Saturday, January 10, 2009


Dang I forgot all about this thing. Too busy I guess. Maybe get it going again.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Recent handy things

Well I have been busy, not with posting but with honey-do and work projects. I've done a lot of regular handyman stuff but I do like the projects the best. In no particular order. There was the back porch (now office) in my house. Starting from sheet linoleum I stripped that off, sanded it with my 3" belt sander and orbital sander ( too small an area for a floor sander) applied tung oil finish (more about that later).I ended up with this.

That wasn't too hard so one of my customers wanted to redo his front porch. Ian ( my 16 yo) and I stripped off the old painted rickety boards.

Then we installed new tongue and groove pine flooring, sanded and finished with dark tung oil.

So far both of us are really happy with the result. I like the idea of the natural finish. Unlike Polyurethane you can go back later and recoat or touch up.

Another old customer was ready for their new fence. The fence had been ready for a new fence for some time.
I got 5 of Ian's buddies and a couple of other helpers. By the end of the day the old fence and old shed were by the street and 30 of the 32 fence panels were up. I also had convinced five 16 yo boys that they would prefer a college education to having a "regular" job. The other panels and gates went up the following two weeks.

For my birthday I got to build myself (at my lovely wife's "request") a new picnic table. It's an 8 footer and I am pretty sure that no one is going to steal this thing without 4 guys to get it out of the back yard. first they have get all of these people off of it though.
I got one more present for Easter ( to celebrate the annual brunch). I got to make myself a new yard swing.

It's a little hard to tell how big it is from the empty picture, so here is what it looks like full of girls. The swing itself is 6' long and is made with thicker wood than most.
You can find it and the table for sale in my web store. Now that I have a design it will be a bit easier to make than the first one.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Subterranian Termites

I have been busy.
Screened enclosure, kitchen cabinet install, built on site kitchen counter, decking in attic, floor repair, window repair, fence repair, turn a hole into a closet.
While these were interesting projects, moving the washer and dryer hookup at my house is the most interesting.
It involves adding plumbing to the shed

I removed an inside wall panel and found that my 1 1/2 year old shed is a playground and restaurant for a gazillion subterranian termites

I did some recent research Because Pebbles (sorry, old picture) had been having a pretty consistant flea problem since the doggie door went in (more time lying in the sand outside) and found that Boric Acid is one of the best treatments going for fleas, ants, roaches and termites. There is lots of info on the web but a couple of things I found.
Boric acid (orthoboric acid) is the active ingredient in most roach powders ( $8 per 1 lb bottle). I bought mine for $27 for 15 lbs at The Chemistry Store.
I read about a company that sprays a boric acid solution on the open studwork of new construction and guarantees it for 5 years.
Anyway my plan is to clean off all of the "tubes" going up the slab to the wood, put a line of powder around the perimeter, make a 5% solution of boric acid and water and spray it inside all of the infested walls and preventativly in other places with a garden sprayer. Then in a couple of weeks, I'll open some of those walls and see what activity there is. I'll let you know how it goes.
The solution is sold by some suppliers in a 2% or 4% solution. I think it was about $27 for 500ml.
The 5% solution can be made by throughly mixing 3/4 cup of BA with 1 gal of water. If my math is right I can make 42 gal with my 15lbs.
It is also sold as a floor mopping solution for fleas, roaches and ants.
There are some safety precautions which you should definitely research yourself, but it is not considered hazardous waste and it is used in some eyewashes.
Stay tumed. I'm in a writing mood More soon.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Singing Handyman

Since I have been too lazy to post, I'll put this up.
I do want the truck!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Catching up

It's been a busy time since my last post. My day job went crazy in July, about 100 hours of overtime. August was more of the same. September was catch up and restarting handyman. There's screening in a porch, renovating a house, bathroom rehab and my house has insulation and a new back door (with doggie door).
I'm just starting on a new old house, probably built in the oughts. Work had already started in the past. The part that theowner did himself looked great. time got tight and he hired someone to carry on his work. The lesson of the day is keep a close eye on people that are doing work on your house. Make sure that the quality of the work is up to your expectations, from start to finish, don't assume you are getting quality work until you see it. It's much easier to fix an old house than it is to fix careless work.
On a lighter note, I'll be one of the MC's at the Riverhawk Festival coming up 11/9 - 11/12. Also at the Bgosh mixer in December I am going to be the entertainment

