabinets. They’re relatively simple; basically a sturdy box. No complicated joinery or hardware. I’ll use either jelly cupboard–type hardware on the doors or a round knob and magnetic catch. A magnetic catch ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #15 Underfoot
    This past Thursday night I put the first coat of finish on the floor of my current build. The house is built on a shallow frost-protected foundation, commonly referred to as a slab. The slab serves as foundation, heat sink for the infloor ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #14 Flight
    I’ve heard that the ancient winged reptile Pterodactylus antiquus needed a headwind to take flight. This past Tuesday I learned the same is true of a 10' pine 1x12. I had placed one in the back of the truck. The wind was ripping. I figured ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #13 Motivation
    I love building houses but some days motivation is a struggle. This past year has posed a unique set of challenges. For many of us, the social activities we rely on to keep us energized have evaporated. Pandemic or not, what do you ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #12 Brushed
    I’ve become either smart or lazy with my paint brushes. I used to wash my brush, roller cover, and paint tray after every use. Not anymore. Water-base paint, primer and stain, with one exception, are what I use. If I’m ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #11 Template
    I grew up in a house with oak kitchen cabinets. I knew oak was a kind of tree and had raked mountains of oak leaves at my grandmother’s house. Give me a few minutes and I could turn an acorn into a shrill and deafening whistle....
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #10 A Pain
    When I move, lift, or place a heavy awkward object I rarely get hurt. Raising a 20' green hemlock 8 x 8 as a temporary electric pole; placing 24' 2 x 12 rafters; tilting up a wall section. It’s the diddly stuff that gets me. When involved in ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #9 Field Guide
    Museums are great. I was once lucky enough to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City while they had an exhibit of works by Vincent van Gogh. It was a powerful experience. I walked out feeling transcended, then ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #8 Closing Cut
    One aspect of being self-taught and working alone is you don’t know if your ideas are new and exciting or old as dirt. This came to mind recently when a song sprang from the truck’s radio and caught me unaware. It starts with a simple ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #7 Boiled
    In December, the boiler was installed at my current build: a wall-hung, direct-vent propane boiler that supplies the hot water for both in-floor radiant heat and domestic use. It’s always a pleasure to see good work being done, and ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #6 Lickety Split
    In some ways mini split heat pumps remind me of my Aunt Martha. They’re both pretty great, but an awareness of certain aspects helps the relationship. With my Aunt Martha it was cheek pinching. You needed to prepare and ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #5 Line Up
    Good work is often invisible. Elements you want to highlight, such as a front door, bullseye medallions incorporated in window trim, or a farmhouse apron sink, shine on purpose. Things that next catch your eye are irregularities. That crooked ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #4 New Year’s Day
    New Year’s day is a big deal in Japan. In the mid ’90s a timber framer relayed a story he attributed to a group of visiting Japanese timber framers. They told him that on New Year’s Day they would clean and sharpen their tools. They were ...
  • The Sketchbook. A builder’s journal: #3 Lists
    Santa and I have at least two things in common. Love of cookies and of lists. Most of my days start with making a list. I could save the trouble of making a daily list by having carved in stone, “Work on house.” Facing that each day would ...
  • In 1980 I was in my second year of college, majoring in geology. Realizing I had no desire to be a geologist I started to think hard on what I did want to do. I noticed an ad in the local paper for a new show. It was called “This Old House” ...
  • I run cold. My hands are especially problematic. They can ache with cold in the grocery store on an 80-degree July day. I used to say I didn’t like winter, but that’s not true. Winter is beautiful. Clear night skies, snow sparkling ...
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