Fellowship of Christian Farmers
By Kevin Cernek
July 28, 2019
We’ve been doing a little remodeling at our house. By we, I mean mainly my wife and I, with help as needed from people with more expertise than we have. Doing any kind of work like this is a very intimidating task for a novice like me. But if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.
A few years ago we got a really good deal on a total bathroom assembly which included double sink vanities, an attached linen closet, and a dresser-like vanity. It’s a beautiful arrangement of furniture that was too good of a deal to pass up. So we bought it and it went into storage in the garage waiting until someday when we would need it. That day has arrived. My wife and I were discussing how it was time to update one of the bathrooms, so I backed the car out and arranged the furniture in the garage exactly how it would be set up in the bathroom. I’m a vision type person. I have to see it in front of me to know what it will look like. I can’t just imagine it and figure it out.
This is a total renovation. We are stripping it all the way down to the studs in the wall. On the TV do-it-yourself shows, (and we all know how real TV is) they make demolition day look like it’s just the greatest event in the whole wide world, complete with sledge hammers, hard hats, goggles and lots and lots of laughter. Well, let me tell you, in real life it’s nothing like that. It’s sweat and grit and dust and shrapnel and some of the hardest, most physical work known to man.
Let me tell you why. We live in a two-story house. This bathroom is upstairs. It was installed back in the day when they did not cut any corners. In fact, rather than cut corners, they beefed them up. If a two by four was good enough, a two by six was better. If one brace was good enough, two braces were better. If a sheet of drywall was good, an inch of plaster on top of the old fashioned sheetrock was better. If an inch of plaster was good, sandwiching a chicken wire-like steel mesh in between the drywall and plaster was better. I hope to tell you, they did not expect these old houses to go down – ever. And it’s practically impossible to tear them down piece by piece. Every bit of framing and finishing work is tied into each other. To remove one single board, you practically have to tear the whole house down.
But one thing these pioneer constructionist did not take into account was that decades later we would have the means to undo their handywork. Basically, we have two things going in our favor today: power tools and the Internet. How we ever existed without them is beyond me. A reciprocating saw is simply the most amazing tool ever invented. A short three minute video on Youtube showing you how to use it in any particular situation is even more amazing. I have the tool and know how to use it.
The bathtub was made of cast iron. I asked the plumber when he came and unhooked it just how does one get a cast iron bathtub out of a two-story house? Before he answered, he said he was not a bathtub remover expert (his disclaimer) but from what he did know, there were two ways. One, you work it loose then get four really strong and able men and carry it down the steps and out the door. Or two, you take a sledge hammer and beat it into tiny slivers of razor-sharp shards of shrapnel, (hoping you don’t cause a self-inflicted fatal wound in the process), and then you pick up the pieces and carry them out in five gallon buckets. I didn’t like the sound of either of those ideas, so I went on the Internet to see what they had to say about it.
If used correctly, the Internet can be a wonderful thing. It can take the biggest dum koff in the world and turn him into a genius. I know. Somebody put a video up there showing how you could take your hand-held grinder with a steel cutting wheel attached and cut through the tub from one side to the other. In three minutes and twenty-one seconds, I went from not knowing anything about bathtub removal to being an expert in the field. It just so happened, I had a stack of those steel cutting wheels for my grinder and they worked just like the guy in the video said. It took the whole stack, but I made a clean cut from one side to the next, popped the tub loose with a pry bar, recruited my six foot four inch 230 pound nephew to help me carry it out, and the job was done. Just like that.
Before I started the job, I had read the comments in the section below the video. What sealed the deal was a comment from a self-described “sixty-five year old grandmother” who had followed the step by step instructions in the video and said she “did the whole job (herself).” Well, if she could do, then so could I. And I did. Thanks, grandma.
So now, after my lovely wife carried out all the debris and loaded it in the back of my truck and cleaned up the site, we are ready to start rebuilding, which will be much more enjoyable than tearing it down – I hope. I’ll keep you posted – that is, as long as the Internet keeps posting those handy videos.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures,” (Proverbs 24:3-4).