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Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"
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Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

I admit, I'm a procrastinator. I kicked off my first build in 2009 and finished it (with a lot of help) in summer of 2013. Sometime in between I felt I got "the bug" to kick off a couple of other projects" but they're been on the back burner for the past year or so because my house has needed attention and my efforts have been to try to DIY as much as I could to save on expenses. My role as a stay at home parent is partly on hiatus due to mental health reasons but I like to think that the experience has been constructive. This past week I just finished a project that I started back in October: what I'm calling my "autism awareness room."

As I type this my eldest son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder almost 10 years to the day he is now 13 but was diagnosed at age 3. He is still mostly nonverbal and obsessive/compulsive with a good amount of anxiety in the mix. I struggle to share the details but he was extremely destructive and a lot of our lives were pushed beyond the breaking point. Last July he had a major regression and we made the difficult choice of having him admitted into an inpatient program then on to a residential treatment facility. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make and I struggle with it every day. Keeping busy has helped.

We live in a "cookie cutter" home built by a developer who offered several different "models." 30 years ago they bought a large swatch of hilltop farmland and bulldozed out enough area to put down as many of these houses as profitable and they danced all around the local building codes. While not prefab, the materials all come in a single bundle that is delivered on a flat tractor trailer. There was little margin for waste and naturally they used the cheapest labor so there are lots of glaring examples of "inefficiency."

This was my eldest's bedroom. He showed me that the stud placement was not up to code. At the time it made more sense to just put up paneling instead of continuing to patch things up because he'd exposed insulation.

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He's not the only one with angst because of this experience and it felt good - albeit a bit messy - to complete the demolition:

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As an aside, I should point out that the garbage man wouldn't take a lot of this and there wasn't enough to warrant a full dumpster so I hauled it off to the dump myself. That was quite an experience. Very aromatic!

(continued...)

Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

At this point, I turned toward being more "constructive" and began the project in earnest. In order to do so over the next month or so I purchased:

- (3) 4' x 8' x 1/2" sheets of standard residential non fire-resistant drywall.
- (5) 4' x 8' x 5/8" sheets of type X reinforced fire-resistant drywall.
- a drywall carrying tool that probably saved my back
- several 2" x 4" x 8' studs
- (2) rolls of jointer tape
- (1) bag of joint compound mix
- (2) gallons of premixed joint compound (not because the mix was hard to work with but because it set too quickly for a novice like me to work with)
- Various drywall blades
(2) boxed of size 8 x 1.5" drywall screws
- 2 rolls of R-13 insulation to replace sections of damaged insulation
- 2 rolls of replacement plastic to serve as a replacement of the vapor barrier which had been breached when I'd attempted to install the patches.

Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

With the room stripped, I inspected the structure underneath. When the house was built, entire sections of the frame was preconstructed so the exterior walls were basically up to code. I just needed to fix the damaged insulation and vapor barriers.

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Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

The interior walls OTOH look like they were put together by a teenager who couldn't hold a job at McDonald's. Granted, being non load-bearing walls the studs could be place further apart but in places they were nearly 24" apart (when measured from center to center.) Many a time I'd be maintaining vigil while my son was having violent meltdowns and watch him pound through a wall like he was the KOOL AID mascot. In hindsight it probably saved him from giving himself concussions several times. Still, even if were to lean against the wall I could feel it bow.

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I probably didn't do the best job but I tried to reinforce the structure on the interior walls:

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At this point I opted to upgrade to the thicker type X drywall.

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Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Time to put the new drywall up in earnest.

This was the backbreaking part of the job. This room is upstairs and at the end of a relatively narrow hallway so hauling and then hanging it all by myself was difficult. I had already blown my back out twice by then so I took many days off in between. I took the time to read up on how it was supposed to be done. My mind and back both screamed at the idea of hanging the top half first. The drywall carrying tool was a relatively cheap Godsend but I was too cheap to spring for renting a lift from Home Depot. Instead, I would just lean unused drywall at the base of the wall and use it as a ramp to "slide" the panel up and into place before tacking it up with a lone drywall screw.

