Fixing the mixer

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that a project I’ve been meaning to get to is fixing my Mom’s old Kitchenaid mixer.

My Mother was going to throw it away because it was making a grinding sound and shaking when she used it.  I’d like to try to keep it out of the dump so I said that I would try to fix it.  It’s a forty year old machine, it probably weighs about twenty five pounds, and I doubt that newer models are as sturdy as this one. New models can cost about $500, so it could be worthwhile to try to fix it.

After doing some research, I found out that a common problem is that the gear lubricant can dry out, causing the gears to grind, eventually the motor will wear out if the old lubricant is not replaced. I bought some new lubricant, hoping that it wasn’t too late to save it.

The first thing to do is to knock out the pin that holds in the rotary. The little top pin, not the one on the stem below the spring. I almost knocked out that bottom pin, which would have been a big mistake as it’s very difficult to get back in.

Then you take off the rotary.

Then you remove all of those screws. I had to get some screw de-locker oil as those things didn’t want to budge after forty years. 

That brown gunk is dried out gear lubricant. 

I didn’t get a photo of the cleaned off gears as my hands were covered in that old gear goo.  The new lubricant cost $15.  The old screw de-lockenizer oil cost $2.50.

Then you put it all back together and check to see if that fixed it by mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies!

Whirrr!   Whirrrrr!   Good as new! 

Let’s bake some cookies!

The Year of Organization

One of the many resolutions for 2017 is that it is going to be the year of organization. As an example of my lack of organization skills, here is a photo of my basement workbench. I have not made any progress on my goal so far.

You can see the remains of a number of different projects piled up in a mound on the far end of the workbench. I have a habit of finishing a project, and then leaving the tools where they are on the workbench, and then piling them up when I start the next task. I do at least finish the projects, its the cleaning up part that I don’t care for.  You’ll also see a large vintage Kitchenaid Mixer in the back of the pile.  That’s another project that I should work on this year.   My mother had that mixer for close to forty years when it started to make a grinding noise, so she bought a new mixer. I suggested that I might be able to fix the mixer, rather than having it end up in the dump.  That was more than a year ago. And this is just the workbench, my desk is in the same condition as the workbench.

It’s not as though I have not been able to accomplish resolutions in the past. Last year’s big resolution was to try to cook one new recipe a week. We somehow managed to come up with 58 new recipes during the year.  I was supposed to write blog posts about the best new recipes, but I never got around to that either.  Another goal is to post on the blog more often, or at least go from a “seldom” frequency to “infrequent”.  A food related goal is much easier than this organizing goal, since I love food and I don’t much care for organizing anything. (On yet another tangent, somewhat related to the new recipe project is that this year I’m supposed to try to loose some weight too.)

In the quest to fulfill this organization goal, maybe by publicly admitting that I have a problem will force me to actually accomplish this goal.  So, sometime during the year I will get this workbench organized, and the desk too, and get that mixer fixed.  Maybe I’ll work on getting the file cabinet organized too.

Scrap wood ornaments

What should I do with all these pieces of scrap wood I have from home improvement projects ? Maybe Mr. C will have an idea.


I know, Dada, make some ornaments for the tree!


After a few hundred cuts with my dremel saw, we have an elf’s Christmas hat.


The work bench usually doesn’t look this clean, I did some organizing before taking the photos. Usually there is a pile of random tools stacked up in a pile on the table!  I usually have to search through the pile to find any tools, now they’re in plastic bins.  I’m sure that they’ll all be back in a pile on the work bench soon though.


The elf hat joins a star, a tree, and by special request of Mr. C, a dog bone!

The star turned out to the the hardest one to make, I had to remind myself of my high school geometry lessons on how to accurately draw one.  Then I had to track down my compass and protractor to draw a sketch of the star.  I was surprised to find that I still had the same compass that I used in high school!


Mr. C did most of the painting, they’re not quite done yet, he still wants to add “2015” to the star, some tiny ornaments to the tree, and he wants to try to add a string of mistletoe to the hat.

Why a dog bone, I don’t know, but here it is on the tree!