OK that's it for now -- more soon

Friday, June 23, 2006


Getting ready to do a refinance I found out that I was going to have to have a 4-point inspection (electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roof) for the insurance company. I knew that the house wouldn't pass the electrical because I still had the knob and tube wiring. I knew I was going to have to get it done eventually. I had gotten bids before I bought the house 2 years ago of $5000 and $7000. I called a couple of places and couldn't find anyone to even show up on short notice, much less do the work. I decided to do it myself. My recommendation -- don't try this at home. Now I know why electricians want so much for rewiring houses. It is hot dirty work. I spent many hours in my crawl spaces above and below my house.
It actually turned out to be, probably, relatively easy. I have a balloon frame house with no firestops. From my 2nd floor attic I could drop a weight on a string straight down to the ground, no holes to drill. My baseboard recepticles could be easily reached by bending the wire a bit and poking it up from the crawlspace below.
There were certainly some interesting problems. As required by code, ( and apparently 1926 common sense) three-way switches are required for stairways. I was determined not to have to do any major plaster work so even though the direct distance from the top switch to the bottom switch is about 12 feet, the length of the wire that connects the 2 is over 100 feet.
I was pretty concerned about getting power to the lights (LR Kit, DR) that lie under the 2nd floor. When I opened my crawlspace over my porch (there was no access to any attic spaces in the house) there were 2 x 12 joists between the ceiling and floor and I could see all of the way to the back of the house, including all of the wiring. I was able to tape my wire to a piece of 30' PVC and slide it all of the way down to my kitchen.
I ended up with about 80 hours of labor and there is now just over 1500 feet of wire in the house.
I did find some real potential problems. The knob and tube wiring was in pretty good shape actually even though I only had 2 original circuits one for all the lights and one for all of the outlets. Others had gotten added and my fuse box got updated to a breaker box in the 50's. The wiring that got added then was cloth covered romex, which was not in as good a shape as the knob and tube. I found some exposed wire ( no insulation) at one place and in general the insulation was dry and crumbly. The other place I found exposed wire was in the original lighting fixtures. The heat rising from the light combined with the age made those wires in general the worst in the house.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Handyman Rates

WOW 2 posts in one day.

I got an email today, from the second or third person this week who found me through the BGOSH site ( thanks BGOSH and check for the new link) and I also got one from the Seminole Heights Blog

One of the emails was a question of whether a quantity of hours would get them a reduced price
My reply --

Your inquiry about daily or weekly rates prompted me to do what I usually do when there is no answer in my head -- Google. These were some of the things I found in the first few pages searching for "Handyman rate" or "handyman price."

(double spacing denotes a different website)

The modern home-repair firm typically works on an hourly basis, much as a plumber or electrician would. In order to get the best value for your money, have as many little repairs as possible done at one time. Not only will this approach save you money, it will also greatly reduce the time and headaches associated with finding, arranging to meet and hiring a repair firm

1) Time & Materials. Some companies require the buyer to use a minimum number of hours B
typically 2-4 . Many companies charge more for the first hour in order to compensate for travel time.
Hourly billing rates range: $45-$58
Materials: marked up 35-100%
Subcontractors: marked up 20-40%

--Hi, I am trying to figure out if I am getting handman charges $35/hour and seems to work pretty slowly.--
I wouldn't have made it beyond your front door!
My Professional Handyman rate is:
$65 first half hour.
$55 per hour, per man after that.

Here are some general questions and answers about handyman jobs:

Q: Handyman services in my area often charge $40 or more per hour. This seems awfully expensive. How can I get the work done for less?

A: You probably cannot get the work done well for less, because the economics of contracting has changed over the years. Forty dollars an hour is about the minimum it takes to provide professional service. While you may be able to find "bargain" contractors who will work for less, these firms are rarely licensed and insured, are far less likely to back up their work, and will probably be much more cavalier about returning calls and keeping appointments

Cleveland Handyman Services - Neatnics Cleveland Home Repair, Home ...
Our Cleveland Handyman services are provided on an hourly basis: $79.00 for the first 1/2 hour then $59.00 per hour thereafter, per Cleveland handyman ..

HomeTask's competitive hourly rates are as follows: $139.99* for the initial 2 hours of each day or appointment, $59.99* for additional normal working hours and $69.99* for hours worked outside of the normal working hours.

So to answer your question, no, I think my $40 is fair ( 30% of that is taxes) especially with no "first hour" rate even though in most cases it's a one hour minimum. I don't markup materials at all but I do charge for materials runs at a reduced rate.


I was taking some pictures of Nicko's Fine Foods to send to a band that is playing at Skipper's this coming Tuesday. The Waybacks (video here) said in their newsletter that they were looking for interesting places for breakfast. Where better?

I looked over my shoulder and saw some woodworking equipment that turned out to be Ernie's Woodwork. He's the guy that does the old style windows with what is probably the old style construction, hidden mortise and tenon. the " top of his head " price he gave me was $130 for a single glazed window and $490 (?) for complete frame and 2 windows.
I didn't study them closely but it seemed to be quality workmanship.
He also does screens and hinged storm shutters. No more hauling plywood sheets up a ladder for the second floor windows.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Still here

Lots of projects very little free time. I'll get back to this soon, sooner if you ask questions.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


