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November 2008
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Stain and Seal – Cabot Polystain

'All in one' tools and products for the most part disappoint as they
compromise their functionality for utility. Multi function tools like
swiss army knives and leatherman tools, while the best of breed in
those categories, are still not good screwdrivers, pliers or saws.

Preserving exterior wood is a challenge regardless of where you live. There are paints, stains, sealers, and other coatings.

There is a good solution to the stain seal work. Cabot Polystain is a stain and polyurethane in one can.

I recently used it on a door refinish project for a client. The doors had not been worked on in 10 years and the Arizona sun had  beat them up.

Here is one of the doors before. The original finish has  dissolved and the wood was dry. I had to do these doors in place, so I taped off the glass and trims, sanded with a pad sander, foam sanding blocks and green scotch brite pads.

The first coat was a heavy coat as the wood sucked it up like a vampire having breakfast. Took almost 1/2 a quart to cover the area with the first coat.


I resanded the doors to remove loose bits of crap stuck in the finish and applied the second coat.

It came out quite nicely. Probably good for another 10 years.

The polystain is a medium bodied product that goes on semi smoothly but requires you to work quickly, as the poly begins to set up, and because of the stain, does not allow you a lot of working time to smooth things out.

It also stains a lot lighter than the card would have you think, which is a bit unusal for darker stains. It is an acceptable product for staining and sealing, but is no substitute for stripping, sanding,staining, and sealing. But it is a lot faster, especially where time is a factor.

Sunrise Surprise

Occasionally a sunrise shows up that is pretty nice.Sunrise

It started raining 10 mins later.

Carpet Follies

My son bought his first house, so I went up to give him a hand moving
some of his stuff. While we were moving we took the opportunity to
remove a couple of electric baseboard heaters.

I have seen many weird things in the years I have been remodeling, some good, some bad and the occasionally downright lunatic. This falls into that category.

This is the wall behind one of the baseboard heaters. The red and black shag is the previous carpet. They just ran the carpet up to the heater and stopped. There were 4 screws holding the heater to the wall.  The carpet installers must not own a screwdriver. But then having one's head filled with 'fuzzy side up', probably accounts for it.

Shopping for Remodelers and Filthy Lucre

Shopping for Remodelers
With the holidays around the corner, giving gifts is one way of expressing your feelings to your significant others, friends, and comrades in arms. 

Remodelers are strange folks. You cannot buy them ties or fruit baskets. They will use the ties to mop up spills, and the fruit baskets will get covered in dust.

To a remodeler, nothing says love quite as much as remodeling stuff. Tools, Hardware and Fixtures is how you will be remembered. You may ask a remodeler what they would like for the holidays or birthdays, and they will tell you, in excruciating detail. Most of you who know remodelers probably think that they have been possessed and are speaking in tongues. Relax! There is no cause for alarm or calling for intervention.

 They inhabit a world where sheets do not go in the laundry, getting nailed and screwing are  not bedroom activities. What to do?

Filthy Lucre
Show your love, get them a gift card! By now you have already figured out that buying a traditional gift for a remodeler is harder than buying a present for a second cousin twice removed whom you have never seen.

You can however spread holiday joy with an Amazon Gift Card
Using this link, not only spreads joy to the remodeler, but I also make some money as well! Which I will use for my remodeling projects.

3 Sided Drywall Repair

Repairing drywall usually comes up during the course of remodeling projects. If you break a wall, cut a hole, have the plumber and electrician over for a run or two, like where the drywall got opened for running wire or cables. It is usually your job to repair the walls.

In the case of small holes, under a square foot, these  are small enough to make a 'tapeless' drywall patch. I have a photo gallery here: Drywall Patch which outlines this proceedure.

The gallery shows the steps to repair drywall using the face paper as the tape for patching the wall.

However, there are cases where your patch needs to be three sided, such as inside corners or abutting things that are not moving, like trim. Here is a method for handling this challenge.

This is a hole the electrician made at the top of a service panel. It is about 4'' square. The left side has a stud behind it, the interior is filled with wires and insulation, making it a candidate for a 3 sided repair.