Ikea Built-in Bookcase Part 3

Here’s how I finished the built-in bookcase.

First I added a wood panel on the side to box it in, then I added a baseboard.  The scrap block of wood and pieces of tape are there to hold the baseboard while some epoxy dries.

Here’s the finished baseboard.

Then I had to cover the opening at the top. Like the floor, the ceiling is also not level.  There was a 1/2 inch difference in the left to right height of this opening at the top.  I don’t have a table saw, so I had to be careful when I cut the crown molding piece for this area.

Here’s the finished top crown molding.  I also added in some fluted molding on the front to cover the front of the bookcase. Any gaps at the top were covered by that small piece of quarter round molding at the ceiling.

Then I had to cover up any exposed rough surface of the base.

I cut small pieces of wood to cover the base pedestal.  The molding on the front helps to cover any gaps where the pieces of the bookcase meet too.

I ended up cutting the final piece of wood incorrectly.   So I had to drive to the lumber yard to get a new piece of wood.  Then I came home, and cut it wrong again.   That was a sign that I had to stop for the day!

The next day, I drove to the lumber yard again, brought home yet another piece of wood, cut it, and this time I cut it correctly.

Then I had to sand any rough edges, and paint the bookcase to match the white color of the original baseboard, which is also pretty much the same color of the Ikea bookcase.   One coat of white primer, two coats of interior semi-gloss paint.

I’ll show off how I was able to cut the front molding to meet the profile of the existing baseboard molding.

And here’s the finished bookcase, with all of Mr. C’s books loaded up on it.  They had been so crammed into his old bookcase that he wasn’t taking them out.  Now he can see them better and can easily take them down.

This project was number 82 on the list of things to do around the house.  There are a total of 142 things on the list.

Ikea Built-in Bookcase – Part 1

Something that we have had on our list of home improvement projects for years is for me to make a built-in bookcase.     Our house is more than 100 years old, and it has two built-in bookcases on the first floor, so it would fit in well with the style of the house.  Mr. C also has a growing collection of books, so his room would be the best candidate for adding in a bookcase.  However, I’ve been ignoring this list item since I have very limited carpentry skills, so I thought it would probably never happen.

Then Ms. J came across an article showing how you can take one or several Ikea bookcases and convert them into built-in by making a wooden base, attaching the bookcases to the wall, and then adding wood molding around the top and sides.  Then you paint the wooden base and molding to match the bookcase.    The article made it seem easy.

So we took a trip to the closest Ikea store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where we looked for the bookcase mentioned in the article.  All Ikea products have a name, sometimes it is vaguely Scandinavian, sometimes not.  Some of the names for their bookcases include; Finny, Gnedby, Hemnes, and Klimpen.  The bookcase style we needed is named ‘Billy’.  The ‘Billy’ comes in several sizes, horizontal, vertical, tall, short.  To fit in the space we had in mind, we needed three Billy bookcases that were each about six feet tall, and fourteen inches wide.  For the low price of just $50 each, we found the ones we needed.

Once we left the store, we had to figure out how to get the three long flat boxes that were more than six feet long into the car.  We spent about a half hour in the parking lot, trying to get them into the back of the car. Finally figuring out that if we placed them at one specific angle, with the backseat pulled down, they would just fit in, with the top of the box just about touching the dashboard, and the bottom of the box touching the back of the wagon’s rear hatch.  Yes, I’m too cheap to pay for the delivery.

Putting together a piece of Ikea furniture is a great test of any relationship, with all of its hardware pieces and instructions written with as few words as possible so they can use the same instruction sheet in several countries.   There’s a game show here in the US that sends couples around the world on a scavenger hunt, ‘The Amazing Race’.  One year they had the couples go to Sweden and put together a piece of Ikea furniture, whichever couple did it fastest won that leg of the race. The couples either finished quickly, or ended up arguing.   I have very limited spatial abilities, so I always anticipate problems with things like this.  In High School there are standard test questions that illustrate some kind of multi sided box, the question is what would the box look like if it were turned upside down or sideways.  I always got those questions wrong.    However, these bookcases weren’t so hard to construct,  except for me at first putting in one of the shelves upside down, it did turn out to be fairly easy.

