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Kit Stansley has a zest for building and a talent for blogging about it. The 5’3,” 115 lb. powertool addict, tackles projects armed with fierce ambition and sharp wit, and then chronicles them with great humor and humanity on her website, DIYdiva. With two homes already renovated and sold, Kit has just moved into temporary digs. Over the next six-months, she will design and build home #3, as well as revamping the rental property where she is staying. Kit writes, “You know me, I like a challenge!”
Her major induction into the DIY world began in 2004 after she bought her first house. “Since then, I haven’t stopped buying power tools or tearing down walls,” she says. With visions of a dream home filling her head, Kit’s casual interest in pretty home projects, such as tiling and drywall texturing, quickly mutated into an obsessive passion that included down and dirty stuff like replacing rotted sill plates and lots of demo work. In February 2011 she became a licensed contractor in the state of Michigan. When not at her full-time corporate job, Kit slips on a $4 white men’s t-shirt, work jeans, a Carhartt bib (which she calles “gender-neutralizing), and a pair of muck boots any chance she gets.
Kit’s starter set of tools were hand-me-downs from her father. And while she’ll always have an appreciation for old well-used tools, she loves buying shiny new top-of-the-line machinery that she can maneuver in her small hands. Nothing makes Kit happier than having a reason to wield her Makita Compact 18v Lithium Ion Cordless Drill. Her joy is evident: “You realize what used to take 7 minutes of hand-turning a screw driver, just took 3 seconds, and now you have plenty of time to go paint your toenails.” Kit researches every major tool she buys. “I don’t buy sissy tools!” she says referring to some of the offerings targeted to women.
Online tools are as valuable as the drill, router, and miter saw. When Kit’s determined spirit crosses paths with apprehension, she remedies the situation by typing “How do I…” in the Google bar. “I do think we’re all capable of doing awesome things…if we only take the first step,” she says. She attributes her own fearless “let’s-jump-in-and-get-our-hands-dirty” mentality to her grandmother’s who showed her how to lay a brick edge around a vegetable garden when she was three. (A common bond that she shares with Bob Vila who was also inspired by his grandmother’s building endeavors.)
Kit’s tools usually lie in a state of organized chaos in a shop she describes as, “a tool garage, basement, shed, car… and sometimes bedroom and kitchen.” In general the big tools like the miter saw and table saw, along with Craftsman cabinets, will be in a garage or shed keeping good company with lumber and siding. The smaller hand-held, frequently relied upon tools are kept closer to the scene of the crime project. In her last home, she had them splayed out on shelves. In warm weather, setting up shop in the open air is a good thing.
Kit has systems in place that keep her on track and motivated. She has a “5 project rule” and no matter how eager, will not introduce a sixth, until one is completed. She also uses the website as a motivational tool. “You know, you have to finish projects to have things to post,” she explains, thankful for the awesome support of her on-line community. With excitement building around home #3, Kit blazes through the DIY world, usually gracefully but at times awkwardly (and she’ll be the first to admit that) leaving a trail of sawdust behind.
For more how-to from Kit, check out her recent contributions on Bob’s Blog.