Posts Tagged ‘toolbox’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

No Power

September 10, 2022
So here I am hanging wallpaper – and a storm rolled through. You got it – the power went off!
I’m in mid-strip … can’t see to finish this strip , plus I have another one booking and ready to hang .
With wallpaper , there’s a timing factor, because strips need to sit and absorb the paste for a period of time (booking) before being hung. And they can’t sit too long or they can over-expand and/or freeze (stick to itself and tear when you try to unbook it).
So if I couldn’t get this strip plus the next one to the right up soon, I would have to discard both of them. (Another reason to always buy a little extra .)
Luckily I have this strong battery-powered flashlight in the van , plus another smaller one in my toolbox . These both came from Sherwin-Williams , and were economically-priced. As you can see, they put out a LOT of light.
I was able to finish hanging this strip. Before I got to the next strip, the power came back on. Whew!
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A Shocking Event

September 2, 2022
When I take a bathroom light fixture down, I still need light, so I often use an elastic hairband to hang an extension cord with a light bulb from the exhaust fan or air vent. That’s what you see in the photo, a close up.
Well, I was working on the strip over the door and my chin bumped into the extension cord. ZAP!!
So what you’re also looking at in the photo is a section of extension cord that got frayed or, from the looks of it, maybe melted by my heat gun nozzle being placed on it somehow. However it happened, enough of the copper wire was exposed to give me a resounding shock!
Luckily I didn’t drop anything or mess up the strip of wallpaper I was working on.
An unexpected but good reason to carry electrical tape in my toolbox .
Here’s the patched wire. As you can see, it’s not the first repair this cord has seen.
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Handy Toolbox Gadget – Flashlight

June 8, 2022
This tiny flashlight was a gimmee at a home show years ago. It’s lightweight and tucks easily into my toolbox.
I don’t use it often, but when I need it, it’s so handy.
Today I sought light to see behind a very low-slung toilet in order to trim wallpaper off at the baseboard.

My Work Table Set Up

April 28, 2022
It’s the end of the day and I’m packing up. Items are sitting on the table that I normally would not allow. I’ve already pulled up the dropcloths I had along the walls. But you get the idea of my work area set-up , and the tools I use.
The table is for measuring, trimming, and pasting. My other, smaller, hand tools (not shown) are used for the actual wallpaper installation process. My toolbox is in the rear right.

Trading in a Slew of Stubbies

March 23, 2021

No wonder I can’t fit a screwdriver into my toolbox – these too-small-to-hold-on-to nubs and stubs are taking up all the space. No more!

A trip to the dollar store yielded me these two long-lived and easy-to-hold #2 pencils – plus 10 more for back-up.

Note: We contractors always write on the wall and on our materials with pencil or chalk. Ink, marker, grease pencil, or other such materials will bleed through and stain wallpaper and paint and most other substances.

Addendum: Old habits are hard to break … I might hold on to the two on the right.

Keep an Eye on Your Razor Blades

January 16, 2019

OK, so today I was digging deep in my toolbox, looking for my screwdriver, which sits against the back wall in the bottom of the box.

Unbeknownst to me, an unsheathed razor blade had fallen into the tool box, along that back wall sharp side up.

You are already guessing – and you are guessing correctly…. My index finger jammed down onto the blade, and the razor slid its way neatly up between the finger and the nail. Ouch!

Actually, it didn’t hurt all that much, and I caught it before it got pushed in really deep. It didn’t even bleed very much.

What’s funny is, I asked the nanny for a Band-Aid, and she brought out two really little tiny bandages. Turns out the family has three young children, and all the Band-Aids in the house are kid-sized.

No worries – she draped the diminutive bandage over my injured fingernail, and then I got some blue painters’ tape and wrapped that around it, to be sure it would stay on my finger.

Protecting the Wall While Double Cutting – What Is This Funny Plastic Strip?

January 13, 2015

Digital Image
We call this strip of clear polycarbonate plastic a “Boggess strip,” after the last name of the guy (a member of the Wallcovering Installers Association, as am I ) who invented it. It is flexible and somewhat hard, and we use it to cut on, to protect the surface underneath.

Before I got a basswood board table, which you can directly on, I would put one of these strips on my table to protect it from cuts from the razor blade when hand-trimming wallpaper. But mostly we use the Boggess strips when cutting on the wall (double cutting – a type of splice). When cutting through two layers of paper, it’s tricky to know how much pressure to use, to get through both sheets of paper, but not score the wall. It’s really important to not cut into the wall, because, as wallpaper dries, it shrinks a little, and that shrinkage will put tension on the wall, and that tension can cause the surface of the wall to pull away, causing gaping seams, or even curling edges.

Putting one of the plastic strips underneath the seam before cutting will prevent that.

It’s a bit of a juggling act, all these layers of plastic and paper, and you have to move quickly before one strip or the other starts to dry, and then you’ve got to clean the paste off the plastic strip before you use it again.

It’s an invaluable invention, and I’m glad I have a roll of it in my toolbox.