Here’s the area where we want to put the built-in:

The first thing I had to do was build a base for the shelves.  Measuring the height of the baseboard, and where the bookcase is supposed to fit onto the baseboard, I used some 2X6 lumber to make a base.

Here’s what it looks like from above.  It’s probably stronger than it needs to be with those pieces of wood added into the middle of the box.

Here’s the three completed bookcases placed on top of the base.


They really do need to be bolted into the wall, they’re not very stable sitting on their own.  The instructions try to make sure that you know what you’re getting into with these bookcases.  Ikea pretty much tells you that if you want a freestanding bookcase try one of the other styles since this one is supposed to be bolted on the wall.

Something I figured out is that since the house is so old, there’s a substantial slope to the floor.  In just under a foot, there’s about a 1/4 inch slope from level, so I had to add small blocks to the bottom of the base to make it level.  Also, see that vertical pencil mark ?  That’s where I almost cut that piece of wood, which would have been a big mistake.


This is just the start of this project, I’ll have to add another post later.

Ice Dam Abstracts

Owning an old house in New England is fun!    Let’s see what we can find when we look at the ice dam stains on our ceiling!

Here’s one that looks kind of like a running kiwi bird!



And here’s another one, this one started out looking like a map of Australia.  It has since grown a bit and now looks like a fish jumping up to look at a butterfly!


This is what happens when you get more than 100″ of snow the roof of  your 100 year old house!



Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is ‘Threshold’.  The idea may be to add in a philosophical note with the photo, something about how the photo is a metaphor for something else,  view to a new beginning or something like that.  I don’t have anything very philosophical to add this week, nothing about how being a ‘Stay at Home Dad’ has changed my outlook, or the idea that I’ll be entering a new phase soon as Mr. C enters kindergarten in the Fall.  All I have is a very literal contribution, it’s an actual threshold on my workbench.

Two years ago, we had our bathroom floor redone.  As a result of the new tile having a different height than the old linoleum, the old threshold no longer fits in the same spot.  The floor guy was skilled enough to be able to take out the threshold in one piece though.  It wouldn’t take much work to get it back in to the same spot, I just need to remove a bit from the bottom.  I’ll probably need a special router bit to do it. Have I been able to make any progress at all on this project in the past two years ?   No.    I’ve been working on plenty of other things though, this is just getting pushed further and further down the big list of things to do around the house.

Oh well, that’s what it’s like having an old house. I think ‘replace the threshold to the bathroom’ is number 174 on the big list of things to do around the house.  Or maybe it’s just being too exhausted chasing after the 4 year old most of the time that I haven’t done this yet, which may qualify as the philosophical portion of the post after all.



Before and After

I hardly ever post anything about the differences I see between what it’s like being a ‘Stay at Home Dad’ versus a ‘Stay At Home Mom’. I’m sure that one of them is that I don’t really feel as though I’m contributing a whole lot to the “household”. Sure, I do laundry, and vacuum, and all sorts of other cleaning, but it’s not the same as working. So, I do home improvement projects instead. My former work was very much project based, so I’m sure I miss the sense of completion that I’d get when a big project was finished. So now, I have a substitute with all the home improvement things I do. It’s definitely different than finishing vacuuming the house. I know that in a few days, I’ll have to vacuum again, especially since we have two cats that shed a lot of cat hair and track kitty liter all over the place. While once a home improvement project is finished it stays done for a long, long time. Very satisfying for a former project manager type person like me.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how starting one home improvement project just leads to another one. So I’ll just show off one completed project. Our pantry cabinet doors were badly in need of refinishing, and some of the knobs were missing as well. So here’s the before photos:






And here’s the after photo. These are the same doors, with new knobs, cleaned up, washed, sanded, and stained, and finished.

Yeah, a completed project!



That was funny, right Dada?

Last week, I wrote a post about how we replaced our over the stove microwave oven.  I mentioned that it took about four hours to get it attached to the wall.  One thing I did not include was why it took so long.