Since my Handyman web page mentions my geek skills and I am in geek mode today, today's post is going that direction.
File sizes ----
I was looking at a site I may be doing some work on and one page was a picture gallery. It took 30 seconds to download. Now I know 30 seconds doesn't seem that long, right? OK, for the next 30 seconds, do nothing but look at your watch or computer clock if you have seconds turned on. No cheating, 30 seconds. Seems longer now doesn't it. It had 18 pictures and 18 tumbnails. Just the pictures, 180k each, add up to 3200k. That takes about 30 seconds to download on my dsl. Here is a head to head quality comparison. The top picture is 39k and the bottom one is 2200k. I just did an impartial survey and 5 year olds and 8 year olds both prefer the top picture for speed and quality.
Checking the size of your pictures is easy. PC users right click, Mac users CTRL click and look at properties. Anything over 100k on a page for a single photo that just gets viewed on a monitor is probably a bigger file than it needs to be.
When I first started doing websites I made a huge mistake, and it turned out to be wrong on many levels. Someone gave me a disc of MS Word files and wanted me to turn them into a website. I'm looking at the menu item that says "Save as Web Page" and I thought -- this is easy. What I ended up with was this, 20 pages of code. A similar page made with Adobe Golive ( like Dreamweaver) was only 5 pages. That's 4 times as large and 4 times as long to load. If that wasn't enough the pages were pracically impossible to edit. (move, resize pictures, adjust text sizes.)
So . . . keep it simple, small and quick.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Welcome seminoleheights

Well, David put a mention of this blog on the Seminole Heights blog on Saturday. Saturday I had 3 visitors, Sunday I had 31. My posts will be a bit sporadic, but comments and emailed questions will get a response, possibly in the form of a post. I certainly don't have any problem giving free advice. Most of the time I even know what I am talking about.
So if you are renovating or just have the occasional home repair, drop me a line or check back now and then. I'll try to keep you some what informed and entertained. I will try to remember not to try to be funny if I am writing in the morning. According to my wife/best friend, I'm not funny until at least 10 am.

More later

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Followup: Plaster repair

The National Park Service has published 40 of their briefs on Historic Restoration online as a companion to their printed materials.
The main National Park Service "briefs" link is
There are some interesting articles there for the Historic restorer.
One of the things that I ran into (again more research needed) is that elastomeric paint is considered to be an accepted encapsulant for lead based paint if it has a 20 year warranty.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Plaster Cracks

I am going to get a few articles behind me before I let anyone know about this blog.
I was doing a little research on plastering so I could sound like I knew what I was talking about. I found a site that tells you almost everything that you ever wanted to know about plaster repair. It's actually a National Park Service site. I didn't explore more of it but I will soon.

I figured out a few things on my own based on some of my experiences, I live in an 80 year old bungalow in So. Seminole Heights that I bought 2 1/2 years ago, right after I had finished working on a 1928 house in SE/Belmont Heights. It had been vacant for 3 years when I got it. When I
first walked in here is a little of what I saw.

you look close in the far end of the livingroom you can make out the water damage. Part of the LR ceiling had dropped 1/4". It's also on the bedroom ceiling. You can't see it here but almost all of the walls and ceilings had spiderwebs of stress cracks.

I had used elastomeric "paint" in the past on a water damaged drywall seam in a ceiling and it lasted over 2 years 'til I sold the house. It comes in brush or trowel grade and textured (fine) or smooth. As the name hints it is elastic (rubbery).

I brushed it into the cracks thoroughly making sure that it went in below the surface and left very little to feather out on the surface. In the bad places I used multiple coats. No cracks have reopened anywhere even the worst spot (1/4" drop).

I used a bonding primer where the original primer (and paint) had fallen off the ceiling due to water. Then primer mixed with drywall compound and paint texture artisticly applied with brush and roller to match the original finish. This area the had worst water damage and the 1/4 inch drop

This is the cat attacking the dog ( No, she's not an irish setter)

More later

Friday, January 27, 2006


Don't forget to check out my website.
It's not just about saws and hammers and paint.
I have geek skills as well.

Seminole Heights Real Estate

My mom has been involved in all of my Real Estate transactions. She also was born and raised in Seminole Heights. In fact, she never left. She has always lived within about a half mile of where she grew up. She's been facilitating Real Estate deals in Seminole Heights for over 40 years and still is. If you are buying or selling, let me know, I'll get you in touch.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Seminole Heights Handyman

I'll be sporadically posting probably mostly providing resources for DIY's working on the old bungalows in Seminole Heights and elsewhere.
Some of my favorite vendors ( more about them later) ----
  • Tampa Bay Hardware (used to be Sparks when I was a kid) --- Hardware, plumbing, electrical, tools, and fasteners (by the piece or pound)
  • North Rome Lumber --- siding, molding, quality lumber, custom work
  • Craftsman Supply --- hardware, molding, quality lumber, custom work
  • Tanner Paint --- the best and most friendly paint store in town
  • Atlas Electric Supply -- ask for Woody
  • Bucks Plumbing Supply --- great selection, service, the best prices (check out the cash register)
  • --- almost everything for the inventor/repairer, delivered to your door for a small fee. Just go browse.
  • Taconazo (taco bus) --- lunch
  • Bo's ---- mmmmmm dessert

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