Friday, June 27
Doghouse Riley's Real-Life Do-It-Yourself Project File™
Project: Mosaic-topped potting bench
Materials: 2x4 treated lumber, 3/4" plywood, 1x4 construction-grade lumber, carriage bolts, deck screws, exterior nails, construction adhesive, exterior paint, urethane, assorted sandpaper, ceramic tile, exterior grout, sealer, moulding
Tools: circular saw, power drill, sander, hammer, paint brushes, grout float, margin trowel, sponge, terry-cloth towels, magnifying glass, mosquito repellant, tweezers, assorted bandages, bacitracin, tetanus vaccine
Estimated time: 6 years
Estimated cost: $7000, labor included
Instructions: 2002: build potting bench at wife's insistence, paint. Later, in response to her "Shouldn't you do something about the (rain) water standing on the table?" resolve to do nothing about rain water standing on the table. 2003: replace tabletop, paint, urethane. 2004: urethane. 2005: urethane, repaint to match new garden decor, urethane. 2006: urethane, decide to tile top as more permanent solution to weathering, buy tile, leave lying on bench. 2007: pharmaceutical testing. 2008: resolve, post-arthroscopy, to clean up mess. Replace tabletop, repaint, decide to actually get tiling done this time, decide to try mosaic, on the grounds that increasing the time required to finish the project by a factor of 12 will similarly increase the likelihood of its completion. Peruse grout aisle at local Lowe's. Discover, not surprisingly, that grout aisle, like every other aisle in the store, is dominated by the company which shows the greatest degree of quality control in selecting and distributing perks to Lowe's executives. Select color ("platinum") and exterior, sand-positive grout. Get home and use magnifying glass to decipher print on container; discover it's still gibberish, but that product must in fact be mixed with a proprietary liquid and not water, which must have cost the executives at the grout company at least a dozen extra hookers. Return to Lowe's, only to discover that the hole where said liquid is supposed to reside--several feet and a couple products separated from the huge selection of colors which are actually useless without it. Find Lowe's employee to confirm that shelf hole does mean they're out of the product, and not just that it's stored twenty-five feet above and no one wanted to get it. Also learn that unavailability is common, due to color and liquid mixture being packaged in one of those 6 hot dogs/ 8 buns relationships. Drive to next-closest Lowe's, find item in stock. Learn, additionally, that I had fallen for Standard Do-It-Yourselfer Ploy, where smaller, "Come On" packaging of tint was married to Stupid All-In-One bucket, exorbitantly priced and including convenient sponge and rubber gloves, "convenient" in the sense that they were right there in the bucket and I didn't have to go into the garage to get any of the countless examples I already owned, and which I was now required to purchase at pain of starting all over again. Smash tiles with hammer, begin lay-out process. Decide first idea doesn't work, start over. Reject second effort, begin third. Live through two weeks of torrential downpours and concomitant clean-up. Return to project to discover every piece ("tesserae") must be removed and tabletop cleaned again. Make aesthetic decision that whatever the next one turns out it be is The Fuckin' Design No Matter What. Complete. Rig tarp over table to wait out predicted rains. Return, glue down ever last motherfucking piece ("tesserae"), which goes pretty smoothly, assuming you like mind-numbing operations that take two days. Let dry. Mix grout. Apply diagonally using float. "Cut" excess to assure cleaner surface. Discover that there is very little excess. In fact, there's not quite enough grout to cover the entire project, despite the fact that the size of the color component suggested twice what was needed. As a result, endure wife, who never, ever, reads directions, asking, "Did you read the directions?" Decide to wait and see. Clean with vinegar/ water solution after 30 mintues. Clean again one hour later. Dismantle rain fly. Inspect next morning. Decide that hairline gaps present aesthetic problem, albeit small, and that small untiled area in front will collect water. Realize at about this time that lack of moulding on front of table makes grouting problematic at best; return to Lowe's for moulding plus large-sized colored grout ("platinum") originally avoided as "too much". Employing "go home, use magnifying glass" method, learn that this grout mixes with fucking water. Cut moulding to fit; nail and glue in place. Mix small amount of grout, apply. Worry that color doesn't match. Ponder covering entire tabletop again just as unpredicted rain starts. Throw tarp over table. Return in 30 minutes, clean with vinegar/ water. Return in one hour, clean again, just as unpredicted rain begins pouring. Curse wife. Allow new grout to dry 12 hours. Return for inspection, decide color match is acceptible, decide to take picture to accompany hilarious "Do-It-Yourself" blog post. Retrieve green paint from basement for moulding. Decide to touch up back-splash for picture to cover remaining grout stains. Discover paint is, in fact, a slightly different green used in a different project. Repaint entire backsplash, and moulding. Tidy up bottom shelf of bench by removing unsightly materials to ground behind bench, forgetting it has been freshly painted. Take picture. Run to kitchen to rinse paint out of shirt. Resume pharmaceutical testing.
That's all there is to it! As always, readers are urged to send in pictures of their own completed projects, and the winner could receive a prize package consisting of whatever's left of my stash. But don't count on it.
Labels: The Arts