No Home Project Scares This Ellicott City Handyman

Do-it-yourselfer Says He Enjoys Working With His Hands

March 24, 1991|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Contributing writer

Ever since Donald Carew and his wife, Carol, moved into their Ellicott City home 25 years ago, Donald has been a "do-it-yourselfer."

"I started doing projects right away," he said. "I put in the basementfloor and paneling and I put the shutters on the house."

Since then, Carew has built a wooden stair rail, outside deck, wood plank kitchen flooring, an outdoor brick planter, a bookcase and many other things.

Although the handyman admits he saves money by doing things himself, Carew says he enjoys working with his hands.

"I like working with wood; it's really pleasing to be able to finish something," he said.

That's why Carew, who is supervisor of program planning control at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Anne Arundel county, spends most of his leisure time beautifying his home. He attributes his interest to his father -- another do-it-yourselfer -- who he used to watch make things when he was a small boy.

From Carew's first do-it-yourself project, the wood lamp he made in the ninth grade that today sits in the family room of his home, to the bookcase that was built to hide the air conditioning ductwork Carew installed -- all of his projects have the same requirements.

"You have to have the right tools," Carew said. "You also need to plan it out first and know what you need in the way of materials and equipment," he said.

Carew spent five years planning before he began work on the bookcase that's turned a useless niche of the family room into usable space. Besides hiding the air conditioning ducts, the bookcase provides ample storage for books and financial records.

In addition to Carew's expertise with wood, he has learned how to lay brick. Whenhe decided he wanted a brick wall around his carport, the do-it-yourselfer -- who had never layed brick before -- was willing to take thetime to learn by enrolling in a class at the Howard Community College.

For novice do-it-yourselfers who don't have saws like the band,scroll and radial arm saws that Carew uses, there are still projectsthat can be done with simple tools.

For example, Carew said that you, too, can create "wainscoting" -- an effect of paneled walls -- that he constructed in his dining room. Here are his directions:

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Table saw; miter box; nail set; hammer; paint brush.

MATERIALS: Molding of your choice; white glue; nails; paint primer; lint-free cloth.

DIRECTIONS: 1. Look through magazines for a type of design that pleases you. Carew chose a simple pattern of rectangles to accent the lower portion of his walls.

2. Measure perimeterof room to determine the amount of molding you will need for a chairrail; also, using a level to ensure a straight line, determine desired height you wish molding to be from the floor. (Chair rails are usually installed at chair height--around 40 inches high.)

3. Apply chair rails: Locate studs in wall, driving in nails until you find resistance. (Holes eventually will be covered by molding.) Saw moldings desired length and miter corners. Apply one coat of paint primer and let dry; nail to wall.

4. Determine placement of rectangles or other geometric patterns of your choice: Measure each wall individually and divide by equal number of designs. For instance, Carew divided aneight-foot wall into three separate sections so that he could centerthree rectangles equally. Mark off sections with a vertical penciledline; mark off location of studs.

5. Measure and cut vertical strips of molding to separate each section. Paint and let dry. Apply a strip of glue to the back of each piece and attach to wall over penciled lines. If possible, reinforce by driving nails into spots where studs are located.

6. Measure moldings and assemble into rectangularframes. For example, if you want 15-by-10-inch rectangles, cut moldings into two 15-inch and two 10-inch strips for each rectangle; miterall corners neatly.

7. Glue all four pieces together into a rectangular frame and let dry; sand rough spots and dust off particles with a lint-free cloth; apply one coat of paint and let dry.

8. Glue rectangles onto wall. Where possible, nail frames to studs for additional reinforcement.

9. Use nail set to counter sink nails into wood and fill holes with wood filler; sand; wipe off dust with cloth.

10. Paint entire wall and moldings last.

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