How To Patch A Hole In The Wall

As part of my ongoing bathroom renovation activities, I’m moving the light fixture. This means I need to make a new hole in one wall and to patch the old hole in the the other wall.

It’s a little tricky to patch a wall when the hole isn’t near any studs, but it’s not too difficult with a little planning.

Here’s what I do (It’s as easy as one, two, three…, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine!):

1. Locate the hole.

Hole in the wall

2. Cut a piece of plywood that is a little narrower than the hole.
3. Put a screw near the center of the plywood and use it as a handle to put the plywood in the hole and hold it against the back side of the drywall. (Note: it is best if the screw is closer to one end of the board lengthwise, otherwise it may interfere with getting the board into the hole)

Hole in the wall

4. Pull on the screw with one hand, while you drive in screws through the drywall and into the ends of the plywood.

Hole in the wall

Hole in the wall

5. Remove the center screw from the plywood.

6. Measure the hole.
Hole in the wall

7. Cut a new piece of drywall.
Wall Patch

Wall Patch

Wall Patch

Wall Patch

8. Screw the new piece of drywall to the plywood.
No Hole in the wall

No Hole in the wall

9. Done.

Cutting Blind

I’ve been working on remodeling my master bathroom for the last week or so (in between shifts at my day job and episodes of Battlestar Galactica).

I took out my old fiberglass tub and shower surround and am replacing it with a nice porcelain enameled steel tub and a white tile surround.

I am using a concrete backer-board for the tile (as is recommended for wet areas), and I had installed the tile on two of the three walls when I got to the side with the plumbing and realized that my valve was too far forward and would not sit properly behind the tile.

This would require me to remove the backer-board and re-solder the copper pipes. But since I had already installed tile on the overlapping wall, I didn’t want to remove the whole board, and so I decided to handle things surgically.

I planned to cut an access hole in the backer-board to work on the pipes and then re-attach the cut-out by screwing pieces of plywood to the inside of the standing wall and then screwing the cut-out onto the plywood.

The only problem was figuring out how to cut the hole.

Concrete backer-board will destroy normal drywall saw blades, and the angle grinder with a diamond blade creates too much dust for indoor work. I have a jigsaw with a tile-cutting blade that would do the trick, but since I had plumbing behind the wall and I couldn’t see or remember exactly where it was, I needed to make sure it didn’t cut too deep and nick an artery.

IMAG0500

IMAG0501

At this moment, inspiration struck: If I put a spacer between the the wall and the jigsaw, I could limit the depth of the cut to just barely cut through the wall and leave the plumbing behind it unscathed!

IMAG0502

I cut a couple pieces of plywood and them taped them to the bottom of the saw, put the blade through a starter hole (that I drilled with a flat-head screwdriver bit), and started cutting.

IMAG0503

As soon as I inched the saw forward it started bouncing all over the wall making dents wherever it landed, like a pogo stick on a wet lawn (I got in trouble for that one…).

I stopped and surveyed the damage – minimal, although I bent the blade badly – and thought about what I had just done.

It is a recurring observation in my life that striking moments of inspiration are not always intelligent.

In the excitement of implementing my “solution” to the problem, I forgot that I was working with a jigsaw, not a sewing machine.

A jigsaw blade always needs to stay in the work piece, it cannot plunge in and out of the cut like a sewing machine needle because it is not designed to pierce, it is designed to cut (as are most saws).

My 3/4-inch plywood spacer allowed the blade to pull completely out of the backer-board on the up-stroke, only to nosedive into the board on the way back down.

Whatever.

I tore off the plywood spacers and cut the hole in the wall at full depth with devil-may-care gusto!

It worked. The plumbing was safely out of reach without any spacers needed.

I sure do over think these things sometimes.

Granite Surface Plate – Part 2

Continued from Part 1

So, to set the scene:

I’ve got a 1200-pound slab of granite resting on a metal cart with wheels… in the back of my truck.

I also have an ingenious system of ramps and winches to load the granite into the truck.

The problem now is how to get it out.

…in a controlled manner.

As I thought this through, I broke the operation down into 3 steps.

Step 1: Use pulleys to pull the granite towards the tailgate.
Unloading1
Step 2: Re-configure the cable to pull from outside the cart’s legs.
Unloading2
Unloading3

Step 3: Once the granite is ready to role down the ramps, move the winch cable back to the “loading” position, and slowly let the cable out.
Unloading4

In practice, it went very similarly to this, at first.
Step 1:
Granite Surface plate

Step 2:
(I clamped a 2×4 onto the stand and against the back of truck cab to keep the granite from rolling back into place while I moved the cable to the other side of the leg)
Granite Surface plate

Step 3:
… here’s where I hit a snag.
Instead of rolling smoothly onto the ramps, the wheels of the granite were simply pushing the ramps off the end of the tailgate.

