January 2012 Archives - 3/3 - Bob Vila

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Hammer Time: The Art of Roy Mackey

As you know from my prior posts, I am as fascinated with tools for their purpose and usefulness as I am for their shape, design and—dare I say—beauty. Take the hammer as an example. Here’s a tool that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes from ball peen to claw and gets called into action for everything from hanging a simple picture hook to re-nailing a floor board or building a wood deck. Despite its relative light weight, a firm grip on the lower portion of the tool’s shaft provides just the right strike-action for the user to sink a nail, straight and secure.

Roy Mackey's Hammer with Nails

Roy Mackey's "Nails"

For Canadian sheet metal sculptor Roy Mackey, the hammer holds a similar, albeit more artistic, fascination. A couple years ago, thinking about the relationship of the hammer and the nail (how the one is always being driven by the other) led Mackey to create Revenge—a reworked Mastercraft hammer with the head impaled by a nail. Since then, he has produced a whole series of hammer-based sculptures by heating the tools and then stretching, splitting, cutting, combining, wrapping, molding, or re-shaping them into playful, inventive works of art.

Roy Mackey "Double Header"

Roy Mackey's "Double Header"

In addition to the artistic challenge of re-interpreting something as classic as a hammer, Mackey also wanted to make a statement about the tool’s possible demise, something he believes could happen as air nailers grow in popularity and new tools emerge. Whether as an art piece or the practical tool that it has been for centuries, I think it’s safe to say the hammer will be around for quite some time to come!

Roy Mackey Hammer Series-Wired

Roy Mackey's "Wired"

To learn more about the Roy Mackey Hammer Series, click here.   For more about hammers and other tools, consider:

Types of Hammers
Tool Collecting: Tips from an Antiques Roadshow Expert
Pneumatic Nailers for Homeowners

Add a Decorative Touch to Your Woodworking Shop

Woodworking Shop

There’s no reason why your woodworking shop can’t be easy on the eyes, outside and in. The one pictured above was created in order to write and research my book Bob Vila’s Workshop. We trimmed it out to reflect the Greek Revival homes and other structures common to the area it’s located in. (Adding to the old-timey feel of the place are the old doors and windows bought at salvage).

Flush columns, or pilasters, decorate the front and side elevations of the shop, rhythmically punctuating the horizontal spread of the clapboard siding. But far from being expensive made-to-order decorations, these pilasters were made on site using standard one-by and five-quarter boards, a miter saw, and two bead planes.

Woodworking Shop -

A bead plane, together with the pilaster capital

In the image above, notice the half-inch bead at the base of the capital (of five-quarter stock) and the three-eighths-inch bead on the trim piece across the top. The shaft of the pilaster (made of one-by-eight boards) is trimmed with three-eighths-inch beads, too. And, as you can see, it all goes together easily.

Woodworking Shop

The nailers beneath the capital (above, left) disappear as the capital is added (center). The last touch is a very simple curved decoration added in the broad valley between the pilaster pieces (right), giving the whole column the look of having a single exaggerated flute at its center.

Since the whole building was to be painted with oil paint, the wood is all common, full of knots to be sealed, in this case with a shellac-based sealer. (We used a pneumatic siding gun to fasten everything). When painted, the finished woodworking shop looks impressive, yet properly vernacular for its setting.

In Search of Antique Tools
Blog Stars: In the Workshop
The Basic Workbench

Household Hints: Vintage Trading Cards with a DIY Theme

Household Hints Cigarette Trading Cards

Photo: delcampe.net

I am a casual collector of vintage paper goods and assorted ephemera. My stash includes vintage dictionaries and encyclopedias, postcards, baby scrapbooks, and handwritten recipe files. Recently, at a Saturday morning yard sale, I scored a different type of collectible—a Wills’s Cigarette Picture Card Album filled with 50 “Household Hints” trading cards.

I was curious about my $2 find and thus launched a Google rampage. I learned that “cartophily” is the hobby of collecting cigarette cards, and so that makes me a very part-time cartophilist. Cards, originally used to simply fortify packages of cigarettes, later became vehicles for advertising and artful trading cards. W.D. & H.O Wills, a division of Imperial Tobacco, was the first tobacco company to issue sets of cards. In 1895 “Ships & Sailors” inaugurated the card craze which lasted until the early 1940s.

These miniature cards measure 2 5/8 by 1 3/8”.  They are numbered and each card features a colorful printed letterpress image on the front and a directive or explanation on the reverse. The first series appealed to men who were the majority smokers, and sporting themes like cricket and baseball were very popular. Soon enough, sets featuring garden flowers, movie stars, birds, and British butterflies would appeal to either gender. According to Colin Fawcett, Membership Secretary for The Cartophilic Society of Great Britain, a group of nearly 1,000 members devoted to propagating, enhancing, and preserving the hobby of cigarette card and trade card collecting, “Household Hints” was first issued in 1927 and there were several other incarnations up until 1936.