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Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:17 am ]
Post subject:  Cutting out for windows, doors and outlets

This next part was what I'd call "detail work" and probably one of the more wasteful parts of the job. Bear in mind that I was running off tutorials I'd read online - especially via Youtube videos. I admit that I was a complete n00b (as the kids say online) but I wanted to do it right so I wanted to be methodical. I measured many times before cutting - and I was already skilled at that before with all the patching that I'd done for the past several years. The results weren't perfect but I'll live with them:

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If I had to do it again I'd have ripped out the old metal flashing around the windows. I've had to be the most "creative" countering for that flaw.

Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:25 am ]
Post subject:  Getting into the finer details

First, I'll start out by saying that I absolutely HATE taping and jointing. It's messy, it's redundant. I HATE IT!!!

Originally I tried to mix the joint compound in a tub. I figured that was the best thing to do, right? WRONG! It set MUCH too quickly and despite having fresh trawls and blades it would crumble on me. I opted to go with the mix once the first of three passes was done.

Did I mention it was redundant? This process made French polishing my first guitar build seem an easy thing.

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BTW, at this time the holidays were rolling around and I'd talked my mother into coming to visit us. Our home only has three bedrooms though and she's 77 now. I didn't want her sleeping on the couch so I let her sleep in my then 9yo son's room and put a bed back in here:

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Author:  nkwak [ Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

By this point the detail work had me tearing my hair out. There was LOTS of scraping and sanding to do - especially around those DAD-GUM winders! My mind now turned toward painting, and since this would now be my youngest son's room I asked him what color he wanted.

He said "blue." I should NOT have let him choose. Here's how it looked early on:

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Naturally, I was in a sprint for the finish line on this project so I rushed it. I bought that "paint and primer" crap. I should've known better. I was in the Navy for several years. Painting was a BIG part of what I did. Priming was a pain, but when you paint steel bulkheads you HAVE to paint. Little did I know that the same logic applies to bare drywall. Not only does it DRINK in the paint, but the joint compound does NOT. I could see every dot and edge. It also showed every indentation where I hadn't sanded enough or too much.

Long story short, I ending up spackling some more and then putting on two coats of primer over the first two coats of paint. I might as well have just thrown $80 our the window. The reason it also took two coats of primer was because the blue paint never fully dried. I was still slightly damp to the touch - soooo frustrating!

Fortunately, the primer did its job. At this point I tried to be more methodical - though I did have to touch up the ceiling in places that were now blue. I became reacquainted with green frog tape (I admit that I just had a Freudian slip and typed "FRIG") and now it looked truly livable - though I was not careful with the carpeting.

That's OK. We were getting new carpeting anyway. I don't want to get into the reasons why. Suffice it to say that it was too "dirty" for mere carpet cleaning. This was also a big reason why I had to DIY.

Anyway...last week I put up the trim around the doors and windows and the new carpeting came in. Here's what it looked like before I shuffled furniture around and formally moved my youngest son into his new room:

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PS: I know there are no baseboards. They are in the basement. I've just moved on to other projects for the time being. I needed a break!

Author:  johnnparchem [ Sun Apr 23, 2017 8:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

Looks like a fun project. I also have done major home renovations. Looks to me like you id a really clean job hanging the new dry wall.

Author:  nkwak [ Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Too busy to build guitars but I've become more "handy"

Sorry about all the dead Photobucket links. I have since moved on to Flickr and Instagram, but for the life of me I don't know what pictures are what so it would be laborious to seek out the correct images and update the links.

Moving forward, here are some "almost finished" pics of my foyer/hallway wainscoting project:

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PS: I've since added quarter-round molding atop the chair rail and have caulked, sanded and primed so to all but my discerning wife the project is "presentable."

PPS: I didn't do the flooring; that's actually a floating vinyl floor that was professionally installed.

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