I tried running a rope around the end of the ramps, but that didn’t work, since I needed the keep the ramps separated to align with the cart wheels and the rope kept pulling the ramps together and askew.

So I did something a little more involved.

First I secured the granite back into place, wanting to avoid a bad situation while I worked behind the truck.

I drilled holes and then cut slots in the plywood on top of the metal ramps with my jigsaw (cutting just the wood, not the metal).
Granite Surface plate

Granite Surface plate

Then I ran one strap through each of the ramps,Granite Surface plate

and secured them to the bumper.
Granite Surface plate

Then I went back through steps 1 and 2, and this time the granite rolled effortlessly onto the edge of the ramps.

Before I pulled the front wheels of the granite onto the downward slope of the ramp, I clamped a 2×4 across the bed of the truck, in a position that would stop the granite just after it started pulling itself down the ramps (but before it started to gain any significant momentum)
IMAG0386Granite Surface plate

With the granite resting against this 2×4, I walked around the FRONT of the truck to get to the cable on the other side of the truck bed and move the cable into the “pulling” position to use the winch to slowly let the granite down the ramp.
Granite Surface plate

Granite Surface plate

Done.
…I need a nap.
…and a change of pants.

NOTE: at all points during this process, unless the granite was fully secured, I only walked in FRONT of the truck, not behind it in the path of the granite should something fail. Keep in mind, 1200-pounds is a lot of pounds… Significantly more pounds than my one-rep max for bench press.

Safety

Granite Surface Plate – Part 1

I’ve been trawling Craigslist lately for… pretty much anything. I used to just click “for sale” and then “tools” and see if I needed anything; but the last few weeks I’ve done slightly more targeted searches.

I would type something generic in the search (“router”, “lathe”, “mill”, etc…), just to limit the number of floor scrapers and tile saws I had to sift through.

However, it turns out that even this limited filtering was excessive: I had been completely missing out on granite surface plates!

What is a surface plate? Google it.

In the unlikely event that Google brings you back here:

A surface plate is a certified flat surface with very tight tolerances for precision. It is used to check or verify the flatness of a tool or work piece. They are typically made of granite because it can be ground very flat and is stable enough to resist flexing and warping with pressure and temperature changes. It is also hard enough to come into frequent contact with metal surfaces without being worn out of true.

I stumbled across a small surface plate for $275 dollars, and it was a bit a expensive for my purposes, but I knew my father-in-law had been eyeing them too, so I sent him the link.

He replied with a counter-link: a huge 24-inch by 36-inch slab, 6-inches thick on a rolling metal stand for only $80! It weighed around 1200lbs… but only $80!

I called up my friend with a small flatbed trailer, and he was willing to lend it to the cause.

I contacted the seller, he still had it.

Game on.

I borrowed the trailer from my friend the next morning, threw some plywood in my truck to use as a ramp, and headed off to pick up my new flat surface.

I arrived at the location, got out of my truck, and it promptly started pouring down rain.

The seller came outside and we began a long process of looking back and forth between the trailer, the plywood “ramp”, and the granite, with our hands in our pockets, in the rain.

“Will the trailer hold it?”

“According to the manual, it should…”

“Should we try to get a running start?”

“…how would we stop the granite?”

“…”

<head scratch>

<other scratch>

“will the plywood ramp hold it?”

“…nope…”

“….”

“well… it’s not going anywhere, if you want to come back and try another day…”

“that’s probably a good idea.”

I forgot to take a picture of this process, but it looked something like this:
loadingProcess
And so I returned home, empty-handed and damp.

After a few sleepless nights and un-productive days at work, I came up with a plan. I had a small ATV winch with a 2000lb capacity, and a pair of loading ramps from Harbor Freight that can hold 1000lbs that I used in the past to load my motorcycle.

Loading winch

I bought one more ramp set with a coupon for $50, for a total of 2000lbs of loading capacity, and a pair of 16-foot jumper cables to power the winch for $17. With proper ramps I no longer saw any advantage to using the small trailer, so I returned it to my friend and started working on a setup to use the winch to load the granite directly into my pickup truck.
winchMount

First I welded together a frame to mount the winch in the bed of the truck, up against the cab. it has extension arms held together with bolts and installed in the truck with clamps and straps so I can easily remove and store it.

Then I covered the ramps with  1/2-inch plywood secured with carriage bolts to give the wheels a smaller step up onto the ramp and a smoother ascension into the truck.

This took about a week and a half to finish (interlaced with life in general), but I was finally ready to go get the granite last week.

The sun was shining and I arrived to be greeted with complements on my welding job and general optimism that we may succeed.

We were all impressed with how well the whole thing worked and in 10 minutes I was on my way home with my acquisition.
Granite Surface plate

I drove very slowly and arrived without incident and started the simple process of reversing the loading procedure.

Right… how exactly do you get a 1200lb piece of granite out of a truck?

<To Be Continued>