A Case of the Mightaswells

If you own home in progress, whether you’re a DIYer or someone who calls a contractor to change the lightbulbs, you know the syndrome.

“As long as I’m updating the kitchen, I might as well make it larger.”

“As long as I’m pouring a new basement floor, I might as well replace all the old plumbing underneath. And then I might as well rough out for another full bath. Then I might as well build it.”

“As long as I’m opening up the wall, I might as well add a central vacuum system, split-unit air conditioning and a new 50a riser to the second floor. And a whole house beer tap!”

You think I’m making this stuff up? That’s me, folks! Well, except for the beer tap but, believe me, I came very close to doing it. And compressor outlets on every floor too.

Anyway, the mightaswells struck this weekend when I decided I needed to sand and add a coat of Danish oil to the ipe table I made for the living room deck a couple of years ago.

Karen found the wrought iron base in one of her dumpster dives and gave it to me. I picked up some ipe at Dykes and made the top. Unfortunately, I found that ipe and marine urethane don’t play well together. Maybe it’s the oils in the wood, maybe it’s because I sanded it down to too fine a grit, but it was all flaking off.

If you’ve never worked with ipe before there’s a reason they also call it “ironwood”. I had to get down to 60 grit just to make a scratch in it. I dulled a sharp drill bit to uselessness drilling holes to screw that base to the top.

So I hadn’t broken out the cushions for those chairs yet this season, which led me to deciding to hose down the chairs first. But I hadn’t cleaned up all the dead leaves on the deck from last winter so I decided to do that before they got wet. But why sweep it when I have a shop vac? And as long as I have the shop vac, I might as well vacuum the stoop… then the sidewalk… then the garage.

Now it’s hose time. But as long as I have the hose, I might as well spray down the deck too. But if I’m gonna break out the hose I might as well get the pressure washer, right? And as long as I have the pressure washer I might as well blast the slate, the limestone caps, the stoop and the sidewalk.

And as long as I’m soaking wet anyway, I might as well make the dogs share my day by giving them baths (no, not with the pressure washer. I’m obsessive/compulsive, not crazy).

So now it’s Sunday morning. I took the dogs out for their walk, stopping to admire my spotless deck. But, wait. The brow over the mahogany garage door is also looking a little weather-worn. When I return I’ll just sand it a little and add another coat of spar varnish.

You know where this is heading. I sanded down the entire garage surround and refinished it, including new stain.

That was a bitch because I’d made the mistake of paste waxing it last year to see if that would protect the finish from UV (it didn’t). So I had to clean it all off with mineral spirits before and after sanding.

BTW, yes, I did a carving on the garage surround too. Yet another legacy mightaswell. Go ahead and laugh amongst yourselves.

So, it’s done. That’s how a simple little project turns into an entire weekend, and then some. I still need to add a couple of more coats of spar varnish to the brow.

Anyway, finished. Except for that little mahogany box behind the chair. That’s the dedicated dog poop receptacle. And it’s looking a little weather-worn too. Maybe just a little sanding…


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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of BrooklynRowHouse.com, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.