Household Hints Cigarette Trading Cards - Collection 1

Photo: JDagmi

The rarest cards, if in very good condition, can fetch a handsome price. A top-rated eBay seller known as Cigarette Cards is presently selling a 1901 set of 50 locomotive cards for $571 and a set of 32 Drum Horses from 1901 for $233. Household Hints, which Colin informed me was quite common, has a starting bid of just one cent. Alas, I will not make a mint from reselling it!

Household Hints Cigarette Trading Cards - Collection 2

Photo: JDagmi

Household Hints Cigarette Trading Cards - Collection 3

Photo: JDagmi

I am perfectly happy with my purchase nonetheless. I love the quaint illustrations, the 115-word DIY tips, and the diligence of the smoke.

If you would like to see the backs and fronts of every single Household Hints card (or if you should need some old-fashioned assistance in cleaning pewter or clearing choked rain pipes), see a completely photographed book here.

Talking with Celerie Kemble

Designer Celerie Kemble chats with Bob about color, showhouses, kids and her new book, "Black & White (and a Bit in Between)."

Celerie Kemble

Photo: Don Freeman

[Editors Note: We caught up with designer Celerie Kemble the week of Christmas at her family home in Palm Beach. Bob, too, was in Florida and, being long-time family friends of Celerie’s father and mother, designer Mimi Maddock McMakin, he was anxious to chat with the young, formidable designer about everything from working with clients to working with colors. The conversation also included kids’ rooms, showhouses and Ms. Kemble’s brand new book, Black and White (and a bit in between). And so begins. . . a conversation with designer Celerie Kemble.]

Bob Vila: Was your mom a big influence on you becoming a designer? 

Celerie Kemble: Well, I think being lucky enough to grow up in a very personal and beautiful house made me aware, from an early age, of the kind of pleasure a well-designed home brings and how much it adds to a family’s sense of connectedness and identity. Even in high school and college, I realized how much I was drawn to design and how much work and thought went into creating something as special as the house I grew up in.

Bob Vila: What do you think you learned from your mom?

Celerie Kemble:  I learned to respect craftsmanship and artistry, and that without great risk it’s hard to see a home become distinctive and special. She set a very high bar and I’m continually challenged to make everything that I do really dynamic. Through her I also learned how to look at a space or an empty room and envision it as a reflection of the homeowners.

Bob Vila: Is the hardest part of your job working with the client? Trying to figure out what’s right for them?

Celerie Kemble: I think the hardest part is always explaining that, no matter what funds they have on hand or what their plan is, there is a lot of compromise involved—compromise because of the construction of the house, the architecture, the cost, and the internal family dynamics. You rarely design for one person. So it’s not hard taking on someone’s priorities and trying to work with their best interest in mind. What’s hard is doing that at the same time you’re educating them about the compromises and challenges that may need to be made along the way. It’s all about navigating compromise.

Bob Vila: I love that. . . ‘navigating compromise.’  So if that’s the most challenging aspect, what’s the most enjoyable?

Celerie Kemble: There is a certain sort of intimacy and trust that is required between a designer and client, and I think the enjoyable part, at least for me, is getting to know someone well enough to help realize their dreams. To be able to use the tools of my trade—color, fabric, pattern, furniture, and construction—to really change the entire disposition of an interior space.

Bob Vila: Let’s talk color. When I was contracting in the seventies, I was always asked about using color, even though I didn’t do interiors. I remember a lady in New York that sold rugs who said that the carpet was the soul of the room. But if you don’t have a carpet, how do you begin the process of choosing color?

Celerie Kemble: I actually think your carpet lady wasn’t far off. For me, the soul of the room is in the fabrics or in the wallpaper, and I usually try to find one element that has at least 70% of the colors that I intend to incorporate into the room. It could be a piece of pottery, a beautiful dish, a painting, or a scrap of fabric or wallpaper; something that I can use in the room that links the majority of other disparate elements together. And, once you have that one thing—for your lady friend the carpet; for me the wallpaper or upholstery—then you have something to help keep everything cohesive.

Bob Vila: What about mixing all those things? Are there any rules that you can offer about the best ways to mix colors and materials successfully?

Celerie Kemble: I think that it’s important to know your base non-color so that your whites or your creams are pretty consistent throughout the space, and people forget that. They concentrate on a color, and they miss that the most cohesive element might be having all of your whites (for trim and molding) be the same. The next thing is to look at the value of each color. I don’t believe you have to limit the number of colors or that there are bad color combinations, but you do need to consider the hues, tones, and shades of the colors.

Bob Vila: You don’t think there is any such thing as a wrong color combination?

Celerie Kemble: Well, I think all colors could be made to work together, but what people need to do is be sure to vary the intensity and value. If you have five strong, bold colors in one room, it’s just going to feel blocky, heavy, and dark. You need some colors that have a slight amount of opacity, transparency, a lightness, a feathering.

Bob Vila: Interesting.