After squaring the hole with a utility knife and keyhole saw, we measure and cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole. For this repair we cut a piece of drywall 6'' wide and 5'' tall. After cutting the drywall to size, we flip it over and make 3 1'' scores on the back, and remove the drywall, taking care to leave the face paper intact. This piece is our tapeless drywall patch, using the face paper for our tape to cover the seam.


This is a three sided patch as the service panel is not moving, and you do not under any circumstances be slinging wet drywall mud into a live electric panel. You will want to dryfit this to insure that it will fit the hole, and not be too loose. 

Be sure to mask off those areas that you do not want mud.

Next you butter the the opening with mud carefully. I am using a different image as I was using speed set on this repair, and cameras and drywall mud do not mix :)


You apply enough drywall mud  to seal the seam, and provide enough mud under your patch so there are no voids or dry spots under your 'tape'.

Wipe it down, being careful not to push the patch into your hole. It will probably sink a bit because there is no backing, and that's okay. Let it dry.


Apply additional coats as necessary to cover your patch and smooth the wall.


A light sanding, and some paint to match, and unless you post it, you and the folks who made the hole will be the only ones to know.


Aquarium Stand 2

My son has a fish thing. He didn't get it from me. I built him a stand a couple of months ago for his 55 gal tank. He just moved north and needed another one.

This is a 30 gal. number. 36 1/2'' wide x16'' deep by 12'' high(16'' with the base)

Simple butt joints with 1 5/8'' deck screws holding it together. Zar wood filler for the screw holes, and three coats of Cabot Satin Poly. using my favorite brush

Inside at the back are two stretchers so he can attach it to the wall. He has number one grandson and number one grandaughter there, both of them exhibiting an inordinate amount of energy. Trust me, tipping over an aquarium never ends well.

It is a plain simple box. I am not ashamed to show my plies.
Construction Details:
one sheet of Arauco plywood
2 16'' rips
cut one top 36 1/2'' x 16'' and 2 10 3/4'' sides out of one rip
cut one bottom 36 1/2'' x 16'' and 2 10 3/4'' insides out of one rip
rip the remainder into 4'' strips for the base
cut 2 @ 36 1/2'', cut 3 10 1/2 pieces for the sides and center.
cut 2 stretchers for the back(size depends on how you divide the space)

You get all the pieces out of the two 8' rips with little scrap, and have a piece around 15'' wide left over.
Not a 1 sheet wonder like the 55 gal tank, but I will find something to use it for.

Glue, clamp, countersink, and screw together.
Fill in holes, Sand, and finish.

Cabot Water Borne Polyurethane

 I am lazy. I try do do things with the smallest amount of hassle as I can.

Polyurethane is one of those products that makes life a wonderful thing. It is the stuff for protecting wood. Until recently poly was a product that was solvent based giving off fumes, taking long drying times and requiring solvents like mineral spirits to clean up after. Not any more.

This is Cabot Water Borne Polyurethane. It has almost no odor, brushes well, lies flat, dries quickly, and cleans up easily with water. It is available at Lowes for sure.

This is the Satin finish, which I prefer as I am tired of shiny. It comes in shiny and flat as well.

Working with poly is a little different as you need to brush a little slower so that the finish does not bubble, and it will if you are not careful. You also need to brush thin coats. A minimum of two if not three coats, which can be done in a day.

A light sanding with a scotch brite pad or one of those foam sanding blocks (180 grit or so) between coats will give you a very nice finish. Using a good brush like the Cub will also help.

Purdy XL Cub Paint Brush

I have a large collection of paint brushes. Straight, Tapered, and a bunch of specialty brushes for oddball effects.  But this is hands down my new favorite one. This is the Purdy XL Cub.

It is tapered like a sash and trim brush, made with nylon and polyester, so it can be used with any type of paint or stain.

The real deal with this brush is the way it handles.
A standard brush has a long handle, which on flat surfaces works great, but this brush has a small handle with thumb depressions, allowing you to get into small spaces like the inside of shelving units and not banging into the stuff you have already painted.

The handling of this brush is like the difference between driving a chevette and a porsche 911.

If you are going to buy a brush for working on your house, this is definitely one to have.
Available at Amazon for under 10 bucks.

