Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Step by step

I've posted these pictures on Facebook, but the overlap between here and there is not 100% and besides, if I'm good for anything, it's telling a story over and over again.

We noticed last fall that our front steps were dangerously loose and close to falling apart. One look at the photo below and you can see what I mean.

Whenever we would walk up them, we got in the habit of treading rather carefully so as not to put a foot through the wood. They were not treated and God only knows how old they were. Anyway, last fall, my dad brought over some torque screws and we reinforced them as best we could, hoping to get us through till we could actually replace them. It worked quite well but as the summer progressed, I noticed that they were getting pretty loose again and I was waiting for someone to fall through them. So we decided it was time to fix them.

Now, I say we, but really, it's my dad. He is, much like Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the fix-it-up chappie - only he doesn't go around bilking us out of money, nor does he deal in belly stars. Left to my own devices, I would have no idea how to even attempt this kind of project. Imagine my surprise when, about a month ago, we went to Lowe's and purchased the wood for the project, I found out that the wood was already precut! They sold risers already! And pieces of lumber cut for the precise purpose of being stairs. Will wonders never cease.

One of his big stipulations of the job is that we not buy the material and do the job on the same day. So about a month passed before we seriously got down to business last Sunday. He brought over all his tools (except for a crowbar - he says that he always forgets one thing) and we set to ripping the steps out.

There they are, completely removed and ready for the new risers. Nothing ever goes quite according to plan in a job like this, and we had to head to Lowe's for braces for the risers and they had to go in a slightly different place than the original stairs. For me, this is a "oh shit" moment. My father relishes the challenge. And he rose to the challenge quite well. I helped out and actually did learn a lot from the process, but as you can see, I was clearly mostly around to make things pretty.

But I did do real work as well!

All in all, we were able to get everything but the railing done that day. We were planning to use the original railing as the wood was not rotten, but we had made enough alterations from the original design that it needed to be recut on a table saw, which I decidedly do not have. My dad came back yesterday to finish the job, just as I was about to get ready for work. As I recall, his words to me were "you get to work and make my Social Security, I'll finish the steps." That seems like a good deal to me!

Here's the finished project.

That's the cool thing about my dad - he is always willing to help me with just about any project that I have. He has this uncanny ability to do these house things that for whatever reason, I just don't have the knowledge base to get them done. For that, I am more grateful than words can ever express. But since he helped me with this, I can honestly say that I could probably replace those steps myself if I had to. Too bad that they way they're built now, they should last another 20 years!

My dad says that if you become a specialist (as in, you specialize your knowledge and get really good at one thing), it's almost impossible to be a generalist. Life today does not really train generalists or jacks-of-all-trades. Part of that is because the days of the shade tree auto mechanic and other such things are long gone. But my goal is to try to learn as much as I can so that I can do some of this stuff on my own.

Next up: quarter round.


Myfizzypop said...

haha you will be just building random steps all over the place now just because you can :)

Yuяi said...

To borrow a line from Heidi, those new steps are so fucking glitter! Nice work!

And I'm really glad the bat situation resolved itself without any shots. I would have freaked out if I found a dead bat in my house.