Proudly Serving the Greater Philadelphia Area
home improvement, handyman, repairs, renovations, kitchen, bathroom, custom, carpentry
home improvement, handyman, repairs, renovations, kitchen, bathroom, custom, carpentry

APC Handyman Services

How Your To-Do List Gets Done.


view:  full / summary

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

Posted on July 29, 2018 at 3:05 PM Comments comments ()

Not every project needs to be expensive, complicated, or highly polished. Sometimes you just need cheap, simple, and functional. The last two projects that I posted about on my Instagram and Facebook qualify as the latter. Finding a new use for materials that are just laying around your property can be easy, fun, and cost-effective.

My wife and I are blessed to have two awesome, hilarious children. Our daughter is a freshly minted 2 year-old and our son is almost 4 months old, so it's fun! Earlier this month, we had our son baptized and my in-laws were gracious enough to host the party at their home. Sidebar: the actual ceremony was about 20 minutes long and we partied for about 10 hours straight afterwards because that's how big Irish-Italian families roll. Say what you want about the Catholics, but we know how to party. But I digress.

So my in-laws' mailbox and post was damaged because someone had clipped it (it had been set too close to the road by the previous homeowners) and needed to be replaced. We decided to use some old barn wood and fence posts that had been removed and were just lying around to create a new post and ledge to mount simple black mailbox from the hardware store.

The build itself was simple and fun - we removed the old mailbox and post, dug a hole below the frost line, about 18in back from where the original mailbox was, and filled in the old hole. We measured and cut the "new" post, ledge, and support piece. We attached the ledge to the post with 6" lag screws, and used 3" wood screws for the support piece and mailbox. We then placed the post into the hole, checked for plumb, and set the mailbox in concrete.

The result was a simple, rustic mailbox with lots of character for pennies on the dollar. Best part of all, we found a brand new use for some very old wood.

The second repurposing project I tackled this month was a pretty simple one. The homeowners wanted to take some wire shelving from one closet and install it in another closet. The only wrinkle (pun intended) was that the shelving proved to be about a foot too long for the space. I measured for the space and cut the shelving with my favorite go-to tool of all time. I then drilled holes to accept the anchors which had been carefully removed from the wall of the other closet, and installed the shelving. Many people might have simply thrown the old shelving in the trash and purchased new shelving for the new space, but before you go that route, take a look at what you already have. You might be suprised by how many possibilities there are when you consider reusing old materials. Good for your wallet, and good for the planet.


Repairing a Plaster Wall

Posted on February 21, 2018 at 7:05 AM Comments comments ()
Today, we will answer the age old question: When were shoelaces invented?

Not really...but we will talk about how to repair damaged plaster walls using scrap drywall and joint compound. 

First, if you don't already know, it's good to understand the difference between drywall and plaster walls. Basically, both wall systems cover the 2x4 framing that makes up the structure of any wall. Plaster is put on wet in several layers over thin strips of wood nailed horizontally to the studs. Drywall is essentially gypsum and a few additives compressed between two pieces of heavy paper and is screwed (or nailed) directly to the stud structure. The joints between the sheets of drywall are then taped and covered with joint compound, sanded smooth, and painted. 

With a few simple tools, a bit of patience, sandpaper and some paint, you'll be able to make the damage look like it never even happened. 

You will need:
Drywall Patch (easy to find at Lowe's or Home Depot in a 2'x2' square) 
Joint Compound (also easy to find at any home improvement store)
Fiberglass tape 
Putty Knife (6")
150 grit sandpaper
Tape Measure
Utility Knife
Paint to match wall (or re-paint whole wall)

STEP 1: Assess the Damage
In the above picture, you can see some relatively shallow gouges in the plaster, as the lath is not exposed. 

Ouch! That's almost as ugly as Tom Brady's missed catch in this year's Superbowl. The damage is deep enough to reach the lath, but the lath is still intact.

STEP 2: Create a Template
Use a tape measure, template tool (above), or get a scrap bit of cardboard and trace the inner edge of the damaged area to the cardboard with a utility knife.
Transfer the measurements to a drywall patch and cut out using a utility knife. 

STEP 3: Install Filler Piece(s)
Behind the drywall is a layer of joint compound to help the patch adhere to the lath. I did this one in 3 pieces because I did not want to cut a uniform shape into the plaster and risk damaging an even larger area than necessary.

(Not pictured: apply a strip of fiberglass tape to give the repair some added strength)


Apply a layer of joint compound to the damaged areas using a putty knife. I would recommend using a 6" knife for larger patch work. You may need to wait 24hrs and add a second layer. 
Sand smooth with 150 grit sandpaper. 

Step 5: Paint

Once the patch has been sanded smooth, paint over the wall with matching paint, or just re-paint the whole wall (what I did for the client) and it will look like it never happened. 

BTW, no one knows exactly when shoelaces were first invented, but examples of lace-like straps on footwear date back to 3500 BC. They're just about as old as plaster walls!

Being Many Things

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 12:30 AM Comments comments ()

Okay, so I've decided to try out this blog thing. I have no idea who, if anyone, will ever read this, but here goes. By profession, I am an educator, administrator, and coach. At home, I'm a husband and a dad of (soon to be) two.Last July, I decided I wasn't busy enough, so I became a licensed home improvement contractor and started this handyman business. The reasons were twofold.

First, with the news of our second child coming just as we were planning our daughter's first birthday party, we decided that it would be best for my wife to pull back off work, but with two teacher salaries, we were going to have to make up for some lost income as well. So I racked my brain and thought, what better way to earn some extra money than to put my skills to good use? This brings me to the second reason I started this venture. I've always loved building things, solving problems and working with my hands. Growing up, I would work on a variety of jobs around the house and develop some carpentry, plumbing, and painting skills over time. About 6 years ago my wife and I bought a 1922 bungalow that needed a lot of work. With some help from my father-in-law and YouTube, I effectively remodeled the whole interior of the house and with it, sharpened my skills in flooring, tile, electric, plumbing, carpentry, drywall, painting, and just about everything you can do to a house that doesn't involve getting on the roof or messing with the gas lines.

Those skills coupled with my detail-oriented (read:anal-retentive) approach to just about everything, have helped me average about 6 jobs a month since this started about seven months ago and I have to say that I am honestly loving every minute. Of course, being away from my family is tough, but seeing my clients happy with their homes is immensely gratifying.

Sure, I suppose I am all over the place a bit, but that's what makes life interesting - the opportunity to be and do so many different things. I think using your brain and body in different ways keeps you fresh and solving problems for home owners keeps me sharp to solve problems at work and at home. The more I speak to parents and kids, it seems to me that there's entirely too much emphasis now on specialization. I think it's even better to get good at a variety of skills, to use one's brain in different ways, and to be able to see the connections between two things that might at first seem entirely different from one another.

So if there's an overall theme to this blog (and there has to be, I am an English teacher, after all), I guess it would be about the value in "being many things" and I hope, that by documenting the many things I do as a handyman, family man, and teacher, those unfortunate enough to read this might see the value in learning a few new things and developing some new skills along the way.