Celerie Kemble: If somebody were to take all of their pigments directly out of the tube and paint with every single color, it would look sort of childlike and heavy handed. But if you cut some of the colors—you know, water them down—the mix becomes more interesting. So, I think it’s about moderating the intensity of whatever colors you are using together so that there is some variety; something light, something heavy, something in the middle—two or three balancing parts. People always talk about color, but I think it’s more about balancing values and intensities to create variety in a room.

Outtakes: My Interview with Celerie Kemble

Celerie Kemble

Photo courtesy of Douglas Friedman

The week before the holidays, I had the chance to talk *color* with Celerie Kemble, the New York and Palm Beach interior designer whose most recent book, Black & White (and a bit in between), recently landed on shelves. Before long, however, Celerie and I found ourselves discussing, of all things, light bulbs.

With incandescent fixtures on the way out, designers—like the rest of us—are experimenting with compact fluorescents (CFLs), which are known for their sometimes harsh, cool, too-bright light. Not surprisingly, Ms. Kemble has found at least one way of modulating CFLs’ temperature…

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New Knobs Give Cabinets a Lift

Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Photo: fivetechsoftware.com

One of the easiest ways to update your kitchen or bath cabinets—and add pizzaz—is to swap out the old hardware for new. You will have no problem finding an abundance of designs at retailers, from Home Depot to Restoration Hardware, which fit your style and budget. But, before you fall in love with a new pull, knob or handle, consider the following tips for selecting hardware:

Related: Cabinet Hardware: 10 Styles to Invigorate Your Kitchen

If the plan is to replace existing pull handles with new ones, be sure to measure the distance between holes to make sure the swap requires nothing more than a screwdriver. Better yet, take the old hardware with you when you shop.

Always consider the finish on the hinges when choosing new cabinet knobs and pulls. Decorative pendant pulls in an oil-bronzed finish will not look as “decorative” if paired with chrome hinges.

If you decide to paint unfinished knobs, don’t be afraid to experiment with colors and finishes. For a bright, cheery kitchen or bath, consider a pop of color. For a more subdued look, match the cabinets. Be sure to choose an enamel paint finish for high-traffic wear and tear.

Be sure to take into account fashion and function when shopping for cabinet knobs and pulls and handles. Consider the shape, size, and scale and how the design works for you. The hardware should fit easily in your hands, and the grip should be comfortable.

For more kitchen and bath remodeling, consider:

Planning Your Dream Kitchen
How to Create a Spa Bath at Home
Quick Tip: Budget Smart Bathroom Remodeling

Bob Vila’s $1,000-A-Week New Year’s Give-Away


Bob Vila's $1,000-A-Week-New Year's Give-Away

We know that some of your 2012 resolutions have to include a home improvement project or two.  That’s why we teamed with InComm—the nation’s largest provider of gift cards—to launch Bob Vila’s $1,000-A-Week New Year’s Give-Away.

Every week in January, starting today and running through February 1, you can enter to win $1,000 in InComm Do It Yourself Home Improvement gift cards, redeemable at some of your favorite retailers, among them: The Home Depot, True Value, Sears, Restoration Hardware, Sherwin Williams, and Menards.  Think of the DIY projects you can tackle with gift cards redeemable at multiple retailers and thousands of locations around the country.

To enter this week’s drawing and see official rules, click here.  And, remember you can enter once a day, every day throughout the contest period to increase your chances of winning.

To learn more about InComm’s Do it Yourself Home Improvement Gift Card, and a complete list of retailers where card is redeemable, visit the company’s website.




The Bob Vila’s “$1,000-a-Week” New Year’s Give-Away sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA  02668 (“Sponsor”).  The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) separate random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”).  The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on January 5, 2012 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2012 (the “Sweepstakes Period”).  The entry period for each Drawing shall begin at 12:00 a.m. EST on Thursdays during the Sweepstakes Period and end at 11:59 p.m. EST on the following Wednesdays (each an “Entry Period” and collectively, the “Entry Periods”).


Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents. Void in all other geographic locations.  Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety.  Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted.  Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply.

No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. To enter any given Drawing, you must complete all of the following steps during the Drawing’s Entry Period:

1.   Visit the Bob Vila’s “$1,000-a-Week” New Year’s Give-Away website at http://www.bobvila.com

2.   Submit your name and email address using the online submission form.

Alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period.  Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void.  Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of each Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing for that Entry Period. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for a Drawing determines the odds of winning for that Drawing. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost or misdirected prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winners will be notified by email; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings. Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. One (1) entry per household per day. Duplicate entries within one day will be void.

The prizes for each separate Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be 2 (two) $500 Incomm Home Improvement Gift Cards with an approximate combined retail value of $1,000.

Prizes are not transferable. Limit one prize per entrant. Actual retail value may vary.  Winner will not receive the difference between actual and approximate retail value. Gift cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaim any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize. 

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.  Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. 

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling.  In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes.  In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York.  The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.  

My Workbench Today

Bob Vila's Workbench

Photo: BobVila.com

Although I used to have a pretty big workshop back in Cambridge, things changed once we sold the place and became snowbirds. I’m not into any major projects down here in Florida, like building a dining room table, but I still need a place to do minor fix-its.

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