Friday, April 4, 2008

Make Me Shudder

This opening is 7' x 5' It's quite large! This opening is at the top of a vaulted ceiling through to an office area upstairs. On the second floor it is at window height. My customer was losing all of her heat to the upper level and wanted a way to close it off during the winter.

Finally, Shutters. I took on this project and what I thought would take weeks, turned into months. I just got home from saying goodbye to these suckers!

In theory, and on paper these seemed simple and straight forward. I listened to what the customer wanted, drew up a design, gave her a quote, took a partial advance and bought wood. Off to the races. I planned to build them at night and on weekends, I was doing a kitchen remodel during the day, which also was intruding on my weekends. Snow slowed me down a lot too. The fact that I had to spend a good deal of time clearing it, getting sand, etc.

The first thing that happened was my router bit was causing considerable tear-out. Some pieces were unusable, others had to be patched. They all had to be sanded, because my joints didn't come out perfectly flush.

I was putting in some brutal, physically exhausting days on the kitchen and just couldn't make myself go back to work after dinner. When I finally got them together, I went over to check the fit before painting them. Three times I planned to go for the fitting, and three times it snowed. I finally made it over there and they needed to be cut down. I did that and then primed them. Once I started painting them I noticed some seems were still noticeable, so I sanded them down again. I had promised to deliver brushed nickel hardware, and finding hinges in that finish that would support the weight of the panels and fit a 3/4'' door proved to be much more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I found some I thought would work ordered them, and a couple knobs, and when they arrived, too small. I thought the width measurement was one side of the hinge, but it was the width of the hinge open, so they would be great for a jewelry box, but not big heavy shutters! I had to call and reschedule while I waited for the correct hardware to arrive.

I also ordered a hinge mortising template kit, that the salesman at the local woodworker's supply, assured me would work for cabinet hinges as well as door hinges. I had 24 mortises to do, so I didn't want to screw around with the hammer and chisel. It arrived the day before I had rescheduled to go over there, and it did not accommodate small hinges at all, only full door hinges!

I had too much hand mortising to do, to make the appointment, so I called to reschedule it again. It got to be like a sick joke, and I had a mini-panic attack when I knew I'd have to make the call.

The afternoon I was supposed to go, my customer called me and asked me if I would mind pushing it off another night or two, she had romantic dinner plans. No problem, I went the next night. When I got there I framed the opening, didn't have my nail gun because it is still at the other job site, so I hand nailed and set the nails, not hard, just slower. I put the first shutter in place and one side fit but the other side was too tall. The ceiling sloped down in the middle of the opening. I hadn't noticed it. I mitered the door stop strips and painted them. Filled the nail holes, sanded them, and painted the frame. Threw the shutters back in the truck to take them home and cut them down some more.

Today, I cut down the shutters, and was loading them back in the truck, I thought about the knobs. I bought normal cabinet knobs. They'd have to be on the upstairs side of the shutters and the stupid screw head would be visible from the living room. Wrongo! I thought of the wooden knobs with screws attached. If I could find those nothing would show in the living room. I couldn't find those, so I decided to buy 4 different knobs, and some #8 threaded rod, cut it to size, and have a knob on both sides. I went to the hardware store and bought the stuff. Then back to the customer's house.

The next issue was the hardware itself. I bought very expensive high quality hinges, because the shutters are heavy and I wanted smooth movement. The screws that came with these hinges were just as cheap and shoddy as a Yugo full of fifty-year-old hookers. They were slotted, and they were small. I had my mult-tip screwdriver, but when I switched to the number 1 flat-tip, it was broken. I had a small tweeker, I tried using that, but I couldn't get any torque so I had to leave, and go to a nearby lumberyard, that had some tools in the store. I found a set of four with the right size flat-tip and bought it. That helped a lot. However some of the screws were unusable. The slot wasn't deep enough to hold the screwdriver. Half the head just broke clean off one of them and three broke off flush halfway in the hole making it impossible for me to put another screw in that spot. Two of the screws were actually glued together and I couldn't get them apart. What a pain in the ass. Also, it was a struggle getting the doors hinged because I was by myself, the doors were large and heavy and I only have two hands.

Once I managed to get them all hung, I installed the door stop strips and as the customer left to go out to dinner, I had only to install the knobs, do some touch up painting, and caulk. I cut the threaded rod to length, marked the knob hole locations, picked up the drill and the battery died. I'd have to go home and get the other battery. By this time, I was starving and tired. I drove home, let the dogs out, fed them, grabbed my battery and bolted back to the house. I finally finished, cleaned up, loaded my truck, and the customer arrived back home, surprised to find me still there, but very happy with the end result, which somehow makes it all worth it. I went to take the picture, and my camera said to replace the batteries, typical.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

HAHHAAA, bet you're REALLY glad that project is over! ERRRMMMM is the photo posted up the wrong way?

RED MOJO said...

anon, yes, I'll sleep well tonight, if I ever go to bed. The photo is right side up.

Wieneke said...

What a story! Was a nice heavy curtain of very tight woven cloth... uh...not a better idea???
*is running away very fast for RM's kicking foot* :-)))))

Slip said...

Just how many 50 year old hookers can you fit in a Yugo?

Ben said...

OMG. What a terrible project! Glad that one's over for you.

CS said...

Well, they look great but I can't believe how much effort they took. Glad you're done with it.

VE said...

This is exactly why I pay somebody to do things like that. I wouldn't have accounted for any of those variables either. Well, and I'd suck at measuring, cutting, sanding, painting, nailing and installing...but that's beside the point. Congrats on it being done though, they look great.

RED MOJO said...

wieneke, Nooooooo, she wanted it to look nice...curtains... (mutters shaking head slowly).

I don't know exactly...I'm not even sure why I thought of that when lousy screws were the issue!

ben, It could have gone a little smoother. Thanks.

cs, Hey your old avatar is back! Is that on purpose? What a relief, I slept like a baby last night.

ve, I'm supposed to think of these things, but I find that know matter how much forethought I put into things, there is almost always something that catches me. A tool I didn't take to the site, something!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Just reading this made me very tired.

tsduff said...

My admiration for your woodworking skills is tremendous. What a lot of hassle for a picture perfect result. Well done T!

kj said...

i am exhausted reading this. jeeez, louise!

enjoy your weekend!

Ces said...

Sometimes, when you think that something is very simple, they turn out to be very complicated, just like at our workplace. I should have learned my lesson by now and never say "this is simple" but I keep forgetting. I did it again last Thrusday. Your project reminds me of a lot of things. There's always something. The end result looks fantastic and you were dilligent in making sure you had the right hardware. The time may have been an issue but I am sure the customer will appreciate the quality.

RED MOJO said...

ces, She did, in fact she overpaid by $50, which was incredibly kind, since I kept offering her a discount for the time factor.

RED MOJO said...

Oops, I skipped a bunch I thought I'd responded to already. Sorry

heart, Thanks...I think.

tsduff, I like having you around!

kj, Hope I didn't wear you out too badly. Enjoy yours too!

Debra Kay said...

I think this story tells us a lot about your character. You could have bailed out, taken an easier or less expensive way out, but you stayed with it and did it and did it RIGHT. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Yes, good for you ... have just worked out it's up near the ceiling. You had to keep lifting them up there!?! You've already answered that question, I'm gasping incredulously ...

RED MOJO said...

debra kay, I will always sacrifice speed for quality. Everythng I build is a reflection on me. If people see poor craftsmanship, they won't say, "yeah, but she got this done really fast, so it's okay."

increduluos gasper, That's okay. I added and explanatin under the picture when you were confused, so you helped everyone who came after you. :)