I want to be a home improvement builder guy

posted by Jeff | Friday, June 2, 2023, 10:58 PM | comments: 0

I will freely admit that I get kind of addicted to home improvement TV. When I moved to Orlando, in my first week, staying in a hotel, I watched HGTV pretty much non-stop. And in the streaming era, Discovery/HBO/Warner also has the Magnolia Network shows, the Chip-and-Joanna network, and it's stuff that's even better. My current crush is Lindsey Kurowski, who hosts Motel Rescue and her Inn The Works show. (I realize now that, if I'm looking peripherally, I might be into her because she vaguely shares some traits with Diana, and I seem to recall some Italian roots she mentioned in her show.)

In the general sense though, I'm living in an enormous house for which I am frankly ill equipped to maintain with the BDE of the archetype American male. Our house is only five years old, but outside of its structural integrity, it has problems. Last year's HVAC drain victory was a really big deal for me. Outside of our general lack of decor mojo, I'm dealing with the shittiest of builder-grade carpet that looks wrecked in just five years, a primary shower that is designed primarily to grow mold and thousands of square feet of walls in "Agreeable Gray." I fucking hate it.

But I'm not without my victories. I mounted Ikea cabinets to the wall in our living room when we moved in. I even installed surround speakers. The two thermostats were promptly replaced with Nest units. And while I didn't install it myself, there are 10kW of solar panels on the roof with a 13.5 kWh battery that has never been used. Lights all over the house turn on and off by shouting at smart speakers.

Now I've been focused in on our "butler's pantry." There's this little nook opposite of the pantry that had two options when we bought the house. The first option was to have it empty, without function, which seemed insane to me. The second option was to have it include a small sink, cabinets, wine rack and wine fridge. Pretentious as that felt, I couldn't imagine the space be left impotent. As time has passed, it has come to feel... inadequate.

First off, the wine rack is dead space. We don't drink enough red wine to need a rack. For the red wine that Diana drinks, we don't buy enough to need a rack. I'm a white-wine guy, so the fridge is fine. That leaves all of the space above as borderline useless.

What I would like to do is rip out the upper cabinet and put shelves, with LED lighting, here. Given my mixology habit, this is obvs. This isn't as easy as I would like, because you can't anchor into the side walls, as both have plumbing inside from upstairs. But you can anchor into the back wall, which is masonry and a few vertical wood slats on top. I've watched so many YouTube videos about how to do this. The only barrier is a couple grand in saws, tools and materials, but I would at least get to keep the tools. I need to get over this.

Regardless, I took the first step in making it all more functional. Some years ago, I saw a glass rinser at some bar, and it blew my mind. You take a glass, invert it, put it on the device and push down, and water sprays around the inside and cleans it. It's goddam magic. Last night, Amazon raging, I ordered the water fixture. Today at lunch, I bought the diamond-edged hole saw necessary to cut through my inch of quartz counter-top.

It took about an hour and change to cut through the quartz with the hole saw and my mid-range Dewalt cordless drill. The problem was that the counter is an inch thick, and really, the saw only gets to about 15/16" of depth. When progress ceased, I busted out my little hammer, and after a few taps, it pushed out the core I made, with a bit of a jagged edge from the underside. Whatever. Not the cleanest cut, but I made the hole.

After installing the new device, and getting the angle right so the water drained out properly, it was magical. Wait, an hour later, I realized that I only hand tightened the supply hose (it's a larger size at the fixture than at the connection to the wall, for which the kit provided a wrench). There was some leakage. But once I got this tightened and settled, everything seemed OK.

The result is amazing. Every beverage that I make for myself or others typically means shaking in a Boston shaker (the glass kind, ya bastards, so I can see the foam action) before pouring out to the target glass. And even then, sometimes the glass from which I'm drinking from requires a good clean-out. Oh, and also, we use water bottles a lot here at Puzzoni HQ. This device is life changing. I'm not even exaggerating.

This starts to give me a little confidence about building the shelves that I want. Sure, I need some saws, clamps and sanders that I don't have. But the only real "disposable" part is wood that I ruin. At worst, that's probably a hundred bucks in material. Relative to the probably $2k in tools that I would keep for a lifetime, that's not terrible. Maybe I can start to build custom furniture.

The bottom line is that maybe I've crossed the anti-confidence line toward doing what I would like. This is new territory for me. I'm terrified of things that could cut off my fingers off. But I've watched so many videos. It's time to start buying tools and see what I can do.

The core that I drilled out in the quartz:


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