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DIY Tales: Putting the "Fast" in "Fastening"

By Grandpa Joe's House on Mar 08, 2013

TGIFP, am I right? Philip here, and I'm here to tell you that you've been heard: You're tired of hearing our excuses about why our bathroom isn't moving faster or why we missed a whole week of posts. (If you need a refresher, this should catch you up.)

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The bracket's lip had worn smooth, so the railing could slide right off.

But that being said, Cass' tumble quickly reprioritized (no, Autocorrect, not "reptile irises") what we needed to get done.

For instance, because Cass was going to need to do some stairs with a subpar ankle, one thing that jumped to the top of our list was stabilizing the railing along the basement stairs.

See, over time, the railing had worn away the lip on the top bracket that holds it in place, and could slide on and off the bracket at will. When you're trying not to fall down, leaning on a railing with 8 inches of play isn't fun.

Now replacing a bracket isn't tough. You need a screwdriver and/or drill and a bracket set that has everything else you need and can be bought at Home Depot for under $5.

However, replacing the bracket when you're under the gun for time—perhaps running late for supper at your in-laws—and being asked to respond to a number of requests because you're into the last few rehearsals of a play you're directing... well that just makes things more fun, don't it?

So I decided to document the process and just how much time it took me so that if you are ever called upon to do likewise, you'll be ready!

4:57pm

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Start the clock.

I start with these supplies. A magnetic screwdriver set and a bracket package.

I plunk myself down at the top of the stairs with only our storm door closed in our side landing to permit the maximum amount of light in while still preventing the -20C wind from blowing in.

I attack the existing setup with the unscrewing fury of a... a... ummm... no time for metaphors! I get the "female" end of the bracket off the railing first, then the bracket off the wall. (If it had just been the female end that was broken, I would have only needed to remove it; but as it is, the female end has to clasp over the male end once "he" is in place. Wait, didn't I say no time for metaphors?)

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Unscrewing the "female end." Let's all be mature about my choice of terminology.

At this point, in the midst of my hurrying, I got a phone call. From my wife. (Can't hit "Ignore" on those.) I don't remember the conversation exactly, but I think it was something like...

Her: "Where are you at?"
Me: "Home"
Her: "What're you doin-"
Me: "Fixing the railing."
Her: "Oh, you got the par-"
Me: "Yep. Listen, I'm in a race against the clock here. Can I call you back?"
Her: "Is this for the blog?"
Me: "Depends."
Her: "On what?"
Me: "How embarrassing my final time is."
Her: "Well then why are you talking on the phone?"
Me: "You call-"
Her: "MOVE, Soldier! Loveyoubye!"

Okay, so now that the bracket was off the wall and the female end was off the railing, it was time to tear into the new package. I used the new screws in the old holes because I knew that the holes in the wall weren't what was causing the railing to be loose.

However, PRO TIP, as you're attaching the new bracket to the wall, consider holding the railing in place to see where the female end would clasp over it, so you can make sure to attach the bracket in a way that allows you to reuse the holes on the railing.

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Silly me. I was taking pictures when I should have been checking to see whether the bracket would line up with the old holes for the female end.

I didn't do that, however, so when it came time for me to clasp the female end over the bracket and secure the female end to the railing, the screwholes in the female end weren't lining up. (Okay, let's all be adults about this, I know we're way overdue for a "That's what he said!")

And trying to screw the screws into the solid wood of the railing by hand was proving to be a challenge, so—not having a drill on hand—I improvised: I grabbed a brad nail and a hammer, and somehow held the female end in place so I knew where to make my guide holes. (Don't complain that there's no picture of this, I don't have eight hands!)

I should mention, as I was doing this, I got the second phone call in less than five minutes. It was a pastor at my church, on his way to rent some equipment for our Dinner Theatre production and checking to see if there's anything I needed. I'm not even going to try to paraphrase that conversation—my mind was totally elsewhere, so I probably sounded like I had the IQ of a sack of hammers. And in my head, I could just see the clock ticking, precious seconds being lost in my race against I'm-still-not-sure-what.

Back to the job: Even with the new guide holes in place, screwing into the railing was a challenge, and with all the hand screwing, my wrists were getting sore. (Careful...) But with a little elbow grease, I had securely fastened the female end to the railing.

I stepped back and observed my work and took a glance at the clock.

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"25 minutes, a newwww state record!"

5:22

Including the two phone calls (which I verified with the screen capture of my Recent Incoming Calls, since I know the Guiness Book of Records people will want to know) it took me almost exactly 25 minutes to get the job done.

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That's right. Check the timestamps. I have photographic evidence of the distractions I had to fight through.

Nothing amazing for a professional railing installer (Bannisteer? Balustradesman? I'll go with Bannisteer), but for a guy who can be a bit of a perfectionist and who has a habit of staring off into space in the midst of projects, not bad.

Now, if only I could polish off our bathroom in that kind of timeframe...

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