Friday, February 11, 2011

Floating shelves; a bit about me and my handy skills

I am not a handy person. I am not surrounded by handy people now, nor did I grow up with Handy People. To be fair, my mom was a talented decorator, painter and, well, maybe the closest person I knew to being handy. She did complain that she wished her engineer husband was blessed with some handyman skills. My sister married a perfectly great handy man, diy'er, all round good guy. He is a kitchen installer by trade, but he often converts overstocked cabinets into T.V. consoles, decorative mirrors and other creative things. Hmmm and my brother also has a super handy girlfriend who can maneuver huge machinery, the kind of machinery that is plastered with cautionary signs, back up beeping sounds, back tires thicker then Giant Redwood tree trunks and taller then me. Helmets required. She also threw together stone steps and a path skillfully and superbly. Even being considerate of the standard step size so one doesn't get sued by postman/town. But they all live 4 hours away and although I get easily inspired and am full of ideas, the drive home kills it. And my lack of skills. And my lack of project-stamina.

I do like doing things. I like using my hands and creating. I like admiring a completed project. I do have a lot of ideas. And I am not completely useless around tools. Maybe afraid, afraid to use them to their potential. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get started on a project, even if it is entirely simple, as simple as hanging a shelf. Sometimes I just do not know where or how to start.

But a lot of times I do start, with lots of gusto - I can knowledgeably motor around Home Depot, Lowes, Ace and other hardware stores. I actually might look like a skillful & experienced diy'er.  I can buy the stuff. And lug it home. And even get started. Sometimes I even take the time to prepare, things that I find boring like dusting the walls and laying down a torn sheet to catch the drips. Using the proper tools such as a level to guarantee a horizontal shelf.

But then something happens. Discouragement (I suck a cutting), time restraints (baby, boy, dinner) or merely stuck, tired, need a bath. Actually, the biggest culprit and projectdelayer is my lack of patience and focus.

Occasionally I finish a project ... a few months later during my next gust of an idea, energy and desire. And the enjoyment and pride of completing even the smallest and simplest task (hanging a picture on drywall!) is rewarding, rewarding enough that I continue to realize my ideas.

I have learned a few things:

~DO not paint in December. If you must, do not paint the room that the tree and all other festive gatherings will occur in.

~Returning to project a few months later is OK./Not finishing in a weekend is ok. Unless its a painting job and you have used painters tape. That stuff has to be pulled off within a 36 hour period of painting.

~Some things are not as daunting as they initially seem

~Have a talented and reliable handy-person on speed dial. Make her dinner and mulled wine.

~Discuss BIG projects with her and ask if your vision is bigger then the realization (gutting kitchen first then saving to do the rest HAHA)

~Try some things. Google it. Shall I attempt to replace chandelier or not. It seems like a simple task.

~Know your fuse box.

My recent project, floating shelves, started, discouraged, delayed, re-inspired and competed!

Here is a skill I admire. Knowing where the wooden supports are hidden behind the drywall. Handyman skill, thereby I completely lack. How is it when I NEED a 2x4 hidden board to hammer in a nail for a picture I cannot find one, BUT when I do not need one, such as pushing in a plastic drywall screw holder, I find not only ONE, but TWO. Yeah there are horizontal boards behind the drywall too. (Maybe its plaster, in my house)

Before Christmas, besides trying to paint a wall, not just one colour, but stripes. Yep, I am ambitious (and that project has been delayed).  I tried a simpler thing, hanging a picture on the staircase landing. That folded quickly too. Wall too soft. Nail went straight in. Forget that. Move on.

I had another idea waiting to get started. I had bought some floating shelves for the nursery. Simple, inexpensive and not only makes the bare walls more appealing, it allows for much needed shoe storage. I even got my tool bag, a pencil, AND a level. All of it.  The first shelf went up without too much problem. But it was semi-dangling off the screws.  The perfectionist in me new it should/could be better. I wondered if it was the non-flat wall, or that I didn't get the plastic portion of the screw flat against the wall...whatever, says the lazy person in me. I was able to put a few things up and then wait it out until a knowledgeable person came by.

A few months later, wobbly shelf intact. I was ready to try the second shelf. That ended very quickly as I plunged the plastic screw holder into the wall and came up against a hard surface. Checked out the tip of the plastic thing and figured this one must not be as angular and sharp as the first shelf hardware. Discouraged. Project set aside. Wait it out until a knowledgeable person visits.

Two opportunities did arise; my very handy and skillful brother in law (whoa! that was back in November). He was the one that informed me I must have hit a ??? 2x4 board (I need to look up the proper name....he used it, but it escapes me). So I did learn some thing from him.  And my contract-her has been by a few times (re: getting ready for kitchen demo, paint job, window replacement job). But I didn't bother to ask her.

Recently, last week in fact, I tried again. Got my handy level and pencil and screw driver. Actually, these tools had remained upstairs by the changing table in an empty diaper box. I knew where to find them if I had another project to work on. But I didn't start another project. I was determined to finish this type of thing. I needed the confidence and experience to move on to other shelf hanging projects.

So I moved my screw location a few inches to the left and baboom. Located another board. Ugh. "OK Sara", I encourage myself, "Don't give up. Try again." I persevere and move the shelf up a bit and try again.   And that is all it took. The plastic screw holder eased in, as I remember happening with the first shelf.  The screws went in easy enough, but this time I screwed them in a nano cm more then the first shelf screws.  And that is all it took to resolve the wobbly type shelf. The 2nd one is much sturdier and snug against the wall and will surely hold the vignettes.  I returned to the first shelf, made some adjustments and now I have my floating shelves.

So yes, there are two holes in my wall and yeah, I couldn't even hide them behind the floating shelf, but its done. They are sturdy and flat against the wall and properly vignetted up.  And when I see the holes, I think, sure dry wall fill or wood fill will fix that. Ill fill 'em in sometime. Red paint. I can touch that up, eventually. If I wore nail polish, I could do the touch up right away.I have the wood fill, I don't have the colour. SO for now, when I am changing baby L. I glance up, admire the handy work and then look at the holes and laugh at myself and smile with contentment. Yay for persevering!

So that is a little intro about me and my lack of handyman skills, yet desire and determination to fix up my home. Simple things for some people, even simple for me, without the delays.   Another tidbit about me, often I forget words, simple words for some, but words that get lost in brain and take a while to make it to the forefront again. So here is a little legend, thanks to google, I can easily learn the right terminology, but unless I use it over and over again, the words get lost.



plastic screw holder things: wall anchors, plastic screw anchors (EYES WIDE OPEN, I wasn't too far off for this hardware)

2x4 invisible boards behind drywall, which is probably plaster in my case: STUD. (I almost gave up on that one. I was searching for something to put drywall on and got a lot of videos, which due to my lack of patience, I wasn't going to watch but BET the word would have eventually surfaced. Then I realized I need to search for something else to find that. Stud. So simple.

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