Exterior Door Security – Hinge Side – The 3 Dollar Solution

Most residential exterior doors swing in. Some swing out and have the hinges exposed. The bad guys will take advantage of this.

Last week I was refinishing some exterior doors and needed to find some Interlocking Security Stud hinges. Ace sells them online and by catalog, but in quantities of one. At 4 bucks a pop.  You really need two per door. Most commercial doors swing out. The primary reason is floor space. You
loose a lot of square footage having a door swing in as well as needing
to open the door after you have sold your customers bags full of
stuff. Door02

The photo on the right shows one of these type of hinges. It has a hole on one side and stud stamped  out of the body on the other side.

When the door is closed, the stud locks the hinge in place so even if the hinge pin is removed, or the barrel is cut off,  the hinge is locked in place making breaking in much harder.

These used to be available in hardware stores next to regular hinges in the most popular residential sizes. Residential and Commercial hinges are different animals. I won't detail the differences as you probably have other things to do and this post would run for days if I did. Suffice to say. "I know things about Hinges".

I will mention the set screw type and the fast riveted pin types will both fail to with a guy armed with a battery powered die grinder with a grinding wheel. Cut through the hinge barrel, the set screw and fast riveted pin types are laying on the ground, and your stuff is on its way to a fence.

They still make them, but the orange and blue box stores don't carry them. Nor do the bigger chain hardware stores or commercial hardware stores here in Phoenix, the 6th or 8th largest major city in the country. They are more expensive, but so is your stuff.

The 3 Dollar Solution

I went to Clyde Hardware, a local Builders Hardware store(which is a commercial hardware supply house), which doesn't carry them either, but turned me on to these.


These are CASTLE Maximum Security Hinge Pins. 3 Dollars. One package does a door. Compare that with the Ace hinge above which will set you back 4 bucks each, really needing two, and the extra mortising you will probably need to do as the are square corners and your hinges have rounded corners.

A side note here: your hinges have rounded corners as the manufacturers of pre hung door use routers to mortise the doors and jambs. Square corners require more work.

Drop dead simple. Mark the door, drill two 1/2'' holes, tap them into place and you are done.

The exposed pin is a 1/2'' long making it almost impossible to remove the door. The bad guys will have to destroy the door entirely to get passed these. 

And did I mention cheap? It's all about saving the Benjamins.

Here is the finished detail.


An elegant solution to security on exterior door. Works on most residential steel doors also as they are clad front and back and the hinge and jamb are exposed wood.


Installation Instructions:


Mortgage Looney Tunes

Just about every house blogger is being affected by the cratering in home values, and is probably thinking about having a panic attack. You bought a house, have a mortgage, and are remodeling or restoring it. Meanwhile, next door, down the block, around the neighborhood, for sale house signs are springing up saying Bank Owned, Auction, Short Sale. A far cry from 3 Bedroom, Gorgeous Inside!
You look at the sale prices, look at your mortgage, figure out what you are spending on your projects, and want to panic.


Home Value in dollars and cents is an artificial number, based upon
sale price, which over the past few years has been artificially
inflated through any number of reasons, most of them a financial
engineering, greed fueled carnival of bullshit.

I live in an rainbow coalition, bad side of the tracks,(according to the city fathers) old neighborhood, (houses here were built in the early 50's) the house next door was sold for 1/2 of its last purchase price, and a house flipper is busy putting lipstick on it. It is good lipstick as they are putting in a new roof, new HVAC unit, and some double glazed windows, which here are necessary, not because of the heat here in Phoenix, but because of the airplane noise. Did I mention that I live directly under one of the landing patterns for the airport? That there is one both north and south of us as well?

But my neighborhood is probably a lot nicer than yours. Not as pretty, certainly not historic, but we have what so many neighborhoods lack. We sit on our porches, kids play in the street, we watch out for each other. We are all taking a hit.

Your value is taking  a hit, but you are making a long term investment. Yes it is an investment. A 20 or 30 year investment. Even if you do move, trade up or down, remember that your value is not just a figure on a piece of paper, assigned by somebody looking for a commission, but is that place where your neighbors wave, hold your packages, and when you walk in your door, know that you are home. 

Don't Panic!