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Wednesday, January 09, 2013  

Control Panels, Part 2

The old saying in carpentry is “measure twice, cut once.” However, in putting up new trim around the windows we’d replaced, I’d perfected a new technique I called, “measure nonce, mark once, cut as many times as necessary.” Not as catchy, I know, but it worked for me. I’d hold the board up to the space where it went, mark it with a pen, and take it outside to cut it to that length on my dad's power miter saw. I’d cut it a little long on purpose because I could always shave off a picometer or two if it turned out too long, which it usually did. Which was part of the system.

But the technique doesn’t translate well to paneling. It was soon apparent that this wasn’t going to work for pieces that were too big to fit into the room, let alone hold up to the spot. So I had to use a tool I normally try to avoid, namely the tape measure. I never trust those things. Always tricking me.

But there was nothing for it but to initiate my own "measure several times, cut as few times as possible” protocols. Which I did. Paneling, I also discovered, is totally different from putting up sheetrock. If I hang a piece of drywall that turns out to be too small by a anywhere from a quarter of an inch to a foot and a half, it's just a matter of filling the space with anything from joint compound to another piece of sheetrock. It's all going to get sanded and painted over anyway. Not so with paneling. If you're off by a picometer, there's no tub of fixin'-goo handy. It's just going to look like ass until you move to a different house.

What all this means is that while working on not only getting the pieces the right size but also cutting the holes for the pipes and the outlet box, it takes a lot longer to make sure you're getting it right. Even if you can't turn the water back on until it's all up and everything's back together and you've brought the sink and the toilet tank back in from outside where you stuck them a few...no, a couple...no, seven hours ago. These projects almost always take longer than I expect them to, and I was going back to work the next day and was less than halfway done. Yes, in my genius I belatedly realized that had scheduled this for a period when I had taken only one day off from work. I suppose I could have gotten a head start the previous evening, but after all that had been New Year's Eve and besides I'd still felt like ass from having forcibly and involuntarily ejected most of my food-poisoned innards the night before that.

There were upsides. M. Edium was out for the evening, so his frequent bathroom visits were a nonissue. As for my own less frequent but still increasingly urgent need for a visit, we were lucky enough to be cat-sitting for neighbors on our block so when I went to fill their bowls I emptied something else. Oh, and also I work at home, so although I had a limited window of daytime hours in which to use power tools (not to be confused with daylight hours at this latitude the first week of January), I could work on my day job at night to justify sneaking away to the bathroom during the day to cut and nail up pieces of first paneling and then trim over the next few days. It's not like I don't spend a few extra minutes of time in there on the occasional work day anyway.

And most importantly, I realized that I'd done the hardest part first. I rarely do that, never on purpose.

But I also found out why I normally save this stuff for the summer, aside from the obvious TV scheduling issues: it's a pain to have to put on shoes and schlep out to the detached garage every time I want to use the power saw. Which, new protocols or no, was constant.

And yet back on the good side, I discovered that fixin'-goo for paneling may not come in tubs, but it does exist. It just comes in tubes. Tubes you stick into a caulking gun. And you know what that fixin'-goo is called? Caulk. I couldn't be as wanton with it as I am with spackle, obviously, but the white caulk on the white paneling made the dark seams look a lot less like buttcracks. Turns out there's one more thing that can be fixed with a judicious application of caulk, which I'm increasingly starting to think of as duct tape in a tube.

So now I started to get caulky. I also fixed the sink faucet, which had been dripping, and the toilet valve, which had been running (and neither of which seemed to have appreciated their time in the sub-freezing temperatures outside anyway), and the window trim, which I had nailed up haphazardly at the beginning of the summer before I knew how to do it right. The paint I used on that trim supposedly takes 24 hours to dry, but the second coat was no longer tacky by the time Trash came home Saturday evening.

Behold my monument to my beloved. It's no Taj Mahal, to be sure. But I think the guy who built that contracted a lot of the work out. Not that I'm judging.

Home Sweet Home

The magic of caulk

Yes, I did stick my iPad under the toilet to get this picture.

And here's what it would have looked like again eventually, had Exie kept doing that to the wallpaper:

October 2009

I think I prefer my after to Exie's. And if his claws slide helplessly down the paneling as he tries to jump to the windowsill, so much the better.

posted by M. Giant 5:26 PM 2 comments


well done. doing stuff like this is a total PITA and it looks like you did it thoroughly!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 11, 2013 at 1:47 AM  

I'm pretty sure I posted this on one of the past bathroom renovations, but it's pretty eerie how much your bathroom resembles the one in our house in size and arrangement. Kind of like you broke in fixed ours up instead.

By Blogger dancing_lemur, at January 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM  

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