According to the directions, I needed to use a 5/8″ drill bit to drill two holes in the cabinet over the stove to hold the bracket that holds the oven.  I found the drill bit on my extremely cluttered work bench and put it in my tool box along with all the other tools I needed.

By the time I needed the drill bit, it was no longer in the tool box.  I looked and looked and looked.  Not there.  So I went back to the basement and looked on the workbench.  I have a habit of finishing a job around the house, and then piling all the tools I used back onto the work bench.  Yeah, I’m done with that, now I can have lunch!  So, there’s a large mound of stuff on the table.  Various layers of items that indicate which project I was working on by what layer you’re looking at.  I assumed I had just forgotten to take the drill bit with me so I tore everything apart looking for it.  Methodically removing items, looking for that drill bit.  Cursing my lack of organization, and vowing that from this day forward I would put things away.  Wondering how it got to this point where I was wasting my Saturday looking for a drill bit on a work bench, when I should be having fun with the family since the oven really should be up and running by now.  Eventually it was turned into a pointless quest.  Just looking for it on principal, trying to prove that ‘yes, I did indeed forget to put it in the tool box, and no, I am not going crazy, I did in fact own a 5/8″ drill bit.  After an hour or so I  got to the bottom of the pile and saw the bare surface of the work table for the first time in months.  Yet, the drill bit was still not found.

I reluctantly used a substitute drill bit, trying to find one that was as close as possible to what I needed, and finally was able to get the oven attached to the wall.  Yet the mystery of the missing drill bit persisted.  Where did it go ?  Am I losing my mind, and either never did put it in the tool box, or I did put it in the box but maybe took it out and lost it somewhere on the counter top, or maybe I never even had it at all in the first place ?  I  looked for it off and on over the next few days, just to try to solve the mystery.  But I didn’t really think I’d ever find it.  If I really needed it again, I would just have to get a new one.

A week later, I was vacuuming and looked under the living room sofa.  There was a drill bit under there.  I crawled under the sofa and grabbed it.  It was then that Mr. C started to giggle.

‘That was funny, right Dada?!  I hid it under there when you weren’t looking!’

So I may be going crazy, but it’s not due to losing my memory.

Here it is – a re-enactment of course.


Why you should not drink cold coffee in a 100 year old house

We have an old house, it was built in 1904, and we’re constantly refinishing and replacing things. One of J’s favorite sayings is “Why didn’t you tell me when we met that all of your kitchen appliances would break at the same time ten years from now ?”

As an example of the endless spiral of repair and replacement, this is what happened when I had a cup of coffee recently.

“This coffee is cold, I’ll just reheat it in the microwave.”

Zap – Zap – Zap – Sparks – Sparks – Crackle – CRACKLE – ZAPPPP!

Hmmm…. looks like old Mr. Sparky has zapped his last cup of coffee.

Sorry, I don’t have a ‘before’ photo, just one of poor old Mr. Sparky lying in the snow waiting for the trip to the electronics recycling bin at the dump. It was an ‘Above the Oven’ model, about 20 years old, and it took about two hours to figure out how to get the thing unbolted from the wall.


Another day, and another four hours and much swearing by me caused by the poorly translated installation instructions, we have a new microwave! Here’s just one example of the skill of the translator of the instructions. It took me a few minutes to figure out that every time the word “operational” appears in the instructions, you have to substitute the “opening”. As in “Make sure your operational is wide enough for the microwave before trying to install on the wall”.



The clamps that keep the new microwave are much larger then the old ones, so there’s a lot less space in the cabinet it is bolted to. So what do we do with the pots that don’t fit in the cabinet now ?

How about putting them in the top shelf of the storage closet ?

Bleh, look at those doors for the storage cupboard, maybe it’s time that you refinished them, and replaced that missing knob while you’re at it.




And how about the door to the storage closet ? That’s definitely an original door, time to refinish that door too!



OK, Mr. C lets get to work!

A 4 year old with a power tool, what could go wrong ?

At least with the big microwave box, Mr. C got a new club house.